Phil's Philosophy

Mind Meanderings of an Alchemist

Tag: Idolatry

Person-idolatry and Sadism in the movie Colonia (2015)

Original publication: https://www.facebook.com/philip.jonkers/posts/2067888153229379

Directed by Florian Gallenberger, starring Daniel BrühlMichael Nyqvist and Emma Watson, the illuminating movie Colonia (2015)–The Colony–highlights first of all the woes of Person-idolatry, centered – in this case– around a (religiously-inspired) cult-leader; and secondly, the film illustrates the remarkable phenomenon of people who happen to be possessed by demons, to–rather than acknowledging their own state of possession–go and *project* their spiritual predicament on other people and furthermore justify their proceeding evil actions against those ‘possessed’ people as being nothing more than good – essential even – necessary actions only serving to make sure all of that ultimate heavenly glory prevails over all those wicked works of evil.

Coloniaor Colonia Dignidad in full–is, as the name suggest, a colony of some kind; but not any old regular sort of colony (certainly not a Colony of Dignity as its name euphemistically implies). Set against the backdrop of Pinochet’s 1973 military coup d’etat of the Chilean government ran by the socialist president Allende, on the surface it concerns a post-WWII Germanic cult-like commune having set up shop in a compound located on a remote and fenced-off stretch of land somewhere in the middle of Chile’s nowhere. The leader would be a German lay preacher called Paul Schäfer (Michael Nyqvist); someone I hesitate to call charismatic and yet what is lacking in that department, is well compensated by a certain other dominant albeit dubious leadership trait. Answering to the suggestive (if pretentious) name of “Pius” for his followers, claiming that God would be seeing as well as talking through him and even going full-on Messianic when asserting – during one of his sermons – to be the resurrection and the life, it quickly becomes clear that the leader seeks to maintain absolute authority over his meek and servile flock; and is not particularly averse of using sadistic means to see to it that – indeed – his will, however perverse, gets to be fulfilled, at all times.

By becoming the victim of abduction, through tragic misadventure, one of the protagonists–Daniel (Daniel Brühl)–ends up against his will in the colony — where he would also become the victim of torture, a casualty of the dictatorial new regime.1 Upon finding out what happened to Daniel, the other protagonist–Lena (Emma Watson)–decides to join up with the cult voluntarily, all for the apparent purpose to–like the rest of the commune–slavishly submit to Pius, and share in his worshipful glory;2 yet having as secret real aim to reunite with Daniel, who also happens to be her lover.

We jump into the story when one ominous night the stoic and authoritarian female supervisor by the name of Gisela (Richenda Carey), rushes into the dormitory of the girls. In perfectly-fitting commanding voice, barren of any hint of sympathy for sleeping ones, the older woman brusquely orders a girl named Dorothea (Jeanne Werner) to right away come along with; she orders the remaining girls to resume sleeping. Immediately after a loudly protesting Doro had been virtually dragged out by a nevertheless insistent and imperturbable Gisela, as soon as the door of their room slams shut (or thereabouts), unlike the rest of the girls seemingly held down in either the debilitating grip of fearful apathy or plain old sleep-drunkenness, a perspicacious and rebellious Lena–determined to find out what the hell is going on–gets up silently, sneaks out of the dormitory and–while drawn to the conspicuously audible sound of a youth singing–runs up to one of the uncurtained windows of the nearby building releasing said singing sound into the surrounding atmosphere, crickety and fragile.

It turns out that the men–quite possibly all of them–have gathered inside; all of the women, however, have been excluded . . . with one exception. Doro, full of visible fright, is sitting sullenly and apprehensively on a small table in front of and facing the crowd of seated men — who seem to already be excited by the luscious anticipation of participation in a peculiar pending form of festive activity. It deserves mention that Doro recently told Lena that she’s planning to get married soon with someone she met in the commune a few years ago.

Also facing the crowd, standing next to Doro, is the source of the enchanting voice: a small boy singing with angelic abandon. At some point, Pius gets up, walks over to the boy, goes to stand right behind him and through one swift and decisive gesture with his hands suddenly and unceremoniously makes clear to the child that as of that moment his services are no longer required. He then briefly raises an arm, casually points into the broad direction of the crowd, and dismisses the perfectly-compliant little lad by softly saying, Go.

The autocratic leader now demonstrably and theatrically starts sniffing the air as if detecting the sort of smell that not only should not be there, it moreover is not to be tolerated (any second longer, to make it sound even more dramatic). He turns his full attention to the one girl sitting in crouched position on the table for all men to see (and selfishly savor).

Paul Schäfer: (normal voice yet condemnatorily) No. It still stinks.
Crowd of men: (eager to affirm) Yes.
Pius starts walking around, as if making a point, the rising pitch in his voice betraying rising animation within.
Paul Schäfer: Not even this divine music can drive the devil out.
Crowd of men: No.
Paul Schäfer: I still smell the harlot; rotten to the core.
Crowd of men: Yes.
Paul Schäfer: It is not your fault, woman. But you have Satan inside of you.
Pius wraps an arm around the frightened girl, trying to cozy up; or, at least, [histrionically] trying to give the appearancewith a touch of mockery–to his all-male audience that he so does. The entire time, while quite possibly being busy spending about all of his focus on playing his part of cynical interrogator to {authentic-enough and therefore credible-enough}-degree, the leader evidently remains utterly impervious to the distress oozing from the wide-eyed, audibly shivering and sniffling girl.
Paul Schäfer: (full of overt condescension; looks away from her into the audience, with a devilish smile) So you want to marry, eh?
Failing the entire time to even make eye-contact with her tormentor, Doro is lost in another world, the scary sort of world you’d rather not want to be in.
There’s no compassion coming from Pius, and the crowd is no different as they obsequiously suck up to their bully for a leader by bursting out in ridiculing laughter and thereby directly encourage Pius to continue his reckless adventure into the eerie realms of sadism.
Paul Schäfer: Who would want to marry you, you ugly stinking cunt?

More laughter from the crowd of men, who all (apart from presumably Daniel) are remarkably blind to the painful compassion-begging reality of a visibly shaken and suffering woman sitting and trembling right in front of their insentient noses; as if they all were under the influence of some drugged-up kind of somnambulatory spell–gripped by a strange form of conscience-overriding stupor-like mass-hypnosis–acting as if they with heart and soul have bought into the delusion, egosyntonic in a predatory way, that the one woman in their presence were to only deserve the psychically tortuous punishment of open humiliation and ridicule to which she has been subjected. The obvious implication being that, in their disturbed minds, the woman would not be a victim at all but rather a transgressor, indeed, a victimizer, a sure source of spite and spleen; someone who would be so evil that any evil inflicted upon her would pale in comparison and for that reason alone might be excused; someone only deserving, and squarely so, of what’s coming to her.

As such, they would be strongly inclined to perceive and interpret the besieged girl NOT as someone who would be having entirely justified and rather extreme fear as to what horrible fate may await her while being at the malevolent mercy of a menacing mob of mad men made even more mad by a most mad and malignant master man; but RATHER, the men would see her and read her state of suffering as being nothing more than rock-solid proof of someone ‘clearly’ betraying to have personal guilt for having committed some, by implication, atrocious kind of offense; that she, as a result of perpetrating such unspeakably grave transgression, had only assumed a correspondingly-fitting pathetic countenance (plagued by a little bit of fear for punishment, that’s all); ‘obviously’ nothing more than the direct consequence of having an underlying mental state which–in big, bold all-capital letters–had plastered, GUILTY AS CHARGED, all over it — indicating the sort of committed sin which only begsyearnspleads to be redeemed (using some good-old-fashioned medieval means). That’s it, case closed, end of story.

Paul Schäfer: (commanding) I cannot hear you, speak up woman.
Doro’s too petrified to speak, only gibberish stutters out.
Paul Schäfer: (cunning) I know who. (pauses; briefly studies the crowd; declares, with a touch of sneer) Diete, right?
Suddenly Diete (Johannes Allmayer)–who until now had been sitting inconspicuously somewhere to the back–rises to his feet, his face tense with fear and shame — perhaps also betraying an origin in conscience-wringing guilt, whether he knows it deep down inside or not.
Dorothea: (finally managing) Die- Diete.
Paul Schäfer: (perfectly calm) Diete, Diete, Diete. What do you say to the proposal from this ugly stinking cow?
More sardonic laughter coming from the crowd of men. Pius waits for Diete to gather the nerve to respond.
Paul Schäfer: Well?
Diete: (Shame 1, Love 0) It stinks.

The bond Diete is suggested to have with Pius, and – by extension – with everyman else present too since they unanimously back up their leader, evidently is stronger than the bond he is suggested to have with his very own fiancee (whom he, by the way, truth be told, according to Doro, has met only once before). This example goes to show the raw extent of power which Pius commands over his people. Diete seems so terrified of being shamed by Pius (and gang) if he were to defend Doro by openly acknowledging his pending matrimonial bond with her (and as such openly grant her worthiness and status among the men), that he would rather betray his love for her – minimize and trivialize it – by basically affirming (the palpably-evident delusion) that she indeed must be the source of trouble, and a grave one at that, only dying to be taken care of, as Pius and his faithful all-male echochamber were alleging all along (and loudly so).

But this of course is absurdly untenable and unjust a situation. The level of respect which Pius has for Diete and Doro shows, in bright and lively colors, when he casually delegitimizes and rebukes their relationship in its entirety. It’s not worth a damn to him, as he has no real respect for either one of the love birds. And yet, in spite of clearly not being able to lay claim to a loving and mutually respectful relationship with his leader, Diete does show to yield–by so easily squandering his love for Doro–to what, in practice, is a superseding and stronger type of bonding with Pius (& Co.); one that nevertheless cannot be based on love, but chiefly fear: fear for suffering alienation and eventual rejection (from the group), for shame (in front of the men), for landing all-in-all into ‘unmanageably’ deep waters (requiring some, heaven forbid, novel and exploratory feats of personal independence and the ‘unbearably’ heavy yoke of personal responsibility that has to be heaved and towed with it).

