Pathology: A World
Out Of Control Ruled By Men
Who Are Obsessed With Control
By Wanda Marie Woodward
In 1963, a psychiatrist, J. M. MacDonald, published a paper titled “The Threat to Kill” in the American Journal of Psychiatry. His research of sadistic hospitalized patients who had threatened to kill identified three common behaviors for psychopathy that occurred during their childhood: bedwetting, firesetting, and cruelty to animals. Three years later, a paper was published in the same scholarly journal which stated that, based upon additional research, the “MacDonald Triad” was predictive of future criminal behavior. People who perform acts of cruelty to animals including those who severely neglect animals are particularly mentally disturbing. It has been stated that, as a young boy, George W. Bush had a fondness for putting firecrackers in the mouths of frogs and blowing them up. When I was in undergraduate school, my psychology professor relayed the story of an anxious woman who brought her eight (8) year old son to her because he was cutting open the stomachs of cats and birds. The professor told the classroom that he was a budding psychopath and there was likely nothing that was going to change that clinical diagnosis.
Narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy have one thing in common: they are disorders whose primary personality trait is the obsession with control, domination of, and power over others, whether that is people, animals, the environment, systems, or organizations. Mental health clinicians know that the prognosis for all three of these is extremely poor, particularly the latter two. The greatest fear of someone who has these disorders is to be, or be perceived as, vulnerable, weak, not in control, and imperfect. This is why they have a fear or hatred of women, and why women are devalued, denigrated, and subjugated----because feminine ways of being and ideologies are antithetical to control and domination of people, animals, or organizations. Feminine ways of being are about collaboration, caring, and compassion; in short, it is all about matters of the heart. A healthy feminine consciousness reflects a healthy Compassion Quotient. It is the unhealthy masculine pathology which reflects a person’s Control and Domination Quotient. Sharing power, relinquishing control to others, accepting responsibility and blame for wrongdoing, being truthful when it threatens one’s power, being gentle, kind, and compassionate, acknowledging one’s vulnerabilities and imperfections, and holding egalitarian socioeconomic values are all unacceptable to pathologically masculine individuals because it threatens their sense of self, their sense of being in control, dominating others, and being powerful; therefore, hierarchical sociocultural and economic power structures are a hallmark feature of societies where these people are in leadership because these individuals need hierarchical, non-egalitarian social, economic, and cultural power structures which both validate and underpin the psychological pathologies of these people. In short, to be pathologically masculine is to have limited compassion for others or to be morbidly heartless depending upon where one lies on the spectrum of pathology from mild to severe. Class structures of rich, middle, and poor class; capitalist economic structures which privilege a wealthy few and disadvantage the masses as well as pillage, plunder, and seek to master the natural environment; religious hierarchies which promulgate gender inequalities based upon an ideology of a superior male deity and human male superiority versus female inferiority; legal systems which provide “justice” to the wealthy elite while adversely impacting and marginalizing the poor; education systems which privilege the wealthy with high quality education and disenfranchise the poor are all aspects of hierarchical masculine systems. The degree to which these structures and organizations privilege a few versus psychologically and/or physically dominating, controlling, and destroying masses of people is the degree to which they are pathological. Yet these sociocultural institutions and structures are touted by many in the highest positions of power (males, of course, occupy most of the “highest positions of power” in the world) as “normal” and “beneficial” societal institutions and structures. “Beneficial” to whom? Of course, the greatest gain resides with those in the highest positions of power----males. We also know that most people in positions of power who resign or retire ensure that their family members and friends assume those roles. Since using propaganda