There is a conventional wisdom promulgated by the MSM and our leadership that is reliably trotted out whenever an atrocity (NOT a tragedy) like Fort Hood occurs. The New York Times does its usual minimalist job of obfuscation in its reporting:
He had also more recently expressed deep concerns about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Having counseled scores of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and more recently at Fort Hood, he knew all too well the terrifying realities of war, said a cousin, Nader Hasan.
“He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy,” Mr. Hasan said. “He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there.”
In addition, efforts to present a sympathetic picture of the killer include reports that he was harassed because he was Muslim. Phyllis Chesler summarizes the basics of the story, now old and familiar:
According to Hasan’s cousin, he had been “picked on,” harassed by other soldiers because he was of “Middle Eastern origin.” This may be true—and if true, terrible—but so what?
Let’s assume it’s true: I know many people, including soldiers, including female soldiers, who have been brutally harassed. They do not shoot 44 people down in cold blood.
Who does? And why? The only answer most people want to hear is that a lone, psychiatrically deranged shooter did it. All by himself, on his own.
Phyllis Chesler, a Psychiatrist, suggests that looking for Psychiatric explanations to this behavior is an error:
Sudden Jihad Syndrome, Personal Jihad Syndrome, call it what you will—these terrible acts should not be psychiatrically diagnosed and excused. At the risk of being called a racist, allow me to suggest that we must connect the dots before it is too late. Islam now=jihad=hate propaganda=9/11=the tragedy at Ft. Hood.
That means Islam now, and its followers of all colors and ethnicities, is at war with the entire world, is dreaming of a Caliphate to be achieved through violent jihad. I doubt that Major Hasan is a Sufi Muslim.
Just think: Islam as violent jihad trumped Major Hasan’s Americanization and more important, trumped his training as both a soldier and as a psychiatrist! He is a Trauma expert, specialized to help people who have faced disasters. (Or so I’ve been told). All the brakes failed, no dam could withhold a Jihadist whose time had come.
Between the Media/government spin that these kinds of atrocities are the result of a "lone, psychiatrically deranged" individual's psychopathology and the supposition that these attacks are the result of Jihadi ideology is the more complex explanation of the ways in which the zeitgeist or weltanschauung shape the behavior of troubled individuals. Understanding how the culture interacts with the mind of the lone terrorist can help us improve our efforts to protect innocents, increase our vigilance, and begin to lessen the tendency for such individuals to express their psychopathology as murderous terror.
Some brief history may be helpful:
Victor Tausk was an early Psychoanalyst who worked with Freud in Vienna and made his single great contribution to understanding psychosis in a seminal paper, On the Origin of the 'Influencing Machine' in Schizophrenia, in 1919. [The link is not to the actual paper, which is unavailable to non-subscribers, but to the wikipedia recap of its important points.]
[Tausk committed suicide shortly thereafter, a complicated response to his disturbed relationship with Freud and Tausk's analyst, Helene Deutsch. Tausk's suicide was a blot on Freud's legacy.]
Tausk worked with Schizophrenic (psychotic) patients and noted that many Paranoid Schizophrenics has a common delusion, of an influencing machine that (attempted to or actually) controlled their actions or their minds; an excerpt of the original article:
The schizophrenic influencing machine is a machine of mystical nature. The patients are able to give only vague hints of its construction. It consists of boxes, cranks, levers, wheels, buttons, wires, batteries, and the like. Patients endeavor to discover the construction of the apparatus by means of their technical knowledge, and it appears that with the progressive popularization of the sciences, all the forces known to technology are utilized to explain the functioning of the apparatus. All the discoveries of mankind, however, are regarded as inadequate to explain the marvelous powers of this machine, by which the patients feel themselves persecuted.
[Psychodynamically, Paranoid patients have an internal persecutor, an ambivalently held parental object representation, which is projected onto the external world. This is often enough to supply the paranoid with his delusional persecutors and remove responsibility for his actions and failures. Now it is the externalized, projected enemy who contains the unacceptable/disowned thoughts and impulses of the paranoid. When the disease progresses, the object/persecutor can be re-internalized or (re)introjected, at which point it often takes the form of an influencing machine.]
Note that Tausk's patients described their influencing machine using concepts related to available technology. Where once the usual description for the source of tormenting thoughts might have been demons, imps, djinns, or the devil, the modern patient uses quasi-rational technology. In 1919 the machines contained cranks and levers, running on electricity. In 2009, the "persecutors" take the form of available technology. Thus, the modern day psychotic may believe that secret rays are being directed at his brain, or tiny computer chips have been implanted in him to cause him to have terrible thoughts and impulses. Whether the persecutor is internalized or remains externalized the salient point is that the cultural surround supplies the elements around which the psychosis coalesces.
How does this relate to our "lone, deranged" attacker? Current versions of fundamentalist Islam, which depend on externalizing all the faults of the Ummah, which project all the negative attributes of the Ummah, and which not only support but idealize those who act on such paranoid constructs, directs and reinforces the very projective, externalizing tendencies of the paranoid which lead to aggression.
The problem for our society is that every time an opinion leader reinforces the notion (insists) that Islam is a "religion of peace", they are supporting the very psychodynamics that facilitate and direct the "lone, psychiatrically deranged" individual to attack those identified by radical Islam as their persecutors, ie Americans, the American military, Jews, and Israelis especially.
When the immediate reaction of Islamic spokesmen is to warn everyone of Islamophobia, they too are supporting the projection and externalization that is the hallmark of radical Islam and the "lone, psychiatrically deranged" paranoid.
Every effort should be made to resolutely maintain a posture that specifically and emphatically denies the use of projection and externalization to the radical Islamists. Groups like CAIR should be confronted by our MSM and government on a regular basis to expose their use of such psychological processes for all to see. Whenever a "lone, psychiatrically deranged" individual commits an atrocity, we must be alert to attempts to shift the psychological impetus for the attack from the attacker to the surround. It is an unhappy reality that confronting a paranoid's projection and externalization does not work in a therapeutic context. It either convinces the paranoid that you are part of the persecutory conspiracy or, if accepted and internalized, leads to significant depression. However, we cannot treat terror as a therapeutic situation. When Muslims support, in their speech and writing, convictions that reflect the use of projection and externalization, they must be considered potential dangers to the community. This requires a form of "racial profiling" but the alternative is to wait for an atrocity of such significant proportions that "lone, psychiatrically deranged" non-Muslims begin to take things into their own hands.
Note that Dr. Helen asks the relevant question, Why wasn't Hasan Investigated?
This man was being entrusted with the mental health of soldiers, and no one could be bothered to take the time to find out if he was mentally stable himself? After a poor review, remarks that make you wonder which side this guy was on, and possible writings on a web posting that are troubling, he was not investigated?
Was it political correctness and concern for his Muslim heritage that kept officials from looking further into his mental health? Was the army so desperate for a psychiatrist (there is always a shortage) they didn't dare do anything?
The public deserves an explanation.
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