Search Box

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fair and balanced

President Obama issued a brief statement today regarding yesterday's massacre in Norway:

"I spoke this morning to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to offer him the condolences of the American people. I wanted him to know that Michelle's and my prayers are with the families of those who were so tragically killed.

"But I would also like to add this note. We don't know all of the answers yet, and I would caution folks against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts. There has been some loose talk about how Mr. Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian fundamentalist and has ties to far right groups. But there is no proof that these killings had anything to do with his beliefs, and it would be an even greater tragedy if anybody were to use this as an excuse to demonize the far right, or, even worse, to think ill of blond, blue-eyed white people."


Anonymous said...

Breivik's mother was the perfect parent typical of a professionally diagnosed narcissist.
His mother probably had borderline, sexually abused Anders, told him he wish he were dead, and beat him. Typical signs. Breivik is definitely a type of sociopath too, but lacks the charm and ability to manipulate.

What else can I share?
Stalin's father was a heavy alcoholic (and his alcoholism was likely responsible for some of his birth defects like his uneven arm and webbed toe) which already was a bad sign for his brain chemistry from birth. Beat him frequently, and Stalin also grew up in a lawless gang ridden town in Georgia, more anti-social fuel. Though he displayed fear and anxiety frequently, unlike a Ted Bundy. Probably a combination of some genetic predisposition and but more environmental. The purely genetic sociopath with a great childhood has almost no anxiety or fear.

Hitler was a sickly child (more neurological vulnerability than being healthy) whose father was also an alcoholic drunkard who beat and abused him. His mother though was very loving and doting, this probably is why he is less sociopathic as a person compared to Stalin (Hitler was a lonely homeless starving uneducated artist, not a conman and bank robber like Stalin with a huge circle of criminal partners) was more unstable, paranoid, and prone to inconsistent behaviour. Probably borderline and neurotic. Heavy drug use in his later life made him more unstable. There is evidence of poor brain lateralization too and early onset parkinsons during the final years.

Some people take offense at trying to diagnose or figure out the roots of an evil man's neurology and psychology. A Jewish historian once said trying to professionally analyze hitler was equivalent to holocaust denial. I'd have to say to him sorry, but people will still do it.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Interesting, thank you. I knew none of those things, other than that Hitler's mother had been loving and doting.

I agree with you, people like Stalin and Hitler actually NEED to be analyzed even more than most, if only for preventive purposes. The answer to that Jewish historian is, are you saying you want more holocausts?

I've been asked before, was Hitler a sociopath, and I had to say, I don't know. As you point out, some of his background and lifestyle indicate that he might not have been.

Anonymous said...

I want to share this interesting link:
I am not an anarchist nor a Moore fan, but I liked this section.
The movie really changed so much.

Maybe a part of why some people living under tyrants don't just end them easily is because they will lose the ability to pin all the blame on them instead of taking responsibility. Or if the tyrant is gone so soon, the world will not be able to link the evil to him, but will just see mass graves and a bunch of people living near them.

I also sometimes wonder if it would be better if we captured Hitler alive and put him on trial. If the world could see what a pathetic madman he had become, and been tried and shown the footage of the camps he deliberately refused to ever visit, there would be fewer neo nazis. His suicide ensured people would question, he may have known while nazi germany would fall, he could keep the ideology alive and able to reappear later, he made himself a martyr for angry racist boys in 2017.


John Craig said...

Ga --
Hitler has become so mythologized, so universal a symbol of evil, that it would be near impossible to analyze him. And imagine if you came to some conclusion which somehow "exonerated," or at least slightly sympathized with him and his plight, and explained away his quirks and behavior the way some people with sympathize with someone who had been an abused child, no matter what a monster he turned out to be. You would do so at the risk of your career.

As that Jewish historian you (I'm assuming it was you in the first comment) said, trying to analyze Hitler is the equivalent of Holocaust denial. And we all know how that would influence your career.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to sympathize for who the person is. You can say "I pity the fact he was abused as a child, but I have no sympathy for who he is as an adult at all." But it doesn't matter in the end. You said we should still analyze them no matter the opinions, that is true. Capturing him alive would have done a great service in preventing further holocausts, it may feel repulsive, but the goal is to get good results for civilization.

That's what the OSS report "The Mind of Hitler" partially set out to do, and it also implied that people want to pin the blame on one man. Here is a quote:

"Earlier in his career the world had watched him with amusement. Many people refused to take him seriously on the grounds that "he could not possibly last." As one action after another met with amazing success and the measure of the man became more obvious, this amusement was transformed into incredulousness. To most people it seemed inconceivable that such things could actually happen in our modern civilization. Hitler, the leader of these activities, became generally regarded as a madman, if not inhuman. Such a conclusion, concerning the nature of our enemy, may be satisfactory from the point of view [Page 142] of the man in the street. It gives him a feeling of satisfaction to pigeon-hole an incomprehensible individual in one category or another. Having classified him in this way, he feels that the problem is completely solved. All we need to do is to eliminate the madman from the scene of activities, replace him with a sane individual, and the world will again return to a normal and peaceful state of affairs.

