Gjesteskribent

Mass Murder as Unconscious Liberation
Reflections on the Norwegian Tragedy of 2011
Avner Falk (Jerusalem, Israel)

This essay is dedicated to the memory of my late friend and colleague Ruth Stein (1947-2010), one of the finest people and psychoanalysts it has ever been my privilege and pleasure to know. Ruth gave her extraordinary and much-reprinted study of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 the striking title of Evil as Love and as Liberation (Stein 2002). After her untimely death, which shocked and saddened all of us, her posthumous book was published, entitled For Love of the Father: A Psychoanalytic Study of Religious Terrorism (Stein 2010). May this little note be a small tribute to Ruth’s memory.

Anders Behring Breivik (born 1979), the young Norwegian who murdered seventy-seven innocent people, most of them younger than he, on July 22, 2011, in one of the worst catastrophes in modern Norwegian civilian history, comes from a broken family. His father, Jens David Breivik (born 1935), was a Norwegian civil economist and diplomat in England, where Anders was born. The father had been married previously and had three children by his previous marriage. The mother, Wenche Behring Breivik, had a daughter by her previous sexual partner, to whom she was apparently not married. There were violent quarrels between Anders’ parents at the time of his birth, and they separated in 1980, when he was a year old. After their separation, the mother moved back to Oslo with Anders and his half-sister, where she soon married a Norwegian military man named Tore. This stepfather raised Anders, but he paid little attention to the boy, being too busy with his promiscuous sexual exploits. According to Anders, his stepfather infected his mother with a venereal disease that ruined her health and her life (Breivik 2011, pp. 1171-1172).

During his childhood and adolescence, Anders regularly visited his father Jens and his stepmother in England and later in France, where his father had retired. Anders’ father lost his custody battle over Anders to the mother, and the parents were divorced in 1991, when Anders was twelve. Anders apparently last saw his father in 1995, when he was sixteen. After that visit, the father refused to see Anders again due to the son’s adolescent excesses, which Anders later minimized as his “graffiti” (Breivik 2011, p. 1386).

At the outset of his trial, Anders Breivik was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by two court-appointed Norwegian psychiatrists. According to their report, Breivik had acted out of his delusions. Breivik delusionally thought of himself as a future Regent of Norway pending its takeover by his imaginary organization, the Knights Templar of Europe, of which he was, in his delusions, the «Justiciar Knight Commander.» As Regent of Norway, he would place all Norwegians in reservations and use them in his delusional breeding projects (Associated Press 2011). Four other 

Norwegian psychiatrists, however, who examined Breivik later for the prosecution, found that Breivik was neither psychotic nor schizophrenic (BBC News Europe 2012).

While long-distance diagnosis is hazardous at best, to my mind all the available psychological data indicate that Anders Behring Breivik suffers from a severe borderline personality disorder. The key feature of this disorder is the patient’s emotional instability. It is also characterized by black-and-white thinking, the product of unconscious splitting, by ever-alternating idealizations and devaluations of others, by chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, an unstable self-image, diffuse identity, erratic behavior, and a deep disturbance in the individual’s sense of self. In extreme cases, this disturbance leads to periods of dissociation and psychosis. The borderline patient alternates between idealizing and demonizing others, which, together with his mood swings, undermines his interpersonal relationships. Borderline patients often harm themselves: some commit intentional or unintentional suicide (Volkan 1995; Millon & al. 1996, 2000, 2004; American Psychiatric Association 2000, 2013; Masterson 2000; Clarkin & al. 2005; Chapman & Gratz 2007; Kernberg 2012). The fact that some experts have diagnosed psychosis and others have not is typical of the emotional instability of severe borderline personality disorder.


Political assassins often suffer from borderline personality disorder (Falk 2001a, 2001b). Breivik himself intended to become a martyr by getting himself killed by the Norwegian security forces during his “heroic operation to save Europe.” How much psychological insight does this mass murderer have about himself? In his grandiose and monumental “Compendium 2083,” which an American journalist has called “a manifesto of madness” (Friedlander 2011), Breivik minimized his own “flaws” as common and all-too-human:
 

As for current flaws in my personality I guess have many stereotypical flaws. F [sic] example; I sound quite self righteous at times and I don’t like admitting it when I’m wrong, although I usually do. I still have a relatively inflated ego, with a constant need to feed on an intellectual level. This is a quite common flaw and I try to suppress it although I know I fail as most people do. Also, over the years I’ve generally been perceived as quite arrogant (even downright unpleasant at times, the last few years). This is likely due to the fact that I do not care as much as I did for creating or preserving social relationships due to my life choice. I guess it is also due the way I choose my rhetorical approaches, which is to a certain degree only an indirect defensive mechanism. I, as most people, like to think I have a superb self confidence. But people who show signs of arrogance usually often use deliberate defensive manifestation to camouflage intellectual or social insecurity or perhaps they just don’t care. I guess the root to a majority of human flaws is linked to mans fundamentally flawed nature. We want acknowledgement, appreciation and/or love so we strive to be as perfect as we can be (Breivik 2011, p. 1401).


Indeed, the Israeli-American psychoanalyst Ruth Stein and her American colleague Otto Kernberg have shown the intimate unconscious relationship between the craving for love and murderous aggression (Stein 2002, Kernberg 2012). The American journalist, however, saw Breivik as “a right-wing nationalist fueled by a combined hatred of Muslims, Marxists and multiculturalists. His beliefs recall neo-Nazi politics that continue to linger throughout Europe, freshened with a new, 21st century toxicity.” (Friedlander 2011).

