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Extremism, religion, and psychiatric morbidity:
Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan
Jeremy W. Coid, MB Ch...
Terrorism
• Threat severe, more
diverse, dispersed, from
countries without
effective government
• By 2010 British born
Mus...
Support for terrorism in population
Terrorists
Supporters
Sympathisers
Neutral persons
Attitudes and opinions
(Deffuant et al 2002)
• Views and opinions initially considered
extreme can become the norm
• Simul...
Psychiatric Morbidity
• Terrorists, unless lone-actors, well-integrated
‘normal’ individuals
• Mental disorder uncommon pr...
Research Question
1. Distribution of attitudes to war in
Afghanistan among young male population
2. Associations with ethn...
Method
• Survey men 18-34 years, Great Britain, 2011
• 3,679 men. Random Allocation Sampling
• Self-reported
– Psychiatric...
Yes, No, DK
• I feel strongly British (English, Scottish, Welsh,
Northern Irish) if that means standing up for
yourself or...
Yes, No, DK
• I support the war in Afghanistan
• I oppose the war in Afghanistan
Yes, No, DK
• I could fight in the British Army in Afghanistan
• I could fight against the British Army in
Afghanistan
Findings (1)
Bipolarized distribution in population
Findings (2)
Associations with Psychiatric Morbidity
OR P
Depression
Pakistani 2.26 0.009
Black Caribbean 2.61 0.013
Black...
Findings (3)
Associations with Psychiatric Morbidity
OR P
Depression
Pakistani 0.28 0.001
Indian 0.49 0.042
Protestant 0.4...
Identity (4)
• British culture
– White
– UK born
– Not depressed
– Not anxious
– ASPD
– No association religion
– History ...
Identity (5)
• Own culture
– Ethnic minority
– Non-UK born
– Religious
– ASPD
– History of violence
Support / Oppose war (6)
• Support
– White
– UK born
– Not religious
– Not depressed
– ASPD
– History of violence
– Crimin...
Support / Oppose war (7)
• Oppose
– Pakistani
– Non-UK born
– Muslim
– Religious
– Not anxious or depressed
– Not alcohol ...
Fight for / against British Army (8)
• For
– White
– UK born
– No religion
– Alcohol dependence
– Drug misuse
– ASPD
– His...
Fight for / against British Army (9)
• Against
– Indian
– Pakistani
– Other Asian
– Drug misuse
– ASPD
– History of violen...
Conclusions (1)
• Bipolarization of attitudes in population
• Most neutral or undecided
• Risk of coalescence of extremism...
Conclusions (2)
Psychiatric Morbidity
• Specific minority populations have higher
prevalences of depression – Pakistani, B...
Conclusions (3)
Psychiatric Morbidity
• Depression may be a risk factor for extremism
and support for terrorism among Musl...
Conclusions (4)
Psychiatric Morbidity
• History of externalising behaviour – more
likely to fight – for or against terrori...
• This presentation represents independent
research commissioned by the U.K. National
Institute for Health Research (NIHR)...
Extremism, Religion, and Psychiatric Morbidity: Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan
Extremism, Religion, and Psychiatric Morbidity: Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan
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Extremism, Religion, and Psychiatric Morbidity: Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan

Jeremy W. Coid, MB ChB, MD (Lond), FRCPsych, M. Phil. Dip. Criminol
Professor of Forensic Psychiatry
http://www.wolfson.qmul.ac.uk/a-z-staff-profiles/jeremy-w-coid
Extremism, Religion, and Psychiatric Morbidity: Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan

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Extremism, Religion, and Psychiatric Morbidity: Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan

