Tag: Katie Hopkins

Brendan Mason’s brutal murder reflects the darkest consequence of bias motivated behaviour.


Brendan Mason, who was brutally murdered by two young men he thought were his friends.
Picture courtesy of the Leicester Mercury

Warning: this article was very distressing to write, and is likely to be very upsetting to read.

Two men who filmed themselves savagely beating a young man with learning difficulties and taunting him, telling him to “smile for the camera”, have been sentenced by Leicester crown court to life imprisonment for his murder. 

In the early hours of 5 July last year, Joshua Hack, aged 21, and Keith Lowe, 22, lured Brendan Mason, a 23 year old man with learning difficulties, to a park, where they said they wanted to spend time with him. Mason believed the two men to be his friends.

When the three of them arrived at the park, Hack and Lowe hung Mason from a tree. They took turns hitting him while the other held him down for several hours, cruelly laughing and taunting him. 

Mason was beaten unconscious, the two young men stripped him naked and threw his body in a pond, leaving him for dead in Abbey Park, Leicester. He was found by park groundsmen at 7.40 am naked, unconscious and bleeding and was airlifted to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry. 

Medics discovered Mason had 99 separate injuries to his head and body, including brain injury, five broken ribs and a collapsed lung. He died from his injuries later that day.

Hack previously admitted murder. However, Lowe denied it.  However, he was forced to change his plea four days into his trial, after police produced video as evidence of what he did, which he had tried to delete from his phone. 

The court heard the attack had been planned the night before and that Hack and Lowe misinterpreted his behaviour towards a girl at a party. Prosecutor Miranda Moore QC said: “They were describing Brendan as a paedophile and nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mason’s learning difficulties led to a bias in how his ordinary social interactions were perceived.  

She added that police had recovered a “‘trophy’ picture of Lowe standing behind the naked and beaten Brendan, who is sitting cross-legged on the floor”.

A second video, lasting 53 seconds, was deliberately filmed on the mobile phone for others to see. The police managed to retrieve it from cloud storage, showing Lowe taking a direct part in the beating. Lowe had attempted to delete the footage from his phone.

 Moore said: “The audio that goes with it makes that clear.”

The court heard that in the second video, Lowe says: “Brendan. Look at him. Told you whatever he’d done to you, I’d do worse to him, told you that. Move your hand away from your face. Move your hand away from your face now.”

 Moore told the court:

“Officers were able to see the video on the Cloud, showing an unfortunate scene.

It shows Brendan’s battered and naked body with Lowe landing blows.

It was being made for a third party to show them what happened to Brendan.”

The court was also presented with Facebook messages the pair were sending each other while they were in the park with Mason prior to the attack. They used the Facebook messages to plan the attack. Mason who had trusted the two men, believing they were his friends, had no idea to what was about to take place.

At 2:46am, Hack sent Lowe a message saying: “Just hit him and we can both ****off when he’s K’ Od.  Just do it dude.” 

Lowe replied: “Shall we do it because he’s f**ked me off with the lies.”

The court heard how Mason died from inflicted, brutal and unsurvivable brain injuries.

 Mason’s family said in a statement:

“It is not right how two evil people can do such a horrific thing and leave a massive hole in our lives that will never be filled again.

Brendan was a lovely young man and he was so happy. He had numerous learning difficulties and very poor vision.

Even though Brendan had numerous learning difficulties and was very easily led by others, he always knew right from wrong.

The police have been a big part of our life for the past seven months; they have been amazing, but there will never be closure for us.”

Sentencing the two men to life in prison, Judge Michael Chambers said: “You [Lowe and Hack] subjected him [Mason] to a brutal and sustained attack in which you caused him great pain and humiliation.

Brendan Mason was only 23 with his life before him. You subjected him to a merciless attack with extreme violence.

He was sadly a vulnerable young man with learning difficulties. He was kicked mercilessly while naked. The video found was a chilling and deeply disturbing recording of Brendan naked, being kicked repeatedly to the head.

He’s even told to remove his hands from his face so you can kick him. You subjected him to a brutal and sustained attack of extreme violence. You caused him great pain and humiliation.