Ever more intoxicated by sadistic amusement, the crowd of menshowing remarkable consistency in the rigorous uniformity of their responses–break out in laughter once more and thereby once again unambiguously and wholeheartedly show to condone the heedless extravaganza of their leader into the nefarious domain of extracting enjoyment at the painfully-serious expense of someone who happens to not be any random person grabbed from the streets (although that would still be bad of course) but rather someone belonging to their very own group (for crying out loud!).3 Such alarming fact alone should have given arresting food for thought–if not to say, paramount concern–to anyone present who, at the same time, would be living in full truth, having a fully-activated empathic connection with the people around them, and who therefore would be fully aware of what shamelessly shady kind of theater they not just find themselves in, but are also actual part of, in a stimulating way even!4

Paul Schäfer: That’s right. That’s right, Diete. It stinks. Why don’t you come up here and relieve your lover of her stench. Those are the demons in her that you smell. (louder) That we must drive out!
Crowd of men: (loud) Yes!
Paul Schäfer: So we can breathe again.
Crowd of men: (louder) Yes!!
Paul Schäfer: We must drive it out.
Crowd of men: (even louder) Yes!!!
Paul Schäfer: So we’re gonna breathe again.

Pius suggests that Doro–owing to the alleged unpleasant odor supposedly lavishly emitting from her asserted demonically-infested body5–would be the cause for everyman present to have difficulty obtaining enough revitalizing fresh air; difficulty gaining the soothing, calming and relieving satisfaction which normal respiration would bring, if only there were not such an insufferably foul stench seemingly hanging in the air right now. In other words, Pius posits among all present souls that the root-cause for any feelings of (allegedly foul-odor-induced) anxiety they seem to be experiencing at the moment is the one very girl sitting right in front of them (in a full-blown yet completely unregistered state of shock, mind you). Pius thus declares Doro to be the singular cause of their collective anxiety (which may, in all fairness, also very well include conscientiously-based bell-ringing sort of anxiety brought about by actively taking part in [rapidly] escalating a sadistic group-effort).

And the crowd reflexively take Pius‘ sermonizing of suspicious validity nevertheless in like heavenly wine, implying to fail to–even on superficial level–reflect critically on the moral nature as to what their leader has them believe; as if his words were nothing but samples of the most holy and elevated sort of gospel ever to have graced this rocky planet of ours with recital; as if it were all spoken by an infallible, irreproachable and utterly flawless God-like being (((who so nobly, selflessly and graciously had accepted the pure, stainless and inerrant ruling of Divine Providence to become the leader of the commune way back when it had all started; sent straight down from Heaven by God himself as if being some special sort of spiritual envoy having divinely commissioned authority to rule over all of those silly and moreover sinful mortals down there in the commune, whom all were to only be positively lost, already standing squarely with one foot in eternal damnation, without his Messianic sort of superior kind of guidance))).

In other words, Pius not only provides his men and himself with – at first glance, at best – a remotely plausible and, at any rate, what to them must be an egosyntonically irresistibly-attractive explanation as to why they would be suffering from perhaps not entirely pleasant nervous excitement right that very minute, but he also provides themselves with a purportedly fail-safe way to relieve their agitated selves from their anxious predicament. The peculiar dynamism between Pius and his followers thus strongly suggests that the leader has managed to program, or brainwash, his followers to buy into the fanciful and moreover outrightly dangerous notion that there were to be found genuine relief(carrying a loudly-colored sure heavenly stamp of approval)in the act of inflicting (arbitrary) violence upon Doro. That is, even though they – in actuality – will be carrying out a blatant exercise of physical sadism, in their perverted minds they were to only be doing noble work, since – after all – they would only be working to drive out the internally-present “evil” sources of her and – by extension – everyone else’s (anxiety-ridden)(atmospheric) malaise. So that afterwards, they may, once again, be able to indulge the serenely sedative sort of ambiance of wonderfully revitalizing fresh air they – by implication — happen to be so used to, and or be so entitled to, as it would have such attractive potential to make them feel so at ease ((getting to have blissfully settling-down sort of feelings of relief; as if having had a really luxurious and satisfying sort of meal, well-lubricated with exquisite sorts of alcoholic beverages of course, coming only with a regal-caliber sort of dessert, even coming complete with a big fat after-dinner cigar if that’s your thing — or big fat joint, if that does it for you)).

It should be obvious by now that the men have fused and aligned their will with that of their leader, perfectly matching and consistently so. Since their leader, by being the bully he clearly is, deserves (by any objective standard) to be labeled the aggressor, the men–by identifying not (one teeny-weeny bit!) with the victim but precisely (wholeheartedly and unreservedly) with the aggressor–by definition, may be thought of as being locked down in a state of trauma bonding with Pius. In other words, the men–while being perpetually and uncritically spell-bound by (in drooling awe of) their nonetheless openly abusive leader–have fallen victim to a Stockholm Syndrome kind of pathological attachment to Pius. By blindly – in full surrender – worshiping their leader, the men have rendered themselves incapable of interpreting the immoral actions of their leader (against Doro, in this case) as indeed immoral (God Almighty–FAPP, AKA Pius–can’t possibly be immoral; simply too perfect and pure in being to be anywhere near acting out in wantonly evil ways). Their conscience effectively must have been decommissioned with respect to Doro and, in general, with anyone designated sinful or evil by Pius (who were to then immediately qualify for the ne’er-getting-boring evergreen {purification of the soiled soul by way of sin-redeeming violence}-procedure). Instead, as long as they selfishly savor the seductively thrilling thrall of participating in the predatory events overseen by their terroristic leader, in order for them to manage preventing their egos from spiraling down in overwhelming inner-conflicting turmoil (and risk going completely mad), they will have to be able to rationalize away any abuse that Pius were to direct visiting upon whatever victim of his choosing — one whom, in their mesmeric myopic eyes, would therefore not be considered as such, but rather an offender of some kind, someone who would only deserve their punishment, however severe deemed necessary.

So there you have your victim-blaming license of (arbitrarily) sadistic conduct; heavenly sanctioned of course. . . because Pius is only doing God’s work, as God would only want to see the members of his beloved creation – all of them – be delivered from all those heinous (and correspondingly smelly) demons . . . as soon as possible and by any means necessary (. . . supposedly).

Paul Schäfer: (to Diete) Are you just gonna stand there like a fool; that doesn’t help her, come on. What we do, we do with love!
Crowd of men: (loud) Yes.
Paul Schäfer: (to his audience) What we do, we do with love.
Crowd of men: (louder) Yes!!
In other words, the punishment they are about to unleash on Doro would be based only on pure goodness; inflicting actually quite dangerous psychophysical shocks is going to only be in her best interest, coming solely from well-meaning men, animated purely by good-old fashioned healing love . . . all for the, in principle, noble purpose of helping that poor girl getting rid of all those nasty life-quelling little devils.
While Doro is looking at her fiance in puzzlement and fear, Diete nevertheless musters to hit her right in the face with his stretched hand.
Crowd of men: (loud) Yes!
Invariably followed by a loud and unanimously encouraging Yes! from the crowd, Diete slaps Doro in the face a few times more until he finally breaks down in tears — the apparent victim of overwhelming conflicting feelings, partially self-induced and steeped in guilt no doubt (whether he’s able and willing to acknowledge it or not).
Paul Schäfer: (puts a ‘consoling’ arm around a shattered Diete) Diete, Diete, Diete. The whore has enslaved you.
Crowd of men: (loud) Yes!
Paul Schäfer: (accusingly points to Doro) That’s the work of the devil!
Crowd of men: (loud) Yes!

Pius acts as if he’s under the impression (odd, but not surprising anymore by now) that, instead of being Diete’s own doing, it was Doro who somehow had succeeded to halt his punishment of her; as if the sly witch she is suggested to be had beforehand succeeded to enslave her fiance’s mind and through deploying some suggested (yet unverified) occultic witch-craft sort of mind control gimmick had magickally managed to make the other stop what Pius seems to believe, and vehemently so, only constitutes justified treatment. Pius thus holds Doro responsible for supposedly messing with the head (and heart) of what he solemnly would believe is but a completely vindicated and authorized punisher (i.e., a supposed certain agent of deliverance).

Pius called Doro a harlot earlier and now confirmed it by calling her a whore. There seems a pattern here. Indeed, I think it’s safe to say that this constitutes the very charge which Pius has all but spelled out explicitly: Doro would be a corrupter of men, someone who uses her genitalia as devices of attraction to seduce men, only to milk them dry and leave them with drained, hollow and bankrupt souls (which would make her at once lowly and despicable, easily bordering on the unforgivable, if not already going beyond it, . . . royally). In Pius‘ mind, Doro would be looking to not just tease and flirt with Diete, but unbridledly spell-bind the guy, indeed, unabashedly snare him hook, line and sinker; and then, of course, the unavoidable–lots of problems–would happen. Whatever Pius his precise objections would be, I guesstimate him to be damned if he’ll allow all of this defiling and desecrating disorderall of this sinful mayhem – to occur on his premises; not on his watch (no sirree!).

