Suicide bombings and the self

Kristján Kristjánsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The failure to locate a unifying psychological profile of suicide bombers should prompt moves to a more extended and interdisciplinary front, availing itself of insights from disciplines such as sociology, philosophy and history of ideas, as well as from psychology. This paper aims in that direction by exploring ‘traditional’ versus ‘western liberal’ conceptions of the self, with special emphasis on their possible pathologies; and by integrating those pathologies with insights from Durkheimian suicidology. It is hypothesised that suicide bombers in the West are typically callow, malleable young men targeted by terror merchants, and that their suicide missions are, first and foremost, acts of deluded self-enhancement, which need to be understood against the backdrop of the western liberal conception of the self. Finally, some implications for moral education are suggested.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-119
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Global Ethics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


    • Moral education
    • Self-conceptions, traditional and western/liberal
    • Self-enhancement
    • Suicide bombers
    • Suicidology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy
    • Sociology and Political Science


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