May 12, 2008

"My daughter deserved to die for falling in love"


Really?  Was that the reason?






The article from The Observer currently making the rounds: a 16 year old girl in Iraq is killed by her father because she "fell in love" with a British soldier.

It was her first youthful infatuation and it would be her last. She died on 16 March after her father discovered she had been seen in public talking to Paul, considered to be the enemy, the invader and a Christian. Though her horrified mother, Leila Hussein, called Rand's two brothers, Hassan, 23, and Haydar, 21, to restrain Abdel-Qader as he choked her with his foot on her throat, they joined in. Her shrouded corpse was then tossed into a makeshift grave without ceremony as her uncles spat on it in disgust.

Count the players: the father, two brothers, and some uncles.  For completeness, she was kicked and beaten, then choked by standing on her, and then stabbed.

He was arrested, but released in two hours.

Abdel-Qader, a Shia, says he was released from the police station 'because everyone knows that honour killings sometimes are impossible not to commit'..The officers were by my side during all the time I was there, congratulating me on what I had done.'

Though I doubt anyone in this country would sympthize with this nut, there is a certain deference to the notion that some cultures have honor killings, as if that is sufficient explanation; as if merely abandoning that practice will solve the problem.

But what really is going on here?  We can try to frame it in terms more real to us: pretend this  is a Jewish family and the British soldier is a Nazi.  Let's add that the Nazis have already killed this man's brother, and raped his sister; let's say that the Nazis even did this right there in front of the 16 year old girl-- yet she still falls in love with the Nazi soldier.

In this context, we can better understand the anger, the betrayal, the incredulity-- "how the hell could you...!!!"  But none of this explains why he killed her:

'I don't have a daughter now, and I prefer to say that I never had one. That girl humiliated me in front of my family and friends.'

But what we can't yet get at is the humiliation.  And that's where the fire is; that's why she was murdered.  Everything else is smoke.

This is narcissism, bold and pure.  It seems like it may not be because there are so many other people involved, but it is, institutionalized and mainstreamed.

The general problem with the narcissist is that he can't see the other, he only sees others in relationship to him.  It's a movie, or a video game.  It's Grand Theft Auto.  Sure, the other characters are real characters, but what matters is you.  You don't even have to be a good guy, or the best guy-- just the main character.  It is impossible to conceive that any of the characters in GTA can have thoughts that aren't about him.  "But it's a game, it's not like real life."  No, to the narcissist, "real life" isn't real either, it's simulacrum.   Every action is about him, positively or negatively.

That's why it doesn't matter to this nut what actually happened-- the article explains that the soldier probably didn't even know she had a crush on him-- and the father knows this.  But what happened isn't relevant at all, what matters is how it impacts him.  It would have been explicitly preferable to him that the 16 year old have sex with the soldier but no one ever could find out, then allow to be made public the possibility that such a thing could theoretically happen, even if it didn't.  Denial is a psychological defense; reality is not.

That's why his mind-bendingly inane position on homosexuality makes complete sense to him:

Homosexuality is punishable by death, a sentence Abdel-Qader approves of with a passion. 'I have alerted my two sons. They will have the same end [as Rand] if they become contaminated with any gay relationship. These crimes deserve death...

Umm, why not just simply say, "my sons are not gay?"  You wouldn't think to tell your sons not to have a gay relationship unless they were, in fact, gay-- and we can assume these kids are not gay; the solution to this crazy logic is that  it  doesn't matter if they are gay or not; he doesn't know, doesn't care, doesn't need to even think about it-- they don't have identities at all, only he has an identity, everyone else is an extension of it.

That's why he can say, with a straight face, that he has no daughter, that he never had one.  Reality doesn't matter, her own identity doesn't matter, only his.

The article seems surprised that this man shows no remorse.  That's not surprising at all: narcissists can't feel guilt.  They only feel shame.  Guilt means you know you are wrong, but the narcissist sees himself as above the law; he either makes appeals to a higher law, or thinks he better understands the spirit of the law as applied to the current situation  ("Stealing may be wrong, but right now...")

Shame, however, means you are caught doing something wrong, and so people get to decide how to see you, and see you as less.  This is the narcissistic injury.  You can't convince the other person you are more than what they see.  "Wait, it's not how it looks!  I can explain-- why won't you let me explain?!"   That's why narcissists aren't loners: they need the reinforcement of their identity from other people, as a bulwark against reality.