has a result of social obedience and control, and of the public internalizing the “normality” of these otherwise unjust systems, it is necessary for those in these positions of power to engage in one of two methods to maintain their grip of power over the masses. In the example of so-called “democracies,” the power brokers must invest in media structures (radio, television, newspapers, public relations and advertising agencies, etc.), as well as give financial support to think tanks and research organizations. These organizations, in turn, provide data to the people in that society so as to influence and convince the listening public to make choices which are most beneficial to those in power even when those choices are not in the best interest of the people. In other words, data that would educate the public, for instance, regarding the deleterious effects of a product that is made by a corporation would not be disclosed to the public. Why? Because the top 10% of the wealthiest people have much of their wealth invested in corporations and some are even CEOs of these corporations. How many CEOs are males in America? In the United States, there are 1.6% female Fortune 500 CEOs versus 98.4% male Fortune 500 CEOs; there are 1.7% female Fortune 1000 CEOs versus 98.3% male Fortune 1000 CEOs (Catalyst, 2004). Males hold 92.1% while females hold 7.9% of the highest-ranking officership positions---chairman, vice chairman, CEO, president, COO, SEVP, and EVP. Of the line positions which have revenue generating or profit-and-loss responsibilities in corporations, males hold 90.1% while females hold 9.9%. Of the entire 110th U.S. Congressional membership, females hold 16% or 16 out of 100 U.S. Senate seats in Congress. Females hold 17% or 74 out of 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. That translates into 83.2% males and 16.8% females in the legislative (lawmaking) branch of the U.S. government. Of the current judicial branch, there is one female and eight males. The very first female district court judge was not appointed until 1949 by President Harry Truman and the practice of appointing females to judgeship roles did not become widespread until the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter appointed forty-one women to the federal bench, eleven to circuit courts, and thirty to district courts (Solomon, n.d.). It is a commonly held belief that whoever holds the majority of positions in business, government, and law also holds the most power. If we accept this as a truism, males unquestionably hold the most power not only in the U.S., but around the world. A noteworthy example of corporate power (which is a euphemism for “male power”) is Monsanto’s injection of cows with the rBGH growth hormone. It is a known carcinogenic, but Monsanto continues this practice. Additionally, Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto corporate attorney, joined the Food and Drug Administration to oversee policy development after his tenure with Monsanto (Smith, 2007). Whose interests did he side with after joining the FDA? Monsanto is also a leader in producing genetically modified foods. Smith (2007) states that many do not realize that implanting genetically engineered DNA into a plant disrupts a genetic sequence that has occurred for hundreds of millions of years and causes disturbances in the biochemistry of the plant. Scientists are still researching how this process creates mutations and can turn genes on or off, how it can alter RNA or plant proteins, produce allergies or toxicities, or other yet predicted genome effects. Bluntly announcing that “the use of manipulation, concealment, and corruption for the preservation and enhancement of corporate power” (p. i), Smith reveals that the desire to monopolize and corner the world’s food supply is what prevents the public from finding out about the toxic consequences of genetically modified foods.
The public is not told of these in-the-shadow alliances within and between corporations and organizations. This allows for a public to remain largely uninformed of the political and economic bedfellows that are globally rampant. The uninformed public continues to purchase a product that has harmful effects and, thus, the public is unwittingly making choices which are unsafe or dangerous to their well-being. The malignant mindset that is responsible for the development and manufacturing of these unhealthy and/or dangerous products goes unnoticed by the majority of society. Because the majority of CEOs and high level executives in corporations as well as government are males, certain assumptions are inevitable and reasonable.
