Category Archives: psychopathology

Glamour of ultra-violence

Dalrymple writes that when, as a medical student, he emerged from the cinema having seen the 1971 film of the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange (1962),

I was astonished and horrified to see a group of young men outside dressed up as droogs.

He explains that in England, the film’s detractors

wanted it banned, charging that it glamourised and thereby promoted violence.

Anthony Burgess: his A Clockwork Orange (1962) remains a novel of immense power. Linguistically inventive, socially prophetic, and philosophically profound, it comes very close to being a work of genius.

The young men dressed as droogs

seemed to confirm the charge, though of course it is one thing to imitate a form of dress and quite another to imitate behaviour.

Still,

even a merely sartorial identification with psychopathic violence shocked me, for it implied an imaginative sympathy with such violence; and seeing those young men outside the cinema was my first intimation that art, literature, and ideas might have profound—and not necessarily favourable—social consequences.

Dalrymple notes that Burgess came to dislike the novel

because he did not want to go down in literary history as the author of a book made famous, or notorious, by a film.

The psychopathology of Tony Blair

Psychiatrists, writes Dalrymple,

are only human (more or less), and it is only natural for them to use their experience of humanity in general to assess important political figures in particular.

For many years Dalrymple puzzled, for example, over Tony Blair. Eventually,

it came to me in an illuminating flash: he was suffering, poor man, from delusions of honesty. He seemed to believe, all the contrary evidence notwithstanding, that he was an honest man.

But

whether this was out of keeping with his culture is another question.

It makes you nostalgic for Marxism

Perhaps in earlier times, writes Dalrymple, Salman Abedi

would have found a Marxist groupuscule providing the total explanation of all the ills of the world that troubled youth so often seek, and suggesting to them the total solution. But the downfall of the Soviet Union destroyed the prestige of Marxism, so Abedi sought his total explanation and solution elsewhere. The obvious place was Islam, for he was of Muslim descent and heritage and there were no other contenders for possession of his soul, both little and grandiose.

Of interest to psychopathologists

Happier days

Dalrymple comments:

I never thought I would lament the demise of Marxism, but I have recently begun to remember it rather more fondly. By comparison with Islamism, it was intellectually compelling; Marxists could have interesting things to say, however mistaken they were, which Islamists never can and never will be able to do. At most, they are interesting to psychopathologists.

The ideology of the caliphate, he notes,

is so absurd and intellectually vacuous that to try to refute it is to do it more honour than it deserves or is capable of supporting.

But, he says, history proves that

absurdity is no obstacle to acceptance, even (or perhaps I should say especially) by the intelligent and educated.

Cherchez les Saoudiens

Moreover, Islamism in Europe, Dalrymple points out,

can count on the financial support of, or sustenance by, the Saudi, or Wahhabi, state, which has spent untold millions in spreading its version of rigourism, on creating the atmosphere in which it flourishes and without which it would not survive.

Blair’s psychodramatics

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.32.03The words good and bad faith, writes Dalrymple, have no application in the case of Tony Blair,

for just as a man who has no concept of the truth cannot be a liar, so Mr Blair, whose mind resembles the Goodwin Sands, is incapable of bad faith because he is incapable of good.

Dalrymple has long puzzled over Blair’s

particular psychopathology, which has irritated me because, while Blair is important, he is uninteresting – apart, that is, from his psychopathology.

Blair’s

cardinal symptom is a delusion of honesty.

He

believes himself to be an honest man, all evidence to the contrary.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.50.04Along with his

peculiar truth-blindness

goes

an invincible sense of Original Virtue. No action by someone possessed of Original Virtue can besmirch him. He will always be able to reply to his accuser: ‘Surely you cannot believe that I acted from discreditable motives? Even if I was in the wrong, I was, in a deeper sense, in the right.’

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.51.56