Volume 95, Issue 8

Thursday, September 13, 2001
Search the Archives:
Tips for searching

Campus and Culture
Submit Letter
Contact Us
About the Gazette


"Why would anyone do this?"
Western alum caught in chaos

How you can help

Western expert: difficult to assign blame

Western expert: difficult to assign blame

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Over the past two days, there has been considerable speculation over whom the attack on the United States will be blamed upon.

Although there is a tendency on the part of the North American public to assume responsibility for the attack lies with a certain identifiable group, it may only be fair to link the participants in the bombings together by one common thread – some form of personality disorder.

Dr. Larry C. Litman, a psychiatry professor specializing in forensic psychiatry, aggressive and violent behavior and psychopathy at Western, spoke yesterday about the possible psychological templates of the individuals who carried out the attack.

"The suicide bombers may be psychopathic individuals, but in general, I think we're looking at some individuals who have basically failed at every major life task," Litman said.

"People like this have nothing going for them so they get into a group in which all of a sudden there is meaning and acceptance, which they have never had before," he said.

Litman added the individuals may have envisioned some kind of notoriety before they committed the act. He also speculated over the attachment of religious ideology, noting the bombers may have envisioned the suicide as a transition into some sort of utopian world.

"We aren't really talking about your typically normal person who is motivated for self preservation. We are dealing with someone who is disordered in some way – some form of personality disorder that renders them vulnerable or highly suggestible so that they can be influenced by a group to form various beliefs.

"They don't perceive themselves to be committing suicide at all," he said.

Litman added this tragedy will breed change. "You need to have some kind of tragedy in order to spark some reaction. It is the way changes seem to occur in our society, out of reaction."

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2001