Nowhere is this more significant than in our understanding of aggression. People typically fear their primitive aggression and defend against their awareness of the intensity and depth of their aggression as well as against the expression of their aggression. Yet it is a truism that unconscious impulses always seek ways to find discharge. It is not uncommon to see parents who are committed pacifists, who commit themselves to having homes which display no evidence of aggressive toys, raise children who are themselves aggressive and problematic; via the magic of unconscious processes which include identification and projective identifications, fantasy formation, primitive parent-child introjection and incorporation, among many others, the child becomes the agent for expressing the parent's disowned and disavowed unconscious aggression.
When our oldest was ~5, he often played with a neighboring child whose parents were ideological liberals and aggressively anti-aggression. This child owned no guns and wasn't allowed to play with toy soldiers, watch violent cartoons, etc; there were many other rules governing his play too numerous to enumerate. His parents were what one might refer to as "controlling" people (which is why we did not maintain a long term friendship.) We would carefully place our son's militaristic weapons/toys out of sight when this child came to visit. On one of his last visits, in his mother's presence, he quite cleverly took bites out of his grilled cheese sandwich in just such a fashion as to create a gun which fit quite nicely in his tiny hand; he proceeded to shoot everyone and everything in sight. His mother was quite apologetic, though I suspect managed in her own mind to blame us for her son's behavior. You will not be surprised to find that he was having some "issues" in kindergarten with aggression.
I have wondered for quite some time if this kind of projective identification is an aspect of the Left's fascination with, and (denied) support for, anti-civilization violence.
Indeed. This is the sort of psychological dynamic that is hard for a psychiatrist to miss--unless he or she has issues with their own aggressive impulses.
Shrink is absolutely correct in asserting that by denying our own aggressive natures we end up enabling and supporting the aggression of others. The most blatant example is the appeasement of terrorism and terrorists by the political left and the Democrats; or any who are totally invested in seeing themselves as "antiwar" as they cozy up to enemies whose explicit goal is to destroy our civilization.
Thomas Sowell wrote an essay sometime back about "pacifists versus peace", and said:
One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications and test those implications against hard facts.
"Peace" movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called "peace" movements -- that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war.
Take the Middle East. People are calling for a cease-fire in the interests of peace. But there have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent.
There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.
"World opinion," the U.N. and "peace movements" have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations and concessions.
That has been a formula for never-ending attacks on Israel in the Middle East. The disastrous track record of that approach extends to other times and places -- but who looks at track records?
Many people have forgotten that one of the most well-known pacifists of all time--Gandhi--proposed that nothing should have been done about the holocaust or the Nazis. How many of his admirers have considered what the consequences would have been if the world had followed Gandhi's lead? How many millions more people would have died? How many today would live under the boot of the Nazi philosophy?
Antiwar protestors always make a point of asking rhetorically what war is good for? You have heard them chanting this query at almost every one of their peace marches. The truth is that no sane person wants war, but aggression may be the only possible response to evil.
And in human history, there have been many evils far worse than war.
As Sowell states, there has been more attention paid to cease-fires; treaties; and prevention of war in the middle east than anywhere else on earth. The result has been the continued enabling and appeasement of an intolerable evil that thrives on hatred and that has grown strong and sure of its holy mission to kill.
But still, even today after decades of self-delusion, the rhetoric continues, as diplomats insist on getting back on "the roadmap" that should lead to peace; but which--surprise! surprise!--seems to lead only to more violence and death.
Maybe it is time to give up on the idea of a Mideast Peace where it has come to either enabling one group of psychopaths versus another?
By not getting in touch with our own aggression, we have abandoned the very means by which peace could actually come about.
This reality puts me in mind of a patient--I'll call her Petunia.
Petunia was a young woman with many problems, but she was particularly upset one day because this boyfriend that she had broken up with just wouldn't leave her alone. On closer inquiry, I discovered that in the past week she had phoned him 4 times; picked him up from work every evening; and let him spend the night at her apartment twice.
"I thought you said you were upset because he's not acting like the two of you are broken up?" I asked in some surprise.
She looked at me in astonishment. "He isn't! He seems to think we are going to get back together."
"But aren't you giving him that impression by initiating phone calls to him and picking him up and especially by letting him spend the night at your house," I countered?
Petunia did not understand my confusion. "So? That doesn't mean I want to get back together with him. I'm just being kind." She smiled then--contemplating, I suppose, what a nice person she was.
