We've isolated a cognitive and emotional state of mind called Identity Vulnerability that occurs prior to attachment to destructive ideology.  This state of Vulnerability allows an individual to even be open to  extremist thinking. 

Identity Vulnerability allows an individual to become more easily manipulated by external influence and instigators that threaten and indicate susceptibility to non-mainstream ideology. Attachment to a new narrative in this state of mind can change an individual's perception, personal qualities, beliefs and social ties.

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Identity Vulnerable individuals exhibit a high need for cognitive closure or dislike of ambiguity, a quest for personal significance and the need to belong. They display high rejection sensitivity and binary, black and white thinking, which can easily translate into "them vs. me."

Often times these individuals are ostracized or socially marginalized in some way, either due to institutionalized prejudice or their own alienating behaviors.   

These individuals actively seek narratives that validate their perceived grievances and allow them to regain a sense of empowerment and control over their own destiny. They seek to be the “hero” of their personal story and to escape feelings of insignificance characterizing their current situation.

Vulnerable individuals can have greater susceptibility to extremist recruitment of all varieties, which give them a sense of belonging and validation, creating perceived structure, order and significance in their lives.

Individuals in this state of mind are at a crossroads where they are particularly vulnerable to messaging. The importance of an alternative message for at-risk individuals to connect with or to plant seeds of doubt is pivotal during this vulnerable point in time.

The 'MPOWER Project believes that Identity Vulnerability serves as the baseline through which motivators to violence of all forms (to self and to others) should be considered, with other more individual and localized grievances layered on from there. 

The below video is meant to demonstrate the headspace of Identity Vulnerability that is fairly common and can be brought on by a variety of life and personal circumstances.  We believe that Identity Vulnerability represents a time when someone is most vulnerable to ideas and attachments of many varieties - a time when someone is seeking connection with something and when messaging can be the most influential in shaping their path forward.   

We are focused on reaching individuals when they are in the early phase of questioning their significance and place within the world and just beginning to look for something to attach to.  

 

 
“If young people do not find a purpose, a purpose will find them.”
— Christian Picciolini