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Understanding and Helping Those Addicted to Extreme Addictive Ideologies


Paul Johnson and Emily Bashah

Introduction: In our book, "Addictive Ideologies," we have received numerous letters from individuals concerned about their loved ones who have become entangled in damaging ideological frameworks. These individuals witness the withdrawal, anger, and resentment exhibited by their family members, who form new problematic friendships. This blog post aims to explore the question of what can be done when someone we care about is being drawn into an ideology that is harmful to them.

Understanding Addictive Ideologies

"Addictive Ideologies" delves into the world of genocide, terrorism, and political extremism, posing essential questions about how seemingly "normal" people participate in horrific events. The book asserts that addictive ideologies associated with violence tend to separate people into oppressed and oppressor groups, leading individuals to associate primarily with like-minded individuals who share the same ideology. This isolation can breed more violence. Traits of addiction are observed in individuals who continue to engage in harmful behaviors despite the negative consequences they inflict upon themselves and their loved ones.

Approaching Ideological Addiction

Addiction as a Coping Mechanism

Factors Influencing Radicalization

The Impact on Society

Satisfying the Desire to be Right

The Path to Violence

Breaking Free


Addressing the issue of addictive ideologies is complex and challenging. It requires a multifaceted approach involving early prevention, education, psychological support, and community resilience-building. Recognizing the signs of ideological addiction, understanding the underlying factors that drive radicalization, and providing alternative avenues for meaning and belonging are vital steps towards helping individuals break free from the grip of extreme ideologies. By offering support, empathy, and understanding, we can play a crucial role in reclaiming the lives of our loved ones and preventing further harm to individuals and society at large.


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