This naive view, however, is wholly inadequate for those who are delegated to conduct the war against Germany or for those who will be delegated to deal with the situation when the war is over. They cannot content themselves with simply regarding Hitler as a personal devil and condemning him to an Eternal Hell in order that the remainder of the world may live in peace and quiet. They will realize that the madness of the part of wholly the actions of a single individual but that a reciprocal relationship exists between the Fuehrer and the people and that the madness of the one stimulates and flows into the other and vice versa. It was not only Hitler, the madman, who created German madness, but German madness which created Hitler. Having created him as its spokesman and leader, it has been carried along by his momentum, perhaps far beyond the point where it was originally prepared to go. Nevertheless, it continues to follow his lead in spite of the fact that it must be obvious to all intelligent people now that his path leads to inevitable destruction. [Page 143]

From a scientific point of view, therefore, we are forced to consider Hitler, the Fuehrer, not as a personal devil, wicked as his actions and philosophy may be, but as the expression of a state of mind existing in millions of people, not only in Germany but, to a smaller degree, in all civilized countries. To remove Hitler may be a necessary first step, but it would not be the cure. It would be analogous to curing an ulcer without treating the underlying disease. If similar eruptions are to be prevented in the future, we cannot content ourselves with simply removing the overt manifestations of the disease. On the contrary, we must ferret out and seek to correct the underlying factors which produced the unwelcome phenomenon. We must discover the psychological streams which nourish this destructive state of mind in order that we may divert them into channels which will permit a further evolution of our form of civilization."


John Craig said...

Ga --
Interesting, and true.

I was a little disconcerted by this part of the quote:

"...the man in the street. It gives him a feeling of satisfaction to pigeon-hole an incomprehensible individual in one category or another."

I'm definitely guilty of that, in fact a lot of this blog is just about classifying people. Are they sociopaths, or Aspies, or what? That of course doesn't solve any problems. It does, however, help us understand them. You can't understand a Bill Clinton until you view him through the prism of sociopathy, likewise all the other sociopaths I've analyzed here. And you have to realize that Al Gore has Aspergers, otherwise his personality doesn't really make sense. Doing all this helps me make sense of the world, even if it doesn't really do any good.

Anonymous said...

It's not black and white. The analysis of one man is important to understand that one man. It explains a Ted Bundy and how to deal with him. But what happens to entire nations is a situation where you may initially have to use that one man to, like the whole report says, treat the ulcer first. Langer diagnosed him as a neurotic psychopath (psychopath being used in its old sense of "middle ground between sane and psychotic:foggy but not blind to reality", like how gay used to mean happy) with some schizophrenic traits (possibly used to mean a distorted view of reality, not any hallucinations or complete loss with reality). This quote may sum up a bit:

"[H]e is not insane in the commonly accepted sense of the term, but a neurotic who lacks adequate inhibitions. He has not lost complete contact with the world about him and is striving to make some kind of psychological adjustment that will give him a feeling of security in his social group. It also means that there is a definite moral component in his character no matter how deeply it may be buried or how seriously it has been disturbed."

So unlike a traditional sociopath like Stalin who has assigns no meaning or thought to the world, only looking for power for it's own sake using Marxism as a pretext, Hitler wanted to modify his world and inserted intention and meaning where he could, like with the Jews. And unlike Stalin, a traditional sociopath, instead of being indifferent to morality. He is in a state where his morality was disturbed or possibly inverted, seeing much bad as good, and much good as bad.

Another telling quote:
"...there lies behind Hitler's emphasis on brutality and ruthlessness the desolation of a forced and artificial inhumanity, not the amorality of the genuine brute, which has after all something of the power of a natural force."

Unlike a natural brute like Stalin, Hitler had a desire to be a brute but what to do didn't come so naturally, in some way he fancied himself a villain and acted accordingly to satisfy his own expectations of who he thought he was. Hence some of his atrocities were not pragmatic, some even absurd or over the top which hampered the war he was waging.

Another quote you may like is quite relevant to modern day Germany:
"In many of the German people there seems to be a strong feminine-masochistic tendency which is usually covered over by more "virile'" characteristics but which finds partial gratification in submissive behavior, discipline, sacrifice, etc. Nevertheless, it does seem to disturb them and they try to compensate for it by going to the other extreme of courage, pugnaciousness, determination, etc. Most Germans are unaware of this hidden part of their personalities and would deny its existence vehemently if such an insinuation is made. Hitler, however, appeals to it directly...."

There was this character disorder in the German people and Hitler which lead to a certain violence, dating all the way back to the times of the Holy Roman Empire. Perhaps not violent by nature the same way the Celts used to be, they, caught in a very warlike part of Europe, bred an abnormal psyche over time to cover up their insecurities.

Don't feel disconcerted, the report was for not just for understanding just one person. It was written to help a war effort. Also while this report has a lot of good insights, some of it is based on outdated Freudian psychology and tried too hard to use psychology for most explanations leaving out psychiatry and biology. There could have been certain biological racial traits of the German people worth mentioning for example, and using psychiatry to explain what made Hitler predisposed to his actions would be good, the psychology explaining how it manifested in him individually.


John Craig said...

Ga --
I'm probably exaggerating a bit by using the word "disconcerted." It doesn't bother me that much; to me, people are mysteries to be solved, and once you understand what their diagnosis is, you can interpret all their future actions through that prism, and their every action can be anticipated, in a way. And you can understand the motivation behind their actions as well.

I'm not sure I buy a diagnosis of someone which says that he's a little of this, a little of that. I know that different syndromes can coexist, but to use more than two generally means that you're interpreting various actions in various lights, and that strikes me as a little too convenient. Generally, one syndrome will predominate. That said, I can't come up with a cogent explanation of Hitler.