Thursday, October 25, 2007


I notice that LA Times writer Rosa Brooks has a teaser in the op-ed pages where she makes the following statement (hat tip: The Corner):

Straitjacket Bush
Rosa Brooks: The president's warmongering remarks on the Iranian threat suggest he is psychotic. Really.

I don't link to the actual op-ed piece simply because when you click on the link it isn't actually there. I wonder if perhaps Brooks was hallucinating that she wrote it?

It's entirely possible. People in denial are psychologically and physiologically primed for significant cognitive dysfunction.

Let's take a look at the remarks about Iran that Bush uttered which has Ms Brooks all upset. They were in an October 17 Press Conference in answer to questions by Brett Baer of FoxNews:
Q Mr. President, I'd like to follow on Mr. -- on President Putin's visit to Tehran. It's not about the image of President Putin and President Ahmadinejad, but about the words that Vladimir Putin said there. He issued a stern warning against potential U.S. military action -- U.S. military action against Tehran --

THE PRESIDENT: Did he say U.S.?

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, he did?

Q He said -- well, at least the quote said that -- and he also said, "He sees no evidence to suggest Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb." Were you disappointed with that message? And does that indicate possibly that international pressure is not as great as you once thought against Iran abandoning its nuclear program?

THE PRESIDENT: I -- as I said, I look forward to -- if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those, because when I visited with him, he understands that it's in the world's interest to make sure that Iran does not have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon. And that's why, on -- in the first round at the U.N., he joined us, and second round, we joined together to send a message. I mean, if he wasn't concerned about it, Bret, then why did we have such good progress at the United Nations in round one and round two?

And so I will visit with him about it. I have not yet been briefed yet by Condi or Bob Gates about, you know, their visit with Vladimir Putin.

Q But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?

THE PRESIDENT: I think so long -- until they suspend and/or make it clear that they -- that their statements aren't real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it's in the world's interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian -- if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.

But this -- we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we'll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat. Plus we'll continue working the financial measures that we're in the process of doing. In other words, I think -- the whole strategy is, is that at some point in time, leaders or responsible folks inside of Iran may get tired of isolation and say, this isn't worth it. And to me, it's worth the effort to keep the pressure on this government.

And secondly, it's important for the Iranian people to know we harbor no resentment to them. We're disappointed in the Iranian government's actions, as should they be. Inflation is way too high; isolation is causing economic pain. This is a country that has got a much better future, people have got a much better -- should have better hope inside Iran than this current government is providing them.

So it's -- look, it's a complex issue, no question about it. But my intent is to continue to rally the world to send a focused signal to the Iranian government that we will continue to work to isolate you, in the hopes that at some point in time, somebody else shows up and says it's not worth the isolation.

Now, I make my living assessing the mental state of the people I see. Nothing in the above statement by the President is the least bit out of touch with reality. In fact, Brooks might consider the possibility that the President of the U.S. could possibly know more about what's going on in Iran (and with Putin) than Rosa Brooks does.

The President lays out his points in the usual forthright and direct manner that characterizes his personality, and which is so incredibly annoying to the dissemblers and manipulators of Washington.

Let me put it bluntly. President Bush, when he says that, if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, the world is in danger of having World War III, is so much in touch with a really really uncomfortable reality that it is actually rather frightening to any sane person. If you haven't come to the same conclusion, then I would suggest you reconsider your own relationship to reality.

Frightened people can cope with their fear in a number of ways. They can simply deny that the reality exists (Iran only wants nuclear energy for 'peaceful purposes'); they can minimize or distort the reality (So what if Iran gets a nuclear weapon? We can learn to live with it) etc. etc. The creative ways that people use to alter the truth in order to make themselves feel less anxiety or discomfort is often rather astonishing; and believe me, I have probably seen them all over the last 25 years of clinical practice.

But one particular psychological technique has become a mainstay these days, particularly on the political left, and it is a variation on the "kill the messenger" theme.

I see this theme all the time in practice when I confront (sometimes delicately, sometimes not) some issue that a patient doesn't want to deal with. Their response is swift and frequently highly emotional. Usually they become angry or enraged at me and proceed to "fire" me from their care entirely. In the back of their minds is the hope that maybe the next doctor will allow them to continue to abuse drugs; or let them get away with behavior that is personally or societally destructive, without any comment.

