Thursday, 4 August 2011

And Treason


They have different backgrounds, different ideas and different direction, but they all share this one recurrent stance.

In response to any question, statement or data they react in the same way:
It is not our / their fault,
It was inevitable because of others that came before,
It is all the fault of others, who came later,
It was and always will be worth it.

I observe silently thinking to myself;
Do these people really believe what they say?
Is it possible that we are all totally wrong and the information we have is absolutely untrue?
Or are they in some extreme state of denial?
And if so how? and why?

The specific people I am referring to are traitors, two specific people from relatively well to do families, Iraqi education system graduates, whose sense of allegiance to all that is American / British overrides any other emotion when presented with evidence of the extend of suffering inflicted on ordinary Iraqis since 1991.

And as is the norm for a sleepless 3eeraqimedic I go hunting for the answers in psychology, many things come up, but the first thing I read remains the most fascinating, reading it as I do i.e. ignoring the bits that irritate me, I still found it made some sense, these are selected extracts from a paper written by a professor of psychiatry in 2002 titled:

Conflict, Treason and Terrorism. An Attempt at Psychoanalytic Understanding by Humberto Nagera MD.

It starts with a definition of treason:

“n. Betrayal of allegiance to one’s sovereign or country, as by yielding vital secrets or aiding an enemy in time of war”. The definition of traitor is: 1. One who betrays another's trust or is false to an obligation or duty. 2. One who commits treason.

The concept of treason implies that the treacherous act constituted a significant, departure from expected behaviour in a given situation, it includes that the treacherous act causes or could cause significant distress, damage, etc, to individuals, to the self and/or to generally accepted principles, as well as to nations.

It similarly includes the idea, that such behaviour would be considered unacceptable, highly undesirable or even outrageous, by a large majority of people who share a similar cultural background with the traitor.
The implication that follows is that the act of treason will automatically call for the condemnation of the relevant social group.

The writer goes on to concentrate on so-called major forms of treachery, which he concludes can only occur in individuals with “certain constellation of conflicts, or, specific (and quite complex) forms of psychopathology with very idiosyncratic developmental characteristics, dynamics, defence activities and personality traits”.

1: Personality: Some sort of narcissistic fault seems to be a sine qua non element in the personality of the malignant traitor.

2: Ego: One of the characteristics of the hallmark of the traitor is a good, intact and not infrequently excellent ego.

The genuine traitor is prone to be narcissistically injured, the narcissistic elements in their personalities are clearly discernible and visible as the cause of these injuries as are the attempts, maladaptive or not to restore their narcissistic integrity or, in other words, a good feeling about themselves.

We then go on to Oedipus; well you clearly cannot have anything remotely interesting wrong with you without this complex playing a part

The would-be "traitor" reaches the Oedipus conflict handicapped by his narcissistic lags. Specific for them, is an unsatisfied wish for the father's love, attention and admiration, that for various reasons they do not seem able to obtain. Thus, a tormentuos and ambivalent attitude toward the father “who does not think much of them”, or “does not pay them enough attention” or simply and truly does not care for them is quite a common complaint and an important part in the dynamics of the traitor. Generally, as one would expect by the time the traitor is an adult he reactively and defensively may think poorly of the father or see him as weak or worthless, a man of little accomplishment or value.

Well I guess this could apply to a large proportion of the population, but it takes more than just an unloving father…..

because of the earlier failure of the mother-child interaction to help him regain a stable narcissistic feeling, that the figure of the father as the possible “restorer or healer" of the narcissistic injuries becomes all-important.

I should have guessed the mother would be to blame

In this type of psychopathology the father, for the above reasons, is seen as omnipotent and omniscient and as the only promise of relief. Given that this basic fault cannot be corrected in reality by all of the father's admiration, given that this type of child is highly prone to narcissistic injury through any real or imagined neglect, he is soon disappointed in him. From that moment onwards the father (and later by extension the fatherland) becomes the subject of a sordid discontent. He is seen as unfair, unjust to his children, unwilling to recognize their merits, to soothe their pains, to restore their well being, in short, to give them their dues (retranslate this in your minds into complains about society social ills).

Well now we are talking, here it does start to look a familiar, that terrible father and the heinous fatherland that deprived us of our rightful dues…

The reinforcement of these hostile and destructive feelings that comes from the positive Oedipus complex seals the fate of the father (potentially the fatherland) and the chi1d. He will be forced into the path of revenge and, since his unconscious hate knows no limits, sooner or later, in one form or another, he will attempt to destroy the father. The act of treason will become the means to his revenge and to the symbolic destruction of the father.

Well revenge from a hideous “father” I can understand but why destroy everything and everyone in your path, at this point it starts to get a little more complicated and the mother gets dragged in again

But there is a significant difference in the traitor's psychology that makes his Oedipus complex somewhat unique. For him it is not enough to gain the affection of the mother at the expense of the father, to surpass him in her affection, while the death wishes are normally kept strictly confined to the realm of fantasy, in the case of the malignant traitor this destructive fantasy must be acted out in real life just as the conquest of the mother is acted out in real life, though in a displaced form.