As for the men: by blindly and loudly backing up their leader–as if carefree yet sharp-toothed littlekidsset loose in a bloodycandy store‘–the implicitly fawning crowd of men may be interpreted as one big sanctioning amplifier of sadistically manifesting will: <who> not only all-too-eagerly buy into Pius‘ sanctimonious escapade (with a bloody twist) taking place–on an abstract, imagined level–in his heedlessly self-elevating, fantastical and emphatically artificially sweet (saccharine) version of a nonetheless stark, dark and – most of all – crimson-red kind of reality; but <the group of men>–effectively acting as a perfectly-obedient well-disciplined military unitalso actively promote the progression of their leader’s sadistic outbursts by way of their consistent and uniform chants of endorsement.
Enjoying the backing of a small army of loud and relexively-supportive sycophants, Pius has set his mind on acting upon what he must passionately believe is a de-facto holy declaration, a divine decree stipulating that Doro would only be perfectly worthy of her purifying punishment and that–as an inescapable consequence–any obstructive effort trying to prevent her from getting what they all are convinced is perfectly hers to receive, is seen–by Pius and servile disciples alike–as unjust in itself (in fact, the very work of the devil) and therefore, without a shred of doubt, worthy of immediate and absolute overruling and censoring. They are supposedly trying to drive the devil out (from this sly witch coming equipped with a dangerous and treacherous pussy-trap), which – in principle – is something good, and automatically deem as evil (not their own actions at all! but rather) any intervening effort seeking to sabotage what they imply to sacredly believe is only God’s noble work manifesting on their earthly plane of existence, right in their midst, and right this very minute.

Note also that Pius is projecting the trait of seeking to enslave another person (i.e., control their heart and mind), on Doro. After all, being the unambiguously dictatorial cult-leader that he is, Pius may be expected to very much rely on having his people being dependent on him, especially his mind; more (industrial-strength-sort-of) dependency, in fact, means better (industrial-strength-sort-of) obedience and thus better (industrial-strength-sort-of) control [[[gimme, gimme, gimme more of that yummy (industrial-strength-sort-of) *!power!*]]]. Pius therefore likely relies on a host of mind control techniques, all with–what to him would be nothing more than–the perfectly divine and purely noble aim of ensuring that his flock also remains his flock (of bleating bloody sheep)using blinding spell-binding gimmicks from his Machiavellian bag of tricks to keep having them in sweetly servile modes of existence: sadistically malleable men versus masochistically malleable women. And so, evidently unwilling to acknowledge (or plainly incapable of acknowledging) what he himself was doing–as mandatory matter of habit and routine–to each and everyone person walking around in the commune, the man, the master hypnotizer,6 in an impenetrable and blinding haze of suffocatingly-thick hypocrisy, manages to pretend and allege that it would be (not himself at all! but only) Doro who had stooped to the, by inference, so incredibly very wicked practice of *!enslaving minds!* . . . (yes, that’s right, you read *!that!* right!)

Paul Schäfer: (passionately points to Doro; loud) That is the work of the devil!! (invitingly gestures to his audience) Why don’t you come up here and help her.

The rabid wild-eyed mob of men keenly leap to their feet, rush over to a by now loudly and frantically screaming Doro; instantly pin a perplexed, appalled and aghast victim–already blood-nosed–right down on her little table slash sacrificial altar, and proceed to – mind youpunch her dead-smack in the face. All the while Pius can be seen standing a mere few feet away, gripping with both hands–if you can believe it–the face of poor Diete, contorted in agony, just to make sure (the loving and caring father-figure he would be) that the broken and weeping fiance gets to have a first-class front-row viewing spot to an unfolding kind of scene, starring his very own would-be wife, that might just as well have been taken straight out of a horror movie.

Fortunately for the girl, and–in a karmic sense–fortunately for every single one of those demented men involved, after landing a few sure fists in the face of their defenseless victim (effectively acting as their choice sacrificial sin-absorbing scapegoat), one of the men suddenly notices the silhouette of a shocked and alarmed Lena peering through the window, thus–as it happens–signaling the end of their frightening excursion into an expression of sadism that had graduated from an already traumatic psychic form to an especially-worrisome arbitrarily-hazardous physical counterpart.

Facilitated by Lena’s accidentally-detected presence, Doro is prevented from getting lynched on the spot, even though instead would just the same still end up in hospital for wounds sustained — courtesy of an irate crowd fanatically whipped up into a bloody frenzy by a leader high as hell on sadistic grandiosity of a religious bent.7

As crazy and demented this macabre sort of pseudo-Christian kind of ritual may seem, this strange type of activity continues in actuality at certain places in the world, to this day. In India, for example, women recently lined up to be beaten by what seems like local a witch-doctor engaged in a dubious exercise of sadistic superstition, one that is rather similar to the one displayed in the movie.

Women and young girls queued up to receive therapeutic lashings during an annual Hindu festival held in southern India. The extreme religious ceremony is said to cure illnesses and exorcise evil spirits.

Ruptly footage shows women kneeling down in a “lashing ground” and having their backs and hands whipped by priests, as part of ‘Vijayadasami’ festivities held in the village of Bavithram Vellalapatti. The participants are seen bowing as they take turns receiving blows from the priests, who are dressed in ceremonial garb. Some are seen flinching as they brace for another lashing.

The ritual is supposed to rid women and girls of evil spirits, as well as heal ailments. According to tradition, if a woman doesn’t feel pain, it means she has fallen victim to dark forces.

“When the priest lashes the women they won’t feel any pain if they are possessed by evil spirits. Otherwise, it will be painful. The evil spirits after several lashes will run away from the woman’s body,” a local resident told Ruptly. rt.com

The late psychiatrist R.D. Laing wrote that Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most. Because they, bless them, are asleep. They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a ‘dream’ is going crazy. Suppose for argument’s sake, just a little Gedanken-experiment, that in the crowd of men there had been someone who had refused to join in the reckless goose-stepping gig of the hour: a rapidly aggravating predatory group-effort to the cost of one woman. Suppose that this person, a male immersed in a pool of like-minded fellow males, through whatever internal cause and or via whatever external trigger, had begun to realize what kind of a horrible and horrific freak-show he suddenly found himself in. Suppose also that he would have expressed his refusal such that it was noticeable by the other men. Now the big question of course is, how would his–let’s crank it up a notchprotestations (a perhaps growing list of moral misgivings dying to ventilate itself) be received by his male peers? What would Pius himself say and do?

If Laing is right, and I tend to go with him on this one, rather than having any ear for the ramblings coming from this suddenly materializing buffoon (quickly rising to the point of abject lunacy) the men–spurred on, if even need be, by Pius–will be bound to think that there must be something wrong with old Axel (or Heinz, Jürgen,…); maybe he ate something bad, having a bit of a flu, bit under the weather, going delirious and so all of this verbal diarrhea came gushing out. . . you know what, that’s probably it.

However, should – heaven forbid – his rebellious maladies persist, before long perhaps this poor sod too might be found getting rather odorous (ever more so) and – as such – might also very well be deemed (ever more so) in need of the ne’er-getting-tired {purification of the soiled soul by way of sin-redeeming violence} sort of routine. . . applied only with the utmost of care and love, that goes without saying, needless to say.

It doesn’t take long before it’s Lena’s turn. Either at the end of a day’s work or at the foot of some break, Lena manages to outsmart the watchful eye of Gisela and sneak off the grain field to go for a private skinny-dipping swim in a secluded small pond somewhere in a nearby copse (or maybe it’s a decent forest, after all). However, she somehow must have been caught just the same and that’s why she’s now sitting on display in that same room, in front of those same men, as Doro had been on that fateful other night. Presiding over this sadistic make-shift sort of a kangaroo court, again is Pius — Chief Prosecutor, Chief Justice and Chief Executioner all coming together into one volatile individual: smitten by unfettered megalomania, holding sway with a characteristic rod of iron, having an insatiable hunger for sin-redeeming blood and – arguably worst of all – accountable to — notonelivingsoul.

Paul Schäfer: (spiteful) So you fooled Gisela. Be my guest. That’s what she deserves; that fat, ugly, stinking cow.
With the robotic crowd of menas per well-established tradition–laughing approvingly in response, Pius gets intimidatingly up-close in Lena’s face.
Paul Schäfer: (softly) But that you would go and defile our water with your stinking, whorish, naked body.

In other words, we’ll give you a pass for having gotten the better of your female superior, but that’s all hunky-dory since we’re going to nail you good-and-proper another way. We’re going to string you up – in fact – for having violated what we now conveniently regard is a sacred and therefore absolutely unbreakable rule. You have supposedly soiled our supposedly precious (if not to say, holy) water with your uncovered and by implication supposedly unclean and defiling body. While we’re high on idolizing the nevertheless ridiculous rule stating that our water in the wild shall be kept free from contact with uncovered human skinespecially the patch covering the genitalia (in particular, of course, as it happens, the private parts of women)while we’re getting all jazzed up and bent out of shape for having found what in actuality is no more than a superficially plausible excuse (flimsy, at best) to persecute your offensive little derriere (smelly too), you are going to have to redeem your ostensibly grotesque sin by way of suffering at our punishing hands.7 And afterwards, after having seen to it that the hideous blemish is cleansed off (purged off with violent passion) which you so casually–yet so cruelly–had come to visit upon our de-facto Holy Rule, upon having concluded another shiny one of those good and wholesome deeds of deliverance, we all get to feel better about ourselves, relieved from all of that unmitigated toe-curling anxiety that would now still so very much trouble us; and which supposedly could be traced back (for everyman present) to an intolerably unpleasant odor, somehow supposedly hanging in the air ((which might in its entirety be perhaps nothing more than a figment of mass-imagination, a uniformly-natured mass-hallucination simulating the collective sensory registration of an ambient bad smell, possibly brought about by a momentary (demonically-facilitated-and-coordinated?) corruption of olfactory mass-perception; belonging to the menacing mob of malevolent men who themselves are ultimate victims of mass-hypnosis administered by the mean mesmerizing master man running amok on much more than a mere modest misbehaving modicum of megalomania)).

