Category Archives: psychopaths

The two endings of A Clockwork Orange

Getting wenches with child: Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale: Act 3, Scene 3

In the American version of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel, Alex resumes his life as gang leader after his head injury undoes the influence of the Ludovico Method. He returns, Dalrymple notes,

to what he was before, once more able to listen to classical music (Beethoven’s Ninth) and fantasise violence without any conditioned nausea. An authentic psychopath rather than a conditioned, and therefore inauthentic, goody-goody. Authenticity and self-direction are thus made to be the highest goods, regardless of how they are expressed.

This,

at least in Britain, has become a prevailing orthodoxy among the young. If, as I have done, you ask the aggressive young drunks who congregate by the thousand in every British town or city on a Saturday night why they do so, or British soccer fans why they conduct themselves so menacingly, they will reply that they are expressing themselves, as if there were nothing further to be said on the matter.

Anthony Burgess

In the British version, Alex

begins to lose his taste for violence spontaneously, when he sees a happy, normal couple in a café, one of whom is a former associate. Thereafter, Alex begins to imagine a different life for himself and to fantasise a life that includes tenderness.

Burgess

obviously prefers a reformation that comes spontaneously from within, as it does in the last chapter, to one that comes from without, by application of the Ludovico Method.

The novelist also suggests

the somewhat comforting message, at odds with all that has gone before, that Alex’s violence is nothing new in the world and that the transformation of immature, violent, and solipsistic young men into mature, peaceful, and considerate older men will continue forever, as it has done in the past, because deep inside there is a well of goodness, man having been born with original virtue rather than original sin (this is the Pelagian heresy, to which Burgess admitted that he was attracted). This, surely, is partly right. Criminality, statistically speaking, is an activity of the young, and there were few prisoners in the prison in which I worked who had been incarcerated for a crime committed after age 35. There seems to be a biological dimension to common-or-garden wrongdoing.

But, says Dalrymple,

a quietistic message—cheerful insofar as it implies that violence among young men is but a passing phase of their life and that the current era is no worse in this respect than any past age, and pessimistic in the sense that a reduction of the overall level of violence is impossible—is greatly at odds with the socially prophetic aspect of A Clockwork Orange, which repeatedly warns that the coming new youth culture, shallow and worthless, will be unprecedentedly violent and antisocial. And of Britain, at least, Burgess was certainly right.

Different endings: the UK and US editions

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.

Cruel and stupid ‘mental health services’

Anyone, writes Dalrymple, who has had dealings with the mental health services knows that they simultaneously

neglect the raving mad while concentrating desultory and ineffective efforts upon the voluntarily inadequate. Patients rarely see the same mental health worker twice in succession; and anyone who has examined the records of such patients knows that they consist largely of forms filled out by people who believe that form-filling is the work they are paid to do.

The reason mental health workers concentrate on the voluntarily inadequate rather than the lunatics is that

the former are relatively docile and predictable, while the latter may be hostile and both drug-taking and machete-wielding. They are dangerous to deal with, and best avoided, especially by mental health workers, who can rely on the police to deal with them when they become so disturbed that they can be left to their own devices no longer.

Form-filling

by ever larger numbers of functionaries continues undisturbed as displacement activity, in the way that mice wash their paws when confronted with a cat. They are treating not their patients but their own anxieties, at the same time receiving a salary every month.

This, Dalrymple points out, is the model

for government as a whole, which pursues policies that cause problems that then call for further policies to correct them.

The idea that

for every distress there is an equal and opposite form of therapy, whether psychological or pharmacological, is a superstition, compared with which almost any religious belief is highly rational. It is also a very shallow conception of distress, which can often be immeasurably deepened by talking about it.

Britain, Dalrymple concludes, prefers

going from weakness to weakness: It creates more job opportunities for mental health workers.

Dear little chap

Finding himself in Madrid, Dalrymple ambles into the Prado, which is for him the most beautiful of the great art galleries. He comes across a painting by Bronzino, and observes that the productions of this portraitist of the Florentine élite are marked by

clear-sighted ruthlessness. They are slightly chilling.

Don Garzia de’ Medici, son of Cosimo I de’ Medici, is represented as holding in his right hand an orange flower, symbol of innocence. But no one would take him for an innocent.

Quite the contrary, one would take him for an incipient psychopath, the kind of person who later in his career would gladly have had those around him poisoned in order to secure his power, he being only the third son of his father. The infant, chubby from rich food, is dressed in a red silk tunic laced liberally with gold, of an adult style different only in size from an adult’s, and stares out defiantly, unblinkingly and already with no illusions about the world, upon the onlooker. His expression is nasty; it is that of an infant both petulant and calculating.

The picture

lacks tenderness of any kind. It is a portrait of a young Machiavellian who expects as his due, but also has to scheme, to get his way.

Dalrymple has seen many children aged three with the malign and calculating expression of Don Garzia de’ Medici.

I worked for years in a prison and used to see the prisoners’ infants coming to visit their father in the company of their mothers, and I saw on their faces the already-hardened look of Don Garzia. I have little doubt that a psychopathic environment brings forth psychopaths.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-08-52-40

Omertà of the Mohammedan convicts

Bourhan Hraichie

Bourhan Hraichie

Men don’t need ideology to be psychopathic sadists, writes Dalrymple, but it may help.