You may ask why I focus so much on narcissism, and it is precisely because of things like this.  Flip the coin of narcissism and on the reverse is always violence.  ALWAYS. Violence isn't always necessary, but it is always available.  Institutionalized narcissism is necessarily the penultimate step to war.

Which brings us back to daughters.   Women don't count for much as it is; when other people don't have identities, when what they do is always about you, then you can see why being in love with a Nazi, or British soldier, is such a huge issue.  She didn't do it-- he did it.  He's not banishing her-- "I'm never talking to her again!" -- he's making sure everyone knows he's not going to do it again.

In America, there's always an appeal to genetics as a mitigating factor.  He does it, too:

He said his daughter's 'bad genes were passed on from her mother'.
Except he isn't saying she is less to blame for her genetically predetermined behavior, of course, he's saying he is less to blame.

Rand's mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going. 'They cannot accept me leaving him.'

Of course not.  It's his video game.  How could you leave on your own volition?  How did you get volition? 

'Even now, I cannot believe my ex-husband was able to kill our daughter. He wasn't a bad person. During our 24 years of marriage, he was never aggressive. But on that day, he was a different person.'

No, he wasn't a different person.  She was.  That's the whole problem with narcissists.








Comments

Narcissism, yes. It'... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2008 5:03 PM | Posted by happy nonmurderous yet murderously narcissistic person: | Reply


Narcissism, yes. It's the exact same thing you see in that disgusting Milgram article written by the LEFTIST and those suicidal patients and those pussy husbands who can't get it up for their wives. It's everywhere! It's everything!

(Still banning my comments, Lastie? Here, let's find out.)

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Oh! IP trap must b... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2008 5:54 PM | Posted by everyone who disagrees with me will be pathologized: | Reply

Oh! IP trap must be malfunctioning. So let me quickly add that I like the way you've now luridly racialized the term with this last post. Islam! Now when you shriek that some irritating office assistant or pop star or whining patient or fellow academic is destroying the country with their "narcissism," your readers will flash on MURDERING 9/11 TERRORIST. A predictable development in the Pundit's Progress, but nonetheless kind of awesome when you actually have the balls to go that last propagandistic step.

It's a big step, Lastie. You're ready for cable now.

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Whoa, is it me or did it ju... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2008 5:57 PM | Posted by gleep: | Reply

Whoa, is it me or did it just get methier in here?

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You know, I was pretty dist... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2008 7:11 PM | Posted by Fargo: | Reply

You know, I was pretty disturbed by the article, in that it's disturbing to think about someone killing someone else over absolutely nothing, let alone killing a child, but then I scrolled down to the comments, and wow. Just... wow.

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So you're willing to follow... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2008 9:29 PM | Posted by done: | Reply

So you're willing to follow the host when he claims that the same murderous pathology seen in the fathers and husbands who killed this woman is visible in the guy who wrote the Milgram article? The academics and journalists he criticizes? The husbands who have less libido than their wives? Suicidal patients? Because he's said that all of them are "narcissists." Think carefully. Do you seriously believe that the guy who wrote the Milgram article cannot feel empathy for others, that he's pathologically "the only one in his movie," that "can only feel shame, not guilt," that he is incapable of any emotion but rage to a slight? That he has the emotional range of a two-year old? All from the evidence of that essay? And the same is true of the scholars and impotent husbands he's gone on about? Think. "Malignant" vs. "non-malignant" narcissism? What does that mean? We're not given any specifics, ever. Look in the archives if you don't believe me. Maybe it's bullshit. Think for yourself. Why didn't it occur to you to question any of this? You think he's clever when shows you how the evil journalists plant subliminal notions in your head that Heath Ledger is gay or John McCain is a loser, but you think it's evil if someone suggests that Lastie might be doing the same thing to you. Why?

Now: you support him blocking two long comments in which I develop the case, using specifics from his past posts, that he uses the term "narcissism" in an indiscriminate and clinically illegitimate manner for ideological reasons, and that his long-term pattern of use of the term suggests that he alternates lurid, murderous "textbook" clinical cases of narcissism with fairly trivial matters of office politics or marital discord that may indicate self-interest or selfishness but hardly "narcissism," and that the function of the more lurid clinical cases is to permit him to transfer their full pathologizing emotional charge to little political matters which he dislikes? That this is the most basic move of punditry, the sort of punditry that he pretends to expose? That's okay with you, blocking that argument? It had a lot of snarky attitude, but no more than his own front page posts. You're okay with the censorship?

