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How To Break The Extremism Addiction- Dr. Emily Bashah and Paul Johnson Featured on MyJournalCourier


In a thought-provoking article by MyJournalCourier titled "Commentary: Here's how to break the extremism addiction," Paul E. Johnson and Dr. Emily Bashah, from "The Optimistic American," address the pressing issue of rising domestic terrorism and the urgent need to reframe our understanding of extremist ideologies. Their article emphasizes the similarities between addiction and extremist beliefs, shedding light on the psychological dynamics at play. By offering insights gained from their research and real-world experiences, Johnson and Bashah provide valuable recommendations for combating extremism and fostering a society rooted in compassion and individualism.


The Government Accountability Office reports a worrisome increase in domestic terrorism incidents across the United States, driven by racism, misogyny, and anti-Semitism. Drawing from their extensive work with domestic terrorists, Johnson and Bashah uncover striking parallels between extremist ideologies and addictive behaviors. They emphasize that extremist ideologies provide a sense of validation and superiority, triggering hormonal responses akin to addiction. Moreover, these ideologies categorize people into groups, foster isolation, and obstruct critical thinking. The authors argue that political reform, changes in education, and valuing individualism are essential to address the rising influence of extremist groups.

Key Takeaways:

  • Domestic terrorism incidents have been on the rise, with all but eight U.S. states experiencing at least one incident between 2010 and 2021.

  • Extremist ideologies act like addictions, offering participants psychological benefits and making it difficult for them to disengage.

  • Winning an argument within an extremist ideology releases hormones like adrenaline and dopamine, contributing to an artificial high.

  • Losing an argument triggers cortisol release, shutting down advanced thought processes and fueling reactionary responses.

  • Genocides, terrorism, and extremist organizations are underpinned by ideologies that categorize people into groups, often framing themselves as oppressed by an oppressor.

  • Extremist ideologies simplify complex problems, offer over-generalizations, and create a new language for their followers.

  • Ideologies based on a hierarchy of power are more prone to violence.

  • Extremist ideologies have infiltrated politics through low-turnout partisan primaries and gerrymandering, challenging the ideals of individualism.

  • Addressing extremism requires political reform, reducing the influence of extremist groups in partisan primaries, and educational reforms focused on valuing the individual.

  • Overcoming the addiction to extremist ideologies necessitates seeking balanced information, fostering optimism, listening to diverse perspectives, and taking personal accountability for our actions.


In a time where the threat of domestic terrorism looms large, Paul E. Johnson and Dr. Emily Bashah's article in MyJournalCourier offers valuable insights into breaking the extremism addiction. By recognizing the parallels between addiction and extremist beliefs, they emphasize the significance of seeking balance, embracing optimism, and fostering human connection to counteract the allure of extremism. Through political and educational reforms, coupled with a commitment to individualism and service, we can create a society rooted in compassion and heal the divides that plague our nation. Let us remember that hate can never be a substitute for true patriotism and service to one another.

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