A violent true believer (abbr. VTB) is an individual dedicated to an ideology or belief system advocating homicide and suicide as legitimate means of advancing a particular cause. Such persons are strongly committed to their beliefs, completely ignoring any objections and alternative views. Suicide is not necessary to define a VTB. Violent true believers commonly interact with others who share their opinions, but can also be lone wolves.[1]

The term violent true believer was coined by forensic psychiatrist Dr. J. Reid Meloy, who has described several categories of such individuals and their motivation.[2] The traits and possible disorders of VTBs are described in diagnostic systems DSM-IV and ICD-10 F, but VTB is not a medical diagnosis in itself - the term is used in the fields of forensic psychology and criminology.

Law enforcement officers and soldiers differ from violent true believers, as they behave in a lawful context and do not embody the zealous, homicidal and suicidal mindset characteristic to VTBs.

Typology[edit | edit source]

Unfaltering - Rigid believers of a political, religious or social cause. May, but do not necessarily, be intelligent, aggressive, narcissist or paranoid.

Affiliative - Primarily followers of an authority figure or group.

Criminal - Action-oriented rather than motivated by beliefs or views. Criminal VTBs are rarely suicidal, as they tend to kill or commit acts of violence for its own sake.

Psychotic - Suffering of major mental disorders, typically prone to delusions and paranoia. Although their thinking may be zealous and rigid, their behaviour can appear irrational and unpredictable. Psychotic individuals cope poorly with stress, and the psychotic VTB may actually break down in front of an impending crime.

Opportunistic - typical narcissistic individuals, whose cause is primarily themselves and the ideological or religious cause becomes secondary.

Examples[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. J. Reid Meloy, Kris Mohandie, Anthony Hempel, Andrew Shiva (2001). "The Violent True Believer: Homicidal and Suicidal States of Mind (HASSOM)" (PDF). Journal of Threat Assessment (Haworth Press) 1 (4): 1–14. ISSN 1533-2608. http://forensis.org/PDF/published/2001_TheViolentTrueB.pdf. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  2. J. Reid Meloy (13 July 2011). "Perspective: Violent True Believers". FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (July 2011). ISSN 0014-5688. http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/july-2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 


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