  1. 1. Extremism, religion, and psychiatric morbidity: Young men’s attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan Jeremy W. Coid, MB ChB, MD (Lond), FRCPsych, M. Phil. Dip. Criminol Professor of Forensic Psychiatry http://www.wolfson.qmul.ac.uk/a-z-staff-profiles/jeremy-w-coid
  2. 2. Terrorism • Threat severe, more diverse, dispersed, from countries without effective government • By 2010 British born Muslim men, Pakistani origin, recruited by al- Qaeda, trained in Pakistan, fighting against British army in southern Afghanistan • Larger numbers of young men from most European countries  IS Syria, Iraq
  3. 3. Support for terrorism in population Terrorists Supporters Sympathisers Neutral persons
  4. 4. Attitudes and opinions (Deffuant et al 2002) • Views and opinions initially considered extreme can become the norm • Simulated models • If large part of population moderate or uncertain extreme views prevail: a) Convergence into single extreme or b) Bipolarization
  5. 5. Psychiatric Morbidity • Terrorists, unless lone-actors, well-integrated ‘normal’ individuals • Mental disorder uncommon proximate cause • Mental disorder may convey vulnerability to radicalization (Borum 2014) • UK survey Muslims – supporters of terrorism have higher level depressive symptoms (Bhui et al 2014)
  6. 6. Research Question 1. Distribution of attitudes to war in Afghanistan among young male population 2. Associations with ethnicity, religion, violence / criminality 3. Vulnerability to psychiatric morbidity
  7. 7. Method • Survey men 18-34 years, Great Britain, 2011 • 3,679 men. Random Allocation Sampling • Self-reported – Psychiatric symptoms (PSQ) – ASPD (SCID-11) – Anxiety and Depression (HADS) – Alcohol use (AUDIT) – Drug use (DUDIT) – Violent behaviour
  8. 8. Yes, No, DK • I feel strongly British (English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish) if that means standing up for yourself or your country • I feel more like people with my own religious, cultural or political beliefs than people who are British
  9. 9. Yes, No, DK • I support the war in Afghanistan • I oppose the war in Afghanistan
  10. 10. Yes, No, DK • I could fight in the British Army in Afghanistan • I could fight against the British Army in Afghanistan
  11. 11. Findings (1) Bipolarized distribution in population
  12. 12. Findings (2) Associations with Psychiatric Morbidity OR P Depression Pakistani 2.26 0.009 Black Caribbean 2.61 0.013 Black African 2.59 0.009 Alcohol dependence Pakistani 0.26 0.023 Protestant 0.54 0.005 Catholic 0.38 0.004 Muslim 0.12 <0.001 Attends services 0.71 <0.001 Prays 0.72 <0.001 References: white, atheist/no religion
  13. 13. Findings (3) Associations with Psychiatric Morbidity OR P Depression Pakistani 0.28 0.001 Indian 0.49 0.042 Protestant 0.47 <0.001 Catholic 0.43 <0.001 Muslim 0.21 <0.001 Attends services 0.74 <0.001 Prays 0.77 <0.001 ASPD Indian 0.25 0.002 Pakistani 0.19 <0.001 Protestant 0.54 0.001 Muslim 0.26 <0.001 Attends services 0.78 <0.001 Prays 0.82 <0.001
  14. 14. Identity (4) • British culture – White – UK born – Not depressed – Not anxious – ASPD – No association religion – History of violence – Criminal convictions
  15. 15. Identity (5) • Own culture – Ethnic minority – Non-UK born – Religious – ASPD – History of violence
  16. 16. Support / Oppose war (6) • Support – White – UK born – Not religious – Not depressed – ASPD – History of violence – Criminal convictions
  17. 17. Support / Oppose war (7) • Oppose – Pakistani – Non-UK born – Muslim – Religious – Not anxious or depressed – Not alcohol dependant
  18. 18. Fight for / against British Army (8) • For – White – UK born – No religion – Alcohol dependence – Drug misuse – ASPD – History of violence – Criminal convictions – Imprisonment
  19. 19. Fight for / against British Army (9) • Against – Indian – Pakistani – Other Asian – Drug misuse – ASPD – History of violence – Imprisonment
  20. 20. Conclusions (1) • Bipolarization of attitudes in population • Most neutral or undecided • Risk of coalescence of extremism in minority subgroups?
  21. 21. Conclusions (2) Psychiatric Morbidity • Specific minority populations have higher prevalences of depression – Pakistani, Black • Religion protective against externalising morbidity and behaviour • Strong opinions – support or opposition to wars – not anxious or depressed • Willingness to fight – in or against army – ASPD, drug misuse, violence, imprisonment
  22. 22. Conclusions (3) Psychiatric Morbidity • Depression may be a risk factor for extremism and support for terrorism among Muslim populations (male and emale) • UK men (total sample) holding neutral views are more likely to be depressed • Increasing activity and support for a cause with willingness to fight are associated with lower prevalence of depression (protective?)
  23. 23. Conclusions (4) Psychiatric Morbidity • History of externalising behaviour – more likely to fight – for or against terrorism • Findings in 2011 confirmed extremism against UK associated with Pakistani origin, Muslim religion, and religiosity
  24. 24. • This presentation represents independent research commissioned by the U.K. National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Program Grants for Applied Research funding scheme (RP-PG-0407-10500). The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the U.K. National Health System (NHS), the NIHR or the U.K. Department of Health.

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