Breivik himself, however, sees himself as the Savior of Europe. One of the hallmarks of severe borderline personality disorders is the patient’s poor reality testing. Breivik’s self-awareness and reality testing are indeed badly damaged. In describing his childhood, he denied the massive emotional troubles in his family of origin and idealized his childhood as a happy one: “I haven’t really had any negative experiences in my childhood in any way. I had way too much freedom though if anything. I used to visit my father annually until I was 16. So guess [sic] I came from a typical Norwegian middle class family. We never had any economical troubles” (Breivik 2011, p. 1387). In fact, there were enormous troubles between his mother and his stepfather, let alone his father and his mother. Similarly, before murdering scores of his fellow Norwegians, Anders had written in all seriousness, “As all my friends can attest to I wouldn’t be willing to hurt a fly” (Breivik 2011, p. 1395). This is obviously a massive denial of reality.

Before carrying out his massacre, which he intended to be an act of martyrdom by getting himself killed by the Norwegian police or military, Anders Behring Breivik penned a monumental, rambling and incoherent 1,516-page English-language online “compendium” entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence under the English pseudonym of Andrew Berwick, which he apparently e-mailed to his entire mailing list hours before his mass-murderous attacks (Slaughter 2011b). Like everything else about this tragedy, Anders’ choice of an English alias which resembles his own name was not accidental. His father, Jens David Breivik, had been a Norwegian diplomat in England for much of his life, and it was there that Anders had been born. If he could be an Englishman, Anders may have felt, perhaps his father would love him and see him again?

 

 

Above is a photograph Anders’ grim-faced father, Jens David Breivik, accompanied by a French gendarme while his house in southern France was being searched by French police, shortly after he learned of his son’s terrible act of mass murder. If the son expected to win back his father’s love through his “valorous act of self-martyrdom” he could not have been farther off the mark. After the massacre, his shocked father told the Swedish tabloid Expressen that he wished his son had killed himself. “How could he just stand there and kill so many innocent people and just seem to think that what he did was OK?” the elder Breivik asked the Swedish journalist incredulously during the interview in France. “He should have taken his own life too. That’s what he should have done.” Jens Breivik had retired to southern France, after more than thirty years of service as a Norwegian diplomat in London, Tehran and Paris. Aside from a short phone call about ten years earlier (in 2001, possibly after the September 11 tragedy in the United States), Jens had not had any contact with his son since 1995. “I feel awful,” the elder Breivik said. “I am deeply sorry over this situation. It’s awful for me personally, but it is also tragic for the whole country” (Huffington Post 2011). The father apparently has no idea that his son’s murderous rampage may have anything to do with his son’s desperate wish to be loved by him.

An anonymous British journalist, trying to make psychological sense of the crazy massacre, thought that “Anders Behring Breivik had a privileged and international upbringing but nursed a deep resentment of his diplomat father.” This statement implies that the key to Breivik’s murderous rampage was his patricidal rage:

 

The absent father is a theme that Anders returned to repeatedly in his rambling 1,500 page manifesto [sic]. “I have not spoken to my father since he isolated himself when I was 15 – he was not very happy about my graffiti phase from 13 to 16. He has four children but has cut contact with all of them. So it is pretty clear whose fault that was … I tried contacting him five years ago but he said he was not mentally prepared for a reunion.” Speaking outside his home in the south of France, Mr. Breivik expressed his shock at the killings and how extreme his estranged son had become. “I view this atrocity with absolute horror,” he told reporters. This morning his house was being searched [by] teams of French gendarmes (The Telegraph 2011, quoting Breivik 2011, p. 1386).


Anders Breivik himself, however, never called his monumental online text a “manifesto”: he called it a “compendium.” A bizarre American blogger who calls himself “Kevin I. Slaughter, the unwanted advocate” put it on his website the day after the massacre and called it a “manifesto” (Slaughter 2011a, 2011b). Slaughter’s greatest contributions to our civilization have been “the 3rd largest private collection of vintage Super 8mm porn on the East Coast” (Slaughter 2011c) and a barely coherent online review of Gerald Messadié’s book A History of the Devil (Slaughter 2007).

In his own grandiose image of himself, Anders Behring Breivik is the author of the most important document of our time. Before publishing his “compendium,” he had put two videos on the Internet (on YouTube and on veoh) to explain his great compendium, and inserted bold-lettered links to them at the beginning of his “compendium (Breivik 2011, p. 4). The first video was removed “because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service” and the second was deleted without explanation. Breivik sees himself as the hated prophet and soothsayer: “The men the European public admires most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth” (ibid.).

The anonymous British journalist called Anders “Mummy’s boy,” implying that he was loved by his mother and that he loved her in return, and that Anders deeply resented his father and was caught in an Oedipal tragedy. (The Telegraph 2011). Did Anders in fact love his mother and hate his father? As we shall see, the story is much more complex. In fact, Anders’ mother may have been a key figure in his life, and his fusional attachment to her his deepest problem.