Pius turns around to face the crowd, evidently seeking to emphasize the seriousness of Lena’s heaven-upending transgression and thereby unequivocally communicates to everyman present wanting to be recognized–also by everyman present–as someone who would quite obviously only all-too-laughably easily qualify with flying colors to be given green light to continue going down what in actuality – regretfully – is but a pathetically shabby and (at best) dimly-lit sort of a sordidly sinister and exceedingly eerie kind of a capriciously crooked and terrifyingly treacherous type of a sadistic path (ghoul-infested too); but which–in their self-upliftingly delusional, hopelessly infantile and, most of all, wantonly predatory kind of group-mind–gets to be egosyntonically translated into what strongly appears to be nothing but a perfectly-inviting and really extraordinarily well-kept, truly immaculately lit (bright as day) and endearingly rosy sort of road, straight as an arrow (zero acrobatic maneuvering needed), not at all riddled with deviously-hidden limb-severing booby-traps (hospitals? what hospitals?), having only row upon colorful row of madly-applauding and zealously-cheerleading sort of angels (not at all belonging to the fallencategory one single bit) standing on both sides of the way (all the way!), the sort of way that were to only constitute a thoroughly just and flawlessly effective type of course which, beyond any possible shadowy hint of doubt (whatsoever), would be leading to no other possible destination (100% certainty) than the positive conclusion of another brilliant one of those insanely-blissful and – moreover – divinely-approved acts of deliverance. (. . . the sure stuff that legends are made of, eh?)

Paul Schäfer: (emphatic) Naked!
Crowd of men: (indignant) Oh!
Paul Schäfer: Defies belief. (turns to Lena again) I took you in like a daughter. I made you one of us. I gave you everything you need. (turns to crowd) Hasn’t she lived here snug as a bug in a rug?
Crowd of men: (eager) Yeah!
It’s obvious that Pius tries to paint himself (also representing the commune at large) as a sure beacon of generosity and virtue galore, luxuriously radiating nothing but wave after sweltering wave of admirably philanthropic sort of soul-warming kind of support and sympathy to all . . . versus Lena: self-profiteering, opportunistic, egotistical and now also betrayer of good faith. It is apparent that the leader is trying to make himself look like the victim, one who couldn’t possibly be a victimizer if he tried and who therefore naturally were to deserve compensation for sustained grievances — inflicted by such a heartless, exploitative and clearly criminally-minded defendant.
Paul Schäfer: (to Lena; softly) Now you show your true face. For all women are full of lies, diseased and whorish demons.

If this is how he really feels about women in general, it’s obvious he hates them — like the true misogynist he then would be. However, truth be told, in all fairness, Lena did enter the commune on a ticket of deceit. Her whole stay, in fact, by pretending the entire time to be someone she in reality obviously was not (thank God), has been lavishly soaked top to bottom in deceit. She has, after all, been lying from day one about being a true devotee of Pius (when she much sooner holds him in contempt, sometimes even barely-concealed so). And although he makes a wildly depreciatory and obscenely hypergeneralizing claim about wholesale womanhood that is unlikely to have any bearing in reality (I should hope), it does have to be ceded that Pius does have a point, however accidentally made, when he implies her to be a liar (by inclusion).8 Then again, on the other hand, it has to also be granted that Lena was given barely any other option than to lie her way in. Indeed, the militant fortress-like nature of the communefenced-off and booby-trapped, isolated and fiercely defended by raving mad men brandishing lots of guns, while (almost) being impossible to get out of the place voluntarily–thus can do little but to leave Pius being the great facilitator of a Lena resorting to deception in her–mind you–perfectly understandable and even noble quest of finding someone in the commune who didn’t even deserve to be there in the first place (not that anyone would though); and to then get the flimflamming fuck out of dodge together.

Although Lena manages better composure than Doro did, tears start to well up in her eyes regardless.
Paul Schäfer: (scornful and menacing) Your tears won’t save you. As any loving father should, I will now cleanse you of the demons that are within you.
Pius softly touches the face of his victim with his hand as if to comfort her and yet the gesture feels more than anything part of the old self-idolizing tyrant his (at best, only cursorily credible and actually quite flaky) role-play as noble father figure — having immaculate parental credentials (ahem!) and divinely endowed authority to rule the roost (yeah, right). Indeed, the disingenuity of his consoling action becomes abruptly clear when he immediately follows up with a callous and forcefully executed slap with his stretched hand right in Lena’s undefended face.
Crowd of men: (smelling blood) Yeah!
In spite of being slapped hard, Lena manages to remain calm and regain composure, as if she had been expecting all along that things would get rough. While she stares back at her assailant defiantly, basically turning the other cheek, Piusblind as a bat–hits her again, this time with an intrinsically harder backhand.
Crowd of men: (enthusiastic) Yeah!
Without deliberation (or consultation with any living soul present), Pius strikes Lena for a third time and now does so with such force, that it sends her flying from her seat, making her crash-land on a cold and unforgiving floor.
Crowd of men: (all riled up) Yeah!
Fired up by a maddeningly intoxicating blood-lust by now, Pius orders his men to join him in the assault on the poor girl lying defensively-huddled-together on the floor.
Paul Schäfer: Come on! Show your brotherly love!

In Pius his dubious worldview, one that is apparently shared completely and unanimously by the slavish group of men busy swarming around him, what in reality is a collective product of their selfishly manifesting love for sadism, gets to be egosyntonically reinterpreted as an entirely-justified and divinely-recognized purification procedure applied only with love (no trace of involved hate at all), as if they would genuinely care for the battered person lying in front of them curled-up in fetal position, exposed and vulnerable. And even as they are about to rain their fists of fury down on her, the maliciously mesmerized assembly of mad men that they are would rather view their pending acts of cruelty as only being part-and-parcel of a tried-and-tested lovey-dovey means to separate that which is evil inside of their victim from that which is good, thus causing her to be left with solely her purely good and true self.

Easy, peasy, Japanesey.

On the verge of launching their attack on a defenseless and helpless Lena, out of the blue, an as yet unknown outside cause sets off the alarm-system of the compound. Acting on what seems like a sudden surge of overwhelming paranoia, Piusby giving mobilizing orders involving all men present–immediately though indirectly brings a halt to what the situation otherwise easily could have degenerated into: an ugly lynching ordeal (AGAIN!). Facilitated by Pius‘ easily-provoked mental ailment of simmering perpetual paranoia, the mysterious party triggering the alarm therefore effectively albeit inadvertently ends up saving Lena’s life.