Now: you're okay with him blocking comments that develop that argument and then, a few hours later the same day, posting what you just read above? Because that's what he did. You tell me it doesn't sound like a taunt. It produces the most lurid example to date of what I was accusing him of, even more lurid than his many posts about Cho, planting itself deep in the very, very, worst part of the American subconscious, while at the same time preventing his readers from accessing the argument I made about this very issue just prior.

"Just wow." Yup. That's exactly what I thought.

So, you're okay with all that? You wanna protect the good, six-figure, stock-quotin', existential-hero doc from the likes of mean old me? Good. Rest in that for a moment, and I'll echo one of Lastie's favorite lines: you just made a choice, you're responsible for it, and that choice makes you what you are. `

I'm done.

Alone's response: I never censor comments. However, I do have an overactive spam filter, and in 24 hours the comments are deleted unless I get in there and rescue them, which I must admit I rarely do, I just don't have the time. So absolutely let me assure you and everyone, I never would intentionally block your comment. That said, I don't think you read the posts that carefully (which I don't blame you for.) E.G. I never said I didn't like McCain (or did like him) the point of that post was to show how Time skews the graphic against McCain. As for narcissism itself, admittedly I use the term a lot, and expansively. But that's the point of the blog: that the sickness of contemporary society isn't selfishness, or neurosis, or greed, but narcissism. Narcissism isn't a pejorative term, it simply describes a way of processing relationships. In the Milgram post, the narcissism was actually beneficial, healthy, because the guy was able to quickly identify that he was being played; had he not had that degree of narcissism, he may have fallen for the experiment. I'm not saying it's good or bad for him to be this way, only that it was that personality characteristic that helped him sense manipulation was afoot. In the case of this post, however, the man's narcissism isn't even malignant-- it's actually quite ordinary, not even excessive. Unfortunately, it is the exact same narcissism that other people in his community have-- so it gets reinforced. That's what allowed him to kill his daughter and recruit others to help him. e.g. if this happened in the U.S., he may have killed his daughter still, but no one would have helped him. Hence my point about honor killings: the problem isn't that there are honor killings, and so we should ban them, the problem is that there is a shared mindset in which preservation of the self is primary.This mentality never sacrifices itself for another unless it gets credit for it.

And one final point, about stocks: don't assume I have only one blog, and only one forum. I include the posts about money here, in a psychiatry blog, not because it interests me but because they are about the same thing. If you stop thinking about psychiatry as a medical concern, and more as a semiotic problem, and stop thinking about money in utilitarian terms, but as a proxy for identity, you start to see we're dealing with similar concepts. Money exists because we collectively agree that it has some value-- but this value is almost never agreed upon. It fluctuates with, and each person values things differently (see the post about wine or susan b. anthony dollars.) In EXACTLY the same way, psychiatry uses terms that seem to have concrete definitions, but are valued differently by everyone. The values fluctuate. And hence the disconnect between two parties using, ostensibly, the same concept.

If you want to break free of the shackles of psychiatric labels-- whether you are a patient or not-- if you want to "get rich," stop being tethered to concrete ideas about money, you have to accept this: no one can tell you who you are, what it's worth; and not everyone values you the same, prices things the same. Money and psychiatry is always, always, always, a description of a transaction between two human beings. Never is it objective. God doesn't see it.

The blog is really, after all, about communism.

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Glad I could help?... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2008 9:58 PM | Posted by Fargo: | Reply

Glad I could help?

And, at what point did I even say I agreed with any of this? You assume I do, while all I said was that I found it disturbing some asshat killed his daughter. Are you of the ilk that murder shouldn't bother me? Does that bother you?

Personally I don't give a damn if you post here or not, or if Last blocks you or not. Such is the choice of yourself and the blog operator. You're venting so hard at this post, presumably others as well, that you obviously have problems. Then you have the gall to make assumptions about me, based on absolutely nothing. You strike me as possibly owning several tinfoil hats.

It's a blog, dude. It's the opinions and analysis of someone you don't know. Getting outraged, or indeed swallowing it all whole, is a waste of time. Personally, I really enjoy the insights of someone who works in a profession that I have absolutely no contact with, because his world provides different lights and contrasts to my world, hopefully shedding a little tiny bit better light on the actual world around me.

