nedelja, 22. april 2012

Breivik and Amrani: »Not guilty!«

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

sobota, 21. april 2012

Girls will be girls, not goalies!

Soccer/football: “Goal is not a goal”. It is a symbolic vagina!
Ball-games are more or less reserved for men & boys & tomboys
(some will be lesbians).
In a recent statement David Beckham has said he is sure that his sons
will get their sister »to join in boy stuff«, making her a goalie, adding,
however, that he is sure »she will still be girly«. 
With all due respect to David Beckham, his soccer prowess and his family,
especially is baby daughter Harper Seven, his statement needs a comment,
a psychoanalytic one at that. As early as 1926, Freud's disciple, psychoanalyst
Helene Deutsch hinted that a goal is a symbolic substitute for the vagina.
This idea has been vaguely referred to by a number of psychoanalysts.
However, it is in my book »Sport through Psychoanalysis« (Vodeb 2001)
that I bring a detailed psychoanalytic interpretation of sport, pointing out that
»a goal is not (really) a goal«. The goal is a symbol of the female genitals and
scoring a goal really stands for coitus or penetration, which makes soccer
a typical male performance sport.
It is self-understood that Beckham does not have the psychoanalytic
competences to have an adequate understanding of unconscious processes,
the phenomenon of castration or the Oedipus complex, or to be familiar
with the concept of penis envy, which has (literally) given rise to the
introduction of female phallic sports such as soccer. Personally and
as a theoretical psychoanalyst, I can easily dismiss the idea that his
daughter is to become a tomboy playing soccer. On the contrary,
she will be influenced by the classic female (bodily) ideal to be beautiful,
to be a looker just like her mum. She will be happy to let her brothers
and boy-friends be engaged in symbolic soccer »sex«.
It is only natural for David and Victoria to hope for a girly-girl-stuff
career for their darling daughter.
The thing is that because of penis envy many girls take up phallic sports,
such as soccer, only to have (and suffer) sexual identity disorders when
they grow up. Lesbian sex can be a result of a girl’s involvement in a top
phallic sport.
From a psychoanalytic view, inherently female sports involve display
of bodily beauty, such as dance, pole dancing, or striptease,
which is but a natural counterbalance to bodybuilding, the show
of(f) male physiques.

Roman Vodeb, double M. A., is a Slovenian theoretical psychoanalyst and an independent scholar. He has published five books in which he applies psychoanalysis to sport, ideology of sport and gender. He writes for Slovene media, providing psychoanalytic interpretation of current social events and issues dealing with gender issues, politics, sport, culture and art.

petek, 20. april 2012

Breivik is not psychotic!

Roman Vodeb, double M. A., is a Slovenian theoretical psychoanalyst and an independent scholar. He has published five books in which he applies psychoanalysis to sport, ideology of sport and gender. He writes for Slovene media, providing psychoanalytic interpretation of current social events and issues dealing with gender issues, politics, sport, culture and art.

Many professional psychiatrists, such as Dr. Randi Rosenqvist in her recent report, as well as theoretical psychoanalyst Roman Vodeb have maintained ever since the breaking news of Breivik's murderous spree that the killer cannot be insane. Vodeb admits that Breivik may have had certain disorders in connection with delusions of reference or narcissist delusions of grandeur or an ordinary schizoid disorder, yet these can hardly be regarded as psychosis.

Unlike the overall lay and professional views that Breivik’s actions were primarily motivated by the far-right ideology, Freudian Vodeb, however, claims that Breivik’s xenophobic militant monstrosity, which culminated in the outbursts of rage or aggression, was formed during his failed childhood, or, rather, due to the failed parenting from his mother and the absent father, as the father himself confessed to have failed to support his son during his childhood. According to Vodeb, the official diagnosis, however, was primarily intended at calming down the general public in Norway and worldwide. His thesis is that the Norwegian as well as the world political and lay public are obviously striving to tone down the extent of the Breivik case for the simple reason that both the Norwegians and the leftist-liberals wish to see there is nothing wrong with the multicultural society or the multicultural policy to foreigners. The most elegant – perhaps even politically dictated – way out is to declare Breivik insane, ie. psychotic, since paranoid schizophrenia is indeed a serious mental illness. Nationalism and far-right extremist nationalist ideas jeopardize world (e)migration and nationalist processes:

“It is considerably wiser in terms of tactics, strategy and politics to declare Breivik insane, mentally ill or psychotic than to declare the multicultural policy of Norway or any other liberal or multicultural country as mistaken. It is neither pleasant to hear that the Norwegian tragedy is a result of flawed parenting, which is characterized by broken families or emancipated (single-parent) mothers.”

The question that Vodeb also poses is whether the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia might have been forced on the psychiatrists by politicians or ideologists of multicultural government policy, since Breivik, in a way, simply “must” be “insane” (psychotic), rather than quite “normal” or an ordinary psycho- or sociopath. The denouement to the Norwegian tragedy with the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia is thus attributed greatest social acceptability, even though, in theoretical or psychoanalytic terms, it is a clearly mistaken. The greatest relief with the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, however, must have been felt by Breivik’s mother, because, in a further interpretational context, Vodeb believes the mother to be the main culprit and the most responsible person for the development of Breivik’s “insanity” and sadist xenophobia.