Footnotes:
1 According to the credits of the movie, Colonia Dignidad would–literally below the surface–be a secret torture facility operated by the Chilean Secret Police;
2 Or in technical language: joining the commune of people who practice Person-idolatry having the cult-leader named Pius for its object of service; worship which expresses itself especially–when practiced in its purest form–as a blind, reflexive and unquestionable obedience to Pius; a slave-like submissive attitude which invariably and unanimously is considered justified, worthy–indeed–desirable, as if the man being in a persistent center of praise-seeking attention would be none other than (((God Almighty intheflesh))) — meaning that all of his governing actions and decisions are deemed by his worshipers as if readily without flaw and therefore immediately beyond criticism. Hence, in reference to the one unique person in their company allegedly being in closest (communicative) proximity to God of them all (nearly able to himself indulge in certain omniscience and omnipotence, just watch), even casually questioning Pius would–in their sincere (if spell-bound) minds–be, at best, a most silly exercise in futility; and, at worst, a dreadfully heinous sort of insult (blasphemy!!) levied at their most honorable, most special and (of course, emphatically) most noble person in their midst. In other words, if the latter applies and–<with the collective mental engine driving Person-idolatry centered around their leader, Pius-idolatry, going full throttle now>–we would be talking about the sort of committed offense which once–during somewhat dated, more medieval and less enlightened sort of times–might have been ruled punishable by . . (. . fill in the arbitrarily bloody dots, here);
3 It is important to stress that the victim belongs to the same group as the mostly male perpetrators do, because that victim, upon returning from hospital to resume active commune-life, will be exposed to the very real risk of socially interacting with the same people who had directly contributed to her suffering, an episode which–after all–had been of an especially traumatic nature. Due to their actively supportive role in bringing about Doro’s abuse, each and everyone person involved will have incurred rather substantial guilt with respect to her (whether conscientiously acknowledged or not) and so follow-up interaction with their victim–unless they come clean to her about their horrible behavior–will stand to be rife with automatically unpleasant sort of tension.
Let’s start with the one woman involved, Gisela. Being the female supervisor that she is, social interaction with her is unavoidable. Meetings with her will likely be uneasy, to put it mildly. Gisela, however–being too much in love with her exalted powerful position as Pius‘ lieutenant of the female division–will be unlikely to humble herself and offer any form of apology to Doro. Indeed, seeing that she would see herself as quite literally superior, I would expect Gisela simply to resolve projecting any form of guilt away from herself and back unto what she could very well regard is but an inferior (lower-ranked) Doro, at once deserving of whatever kind of punishment their worshipful Godintheflesh sort of leader sees fit. Probably – therefore – having to deal with an inflexible and already menacing Gisela, it would be all up to Doro to try and mitigate any tension brewing up between them. As such, in order to help minimize or assuage any inherently emotionally-burdensome sort of hard feelings from her end, Doro might just prefer to absorb the nonetheless entirely artificial and equally unjust load of guilt which so brutally had been forced upon her. Since the frighteningly-challenging and unattractively-stressful alternative is to revolt–rebel like the true independence-craving adult human being she would then be–against the tyrannical and totalitarian rule of Pius and minions (armed not only with foul mouths and fists but guns and what not), I would estimate her to be partial to rather choose the way of least resistance by somehow resolving to blame herself (consistent with a yielding masochistic attitude) for supposedly having stepped out of line, yada yada, by having had the stomach-churning audacity and temerity to strike up what turned out to be an unauthorized sort of romance, seeking a romantic relationship with someone who apparently unfortunately was off-limits to her (seeing that she would be too ugly and smell too badly, yada yada).
On to the men. Owing to their sizeable guilt, the men will have to deal with natural and substantial fear for compensatory punishment (fear for revenge–Law of the Talion-style), typically becoming more pronounced the closer they happen to be to her (and their memory eventually would be jarred into jogging due to now being able to live-register their victim through the senses). Especially Diete will have to process an especially-significant portion of guilt since he obviously let down his fiancee in such a spectacular yet brutal fashion. Although hard to accurately predict what will come of their relationship without having any further information to go on, from a purely rational vantage point, I have little hope there would still be a marriage in the post (then again, love is not synonymous with rationality per se). Let me state (what probably many of you likely only find is) the obvious: If I were her, I would be (exceedingly) reluctant to want to stay involved with someone who so easily lets me twisting in the wind and furthermore not only betrays my love due to male peer pressure (of a most silly and infantile kind even!), but who also has the senseless nerve to physically hurt me due to that same silly outside pressure, which is coming from the sort of people who actually have no right (at all!) to interfere with my relationship. Then again, maybe she’ll forgive him for his betrayal–however flagrant and telling it is–if he admits (if even able to) his weak-hearted and bloody folly to her, but–either way–their relationship would be unlikely to stand the light of day, while under their sadistic leader’s suffocating sway. He must therefore, first of all, free himself from servitude to Piusshake off this atrociously intrusive – invasive and life-draining spell to the mean mesmerizing master man–through, if need be, force-feeding himself with the cold hard naked truth, at once noble for its elegant simplicity and universal symmetry: that exercising personal (independency-seeking) autonomy is a natural right to be enjoyed by any living human being — as guaranteed by, and consistent with, the Golden Rule (and which should be denied only under special certain circumstances of emergency, such as a person being or becoming a veritable liability or menace to society if left acting under their own free-willed autonomy).
As for the other men, in case they were to sustain a sure Close Encounter of the Third Kind with their victim, should it ever happen that the (depraved)(power-hungry) sadist inside once again gets the better of them, the abuser(s) might just then be triggered to attack her once more as they (yet) one more time would yield to the (egosyntonically-attractive) temptation to boldly deny their own guilt, have furthermore the dry wits to project it unto her, and moreover also have the perfectly-blind balls to persecute her for it.
Sounds to me like a recipe for social disaster (if not blueprint for creating a miniature version of hell on earth).
When members of one gender sadistically exploit members of the other gender on a suggested routine (pseudo-legal) basis, it’s therefore no wonder that Pius seeks to maintain separation of the sexes in his commune. In addition, it should also be no great surprise if the women in the commune turn out to be especially submissive and masochistically inclined (!guilt-absorbing!), since their egos–after all–have to make sense of their abuse coming from (male-chauvinistic) sadistically inclined (!guilt-projecting!) men, who–notwithstanding their repulsively oppressive and exploitative behavior–still form part of the same overarching group as the women do and so whom the women therefore cannot ignore and or run away from; assuming a (mildly) masochistic character trait would as such correspond with a relatively understandable roll-with-the-punches sort of a bend-instead-of-break kind of a survival strategy;
4 Actors who, as long as they help sustain the dreadful theatre macabre (vive la France!) in their midst, cannot help but to accumulate costly karmic debt themselves, staggering moral cost accrued for being part of a group of servile souls lending active support to the depraved machinations of a sadist for a leader;
5 That Doro might in fact be possessed by demons cannot be ruled out, strictly speaking. She already committed a significant and real transgression by way of sacrificing her autonomy in exchange for blindly worshiping Pius, an offense committed most of all against her own person (apart from God), something which the psychoanalyst Arno Gruen calls “the betrayal of the self” (and everyone is encouraged to read his fascinating and informative books). And this–I was taught by the human person overseeing my own deliverance on an earthly plane–is what demons love seeing us do, they love to see us acting abusively towards either one’s own being or one another as it would ultimately grant them some kind of metaphysical license to go and possess us in actual fact.
As a result of being part of one big sadomasochistic enterprise involving lots of suffering, Doro–like any other member of the commune–is likely to at least have been exposed to the very real risk of demonic possession. It seems self-evident to me that demons naturally gravitate towards places where there is lots of human suffering generated (like this prison-like commune but also regular prisons, mental hospitals and other places where there is an abundance of [self-]abuse going on); all sorts of sites of abuse at which those rather evil-minded invisible creatures would have the best of opportunities to add fuel to the fire, so to speak; the best of prospects to push through their sinister perversions of human will with the greatest of eases, producing the greatest of yields — all for the benefit of their age-old war against us. Indeed, if demons are preying on human beings, having as aim to override and usurp conscious human control (as much as possible), they might just welcome (very much) any event of a potential human host relinquishing autonomous personal control, whether that host would be sacrificing their free will by surrendering in worship to another human being (like Pius) or something else (like a false god or any idol), it doesn’t matter, as long as that free autonomous will–that full command over their own person–goes up in smoke; and, as a result, would be leaving an attractive vacancy for outside non-human spiritual entities, looking to have some iniquitously-minded fun, to move in, join the party and gladly fill in any gaping holes of will, lusciously-succulent corruptible will.
However, owing to his irresponsible (grievously Golden Rule-perturbing) use of power over the commune, it is far more important to recognize that precisely Pius himself might be possessed. Indeed, while Pius cavalierly declares Doro’s supposed bad smell to be due to demons residing within her, what about the alternative? — that any disturbing smell they collectively seem to detect is coming not from her but from him — that there would be smelly demons residing within him. If this is so, then Pius obviously is guilty of projecting his spiritual predicament unto the poor girl — and it would count as an indication of a serious systemic problem.
Unlike she (who’s no danger and whose potential state of possession has little relevance beyond her own person), since–in sharp contrast–quite a few people are dependent on him (about one or two hundred), it is–beyond a shadow of doubtPius himself who so deserves to – first of all – be a natural focal point of (continued) critical review and assessment (e.g., administered by an elected panel of elders from his own people, forming a counsel; unless your first name is ‘God‘ and last name ‘Almighty(which it isn’t), since omniscience and omnipotence are therefore well out of reach and so infallibility and flawlessness are likewise out of the question, flush that autocracy bullshit down the toilet, pronto!). Furthermore, especially for the sake of ensuring the rationality and justice of his rule, Pius very much owes it to the people under his wing to undergo spiritual examination to find out if he–in fact–would be possessed and, if so, to then also acknowledge the chief virtue (bordering on vital necessity) to have himself be put through the kind of deliverance procedure which, counter to his own blood-soaked brutality-promoting manual, should not involve the application of physical violence at all (nor preluding abusive violence directed at the psyche too, for that matter), but which would rather involve most of all a little bit of magic raining down from Heaven, the kind which really does heal and purify ((for what it’s worth, although I can only speak for myself, I didn’t feel a thing when my own six demons were pulled out of me; not even when the staunchly stubborn master commander–the Jezebel spirit, the last demon standing–was removed from me involving lots of apparent spiritual violence, according to the human person overseeing my deliverance on an earthly plane));
6 And self-hypnotizer too if he truly believes in his own poisonous sermonizing;
7 At heart, the charge would be for violating what essentially is an idolatrous sort of practice, one having for an object of worship (however rationally indefensible it quite clearly is) the otherwise freely and publicly available accumulations of outdoors water. In other words, Lena is being accused of failing to adhere to the cardinal apparent rule serving to safe-guard the idolatrous (de facto: untouchable and holy) status of said water reserves — she may be said to have failed in the apparently compulsory practice of Wateridolatry, having for its object the local wild water reserves, of which its admittedly minimalistic sort of worship comes down to leaving said water in a pristine untouched state.
As retarded and unenlightened as this (pseudo-legal) charge may sound to any rationally-thinking human being, it just so happens that only quite recently–in October 2018, in fact–Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned a death sentence placed on a woman named Asia Bibi, who was convicted in 2010 for violating a very similar sort of ridiculous law promoting Wateridolatry. The original complaint against Bibi came in June 2009. As the Christian mother of five picked berries in a field with a number of Muslim women, she became thirsty, and went to a nearby well for water. One Muslim woman allegedly accused Bibi of contaminating the water because of her Christian faith, making it unfit for the Muslim women to drink. […] Bibi claims that several days later, she was hauled from the berry field into the village, where she was beaten. It was alleged that Bibi had insulted Islam in violation of blasphemy laws — a charge which she denied. During the beatings, she was again told to convert, but she refused, and was later taken into police custody. In November 2010, Bibi was convicted of blasphemy, and sentenced to death by hanging. In 2014, the sentence was upheld by the Lahore high court. Read more at: https://www.dailywire.com/news/42866/christian-asia-bibi-free-leave-pakistan-after-frank-camp
If the death sentence were to really be carried out as planned, then the life of a human was going to be sacrificed on the proverbial altar which may be thought to belong to the abstract idol–represented by public esteem, standing or name–representing the law at hand, some blasphemy law. By drinking from the well carrying–what the local Muslims infer to, in effect, regard asholy water, the woman – due to merely being Christian – had supposedly come to soil the water and, in an imaginary way, had come to soil the – in practice – supremely precious idol representing the corresponding blasphemy law, one which – as in the commune – serves to protect the purportedly holy status of the water by prohibiting the likes of the kuffar woman from contaminating said water with their ostensibly inherently unclean bodies (and penalizing them if they do). By sacrificing the life of the woman at hand, the idea would be that in the minds of the involved Muslims, the blemish which they imagine the woman had visited upon said law (reflected in a correspondingly tainted public image of that law) may be thought of as being washed off with the blood of the woman — made available for symbolic rinsing purposes by her capital punishment;
8 It deserves mention that Lena is not just any common liar, but a rather skillful one. After all, she obviously has the guts and confidence to lie repeatedly and persistently; and not just that but also while being in the sort of unchanging social habitat which only stands to more-and-more become like a hostile environment to her, ever more like enemy territory, since she would be incurring more-and-more guilt with respect to all the people she lies to and about, and keeps on lying to and about (tension on the rise; possibly promoting progressive paranoia). The same can be said for Daniel, who–if you watch the movie–so cunningly and convincingly managed to believably pretend being a retard during his entire stay at the commune. If Lena and Daniel were to get romantically involved on a serious level–and they also would want to keep it that way–in order to prevent their mutual trust being eaten away by mutual suspicion, each should therefore recognize to full extent both their own and the other’s proficiency at being credibly insincere — both are naturally exposed to the risk of using their skills of deception not just at times of (personal) emergency but perhaps also at less emergent and (personally) more convenient sort of situations (requiring, for example, some <proactive>, <remedial> or perhaps precisely <opportunistic> on-the-spot kind of ‘<ingenuity>’ . . .).
As for Pius, upon finding out that he had been suckered – shafted – the entire time by not just one but two members of his flock (fucked right in the culo and the kisser simultaneously), the corrosively cuckoo cult-leader that he is may be expected to only up-the-ante of his toxic watchfulness. His cruelty to the members of his remaining flock is likely to increase because he now would be more prone to ‘detect’ spies and traitors in his midst, and treat them as such, with enhanced sadistically vindicating force, whether or not they even happen–in the fact of the matter–to be (half-way) real spies or traitors. Lena and Daniel would be partially responsible for an already sadistic and paranoid leader to become even more so. Then again, Pius himself of course would be mostly responsible for this new psychopathology-exacerbating development (naturally affecting not just himself but the crooked entire circus of idolatry built around his person). By running a completely closed-off sort of a militant cult-like commune, the malevolently-mesmerizing mad master man of opprobriously-predatory priestly pleasure himself squarely deserves to be held responsible for creating the precise conducive conditions for infiltrators–naturally covertly pursuing independent agendas from his own heavenly-sanctioned divine one–to try and come join the stupefying soul-strangulating charade under his bloodstained superstitious supervision;

The look on Lena’s face, while sitting in front of her chief tormentor named Pius, sums the situation in this horrible cult-like commune….

