The Center for the Study of Trauma and Radicalization (CSTR) is dedicated to:
CSTR works in conjunction with its affiliated agency Parallel Networks, Inc.—a not-for-profit dedicated to combating hate, hyperpolarization, and extremism. CSTR’s relationship to Parallel Networks permits a leveraging of Parallel Networks’ access to victims of extremism, individuals, family members and friends of those susceptible to, or currently radicalized, as well as those that have disengaged after once belonging to radical/extremist movements. Additionally, CSTR partners with governmental and non-governmental organizations that are witnessing and increasingly identifying the role trauma can play in radicalizing both recruits and entire communities in contexts of both peace and conflict.
The realm of trauma treatment, at large, is a fascinating one. New avenues for healing and recovery are moving the field of trauma treatment beyond traditional interventions that have relied predominantly on cognitive behavioral and talk therapies. Recent discoveries in fields such as neurobiology, psychopathology, network science, and neuroscience are generating an emerging understanding of the underpinning processes and experiences related to trauma, while enhancing the evidence-base for non-traditional forms of trauma treatment. Many interventionary methods that emphasize mind-body awareness can now be measured and evaluated.
Treatment professionals are documenting neurobiological connections between the nervous system and mind by recording interoception and proprioception information. Such data-gathering is steeped in scientific evidence, which has revealed that the more emotional the traumatic experience, the less the recollections of traumatic events are recalled correctly (although a person’s perception of the events ultimately becomes their reality). And so, mind-body healing through trauma treatment interventions can be measured through how patient(s) are able to resource their body to access and reconstruct memories, which in-turn alters their perceptions of these traumatic events and, consequently, their realities as well. These scientific advancements indicate the prospects for an impending Kuhnian paradigm shift.
Practitioners of trauma treatment are moving beyond more traditional treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, into modalities that have a direct correlation between the patient and their body. Some of these therapies include: Compassionate Inquiry; Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM); Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT); Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR); Internal Family Systems (IFS); Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP); Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor (PBSP); Somatic Experiencing (SE); and Transforming the Experience-Based Brain (TEB). They are also incorporating other evidence-based findings on the stress-trauma-disease connection through studies like the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE), which has led to the identification of early life adversity and toxic stress as strong precursors and predictors of negative outcomes later in life. These revelations are now being explored in individual cases and arenas of conflict that are ripe for radicalization.
CSTR merges this developing comprehension of trauma with an enhanced identification of the potential links between trauma and radicalization, cycles of hate, polarization and violence. Today, violent extremist incidents are growing; refugee levels are at all-time highs; and large portions of humanity reside in areas of conflict. Thus, exploring the links between trauma and radicalization can help induce a paradigm shift in the field of countering violent extremism (CVE) as well.
In cases of violence, and in particular cases of terrorism, perpetrators often lack the ability to regulate their bodily response to perceived danger. The psychology of violent extremism has even been defined as a, “psychological totalization of thought regarding the effects of emotional pain and psychological suffering that overwhelm the cognitive thought process”. Ideological convictions can be experienced as an addiction that fulfills a spiritual void and loss of psychosocial connection consistent with the symptoms of trauma. Radicalization studies have recognized this and are identifying trauma as a root cause in individual and collective violence. 
Numerous studies are identifying how trigger mechanisms associated with supporting or engaging in extremist violence involve psychological traumas, which can even be experienced genetically via parents with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other complex psychological problems. A study of right-wing extremists, for example, found that: 45 percent were victims of childhood physical abuse; 21 percent sexual abuse; 46 percent were neglected as children; and these are rates exponentially higher than the general population. A United Nations study in Africa found that a stark majority of those that had joined violent extremist organizations pointed to traumatic event(s) as having triggered their eventual decision to join. Others show that transitioning traumatic circumstances to post-traumatic growth is highly dependent on whether those traumatized held strong social bonds to family, friends, or community organizations.
In determining how a person responds to trauma, a large number of intersecting factors are at play, but those that cope typically process the trauma, whether consciously or unconsciously, in the context of positive social environments, communities and familial relationships. Creating positive social environments in which traumatized refugees; soldiers of war; prisoners; violent extremists; returning foreign fighters; and others can reintegrate the connection between their bodies and minds can allow such individuals to more effectively deal with symptoms. And so, such socially-based interventions not only provide a means of addressing individual risk-factors, but also of reorienting radicalization through shifting the individual’s perception of past traumatic events, so that such individuals can address legitimate grievances (i.e. original parental trauma) through non-violent methods of political or social contestation.
At the same time, as political and social polarization enhances, the influence and appeal of radical ideologies increases. Transformation in digital communication and online radicalization suggests that the conditions for hyperpolarization will persist. The Gen-Y and Z’ers of today have been raised in the midst of a globalized digital revolution. They are tech-savvy and engaged over social media at phenomenal numbers. Where one used to talk about the internet and technology as a tool for democratization, these generations are now set to be both diverse and polarized, living in a world with rising rates of radicalization risk factors such as bullying; xenophobia; sexual and physical abuse; discrimination; addiction; and suicide. These risk factors, at their core, are often manifested symptoms of trauma. Countering violent extremism is likely to prove a generational struggle.
Treating victims of extremism is also essential, particularly in a post-War on Terror ambit, which could be described as a collective case of global PTSD. For example, trauma associated with familial victims of 9/11 first responders and relief workers show persistent rates of trauma that are still active, and predicted to move far into the future. Additionally, since 2001, 2.77 million American service members have served in the War on Terror, with 18.5% of returning veterans reporting symptoms consistent with PTSD or depression. CTSR will build off of these identifications and in fulfilling its objectives help shed insight into how polarization, hate and extremism can be addressed at the traumatic core as opposed to mere symptomatic levels.
To explore the link between trauma and radicalization, CSTR will pull together both practitioners and experts in the field of trauma treatment in general and place them in contact with some of the leading academics, scientists, and thinkers in the field of radicalization studies. In so doing CSTR will have constructed the scaffolding upon which new understanding and knowledge can unfold. CSTR can thus explore the effect of advanced trauma treatments on individuals but also communities and collectives as a whole.
Our members incorporate practices from all over the world and our work will be cultivated by and culturally adjusted to localized populations. CSTR seeks to answer questions, develop interventions, and build programming and partnerships that can help explore and treat trauma within vulnerable, underserved populations, as well as those affected by radical or extremist movements, hyperpolarization or hate. As Albert Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." From this vein of thought, CSTR seeks to advance the field of radicalization while contributing to an overall paradigm shift in science and human consciousness.
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 To open the United States Institute of Peace’s RESOLVE Network annual conference in 2018, co-founder Jesse Morton and Mike Niconchuk led with two presentation on the experiences of trauma and deradicalization and ways to measure the impact of trauma in conflict zones.
 Bessel van der Kolk explains interoception as, “sitting with yourself, noticing what’s going on inside— the basic principle of meditation.” http://www.traumacenter.org/clients/MagInside.Su09.p12-13.pdf
 Applications of these methods to the realm of Radicalization have been discussed by our co-founder Jesse Morton, team member Dr. James Gordon and others at the United States Institute for Peace: https://www.usip.org/events/how-rehabilitate-and-reintegrate-violent-extremists
 Patrick J. Christian, Aleksandra Nesic, David Steffen, Et. Al. “Origin and Epidemiology: Extremism and Radicalization are Psychosocial Processes, not Religious Beliefs.” Joint Special Operations Press. June 2017.
 "People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life,” https://ptgi.uncc.edu/ptg-research-group