Three decades and five thousand miles separate two photographs.
The first shows a city in ruins. In the foreground, amidst the rubble, the outlines of what once were buildings are clearly discernible. In the distance lies a vast area of complete desolation, an ominous wasteland devoid even of rubble. Amidst this desolation, nothing remains of the unprepossessing plaza which once served as a gateway to hell. A huge oval, it had been partly surrounded by buildings with roads running into it like streams into a pond. With its perimeter fenced off, there was space enough within for up to eight thousand victims at a time. Continue reading →
‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’ Eric Hoffer
Paranoid personality disorder is one of a range of personality disorders classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. It is characterised by pathological suspicion and an obsessive need to eliminate enemies, both real and imaginary.
Pathological paranoia played a dominant role in the mindsets of those responsible for the worst atrocities of the twentieth century.
In our contemporary world, reeling from global financial crisis, turmoil in the Middle East, and Russian aggression in Ukraine, the world is reacquainting itself once again with this deadliest of mental disorders. Continue reading →
‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’
For students of the human condition, Eric Hoffer is an indispensible guide. A self-educated dock labourer, Hoffer’s book ‘The True Believer’ is regarded as a classic of political psychology.
This blog post outlines Hoffer’s views on the power of mass movements, including his explanation as to why many ordinary people are willing to give up everything to sacrifice themselves to a ‘greater’ cause – even when that cause involves the slaughter of millions.
Psychopathy is characterised by an absence of love, empathy or concern; narcissistic personality disorder by excessive self-importance. Adolf Hitler exhibited both. Hitler also exhibited another characteristic feature of those with personality disorder – an astonishing rigidity of thinking. Throughout his entire adult life there was no development, no maturing in Hitler’s character or beliefs. The arrested development of this single pathological mind sealed the fate of tens of millions of people and altered the course of history in Europe.Continue reading →