 

Anatomy of Narcissism v1.0 (i) – What and How

Page 1
Motivation
What is Narcissism?
Definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Deriving Characteristics from the Tale
Fatal and delusional self-absorption
Unresponsive to love
Sees people as objects
Only accepts actions that mirror his will
Narcissism and Idolatry
Shrine-Metaphor
How is Narcissism Brought Into Existence?
The Soothing- versus the Shaming Inner Parent
Construction of the Self-image
Page 2
Narcissism versus Sadism
Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism
1.Shamelessness 2.Magical Thinking 3.Arrogance 4.Envy 5.Entitlement 6.Exploitation 7.Bad Boundaries
Narcissism versus Necrophilia
Worship of Technique
New Character Types
Page 3
Narcissism versus Addiction
Narcissus the Addict
Definition: Narcissistic Audience
The Addiction of the Narcissist
The “Malignant Self-Love” Misnomer
The Love-Hate Relationship with his Audience
Volatile and Schizoid
Narcissistic Rage
References

Motivation

This is a report of my present understanding of the psychopathology known as narcissism. It’s an ongoing investigation as to what makes the narcissist tick. Feel free to share your insights with me, either as comments or by private communication. I might just absorb them into a new version.

What is Narcissism?

Although there are many different definitions of pathological narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder floating around on the web, since it is a standard work of reference in the field of psychiatry and in spite my reservations to accepting it as the only and ultimate authority (read: “bible”) on psychiatric illnesses and disorders, I will nonetheless opt for the definition as stated in the DSM-IV:

Definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

DSM-IV-TR 301.81

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines narcissistic personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:[1]

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity(in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  10. Often mild to moderate paranoia, that others are out to do him in.
  11. Predominant “name dropper” boasting or suggestion association with people or affiliations of importance.

It is also a requirement of DSM-IV that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.Wikipedia

John William Waterhouse – Echo and Narcissus

Deriving Characteristics from the Tale

The origin of narcissism traces back to Freud, who derived inspiration from the Greek Myth surrounding Narcissus, a pathologically self-absorbed young man. Since Narcissus proved to be unwilling to return the love other people had for him, “the gods” punished him by making him fall in love with his own reflection in a pool; thus he could learn to feel what it was like to love without being returned affection. Tragically, Narcissus became so much in sway of his mesmerizing self-image that he died of self-neglect.

Here is a rendition of a key excerpt of the tale:

One day whilst out enjoying the sunshine Narcissus came upon a pool of water. As he gazed into it he caught a glimpse of what he thought was a beautiful water spirit. He did not recognise his own reflection and was immediately enamoured. Narcissus bent down his head to kiss the vision. As he did so the reflection mimicked his actions. Taking this as a sign of reciprocation Narcissus reached into the pool to draw the water spirit to him. The water displaced and the vision was gone. He panicked, where had his love gone? When the water became calm the water spirit returned. “Why, beautiful being, do you shun me? Surely my face is not one to repel you. The nymphs love me, and you yourself look not indifferent upon me. When I stretch forth my arms you do the same; and you smile upon me and answer my beckonings with the like.” Again he reached out and again his love disappeared. Frightened to touch the water Narcissus lay still by the pool gazing in to the eyes of his vision.

He cried in frustration. As he did so Echo also cried. He did not move, he did not eat or drink, he only suffered. As he pined he became gaunt loosing his beauty. The nymphs that loved him pleaded with him to come away from the pool. As they did so Echo also pleaded with him. He was transfixed; he wanted to stay there forever. Narcissus like Echo died with grief. His body disappeared and where his body once lay a flower grew in it’s place. The nymphs mourned his death and as they mourned Echo also mourned. Source

Salvador Dalí – Metamorphosis of Narcissus

The prime characteristics of narcissism that we may derive from the meaning of the tale are:

Fatal and delusional self-absorption:
The narcissist is hopelessly infatuated with a perception of himself (footnote 1) that is not grounded in actuality. Narcissus falls in love with a shallow representation that exhaustively resembles a shallow and flattering representation of himself (his own mirror image), an image of himself that conveniently ignores the gloomy truth that the inner being of narcissus is nowhere near as praiseworthy as his appealing exterior. Indeed, since he is incapable of loving any other being his character must be like that of constantly disapproving kind, critical of everything and everyone. Thus it can safely be assumed that his unseen interior, his character, is rooted in fear rather than love. By being susceptible to be mesmerized by the mere exterior of a being that perfectly mirrors himself, Narcissus proves to favor an effectively inflated and idealized representation of himself as the darkness of his ugly interior is conveniently ignored against the brightness of his beautiful exterior. In addition, he demonstrates the shallow nature of his interests, including those of the romantic kind, in other beings.

The tragedy of the narcissist is that reverence to what is nothing more than an illusion ultimately leads to his own demise. Or, as self-confessed self-aware narcissist Sam Vaknin puts it, he commits “the ultimate narcissistic act: self-destruction in the service of self-aggrandizement.”

Unresponsive to love:
The narcissist is handicapped at being at want to return the love people show to have for him; his self-absorbed and disapproving nature makes him blind to the affection from other people and make him incapable of reciprocating. He suffers from what Erich Fromm calls “impotence of the heart,” i.e. he is incapable of making people love him and instead seeks to control and manipulate them.

Sees people as objects:
The narcissist is only satisfied when things go according to plan, his plan of course. If not, he is displeased. As such, his relentless insistence on perfection, makes him too anxious to leave room for loving people. Consequently, he lacks empathy and has no genuine respect for people, as empathy and respect both have to have a basis of love for one’s fellow human being. And therefore he is unable to appreciate the personhood of people. He rather views them as objects, preferably extensions of his own will.

Only accepts actions that mirror his will:
Yet another main defining characteristic of the narcissist, a deeper meaning that can be deduced from this tale is that he only loves that which perfectly mimics his own ideal course of action. In the context of the tale, Narcissus only loves that which perfectly mirrors his own preferences. In other words, he is extremely picky and accepts and approves (“loves”) something on the condition that it is perfectly conformal to his own will.

But this, by definition, is conditional love that we’re talking about then. One may rightfully wonder: can this kind of love that the narcissist professes also be regarded as genuine love?

Suppose your boss is an N and you do your utmost best to gain his approval. But, due to his obsession with insistence on perfection, the narcissist does not nod in approval that quickly. So here you are, working your butt off trying to please someone who’s extremely critical and demanding and thus exceedingly hard to please. Most of the time, the narcissist will cause you to feel miserable for delivering, what he considers, below standard work. Perhaps every so often, when you somehow miraculously manage to meet all the stringent conditions imposed by the narcissist, you may earn his gratitude. And so by being extremely demanding, he sets the tone of an anxious and tense working atmosphere. The narcissist, figuratively speaking, radiates anxiety and tension to his employees and the rare event of you succeeding to do gain the favor of the boss is likely to flood your brain with feelings of relief and pleasure. It is thus very much like a drug addict finally getting his fix after a long period of forced abstinence. The druggie also experiences relief washing over him as the withdrawal symptoms are yet again dismissed to the background. The appropriateness of the analogy with the drug addict serves as a confirmation that the kind of love the narcissist dispenses, conditional love, in a practical sense equals addiction.

In general, this is a recurring theme for any kind of relationship with a narcissist. By his very demanding nature and his stinginess to show “love” — the narcissist, wittingly or unwittingly, works to make addicts of the people who end up in a relationship with him.

But the narcissist not only makes addicts, he is one himself too. I will expand on the link between narcissism and addiction, in section Narcissism versus Addiction.

Frans D.J. Francken – The Idolatry of Solomon

Narcissism and Idolatry

The word idolatry comes (by haplology) from the Greek word εἰδωλολατρία eidololatria parasynthetically from εἰδωλολάτρης from εἴδωλον eidolon, “image” or “figure”, and λάτρις latris, “worshipper”[4] or λατρεύειν latreuein, “to worship” from λάτρον latron “payment”. Wikipedia

Hence, idolatry simply means image-worship.

wor·ship

1. reverent honor and homage paid to god or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
2. n.a.
3. n.a.
4. the object of adoring reverence or regard. freedictionary

I further suggest that the practice of worship presupposes a state of submissiveness to the entity of worship.

Hence idolatry is the practice of submissively paying homage to- or revering the image; regarded as sacred and hence perfect, incontestable and beyond criticism.

Narcissism is about submitting to- and revering a presumed sacred image of the self; it is worship of an (inflated, distorted, idealized, etc.) image of the self, or worship of a self-image, or self-image worship, which is: self-idolatry.