This was a planned attack, during which you filmed each other assaulting him and you revelled in what you had done, bragging to others. You stripped him naked and left him unconscious. He died later that day.”

The judge added that Hack had lied in his first interview with the police and had even gone with friends to lay flowers at the scene where Mason’s body was found. He said Lowe had bleached his bloodstained trousers, washed his hooded top and hidden his blood-spattered shoes in a bid to cover his tracks.

Senior investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Mick Graham said after the trial: “Brendan was known to the defendants and considered them as friends, and they lured him to the park with the full intention of hurting him. Brendan was subjected to a vicious, sustained attack which was filmed by his attackers on their phones. He was left naked and alone in the park having been brutally beaten.”

Hack and Lowe were caught on CCTV footage casually walking into a McDonald’s after they had stripped, hung and then beaten Mason into unconsciousness, seriously and fatally injuring him, and leaving him for dead. Lowe had kept Mason’s mobile phone which he and his then girlfriend were using in the following days.

The growth of prejudice, discrimination and hate crime: Allport’s ladder

Gordon Allport studied the psychological, social, economic and political processes that create a society’s progression from prejudice and discrimination to violence, hate crime and eventually, if the process continues to unfold without restraint, to genocide. In his landmark exploration of how the Holocaust happened, Allport describes psychological and socio-political processes that foster increasing social prejudice and discrimination and he provides insight into how the unthinkable becomes socially and psychologically acceptable: it happens incrementally, because of a steady erosion of our moral and rational boundaries, and propaganda-driven changes in our attitudes towards “others” that advances culturally, by almost inscrutable degrees.

The process always begins with political scapegoating of a social group and with ideologies that identify that group as an “enemy” or a social “burden” in some way. A history of devaluation of the group that becomes the target, authoritarian culture, and the passivity of internal and external witnesses (bystanders) all contribute to the probability that violence against that group will develop, and ultimately, if the process is allowed to continue evolving, genocide.

Economic recession, uncertainty and authoritarian or totalitarian political systems contribute to shaping the social conditions that trigger Allport’s escalating scale of prejudice. The Conservatives are authoritarians, and prejudice towards vulnerable and socially protected minority groups is almost a cardinal Conservative trait.

Conservatives and the right more generally tend to view the social world hierarchically and are more likely than others to hold prejudices toward low-status groups. This is especially true of people who want their own group to dominate and be superior to other groups – a characteristic known as social dominance orientation. (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994). 

Neoliberalism, as an overarching political-economic project of the New Right, establishes and maintains social hierarchies and the strong competitive individualism embedded in neoliberal ideology sets up conflict over resources between social groups, undermining social cooperation and solidarity. 

As inequality has grown in the UK, poverty has also invariably increased, which has caused fear and resentment towards intentional, politically constructed scapegoats and outgroups. 

The nature of prejudice

Prejudice, which is based on unjustified generalisations about groups of people, is reductive, it obscures the complexity of the human experience because the person with prejudices oversimplifies the diversity of life found in a single society or throughout the world.  The rise in prejudice and discrimination in the UK is because of right wing ideology and mythology, designed purposefully to divert the public from the fact that they are being systematically dispossessed of their wealth by a minority, and to maintain the legitimacy (and growing wealth) of those perpetrators in power.

The media is far from objective, benign and politically neutral, in fact we have handful of offshore billionaires that have, along with the government, subverted democracy and established a cultural hegemony. This self-appointed elite are telling you that some human lives are worthless, whilst investing in their own, quite literally, at all cost to our society.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) reprimanded some British media outlets, particularly tabloid newspapers, for “offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology”.

In their report, the ECRI said hate speech was a serious problem in the UK. It cited Katie Hopkins’ infamous column in The Sun, where she likened refugees to “cockroaches” and sparked a scathing response from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the same newspaper’s debunked claim over “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis”

“ECRI urges the media to take stock of the importance of responsible reporting, not only to avoid perpetuating prejudice and biased information, but also to avoid harm to targeted persons or vulnerable groups,” the report concluded.