Now, I'm going to stop wasting my own time filling this channel with noise and get back to my own business.

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It's not a waste of time to... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 1:16 AM | Posted by mo: | Reply

It's not a waste of time to remind some people to take it down a notch.
If you are upset about the arguments someone else poses it makes better sense to get a blog and write your response to it there.
To come to some one else's home and figuratively piss on their rug is not only rude it's also weird.
If you got banned it's because the author doesn't like you. It's not a conspiracy to silence you . It's simple dislike.
We all have the right to lock the doors and windows when someone we can't stomach comes knocking.
And if you are blind to the rampant narcissism that seems almost to be a virulent bacteria attacking globally then your blindness is willful, thoughtless and incredibly selfish..I think you may in fact be infected yourself.

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misogyny, sir is why the g... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 1:48 AM | Posted by jenna: | Reply

misogyny, sir is why the girl is brutally killed and the murderer given a pat on the back. narcissism is not the root.

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In some cultures the only s... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 10:26 AM | Posted by AK: | Reply

In some cultures the only source of validation and worth is public reputation--or as some term it, 'honor.'

So a man's worth is determined by his reputation as someone capable of killing anyone, even a daughter who 'dishonors' him.

I agree, this is institutionalized narcissism.

You're forbidden to step outside and even question it, because its supported by a pseudospiritual rationale, or defended in the name of cultural diversity.

To me the ugly thing is, in cultures that make such a big to-do about honor and chastity, and where losing honor and chastity are life and death matters, it should be the hardest thing in the world to compromise someone's reputation. There should in such cultures be a very high standard of evidence.

Instead, its the easiest thing in the world to decide that someone has been dishonored and deserves to be killed.

To me, that is a recipe for constant tension, anger, anxiety--which will make a dysfunctional culture. In such states of social tension, its hard to accomplish very much that is creative or show much spontaneous kindess.

There was a Spanish play from the 17th Century that exemplified this same ethic. A husband loved his wife but her reputation was compromised by rumor. So in the play the husband ordered a physician to kill his wife, saying, 'Love adores thee, but honor abhors thee.'

Time and energy spent on feuding and defending public reputation (false self as validated by Honor Code) is time and energy subtracted from emotional, artistic and social achievement.

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Or in a nutshell, misogyny ... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 11:29 AM | Posted by AK: | Reply

Or in a nutshell, misogyny is a form of institutionalized narcissism.

Its been described by other authors as phallic narcissism.

(In the activist Catholic peace movement I once was in, we had another variety of narcissism--I term it moral narcissism. People compromised the welfare of their own families and neglected work responsiblities by fasting and going to jail. You could not argue with them because they claimed it was conscience, and God wanted them to put their bodies on the line to protest social injustice.

But peel the layers away, and IMO, it was still narcissism. Someone wanted to be heroic and didnt want to face the price paid for their heroism by the families they neglected and by coworkers who got stuck doing their work for them while they were in jail getting media attention and buffing hero credentials.)

Narcissism and machismo can show up in relation to seemingly good causes like social activism and in relation to obvertly ugly causes such as honor killing of women to salve family reputation and male ego.

The bad thing is being forbidden even to question this crap because it is designated as sacrosanct.

It isnt.

Anything that turns people into objects in relation to us needs to be scrutinized and challenged--and especially when religion or honor or cultural diversity are used to try to shame us into giving it a free ride.

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Goodness gracious, my child... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 2:18 PM | Posted by fragola: | Reply

Goodness gracious, my childhood flashed before my eyes on reading "I've alerted my two sons. They will have the same end...". I'm a woman, born and raised on the US West Coast by Protestant Christians. My parents "alerted" me much the same ways: I was "alerted" that were I to sleep with a man before marriage, I would be disowned and dead in their eyes. I would, of course, also be a whore (their words). I was "alerted" that their assumption I would sleep with a man was a conscious one, since it was utterly out of the question that I be a lesbian.

When I hit puberty, it became clear that I'd inherited the endometriosis that runs in my father's side of the family. But in my narcissistic parents' eyes, it had been "inherited" for a reason: you see, the only aunt on my father's side who has endometriosis, is an aunt who slept with another man before marriage. Which lead to my parents' leap of "logic": I was being punished by God for being a whore. I was expressly forbidden to take the Pill in order to relieve the symptoms of endometriosis, which shocked our family doctor. I had to suffer "God's plan for me willingly", and also prevent sinning further by taking advantage of the immunity to pregnancy the Pill offered by sleeping around. Eight years later I nearly died from a burst cyst, which would have been prevented if I'd taken the Pill. Luckily I was living in Finland at the time, far from my parents, and got immediate hospital care.