But this is by no means the only important difference. Perhaps more important is the fact that the rage towards the father must include the simultaneous damage, sell out, or symbolic destruction of that which the child thought to be most important to the father, that is, the father's wife, or in other words, the child's own mother (and by extension the motherland). It is thus a doubly vicious blow that must be accorded the "father", usually in the form of its symbolic substitutes in the case of traitors.

What I am saying is that the Oedipus complex can and is re-enacted in a large variety of scenarios. There is for example one's country as representative of the mother who is felt as possessed, controlled and in the hands of the politicians in power, presidents and prime ministers, who thus become surrogate father figures.

Sort of revenge from politicians or surrogate father by destruction of country they control, does this imply that traitors at some level think they will harm the politicians by harming the country i.e. that the politicians care? And it must also mean that in some way the country has become reduced to the “size” of the politicians?

And now to the bit that got me started; how someone can blithely say that hundreds of thousands of deaths are either “worth it for the better good” or actually “caused by everyone and anyone, other than the people and actions that I support and continue to support” and it is a combination of “externalization. projection, rationalization and intellectualization”

Typically, the genuine traitor is generally unaware of the true nature of his intentions, or his actual treachery when it occurs. Though obvious to everyone else, in most cases he is totally oblivious of his behaviour and the consequences of the situation he may well have created. This incredible feat is due to the amount of denial they use in combinations with other defences. In fact, the genuine traitor manages to believe that his behaviour is fully justified. Indeed, they see it as the only honourable behaviour left to somebody who thinks of himself as they do, as highly principled individuals trying to correct "injustices,” or stop the “unprincipled behaviour of others", or to correct what are considered by them ”intolerable social i11s”. As the result they are led to idealize, with the help of many rationalizations and intellectualizations, socio-political regimes that are in fact paradigmatic of those evils that they mean to correct.

Page, Leitch and Knightley, in their 1968 book, Philby, The Spy Who Betrayed A Generation, (which accounts for the lives and exploits of the three British traitors, Philby, Burgess and Macleen) stated: “essentially they were moved by a quasi-religious faith: they believed the Soviet Union was somehow cleaner, purer and better than their own country because it claimed to have adopted Communism. Like religious zealots in many ages before, they would justify everything in their careers—treachery, cruelty, even murder--by pointing to the cause.

Indeed, one gets the distinct impression that the potentially lethal psychological structures and conflicts that characterize the personality of some of these individuals, is more easily actualized when a social, philosophical, political or religious vehicle is found, offering the opportunity to create such "idealizations."
Another no less important component of the hallmark of the personality of the traitor is the direct consequence of the generous use made of externalization and projection. Deep down the traitors are fearful individuals. They can in many cases show a cool and calm demeanour, but deep down, and in their fantasy life, they are enormously suspicious of everybody else's intentions vis a vis them.

But not all people are equally suspect; imagine that you can find people who genuinely, or intentionally approach you with very similar ideas and “ideals”

First, there is the gradual cathexis in the most intense manner of a group of highly idealized, abstract ideas though generally quite distorted and deformed. To this is added the second factor, that is, at some point and in some cases he joins others, either overtly or covertly that are similarly devoted to the "cause."
It is my opinion that this could explain what we see happening in the case of the "genuine malignant traitor”. Thus, they substitute more or less extensive parts of their superego standards by those of the new “leader” which in any given case may be an individual, an ideology or even more important a combination of both.
And finally we have a set of psychological rewards for the action that removes all the simmering tensions

These processes are facilitated by certain predisposing factors in the make-up of the personality of the genuine traitor. First, consider the inordinate disappointment in the father and the concomitant hate. There is here a peculiar in-built structural conflict between introjects that are acquired from a person that is marked simultaneously to be betrayed and possibly destroyed. This perhaps creates some sort of lack of stability in this type of introjects and in some form facilitates its substitution under appropriate conditions by a radically different set of introjects.

Yet the new introjects change this situation in important ways. It is factors like these that explain not only the changes observed but also the remarkable stability that some of the new introjects acquire.

So what it takes is
A personality damaged by real or perceived rejection by the symbolic father “the politician in power”, a defect in the personality at a young age distorting the relation with the symbolic mother, or the “motherland”, the gradual development of resentment against the “father”, associated with the need to damage the “mother” as part of the revenge, and finally finding the right group who can nurture and help one externalise, project, rationalize and intellectualise (and oh boy do they intellectualise) this destructive behaviour, a group of either like minded persons, or those well versed in grooming, who hunt in packs, searching for young potential recruits to the “cause”, with every destructive action there is a sense of increased self worth, which is amplified by all the praise from the supporting band.

I must say the traitor I have had the misfortune of knowing personally had at the very least the family background, and the group of “groomers” that somewhat explain her final actions.

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