Friday, May 09, 2008

CORNERING THE WORLD MARKET ON PSYCHOPATHS ? When Culture Facilitates the Development of Psychopathy

Why is it that the Islamic world seems to have an excess of psychopaths in positions of power? Are they actively trying to corner the world market?

First we have the nutjob-in-chief of Iran, who Thursday declared:
...that the state of Israel is a "stinking corpse" that is destined to disappear, the French news agency AFP reported.

"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as having said.

"Today the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation."

Ahmadinejad further stated that Israel "has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese" - referring to the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

Next we have Hasan Nasrallah, another posterboy for Islamic mega-dysfunction and hate:
The decision by the Lebanese government to shut down a private telephone network operated by the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah was an act of war and Hezbollah would defend itself, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said on Thursday.

The comments were among Mr. Nasrallah’s strongest since the beginning of Lebanon’s months-long political crisis and may signal a new level of confrontation between Hezbollah and its supporters and the Western-backed government. Tensions have escalated in recent days, and clashes and gunfire continued on the streets of Beirut on Thursday as Hezbollah tried to enforce a general strike called by labor unions.

On Tuesday, the government said that it would send troops to shut down a telephone network operated by Hezbollah in south Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

“This decision was a declaration of war and the start of war on the resistance and its weapons,” Mr. Nasrallah said, speaking via satellite at a news conference convened by Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

“Our response to this decision is that whoever declares or starts a war, be it a brother or a father, then it is our right to defend ourselves and our existence,” he said.

Please note that he doesn't believe Israel has any right to defend itself. But, as long as the psychopaths of Hezbollah are kept occupied by murdering their 'brothers', Israel is probably saf.

Or, how about the recently captured leader of Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq--you know, the guy who inherited the coveted mantle of murderous-thug-in-chief after Zarqawi the Beheader was finally exterminated. Remember his most recent videotape?
In an hour-long audio tape issued last month, Masri called for renewed attacks on American troops.

He urged militants from the Sunni Islamist group to "celebrate" the recent announcement that the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq had passed 4,000.

"We must celebrate this event in our special way, and make the defeated Bush join us in this celebration," he said.

He called on al Qaeda fighters to provide "a head of an American as a present to the trickster Bush" in a month-long campaign that he called the "Attack of Righteousness."

I guess it was an "attack of Justice" that led to his capture, Allah be praised; but perhaps he doesn't see it that way...but what psychopath would, after all?

Then, don't forget all the other superpsychos whose megalomaniacal blood lust and chilling disregard for their fellow human beings are unparalleled in modern history. Names like Osama Bin Laden, Aymen Al-Zawahiri, Moqtada Al-Sadr...the list goes on and on and on, encompassing a great many of the Imams and "holy" leaders. Never have so many wanted to kill so much because it is so essential to their identity.

Then there is this guy, who seems a bit unclear on the concept of "antisocial".

So, why is this sort of hate and viciousness celebrated in the Islamic world? I note in a series on the psychopathology of terrorism that along with the parenting issues, cultural factors play an extremely strong role in personality formation and can under certain circumstances "stack the cards" against normal develoment even if all other factors are benign (which they aren't, actually, but read the entire two-part article if you are interested).

Several key factors that contribute to the development of psychopathy include:
  • Genetics

  • Constitution/temperment

  • Parenting

  • Culture

  • Children who happen to be born into authoritarian or tyrannical regimes are frequently systematically indoctrinated and programmed (by teachers or political authorities) to develop habits of thought and behavior at variance with healthy parenting and inconsistent with normal human values. Such programming can easily deform personility development in a variety of ways--none of them very healthy or humane. It is easy in such tyrannical regimes to become rigid; or mindlessly obedient; or cruel; or rebellious, bitter etc.

    Psychologists have studied people who are from fringe or outcast social groups (such as gangs), and found that the members of such groups often behave respectfully and honestly toward others within their own group, but treat outsiders as if they were not human, without any sense of wrongdoing.

    The ringleaders of such groups are often the the true psychopaths, and these leaders have a seemingly unlimited supply of morally weak or immature individuals (many of them very young)--who embrace antisocial behavior under group pressure.

    Having already a predisposition because of dysfunctional parenting issues, the culture of Islam "stacks the deck" further by:

  • encouraging the subjugation of women by men by giving it a religious basis
  • This is nothing new in the history of the world, and it certainly occurred throughout the history of Christianity too. But the idea that women are inferior to men has been challenged for a thousand years, and as women have taken their equal place with men in the countries promoting women's rights, there has been an incredible improvement in those countries' economic and political standings. The culturally sanctioned misogyny of Islam results in the dysfunctional family unit that has tremendous impact on both male and female personality development.