Breivik’s “compendium” was published as a “manifesto” by “Kevin I. Slaughter” on July 23, 2011, the day after the tragic massacre. Breivik grandiosely describes himself as a “Justiciar Knight” and as the leader the “New Knights Templar.” The Latin name of the medieval Knights Templar was Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici (The Poor fellow-soldiers of Christ and of the Solomonic Temple). Breivik made up an acronym, PCCTS, for his “new chivalric order.” The title page of Breivik’s “compendium” has the red cross of the medieval Knights Templar on a white background with the Latin phrase De Laude Novae Militiae Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici, which roughly translates as “In Praise of the New Army of the Poor fellow-soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.”

 

Breivik’s monumental “compendium” is a fascinating example of massive unconscious splitting, constantly alternating between idealization and denigration. It is full of “scholarly” rambling about the wonderful Europe of the 1950s and the terrible Europe of today, “defiled” by the millions of Muslims who have settled in it and destroyed its “Christian greatness.” Europe is idealized in much the same way as a child idealizes its mother, and later itself. Breivik’s choice of the year 2083 as the title of his “compendium” was not accidental. That year will mark the 400th anniversary of the unsuccessful Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, which Breivik saw as the previous attempt by the Muslims to conquer and defile Christian Europe, as well as the 200th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx, whom Breivik sees as one of the great destroyers of Christian Europe. Breivik did not think that he would live until 2083. In fact, before committing his massacre, he thought that he would die a martyr in the battle for Christian Europe. By choosing that far-off year 2083 he could see himself as a prophet with a full-fledged plan to save Europe from her socialist, feminist and Muslim enemies and restore his Magna Mater to her former glory.

 

 

Above is a photograph of Anders with his half-sister and his mother. As in most borderline cases, Breivik’s mother, rather than his father, is the key emotional “object” of his entire life. His lifelong inability to separate and individuate from her and his diffuse sense of self are among the hallmarks of his severe emotional disorder. Here is what he had to say about his mother and his stepfather in his monumental, rambling and incoherent “compendium” (the acronym STD that he used here stands for “sexually-transmitted disease”):

 

My mother was infected by genital herpes by her boyfriend (my stepfather), Tore, when she was 48. Tore, who was a captain in the Norwegian Army, had more than 500 sexual partners and my mother knew this but suffered from lack of good judgement and moral [sic] due to several factors (media – glorification of certain stereotypes being one). Unfortunately for her, her poor judgment resulted in her being afflicted by genital herpes. In addition to this, the herpes infection went to her brain and caused meningitis (this condition is usually rare and occurs in less than 1% of herpes infected individuals). As a result of this brain infection, which prevented the spinal fluid from flowing freely, she had to operate a shunt into her brain as the herpes attacks occurred regularly. She was forced into early retirement as a result and her life quality has been significantly reduces [sic] since, and she now has the intellectual capacity of a 10 year old. Her STD has not only cause [sic] her much hardships, but it has also cost her and the state up to 1 million Euro. Both my sister and my mother have not only shamed me but they have shamed themselves and our family [emphasis added]. A family that was broken in the first place due to secondary effects of the feministic [sic]/sexual revolution. I can only imagine how many people are suffering from STDs as a result of the current lack of sexual moral [sic] (Breivik 2011, pp. 1171-1172).


This passage is so heart-breaking it makes one wants to weep. This mass murderer has no insight into his own emotional tragedy. In the same way as his stepfather has infected his mother with a terrible disease, Anders feels, the Muslims have infected Norway, yet it is not the infecting stepfather but the promiscuous mother whom he blames and wishes to kill. The most striking thing about this heart-rending passage, however, is that Anders Behring Breivik is not enraged at his stepfather for destroying his mother’s physical and emotional health and for ruining her life, but rather at his sister and at his mother for shaming him and his family. Similarly, one of the striking irrationalities about Breivik is that he did not set out to murder Muslims, who, he is convinced, had defiled and destroyed his beloved Mother Europe, and who had raped so many innocent Norwegian women, but rather the Christian members of the Norwegian political party that had let them enter “her.”

The subtitle of Breivik’s rambling “compendium,” A European Declaration of Independence, makes psychological sense if we substitute the word “my” for the word “European” and read its title as “My Declaration of Independence.” We can then understand that, unwittingly, Anders was writing about his own desperate struggle for separation and individuation from the women who dominated his life, above all his mother, whose maiden name is his own middle name (Mahler & al. 1975). For her own unconscious emotional reasons, this tragic mother seems to have tied Anders to her in an impossible fusional relationship, from which he could not break away. He could neither live with his mother nor without her. Anders had unconsciously displaced his own desperate struggle to that of Europe, which he idealizes as a great good mother. When he committed his massacre, he thought that he was saving Norway, and Europe, from those who had defiled and infected “her.”

In a classic psychological process of unconscious splitting, since a very early age Anders Breivik had unconsciously split his internalized mother into two, the great good mother, who was later displaced to the idealized Norway, or Christian Europe, and the evil witch, which was later substituted by the ruling Norwegian labor party, the party which allowed all the foreign immigrants into Norway and “defiled the good mother.” His matricidal rage had been displaced to the Norwegian labor party, whose leader and whose youth wing he attacked, while his desperate wish for a good mother was displaced to his motherland, Norway, and to Europe, whom he thought he was saving from the “evil Muslims,” just as the medieval Knights Templar had fought to save “the Holy Land” from the “evil Saracens.” The Muslims may also symbolize his bad father in his unconscious mind.