When I phoned my mother after my life-saving surgery, her first remark was a surprised, "you're not dead?" Why no, Mom, thanks for asking...?! She sighed and said, "oh you have sinned against God's will, clearly you deserved to die. We never would have allowed surgery."

I became dead to my parents. Because an ovarian chocolate cyst had twisted around one of my fallopian tubes and burst. I'd never had a boyfriend. Not a single one. The only kiss I'd had was when I was eight years old, from a six-year-old who'd shyly pecked me on the cheek as a surprise. I was twenty years old.

Narcissism is indeed deadly... (blaming it on religion would be blind; religion is used as an excuse, as a framework, just like any belief can be. I know an atheist narcissist.)

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So it's perfectly okay for ... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 2:58 PM | Posted by Bane: | Reply

So it's perfectly okay for a doc to diagnose other people they've never seen or talked to and to expand this diagnosis to the population at large. Oh, right. This is the same "doc" who made the mind-boggling claim that once a Borderline person gets stranded on a desert island then he/she becomes a Narcissist. Right. Sam Vaknin, are you sure that's not you?

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Instead of killing you can ... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 3:57 PM | Posted by mark p.s.: | Reply

Instead of killing you can always send the misbehaving child into psychiatry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Kennedy#Lobotomy

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"... narcissists can't feel... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 4:09 PM | Posted by Marco Maggi: | Reply

"... narcissists can't feel guilt. They only feel shame."

This is one of those key phrases that, correctly applied,
can be a tool to understand situations one lives. Thanks.

"That's why narcissists aren't loners"

Mh, yes, with the exception of narc personality disorder
where the fear of shame is so huge that crushes
the floor.

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Interesting. Mentioned it t... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 4:39 PM | Posted by Ronnie: | Reply

Interesting. Mentioned it to my own narcissist father who gave me a convoluted explanation about animals, seeds and primal fears of females getting pregnant by other males.

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i would say instead it is i... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2008 9:06 PM | Posted by jenna: | Reply

i would say instead it is institutionalized misogyny that, here, condones the male narcissist (if that is the real diagnosis . . .)crushing the larynx of his daughters throat till she dies for reasons of sexual impropriety. imagine the cenario with the sexes reversed. a mother violently murdering her son, with her husband watching helplessly, for banging a woman in the british army, tossing his body outside with the help of her two female kin-- and the law looks the other way. still think narcissism? really?

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@JennaI admit that... (Below threshold)

May 14, 2008 2:09 AM | Posted by Marco Maggi: | Reply

@Jenna

I admit that I do not understand misogyny, but I also do not
understand why you need to import it in this situation; look,
I am a man and I am physically stronger than almost all the
women I meet: is this not enough?

If I can impose my wish and caprice for enough time, they
will become institutionalised, they will become culture.

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marco,i was injectin... (Below threshold)

May 15, 2008 7:43 PM | Posted by jenna: | Reply

marco,
i was injecting it as an alternate theory to that of institutionalized narcissism for the behavior of society as it relates to the 16 year old girls murder. do you think it's inappropriate?

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Too simple to call this a p... (Below threshold)

May 16, 2008 4:13 AM | Posted by Juniper: | Reply

Too simple to call this a problem of narcissism. Fragola's parents sound psychotic to me. And to understand much of the Arab world we need to look back to our own incredibly harsh codes of honor that reigned throughout our medieval history. Women in our own society were still very subject to them in Victorian times. Perhaps a century ago we no longer stoned our "adulteresses" but we turned pregnant unwed mothers out of door in the dead of winter to die miserably on the street and no one dared to protest. These codes of honor linger on in fundamentalist religious beliefs of today - Protestant, Catholic or Muslim - and what do I know but I wouldn't be surprised to find them in Buddhism, etc. Honor is a concept that overrides the rights of the individual. It has nothing to do with the pursuit of happiness. It is the driving force behind much of the great tragedies in literature and in life. To explain it away as a manifestation of narcissism or misogyny is to utterly fail to see it's complexity and enmeshment in the social fabric of our lives. If we are ever to understand Arab culture we need to make a serious attempt to see how they are imprisoned in the biblical era of this code, how they themselves writhe in the throes of honor's exigencies, and how it makes much of their thinking and reprehensible "acting out" seem delirious and/or criminal to the western world.