The so-called “democracy” state does provide certain essential freedoms such as free speech and freedom of religion so that the public continues to allow the pseudo-democracy to exist. Revolutions do not occur because the people are lulled into a false sense that they really are free. In a sense they are because they are given freedom of speech and religion, freedom to carry arms, and freedom to dissent. To the power brokers, these are harmless because they do not, in and of themselves, pose threats to the power of the wealthy elite. Only those freedoms which pose a threat to those in power would be in jeopardy. What would be an example of that freedom? In a capitalist, democratic society which nurtures unfettered consumerism, that would be if people freely chose to stop purchasing all products and services except those that were essential to their livelihoods. If that happened, then people would be choosing against a materialistic lifestyle which, in the short-term feels pleasant, but in the long-term, is a lifetime of economic slavery to multinational corporations and, as cited with Monsanto, in many cases is a choice of destroying one’s health. Capitalism encourages (is actually dependent upon) unbridled consumerism which, in turn, creates a society of addicts of material possessions. This ultimately leads to the demise of that society. Why? In an overpopulated world, capitalism and consumerism are the genesis of global warming, air/land/water pollution, extinction of animal and plant species, as well as, if left unchecked, the extinction of the human race. So in “democracies” the media is used less to promote outright lies about those in power (although that can and does occur) and more to highlight favorable facts about power brokers and powerful institutions, and to hide unfavorable factual information from the public. Another centuries old tactic by those in power is to generate consistent division between many groups of people since a united mass of informed people would be the greatest threat to those in power. Propaganda used to generate a desire to own lots of material possessions creates divisions between those who have and those who do not as well as between “dominant” and “subordinate” races and cultures. Propaganda which creates divisions between various religious groups is another historically successful strategy. And the list goes on. This is the state of affairs in so-called “democracies” such as America, Great Britain, and France, however, it should be noted that these countries are becoming increasingly fascist because of laws and statutes being passed limiting freedom of speech and freedom to dissent. Additionally, more social control is being exercised because of the increased surveillance of people’s telephone calls, personal computers, and surveillance cameras---all tactics which allow governments and corporations (which become increasingly wedded to each other) to monitor the civil and social unrest and, if necessary, quell and/or punish dissent and disobedience that threatens the power structures.
In the second example in which democracies do not exist, the governments do not need to rely so heavily on the media and public relations and advertising agencies since the people are controlled by dictators, despots, tyrants, and absolute monarchs. Since these societies have limited freedoms, the media is not used to so much influence their choices, rather it is utilized to promulgate lies and hide unfavorable facts about those in power in order to prevent social unrest and disobedience, and, ultimately, avoid take-over of the power structures. Napoleon, Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin are past examples of dictators and current examples are Kim Jong Il, Mugabe, and the military junta in Myanmar. Most already know of the heinous genocide of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally and physically disabled that Hitler ordered. Let us briefly take one of the other dictators---Idi Amin. He had dozens of mistresses, yet he became enraged when one of his wives was having an extramarital affair. He had her mutilated, then had her head sewn on backwards, her legs sewn onto her arm sockets, her arms sewn onto her leg sockets, and she was then placed in her funeral casket. Amin forced his children to view their mother and admonished them that this is what happens to women who are unfaithful.
Under these evil men, hundreds of millions of people were either brutally tortured and/or murdered or were starved to death due to the disastrous government policies of these leaders. How different is the inhumanity and criminality perpetrated by these evil men versus the Iraq war with thousands of military members killed and maimed, millions of civilians killed, displaced or made refugees, and the torture of prisoners mostly for the sake of oil under the current U.S. presidential administration? How many dictators, tyrants, despots, and absolute monarchs have been males? An arrival at the correct statistics on that would take research which I have not conducted, but we know that the vast majority have been males. A highly conservative estimate of 90% would be reasonable although the number is likely higher.
Which gender started the cultural ritual of female genital mutilation? I cannot definitively state the answer to that question; however, I would wager that it was not a woman. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a centuries old brutal practice that has been forced on more than 130,000 million girls and women starting at the age of four years. While it is usually an older woman who actually conducts the circumcision, it is an ancient, horrific practice still carried out today in patriarchal cultures such as in Africa and parts of the Middle East (“Female genital cutting,” n.d.). The cutting is performed with the use of razor blades, knives, pieces of glass or scissors or, in some cases, sharp stones. At times, cauterization or burning is a utilized method. Three kinds of mutilation occur: 1. the removal of the tip of the clitoris, 2. clitoridectomy, or removal of the entire clitoris and the adjacent labia, and, 3. infibulation, the most extreme form, consisting of the removal of the clitoris, the adjacent labia, and the joining of the scraped sides of the vulva across the vagina, where it is secured with thorns, or sewn with catgut or thread. In order to allow for urination and menstruation, a small opening is left. For a woman with infibulation, she must be cut open on her wedding night to allow for intercourse, and then sewn back to ensure fidelity to her husband (“Female genital mutilation,” n.d.). Generally, the legs of the woman or girl are bound together from hip to ankle for over a month so that scar tissue can form (“Female genital cutting,” n.d.). One form of FMG practiced by aborigines in Australia is for the vagina to be torn with three fingers bound with an opossum string. When the girl reaches puberty, it is performed by an elderly male. Compulsory sexual intercourse by several males usually follows. In Peru, among some Pano Indians, an elderly woman cuts the female hymen using a bamboo knife. Afterwards, the application of medicinal herbs is made and a phallic clay object is inserted into the vagina. This appalling practice is another means whereby males are able to control and dominate women, subjugating them so they remain “pure and faithful,” while the men are able to continue, without impediment, their ten thousand year old pattern of selfish infidelity and pompous promiscuity.