The following metaphor captures the essence of the narcissist.

Shrine of St Valentine

Shrine-Metaphor

The narcissist may be imagined as the host to his own proverbial mobile shrine. Picture in the center of the shrine a huge portrait of the narcissist in which his most flattering features are embellished and distorted in a grandiose manner so as to inspire both awe and envy.

People in the his social environment (his audience) are invited to enter the shrine and instead of paying a regular cash entrance fee, they pay by worshiping the portrait. As such, the portrait is maintained in proper condition as it would otherwise quickly wither away and fall apart together with its host whose very reason for existence hinges on its welfare.

“Narcissism appears realistically to represent the best way of coping with the tensions and anxieties of modern life, and the prevailing social conditions therefore tend to bring out narcissistic traits that are present, in varying degrees, in everyone. These conditions have also transformed the family, which in turn shapes the underlying structure of personality. A society that fears it has no future is not likely to give much attention to the needs of the next generation, and the ever-present sense of historical discontinuity — the blight of our society — falls with particularly devastating effect on the family. The modern parent’s attempt to make children feel loved and wanted does not conceal an underlying coolness — the remoteness of those who have little to pass on to the next generation and who in any case give priority to their own right to self-fulfillment. The combination of emotional detachment with attempts to convince a child of his favored position in the family is a good prescription for a narcissistic personality structure.” (Lasch; p.50)

How is Narcissism Brought Into Existence?

What motivates the narcissist to devote one’s life to the construction and maintenance of a fantastic and lofty self-image? To answer this question we need to examine the human childhood. This section is largely inspired by Sandy Hotchkiss’ book on narcissism called Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism. Especially chapter 8, Childhood Narcissism and the Birth of Me served as a source of information.

When we are toddlers we enter into a developmental stage what Freud called Primary Narcissism. This is a normal form of infantile narcissism in which we unwittingly view our caregivers as inseparable extensions to our own being. At our beck and call, our primary caregiver (usually the mother) fulfills our needs much like servants tending to the call of their master. In a narcissistic sense they more-or-less loyally mirror our needs and so there’s no incentive yet for us to perceive them as being separate and distinct from ourselves.

We need their symbiotic attachment in order to derive a necessary level of confidence to go and set out on our wobbly legs to explore the environment. Call it the mommy-takes-us-by-the-hand stage of development, if you will. This protective narcissistic proverbial bubble gives us a certain sense of invincibility, a much needed attitude in order to confront an environment that is filled with potential danger and as such is quite threatening to, what is in actual fact, a very vulnerable toddler.

The child derives comfort and support from a securely attached mother, who assists him in coping with the intense joy and excitement as well as the frustration of being small and vulnerable in an expanding toddler world. The attachment of the child to the mother equips him to be able to cope with the stress-burden belonging to the exploratory behavior committed with a disproportional zest that is characteristic of infantile narcissism.

The function of the attached mother therefore is to help regulate her child’s moods and emotions to, on the one hand, dampen over-excitement as well as distress, and, on the other hand, not pamper the child too much so that it also learns to cope with a bit of tension and agitation. This two-staged practicing period (happening around 10-12 and 16-18 months of age) is essential for the development of a separate sense of Self, and is the time during which the part of the brain that regulates emotion, is hardwired for life.

In the course of the practicing period, the role of the mother will shift from being a playmate/nursemaid to a more prohibitive “no-no” role. When mother gives the toddler a “cold shower” act of socialization for doing something “bad”, an initial mood of elation is likely to give way to what are called “low arousal states”, resembling a toddler version of somberness or even mild depression. But this is a normal development nonetheless, and this training-phase helps the mind of the toddler to learn to conserve energy and to inhibit excessive emotion. By moving in and out of these low arousal states, the child learns to depress intense or unpleasant feelings with ever less assistance from Mommy Dearest. This helps him to develop psychological autonomy.

The Soothing- versus the Shaming Inner Parent

The goal of socialization is to stimulate the child to try and live in harmony with the rest of the world. In order to do this, undesirable behavior needs to be restrained and discouraged as much as possible. The designated tool of persuasion for giving up pleasure for an undesirable act, is the powerful emotion of shame.

Hotchkiss writes:

“For the child, the first experience of shame is a betrayal of the illusion of perfect union with Mother that has persisted up to this point. Her beloved face now may radiate shame, extinguishing joy and exuberance in an instant. Instead of being pumped up by Mother, the child now feels deflated, even injured. This is an essential and instructive wound, however, which teaches the child that Mother is not only separate but different, and that his place in the world will not always be on top of the mountain.” (Hotchkiss; p.41)

Fig 1. The toddler (“Me”) is being shamed for doing something bad. Right before being shamed he “imagined” himself to be omnipotent, in a infantile kind of way of course. This is because his infantile mind is unable to see the separateness between himself (the valiant “Knight”) and his powerful primary caregiver (“Mom”, the “Queen”). The act of shaming serves to burst that bubble of normal infantile narcissism and promotes the development of the more realistically grounded individual. This is called the separation-individuation process.

The shaming experience helps to pop the bubble of the toddler’s infantile form of narcissism: the “omnipotent” toddler-version of a self-indulgent and relatively recklessly exploratory bravado-attitude (see Fig.1) that seems to correspond most closely with Freud’s idea of the ID. Since unmitigated shame may result in lasting psychological damage however, it is of the utmost importance that the wound be inflicted gently.

After the mother has shamed the child, a soothing follow-up response (“soft-looks, warm touches and kind words”) is necessary in order to help the toddler deal with his shaming experience in a healthy manner. The cycle: initial elation for doing something that is considered bad, followed by the mother socializing the child through shaming and the ensuing recovery — constitutes a positive learning experience which fosters the development of a healthy Self.

This recovery part is crucial for the toddler to learn that hurt feelings can be mended again and that the caregiver can be trusted. Emotionally, the young child needs compassionate help in managing emotions and protection from overwhelming feelings until his brain matures sufficiently for him to be able to do this on his own. Small doses of shame followed by soothing, help the child gently and responsibly deflate his infantile narcissism towards the development of a more realistic sense of Self. As he progresses through the practicing period, the toddler becomes more and more independent from the caregiving mother. This is called the separation-individuation process.

In the words of Hotchkiss:

“The first two or three years of life are the age of narcissism when the child’s underdeveloped Self and lack of awareness of the otherness of others are normal. Grandiosity, omnipotence, magical thinking, shame-sensitivity, and a lack of interpersonal boundaries come with the package. We are meant to outgrow this stage, but we need the help of parents who can tolerate and love us while we get through to the other side. We need them to hold the boundaries that we don’t yet see, to recognize who we really are and can be, to help us manage shame and contain rage, and to teach us to live in a world of others. When that doesn’t happen, we can become stuck in childhood narcissism. Failure to complete the separation-individuation process is what leads to a narcissistic personality.” [emphasis mine] (Hotchkiss; p. 45)

When a child has been shamed but lacks a loving and forgiving follow-up, it is left with a festering psychological wound. The failure to mitigate shame leaves the toddler inclined to interpret the behavior as being unforgivably shameful. This may be traumatic for the child–the first narcissistic injury if you will, and lack of mitigation reinforces the immoral severity of the shameful act. Although it should be understood that the experienced degree of the trauma also depends on the capacity of the child to sustain disciplinary action. If the child has a rather fragile and vulnerable psyche then it is only reasonable to expect that the impact of the trauma is more severe than a child who possesses a more robust psychological constitution. In the former case the soothing part is more important than with the latter.

The toddler registers the emotionality of the shaming mother — shaming facial expression, agitated voice and embarrassed mannerisms — deep into his memory through his senses. I suspect that this perception of a shaming caregiver (or caregivers) gives rise to the formation of a sort of internally projected mental presence of the shaming parent; one that is reinforced with every recurrence of an unsoothed shaming experience. Call it the emergence of the shaming inner parent if you will.

Hotchkiss also suggests the coming into existence of such an inner authoritarian presence:

“The child’s normal narcissistic rages, which intensify during the power struggles of age eighteen to thirty months — those ‘terrible twos’– require ‘optimal frustration’ that is neither overly humiliating nor threatening to the child’s emerging sense of Self. When children encounter instead a rageful, contemptuous, or teasing parent during these moments of intense arousal, the image of the parent’s face is stored in the developing brain and called up at times of future stress to whip them into an aggressive frenzy. Furthermore, the failure of parental attunement during this crucial phase can interfere with the development of brain functions that inhibit aggressive behavior, leaving children with lifelong difficulties controlling aggressive impulses.” [emphasis mine] (Hotchkiss; p.21)

Without our faculty of mimicry it would be impossible to assimilate cultural elements, e.g. karate techniques, and propagate them from person to person. Pictured is a karate class in Okinawa with the Shuri Castle at the background.

Indeed, one should not forget that our learning potential crucially relies on our ability to mimic. By virtue of imitating our parents, and later our peers, we absorb the cultural environment around us like a proverbial sponge. One might call this process, that never needn’t be complete, adaptation to the local cultural climate. More than our self-reliance craving egos perhaps like to admit, our lives — especially our childhoods, when the need and potential for learning is the greatest — revolve around the activity of copying each-other activities, behavior and later opinions. In general, the propagation of culture would be impossible if it weren’t for the existence of our faculty of mimicry, which in turn relies on a strong innate capacity to, in great detail, register and assimilate sensory expressions of other people; facial expressions of our parents at first, and vocal chord sounds later on when our minds have developed sufficiently to enable us to learn our native tongue. Indeed, it would be impossible to learn something as profoundly elementary as language without our faculty of mimicry, which vitally relies on a capacity to accurately duplicate the speech sounds made by the people in our environment in general and our parents in particular. To put it succinctly and generally, we are beings of imitation.