It is no accident that during the fourth day of his ten-week trial, on April 19, 2012, Breivik voluntarily revealed that he had wanted to behead the former Norwegian prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland. In his unconscious mind, this Socialist, liberal woman who had «destroyed Norway» is the embodiment of the bad mother, the evil witch, the mother who wishes to kill her own son, the she-monster, the Gorgon who must be beheaded, as in ancient Greek myth the monster Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Alas, Breivik has no idea that his wish to behead Brundtland comes from his matricidal rage. It is also no accident that he told the court he had to be acquitted or executed, denying the reality of Norwegian law, which does not mandate the death sentence. For Breivik, the only way out of his impossible emotional fusion with his bad mother is suicide-murder, so that both of them are killed and, paradoxically, remain fused together in death.

If we read Breivik’s “compendium” with special attention to what he has to say about men, women, and mothers, we can detect an anti-feminist and even a misogynist viewpoint. For instance, “[In the 1950s] Children grew up in two-parent households, and the mother was there to meet the child when he came home from school. Entertainment was something the whole family could enjoy” (Breivik 2011, p. 12). One of the themes that preoccupies Breivik is the promotion of “matriarchy,” which he blames on the “Critical Theorists” of the “Frankfurt School” of social and psychoanalytic theory, especially Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, and Theodor Adorno (Breivik 2011, p. 1518). Here are some of his bizarre ideas about their “destructive matriarchal theory”:

 

Critical Theory incorporated sub-theories which were intended to chip away at specific elements of the existing culture, including “matriarchal theory,” “androgyny theory,” “personality theory,” “authority theory,” “family theory,” “sexuality theory,” “racial theory,” “legal theory,” and “literary theory” … these theories were to be used to overthrow the prevailing social order and usher in social revolution. To achieve this, the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School recognised that traditional beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and then replaced. The patriarchal social structure would be replaced with matriarchy; the belief that men and women are different and properly have different roles would be replaced with androgyny; and the belief that heterosexuality is normal would be replaced with the belief that homosexuality is equally “normal” (Breivik 2011, p. 16).


The child of a broken family, a psychological victim of his parents’ emotional troubles, Anders Behring Breivik displaces his patricidal and matricidal rage to the socialists, feminists and Muslims. He blames the socialists, feminists, critical theorists and other “dangerous revolutionaries” for having destroyed the old European family and turned the old patriarchy into matriarchy. Instead of the father, the mother rules the family. To him, one of these dangerous revolutionaries was the social psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, whose books, Escape from Freedom and The Dogma of Christ, Breivik sees as a call for destroying the good old family:

 

Fromm made the real meaning of this “Positive Freedom” clear in another of his many books – The Dogma of Christ – wherein he describes a revolutionary character such as himself as the man who has emancipated himself from the ties of blood and soil, from his mother and father, and from special loyalties to state, race, party or religion. Fromm makes his revolutionary intent very clear in The Dogma of Christ… “We might define revolution in a psychological sense, saying that a revolution is a political movement led by people with revolutionary characters, and attracting people with revolutionary characters.” (Breivik 2011, p. 21).


Breivik sees himself as a knight, a hero and a poet, and hates psychologists who attempt to uncover the unconscious emotional roots of the heroic creations of poets:

 

If a poet wrote a poem that included a female character, the critics would look into the poet’s relationship with his mother, his wife, his sister and so on in an effort to offer up an interpretation of the work. This could have (and often did have) the positive effect of using biographic information to gain new understanding of the work; however, these new interpretations were not attempts to discern the true meaning of the work (as the New Critics had done) or even to discover the author’s intended meaning (as traditional readings attempted). This new generation of critics instead became prime practitioners of what is known in literary circles as “cultural criticism.” They strained to view literature from the “woman’s point of view” or the “victims” or the “radical minority point of view.” Their attempts were not to find meaning – they were influenced too greatly by relativists for that –but to find sexism, racism or “homophobia” in the works of male, European or heterosexual authors. (Breivik 2011, p. 27).


Breivik sees the Frankfurt School scholars, especially their studies of the authoritarian personality (Adorno & al. 1950), as the enemies of his own manhood. He connects them directly to Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, the founders of socialism, and blames them for destroying his family and for trying to emasculate him, to take away his manhood, to castrate him:

 

The Frankfurt School theorised that the authoritarian personality is a product of the patriarchal family. This idea is in turn directly connected to Engels’s The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, which promotes matriarchy. Furthermore, it was Karl Marx who wrote in The Communist Manifesto about the radical notion of a “community of women.” He also, in 1845, wrote disparagingly in his The German Ideology of the idea that the family was the basic unit of society. The concept of the “authoritarian personality” is not just to be interpreted as a model for the conduct of warfare against prejudice as such. It is a handbook for psychological warfare against the European male, to render him unwilling to defend traditional beliefs and values. In other words, the aim was to emasculate him. Undoubtedly the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt University meant this, as it used the term “psychological techniques for changing personality.” (Breivik 2011, p. 29).


