Often it becomes difficult to evaluate odd behavior in a person like most of Jahar’s high school and university peers. Psychologists, however, have specific guidelines that can be used to assess the pathological behavior of an individual. Criteria are five-factor and are composed of breach of social standards, personal discomfort, ill-adapted behavior, unusualness, and impaired vision.
The breach of social norms may be defined as contrary to what is considered common by society. Infringement of societal expectations, therefore, includes attitudes and acts that deviate from the social principles of what is right. Breaches of social norms or social deviance are the criterion that has been used by many psychologists to determine the person’s abnormal behavior. The criteria are five-factor and are comprised of; violation of social norms, personal distress, maladaptive behavior, unusualness and faulty perceptions.
Violation of social norms can be described as going against what is considered normal by the society. Social norms violation, therefore, involves behaviors and actions that deviate from the social standards of what is right. Breaches of social norms or social deviance is the criterion that has been used by many psychologists to determine the person’s abnormality. In this case, multiple instances of abnormality are demonstrated by Zahar’s deviance from social norms. For example, in not less than one occasion, by word of mouth, through his twitter account, and his actions, Jahar is defensive of terror. Jahar, in an incident, drove home with his friend in BMW car with a lavish number plate labeled ‘TERRORISTA.’ In discussion with his friend about their perception on terrorism, Jahar fearlessly argues for and justifies terrorism. Support of terrorism and especially in the American society is perceived as deviance from social norms and hence abnormality. The American perception on terrorism is that only abnormal persons can support terrorism.
Personal distress is the second criterion for determining abnormality. Ultimately, when people engage in abnormal behavior, they are more likely to be distressed. Consequently, people in distress will sort behaviors that can relieve them from stress. This scenario is evident from Jahar’s lifestyle and especially his campus life. Jahar’s engagement in drugs and drug business is a clear reflection of a person experiencing emotional and mental strains. Jahar’s twitter posts seemingly indicated someone trying to relieve himself from distress caused by an internal conflict. Through these, it was easy to determine Jahar’s abnormality.
The third criterion for determining abnormality is faulty perceptions or what can be termed as reality interpretation. In this case, abnormal people develop ideologies within their minds that define and interpret what is happening around them and in their lives. These ideologies are faulty and more of hallucinations and delusion. However, these ideologies are held strongly by those who believe them. Most common ideologies are based on politics and religion. Jahar was largely caught up in false Islamic ideologies which highly cultivated to his belief that Americans are rivals to Islam and that’s why they have continually attacked the Islamic states. Jahar’s ideologies and perceptions are brought out in his arguments and twitter posts which he often used to express his thoughts. For instance, Jahar once told his friend Will that terrorism can be justified, and Jahar once posted Prophet Muhammad quote “For me to know that I am FREE from HYPOCRISY is dearer to me than the weight of the ENTIRE world in GOLD” and further made a declaration that “Never underestimate the rebel with a cause” while referring to Americans (Rolling Stone). These echoes Jahar’s faulty perceptions on Islam and against Americans.
Moreover, Unusualness is also used to determine abnormality. Unusualness refers to a situation where person deviates from his standard and commonly known state or behavior. Initially at the high school, as described by payback and most of his friends, Jahar was calm, friendly and a person you could easily go with. However, Jahar transformed while in his university life at UMass where he started expressing his thoughts in support of terrorism through his twitter account. His behavior change is as well reflected when he began to visit Islamic sites on jihadist frequently.
Maladaptive behavior is the fifth criterion. This is when a person behaves in a way likely to hurt the other. Jahar’s maladaptive behavior is evident in his argument with Will on American policy. Contrary to the expectation of Will and making it clear to his friend that he won’t like it, he openly supports terrorism as he said ‘some of those acts were justified because of what the U.S. does in other countries, and that they do it so frequently, dropping bombs all the time.’
