The Breiviks in our midst
The world was shocked this week with the massacre that happened in Utoya, an island in Norway. The country would be the last place one would expect such a dastardly thing could happen in. I recall during a meeting we had in Oslo last year, we could see policemen patrolling without guns and when we asked our guide about it he said there’s no need for guns because the crime rate in Norway is very low.
Every Norwegian is supposed to be peace-loving, our guide said. In fact, Swedish Alfred Nobel stated specifically in his will that the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded by a committee of five people chosen by the Norwegian Parliament.
The country’s government is apparently convinced that none of their citizens can be capable of such a heinous crime; hence, Norway’s very lenient judicial system which bans the death penalty and only allows a maximum of 21 years imprisonment. That means that Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to the mass murder of at least 72 people and bombing of the capital, can walk away from prison when he turns 53 years old. Who can tell what else he could be capable of doing at that age.
One does not have to be a psychiatrist to tell that Breivik is mentally deranged. It can be a puzzle that someone, who has been described to be nationalistic and intelligent, and can write a 1,500-page manifesto-cum-diary, can actually be suffering from a severe psychosis. Despite his seemingly coherent answers to questions, he has a gaping detachment from reality, with his eclectic insights obviously not logically connected with the things he cite as basis.
It may be easier said than done but we should always have a high index of suspicion for people like Breivik. He may be a friend, a relative, an office mate, or a stranger who sat beside us in the bus. These people usually do not confine their thoughts and heinous plans to themselves. They express them in various forms—written (as in Breivik’s posted manifesto), or verbal—which more often than not, are passed off by those who hear them as amusing delusionary tales with no potential for tragedy.
But that’s exactly what the psychosis is all about. These people are suffering from a delusion of grandeur, which can end up with such a brutally ghastly outcome no one could ever imagine was possible. The mind can sometimes play tricks on people so obsessed with achieving something. It still proves the universal truth that whatever the mind is capable of conceiving, the mind can achieve. Breivik also has ‘role models’ who have inspired him like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh or Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whom he quotes in his lengthy manifesto. He followed all right the principles of using one’s mental powers to achieve something, but it’s just too bad that he applied it for the wrong reasons.
People who have delusions of grandeur have fantasies of power, wealth and omnipotence. They could have a messianic complex; as in the case of the Norwegian, a liberator complex that for him rationalizes the atrocious act he has committed. These people often also have an inflated sense of self-esteem, and show an obsession with grandiose actions or plans. They are usually out of touch with fact or reality, and when confronted about these, they will still cling to their erroneous beliefs and false sense of righteousness.
The mental process that drove Breivik’s actions is definitely irrational and pathological. As we mentioned earlier, we should identify these people early enough, and report them so preventive measures and corrective actions could be done promptly. It must be dealt with the same seriousness the authorities show when a prankster makes a joke before boarding an airline that he or she is carrying a bomb.
These people have extremely fired up subconscious minds which can make them capable of committing practically anything. They obviously have a twisted mind with crazed thoughts like Breivik’s thinking that a bloody rampage as what happened in Norway was a necessary evil for which he found no guilt nor compunction to be sorry for.
We dread that we have so many Breiviks in our midst. Every time a summary killing is done, or a coup is staged, or a journalist is assassinated, the mind has played some tricks on some people’s mind as it did on Breivik’s.
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