Breivik clearly sees the social and psychoanalytic theories of the Frankfurt School as an attack on his masculinity and as an attempt to turn him into a woman:

 

Critical Theory as applied mass psychology has led to the deconstruction of gender in the European culture. Following Critical Theory, the distinction between masculinity and femininity will disappear. The traditional roles of the mothers and fathers are to be dissolved so that patriarchy will be ended. Children are not to be raised according to their biological genders and gender roles according to their biological differences. This reflects the Frankfurt School rationale for the disintegration of the traditional family (Breivik 2011, p. 30).


Breivik unconsciously identifies “mother” with “mother country,” and thus his idealized mother – and himself – with Norway, or Europe, as we can see seen from the following statement about the medieval crusaders in his “compendium” in which reality and fantasy are freely mixed, as they are in the rest of his rambling essay:

 

There was no mother country with which the Crusader states had an economic relationship, nor did Europeans economically benefit from them. Quite the contrary, the expense of Crusades to maintain the Latin East was a serious drain on European resources. As an outpost, the Crusader states kept a military focus. While the Muslims warred against each other the Crusader states were safe, but once the Muslims united, they were able to dismantle the strongholds, capture the cities, and in 1291 expel the Christians completely (Breivik 2011, p. 140).


In a classic unconscious-splitting process, Anders Breivik glorifies the traditional family of his beloved Old Europe, while denigrating the psychoanalysts, the socialists, the feminists who had destroyed the family and its values, and the Muslims who have “defiled” Mother Europe. Anders has the “grandiose self” that characterizes the narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. He meant his monumental “compendium” as a scholarly study of two millennia of Christian-Muslim relations. One especially disturbing scene in the “compendium” described the brutal rape and murder of the old mother of an Assyrian Christian leader by Kurdish Muslims and the following massacre of ten thousand Christians by the Muslims:

 

In 1842 Badr Khan Beg, A Hakkari (southeast Turkey) Kurdish Amir, combined with other Kurdish forces led by Nurallah, attacked the Assyrians, intending to burn, kill, destroy, and, if possible, exterminate the Assyrians from the mountains. The Kurds destroyed and burned whatever came within their reach. An indiscriminate massacre took place. The women were brought before the Amir and murdered in cold blood. The aged mother of Mar Shimun, the Patriarch of the Church of the East, was seized by them, and after having practiced on her the most abominable atrocities, they cut her body into two parts and threw it into the river Zab, exclaiming, “go and carry to your accursed son the intelligence that the same fate awaits him.” Nearly ten thousand Assyrians were massacred, and as large a number of woman and children were taken captive, most of whom were sent to Jezirah to be sold as slaves, to be bestowed as presents upon the influential Muslims (Breivik 2011, p. 174).


As part of his tormented ravings about the history of Christians and Muslims, Breivik’s glorification of the medieval Christian heroes who defeated the Muslims conceals his unconscious fear of being castrated by an overpowering mother. In a section of his “compendium” entitled “European Crusader heroes, champions, legends” Breivik inserted the pseudo-scholarly article entitled The Twelfth Viking by “Baron Bodissey,” the fictional, snobbish and pretentious author of the multi-volume Life in the novels of the American speculative-fiction author Jack Vance (born 1916), with whom Breivik easily identifies (Bodissey 2006).

In The Twelfth Viking, Jack Vance, in the person of “Baron Bodissey,” idealized “Holger Danske,” the mythical Danish hero of the Christian battle against the “Moors” at Tours-Poitiers in 732, who first appeared as “Ogier de Danemarche” in the medieval FrenchGeste de Doon de Mayence, part of the third cycle of the chansons de geste of Charlemagne. According to Breivik, “Baron Bodissey,” whom Breivik’s fantasy turns from an obtuse fictional scholar into an admirable real-life scholar, thought that Holger the Dane was a real historical hero, glorified by the English poet Ted Hughes (1930-1998), the husband of the tragic American poetess Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), who committed suicide. In fact, “Baron Bodissey” wrote that Ted Hughes “wrote a number of poems that touched on the men of the North,” such as The warriors of the North (Bodissey 2006). “Baron Bodissey” called Hughes “my favourite English poet” (Bodissey 2006; Breivik 2011, p. 240).

Ted Hughes wrote some very violent and shocking poetry about cannibalism, disembowelment and other horrific subjects. One of the poems of Ted Hughes that Breivik likes most is Gog, a title that harks back to the apocalyptic Biblical “battle of Gog and Magog.” In fact, that “battle” is a prophecy in which Yahweh tell the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to the rebellious “Gog of the Land of Magog,” that He will drag Gog from the North to the mountains of Israel, kill him, and give his corpse as food to wild birds and animals (Ezekiel 38-39). Here is some of the text of Hughes’ violent poem, in which the poet assumes the character of the rebellious Gog:

 

I woke to a shout: ‘I am Alpha and Omega!’ / Rocks and a few trees trembled / Deep in their own country / I ran and an absence bounded beside me / The dog’s god is a scrap dropped from the table / The mouse’s savior is a ripe wheat grain – hearing the messiah cry / My mouth widens in adoration / How far are the mosses! / They cushion themselves on the silence / The dust, too, is replete / The air wants for nothing / What was my error? My skull has sealed it out / My great bones are massed in me / They beat on the earth, my song excites them / I do not look at the rocks and trees, I am frightened of what they see / I listen to the song jarring my mouth / Where the skull-rooted teeth are in possession / I am massive on earth / My feetbones [sic] beat on the earth / Over the sound of motherly weeping …


