Toward Understanding the Violence in Boston: Dr. Rahn bailey on fox news

The reasons for committing terrorist acts like the Boston Marathon bombing are complex, according to Dr. Rahn Bailey, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College and NMA president. But many times, the same motivations appear from case to case when examining the evidence.

Bailey, who appeared on Fox News April 20, told his interviewers that the reasons for employing such acts of violence are always difficult to figure out. Click here and here to view the interview, in two segments.

"Often we find that they have fear themselves—fear of being impotent, being unable to act out and be engaged in effective behavior, fear of being able to get their way, or to be strong or active in all of their considerations," Bailey said.  "We think that very often these issues of depression and anxiety are substantial...Very often they act out in these more violent ways to kind of get back on track. Unfortunately, it puts the lives...of other persons at risk."

Many times, Bailey said, the association with a cause is the great motivator for terrible acts, and, in the mind of the terrorist, can confuse what is just with what is immoral. "Typically, we find that persons actually engaged in this behavior are recalling...the cause of comrades—a cause that's bigger than individuals or some particular problem based on an individual family member or friend or coworker or relative...something that we don't even really know about that is more important to them than to the rest of us and difficult to prevent."

People who act in such violence reconcile themselves outside traditional morality and ethical values, Bailey said. "We do think that a person probably has to give not that much value or much importance [to those values] if they're going to take the risk of striking out in this way," Bailey said.  "These bombs, for example, were clearly meant to hurt random persons—persons who might just happen to be running by in a marathon at that time or bystanders."

Bailey said the mindset of the terrorist is very similar to that of bullies. "Bullying certainly implies an individual takes advantage of their strength, their undue circumstance—they're bigger and taller—to put a smaller peer at a disadvantage physically. When you move to the extreme of these type of random violent acts, there's some similarities—the idea of using a bomb or weapons...of mass destruction where you can strike out in a large way in a short period of time, again, against innocent persons has some of that same theme."

While the question arises as to biological causes for violent tendencies in people like the Boston Marathon bombers, Bailey said forensic evidence doesn't necessarily tie the neurobiology to the act. "Very often, more than biological, it's sociological and the psychology [that's] out of balance."