In less developed countries, the range of severe violence against women includes killing and maiming of females solely because of their gender, female infanticide, and sexual abuse of girls and women, sometimes with the male members of her family giving tacit approval; less visibly manifest violations include forcing women to endure strenuous physical labor, denying education and health benefits to females in the family and ostracizing women who have been raped by a person outside the family or during war (Comas-Diaz & Jansen, 1995). In India, female infanticide has become so pervasive that men are finding a shortage of female brides (McGivering, 2003a). Men resort to purchasing child-brides from poor communities. Even though female infanticide is an illegal practice, it is rampant in India. The proportion of female babies is steadily declining and India now has some of the most skewed sex ratios in the world. Pe-natal screening is being used to confirm the sex of the child and, if it is a female, to kill the fetus, sometimes as late as 20 weeks gestation. Girls are considered inferior in this highly patriarchal society and they also are financially burdensome because large wedding dowries are needed to pay the family of her husband upon marrying. Some Hindu religious sects believe that only a son can light the father’s funeral pyre when he dies necessitating male children (McGivering, 2003b). Other sects believe that boys bring family good luck and that the aged in the society will be safer if boys are in the family. Because the law enforcement is male in India, the male perpetrators of foeticide and other violences against women in the country are not brought to justice. Which gender started female infanticide and the ritual of child-brides? I do not know, but I suspect it was not a woman.
Roy Hazelwood is considered a criminal expert on sexual sadists and has written several books having spent 22 years with the FBI, sixteen of them as a member of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit profiling serial killers. He profiled serial killers such as Gerard John Schaefer, the Sex Beast, James Mitchell DeBardeleben, the sex sadist, and Wayne Williams, the Atlanta child killer who murdered 29 African American children.
Hazelwood’s professional law enforcement expertise is on sexual sadism which is the character trait of an individual who can only gain sexual satisfaction by inflicting pain and suffering onto the victim. This is different from someone who sexually assaults another person to have control and power over the other person then flees. They lack the need to torture the other person and observe the victim’s pain and suffering. Both are cruel, but the sexual sadist is more cruel. Hazelwood (Hazelwood & Michaud, 2001) notes that there is a continuum of sexual sadism with fantasy on the one end (fantasizing while masturbating is an example) and severe injury or death of the victim on the other end. In between, are those who act out sadistic acts with willing partners. His focus has been on the severe end of what he calls “the great white sharks.” Approximately 87% of sexual sadists are White males of European descent (I do not know the total percentage who are males, but I would bet it is almost 100%) and the majority who are in intimate relationships with women force them to have sex in which the sadist is the dominant partner. Physical abuse of their wives and partners is common. Hazelwood notes that, in his experience, the most prevalent personality disorders found among sexual offenders (sadists and non-sadists) are narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. In sexual sadists, these two disorders are the most common personality disorders, followed by a high number with paranoid personality disorder. Hazelwood tells us that sexual sadists have a “tremendous hatred and fear of women” (p. 157). Hazelwood states that “the rapist achieves his gratification, not from sexual release, but from the thrill of domination, control, and power” (p. 19). Referring to “the great white sharks,” Hazelwood states:
The great white sharks are into power and control. To them emotions, especially fear, indicate a weakness that they associate only with victims. In fact, for sexual sadists, the victim must by definition show fear. He, on the other hand, must exhibit power and control over others and over himself (p. 103).