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I think it's fair to say th... (Below threshold)

May 16, 2008 2:10 PM | Posted, in reply to jenna's comment, by cook: | Reply

I think it's fair to say that the immediate cause of this poor girl's death was misogyny - on a pathological scale - but misogyny is just one of many manifestations of narcissism, some of which are far more horrifying than others.

Think about it this way: You can be a non-misogynistic narcissist, but you can't be a non-narcissistic misogynist. There's no such thing as a selfless, altruistic, and empathetic misogynist. So the "root" of misogyny is quite arguably narcissism.

That being said, I think that outside of a philosophical and intellectual context, it's probably more useful to think of this incident in terms of misogyny. Social activists will have better luck fighting misogyny than fighting narcissism.

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Something to read<... (Below threshold)

May 16, 2008 5:40 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

Something to read

http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/TOXICVAL.HTM

'The World's Most Toxic Value System' by Professor Steven Dutch

(excerpt from the introductory remarks)

"It's considered bad form in many circles to criticize another culture's values. In addition, the social science literature contains a number of rationalizations for the "honor" mentality. One is that every value system makes sense to the people that hold it. Another is that every value system exists for a reason. Well, of course.

"The problem is that you can make these assertions about any value system whatsoever. Rape and genocide and embezzlement also exist for a reason, and make sense to people who think a certain way. That doesn't tell us whether the values are morally acceptable or even whether they are beneficial to those who adhere to them.

"So I regard it as trivially obvious that the "honor" mentality exists for a reason and makes perfect sense to the people that adhere to it. I don't doubt it for a moment. I merely claim that these values debilitate the societies that hold them."

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"I have alerted my two sons... (Below threshold)

May 20, 2008 1:04 PM | Posted by Sfon: | Reply

"I have alerted my two sons. They will have the same end [as Rand] if they become contaminated with any gay relationship. These crimes deserve death..."

The people crying "misogyny" only seem to see the girl's plight, as if the fact that his sons could meet the same fate means nothing. Misogyny is the hatred of women, not the belief that anyone who upsets you must cease to exist. That is not to say misogyny could not have played some role, just that it was not the real problem here.

As for the people complaining about everyone being called narcissists, I think they are missing the point. Such aspects are only part of the more complex whole of a person. For example take someone dying of cancer who has almost no chance to survive it, but insists that they will beat it anyway. Is that person delusional? Yes they are, but that does not define them as a whole or even mean the way they are thinking is unhealthy. And just as with the use of narcissism in this blog, saying that someone is delusional certainly is not saying they are the same as every other person with some delusional belief or another, to even suggest such is so painfully asinine that it borders on trolling.

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Then why call them "a narci... (Below threshold)

May 21, 2008 9:39 PM | Posted, in reply to Sfon's comment, by Bane: | Reply

Then why call them "a narcissist"? Narcissism implies a cohesive set of behaviors that remain mostly unchanged and are, for the most part, very socially disruptive. It seems to me that if you want to mention one of these behaviors then you should do so by name, not by the psychiatric disorder or the psychological theory of mental growth: selfishness. What's wrong with that?

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Brilliant article. <... (Below threshold)

June 7, 2008 6:41 AM | Posted by co: | Reply

Brilliant article.

I don't get what problem people have with the narcissism label, it fits like a glove.

It's not selfishness, which would mean "my needs have to be satisfied before everything else", but rather "my needs are the only existing needs. there are no other needs at all."
Narcissism is the best description for the second statement, and that is the unifying concept i recognize in all those articles here.

And in response to Juniper:
I don't think that this behavior is representative for the Arab world more than Christian fundamentalists represent the USA.
A good friend of mine visited Iran last summer - his family fled Iran during the Islamic revolution, and the people he talked to were very far from honor killings or radical Islam.

Even when honor killings are expected from this Iraqi by his peers and his "faith", it takes absolute disregard for the value of his nearest family members to kill your own daughter in this way.

A factor that hasn't been considered at all is that Saddam Husseins regime and the war created this mentality, and Islam is only the canvas.

