What is it about?

When individuals are unable to engage with societal norms, their normal human needs for autonomy, competency and relatedness remain unfulfilled. When these needs remain unfulfilled for a prolonged period of time, the individual's growth begins to stagnate, and they start to seek alternative means to fulfil these needs. Some turn to terror organizations, which satiate these needs through their radicalization process.

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Why is it important?

This paper explores how socially neglected individuals can find solace in violent organizations, and how these groups utilize the need for autonomy, competency and relatedness to radicalize recruits, and disconnect them from their former lives. Terrorism is an ever present threat to societies, and the threat of domestic terrorism in the Western World only grows larger as economic and political hardships worsen. Hopefully, by studying how individuals are recruited by these groups, we can improve our efforts to stop radicalization from taking place.


Terrorism and the radicalization process has always fascinated me. Far to often, individuals who commit terror attacks are labeled as cold, unfeeling monsters; when the reality is that they are human beings, with motivations, opinion, and rationalizations for their actions. While not justifying terrorist activities, this paper seeks to shed light on the reality that many individuals who commit heinous acts in the name of ideology were once lost individuals; who were led astray by the promise of purpose, acceptance and belonging.

Andrew Best
California Southern University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Alienation through psychological neglect: When deprivation of individual psychological needs leads to societal harm., The Humanistic Psychologist, August 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/hum0000334.
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