It also named David Cameron and Nigel Farage as among the British politicians and institutions accused of fuelling rising xenophobia in the UK as debate continues to rage over Brexit, the refugee crisis and terrorism.

It found a “number of areas of concern” over intolerant political discourse and hate speech, as well as violent racial and religious attacks.

The media is being used by and large as a right-wing outlet for political techniques of persuasion, our culture has been saturated with a pathological persuasion to hate others. And prejudice tends to multitask, it doesn’t prefer one social group. It grows.

We live in a society where more than one in two disabled people have experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace, according to research by the disability charity Scope.

The survey of 1,009 disabled UK adults during August 2016 reveals 53% have been bullied or harassed at work because of their disability.

We have a government that does not observe the basic rights of disabled people. Furthermore, the Conservatives have systematically contravened the human rights of disabled persons. This is a government that uses gaslighting to avoid dialogue and democratic accountability regarding the consequences of their draconian, discriminatory  and illegal policies. Techniques of neutralisation used by the government include the manipulative use of language that is designed to mislead, for example, using the word “help” and support” to describe punitive policies and harsh cuts to lifeline support for disabled people.

The stereotypical mainstream media portrayals of people with disability and medical conditions as “shirkers” and “fakes”, with a significant increase in articles focusing on disability benefit and fraud has impacted negatively on people’s views and perceptions of  disability related benefits, leading to perceptual bias. This was a tactical political move to de-empathise the public,  preempting any objection and backlash to the brutal cuts the Conservatives applied to disabled people’s lifeline social security.

There are political and economic constraints imposed on this group of people by a highly discriminatory government. This sends out a message to the public – that disabled people have fewer rights than other citizens; that disabled people are not experts of their own condition or experiences and need the state to “incentivise” them to “overcome” their disabilities, and institutionalised discrimination, and that it is okay to direct prejudice at disabled people as they are somehow “less” than other citizens. 

Policies are systemised, intentional political actions and reflect how the government thinks society ought to be. The majority of austerity cuts have been directed at those with disabilities. The recent removal of the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) work related activity component; the scrapping of the Independent Living Fund; the purposeful reduction in those people deemed eligible for ESA using an amended and harsher work capability assessment; the reduction in those deemed eligible for Personal Independent Payment and subsequent access to the motability scheme, may be regarded as punitive measures aimed at an “undeserving” group. Such policies have systematically stigmatised, outgrouped and ultimately, contributed to the cultural dehumanisation of disabled people.

The discriminatory cuts have caused ill people to feel desperate and worthless by depriving them of the practical means to live, and have become another means of promoting an ideology defined by exclusion and inequality. Many people with medical conditions have died as a consequence of not being able to meet their basic needs, people with mental distress and illness have been pushed over the precipice, and have taken their own lives.

There has been a 213 per cent rise in hate crimes against disabled people, with figures rising 40% per year from 2015. Lee Irving was brutally murdered in June, 2015. Irving had severe learning difficulties. He was bullied and tortured over several days at a house in Newcastle. When he died from his terrible injuries, his tormentors dumped his body on a footpath. Wheatley’s mother, Julie Mills, his then girlfriend Nicole Lawrence, 22, and his accomplice Barry Imray, 35, who also has learning difficulties, did nothing to protect Irving. They were bystanders Wheatley’s mother, Julie Mills, 52, his then girlfriend Nicole Lawrence, 22, and his accomplice Barry Imray, 35, who also has learning difficulties, did nothing to protect Irving. They were passive bystanders.

The justification narrative for the last two government’s targeted austerity policies, and the policies themselves have entailed negative role modelling which has influenced the attitudes and behaviours of the public. Hate crimes are bias motivated behaviours.

The major contributing factor to the increase in hate crime is the collective bias, attitudes and behaviours of the current government, which has perpetuated, permitted and endorsed prejudices against social groups, with a largely complicit media amplifying these prejudices. Their policies embed a punitive approach towards the poorest social groups. This in turn means that those administering the policies, such as staff at the department for work and pensions and job centres, for example, are also bound by punitive, authoritarian behaviours directed at a targeted group. 