According to Jack Vance’s “Baron Bodissey,” Ted Hughes glorified the mythical eight-century Danish warrior in his poem The Warriors of the North. Moreover, writes “Baron Bodissey,” that is, Jack Vance, “The third section of Ted Hughes’ Gog evokes Holger the most strongly. This is a deep, dark, and difficult poem, and parts of it are not suitable for family reading. It deals with the lifelong and ultimately futile efforts of Everyman to escape from the softness and weakness of his mother and establish his own manhood without being sucked in and corrupted by the softness and weakness of his wife.” (Bodissey 2006; Breivik 2011, pp. 242-243). Here is the opening stanza of the third section of Gog – according to “Baron Bodissey”:

 

Out through the dark archway of earth, under the ancient lintel overwritten with roots / Out between the granite jambs, gallops the hooded horseman of iron / Out of the wound-gash in the earth, the horseman mounts, shaking his plumes clear of dark soil / Out of the blood-dark womb, gallops bowed the horseman of iron / The blood-crossed Knight, the Holy Warrior, hooded with iron, the seraph of the bleak edge / Gallops along the world’s ridge in moonlight (Bodissey 2006; Breivik 2011, p. 242).


This is the kind of stuff that Breivik’s tormented mind is filled with. In his fantasy, he is the iron knight that gallops out of his mother’s blood-dark womb to kill those who have defiled her, chief among whom is his stepfather, Tore, who infected Anders’ mother with a horrible disease that destroyed her life and gave her the mind of a ten-year-old.

Breivik blames his mother rather than his father for his parents’ divorces and for the emotional pain they inflicted on him. This is revealed by a section of his “compendium” that blames women rather than men for divorce and childlessness. He quotes a fictional columnist named “Molly Watson” who has purportedly blamed modern men for the “epidemic” of not having children in modern society. In fact, “Molly Watson” is the invention of a misogynist Norwegian blogger who calls himself Fjordman and who blames women for the ills of our society:

 

What happened to the slogan “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”? I’d just like to remind Ms. Watson that it was in fact the women who started this whole “single is best” culture that now permeates much of the West. Since women initiate most divorces and a divorce can potentially mean financial ruin for a man, it shouldn’t really be too surprising that many men hesitate to get involved at all. As one man put it: “I don’t think I’ll get married again. I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.” At the same time, women during the past few decades have made it a lot easier to have a girlfriend without getting married. So women make it riskier to get married and easier to stay unmarried, and then they wonder why men “won’t commit?” Maybe too many women didn’t think all this feminism stuff quite through before jumping on the bandwagon? (Breivik 2011, p. 349; Fjordman 2005).


Anders Behring Breivik also quoted Diana West, an nee-conservative American columnist who had published a book bemoaning the ideas and state of womanhood:

 

She believes that “Where womanhood stands today is deeply affected by the death of grown-up. I would say the sexualised female is part of the phenomenon I’m talking about, so I don’t think they’re immune to the death of the grown-up. Women are still emulating young fashion. Where sex is more available, there are no longer the same incentives building toward married life, which once was a big motivation toward the maturing process.” Is she right? Have we become a civilisation of Peter Pans refusing to grow up? Have we been cut off from the past by disparaging everything old as outmoded? I know blogger Conservative Swede, who likes Friedrich Nietzsche, thinks we suffer from “slave morality,” but I sometimes wonder whether we suffer from child morality rather than slave morality. However, there are other forces at work here as well. (Breivik 2011, p. 360; cf. West 2007).


Was Breivik thinking of his infantile mother whose infection by his stepfather gave her a ten-year-old child’s mind when he complained about “child morality”?

The last 170 pages of Breivik’s 1516-page “European Declaration of Independence” are a bizarre interview with himself, in which he asks himself the questions and answers them as well. Breivik grandiosely titled it “Interview with a Justiciar Knight Commander of the PCCTS, Knights Templar” (Breivik 2011, p. 1349). The PCCTS, you will recall, is Breivik’s acronym for Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici, the Latin name of the medieval Knights Templar, which means the “Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon” (Breivik 2011, p. 812). The American journalist has observed that “there is a singular creepiness to a person who will conduct and publish a conversation with himself – but it’s perfectly in keeping with the horrors he would eventually cause” (Friedlander 2011). In fact, this self-interview is hardly supervising in a borderline personality with extreme narcissistic pathology. This young man has only himself: he has been unable to forge any mature and satisfying emotional ties with any other person.

After his parents’ divorce and his mother’s remarriage, the boy Anders was raised by his mother’s third husband, Tore, an officer in the Norwegian army. Anders described his stepfather, who had “500 sexual liaisons” and who had infected his mother with the disease that caused her total physical and mental deterioration, as a “sexual beast,” but also as a weak man who may have ravaged his mother sexually but who also let her dominate the family and “feminise” Anders himself:

 

Tore, my stepfather, worked as a major in the Norwegian military and is now retired. I still have contact with him although now he spends most his time (retirement) with prostitutes in Thailand. He is a very primitive sexual beast but at the same time a very likable and good guy. I can’t say I approve of that lifestyle although I can’t really blame him when I see today’s Marxist social structures. So all in all, I consider myself privileged and I feel I have had a privileged upbringing with responsible and intelligent people around me. I do not approve of the super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing though as it completely lacked discipline and has contributed to feminise me to a certain degree (Breivik 2011, p. 1387).


