Psychiatric Assessment of Individuals Charged with Terrorism and Those at Risk of Engaging in Acts of Terrorism

Terrorism is a multi-faceted phenomenon that entails a strategic and instrumental use of violence to achieve ideological or political goals. Despite decades of research in the field, empirical data to guide clinical practice is lacking, and controversies surround the role of psychiatrists in assessing terror subjects. Our paper provides an overview of the social, psychological, and political-cultural risk factors for radicalization to terrorism; the assumed link between mental illness and terrorism; the relevant legal issues; and the threat assessment and management tools. In the absence evidence-based clinical guidelines, a thorough understanding of these issues helps inform psychiatric assessments of individuals charged with terrorism or those at risk of engaging in acts of terrorism.

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