Vodeb has psychoanalyzed Breivik on the basis of a series of crucial events, adopting the logic of symptom. He points out that it was due to his mother and the absence of his father during the Oedipal phase that Breivik was formed into a xenophobe and a sadist killer. His  interpretation of Breivik differs from other experts in that he stresses that  Breivik’s xenophobia was fundamentally connected with the male figures that his inept mother would import into little Anders’ emotions all the way to his adolescence. According to Vodeb, the origins of his anger were generated in Breivik through repressions during his childhood until he was 6 years of age, or even as late as the age of 10 or 15, since Anders believed his Mom to love her lovers more than him. 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), her lovers, over him.

Secondly, Vodeb finds that Breivik’s inability to control his criminal tendencies crucially results from the absence of his father during the Oedipal phase, when the father should have set the scope of  morally appropriate behaviour for his son. As little Anders was not able to develop his Super-Ego, Breivik was incapable of feeling pangs of conscience when plotting and executing his criminal attacks.

Vodeb says that xenophobia has an unconscious and symbolic background and structure. Vodeb’s quintessential idea lies in the symbolic interpretation of Breivik’s terrorist actions:

“The grown-up Breivik regarded Norway as his Symbolic mother. The same way as ‘something’ – either the mother’s night-shifts or her nights with her lover(s) - once deprived him of his mother during his infancy, the foreigners (immigrants) would now steal away his country from Breivik . His repressed anger would burst out as manifest xenophobia in his adult consciousness. The adult Breivik was angry at his Country, at her multicultural (labourist) policy. The state policy to foreigners stands in a symbolic (transferred) libidinal interaction with the mother’s libidinal relation, or, rather, ‘policy’ to her children.”

Anger is released or returns from the unconscious store of repressed memories in the form of anger at all “strangers”, foreigners, Non-Norwegians. Vodeb considers this to be a fairly universal paradigm in xenophobic nationalist sentiment.

The main point of Vodeb's psychoanalytic theories is thus that the entire context of Norway's or Breivik's tragedy holds a latent structure. The idea is not that Breivik is a paranoid schizophrenic, but, rather, that Breivik experienced the return or transference of his childhood, the entire failed libidinal context in which his Mum loved her lovers (or just one lover) more than her son. This is how little Anders experienced it in his mental reality.
Vodeb says, “If an intelligent and mentally sane or non-psychotic person feels like committing a crime, nothing will stop him. A paranoid schizophrenic will be incapable of such detailed planning as observed in Breivik.  Breivik simply felt like killing, since his anger was activated by the unconscious, by his childhood repressions, and these are always libidinally conceptualized. The entire militant xenophobic logic that Breivik constructed in his adulthood, has no direct connection with his crime. Multiculturalism, which he finds so irritating, is nothing but a ‘trigger’ of latent xenophobia, imposed on him during his childhood. The culprit is his mother with her inadequate parenting of him. Breivik, imbued with latent sadism verging on manifest proportions, was in his manifest consciousness thoroughly convinced that it was merely foreigners or immigrant, ie. Muslims,  ‘multiculturalists’, to blame.”
Vodeb concludes that the blame for the Oslo attack and the Utøya massacre should be “directly” or indirectly attributed to Breivik’s childhood, his then (libidinal) frustrations and repressions, his then anger, which in his adulthood assumed the status of unconscious, repressed anger – with libidinal intruders who deprived him of his Mummy, analogous to the stealing of the Norwegian country as a symbolic mother on the part of foreigners or immigrants.
From this (psychoanalytic) point-of-view, Breivik is not (the only one) to blame for his crimes. It is his parents, his mother in her own specific way, as well as his father, since he was as good as gone out of the boy’s life – as Jens Breivik himself new confessed to share the responsibility for the terrorist that his son has become.  Vodeb stresses that Breivik should serve as a lesson to all of us: “Humanity can avoid further tragedies of this kind, (only) if a portion of the punishment is administered to the parents. Just imagine how careful the parents would be in their mutual dealings and in nurturing their children if they had to serve out half the sentence along with their children, having made them (serial) killers and criminals as Breivik and the likes of him! It may be the very spontaneity of such a thought that has driven the Norwegian political community to send Breivik to an asylum rather than prison. The fact is that if his parents had opted for a more ‘child-friendly’ divorce or if there had been no divorce, little Anders would not have turned into a militant xenophobic killing monster.”

 Silvana Orel Kos
Roman Vodeb, double M. A., is a Slovenian theoretical psychoanalyst and an independent scholar. He has published five books in which he applies psychoanalysis to sport, ideology of sport and gender. He writes for Slovene media, providing psychoanalytic interpretation of current social events and issues dealing with gender issues, politics, sport, culture and art.