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Citizen, interrupted: the 2011 English riots from a psychosocial perspective

  • G. Aiello (a1) and C. M. Pariante (a1)

Abstract

Aims.

This is a contribution to the debate over the 2011 English riots from a psychosocial perspective.

Methods.

We compare the impulsive and ‘mindless’ behaviour of rioters with the impulsive, violent and contradictory behaviour of people affected by severe personality disorders.

Results.

We propose that the lack of a sense of social identity and of mentalization skills is a common feature of the two conditions – the lack of social identity, leading to frustration and anger, coupled with a lack of mentalization, leading to the impulsive and violent expression. Furthermore, we highlight the confusing impact that the social marginalization and consumerism can have on young generations from lower classes in cities from the Western world.

Conclusions.

By building a parallel with the therapeutic intervention offered to severe personality disorders, we speculate on how the community, by modifying its communication's style and actively intervene in deprived socio-economic contexts, could inspire more confidence, trust and sense of belonging in its marginalized members.

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Copyright

The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence . The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Carmine M. Pariante MD, MRCPsych, PhD, Professor in Biological Psychiatry and Head of the Sections of Perinatal, Psychiatry and Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, Room 2-055, The James Black Centre, 125 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5 9NU, UK. (Email: carmine.pariante@kcl.ac.uk)

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