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Mostly I want to comment on... (Below threshold)

July 10, 2008 8:07 PM | Posted by Marjorie: | Reply

Mostly I want to comment on the issue of "honor".

There are a number of "cultures" (and I use that word loosely) which perpetuate the notion of "honor". Essentially, the premise is, all people/families are perfect and god-like, and any reason someone could say they're less than that, must be eliminated, hidden, and denied.

It's a culture of lies. Remember that whenever you hear the term "honor" used in this way, and especially when it comes to "honor killings".

In this case, the "man" (coughing) would rather his daughter was never born, than to "dishonor" him. People like this fool hide behind a facade of piety or sanctimony. They're cowards. They're dishonest. They would never admit the truth (THE TRUTH FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!) to anyone, if they believed it would make them seem imperfect in the eyes of others.

They're virtually obsessed with other peoples' opinions of them.

It's sad. But when it comes to murdering an innocent, young woman, it's about as despicable as humans get. This guy couldn't be more cowardly if he tried. What a bunch of losers. I pity them.

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I would like to discuss the... (Below threshold)

July 11, 2008 1:03 PM | Posted by Wendy Reid Crisp: | Reply

I would like to discuss the possibility of you writing a short piece for GRAND, the magazine for grandparents, of which I am the editor-in-chief. I couldn't find a "contact us" button, so I'm posting this in comments.

I'll be more specific about the details when (if) you respond.

In the meantime, I'm challenged and informed by your site. Delighted that I found it.

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I followed the link to this... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2010 8:28 PM | Posted by Translation bias?: | Reply

I followed the link to this post from one of your newer posts.

Regardless of what I think of this particular instance of "honour killing", I can't help but wonder if you're making the facts fit your theories. You quote the man's words as evidence of narcissism - but are these actually his words? Or are the words used by a translator? Certain concepts are impossible to translate accurately from one language to another and I feel you put too much stock in the man's words, generalising from this instance of assisted/group murder to a "culture of narcissism" or "institutionalised narcissism" in Iraq.

You say that few would agree with the father in this country. I think fewer than you might think would agree with him even in Iraq (which is as far from a monolithic culture as they come).

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An "honorable" man... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2010 5:59 PM | Posted by Z. Constantine: | Reply

An "honorable" man is one who can be trusted - in this case, to repay a loan.

In the equilibrium we describe, a "dishonorable" man, having no reputation to protect, is e ffectively excluded from borrowing, based on a credible expectation that he would not repay loans; and from lending, since he cannot issue challenges, and so has no way to credibly enforce repayment.

Honor - a trustworthy reputation - is therefore a valuable asset, and well worth defending [with one's life] if necessary.

The Deadliest of Games: The Institution of Dueling

There is certainly something to be said toward the father's intolerance, however, his actions are mediated by his society's expectations as well - without making any value judgments upon the man or his society, perhaps it is possible to see where he is acting out a script which he did not write.

Granted, it's about saving face and his actions would be indefensible in Western society, but given the outwardly positive reactions of his society, wouldn't it be safe to say that there is more to it here than his self-perceived notion of infallibility? (i.e. would his family and daughter be reasonably expected to survive day-to-day life if this "outrage" had gone "unpunished" - if not by himself then by the other fanatical elements of the community)

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Being an Arab-American, I a... (Below threshold)

April 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Posted by Adam : | Reply

Being an Arab-American, I am all too familiar with the cultural narcissism that is prevalent in that part of the world and here. I watched an Arabic movie once (movies are much more indicative of cultural thought than one might think) where a woman was impregnated out of wedlock by a man who was never mentioned or given identity to. Throughout the movie the girl was working and trying to save money so she can flee from her strict father. Throughout the movie the father was remarking how she can never get married because she was getting "too fat". In the end, her realizes she is pregnant and promptly murders her (7 months pregnant). The movie portrays this as a "happy ending" and it fades to black.

I found this humorous because in Islam abortion is forbidden yet murdering your daughter and parading her dead body on the street is somehow okay in this man's eyes. I guess narcissism also deactivates the brain's ability to do simple logic. It's a sad thing.

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For all those commenters sa... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2014 10:23 PM | Posted by AspieCatholicgirl: | Reply

For all those commenters saying 'it's not narcisism it's mysognyny'; it's both. Narcisism on the part of the dad. Extreme mysogyny on all the other men who condoned this murder. The combination of the two has terrifying results.

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This is my 1st time i visit... (Below threshold)

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