Well-known Slovenian theoretical psychoanalyst, Roman Vodeb, has already provided a Breivik profile declaring the Norwegian killer to be a perfectly ‘normal’ and typical psycho/sociopath.
In a short Twitter message following the newsflash of a grenade attack by the Belgian Nordine Amrani, Mr Vodeb made a maverick remark, »I'm a monkey's uncle if Amrani had a normal family, especially a 'good' Oedipal father!«
As he twitted the line, nothing had been known about the childhood of the delinquent Belgian of Moroccan origin. As such, his Moroccan ancestry does not point to anything. He may have experienced some racism or xenophobia growing up, yet, according to the psychoanalyst, this was not particularly significant. With reference to the Belgian tragedy Mr Vodeb suggested that what both Breivik and Amrani had in common was not just their age, but, above all, a failed childhood.
As it turned out, Amrani, indeed, had not had a classic, ie. ‘good enough’ childhood, just as Breivik was a child of divorced parents. The detail helped Mr Vodeb to further profile Amrani's aggression and the context of the Belgian tragedy. Using the ever again confirmed logic of Freudian psychoanalysis, Mr Vodeb blames Amrani’s moral imbalance imbued with considerable aggression on an unhappy childhood, which was, beyond any doubt, filled with frustration.
One thing is sure, little Nordine cannot have witnessed a harmonious relation between his parents. It is not just about the parents' divorce; even before the separation the boy must have been no stranger to the conflicts between the father and the mother. The development of Nordine’s frustration and repressed aggression must have been greatly affected by the role of the ‘negative’ and, no doubt, fairly aggressive father. Nordine may have had, at least during his first years, a good relation with his mother. This, however, may not have been the case, since a rape-prone man must have had some shocking experience in relation to his mother and her sexuality, her promiscuity not being excluded.
Yet Amrani’s problem was probably not so much the mother – as was the case with Breivik – but the father as experienced during the Oedipal phase, when the father’s task was to imprint moral judgment, a strong Super-Ego, on the boy's personality. Amrani’s problem was not just that the father went out of the boy's life: the problem was much worse for the simple fact that during the time of the resolution of the Oedipus complex Nordine’s Father-figure was (too) bad or, rather, too aggressive. With reference to his excessive sexuality (Amrani had been given a two-year suspended sentence for rape and several sex claims) it may be presumed that he may have responded in this way to the mother's 'strangers'. Little Nordine must have repressed considerable anger caused by the ‘too bad’ a father. Mr Vodeb believes outright aggression in Amrani’s adulthood results from his immense (Oedipal and post-Oedipal) anger with his father, while his experience of motherly love must have been tainted in some way too.
Having no positive, ‘good enough’ father and being subject to other sources of frustration, the growing up Nordine would develop a confused personality, not quite knowing what to become or what to be like. Mr Vodeb points out that it was only ‘natural’ for Amrani not to have any sense of what was morally correct, which would help him to manage his aggression, for example, when legitimately feeling some injustice. This lead to trouble with the authorities, the police and the law, who are the symbolic representatives of the infantile father. Lacking moral judgment or having a weak Super-Ego means that the young Amrani did not resolve the Oedipus complex the normal way – as Freud would have put it. In a strictly theoretical sense, Mr Vodeb (again) underlines that perpetrators themselves such as Amrani or Breivik or Fritzl or serial killers are not to blame for their lives‘ misfortunes:
"It may sound quite absurd but, in a sense, Amrani was not guilty of what he did. Had he survived the tragedy, he would have, naturally, been sent to prison. Still, he was not guilty for his actions, because they had been predetermined by his unconscious, his unfortunate childhood and infantile repressions. He was helpless in view of his feelings of anger and the management of his aggressive outbursts as he simply lacked the competence.”
In this way, Mr Vodeb has already 'defended’ the Austrian incestuous monster, Josef Fritzl, and the cool-blooded Norwegian terrorist killer Anders Behring Breivik. These three 'normal’ psycho/sociopaths, as well as numerous serial killers, or classic criminals, are marked with the lack of the father. Let us consider how Mr Vodeb related this psychonalytic concept to Norwegian Breivik:
»Breivik is not (the only one) to blame for his crimes. It is his parents that are to blame, specifically his mother, and his father having as good as gone out of the boy’s life. Furthermore, quite revealing are some libidinal events, above all those connected with his mother’s lovers, whom Little Anders believed Mum loved more than him. This accounts for the development of considerable aggression in Breivik, as the men stole the mother from him in sexual terms, too. Breivik had to repress enormous quantities of anger and rage towards both his mother’s lovers and his mother, who, in emotional or libidinal terms, would prefer 'strangers’ (foreigners) over him.«
What we know about the growing-up Amrani is that after the parents' divorce he was a regarded (by his mother) a ‘difficult’ child. Nordine was, in a way, driven out of his primary family, sent to various children's homes, evidently for behavioural reasons. It is obvious that his mother failed him, as she alone could have ‘cured’ him, she, however, was not able to cope with her libidinal or emotional mission. She should not have sent her growing-up son to the ‘emotionally-cold’ institutions. The Oedipally frustrated Nordine was not given a chance of experiencing his mother's love or trust even during his adolescence.
