Conservatives: insane paranoid schizophrenics?

Anders Breivik: Conservative Case Study.

We all recall with horror the tragic bombing and shootings in Norway in July, wherein a wingnut @$$hole named Anders Breivik — who absolutely cannot be a “terrorist” because he is white and Christian — targeted liberals in government as well as their children attending a camp of young leaders of the Labour Party.  Some of Breivik’s “manifesto” (massive pdf) reads like the national Republican platform (pdf), and the rest of it reads like the rantings of a garden variety CPD case.  Hardly anything in it would be out of place in an Ann Coulter screed, or anywhere else in the cesspool that is the right-wing blogosphere:

[The manifesto] includes support for varying degrees of cultural conservatism, ultranationalism, Islamophobia, right-wing populism, Zionism, anti-feminism…and white nationalism. It regards Islam and cultural Marxism as the enemy, and argues for the violent annihilation of “Eurabia” and multiculturalism, to preserve European Christendom.

Unless you have been living in under a rock* for the last decade, such rhetoric will be painfully familiar to you.

We awoke today to the news that the psych evaluation ordered by a court in Oslo has determined that Mr. Breivik was “psychotic” and “insane” during the July attacks:

The conclusions, which will be reviewed by a panel of forensic psychiatrists, contrasted with comments made by the head of that board after the attacks. Dr. Tarjei Rygnestad at the time told who told The Associated Press that it was unlikely that Breivik would be declared legally insane because the attacks were so carefully planned and executed.

“The conclusions of the forensic experts is that Anders Behring Breivik was insane,” prosecutor Svein Holden said, adding Breivik was in a state of psychosis during the attacks.

Now, loyal readers know the Palace has expertise in many, many things, but the nuanced workings of the legal system in Norway, alas, is not among them.  But for my purpose herein (which, by the way, is to render the question in the title of this post non-rhetorical) it is the reasoning and conclusions of the forensic psychiatrists who examined Breivik that are of paramount interest:

In their report, the experts describe a man “who finds himself in his own delusional universe, where all his thoughts and acts are governed by these delusions,” Holden said.

If that is not a perfect description of every single conservative I have ever met, read, heard or seen, then I don’t know what is.  Their very defining characteristic is to cling to and defend their selfish, petty and irrational delusions, even especially in the face of overwhelming evidence that completely obliterates them.

“They conclude that Anders Behring Breivik during a long period of time has developed the mental disorder of paranoid schizophrenia, which has changed him and made him into the person he is today.”

The interesting question that arises here is whether or not some degree of paranoid schizophrenia is at work in the conservative mind generally, or if the tragic disorder occurred in Mr. Breivik’s particular case only coincidentally.  To be sure, conservatives would love to pin Breivik’s despicable actions on something, anything that cannot be said to universally affect them as well.  But without rigorous investigation, testing and analysis, the truth is impossible to determine with any degree of certainty.

Needless to say, the Palace’s CPD research program is working on a definitive answer.  Given how things played out in Norway, the urgency of our mission cannot be overstated.

__________
*We mean no disrespect for those who may choose to live under rocks: the obvious benefits of sub-rock-dwelling are certainly not lost on us.

One thought on “Conservatives: insane paranoid schizophrenics?

  1. “When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and
    life stands explained.” Mark Twain

    Most people not quite mad in a legal sense, but our society and most
    others are besotted with customs and beliefs that seem mad, when
    examined in the light of reason, evidence, science and/or objective
    analysis.

    Let me start with a fact of madness that nearly everyone agrees was
    pure crazy. Anders Behring Breivik, a religious extremist, shot 77
    people dead in Norway last year. After extensive psychiatric
    evaluations, he was found fit for a mental hospital, not a prison. The
    prosecutor Svein Holden announced that the killer suffered from
    “grandiose delusions” and believed many things that the examiners
    believed were out and out crazy. His mental state was judged to be
    paranoid, schizophrenic and psychotic.

    In Norway, the legal system does not provide for victims to testify at
    trials about their suffering, losses or need for closure. In Norway,
    nobody can be legally put to death for anything, not even 77 murders
    committed in one lunatic afternoon. In this respect, Norway sets
    itself apart from Texas, Alabama, Florida and most other states in
    America.

