There’s a growing body of research that suggests that mental illness and radical ideology are not mutually exclusive.
New studies have challenged several decades of thinking that psychological problems are only a minor factor in the making of terrorists. The research has instead found a significant link between mental problems and “lone wolf” terrorism.
Now academics and law enforcement officials are working to turn that research into tools to prevent deadly attacks.
“It’s never an either-or in terms of ideology versus mental illness,” said Ramon Spaaij, a sociologist at Australia’s Victoria University who conducted a major study, funded by the U.S. Justice Department, of lone wolf extremists. “It’s a dangerous cocktail.”