Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Logic of Repression

More and more I am seeing people point out the painful and painfully obvious fact--people do what they want to do. I would add, people also do what they need to do. Illogical actions are often based on emotion, not reason, and only understandable by that standard. (Illogical actions are also often perfectly logical as long as you know the true motivation of the actor, but that is another story.) Understand the emotion and you will be able to understand the action, and fight it if necessary.

Chris Floyd understands the irrational actions taking place. He points out that if our nation--its people and leaders--tolerate torture, it's not because they are being forced to.

They lie about [torture] because they want to torture people. That's the first thing you must understand: They want to do it. They enjoy the thought of it. They want to hear the details, they want to hear about the pain, about the broken spirits and the ruined minds. They literally, physically – perhaps even sexually – enjoy the idea of people getting beaten, tormented and waterboarded at their command. There's no question about this. Bush tortured animals when he was a child, and now he tortures human beings with the same kind of furtive, sniggering, naughty glee. And when someone catches him at it, he lies about it, just like a brattish child. And now the whole administration of the United States government operates on the degraded moral level of this profoundly stunted and twisted little wretch.

It's very hard for us to believe that we are a nation of sadists, that our president tortured animals as a boy and now shows a depraved indifference to human life. That we can callously watch millions of people suffer, and indifferently hear our administration petulently demand that they be grateful for our actions. So we refuse to believe the bad news about torture, rendition, disregard for justice and law, hypocracy and malevolence. We turn our backs on our victims rather than admit we don't care if anyone else is hurt.

How can ordinary people be so callous? Psychotherapist Alice Miller explains in her book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence that children who are mistreated by their parents grow up without empathy, for themselves or others.

Children who have been beaten, humiliated, and abused, and who find no witness to come to their aid often develop a grave syndrome in later life; they have no knowledge of their true feelings, fear them like the plague, and are therefore incapable of recognizing vital connections, Without realizing it-and without taking responsibility for it—they work out the horrors that they once experienced on innocent people. Like their parents before them, they regard their actions as “redemption” for others.

That is the logic of repression. I refuse to know what my parents did to me and to others. I want to forgive them and not to condemn them. I don’t want to question them. They are my parents, and therefore they are beyond blame.

The mistreatment of my own children, horrific wars against supposed enemies, the destruction of life wherever I see it growing, allow me to raise a monument to my parents and retain my blindness.

Children want and need their parents' approval and will do anything for it, even later as adults. If people acknowledge their parents couldn't love them, they are giving up hope on attaining that love, and most people are utterly incapable of doing that. So we become callous and hard to our own pains, to preserve the illusion of love, and of course callous and hard towards others. Deeply hidden anger at mistreatment isn't allowed, since it will burst that Leave It To Beaver fantasy. So the anger is directed towards others, and everything from child abuse to wars happens as a result.

Bush, who tortured small creatures as a child, doesn't hesitate to kill a million or more people in Iraq. They are merely numbers on a sheet of paper, easy to ignore as he strives to show he is strong and right and better than his dad. Killing Saddam was perfect because it showed his father who was the real winner and it also showed his father that he would do anything to avenge him. A plea for love, a release of pent-up rage, a way to retain the power that feeds his insecure ego--he had many reasons for going to war and then staying there. Iraq is indeed very, very complicated--for some.

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