Breivik: A Victim of Collective Psychosis (Part I)

EDITORIAL, 4 Jun 2012

#220 | Johan Galtung

An individual psychosis setting him apart from others, also in daily life, does not seem to fit his case.  But there is another form of psychosis that fits his narcissistic hatred and paranoid violence so removed from the average. His psychosis is produced and triggered by the polarization-escalation aspect of conflict, not easily captured by individualizing psychiatry as his daily life attitude and behavior may be (near) normal. His psychosis is collective, shared. His ego is part of a real or imagined collectivity that may include those higher up; not an individual disorder associated with the deviant lower down.  There is a class aspect to psychosis, marginalizing the individual cases, catapulting extremist collective psychopaths into top power.

Polarization-escalation is part of conflict dynamics; structuring the attitudinal and behavioral space within and around the victim in an “us vs them” dichotomy.  This gives identity and meaning to “us”, and monolithic, evil, unity to “them”.  Within the poles all relations are positive, between all are negative; essentializing both. Not only is “us” cohesive, everything mutually supportive, but so is “them”; not only are the poles irreconcilably contradictory, but so are all elements in “us” to all in “them”. Black-white is the world.

When the conflict is salient, the whole system is psychopathic. Add the hormones disposing the body for “flight or fight” to this mental and social “stripping for action”, and violence escalates, only constrained by available means of destruction and available targets.

The paranoia focuses on the “enemy within”, “them in us” traitor in one’s own camp and on being “soft on the enemy” in mental space.

The narcissism may become Chosenness, of the exceptional “us” or individual “me”, for the final solution of expelling, killing “them”.  The result are polarized, autistic, doped, self-dehumanized, game robotized, killers, like war psychotic soldiers. Like “soldier” Breivik.

The first conflict relevant for Breivik’s psychosis is neither the Cold War–East vs West–conflict, nor the Second World War–Allies vs Axis, Jews vs Nazis and anti-Semites, but “West-ism” vs Islamism; using  “ism” for the violence-prone versions.

The conflict dates from the 622 A.D., birth of Islam; seen as Christianity without Christ. The West has undergone changes from Christianity toward secularism, and from a community of believers headed by the Vatican toward a colonizing-imperializing state system, now regionalizing.  So has Islam, from ummah and caliphate toward a state system, clear in GCC (Golf Cooperation Council), less so in the Arab League, and much less so in the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). But the West-Islam conflict is there, with layers sedimented upon each other. The Crusades (1095-1291) are emblematic.  So is the idea of an EU-Arab “Eurabia” conspiracy of Muslim immigration in return for oil.

More recently there have been a series of USA-led coalitions, essentially Western, intervening violently in Muslim countries: Iraq 1990 and through the 90s, Afghanistan 2001-?, Iraq again 2003-?, Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Somalia; and others covertly (SEALs-drones). And then there are the Iraq attack on Kuwait (the 1899 UK de facto colonization is forgotten), 9/11, and “insurgency” when invaded.

Breivik’s calling was to kill the “enemy within”, “traitors”, multi-culturalists, the Labor Party and AUF (Workers’ Youth League) at Utöya; not Muslims in Norway or elsewhere. He sees treason as the root of the evil. The empathic “repentant sinner” is far removed from this repertory.

But there is another explanation: Breivik is carrier of more than one polarization. He is also a racist, protecting the genetic pool of the pure blue-eyed White-Western-Norwegian race against mixing. And a culturalist, protecting the pure Western-Norwegian culture against multi-culturalism. In Breivik the three polarizations synergize,  escalating into the extreme violence against the Labor Party.

In Norway, because that is the arena of the three conflicts: as victim of the fantasy of an Eurabia takeover, as threat to Norwegian racial purity, and to Norwegian-Christian-conservative culture. The three may look like variations over the islamophobic theme, but they are not. As pointed out by Norwegian bishop Tor B. Jörgensen:

“The church in Norway is described as a “Labor Party” church.

“It has lost any credibility and appears without appeal to people in general. This multicultural version of the church is a “suicide church”. It will die out. Breivik wants a new reformation where the church comes back to its roots and can become a spiritual force in society; unitary, strong and attractive. And he launches the idea of a big European church assembly as a part of this church reconstruction”. (KK, Klassekampen, 26-Apr-2012)

This does not assume islamophobia; nor does his admonition to all cultures and races to love their own kind. His principal enemy is the Traitor, and No. 1 is the Norwegian Labor Party. He refuses “to fight and die for a multiculturalist Norwegian government in Afghanistan.”

This places him on the extreme right focused on race and nation and purity; the left being more concerned with class and equality. A term often used is “fascism”, but that constructs him as anti-Semitic and he is not. Some quotes from the Compendium (pp.1356, 73):

“The ‘holocaust religion’ has grown into a destructive anti-European monster which prevents nationalistic doctrines from emerging. And without nationalistic doctrines Europe will wither and die, which we are seeing today.–while I am strong supporter of all patriotic Jews I acknowledge that the anti-European holocaust religion must be deconstructed, and replaced with an anti-islamic version.–We are talking about a disproportion of 6 million killed Jews vs. 300 million massacred Jews-Christians-Hindus-Buddhists-Zoroastrians-animists.