Whatever. That is ok by me. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink --to use a proverb commonly brought out in the psychiatric evaluation.

In the case of President Bush, it is his very straightforwardness and lack of guile, that make him an easy target for those who want the message deleted, ignored, distorted, or unspoken.

'Kill the messenger' is a form of psychological displacement.

As a psychiatrist, I can't help but notice that there's an unbelievable amount of psychological displacement being used right now (see here and here for more discussion) to cope with the painful realities of our day.

Displacement is one of the primary psychological maneuvers that covers-up or disguises blatant self-deception and self-delusion. It is, for example, behind most of the more vicious attacks on President Bush for anything he does; and for anything he doesn't do. He is behind every evil like some modern-day Moriarity, a criminal and godlike genius who is simultaneously a moron and incompetent. We are not talking about a mere dislike of the President; nor is this simply "politics as usual". Rather, it is an unreasoning and implacable, visceral hatred of George W. Bush for the sin of existing. This hatred is so intense that it is stunning to any rational observer; and its manifestations have been made into a 'diagnosis' of "Bush Derangement Syndrome".

Clinically, the symptoms of this syndrome are as disabling and as dysfunctional as any other post-traumatic stress disorder.

Displacement is the separation of an emotion from its real object and its redirection toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid having to deal directly with what is frightening or threatening. It is a very useful type of psychological denial which distorts and obscures reality.

You suspect that this type of denial is at work when an individual expresses an emotion toward someone or something (e.g., anger or fear) that is way out of proportion to the reality of the situation. Ordinary dislike is transformed into a visceral, implacable hatred; anxiety morphs into hysteria; and ordinary frustration at being thwarted in one's desires becomes rabid, impassioned rage.

A simple, straightforward statement of facts is interpreted as 'psychotic' and 'fearmongering'. Never mind that one should be afraid. Very afraid.

The purpose of displacement is to avoid having to cope with an unpalatable reality in order to maintain a belief, a world view, or even one's sense of self. By using displacement, an individual is able to still experience his or her anger or fear; but since it is now directed at a less threatening target than the real one, the individual is able to feel much less anxious and safer.

Thus, the individual can delude themselves into thinking they are doing something about what threatens them, when in reality, they are blind to it ("fiddling while Rome burns" so to speak). Conveniently, the individual using displacement (or any other form of denial) does not have to take responsibility for the consequences of his/her emotion, and can also externalize any blame or consequence on the object of their emotional displacement.

They simultaneously feel safe AND virtuous, even though neither emotion is justified--at least, not for long. Every problem is easily explained away and the solution becomes oh so simple. In this case, GET RID OF BUSH ("straitjacket" him) and IRAN ISN'T A PROBLEM ANYMORE

Wonderful! Amazing! Delusional!

Let's review:

For those who may have forgotten or never known, let me remind you that Iranian clerics have already issued a fatwa approving the use of nuclear weapons against the enemies of Islam.

Of course, we are told by the left that, "Iran is only seeking peace!" and that the U.S. is by far the greater threat (see the Cox and Forkum cartoon at the end of this post). "Hand's Off Iran", they chant at their peace marches.

If they really cared about peace, it might be more useful for them to march in Tehran rather than exhorting Americans to straitjacket Bush. Somehow, I can't see them doing anything of the sort , when they live in the same utopian fantasyland as the jihadists they tacitly enable.

Here are the words of one of Iran's "moderates" on the subject of nuclear weapons:
“If one day the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [meaning nuclear weapons]—on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This…is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.”

Think about that, then call to mind the recent British-Iran hostage crisis and the Brit's pathetic response to Iran's provocative, outrageous, and uncivilized behavior. Victor Davis Hanson commented in an aptly named piece written at that time, "A Taste of Things To Come":
What is disturbing about the Iranian piracy is that it establishes a warning of what we can come to expect when Iran is nuclear, and how organizations like the UN, the EU, and NATO will react. If a few Iranian terrorists in boats can paralyze an entire nation and the above agencies, think what a half-dozen Iranian nukes will do.

Think about that for a moment.

If the leaders of the free world cannot respond appropriately and decisively to any direct act of war against the West on the part of Iran--no matter how egregious-- then the behavior of Iran's leaders is not likely to change.