Because of the persistent lack of motherly love during his infancy and adolescence, he was simply compelled to resort to intoxication, getting 'high’ on ‘instant’ sex (without any emotional involvement), which is an unconscious and reflex response to the lack of love or of being in love. He was unable to find solace in his love life, primarily due to the lack of emotional or libidinal harmony with his Mum during his infancy and adolescence. Mr Vodeb also claims that Amrani was incapable of giving love back. Frustration that he felt when sent to children's homes marked the highest point in the suffering of the young Nordine.
There is another aspect that can be highlighted with reference to Nordine Amrani and Anders Behring Breivik. Mr Vodeb describes the relation between Breivik, his mother and xenophobia along the following psychoanalytic terms:
»The experience of pleasure or, rather, the mother’s (libidinal) presence in the child as a future xenophobe needs be spoilt by some strangers or some ‘otherness’. ... Breivik must have received, at least occasionally, some love from his mother, yet there was certainly a ‘foreign body’ or stranger that deprived him of her love, too.«
Mr Vodeb points out that Breivik could have been to some extent ‘saved’ by his (then divorced) mother, yet she failed in her parenting of little Anders, which resulted in utter libidinal (emotional) fiasco. With Amrani, the libidinal-frustration context proceeded along somewhat different lines. Mr Vodeb puts forward the thesis that it was not so much the parents' divorce that fatally branded Nordine, but rather the libidinal or emotional chaos during the time of the Oedipal complex resolution in his primary family, which, to an outer observer, still appeared to be functional, while it had already been decaying and falling apart.
Anger with ‘too bad’ a father is believed to have influenced the adult Amrani's will to power, which accounts for his obsessive accumulation of the attributes of (phallic) power in the form of different kinds of weapon kept in the cache at his home. Even his love for welding expresses a latent function so typical of males. Men are fascinated by the power of the welding equipment capable of drilling hard steel or other metals. It possesses straightforward phallic symbolism.
Basically, a man holding a gun - or a welding machine – unconsciously fights the unconscious castration threat repressed during his infancy.
The aetiology of the ‘explosive mixture’ of Amrani’s aggression is thus marked by two facts: the lack of the infantile (and subsequent) love from his mother and the lack of the ‘good’ and authoritative father, who should have instilled the sense of moral judgment into the boy. In several ways, the same applies to Breivik, as well as a number of serial killers. Breivik’s xenophobic outbursts can be significantly blamed on the mother, as well as her lovers, which the adult Breivik would upgrade and develop into a keen interest for Norway’s state policy:
»The grown-up Breivik regarded Norway as his Symbolic mother, and this is no rhetorical gambit. The same way as ‘something’ once deprived him of his mother during his infancy – either the mother’s night-shifts or her staying with her lover(s), the foreigners (immigrants) would now steal away from him his country. It was his mother’s frequent absence or merely strangers (one or several lovers) that Little Anders once hated so much, which burst out in his adult consciousness as manifest xenophobia.«
No such symbolism is evident in Amrani’s case. Amrani could not have felt xenophobically angry with immigrants as he himself was of non-Belgian origin. It is true he could have felt racist and nationalist xenophobia, which, however, Mr Vodeb does not consider to have had vital relevance in the matter. It seems his mother did not have any lovers who would have been a further source of frustration for the growing-up Nordine – or they did not affect him (greatly).
Amrani's biggest problem was his disrespect for the symbolic fatherly authorities, the police and the law, related, quite telling, to the phenomenon of symbolic castration. Since during his final, probably spontaneous and not long premeditated outburst of aggression in the streets of Liège he was aware of facing another confinement in prison, he must have been – at the symbolic unconscious level – re-living the frustrating context of being sent again to a children's home.
Mr Vodeb says, “Being sent back to prison was felt as a symbol of an intolerable return to a children’s home, where Nordine, a teenager, must have immensely suffered. That is why he persisted in fighting back the possibility of going again to prison - yet this response was based on a completely erroneous concept.”
In the dead-end situation and the adrenaline shock – or the state of temporary intoxication – Nordine Amrani committed suicide.
Silvana Orel Kos