It is rare for sexual offenders to have only one paraphilia. Paraphilias are defined in the 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV as sexual impulse disorders characterized by “intensely arousing, recurrent sexual fantasies, urges and behaviors of at least six months’ duration that are considered deviant with respect to cultural norms and that produce clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of psychosocial functioning” (as cited in Kafka, 2006). Common paraphilias include exposure of genitals to a stranger, pedophilia, voyeurism, fetishism, transvestic fetishism (cross-dressing), sexual sadism (inflicting suffering or pain onto another), sexual masochism (being beaten or having someone inflict pain onto self), and frottereurism (touching or rubbing against a non-consenting person). Of note, some of these are explicitly aggressive and harmful in nature. As Kafka (2006) states, “paraphilias are predominantly male sexuality disorders and there is an estimated sex difference ratio of 20:1 in sexual masochism.” He further notes that the other paraphilias are virtually undiagnosed in females.
As of April 2008, the Wikipedia website listed 291 known serial killers by country. Of the total, 255 are males (88%) and 36 females (12%). Since it is unknown if this is a complete list of every serial killer that has ever existed since the beginning of time, the exact ratio cannot be known. I suspect if it were, the percentage of males would be higher. Even so, this statistic is sobering and disturbing. Also unknown is the gender ratio of the murdered victims.
All of the previously mentioned male dictators, despots, and tyrants as well as the serial killers fall somewhere on the spectrum of masculine pathology: narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy or psychopathy. Most are the latter two. Common traits amongst all three are an absence of remorse or guilt for immoral or unethical behavior, externalization of blame onto others, and pathological mendacity. People with narcissistic personality disorder generally do not murder or torture people, but it would not be uncommon for them to express a lack of concern or empathy if these acts are committed by a third party and the act benefits the narcissist in some way such as when wars are waged and the narcissist stands to gain from the spoils of war. In terms of wrongdoing, the greatest fear of persons with these disorders is getting caught and being held accountable. Some are very charming and verbally eloquent while others are socially withdrawn and not very talkative. Hitler was said to have a hypnotic effect on many people who heard him speak. Some are quite intellectual; others are not very intelligent. Some are uneducated while others are well educated. Most lead highly duplicitous lives, thus, they aptly deserve the title “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Some even exhibit benevolent and caring exterior surfaces. For narcissists, there is a general lack of empathy for others who experience adversity. With psychopaths, they are sadists having a general pleasure derived from either perpetrating the suffering or death of others or of viewing it. These disorders are overwhelmingly diagnosed in males.
When these pathological personalities rise to power, they surround themselves with others who are diagnostically in the same category so a sufficient amount of military, corporate, and government power buttresses their political aims. It is unsurprising that people with these disorders consistently pursue and occupy leadership positions where power and control over large numbers of people are wielded: corporations, the media, governments, the military, religion, law, medicine, academia, and a host of other arenas. This is largely the pathological panorama that describes the halls of power in virtually every nook and cranny of global power today. Also, when a society is overwhelmed with pathological masculine leadership, the ideologies and sociocultural norms that are formed are unhealthy and pathological, and overwhelmingly benefit males. Additionally, the institutions and organizations become adaptive and rewarding toward narcissistic behaviors. This is what is called masculine psychosocial pathology because it is the interface between the psychological pathology existing in individuals as well as the sociocultural norms and masculine ideologies that privilege males and circuitously validate masculine leadership and masculine norms and ideologies. So even though every person may not meet the clinical diagnosis of these disorders, institutional and organizational behaviors that are narcissistic and sociopathic are accepted and rewarded except for those that create substantial benefits for those outside of power positions. For example, in corporations, pathological behaviors are many times rewarded and accepted in management because it benefits those people in power, but are punished if it threatens the power brokers. Enron is a prime example. Typical examples are the endemic unethical practices that occur in corporate America which are largely overlooked, if not rewarded, while they would be punished if the person exposes that behavior to the general public or to oversight organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In addition, in order for these toxic people to continue to hold onto power, there has to be an uninformed and obedient group of followers. The famous Milgram (1963; 1964) experiments, named after Stanley Milgram, were a series of tests conducted exclusively with male subjects. The male researcher dressed in a white coat in order to convey a sense of legitimate and expert authority to the research participants. Each participant was told that the research was a learning experiment and its aim was to study the effects of punishment on memory. Each participant was alone in a room and was asked by the researcher to administer electric shocks to strangers. The severity of shocks were designated on the levers and ranged from “Slight Shock” to “Danger: Severe Shock.” Once the participant pressed the lever, a scream could be heard which the participant believed was the painful outcry of the actual victim being shocked although, in actuality, was only a researcher pretending to be a victim. Surprisingly, strangers from different ages and educational levels willingly continued to administer what they believed were greater levels of electricity to the victims, with the clear understanding that it was possible the electric shock could be fatal to the victim. If the participant was hesitant in carrying out the order, the researcher in the white coat would sternly tell the participant they must continue. Even though a few participants did hesitate or balk, every one of them obeyed the order. This famous experiment suggests that people will obey authorities with legitimate and expert power even if potential horrific and fatal consequences hang in the balance.
