Our Teenage Suicide Bombers

Article by Stephan Simonian M.D.

Our Teenage Suicide Bombers

Hardly a day goes by without a newspaper or television news report of a suicide bombing incident. Here, a selection of those incidents from 2010.

- On October 18th, the BBC reported from Northwest Pakistan that police shot and killed the teenage driver of a Toyota Surf jeep. The unnamed, suspected bomber was “about 13-15 years old,” and had been speeding toward a checkpoint when the police opened fire.

- Last December 9, there was an AFP report: “Teenage suicide bomber kills 17 in Pakistan’s northwest.” In this incident, “a teenage suicide bomber killed 17 people at a busy Pakistani market Wednesday, the third attack in three days blamed on Islamist extremists bitterly opposed to the US-allied government. Three boys were among those killed when the bomber struck in Kohat, a city of at least half a million and one of the main army garrisons, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

- On April 19, 2010, The New York Times reported that “[a] teenage suicide bomber struck near a protest rally in the northwestern frontier city of Peshawar on Monday, killing a prominent police officer and as many as two dozen protesters, the police said.  A bomb disposal official said the young bomber was wearing a vest with as many as 15 pounds of explosives. “Television cameras showed a frenzied scene of Islamic youths from the protest helping people on to stretchers and clapping their hands in grief.”

Bombing in Islamabad, Pakistan

- On July 26th, a report from France International News: “Teenage suicide bomber targets anti-Taliban minister, kills 7.”  During this incident, “seven people were killed by a teenage suicide bomber on Monday in an attack on a senior anti-Taliban minister. The minister and other officials were unharmed.” Elsewhere in the same report it is stated that while “there was no immediate claim of responsibility, suspicion fell on the Islamist militants who have wrought carnage across Pakistan, killing more than 3570 people over the last three years.”

- On November 5, 2010, Reuters News reported “A teenage suicide bomber kills 10 in Afghanistan.  It describes the following, “A teenage suicide bomber killed at least 10 people and wounded 30 in an attack at a market in Afghanistan’s remote northwest, a provincial governor said on Friday.  The suicide bomber was a 16 year old boy and the attack was launched in a bazaar in the Khoja Sabz Posh district of Faryab, about 600 kilometers northwest of Kabul.

- On April 2, 2010, The New York Times reported on one of the two female suicide bombers who had killed 40 people in Moscow subway station attacks carried out during morning rush hour.  One of the bombers was a 17-year-old woman, Dagestani Dzhanet Abdullayeva; she detonated a belt of explosives inside the Park Kultury station. “Baby-faced, she looks barely a teenager,” reports the New York Times, “but the pistol she is holding in the photograph suggests the violent destiny that she would choose: blowing herself up in a subway station in Moscow during the morning rush on Monday.”

- On December 31, ABC News issued a report an intervention attempt for would-be bombers, “Rehab for terrorists,” read the headline, “Pakistan Tries Reintegration Program on Teen Extremists.” The report described the effort of Pakistani military officials in their attempt to “rehabilitate more than 150 teenage extremists” with “psychiatry, education and religion,” with an uncertain effects. “The opinion on whether terrorists can be rehabilitated are still mixed,” the article asserts. “Saudi Arabia has tried to reeducate known Jihadist’s for the past few years with limited success, but the Pakistani military believes its program can teach young men, ages 14-17, how to think for themselves and how to become productive members of society.”

Elsewhere the news goes on, endlessly depicting young teenagers blowing themselves up into pieces, with one excuse or another. The website Human Rights Today even has a separate page devoted to teenage suicide bomber reports. Perhaps surprisingly, most of these teenagers are not from areas with a history of violent conflict or genocide, places in which their homes were destroyed and their lives were dismantled. No reports exist that justify these suicidal missions.  Instead, most of these incidents occurred as a direct result of ideological differences, such as one religious sect against another; Sunni against Shiite, Muslim against Christian, Shiite against Sunni, or one political sect against another political sect, all under one nation and similar culture.

If these political and religious differences are so crucial and intense, necessitating this radical action, then why aren’t the parents and grandparents of these teenagers carrying out these missions?  The parent and grandparents must be more ideologically convinced of their righteousness.  One may ask, why wouldn’t their parents or community leaders carry out these missions on their own in order to let their youngsters live happy and full lives?  Furthermore, this trend raises the question of what is it about adolescents that makes them so readily available and prone to accept such missions, to blow themselves up, killing themselves and others.

Pakistani military official Pakistani Col. Iman Bilal explains the effort to “rehabilitate” young extremists as such: “The basic concept is to provide them all their comparative education, where they are able to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, that whatever was told to them previously is not true. Imam Bilal continues, “It is not all about being radical, it is about being a decent human being first.”

The orgonomic and Reichian point of view in this matter is rather different from the Pakistani officials. We believe that without the inclusion of the orgonomic principles, the vulnerability and risk of youngsters taking up such actions will continue, and with it will continue endless incidents of suicide bombings.

The vulnerability of these teenagers and young men to volunteer themselves so readily for such suicidal missions can be explained in terms of Reichian ideas.

