What is the cause of religious-related conflicts and acts of terrorism? And how can we explain the conflicts from the perspective of the individual perpetrator? These questions are what I have attempted to address in my latest article on “Attachment Theory and Religious Violence” published in a special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religion on the Role of Religion in Violence and Peacebuilding.
Here is an excerpt from the editorial which I believe provides a good summary of the article:
“Victor Counted proposes another theory, which attempts to explain religious violence psychologically. Deploying attachment theory, the article discusses the ways in which attachment disruptions might increase the risk of adult religious psychopathology. If the relationship between a religious believer and a religious figure can be understood as an attachment experience crucial to identity formation and providing a sense of safety, the disruption of such a bond by slandering or acting against the religious figure may predispose the believer to respond violently as a way to protect the attachment bond. Counted argues his point by applying the theory to three cases, namely Charlie Hebdo vs al-Qaeda, Boko Haram vs the Nigerian government, and Pastor Terry Jones vs Islamic radicalization.”
You can access and read the article for free here: https://counted.org.uk/
I also gave a presentation on this topic at the 2017 U4 Summer School, University of Groningen, Netherlands. The slide can be found below