As authority figures and role models, the government’s behaviour establishes a framework of acceptability. Parliamentary debates are conducted with a clear basis of one-upmanship and aggression rather than being founded on rational exchange. Indeed, Cameron openly sneered at rationality and didn’t engage in a democratic dialogue, instead he employed the tactics of a bully: denial, scapegoating, vilification, attempts at discrediting, smearing and character assassinations. This behaviour in turn gives wider society permission and approval to do the same.

Scapegoating has a wide range of focus: from “approved” enemies of very large groups of people down to the scapegoating of individuals by other individuals. The scapegoater’s target always experiences a terrible sense of being personally edited and re-written, with the inadequacies of the perpetrator inserted into public accounts of their character, isolation, ostracism, exclusion and sometimes, expulsion and elimination. The sense of isolation is often heightened by other people’s reluctance to become involved in challenging bullies, usually because of a bystander’s own discomfort and fear of reprisal. 

The consequences of bystander apathy

Hate crime directed at disabled people has steadily risen over the past five years, and is now at the highest level it’s ever been since records began. That’s the kind of society we have become. 

Prejudice and discrimination cause inequality, which in turn causes more prejudice and discrimination. It requires the linguistic downgrading of human life, it requires dehumanising metaphors: a dehumanising socio-political system using a dehumanising language, and it has now become normalised, familiar and all-pervasive: it has seeped almost unnoticed into our lives. It has started to erode the natural inhibitions that prevent us from inflicting harm on other human beings.

Perpetrators have become increasingly confident in the “validity” of their prejudice, the public are being systematically desensitised and indoctrinated. Mocking, negative stereotypes and negative images become a part of our everyday culture and language: hate speech is normalised, discriminatory policies and practices flourish, hate crimes – bias motivated behaviours – are permitted.

Because we have allowed this process to unfold, as a society. 

The Holocaust is the most thoroughly documented example of the extreme cruelty, savagery and hideousness of dehumanisation. It’s a little too easy to imagine that the Third Reich was an aberration. We can take the easy option and dismiss the Holocaust as a very unusual phenomenon – a mass insanity instigated by a small group of deranged ideologues who conspired to seize political power and exercise their monstrously evil will.

It’s comforting to imagine that these were uniquely cruel and savage people. However, one of the most disturbing discoveries about how the Holocaust happened is not that all of the Nazis were madmen and monsters. It’s that they were mostly ordinary human beings, in a society of ordinary citizens like you and I. 



Another bias motivated murder – Who killed Jo Cox?

Conservatives, cruelty and the collective unconscious: behind the cellar door


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Conservatives, cruelty and the collective unconscious

fastThis offensive image mocks the Stroke Association’s Act FAST poster – illustrating each of the charity’s three signs of a stroke, “Face, Arms and Speech”, with a picture of Ed Miliband, being mocked as a victim of brain damage.

The Conservatives, using social media accounts for Kensington and Chelsea borough, have been accused of circulating this offensive and callous graphic mocking Ed Miliband as a stroke victim, finishing with the phrase “Time to LOL.”

The entire Twitter account has since been deleted and the ward’s Facebook page has changed its name to “London parks and trees” and now, strangely, to “Parks Lnd.”

Since when, in the 21st century, did it become an acceptable part of democratic dialogue to attempt to ridicule and reduce political opponents by systematically mocking their physical characteristics? Or by contemptuously defining, discrediting and dismissing them as ill and disabled? Moreover, how has it become acceptable that ill and disabled people are held up as objects of political derision?

Amidst claims of an attempted cover-up, Campden’s three Tory councillors have denied having anything to do with the post. Councillor Catherine Faulkes said that she and her two elected colleagues do not run the page – but has refused to say who does.

She told the Mirror:“I don’t want to comment on who operates it. We’re investigating them and we’re investigating the Twitter account because there’s the possibility it might have been hacked.”

I don’t buy that. Conservatives have always coldly conceived society as a hierarchy of human value, and they have, from their pinnacle of supremicist, self-appointed authority, historically cast the poorest and the most vulnerable citizens as the putative “enemies of civilization.” Social Darwinism is written in bold throughout their policies.