The fear of being feminine, castrated, emasculated, unmanned, lies deep in Breivik’s psyche. In order to combat this fear, he has denied his “feminized” self and has unconsciously created an internal image of himself as an iron knight, masculine, strong, powerful, aggressive, violent, a man who can kill in the name of his ideals. Breivik is very interested in his three names. His Christian name, Anders, derives from the old Greek word for man, male and warrior. In his bizarre self-interview at the end of his “Declaration of Independence,” Breivik said that he was very proud of his name, of his race, and of his ancestors:

 

I am very proud of my Viking heritage. My name, Breivik, is a location name from northern Norway, and can be dated back to even before the Viking era. Behring is a pre-Christian Germanic name which is derived from Behr, the Germanic word for Bear (or “those who are protected by the bear”). Anders (Andreas) is the Scandinavian equivalent of; [sic] English: Andrew, Greek: Andreus, Italian: Andrea, Russian: Andrey. I have managed to trace the Behring side of my family tree back to around 1680 and know that the origin of the name reaches all the way back to a Teutonic German family which used the Bear in their coat of arms. There is a church in Southern Germany that carries my family’s coat of arms (a black bear on yellow background) or the coat of arms of my ancestor, Behr/Ber/Bear. It is likely that I am somehow related to the great Danish explorer Bering (Bering Island, Bering strait, Bering sea) although I have been unable to trace my lineage to his particular family branch. As the German Ber/Bear clan grew up to a millennia [sic] ago, they added an h and eventually “ring” to establish a distinction between the various related families. Animal names violated the principles of Christendom so adding various endings might have been as a result of the increasing convertion [sic] to Christianity approximately a thousand years ago. (Breivik 2011, p. 1400).


The German word for bear is Baer, but that is not the important thing about Breivik’s ancestry fantasy. The key emotional fact is that he has kept his mother’s maiden name as his middle name. This indicates his symbiotic attachment to her. One of the ways in which he has convinced himself that he was not a “feminized” sissy but a masculine and powerful male was wearing a diver’s suit with a “Marxist Hunter” badge on his sleeve and a powerful sniper’s gun in his hands:

 

 

In his deepest feelings, Anders Behring Breivik experienced the “lack of discipline” at home as an emotional abandonment, not only by his father but also, and perhaps even more so, by his mother. His immature and narcissistic mother could not love him normally. She abandoned him emotionally when he tried to break away from her, thus keeping him under her tight symbiotic dominance. In fact, the “freedom” he enjoyed was an emotional abandonment (Mahler & al. 1975). His “matriarchal upbringing” had “feminized” him. He was enraged at his mother, whom he saw as the source of all his emotional troubles. At one point his anti-feminism and misogyny enraged his brother’s girlfriend so much that she “almost” strangled him (Breivik 2011, p. 1387).

The Muslims that Anders hates so much may be an unconscious stand-in for his rejecting father and for his abusive stepfather. In his feelings, they have “defiled” and polluted Europe, just as his stepfather had defiled and infected his mother. As a boy, Anders remembers being victimized by Muslim gangs in Oslo. The Muslims became the embodiment of evil to him.  In his “compendium” he wrote of his childhood traumatization by the Muslims:

 

Even at that time, the Muslim gangs were very dominating in Oslo East and in inner city Oslo. They even arranged “raids” in Oslo West occasionally, subduing the native youths (kuffars) and collecting Jizya [the traditional tax on non-Muslims in Muslim countries] from them (in the form of cell phones, cash, sunglasses etc) … I remember they systematically harassed, robbed and beat ethnic Norwegian youngsters who were unfortunate enough to not have the right affiliations. Muslim youths called the ethnic Norwegians “poteter” (potatoes, a derogatory term used by Muslims to describe ethnic Norwegians). These people occasionally raped the so called “potato whores” (Breivik 2011, p. 1389).


Did Anders unconsciously associate his mother, whom the “sexual beast” that was his stepfather had ravaged and destroyed, with the Norwegian “potato whores” whom the Muslim gangs had raped and he did nothing to save them? Is there a hidden connection between his sexual life, his mother and sister, and his murderous act? Could it be that by murdering the Labor Party members he was also unconsciously murdering his stepfather, a Labor Party adherent, who had infected his mother with the sexually transmitted disease that turned her into a physical and emotional wreck?

Breivik himself connected his forthcoming “martyrdom” with his abandonment of his sexuality. From a promiscuous “sexual beast” like his stepfather, he had gradually become an abstinent monk. His ambivalence about the Muslims who raped the Norwegian women is betrayed by the following passage, in which tragedy alternates with heavy irony:

 

You become a zombie where the highlight of your day is purchasing a 1000 Euro garment or a 100 Euro sushi meal, or getting a blowjob [sic] from someone you met outside the toilet at a club that Saturday. On your way home you see a girl getting gang-raped by 4 Somalis. You don’t offer it much thought as the slag probably had it coming anyway… Why should you risk your health for someone you don’t know? [emphasis added] And the poor Somalis are probably only acting out as a result of centuries of European colonialism.  Poor fellas. Society should take responsibility and offer these underprivileged individuals better accommodations and more rights, perhaps affirmative action would ensure that they feel at home, that they finally would like us? How can we be so cruel and treat them this way? (Breivik 2011, pp. 1401-1402).