“A majority of Western European right wing groups are all anti-Islamisation and pro-Israel. Israel is at the forefront of global Jihad. If Israel falls, then all the forces currently targeting Israel (Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, financed by Saudi, Iran etc.) will start to focus full heartedly on Europe”.

Of course anti-islamism is similar to anti-semitism.  Polarization-escalation makes all extremisms similar, not necessarily because they learn from each other (Breivik: “copy your enemies, learn from the professionals”, bin Laden, Al Qa’ida, IRA), but more importantly because they are consequences of the same polarization process.

APPENDIX: Breivik’s Three Conflicts – Some Quotes:


“It is significant that one of the few place names on earth that reminds us not of the victory of the winners but rather the slaughter of the losers, concerns a genocide of Hindus by the Moslems.” (p. 13).  “Since the creation of Islam in the 7th century and up to this day, the Islamic Jihad has systematically killed more than 300 million non-Muslims and tortured and enslaved more than 500 million individuals.  Since 9/11 2001, more than 12,000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred around the world–This trend will continue as long as there are non-Muslim targets available and as long as Islam continues to exist.” (p. 39)–Assyrian, Coptic, Maronite, Hindu genocides in the Middle East.” (p. 1366)

“–the “holocaust religion is one of the major factors that are making Europe vulnerable and susceptible to Islamic conquest through demographical warfare.” (p. 1366).

“–we, the pro multi-ethnicity and pro-Israel/Jewish factions, do in fact expect future support from all non-Muslim right wing minority groups and indirect support from the Israel right wing.” (p. 303).

“Islam is utterly incompatible with human liberty–(p. 560); Islam is a totalitarian ideology–(p. 538); “It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace” (p. 539); “Islam is a compressed version of all the darkest aspects of masculinity” (p. 352); “The best way to deal with the Islamic world is to have as little to do with it as possible” (p. 330);


“A 2002 study found the prevalence of blue eye color among European-Americans in the United States to be 57.4 percent for those born from 1899 through 1905 compared with 33.8 percent for those born from 1936 through 1951. Blue eyes have become increasingly rare among American children, with only one out of every six–16.6 percent–of the total United States population having  blue eyes.–A century ago, 80 percent of people married within their ethnic group.”

“The key to our survival is to liberalize the strict bio-technology laws and to commercialize and glorify repro-genetics while there is still a sustainable selection of Nordic of 99% purity left (the window of opportunity will be forever lost within 150 years).–we will be able to purify our tribe and add several IQ points to our offspring in the same process.” (p. 1159). “Race-mixing leads to suicidal children with severe mental problems” (p. 1160.


“Western Europe is heading in a direction where they are going to become colonies of their former colonies.–Why do European lack cultural and political self confidence to prevent its own suicide?–My own ancestors, the Vikings, were known to be the most vicious and brutal warriors of the age and would raid significantly more developed cultures even when outnumbered 10 to 1.  Instead of looking at genes we will find the answer if we look at the psychological condition of the modern European. How did we end up as cowardly eunuchs applauding our own cultural and demographic demise? The essence is that–we didn’t persecute the Marxists after WW2. If we had executed each and every Marxist and banned Marxist doctrines–the cultural as well–internationalism, extreme feminism, anti-elitism, anti-nationalism, we would not be in the current situation.” (p. 733). “A multiculturalist is just as bad as a Nazi, which again is just as bad as a true Muslim, a communist or a fascist.” (p.1237).

“So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural marxists-“. (p. 1163).

“conservative culturalists are royalists–genetically identity a suitable candidate from the Fairhair-Hårfagre line–coached by a neighboring royal family for at least three years before coronation.”


Johan Galtung, a Professor of Peace Studies, is Rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 Jun 2012.

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One Response to “Breivik: A Victim of Collective Psychosis (Part I)”

  1. David Doerr says:

    One reason for the decline of Indo-European culture in the United States and Europe is rooted in the fact that the degree of ignorance regarding the importance of optimum nutrition in relation to social well-being is great. Human behavior is affected by social and psychological realities; yet it is a mistake to fail to perceive the effect that poor nutritional habits have on stress levels and behavior. Too much sugar in the diet can generate the agressive symptoms that are linked to hypoglycemia, for example. Pernicious anemia (which results from a lack of vitamin B12) not only causes physical problems; it causes mental problems. When we study criminal behavior, or the behavior of tyrannical leadership, we should first consider the nature of the offender’s diet – to examine it for clues as to why their mind and body have gravitated towards extreme responses to social situations. Another factor in the decline of Western civilization is that the Gospel has become too institutionalized. People keep God “at a distance”, rather than seeking to speak directly to God. Without a deeper understanding of metaphysics, (for example, the perception of signs and revelations), theology is just a psychological reality that is grounded in rituals and ceremonies. It is the strongest temptation for leaders of massive religious institutions to devote themselves to maintaining the institution, rather than to promoting knowledge of the One God. When you let the light of the knowledge of God die out, there go the Elves.