There has never been a clearer contrast between the values and approach of the two main political parties: the Tories are undemocratic, they state plainly that some people’s lives don’t matter – the food bank debate and the bedroom tax debate are further examples of how Conservatives reduce human subjects to objects of derision.

While Labour MPs spoke out in the debates about the terrible hardships that vulnerable families in their constituencies are facing, we were faced with the unedifying spectacle of Tory MPs laughing, jeering and shouting their spiteful glee at the plight of those people that this government have intentionally impoverished – after all, policies are plain and legislated statements of intent.

By contrast, the Labour Party have fostered a counter-narrative that is decent, democratic, inclusive and about a fundamental equality of the worth of each human life, founded on a strong commitment to human rights – without which there can be no meaningful social justice and democracy.

The narcissism of nudging

Labour recognise human potential, and surely that is what progressive politics is about, ultimately: human and social development. The Tories, on the other hand, never fail to stifle our individual potential, social evolution and development.

Progressives liberated themselves from the pre-occupation with superficial characteristics and taxonomic ranking of human beings – the emphasis on “what” we are – and began to cherish “who” we are, delving into our human potential and celebrating  one o our greatest assets – our diversity – as much as our individual, equal worth.

The Conservatives have created a Darwinist socioeconomic landscape – they always do – and yet take it upon themselves to “civilise” we “irrational” heathens, using disdainful behaviourist nudges that deny our autonomy by acting upon us, telling us how to be, rather than acting for and with us. They construct rhetoric peppered with authoritarian morality, blame, ascribed motives – the poor are dismissed as “scroungers” for example. Projection is a defence process by which personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in others. It’s a bully’s way of protecting their ego – an assembled fantasy – from their psyche.

I have often thought that beneath the need to control others and cruel behaviour lies a profound emptiness. Scorn, spite, rage, anger, and hatred are ways of filling the emptiness. Perhaps some people believe it is better to feel sadistic than to feel nothing at all. To stop feeling, after all, is to die. Or perhaps investing such hatred in others is a way of undoing their own profound self-loathing.

We are being led by a group of people that have failed to grasp the myth of individualism: identity is a deceit, it is nothing more than a constructed, superficial mask that is tied to largely unconscious impulses. Whilst we, in appalled fascination, watch on, these preachers of materialism measure out our human worth in meagre pounds and pennies, whilst presenting us with reductive, impoverishing sermons on primitivity, dominance and cruelty. They ask us to blame ‘them’ not ‘us’ for the increasing problems we face as a society. 

Not content with scapegoating societies’ most vulnerable groups, the Conservatives want to take away their lifeline support as well,on the grounds that they are ‘non deserving.’

I’ve often wondered where does human cruelty towards fellow humans come from, and why do we permit it, as a so-called civilised society?

We are climbing Allport’s ladder

I’ve previously discussed Gordon Allport’s work which explored the psycho-sociological processes that led to the Holocaust. Allport knew that it’s crucial to recognise social prejudices and dehumanization, because these processes push our rational and moral boundaries, gradually eroding the natural inhibitions that prevent us from inflicting harm on other human beings. The stages of prejudice unfold, permitting bullying, cruelty, persecution and ultimately, Allport’s end-stage: systemic genocide.

It’s a social process of barely perceptible stages: the perpetrators become increasingly confident in the “validity” of their prejudice, the public are systematically desensitised and indoctrinated. Mocking, negative stereotypes and negative images become a part of our everyday culture and language: hate speech is normalised, discriminatory policies and practices flourish, hate crimes are permitted.

On a psychic level, our repressed, destructive urges; the reservoir of darkness that is our shadow selves; our uncivilised rage and fear – previously sublimated – are manipulated and directed at politically constructed scapegoats.

For me, Gordon Allport and Carl Jung respectively show us that when those who have never confronted our instinctive, collective fear of the dark are urged to open their own cellar door, it is others that are consumed by the ferocity of the straining beast that is found there.