The psychodynamic perspective best describes the abnormal behavior of Jahar’s thought processes and behavior that led to the bombing attack. Psychodynamic perspective proposes that the personality of the adult is largely influenced or determined by the childhood experience. This perspective model is more based on the unconscious psychological processes. Freud, the author of this theory, believed that psychological disorders are as a result of anxiety caused by unconscious and unresolved disputes and this disorder can only be treated by identifying and resolving the conflict.
Jahar’s childhood experience was surrounded by controversies and unresolved conflicts that were difficult for him to define. From his origin to his life in America until his arrest, Jahar can be said to have never experienced any part or form of good life which continuously conflicted his mind. Jahar hailed from Chechnya an Islamic country which was dominated by political wars which led his parents to seek asylum in the United States of America. By this time Jahar was young, and therefore there was less opportunity for him to learn, experience and understand his culture. More than once, culture deficit haunted him and felt that his culture was best and it was best if he could be reintroduced to his cultural home and live to his culture and especially when his parents divorced and both left America to Russia. Jahar’s brother -Tamerlan and mother- Zubeidat who were very assistive, strict and emphasized on the Islamic religion as well largely contributed to the development of unresolved disputes in Jahar’s mind and radicalization (Rolling Stone). Jahar’s separation from his parents, the divorce of his parents and the entire continuous problems that faced his family since their first day in America was other contributing factors to Jahar’s internal conflicts. As a result, Jahar resulted to a strong feeling of lack of sense of belonging and desperation, and therefore the only way he could identify himself with was his religion and nothing else but to defend it. This is the thought process that led to the bombing.
The increasing dominance of family problems hardly made Jahar get through his increasingly disturbing thinking. Jahar’s family was deep in problems; right from financial constraints to his parents’ divorce. Although Jahar hardly showed it, it was deep into his mind and arduous for him to understand the cause and the course of his family problems (Rolling Stone).
Jahar was highly conservative to his religion. Having originated from an active Muslim based Islamic state and grown up in an Islamic family background, Jahar acquired high Islamic culture which could hardly be changed by his new and foreign American culture despite the fact that the American culture had dominated the larger part of his life. It was therefore hard for anyone to intervene and introduce a new believe to him.
Jahar as well lacked mentors to guide him in the orientation and integration to his new American culture which could have prevented the internal culture conflict in Jahar’s mind.
Moreover, all through his life, Jahar experienced high religion influence, especially from his mother and brother. At some point, Jahar even feared going home high for fear of his brother. It was therefore difficult for him to reflect on his life and define the mysteries surrounding his problems.
Again, the American education system was less accommodative to foreign cultures. The system should have been based on programs and structures that seek to mentor students from a foreign culture to their new American culture.
Jahar’s stress was mainly cultivated by internal culture conflict and family problems. His efforts to define and understand these internal and external stressors influenced his thinking process and the thinking process consequently lead to his behavior. This is what resulted in his bombing action.
In my opinion, Jahar appeared to apply stress coping strategies. According to his friends, Jahar was outgoing and easy to go with’; some of his friends described him as ‘ a beautiful, tousle-haired boy with a gentle demeanor, soulful brown eyes, and the kind of shy, laid-back manner that made him that dude you could always just vibe’ (Rolling Stone). This signifies Jahar’s effort to cope with stress through the social support strategy. Also, according to his coach Payack, Jahar was widely involved in wrestling which he performed well. This indicates Jahar’s efforts to sort physical activity as his stress coping strategy.
In other occasions, Jahar could apply negative stress coping strategies such as indulging in drugs which is evident from one of his friend’s remarks which described Jahar as one who liked ‘soccer, hip-hop, girls; obsessed over The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones; and smoked a copious amount of weed’ (Rolling Stone).
Nevertheless, most of his strategies did not help but rather hurt his ability to cope with stress. For instance, despite his efforts to highly involve himself with friends in parties and other social scenes, his friends could not help as Jahar could not open up on the challenges he was facing but rather chose to remain conservative. Moreover, Jahar’s engagement in drugs and especially in the university only led him into more conflicted thoughts.