Therefore it is plausible to assert that, even more so given its developmental significance, we do strongly register the emotionality of the shaming parent. Later in life, any experience that may be considered shaming is likely to be met with the wrath of this shaming inner parent, which is just a form of internally generated- and directed form of punishment. The child thus has been saddled with the mental burden of an inherently condemnatory and disapproving inner mental judge, a punisher. In terms of Freud’s ID, ego and Superego Structural Model, it seems justified to suggest that this prohibitively natured inner parent most closely corresponds with the Superego.

Fig 2. The nature of soothing is constructive and restorative whereas that of shaming is destructive; its precise function is to destroy the motivation for the activity or behavior which the caregiver deems to be not allowable. When soothing is applied after an act of shaming, its role is to help the child recover from the negative impact of shaming. Soothing is an act of love, shaming without soothing is an act of selfishness and fear. Soothing works to liberate, shaming without soothing works to control and suppress. Soothed shame does not obstruct the development of genuine self-love whereas unsoothed shame does; it fosters self-resentment, self-hatred, malignant self-love and self-sadism/masochism (self-shaming) or plain sadism when shaming is directed outwardly unto others through (retributive) displacement.

Therefore when the toddler has never enjoyed shame-mitigating follow-ups, a soothing inner parent has never been given chance to develop in tandem with the shaming inner parent. The subjection to shame is therefore an extra painful experience. Whereas the character of the shaming inner parent is punitive and destructive, that of the soothing inner parent is constructive and restorative. In addition, the shaming inner parent functions to control behavior, whereas the soothing inner parent works to unburden or mentally liberate the child after it has been disciplined. It is presumed to be self-evident that in order to warrant the mental health of the child, the presence of a soothing inner parent is indispensable (see Fig.2).

Fig. 3. Upper part: If shaming is applied without soothing, the unmitigated destructive effect of shaming may encourage the toddler to learn to start viewing other people as liabilities, as if they are out to punish him. Bottom part: If shaming is applied with soothing, the corrosive effect of shaming is contained and there is no cause for the toddler to learn to grow wary of other people.

If the toddler is shamed without soothing, the seeds are planted in his mind for viewing other people as being out to hurt him (see Fig. 3). By its destructive character, shaming is an act of hostility and if the subsequent soothing part remains lacking and the more he is exposed to shaming the more likely the toddler will come to harbor negative perceptions of other people, potential punishers if you will. He therefore is more or less forced to view other people with caution and even as liabilities. The seeds of mistrust have been planted, and prepare him to receive people defensively (, aggressively). Even those who show genuine affection toward him are reinterpreted as ones who still may have nefarious ulterior motives of secretly wanting “to do him in,” and so never really can be trusted. The narcissist-in-the-making thus is severely handicapped at being able to imagine that other people view him in a loving and amiable way. I will address this issue again in section The Love-Hate Relationship with his Audience.

As a way to prevent future recurrence of having to feel raw unmitigated shame, the mind of the toddler is urged to develop his own means to compensate and dampen the reception of the mentally corrosive shame. Another way of putting it, is that he is forced to learn how to deal with his rudely deflated narcissistic bubble. You could say that the child is plunged into a psychological crisis marked by a need for improvisation and a sense of selfish emergency.

The child’s strategy of choice consists of walling off these intolerable, raw and unadulterated feelings using several crude ego-defensive mechanisms. Whenever shame threatens to seep into his life again, he learns to seek refuge behind a protective barrier of denial, coldness and rage. Alternatively, the shame may be outwardly projected, away from the vulnerable Self. Someone else is blamed instead, so that the child does not have to deal with it himself. It is an attempt to redirect persecuting eyes away from oneself onto others, thus bypassing the painful need to admit one’s error and to adjust oneself. If and when it has become impossible to deny that the cause for blame is not to be found in other people as much as it is in oneself, the blame-game called projection may however foster the development of self-hatred if the capacity to forgive oneself is absent.

In other words, to deal with shame without parental soothing, the child retracts into a (self-)deceptive world of make-belief, acting (histrionics/theatrics) and insincerity (lying).

Referring to the apparent shamelessness of the narcissist, Hotchkiss comments:

“More typically, the shamelessness of the Narcissist comes across as cool indifference or even amorality. We sense that these people are emotionally shallow, and we may think of them as thick-skinned, sure of themselves, and aloof. Then, all of a sudden, they may surprise us by reacting to some minor incident or social slight. When shaming sneaks past the barriers, these ‘shameless’ ones are unmasked for what they really are – supremely shame-sensitive. That is when we see a flash of hurt, usually followed by rage and blame. When the stink of shame has penetrated their walls, they fumigate with a vengeance.” (Hotchkiss; p. 6)

I suggest that this unhealthy and improvised reaction to shame, rooted in a lack of parental loving concern for the growing child, is to be regarded as the psychological basis for the coming into being of the grandiose and fictional self-image.

“The N I write about probably never did a thing, unless there was something in it for him. He simply did not bother. He started from a position of weakness, in that he had a huge inferiority complex, but the pretentiousness of his facade gave the impression of enormous self-confidence.” NPDQuotes

Construction of the Self-image

Unsoothed ossified shame, the first narcissistic wound(s) rudely deflating the child’s narcissism, is likely to arouse sentiments of inferiority with respect to people who do not seem to burdened by the same fate as he is. Consequently, the child may start to become envious of supposedly normal people. The very presence of these “normal” people, whose proverbial grass always seems to be greener than his own, then turn out to be painful reminders of how he could have ended up himself. He could have been one of them, hadn’t he suffered a damaging blow to his vulnerable psyche. And by becoming distraught he may start to resent their very existence. And so starts to view them as a liability, a menace, undesirable. Depending on the strength and resilience of his mental health, or better: lack thereof, he may even go so far as to blame them for causing him to feel envious, and making him feel miserable. (footnote 2)

Fig. 4. After having sustained sudden deflation of his narcissism, the toddler is left psychologically wounded. He feels inferior as compared to his peers and may be, or may fear to become, the target of shaming (scorn, ridicule and condemnation). This leaves him feeling miserable and so feelings of envy towards his peers, whom he holds in relatively high esteem, kick in.

As a way of dealing with the burdensome feelings of envy (see Fig.4), his mind comes up with a resolution. He starts looking for reasons to justify disqualification of the people he envies. The apparent underlying motive being that people who are not worthy are automatically not worthy to be envied. And so he may go ahead and condemn the perceived mediocrity of their lives, or at least certain visible aspects of it. However, tragically, the act of condemning their lives, forces him into a position at which he no longer can afford to try and become one of them himself. He cannot become that which he already has chewed up and spat out. It would make him not just a hypocrite, he would now have to stoop low in order to become one of them.

Note that this condemnatory attitude falls right in line with the mind of the narcissist in spe burdened with the condemnatory natured shaming inner parent. Just as he has been persecuted, he may derive some sense of gratification though engaging in persecution himself. Also note the inherent destructive nature of this type of broadly retributive behavior is. The act of shaming is a destructive act. It serves to destroy the specific motivation for doing that which has been flagged by the parent as being prohibited. And so when shaming is not compensated through soothing, parents may inadvertently encourage the character of their child to be formed with an appetite for destruction. Especially when the child is the subject of scorn coming from peers, for personality traits that he beliefs are caused by that of which he is ashamed, he may likewise develop an appreciation for scorn when he can find personality weak spots in other people. The matter then becomes a sort of retribution and, I believe, lies at the basis for sadism.

Returning to our narcissist-in-the-making, by condemning mediocrity, normalcy, he must strive for something superior; something bigger, bolder and better. And so his mind starts to seek out the justifying conditions for embracing a perception of the self which, in a grandiose manner, trumps those of the “normal” people. See it as a pathological way of wanting to get even, a kind of revenge. And as he works to see to the construction of his superior self-image, ideally, the necessity for envy is numbed.

Indeed, by being driven by a desire for vengeance, he is likely to be motivated to set out and reverse the subject- and object roles of envy. Rather than the subject, he now will strive to see himself becoming the object (target) of envy (see Fig. 5). In the narcissist’s mind, the time has now come for the normal people to become envious of him; or more accurately, to become envious of his intimidating and super-sized self-image.

In addition, the grounds for his burdensome sense of shame can be avoided as they belong to a part of him that has been tucked away and blotted out by a lofty and irreproachable new version of himself, embodied by his self-image. The act of identification with his fantastical self-image can be understood to be an attempt at psychological dissociation from his real but tainted self.

Supporting this generative route through envy, I suspect that the shaming inner parent may also be instrumental in bringing about his superior self-image. The character of this inner shaming parent — fortified perhaps by later mental impressions of shaming inner peers working in tandem with the already resident shaming inner parent, forming a shaming inner presence — is decidedly negative and prohibitive and may be an incentive for the ego to revolt through generating a challenging and self-indulging representation of himself. The inflationary defiance of the emerging self-image thus may be understood as a coping strategy of the ego intending to offset the deflationary damage done by the shaming inner presence.

Fig.5. The purpose of the grandiose self-image is to inverse the envy/scorn roles. If he can manage to persuade his peers (and himself) that he really is the very antithesis of the worm he feels himself to be, he may now become the subject of envy. If and when that happens he has a reason to put other people down and gain some sense of vindication.

Footnote 1 I refer to the narcissist as being masculine but this does not mean that I therefore believe that no feminine narcissists exist. I just prefer to keep notation simple and brief and so I choose to use “him” instead of the more proper but lengthier “him or her” or the confusing but likewise proper “them”. As it turns out, most narcissists are males anyway.

Footnote 2 Let me be clear though that I am not at all suggesting that anyone person who has experienced some sort of trauma earlier in life, by necessity, ends up becoming a narcissist. I suspect that many or even most people are quite capable of handling trauma, provided they have a resilient enough mental health, trauma coping power if you will, and are supported by loving and caring family members and/or close friends. The more defective the underlying mental constitution is and the more the support of family and/or friends is lacking, then the greater I’d regard the likelihood for traumas left unresolved, which may then promote the formation of narcissistic tendencies.

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