The Insanity of Sin

If Hitler had not done himself in and he had been put on trial, would the psychiatrists have been brought in to judge whether he was sane or insane when he ordered the killing of millions?

"It seems Adolph had issues surrounding his mother and perhaps an uneasy relationship with his father. We think that this may have disturbed his emotional development..."

You don't say! Are we moving 'beyond good and evil'? Isn't there a level on which every mass murderer could be designated as 'insane'? How does an investigation or a court come to the conclusion that someone was suffering 'psychosis' when they committed mass murder? Was Stalin just suffering from a 'psychotic episode'? Where do we stop? To my mind, which as we know is sometimes prone to eccentricities, declaring Breivik as someone who suffered acute psychosis or schizophrenia is a terrible insult to those who are genuinely mentally ill and who suffer from unwanted 'voices', delusions or illusions over which they have no personal control and the vast range of mental illnesses in existence.

I know a few people who suffer from schizophrenia. None of them have anything like the kind of terrible hatred that Breivik had for people he sees as 'unfit' to live. Even though they suffer greatly, they have an enormous amount of love and compassion for others. Some would do violence or injury to themselves, but they would never inflict anything like this on anyone else. Genuine schizophrenics are left to rot in their homes without care and to wander about the community trying to deal with their 'voices' and behaving very oddly in the eyes of the rest of society. They don't methodically shoot 69 people and orchestrate an intricate terror plot. Who else are we going to let off for being 'insane' or 'psychopathic' murderers? Shouldn't Tony Blair be in an asylum by now?


Pete said…
Come off it, he was obviously mental. His blog post just before the killing spree discuss his desire to see Europe restored to Catholicism, any one who wants that is by definition clinically insane
The Bones said…
Wasn't Hitler 'obviously insane'?
Pete said…
Would you say he was sane then?

I don't think anyone disputes that Brevik is insane, the question is ought he nonetheless to be punished. I think most psychiatrists are agreed that believing in a Catholic Europe, as Brevik did, is a sure sign of insanity. Now, extrapolating from this fact of insanity, the point is both 'should we punish an insane man who kills', but, also, 'should we declare insane those who have not killed but believe in a Catholic restoration'? I think this is a difficult question psychiatrists and prison officials will have to grapple with in the coming months
The Bones said…
What makes him 'insane' and other mass murderers culpable and responsible for their crimes? I think its pretty hard to put these people on a psychological spectrum of 'illness', given the gravity of the evil they committed.
Pete said…
I don't know how psychiatrists define insanity, or what factors lead the court to accept their medical diagnosis, but I'm sure it isn't just committing a murder. Your argument only holds up if you assume he was declared insane precisely because he murdered some people, but the grounds for this diagnosis will surely be based on other evidence and have followed lengthy scans, consultations, evaluations etc. Like I said, he believed in restoring Europe to Catholicism and making the Pope de facto ruler of Europe. That is grounds for insanity. Surely the courts would have to take such madcap beliefs into account when assessing his state of mind
The Bones said…
With Breivik it is already starting to look pretty arbitrary at what point psychiatrists declare someone insane.

That's the point of the blogpost.
The Bones said…
Sorry, can you also show me the declaration by Breivik that he wanted Europe under the rule of the Pope?
The Bones said…


Is there a 'scan' that says 'insane at time of mass murder'?

They're not saying he 'is insane' they are saying he 'was insane', rather conveniently, at the time of the mass murder!

He's only going to get off because he's a freemason. His loyalty was to his lodge, not to the Catholic Church. That's why he's going to be treated leniently.
The Bones said…
Pete, I suggest you get your own blog. You clearly feel very strongly about these things.
The Bones said…
Pete, you email me your evidence that Breivik wanted Europe under rule by Pope, implementing Catholic teachings - one of which is against murder, if I recall rightly, then I'll look into it and post it up if you have decent sources.

Aside from that, I'm not having you post your anti-Catholic garbage on my blog.