    The Koran says (Sureh 4, Verse 35) that men have authority over women (not just the wife but sisters, daughters, and all females). If they disobey, "first admonish them, then refuse to sleep with them, and then beat them". In Islamic countries, women are second-class citizens. They are counted as one-half a witness in a legal proceeding; and they can inherit only one-half as much as a man. Their sexuality is considered so inflammatory, they must be hidden under clothing that prevents anyone from seeing them. In Saudi Arabia, sons may be sent to foreign universities but daughters are not even allowed to drive. Under the Taliban, women were beaten and murdered for showing their ankles.

    Now, why are women's rights issue--or rather, the lack of them-- of importance in developing antisocial psychopathology? Well, in the case of Islam, the religion has set-up an ongoing potentially abusive situation in the family; in heterosexual relationships;and in the culture. It breeds sadism, because taking out your frustrations or impotence on the socially-sanctioned "lesser" half of the population, it teaches an important lesson that all developing psychopaths come to appreciate: "I am more important and powerful because I can hurt or kill this weak person".

    Through a process that Anna Freud called "Identification with the Aggressor" it also breeds the same sadistic tendency in women, though they have many fewer cultural options for acting it out (female suicide bombers; mothers who cheer the deaths of their sons and daughters in Allah's cause; and who are willing participants in the honor murders of their daughters--these are several culturally accepted ways for women to act out their sadistic fantasies.)

    Male children in societies that demonize or debase women must overemphasize their "maleness" in order to separate from the shameful female/mother. As grown men, far from being able to mitigate the aggressive impulses of a child, such men will actively encourage these impulses in order to "prove" to the world at large that they (and later, their sons) have not been "feminized".

    Cultures where women have extremely low status almost always encourage the development of inadequate, "macho" men, who need to prove their manliness and strength constantly because of the stark terror that female sexuality stimulates within them. It is not a coincidence that a pervasive current of homosexual behavior--which is ubiquitous, but tacitly unacknowledged and denied societally--runs through Islamic culture. With a boy or another man, you cannot be shamed by your are always in control; and this is not true in relationships with the demonized woman whose sexuality is so threatening and feared that it must be contained at all costs.

  • A second factor that culturally "stacks the deck" in personality development is the perpetual war against the infidel inherent in externalization of the concept of " jihad"

  • Those who perceive "jihad" as an inner struggle of faith will not generally evolve into psychopaths, because (one would hope) by internalizing the process it would foster insight and self-awareness, rather than brutality and violence against others.

    However, it is noteworthy that even the "moderate" practitioners of Islam do not stand up and loudly contradict the psychopathic elements in their religion; rather, they invite these elements to come "teach" at their mosques and abdicate leadership roles to them.

    Those who are not strong personalities become the disposable fodder that can then act out the psychopaths' scripts for them. They become the stooges--the suicide bombers--who mindlessly carry out their leaders' orders without every once considering that if holiness and sainthood are guaranteed by becoming a human bomb for Allah , then why is it that their leaders are not jumping with joy to grab the opportunity for themselves?

    Islam has become toxic, infusing the entire Middle East with a culture inimical to not just the 50% who are female; but equally to the half who are male and consider themselves "superior". Children are raised in a misogynist family and cultural environment and the young boys are thus encouraged to hatred and violence. This has been going on for decades among the Palestinians in particular; but everywhere the jihad mindset has spread it cancerous message.

    The educational tenets of this toxic culture, centered in the Saudi Arabian madrassas are exported around the Middle East and the entire globe. Even the most balanced analysis that I read of these schools (here) suggests that many madrassa students have violent personalities due to long harsh treatment by their teachers. They are politically charged and attached blindly to their respective interpretations of their faith and ideology. They seldom have the capability to analyze developments taking place around them. Although they are not a formal part of any pan-Islamic movement or Muslim Brotherhood campaign, and they are not being trained by bin Laden or anyone else against a superpower for jihad, they have a love bond with Islam and the Islamic ummah, and this can trigger the violent man inside them as they have blind faith and rigid standards. Certainly, then, they are catalysts for jihad because of the influence and education they receive in the madrassas.

    But you can also think of many of these madrassas as being a Stanford Prisoner Experiment as it applies to a larger culture. Even a normal, loving child can be carefully molded and shaped into a monster who is more than willing to hate, kill and destroy his fellow man.

    Every culture has its share of psychopaths that undermine and subvert those values that facilitate the growth and maturation of the culture. When they are in positions of political power (e.g., the leaders of North Korea and Venezuela for example) they can cause a great deal of societal and cultural damage.

    But it is important to remember, culture is not a neutral participant in personality development. It is an important source of values and as such is one of the most important factors responsible for either encouraging or discouraging the psychopathic traits that are biological or genetic. A culture that encourages psychopathy and the accompanying sadistic terror, is in the process of destroying itself.

    A combination of cultural and social factors in Islam facilitates the development of many traits inherent in the psychopathic or antisocial personality. The predominance of this personality pattern both fosters and feeds on the phenomenon of terrorism and in turn recycles the cultural underpinnings that support and insure its continuation.

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