    In my opinion, and I readily admit that I’m no expert in psychiatry,
    we have a lot of people with “grandiose delusions.” Uncountable
    numbers of Americans believe crazy things. At what point, I wonder, do
    really, really bizarre beliefs qualify seemingly normal people for a
    category like “crazy?”

    I wondered about this when I reflected on the legions of people who
    fervently believe some or all of these things, as described by Richard
    Dawkins:

    * The Inventor of the laws of physics and programmer of the DNA code
    decided to enter the uterus of a Jewish virgin, got himself born, then
    deliberately had himself tortured and executed because he couldn’t
    think of a better way to forgive the theft of an apple, committed at
    the instigation of a talking snake.

    * A god created an expanding universe. This god understands
    everything, including relativistic gravity and quantum mechanics. Why
    not? He designed and put in place all this and more. But, his real
    passion is “sin, abortion, how often people go to church and whether
    gay people should marry.”

    * In other parts of the world, believers in a different religion
    think that anyone who would draw a cartoon of a desert warlord known
    to have who copulated with a child before flying up and away on a
    winged horse should be beheaded. Also, that if a woman is raped, she
    should be imprisoned or made to marry the rapist, the better not to
    bring shame on her family.

    Noted skeptic Grete Christina observed recently that the Vatican’s
    chief exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, complained that Harry Potter
    books “encourage children to believe in black magic and wizardry.” Ms.
    Christina asked, “and exorcists don’t?”

    Henry Ward Beecher said, “no man is sane who does not know how to be
    insane on proper occasions.” (Proverbs from Plymouth Pulp)

    Reason, the “R” in Real Wellness, should be promoted at every level.
    It is not a magical solution that will eradicate insane thinking, but
    it will help immensely.

    What would be taught as part of reason? This in itself will require
    extensive deliberation, but a few elements can be identified. The
    point will be to help people draw sound based on facts, observation
    and evidence. Teach how to analyze and evaluate information, and give
    plentiful examples of falsehoods, poor reasoning and irrationality.
    Give examples of sensible versus foolish inferences based on the
    sufficiency of evidence and the support for claims.

    There are a many skills associated with the wellness dimension of
    reason. Yet, a foundation level of critical thinking could begin with
    an appreciation for a skill set as simple as Carl Sagan’s famous
    “Baloney Detection Kit.” http://users.tpg.com.au/horsts/baloney.html

    I recommend that foundation elements be included in a “Land A Man on
    the Moon” level undertaking of training citizens in applied reason.
    Using Sagan’s work as a model, everyone would be assisted to look for
    information that accompanies all claims, from advertising to the
    continued acceptance of alleged revelations and established
    traditions. Included would be the following:

    · The extent to which there is evidence for claims and independent
    confirmation of alleged facts.
    · Evidence that there has been substantive debate by knowledgeable
    proponents of all points of view.
    · A skeptical attitude for all arguments from authority.
    · Suspicion about a single hypothesis to explain something.
    · Recognize the dynamics of confirmation bias.
    · Simplify – learn the meaning of the phrase “Occam’s razor.”
    · Know why it pays to ascertain if an explanation can be hypothesis
    can be falsified, that is, tested, replicated and shown to be true or
    not. (shown to be false by some unambiguous test).
    · Separate variables.
    Learn about and practice overcoming common fallacies of logic and
    rhetoric (e.g., ad hominem, arguments from authority or adverse
    consequences, appeals to ignorance, special pleading, begging the
    question, observational selection, statistics of small numbers, misuse
    of statistics, confusion of correlation and causation and much more).

    Well, it’s a big ask to expect Congress to create another moon shot
    program especially one that would eventually result in nearly all of
    them being defeated at the polls as voters come to think more clearly
    about their choices, but we do need awareness of the need. At least we
    should expect wellness promoters, particularly those who are committed
    to promote quality of life beyond risk reduction, prevention and
    physical health, to give reason a chance.

    Good luck, be well but prepare to act crazy if necessary to fit in and
    get ahead.

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