Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

William Ascher

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Rights Information

2018 Sydney F Flynn


This paper aims to address possible psychoanalytical explanations for the heinous acts in which terrorists, particularly ISIS, engage. It focuses on Harold D. Lasswell’s principles of the id, ego, and superego as well as Tajfel and Turner’s social identity theory. Within the framework of these two theories, relevant psychological and social psychological theories are discussed in order to explore a possible connection between the psyche of violent perpetrators and their actions. By exploring these connections, I find that there may be more nuanced psychological explanations for these violent acts, which could lead to new methods of weakening perceived biases, intergroup conflicts, and extremist behavior.