Those right-wing critics of left-wing political correctness are wrong. Far from it stifling free speech, political correctness liberates us by actually acknowledging the straining beast within us all, and helps us to begin a dialogue about how we can help each other find our way in the dark. That has got to be so much better than denial and projection, which happens beyond the light of reflection, integration and consciousness. Hate speech isn’t free speech at all: it’s aim is to intimidate, silence and to close down democratic debate.

And the consequences of denial and projection are scapegoating, prejudice, discrimination, persecution of others, all of which may lead to genocide if we fail to address such social manifestations from our psyche.

Jungians believe that our own shadow contains and reflects the shadow of society, which is fed by ancestral, abandoned, neglected and repressed collective values: the collective unconscious. Our psyche is an assemblage of our timeless collective fantasies. There are shared, fundamental elements that make up the collective unconscious and generate a limiting framework around which our psychic material organises. Jung referred to those elements as archetypes.

We are much more than that which we choose, embody, perform, and identify with. The common importance of the collective unconscious makes people especially vulnerable to political manipulation, especially in an era of mass media.

Psychopathology is considered by Jungians to be the independent ability of the psyche to create morbidity, disorder, illness, abnormality and suffering in any part of its manifest behaviour and to imagine and experience life through a distorted perspective. Social psychology has shown us that even at a basic normative level, social group values, beliefs and behaviours are very vulnerable to manipulation and corruption. (See Milgram experiment, Stanford Prison experiment, for example.)

The medium is the message

The media is far from objective, benign and politically neutral, in fact we have handful of offshore billionaires that have subverted  democracy and established a cultural hegemony. This self-appointed elite are telling you that some human lives are worthless, whilst investing in their own, quite literally, at all cost to our society.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said recently that UK tabloid coverage of “immigration” is directly linked to the loss of life (of refugees) in the Mediterranean, for example. The media have created a category of others, and desensitised the public to the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded. Using the word “immigration” implies that people are travelling from choice. These people are not migrants: they are desperate refugees.

The United Nations statement says that an article in which Katie Hopkins described  refugees as “cockroaches” and “feral humans” resembled dehumanizing, pro-genocide propaganda. (See also – Media Migrant Propaganda ‘Can Cost Lives’ (Video).)

little girl

This dear human child tragically lost her precious life on Sunday.  Her “feral” family were fleeing for their lives.

They were trying to save her.

The number of people fleeing war, oppressive regimes, unspeakable horror, pain and absolute poverty in the Middle East and Africa has risen sharply in recent months. Around 65% of the refugees are from the Syrian civil war zone. Their desperation is being exploited by profiteering smugglers, linked with organised crime, who charge exorbitant fees for transport in often unseaworthy cargo vessels, cramming hundreds of human beings into locked holds.

It is now estimated that for every 1,000 refugees that are known to have crossed the Mediterranean, more than 46 lose their lives in shipwrecks. The actual number might be much higher.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Friday, the High Commissioner said tabloid “misinformation” about immigration was fed into a “nasty underbelly of racism” lurking beneath the migration issue. He noted that the media in Nazi Germany “described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches.”

“Under the guise of freedom of expression, [negative coverage is] being allowed to feed a vicious cycle of vilification, intolerance and politicization of migrants,” High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in the statement.

However, the word “migrant” implies choice of movement. These people are fleeing for their lives, they are not migrants: they are refugees.

Prejudice multitasks

For those of you that hate refugees, and fail to recognise others as being of equal worth to you, perhaps it’s worth considering that the Nazis didn’t simply exterminate the ethnic group of public choice, they also exterminated sick and disabled people, social democrats, socialists, trade unionists, freemasons, communists, and anarchists, the Roma, Slavs, Polish people, gay people, poor people, vagrants, pacifists, people with mental illness – including those with war-induced PTSD, unemployed people, drug addicts, people who were better artists than Hitler, and the list was continually extended. You see, prejudice and cruelty multi-task very well, and scapegoating and persecution doesn’t stay confined to the social group you may dislike: fascists are mercilessly fascists, regardless of who you are.