Against the interpretation of Bourhan Hraichie’s attack on Michael O’Keefe

as a manifestation of purely personal sadism is his previously expressed support for the Islamic State — a case of elective affinity, no doubt.

The Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in Aldavilla, outside Kemsey

The Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in Aldavilla, outside Kemsey

There is also the fact that

no one in the cells nearest to Hraichie called the guards on their emergency bells for fear of retaliation by Hraichie and his acolytes.

In other words,

there was a powerful group of prisoners in the jail who thought and felt as Hraichie did, or would at least obey his orders. The Islamists are thus a kind of prison Mafia, with their own version of omertà.

Extraterritorial Molenbeek

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 09.18.29The jihad capital of Europe

Brussels is slightly more than a quarter Muslim, Dalrymple points out, and nearly all Molenbeek residents are Muslims of North African background. The place, he writes, is

virtually extraterritorial as far as the Belgian state is concerned—apart from the collection of social security, of course.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 09.16.08

A popular bar in the quarter. Mine host: Ibrahim Abdeslam

Dalrymple lists some of the features of the terrorist haven:

  • all women wear headscarves
  • young men dress like American rap music fans
  • police rarely enter and are far more concerned not to offend Muslim sensibilities—for example, by not being seen to eat during Ramadan—than to find or capture miscreants who make the area dangerously crime-ridden
  • businesses pay no taxes but are not investigated for evasion by the tax authorities: it is the tax authorities who do the evading
  • Islamist preaching and plotting is rife, but nothing is done to stop it, in order to keep the tense and fragile peace going as long as possible
  • sympathy for terrorism is the norm—or, it would be more correct to say, no one dares publicly voice opposition to it

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 09.18.01Incubator of Islamist evil

Molenbeek, Dalrymple explains, is thus

the perfect place for psychopaths with an illusion of purpose to flourish and make plans undisturbed by the authorities, while being supported by the welfare state.

The Belgian prime minister, Dalrymple reports,

The young people of Molenbeek warmly welcome you

The young people of Molenbeek

has virtually admitted that the area was extraterritorial to Belgium, and out of all control. The time had come ‘to focus more on repression’, he said.

But

whether the determination or sufficient political unity necessary to carry it out will last is doubtful. Repression requires discrimination; we live in a regime in which murderers may come and go, but social security goes on forever.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 08.58.19

Molenbeek folk

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 08.58.02

Molenbeek: a vibrant community

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 09.10.58

Molenbeek as it was

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 09.10.26

Molenbeek past

Fuck you

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 07.57.38These words, writes Dalrymple, are

the chief motto of British service industries.

They are also chosen, he points out, by

a surprisingly large number of auto-tattooists for the exercise of their dermatographical art.

He recalls a patient who

had the two words tattooed in mirror writing upon his forehead, no doubt that he might read them in the bathroom mirror every morning and be reminded of the vanity of earthly concerns.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 07.49.36The seemingly minor social phænomenon of tattooing affords us, says Dalrymple,

a little glimpse into the Hobbesian moral world inhabited by a section of the population with whom we normally have little contact: they actually want to be considered psychopathic.

A considerable number of the auto-tattooed inject themselves with swastikas. At first Dalrymple thought this was

profoundly nasty, a reflection of their political beliefs.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 08.08.54But in his alarm he had failed to take into consideration the fathomless historical ignorance of those who do such things to themselves.

People who believe (as one of my recent patients did) that the Second World War started in 1918 and ended in 1960—a better approximation to the true dates than some I have heard—are unlikely to know what exactly the Nazis and their emblem stood for, beyond the everyday brutality with which they are familiar, and which they admire and aspire to.

A little more stigma, please

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 19.44.37It would have saved the lives snuffed out by this amok-pilot

Andreas Lubitz’s problem, writes Dalrymple, was

one of character rather than of illness.

He was a narcissist whose enthusiasm for fitness was

not for fitness for any end other than a purely self-regarding one. The picture of him out running, pouting as if engaged on something serious and staring ahead with earphones in his ears to exclude the outer world from obtruding on him in his self-absorbed bubble, suggested a man more than usually self-centred.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 17.37.28He is reported to have been

determined to make more of a mark in the world than his native talents would permit, reducing him to the necessity of doing something terrible to catch the attention of the world that he so craved, and no doubt felt that he deserved. For narcissists, anonymity is the worst of fates.

Dalrymple says he cannot help but think that Western culture

is propitious to the promotion of narcissism of the type that I suspect that Lubitz suffered from — or made others suffer from.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 17.36.37Psychiatry

will never make the likes of Lubitz whole. We shall never be putty in technicians’ hands. That is not the same as saying that he should have been allowed to fly aëroplanes. A little more stigma and prejudice would have saved the 149 lives he so egotistically snuffed out.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 17.38.37

Jihad’s appeal to psychopaths

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 21.59.32The concept of jihad, writes Dalrymple,

is perfectly suited to giving psychopaths the idea that their viciousness serves an ideal other than their own gratification.