Deepti Ramaswamy

with pink scarf

Psychology (2021 cohort)


This research examines the psychological mechanisms that underpin the development of an extremist state of mind. It will seek to deepen our understanding of overlapping psychological and social processes involved in traumatic experiences and extremist engagement. Traumatic experiences examined here include experiences of identity-based trauma such as marginalisation, victimisation and discrimination and their impact on a person’s sense of belonging and status. It will also provide insight into the possibilities for future intervention strategies.

I am an experienced trauma therapist with diverse experiences within the NHS. In CAMHS and in the prison service, I worked with young people at risk of offending and offenders to help them identify how they got to where they are. I often found that treating their childhood trauma helped people to feel empathy for their victims and thus reduce their risk of offending/re-offending.

I have also worked overseas in the humanitarian sector as a mental health specialist in conflict zones such as Iraq, Syria and Myanmar. In Iraq, I treated and trained local psychologists to provide trauma therapy for Yezidi survivors of ISIS and ISIS child soldiers and families. In Syria, I trained staff in orphanages to support children of Syrian rebel fighters in government custody. In Myanmar, I worked on programs designed to provide mental health support to the Rohingya.

My varied experiences have provided me with significant clinical knowledge and experience of working with trauma. It has also led me to be curious about the stories people tell themselves about themselves. I have seen how these stories can be very disempowering and shameful for individuals and can spur them to engage in unhelpful activities to reclaim a sense of self-worth/status, belonging, safety and control. I have also seen how treating underlying traumas can support them to change this story into one that can be a source of strength and resilience.