Cambridge Security Programme (CSP)

December 2007. The Cambridge Security Programme is operationally closed. This site is maintained as a historical archive. Information on this site is no longer current.

Psychopathology of Socio-Political Control

Development of a knowledge model on fundamentalist and other extremist mindsets, based on a pilot project testing the impact of the Soviet system on collective psychology. The study draws on experts in psychology, anthropology, sociology and political science in order to understand motivations and community support of extremist behavior. Contributive study: Motivations in immigrant communities for adopting terrorist activity. This project will involve the appointment of a full time Research Fellow.

This project is designed to identify the personality structure of individuals who become involved in political ideologies and movements that demand commitment to a set of ideas and values that emphasise the role of the collective over the individual. It is based on the assumption, derived from earlier work on personality alteration in totalitarian contexts that, in a social setting, an individual psyche is always subject to a dynamic tension between individual desires, internalised moral constraints and externally imposed restrictions on individual behaviour. Psychic structure is, then, determined by the balance between these three forces, in which the internalised moral constraints normally supervene over external restriction. Conversely, a dominant role played by the process of internalisation of external restriction may indicate a personality pre-disposed towards the endorsement of collective agendas that seek conformity and nihilistic attitudes towards the role of individual choice and responsibility.