“Every corner of the globe has torturers in some positions of authority: the police who beat and maimed a Haitian immigrant in
; the former testicle-crushing dictators of Central and South-America; Milosevic and his tyrannical rule in New York City ; Stalin; Saddam Hussein – the list goes on and on. From where does this hatred and violence come? Is it possible that the violence that is expressed politically, ethnically, racially, and religiously shares common determinants with the violence committed in an urban parking lot? [a case Pincus had referred to earlier where a pregnant woman that kidnapped when she came out from the supermarket with groceries, was raped and murdered brutally] I think it is likely that ostensible political and criminal violence spring from a similar source. Serbia
The most uncontrolled and far-reaching expression of hatred in the twentieth century has been that of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. I have always wondered what sort of person could perpetrate crimes against innocent men, women, and children in concentration camps; poison gas, burning, starvation, death marches, unrelenting forced labor, beating, sexual abuse, lethal medical “experiments”. Who could order such things? Who could carry out such orders, or even torture these victims autonomously?
Goldhagen, in his book "Hitler’s Willing Executioners", emphasizes the large numbers of ordinary Germans who actually participated in the Holocaust, by killing, torturing, and maiming Jews. He estimates that as many as 500,000 Germans were active perpetrators of murder. This is a large number, but in a country of sixty million why did some participate in the killing while the majority did not? [But why didn’t all these others intervene? What are the roots to that?] One possible answer might be that many of these killers could have been raised in hatred-filled and abusive households. Anti-Semitism may have been imbued with the mother’s milk, along with wife and child beating and other intrafamilial violence. I envision members of the death squads as young men who had been raised in lower-middle-class homes by brutish parents and whose fathers returned home from work drunk, beat their wives and children, fell into bed in stupor, and repeated this same sequence the next day. I would speculate that the murderers had themselves been abused, and their willingness to murder derived from this and the anti-Semitism of their environment. Societal approval of anti-Semitism and governmental approval of murder lifted the lid on the abuse-engendered impulse of the offenders. This theory has grown out of my research. It explains why the ordinary Germans who were not neurogically or mentally impaired carried out the urge to murder Jews under the Nazis. Many perpetrators, such as brutal concentration camp guards, could also have had neurologic or mental illnesses that augmented the viciousness of their behaviors once the societal lid that controls murder had been removed by the government so far as the Jews were concerned /.../
What if Trent had heard a political leader sat 'Women are our misfortune!' just as Hitler said 'The Jews are our misfortune!' A public condemnation of women and homosexuals as the hereditary carriers of social pathology would have dignified Trent's suffering and provided a social outlet for his hatred.
What if a Hitler-like political leader said that women make men work and then they steal the wealth that men amass, that they create pornography, transmit infectious diseases, are weak, subhuman, and defective? Hitler said this of the Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals. Such a message would probably have been as welcome to Trent as Hitler's was to many Germans.
What if Trent were released from prison and told that he had a glorious role to play in saving civilization and in creating a new and just society? That he, miserable Trent Scaggs, would be a leader in the elimination of women and homosexual? Imagine how Trent might behave if he were put in command of a camp in which these 'subhuman species' were concentrated, where he would be able to beat, rape, torture, maim, and murder as he wishes, his actions being condoned as ridding society and the world from the problems caused by females and homosexuals.
Is there some common element between the case of Trent Scaggs and the rise of the Nazis under Hitler? I have little data with which to answer that question, but the insight I have gained from my work with criminals suggests that Adolf Hitler and Trent Scaggs had a lot in common /.../
Like Trent Scaggs, who was paranoid and neurologically damaged, there is evidence that Hitler suffered from mental illness with paranoia. He had tremendous mood swings and was said to fly into rages and tirades on slight provocation. A contradiction, a criticism, or a doubt concerning the wisdom of something he had said or done, the anticipation of opposition, or a challenge only by implication might trigger an uncontrolled display of anger /.../
Is it not possible that there is a relationship between violence in the home and terrorism? Those in any society who support or participate in murder and terrorist acts have the 'respectability' of being violent for political or religious reasons, but the triad (child abuse, brain injury, and paranoia) does not know political, ethnic, or religious boundaries and could find its outlet in a 'worthy case'.
In a society that permits or encourages the stigmatization of a group or people, mental illness and or brain damage may not be necessary to produce homicidal violence. The violent impulses generated by abuse could be expressed by medically normals abused individuals in a sick society.
The unrestrained approval of violence in certain political parties and gangs may make such groups attractive to the abused. Although whether we have very little information about the family dynamics of the members of terrorist organizations. I believe that the history of physical and sexual abuse, and even mental illness, paranoia, and brain damage, is prevalent among them. If a society (defined as a country, political party, or a group) removed the demand that its members behave in a nonviolent manner toward its enemies, brain damage and mental illness would not be necessary to unleash the impulses to violence that were engendered by early abuse, if society says 'You are now free to rape, torture, and kill our enemies,' the abused may respond with enthusiasm. Not every American soldier in Vietnam committed atrocities, nor did every German in World War II, not every Arab in the PLO. What is the difference between the violent and nonviolent members of such societies? I would postulate that early childhood abuse distinguishes perpetrators from nonperpetrators.
In a sociological study of members of racist organizations in the United States, obtained at no little personal risk, Raphael Ezekiel pointed out a number of features in the backgrounds of members of hate groups that are reminiscent of the life of the very violent offenders I have evaluated. Most of Ezekiel's subjects had lost a parent by age seven, usually the father,. Stepfathers and the mother's boyfriends were typically described as cold, rough, and abusive. Connections with family outside the nuclear group were frail, and there was little parenting in depth through an extended family. Church and social agencies (other than police) played little or no modulating role in the families, and ties between sibling were minimal. Schooling was interrupted, with early truancy and dropouts prevalent.
Ezekiel write, 'A few members spoke spontaneously of paternal alcoholism and violence... I think that a lot was held back from me. [Some] members reported alcoholism...family violence, [and] serving time at detention centers, jails, or prisons. I am fairly sure...that there was a good deal more penal time than this. Several had been farmed out to foster homes during childhood. Alcoholism, violence, mental illness, paranoia, school failure, and medical/neurologic problems run through Ezekiel's entire account, suggestively reminiscent of the factors I have encountered in violent offenders.
The concept that violent impulses are engendered by the experiences of abuse and allowed expression in those abused individuals who also have endogenous neurologic and psychiatric vulnerability has very important implications for the reduction or prevention of violence. Effort directed at mitigating any one of the interacting factors that cause violence would be likely to have a major impact. The most effective action and possibly the easiest to accomplish, though, would be the prevention of child abuse through social and educational program. A major step in the primary prevention of violent crime can probably be achieved by a national effort to reduce or eliminate all use of corporal punishment by parents and teachers."