The Trail of Evil Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
Part 3: Is Breivik a Psychopath?
Breivik reportedly cheered as he was shooting children on the island. "This is the laughing killer type," says German sociologist Klaus Theweleit, who became known in the late 1970s through his two-volume work "Male Fantasies," a psychological interpretation of fascism. "They are men who enjoy their murderous game, who see themselves as part of a higher power that condones all of this. They laugh as they celebrate the sanctioned crime, their unpunished, godlike actions."
In "Male Fantasies," Theweleit analyzed the writings of the violent Weimar-era paramilitary groups known as the Freikorps and identified considerable similarities in their images of women and the hatred with which they encounter the opposite sex. Theweleit's interpretive patterns now apply to Breivik with astonishing precision. Breivik reminds him of an "SS man, like Max Aue in Jonathan Littell's novel 'The Kindly Ones,'" he says.
For Theweleit, Breivik's detachment suggests a similarity with the fascist murderers. He did not have a girlfriend and, according to his manifesto, he had sex only once during his "mission." He claims to have slept with two girls in Prague. Otherwise, he refers to sex only one other time -- as a planned act: He wanted to hire "two high class model whores," essentially as a last act before committing his murderous deeds. In his view, women are saints or sinners, while feminism, which he sees as a significant precursor to "cultural Marxism," is a massive threat. He yearns for the return of corporal punishment and the patriarchy.
Theweleit, thinking in psychoanalytical terms, believes that Breivik is motivated by a central fear surrounding the body he has devoted so much effort to create. In "this idiotic concept of becoming a man," the objective is to replace the strong mother and give birth to oneself all over again -- and to become big and strong, independently of one's mother. This, says Theweleit, is what the army used to do, through military exercises that took soldiers to the brink of utter exhaustion.
Always Blaming Someone Else
Breivik didn't need the army to create his own perfect body. While building his bombs, he completed a punishing training program and took anabolic steroids. In the end, incapable of forming ties with other people, he resorted to violence as proof of his own strength and superiority.
"Breivik must be a narcissist," says Oslo clinical psychologist Svenn Torgersen. In fact, he believes that the extent of Breivik's narcissism is "unique" and unprecedented in criminal history.
According to Torgersen, the staged photos of Breivik wearing various costumes reveal that he is extremely preoccupied with appearances, a typical feature of narcissism. A narcissist reacts to frustrations by assigning the blame to something in his environment, but never to himself. Pathological narcissists are characterized by a sense of their own magnificence coupled with fragile self-esteem. According to Torgersen, Breivik exhibits the classic profile of a pathological personality: emotional coldness and the inability to enter into relationships.
The efforts to establish a business, which he grandiloquently describes as successes in his manifesto, were in fact miserable failures. He experienced a corporate bankruptcy in 2002, and in 2008 another company, his E-Commerce Group, went into receivership. The first-person author of the manifesto probably perceived these failures as highly mortifying. According to Torgersen, Breivik was also characterized by an extreme form of sadism that finds pleasure in the suffering of others.
Torgersen believes that Breivik is mentally ill, but not so ill that he could not have functioned in everyday life. Two court psychiatrists are now compiling expert opinions and examining his legal culpability. "He has a concept of reality that no other human being shares with him" -- no one, anywhere -- says Breivik's attorney, noting that this is evident in the kinds of questions he asks and the way he talks about certain things.
Is he crazy?
His crime was, says Lippestad.
'Waging War against Democracy'
When Breivik converses with his attorney, he speaks quietly, almost casually. He is well-spoken, and yet he is not educated or even sophisticated, says Lippestad. In one of their first meetings, Breivik told Lippestad that English is his working language, but that he could speak Norwegian with Lippestad if the attorney preferred. Lippestad believes that Breivik is not waging war against the Muslim world but against the West and its supposed depravity. "He is waging war against democracy," says Lippestad.
Breivik does not recognize the court or even the legal system that ordered him arrested. He confesses his crime but insists that he is not guilty. If Breivik is as he describes himself in his manifesto, he ought to relieve the attorney of his duties. In the document, he predicted people would "label me as a nut" and urged his readers not to believe it.
He is now being evaluated, and the courts will have to reach their own conclusions. But no matter what degree of culpability is ultimately assigned to him, the fact remains that this 1,500-page manifesto exists. And it was not dictated to Brussels by demons.
- Part 1: Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
- Part 2: How Does an Average Citizen Turn into a Mass-Murderer?
- Part 3: Is Breivik a Psychopath?
- Part 4: How Does the Perpetrator Justify His Crimes?
- Part 5: Where Did Breivik Derive His Ideas From?
- Part 6: Who Are the People Who Influenced Breivik Intellectually?
- Part 7: How Do Right-Wing Bloggers Defend Themselves Against Accusations that They Bear Part of the Blame?
- Part 8: Is Breivik Different from Other Terrorists Such as Islamists and Anarchists?
- Part 9: Why Didn't Anyone Notice What Breivik Was Planning?