Jung once remarked on Hitler: “You know you could never talk to this man; because there is nobody there … It is not an individual; it is an entire nation.”  He was referring to the collective unconscious. I am reminded of ancient cultures sacrificing to their “Gods”, offering up their joys of cruelty to appease.

Conservatives are liturgists of competitive individualism, market forces and minarchism. The ecclesiastical procession of our own right-wing state is ritualistically sacrificing people to appease their own god: neoliberalism.

The ability to recognise and translate our collective, remnant, dark impulses, and excercise self-control is a rare and remarkable virtue. Yet the collective conscious contains all aspects of human nature: light and dark, beautiful and ugly, good and evil, if we would only turn to look at it.

The Holocaust is the most thoroughly documented example of the extreme savagery and hideousness of dehumanization.  It’s a little too easy to imagine that the Third Reich was an aberration. We can take the easy option and dismiss the Holocaust as a very unusual phenomenon – a mass insanity instigated by a small group of deranged ideologues who conspired to seize political power and exercise their monstrously evil will.

It’s comforting to imagine that these were uniquely cruel and savage people. However, one of the most disturbing discoveries about how the Holocaust happened is not that all of the Nazis were madmen and monsters. It’s that they were mostly ordinary human beings.

Behind the cellar door

My point is simply this: every one of us is vulnerable. Every single human being is susceptible to frailties – we are each partial, and easily compromised: open to the ravages of fear, doubt, insecurity, anger and loneliness, and to the shadow of our unchosen choices – the person we choose to be always invites a dark double – the person we choose not to be – the psychic twin we keep leashed deep in our psychic basement, as it were. The more we repress, the darker our shadow becomes, and the greater its influence.

By alienating our self and our own shared, instinctual foundation, we fail to recognise when it motivates us, animates us and directs our deeds. It is all to easy, therefore, for those who are politically motivated to manipulate our perceptions, to touch and rouse the ancient predatory instincts we all have locked away in the cellar of our psyche.

Perhaps a definition of evil is suffering transferred to others. In the process, whatever started the original pain is forgotten and the energy of it moves around amplifying revenge and cruelty until someone somewhere contains it, and transforms it by walking in the shoes of many others towards empathy, wisdom, kindness and compassion. We have that wonderful potential. All we need to realise it is the courage to face our selves. Beyond the cellar door. And by facing our selves, we recognise all others.

Anyone who has recognised transference as a potentially therapeutic tool in a group setting will tell you that emotions are a tangible, primordial, manifest life-force, moving indiscriminately, relentlessly from person to person, animating, hating, hurting, loving and healing. E-motion -> movement.

We are primarily emotional creatures. Advertisers and propagandists know this. Many of us deny it. However, as developed human beings we endeavour to learn and to recognise the base elements of the psyche and arbitrate: mature adults liberate their self, both from the deceptive cover of the persona, (some call this the ego – our superficial individual identity –  though the ego is also considered to be a mediator between self and society) and from the power of (universal and personal) unconscious impulses. But the more we repress, the more the leashed shadow strains for release from the force of our resistance.

Perhaps if we were to rename and redefine the shadow archetype as “teacher”, we would find the motivation and courage to face what is in the darkness of our collective basement. And learn.

Know thyself – Delphic maxim.

Manly P HallPicture courtesy of Robert Livingstone.


Here, I’ve used Jungian concepts as a frame of analysis. Jung provides us with an expansive frame of reference and an invaluable therapeutic tool, yet his work has all too often been devalued and dismissed as “new age mysticism.” But for me, any kind of personal development may be deemed “spiritual” without necessarily having any reference to a systemic religion.

It is proposed that Jung had a profound influence on the development of quantum theory through his own theory of synchronicity – as a mode of relationship that is acausal and non-local – an idea that influenced Wolfgang Pauli, in particular, as well as other physicists.

Jung’s archetypes have also been identified as universal and this seems to have been verified at an anthropological level.

They certainly have a powerful cross-cultural resonance.



I don’t make any money from my work. I am disabled because of illness and have a very limited income. But you can help by making a donation to help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.