Ross Mountain, United Nation’s humanitarian coordinator for the Congo says this about rape during wartime, “It has been used as a weapon of war for so long it’s become almost a habit” (Nordland, 2006). One of the most gruesome examples of male violence against women is in the Congo where an epidemic of fistulas from violent rape is being reported. Fistulas result in a tear in the walls that separate the vagina and bladder or rectum and are a major health risk in many parts of Africa. Male militias are sexually assaulting females by raping them violently, in many cases through gang rape and, in some situations, in front of the female’s children. Afterwards, one of the rapists will stick an object such as a stick or pipe in her vagina. Immediately following the rape act, some male perpetrators put a gun in the woman’s vagina and shoot her at point blank range, thus creating a permanent fistula. As many as 250,000 females have reported violent sexual assault in the Congo (Nordland, 2006). Medical doctors state that up to two thirds of fistula cases are the result of sexual violence where women walk into hospitals soaked in their own feces and urine, rendered incontinent. Many will never bear children and will live the remainder of their lives with a colostomy bag.
In Darfur, the four year conflict between the government-backed militias known as janjaweed and rebel forces has forced 2.5 million people from their homes and more than 200,000 people have died, mostly due to genocide, rape, and torture (MSNBC, 2007). A UN report released in August 2007 described horrific accounts of 50 women who were subjected in 2006 to brutal rape in front of other women, beaten with sticks and then forced into slave labor to provide food for those who raped them. The women were only given leftovers to eat. Even children were beaten and forced to witness the sexual assaults by the janjaweed. Some of the women became pregnant from the rapes.
Stasa Zcejouio is from former Yugoslavia and described this scenario during the wars in the 1990s: “Women are captured, tortured, raped, in front of their families to humiliate the enemy. They are sometimes killed. Women are also forced into prostitution to serve the soldiers, dubbed beautifully as ‘the silk battalion’” (Ekachai, 1993, p. 7). Ugandan Angelica Kashunju had this to say of her experience of war:
Mothers became widows and young girls were gang raped, abducted to be the troops’ concubines and trained to kill. Women were used by all sides to spy on other citizens either to resist or facilitate violence through espionage and terrorism. Those who are arrested were tortured, having their lips, noses, ears, or hands mutilated, to tell where the guerrillas were. And they were soon added to the list of disappearances (Akachai, 1993, p. 7).
Substantial numbers of female children from Asia and the Philippines are sold into sexual slavery by prostitution rings eager to exploit the large numbers of women who lack the skills or job market to economically support their children. The trafficking of women is prolific in Eastern Europe, particularly in Thailand, the Philippines and, more recently, in Ukraine (Pilisuk, 1998). According to the UN, four (4) million people are trafficked annually and as many as 500,000 in Western Europe alone, according to the International Organization for Migration (Pilisuk, 1998). Of an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children who are annually trafficked across international borders, approximately 80 percent are women and girls (U.S. Department of State, 2006). The majority of transnational victims are trafficked into commercial sexual slavery. It is estimated that 12.3 million people are forced into labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time. Because this number is far more difficult to track, some estimates are as high as 27 million. This is due mostly to economic globalization which has bred an unprecedented mobilization of corporations seeking to exploit unskilled and low-skilled labor in response to demand in labor-deficit markets for construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and domestic work. Since many foreign governments are unscrupulous, they condone rampant exploitation of workers and overlook egregious human rights abuses and slave labor working conditions.