Nuff said.
"Would you say he was sane then?"

Yes. Horrifically, terrifyingly sane.

Wrong, very, very, wrong, about a great many things, mark you. But was he possessing full command of his (mistaken) faculties and is he therefore fully culpable for his unspeakable actions? Yes, I think so.

Evil is not something ad extra to man; it is not a temporary occurrence, something which descends on us like the mist, leads to tragedy, and goes, beyond our control. The rationality, the humanity, of even the most disgusting crimes is what makes them so very terrifying.
Pete said…
"Would you say he was sane then?"

I was referring to Hitler (in response to "Wasn't Hitler 'obviously insane'?"). My point is that it is very difficult to sustain the argument that a man who believed in a global conspiracy of masons was sane. That his solution was to exterminate an entire race while waging increasingly unwinnable wars offers further evidence. In fact, when it looked like Hitler had over-extended his armies, he hatched a plan to fire missiles at America (obviously this never transpired). By the end he was, as you know, convinced of the reality of his delusions, and would not be swayed from the Absolute Truth of Fascism.

Was he insane? Clearly. Was he culpable? Clearly. Insanity does not necessarily remove culpability. Surely to declare Hitler sane is to see sanity in his motives? Incidentally, the same goes for the Norwegian guy. It is the lack of correspondence between motive (restoring Europe to Catholicism) and act (killing liberals at a political gathering) that make him insane, because there really is no connection between the two. But when Catholic bloggers comment on Marxism, or the need to rid Europe of liberalism or multiculturalism and return to the faith, they are similarly insane, yet similarly culpable for their insanity
The Bones said…
So, bloggers are a bit like mass murderers or Hitler, in praying for the re-conversion of Europe and preaching the Gospel on the internet?

Now, who is being paranoid?
Pete said…
No, praying for reconversion is up to you. It is your call whether or not you think it would be better for (let's say) me to live under Catholic rule. But the intrusion of this belief into politics is the start of insanity. You know full well your views are in the minority, that's why there is no force of law or convention behind them. But you don't care whether there is popular support for your views, you are so convinced of the delusion that it would be better if we listened to you that it is a matter of little importance that Britain, on the whole, abhors your ideas. Take gay marriage. Most British people feel it is fair and reasonable. You don't. Therefore you will pull any trick you can to block a law that harms no one because you simply believe it ought not to exist. That is insanity, and a very dangerous thing
Scout said…
Bones, you don't seriously think Breivik is going to get special treatment because of the Freemasons, do you?

It is for the judge and the psychiatrists to determine the extent of his responsibility for his actions. Difficult for laymen like us to speculate on his state of mind, really, because we do not have the information or the training.

From what I have heard, Breivik was a sympathiser of some kind of disturbed and distorted variation of Catholicism. As an example, he is quoted as saying: "I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic." See:
The Bones said…
Scout, its a hunch. He is definitely a freemason. They tend to look after their own.
Fortiter Pugnem said…
Your post on Fr. Amorth is extremely relevant here. I remember him once suggesting that Hitler was probably perfectly possessed. Perfect possession is basically the state of both total sanity of the human and the complete control over him by Satan. Thus, the Antichrist is the obvious example of perfect possession. The Manson family serial killers were reportedly perfectly possessed. (So was Ted Bundy- but he received God's grace of conversion- so I heard).
Breivik may have been perfectly possessed. Whereas in obsession or ordinary possession a soul is obviously agitated by the demon, in perfect possession the victim is always willing to be possessed perfectly, and always acts normal. The person will eventually build up evil within himself and it will burst forth in a cataclysm of hate. Even during and after the evil event, they will not deny they did it, and will not give excuses. It is a subject too evil to discuss in detail without getting crreped out. This is exactly why everybody should always wear a St. Benedict's medal.
Pete, I'll sure pray for you.
Keep up the great work, Bones!
God Bless!

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