ANNE THERESA ROMANO, Fordham University


The frequency of terrorist acts in the recent past has resulted in an increasing body of data available for evaluation. There are numerous books on terrorism and other literature including technical, legal, journalist and fictional. This literature reflects not only the shock and disbelief that is the aftermath of each terroristic act, but also confusion regarding the causes of these acts.^ The focus of this study is an in-depth analysis of the broad spectrum of literature which has emerged as aftermath of each terrorist event. Content analysis is made of the various factual and theoretical accounts of terrorism, in order to conceptualize what has been written of the events. An analysis of the existing literature on terrorism causation has indicated that three traditional schools of criminology have been used to explain terrorist behavior and therefore serve as the framework for this analysis. The three schools are: The Lombrosian School, The Psychiatric School, and The Sociological and Social Psychological School.^ Physiologically, the behavior of terrorists has been explained through the existence of cryptovestibular dysfunctioning, brain tumors and a thyroid condition. Psychologically, the personality of the terrorist has been variously described as typically sociopathic, psychotic, or psychopathic. In addition, frustration-aggression theories, faulty parent-child and family interactions, or socialization into deviant ways of life by the family are also included as explanations. Sociological theories, emphasizing certain aspects of the social structure and organization, including Anomie, deprivation based on sex and race, terrorism as socially learned behavior, and the influence of the mass media, are also offered as explanations.^ The implications of these findings are also discussed. Of primary importance is the definitional problem of the term terrorism and the issue of legitimacy. What is commonly described as terrorism contains a judgmental factor on which there is disagreement on political, ideological, and moral grounds. Also, noticeably absent is literature linking social conflict theory to terrorism, or to the legitimacy of a critical-Marxist analysis of terrorism.^ In spite of the fact that a large number of theories of terrorism have been developed, current theory is limited by its partial and highly segmented approach to the terrorist. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

ROMANO, ANNE THERESA, "TERRORISM: AN ANALYSIS OF THE LITERATURE" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8515895.