On the contrary, their constantly provocative behavior will very likely escalate and become even more malignant, inching closer and closer to their real objective. They can count on the self-absorbed pacifists of the left obscuring the moral landscape sufficiently to clear a path for Iran to initiate the next holocaust.

The mullahs have been watching the West's tepid responses to their escalating and arrogant behavior with great interest. They observe the useful idiots of the left in America and Europe allying themselves with the Islamofascist agenda. Both of these observations have led them certainly to conclude that they can get away with practically any behavior now.

The fatwa and all the repeated unambiguous and deliberate warnings made by both extremists like Ahmadinejad and so-called moderates like Rafsanjani, demonstrate that Iran has now placed all their religious ducks in a row in order to be able to use nuclear weapons against "the enemies of Islam" (guess who?) without the necessity of experiencing any shame.

In fact, in their bizarro religious and cultural world, the shameful weakness displayed by all the major nations of the West, has brought Iran great honor in that world (see how a shame culture works here).

When you observe the arrogant, smirking demeanor of the psychopath-in-chief Ahmadinejad (who , all evidence does indicate should be in a straitjacket), as he calculatedly baits the West with same postmodern rhetoric emanating from the "peace, brotherhood, and social justice" leftists and Democrats--even as he hosts holocaust denial conferences and has contests to see who can come up with the best anti-semitic cartoons--you can reasonably conclude that this sort of cynical manipulation of the useful idiots of the left is simply the preliminary act to set the secular stage for removing Israel and the Jews.

Is there anyone naive enough to think that these homicidal fanatics would hesitate for one second to use a nuclear weapon against Israel--even if it meant millions Iranians would be also destroyed in a counterattack? From their warped perspective, the involuntary martyrdom of a few million muslims in Iran is a small price to pay to finish the job that the much-admired Hitler began in the last century.

From their perspective, Hitler. whose "struggle" against the Jews was unfortunately cut off before achieving final solution, was limited by not having the efficient technology available today. Iran does not intend to make that mistake.

What a grand gesture for the muslims of the world to witness and emulate! Iran strapping on the nuclear suicide bomb around its entire population to gloriously rid Islam of the Jewish menace.

Note that the rhetoric has escalated and the defiance against the international community has moved from words to actual behavior that includes killing Americans and taking British soldiers hostage. Further escalation is unavoidable now that the Iranians are completely sure that any action on their part will only be met by appeasement and endless negotiation.

In other words, the West has accepted Iran's sociopathic and uncivilized behavior and will do nothing to stop them.

From a psychological perspective, the increasingly amused and smug Iranian response to efforts of appeasement and negotiation has always been completely predictable. Bullies will always push the envelope of bad behavior when they think they can get away with it; and if they think that you are weak.

And they are getting away with it, aren't they?

It is easy to understand Ahmadinejad's smug, arrogant attitude; as well as his supreme confidence in Islam's superiority. He is convinced that he is the instrument of Allah's will, and this is only reinforced when he witnesses the pathetic appeasement and fear emanating from the infidels he means to destroy.

It's no use saying that such behavior on his part doesn't make sense and is irrational and suicidal. As I have suggested before, just think of Ahmadinejad and his puppet-masters as the ultimate, high-tech suicide bomber who has wrapped that nuclear bomb belt securely around his entire country.

Ron Rosenbaum bleakly concludes in the post linked earlier:
There is no deterrent to suicidal martyrdom, involuntary mass martrydom. No deterrent that depends on belief in the value of life by genocidal murderers on a “martyrdom mission”. Then asks, Is there a solution to this problem aside from pre-emptive strikes which will likely be catastrophic for both sides and probably only postpone a second Holocaust? Are there any deterrrents that will stop Ahmadinejad and his ilk from carrying out their genocidal designs?

So, I ask you. Is President Bush "psychotic" because he has chosen to face this reality head on? Or, is this just another example of the same psychological displacement that motivates BDS and allows so many people in this country to avoid dealing with an unpleasant and rather frightening reality

If WWIII (or IV, depending on your perspective) can be prevented, then the first reality that must be faced is that IRAN is the threat to world peace...not the U.S. or it President.

UPDATE: The link to Brooks' article now appears to be fixed. Go read it and judge for yourself the level of dysfunction exhibited. Go here to evaluate the level of complete denial we are dealing with in Ms. Brooks.

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