She truly couldn't understand how her behavior might lead him to think she really didn't mean exactly what she said.
Like Petunia, the antiwar crowd seems to think that all they have to do is be "kind" and chant pleasant slogans about "peace" and "support the troops by bringing them home" and as if by magic, peace will break out! Why is it, do you suppose, that these same clueless, insightless and pathetic people never protest against the real warmongers in Tehran, Damascus, Gaza, Beirut... or Somalia or Sudan or--well, anywhere..and only seem to be able to protest against America and Israel who continually work hard to prevent the loss of innocent lives, particularly in comparison with those that they fight.
There is a serious problem here in understanding that a person's actions speak louder than their words. And, from a psychiatric perspective, even if the actions are not louder, then they are far more honest.
This is why, though I listen carefully to the words people say, I also carefully observe how they behave if I really want to understand what is going on inside their heads. The discrepancies that lie between actions and words are most revealing, as ShrinkWrapped noted above.
If the peace movement really were a peace movement, its members would be denouncing the true threats to peace and trying their damndest to disarm and neutralize the likes of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah etc. etc.
Instead, like the parents who are so desperate to squelch their own aggressive impulses they unconsciously enable and facilitate their children's violent behavior; these "pacifists" actually champion the terrorists; rationalizing terrorist behavior; refusing to call them to account for their uncivilized and barbaric actions;, demanding cease-fires with them (never acknowledging that there is no way to hold them to account when they break the ceasefire, as they inevitably do); and have little or nothing to say about the standard terrorist operational policies that deliberately target the innocent.
You can find these these brave and loving peace activists marching in solidarity with these foul groups; proudly wearing the latest "hate couture", and imagining that their fashion statement shows how tolerant and compassionate and virtuous they are. They are unable to even appreciate the irony that it serves to demonstrate the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of their pacifist ideology.
In today's world, those who are truly evil know they can get away with practically any horror; and that there will always be a large cadre of dupes who are willing to rationalize, excuse, or minimize any atrocity.
For all their rhetoric to the contrary, the actual beneficiaries of the "antiwar" movement are the warmongering tyrants of the world whose naked aggression remains unchecked and is always rationalized away. The only outcome in the real world of all that lovely pacifism is the triumph of evil.
War is a always a terrible choice. No reasonable person could believe that it is benign or intrinsically "good" to wage war. Yet, it is sometimes a choice that reasonable people need to make simply because evil exists in the world and it cannot go unchecked--that is, not if you truly care about innocent human life.
If you cannot consciously tap into the aggressive side of your human nature and permit the use of aggression and even violence to serve the good; you will inevitably end up serving all that is evil in the world.
Pacifists cannot deal with this simple truth. In reality, they don't care much about human suffering, misery or even death; let alone the legacy of evil in the world. Through a variety of psychological defenses, they have managed to deny, displace, distort, and project real evil away. There cannot be found even a trace of psychological insight among all those angry marchers who violently and adamantly demand peace at any price.
For the carefree members of the antiwar movement, the triumph of evil is unimportant when compared to their own narcissistic need to appear virtuous and good. Like the parents ShrinkWrapped writes about, they will always find a way to externalize the blame for the consequences of their own self-delusion. Like Petunia, they will emphasize rhetoric over action; good intentions over actual behavior.
Antiwar activism is simply part of the left's ongoing struggle against reality; specifically, the reality of human nature. Aggression and violence are an integral part of human nature and are essential for human survival. These dangerous human qualities can either serve that which is good and decent about humanity, promoting human life and liberty and civilization; or, they can be used to support that which opposes life, liberty and civilization.
That is how the unconscious works; and how projective identification protects the user from having to come to terms with their own aggression. As these insightless fools bask in the glow of their radiant virtue, they fail to notice their own complicity with and appeasement of evil. Having absolved themselves of the requirement of making difficult moral choices in the real world; they have instead chosen the easy and facile rhetoric of self-delusion. That is why they are not bothered by real human suffering in the here and now; or by real oppression and tyranny. Their primary concern is in maintaing the fantasy that they are devoid of all those evil aggressive impulses that they, and they alone are the embodiment of perfect "peace" , "justice", and "brotherhood".
The track record of pacifism is horrendous. Not only do "peace movements" fail to bring peace; but by protecting, appeasing, and minimizing true evil, they ensure that war--when it inevitably comes--costs even more in terms of human suffering and lives.
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