In working in my new book, Meek or Macho? Men and Religion, I have been reviewing all the many, many ways that masculine development can go wrong.

Wolfgang Schmidbauer a German psychoanalyst, wrote a book, The Psychology of Terror: Why Young Men Become Assassins. He has these comments on Breivik:

Fanatical criminals like the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, according to the insights of the psychoanalyst Wolfgang Schmidbauer, mostly want to go down in history as heroes. “Hero-myths have always exercised a great power of attraction on young men,” said Schmidbauer.

He referred to the fact that Breivik explained his act in a detailed ideological pamphlet and did not shoot himself after the attack.

To the question, why such perpetrators obviously show no compassion, Schmidbauer said : I think they dissociate.” According to all appearances the perpetrator during the crime finds himself in a trance-like condition. ”In that condition he plays the role of the heroic killer,” said Schmidbauer….

The psychoanalyst assumed that during the planning of the crime the perpetrators lose all their empathy – that is, the ability to put oneself in the place of another human being. “Empathy develops in childhood. These perpetrators almost always come from a broken family and often have parents who were so preoccupied with their own problems, that they had no possibility to empathize with the child.”

Often these perpetrators have no empathetic father and have had no positive image of masculinity. Later they eventually have problems themselves with their own masculinity, which they seek to understand with their delusions of grandeur. They are dissatisfied and unhappy, They look at other persons who find joy in life, and develop a deeply rooted hate and envy of these persons.”

The perpetrators occupy themselves for a long time with fantasies of the role of hero, for example when they play corresponding computer games or watch action films. Then when in reality they take up weapons, in their self-image they do not consider themselves criminals. “They want to be heroes and saviors. That makes them so dangerous and at the same time so inconspicuous,” Schmidbauer said.

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