Mental Health Professionals Preface to
A Declaration of Global Responsibility
By David Gruder, Ph.D.
I've written this preface especially for mental health professionals, as a preamble to my "Declaration of Global Responsibility" document that should accompany this. I've been working on this Declaration since shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks. I was in New York at the time and spent hours at ground zero on the one week anniversary of the attack. The accompanying Declaration grew out of a personal values statement that I felt compelled to write as anpart of my personal recovery from the trauma of being so close to this disaster. I had no idea that my own personal statement would develop a life of its own, now having transformed into something very much larger than I'd ever set out to birth: a document that is no longer for me alone, but perhaps for you too, and just possibly for many, many people around the world.
For those of you who know me, I have not written this Declaration as Executive Director of Willingness Works™ and Integrity Revolution, LLC, or as Founding President of the Association for Comprehensive Psychology, but instead as a personal statement from a psychologist who feels a responsibility to speak up with whatever modicum of expertise I may have acquired in my decades as a mental health professional. I believe the time has come for our entire mental health field to similarly speak up about the issues of terrorism and fanaticism in ways we never have before.
I have become firmly convinced that, mental health experts and social scientists have a social obligation to publicly address the dynamics of fanaticism and terrorism. We have too much vitally important expertise to remain uninvolved in formulating an effective response to issues of such vital concern to our planet at this time. The September 11 attacks and their aftermath have made it clear that mental health experts have a new ethical, social and spiritual responsibility to use our knowledge to help the world community identify, understand and correct the harmful social conditions that make it possible for terrorists to lure and brainwash others to support their violence. Fulfilling this obligation is part of helping restore healing to our world community.
Traditionally, the mental health field has remained clinically neutral and politically silent on social issues. Current conditions necessitate that we transcend these outmoded notions and speak more directly and bluntly than ever before regarding fanaticism and terrorism. It is time that we as a field accept that it is professionally irresponsible not to take a stance on the causes and consequences of fanaticism and terrorism.
Mental health expertise is needed at all levels of society (from individuals and families to communities, religions, and whole countries) to identify Fanaticism Disorder in all its forms as mental illness. If mental health professionals do not actively offer their expertise, well-meaning people—both leaders and private citizens—will unintentionally undermine the world's peace and safety by trying to use reason in dealing with terrorists, who, being insane, are not capable of reason. The insane need to be contained, not reasoned with; because their disorder renders them unwilling to change their minds or their strategies, it is impossible, given our present psychotherapeutic capabilities, to provide treatment that will heal their mental disorder.
Mental health professionals and social scientists can also use their expertise to help us understand the insane and those they lure to their cause. The purpose of understanding these people is not to absolve them of culpability for their actions (they absolutely must be held responsible for what they have done).
We can help citizens and leaders understand terrorists so that all can better understand how to alleviate whatever social, economic or political ills they capitalize on to bring followers under their sway. Social conditions that motivate those who are suffering to vow allegiance to these insane individuals are the fertilizer that nourishes the growth of insanity, and thus of fanaticism and terrorism. Only when these harmful social conditions are identified and eliminated will we end the cycle of fanaticism, terrorism and violence that has been such a destructive thread in humanity's fabric for many millennia.
If we don't add our special expertise on these issues to the pool of talent needed to end violence and terrorism, who will? And if not now, when?
If you resonate with the perspectives I've articulated in the accompanying Declaration of Global Responsibility, I ask you to forward it to everyone you believe should have it in their hands: friends, relatives, colleagues, the communities of which you are a part, and every influential person you may know (or anyone who themselves may be able to get this into the hands of a world leader or someone else with influence, such as someone in show business). If this Declaration is destined to have significant impact, this will occur as a grass roots effort, because I am not equipped to do all that on my own.
I hope you will take the time to read the Declaration of Global Responsibility in its entirety. And, if you are an American, that you also read the Preface for Americans.
In the spirit of peace,
David Gruder, Ph.D.
Author of The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World
Future revisions of the Declaration and/or its Prefaces are likely to occur.
Originally drafted: San Diego, California, September 28, 2001 (August 2004 revision)
© 2001-2004 Dr. David Gruder