Skip to content

To destroy a people, first destroy their culture…

2017/06/04

Personality Decompensation, Wild Accusation and Black Magic

Wild accusation and black magic, like all the other taming tools of Totalitarian regimes, are nothing new, but in primitive civilizations and in prehistoric times, the craft of black magic was rather simple. The shaman had merely to destroy or mutilate a small statuette of the accused criminal, to point or thrust a special stick at the man himself, or to curse and berate him with furious words and gestures in order to bring his victim to collapse and death. In his blind acceptance of the magic ritual, the victim was possessed by fear, and often he gave himself up to the spell and just died (Malinowski).

This magic slaying of the foe has plural psychological implications. The victim of the magic spell was often looked upon as the representative of the tribal god, the internalized authority, and father. He must be killed because his very existence aroused guilt and remorse among his people. His death may silence the inner voices in every man, which warn against impending downfall. Sometimes the victim comes from a different tribe than that of his accusers. In this situation, the stranger is an easier scapegoat, and punishing him serves to still the clash of ambivalent feelings in the members of the killing tribe. Hate for an outsider checks and deflects the hate and aggression each man feels toward his own group and toward him. The more fear there is in a society, the more guilt each individual member of the society feels, the more need there is for internal scapegoats and external enemies. Internal Confusion Looks for Discharge in Outside Wars.

In a Totalitarian Cacotopia, the air is full of gossip, calumny, and rumor. Any accusation, even if it is false, has a greater influence on the citizenry than subsequent vindication. Bills of particulars, made out of whole cloth are manufactured against innocents, especially against former leaders, who have been able to develop some personal esteem and loyalty among their friends and followers. Trumped-up charges made against us always revive unconscious feelings of guilt and induce us to tremble.

In our analysis (thus far) of the psychological forces that lead prisoners of war and other political victims to confession and betrayal, we saw how strongly the sense of hidden guilt and doubt in each person impels them under strain to surrender to the demands and ideologies of the enemy. This same mechanism is at work constantly among the citizens exposed to Totalitarian groupthink. Accusations against others remind them of their own inner rebellions and hostilities, which they do not dare, bring out into the open, and so the accused, even when they are innocent, becomes the scapegoat for their private sense of guilt. Cowardice makes the other citizens of our mythical country turn away from the victim lest they be accused themselves.

The very fact that character assassination is possible reveals the frailty and sensitivity of human sympathy and empathy. Even in free, democratic societies, political campaigns are often conducted in an atmosphere of extravagant accusation and even wilder counter accusation. The moment the strategy of wild accusation, with all its disagreeable noises of vituperation and calumny, begins, we forget the strategic intention behind the words and find ourselves influenced by the shouting and name calling. “Maybe,” we say to ourselves, “there is something in this story.”

This, of course, is just what the slanderer wants. In the minds of the politicians, the illusion persists that the end justifies the means. Nevertheless, campaigns of slander produce paradoxical results because the very fact that an unfounded accusation has been made weakens the moral sense of both listener and accuser.

Edited excerpt from “The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing” (1956).  Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s