Comprehension of the human psychological structure is essential for understanding both rational and irrational, social or anti-social, and healthy or sick behavior. Orgonomy recognizes the basic significance of bio-psychosexual-energy functioning in every living organism. It recognizes its pulsating quality and other characteristics of such an energy, the life energy, the orgone energy. This is the same energy that Freud named libido energy. In the book, Reich Speaks of Freud, Reich states  “Freud introduced the energy principle into psychology, and, in doing so, he broke the barrier which separated the science of that day from that of today.”

Elsewhere in the same book, Reich says the following “Basically, Freud discovered the principle of energy functioning of the psychic apparatus. The energy-functioning principle. This was what distinguished him from all other psychologists. Not so much the discovery of the unconscious. The unconscious, the theory of the unconscious, was, to my mind a consequence of the principle he introduced into psychology. That was the principle, the natural scientific principle, of energy – the ‘libido theory.”

Reich says the following, “Now, what are these social consequences? What are the social consequences of the libido theory? You have it in all of my publication.  I would like to summarize it in a few words: If you have a stream, a natural stream, you must let it stream. If you damn it up somewhere, it goes over the banks.  That’s all. Now when the natural streaming of the bio-energy is damned up, it also spills over, resulting in irrationality, perversions, neurosis and so on.”

Without recognition of the significance of this theory – the libido theory, or the theory of the psycho-sexual energy, orgone energy – human psychological structure can not be comprehended adequately; the disciplines of Psychology and Psychiatry will continue to be lost in convoluted and confusing theories.  For further information please see Reich’s Points of Departure from Freud.

Every human organism shares a basic function with all other living organisms starting from the protozoa. It is of the sharing the function of the pulsation.  This pulsating energy flows from the center of the organism to its periphery and it requires orderly metabolism.  In orgonomy, we describe it as economy of the energy.  Proper production and discharge of the energy is crucial in the healthy functioning of the living organism including humans.  Reich also called it “Sex Economy”, since biological energy and sexual energy are of the same and one entity, referring to the proper production and discharge, proper metabolism of this energy.  When the flow of this energy – when the economy and metabolism of this energy – is disturbed, it causes numerous psychological and physical disturbances in the body and psyche.  Energy production is highest in childhood and adolescence, and unfortunately its economy is also most disturbed during those years because of social restrictions.  If it is not discharged properly, this pulsating energy that constantly and incessantly springs inside the human organism will make the organism resemble a grossly over-inflated ball. Reich made the analogy of such an elastic ball with an organic bladder. In a section of the book The Function of the Orgasm, under the description of masochistic behavior, he describes the following;

“How would an organic bladder behave if it was inflated with air from within and was unable to burst – in other words, if it’s covering was capable of being stretched but not being torn? The picture of the human character as an armor around the core of the living organism was extremely significant. If such a bladder were put into an unresolvable condition of tension and it could express itself, it would complain, rendered helpless, it would seek the causes of its suffering outside of itself and make reproaches. It would beg to be pricked open. It would provoke its surroundings until it believed it has reached its goal. What it had failed to bring about spontaneously from the inside it would passively and helplessly expect from the outside.”


Discharge of this psychosexual energy is most complete and satisfactory by orgastic convulsions of the organism.  Without such satisfactory discharge of energy, significant part of the energy remains accumulated, and makes the teenager feel ready to explode.  Most of these teenage suicide bombers are from the cultures that are the most repressive and disapproving of sexuality in adolescence, causing the most severe repression of sexual discharge and consequently a sense of hopelessness of any prospect of pleasurable encounter and discharge of the energy. Making them vulnerable to the ideas of explosion, a sense that they already feel from within.  Such an idea of explosion would be appealing since it would relieve them from the painful pressure inside, let alone the prospect of pleasurable scenarios depicted for them after the explosion with sexual innuendoes.

We wonder if educators in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who want to rehabilitate these youngsters will have the structural health capable of gaining insight and courage to implement these principles and include them in their programs for their rehabilitations of the youth. We wonder if the public of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Pakistan will support them in including such principles in their rehabilitation program.  We wonder if educators in the United States will be able to take a leap and have the courage to incorporate these principles in the upbringing of youth as Reich has suggested some 70 years ago, to prevent incidents like Columbine High School and other mass killings that have occurred in the United States.  Or will we wait for another 50 years, if we haven’t blown ourselves up by then.

This post was written by:

- who has written 51 posts on Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.

Dr. Simonian is a general and child and adolescent psychiatrist. He completed medical school in Shiraz University, Shiraz Iran. He completed his general psychiatric residency training and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital Center. Concomitant with his psychiatry and child psychiatry training, Dr. Simonian completed the New York Medical College Psychoanalytic School Didactic Courses, including his own required personal psychoanalysis. In 1990, Dr. Simonian started his personal psychiatric orgone therapy, Reichian therapy, with Dr. Morton Herskowitz and in 1991 became a member of the Institute of Orgonomic Sciences (IOS), an Institute which is dedicated to promote and preserve Dr. Wilhelm Reich's work. Dr. Simonian started his private psychiatric practice in Milford, Massachusetts in 1984 and he was a chief of psychiatry department of Milford Regional Hospital for several years. He started his practice in Glendale, California since 2003. Dr. Simonian is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

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