Definition and Goal of Terrorism

In this blog I will be doing some comparisons of psychiatry to terrorism. One of the first steps would be to clearly define each and their stated goals. As the subject of terrorism has been at the forefront these past few years, we’ll start there. There is no shortage of material on the net about terrorists and their goals. I found one site that has some interesting information here: Terrorism Research

First, let us define terrorism:

ter·ror·ism (ter’ r iz’ m)
1. the act of terrorizing; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy
2. the demoralization and intimidation produced in this way

Etymology: Fr terrorisme

And here are three definitions by various United States government departments:

United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”

The FBI uses this: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The U.S. Department of State defines “terrorism” to be “premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

And one from the Brits that I particularly like:
The British Government definition of 1974 is “…the use of violence for political ends, and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public, or any section of the public, in fear.”

(Again, thank you to those at the Terrorism Research site for these definitions.)

The underlying goals seem to be political and religious. It is widely known that the acts of terrorists cause a lot of deaths and damage. The goals behind the terror are sometimes a method (albeit an insane method)to garner attention for a particular injustice.


In an article on the 28th April 2005, the Washington Post says, “…increase in terrorist attacks last year and a death toll of close to 2,000 people around the globe…” This would have been for 2004. There would have been many injuries and destruction to go along with these deaths.

Another website has broken down “terrorism” statistics many different ways and on the page referenced shows 24,675 deaths reported worldwide as a result of terrorism from the years 2000 to 2006.

The above lays out ever so briefly the goals and statistics of Terrorism. In the next few days I will lay out some similar data for psychiatry.

Posted by greymouser