Ironically, and tragically, by trying to get himself killed and to become a martyr, Anders Breivik was unconsciously trying to become a shaheed, just like a Muslim suicide bomber: This is yet another indication of his ambivalent identification with the very Muslims whom he hates so much, those very Muslims who symbolize evil in his convoluted fantasy, but who also seem to stand for the sexual power, violence and strength that obsess this tragic murderous “knight,” as well as for his oppressed, rejected and downtrodden image of himself.

A couple of years before committing his “act of martyrdom,” Anders Breivik began to avoid sexual relations. In the fall of 2009 he went to Hungary on a five-day partying binge to celebrate a friend’s birthday. He later wrote, “Hungarian girls are hot as hell, too bad I have to avoid relationships for the good of my mission” (Breivik 2011, p. 1415). Here is what he had to say about his relationships with women and his planned martyrdom:

 

As for girlfriends; I do get the occasional lead, or the occasional girl making a move, especially now a day [sic] as I’m fit like hell and feel great. But I’m trying to avoid relationships as it would only complicate my plans and it may jeopardize my operation. And I don’t feel comfortable manipulating girls any more into one night stands. I am not that person any more. I did screw two girls in Prague though, but that was mainly because it was a realistic chance that I would end up dead during the process of establishing a weapons connection. I won’t make any effort to try to completely justify it though. Human males are imperfect by default as they are plagued by their biological needs. Nevertheless, screwing around outside of marriage is after all a relatively small sin compared to the huge amounts of grace I am about to generate with my martyrdom operation. And it is essential that you do what is required to keep moral and motivation at a high level; especially, just prior to operation critical moments. I have reserved 2000 Euro from my operations budget which I intend to spend on a high quality model escort girl 1 week prior to execution of the mission. I will probably arrange that just before or after I attend my final martyrs mass in Frogner Church. It will contribute to ease my mind as I imagine I will get tense and very nervous. It is easier to face death if you know you are biologically, mentally and spiritually at ease (Breivik 2011, p. 1424).


Among the key questions about this tragedy are “Why now?” and “Why this particular individual?” These are very difficult questions to answer. One way to try to answer them is to examine the events in Anders Behring Breivik’s life prior to the massacre. In his “compendium” he listed eight separate humiliations involving physical violence that he had suffered at the hands of Muslims, from the time when he was fifteen (about the time his father refused to see him again) until he was twenty-one. He was also threatened with physical violence on ten other occasions (Breivik 2011, pp. 1393-1395). He had also helplessly watched Norwegian girls being gang-raped by Muslims (ibid. pp. 1401-1402). There is little doubt that all this not only enraged Anders but also constituted deep narcissistic injuries that damaged his already-precarious self-esteem.

Anders Behring Breivik committed the tragic massacre when he was thirty-two, however, and he did not aim to kill Muslims: he murdered scores of his fellow Norwegians, himself dressed up as a Norwegian policeman. The disguise betrays his inner ambivalence and his diffuse sense of self: part of him wants to keep law and order, to act like a policeman, while another part of him wants to kill, to murder, to wreak havoc, to avenge himself for all the rejections and humiliations he had suffered, to break away from his mother’s emotional stranglehold on him. The Norwegian Labor Party had come to symbolize his bad mother:

 

My parents were not politically active but supported the policies of the Norwegian Labor Party which was common for most individuals working in the public sector. My stepfather, Tore, was a moderately right wing while my stepmother, Tove, was a moderate cultural Marxist and feminist. My mom, Wenche, was an apolitical moderate feminist … I remember the occasional crackdowns on right wing youth movements during this period. The police raided them several times, called their parents and invested a lot of resources on squashing the right wing movement all over Norway. Blitz and other extreme left, SOS Rasisme [sic] and the hip-hop community on the other hand received public funding. The Blitz house, a building they had occupied a few decades earlier, was subsidised and under protection by the government in Oslo and still is even today. They are often referred to as the “storm troops” of the Norwegian Labour Party. The government subsidy of the apartment block were Blitz resides equates to more than 3 million USD per year alone. The violent Marxist group “SOS Rasisme” [sic] receives 2-3 million NOK annually. It’s disgusting (Breivik 2011, pp. 1386, 1391).


So, the anonymous British journalist of The Telegraph was only partly right. It was not only Anders Behring Breivik’s patricidal rage that moved this tragic young man, whose middle name is his mother’s maiden name, to commit his horrendous massacre. This “mummy’s boy” is also seething with unconscious matricidal rage whose object is his infantile, narcissistic and symbiotic mother. Breivik suffers from the diffuse sense of self which is common in borderline personality disorders. His massacre was a desperate attempt to establish a clear sense of who he was. He wanted to be a “Justiciar Knight,” a latter-day Knight Templar, who would save his idealized mother, Europe, or Norway, from the ravages of the social-democratic Norwegian Labor Party, which, he was convinced, had destroyed “her” by letting all those “evil Muslims into “her.” This party is led by none other than the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, the “bad father,” whose Christian name is that of Anders’ father, Jens Breivik. Anders’ matricidal rage merged with his patricidal anger, and above all, with his quest for self, and for liberation from his fusional mother, to produce one of the most tragic civilian massacres in recent memory. The tragic massacre was the only way this tormented young man could express his desperate quest for his father’s love and for his liberation from his fusional mother.

 

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