06 December, 2005

Sociopath and Victim on an International Scale

I'd always thought of Saddam Hussein as an evil (with all that term implies) human being, but had never really consciously thought of him as a full-blown sociopath. I've changed my mind; In an amazing analysis, Kat does an excellent job of explaining the Iraq experience and the world's reaction to it by identifying Saddam Hussein as a classic sociopath.

She frames her topic with discussions of how "civilized" people respond to the knowledge of a sociopath in their midst. As for myself, I think I always recognized Hussein's sociopathology under the surface: he is one of many people in this world (both globally and even in my local life) whom I find disturbing to watch or interact with, but I didn't take the time to analyze him. But before his downfall we saw him only in carefully-staged situations, and I think I simply felt that he was cold-hearted, cruel, and thus evil. His delusions of grandeur, etc., were never publicly challenged, and so the facade never really slipped.

I remember seeing him the day he was captured, and feeling amazed to discover that he looked simply like an old man. That wasn't what I expected to see; it was as if evil no longer needed him, and so had abandoned him to the empty shell he was. But apparently he's recovered his sociopathological footing:

A witness is giving statements about the round up of people from Dujail after an attack on Saddam's motorcade in 1982 and breaks down crying and Saddam begins laughing. He called the man a traitor, a coward and a liar, but, even though the actual incident was documented by Saddam's regime (like serial killers and rapists who like to keep trophies of their acts to relive whenever they feel the urge)...The look in his eyes as he laughed said that he had no remorse and felt no pity for the man who had lost most of his family to Saddam's killing machine.
Kat also applies the socipath-victim construct to analysis of the diplomatic "realists." She describes the average person's visceral (often subconscious) understanding that sociopathic predators walk among humanity, while feeling powerless to identify and stop them, then writes:
This contradictory nature and the ability of the human mind to compartmentalize fear, the ability to disassociate ourselves from inexplicable or terrifying episodes when it has happened to "the others" and still allows us to function without curling into a tight ball and never leaving our homes, also leads to the existence of "realists" who would be quite happy to leave the socio-paths alone, in power and perpetrating their acts as long it happens to "the others" and has no discernable, direct impact.
It's an amazing psychological analysis of a country and world's reaction to a sociopath. It may be one of the best things Kat has written yet. And that's saying a lot. Go read it all!