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The Psychological Preconditions for Collective Violence: Several Case Studies

Author(s): William Walter Bostock

Journal: Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences
ISSN 1944-1088

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 273;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Collective Violence | Identity | Fear

When a community enters a period of collective violence, manyfactors can be causal, particularly a certain type of leadership which can be called pathological. Such leaders need certain pre-existing psychological preconditions to work upon as they manipulate a community. This they do through its collective mental state where there is psychic numbing (Lifton) and extensive negative psychic capital (Boulding). Their leadership can take the form of radically modifying a sense of coherence (Antonovsky), and claims of healing a wounded identity. The collective mental state can be heavily under the influence of fear (Lake and Rothchild). The psychological preconditions of collective violence are thus the raw materials of pathological leadership, specifically mental state, particularly fear, perceived wounded identity, negative psychic capital, occurring in a condition of numbed psyche. Some case studies showing the effects of the interaction of these components will be presented.

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