The invisible wounds of sex are ubiquitous. Abortion, rape, sexual violence, prostitution, and pornography have historically, and continue to be, misconstrued by patriarchal norms as a “female personal problem,” instead of the result of patricentric beliefs and values which permeate unconsciously throughout the economic, political, legal, religious, scientific, academic, healthcare structures of society and are further validated and embedded in the collective psyche of both males and females by the media. The media merely reflect back to society the intrapsychic, internalized, ensconced gender idealizations, so it has the option of playing the role of either maintaining gender stereotypes, or of deconstructing them and projecting more mature representations of gender.
The bifurcation in the male narcissistic psyche between the idealization of female beauty versus her alleged intellectual shortfalls, between the idealization of female purity and innocence versus the devaluing scourge of female prostitution (the virgin-whore complex perpetrated by males), and between the ubiquitous benevolent sexism in fundamental religions and cultures whereby females are, paradoxically, both “put on a pedestal,” yet oppressed by being excluded from traditional male domains, are all further universal examples of the splitting defense mechanism that is so pervasive throughout humankind. In short, these factors of masculine pathology disempower women and keep them subjugated to males so that males retain control and power over world wealth, along with all the institutions which guarantee this monopoly.
Notably, Eagly and Steffen (1986) concluded that men are more aggressive than women and that the difference is greater for physical rather than psychological aggression, however, they self-report having excluded research on violent crime when conducting their meta-analysis of the social psychological literature at the time. The research also showed that women feel more anxiety and guilt from aggression.
In the late 1960s, Altemeyer (1988; 1992; 2003; 2004a; 2004b) began studying which character traits were consistently correlated with authoritarianism. Finding strong correlates between authoritarianism and the three traits of submissiveness, conventionalism, and aggressiveness, Altemeyer developed the Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale which has been revised (Altemeyer, 2004a). He conducted research on mostly people from the Christian religion. Altemeyer, like Milgram, was also interested in the extent to which people will go to obey authority figures even if it entails harming people. Altemeyer’s important work has been very useful in identifying the extent to which religious fundamentalism correlates with right wing authoritarianism. Not surprisingly, the correlations are high. McFarland states that “fundamentalism cloaks a general close-minded, ethnocentric mindset, which is shown here as a general tendency to discriminate” (cited in Altemeyer, 1992, p. 117). Altemeyer defines fundamentalism as:
The belief that there is one set of religious teachings that clearly contains the fundamental, basic, intrinsic, essential, inerrant truth about humanity and deity; that this essential truth is fundamentally opposed by forces of evil which must be vigorously fought; that this truth must be followed today according to the fundamental, unchangeable practices of the past; and that those who believe and follow these fundamental teachings have a special relationship with the deity (p. 118).
People with high RWA scores tend to come from childhood backgrounds that were highly religious, have a perception of the world as being a “dangerous and hostile world” (Altemeyer, 1988, p. 38) which is further reinforced by the media’s constant portrayals of crime and violence. They identify strongly with established authorities, and perceive themselves as being righteous and morally superior. RWAs tend to be prejudiced and highly bigoted, what Altemeyer (2003) refers to as religious ethnocentrism, “the tendency to make ‘Us versus Them,’ ‘In-group versus Out-group’ judgments of others on the basis of religious identification and beliefs” (p. 20) and he distinguishes ethnocentrism from dogmatism, the latter defined as “relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty” (p. 20). Dogmatic people are usually unaware of their authoritarian tendencies and the extent to which they are conventional, submissive, and aggressive (Altemeyer, 1988). They have little insight into the inconsistencies of their actions versus the religious creeds which they espouse such as “love one another” and the Golden Rule. One of the more recent research findings which is of great significance is that religious fundamentalists seem to be authoritarian followers, not Right Wing Authoritarian leaders (Altemeyer, 2004a).
One of the most important theories to surface in the 1990s was the Social Dominance Theory (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994) which posits that “societies minimize group conflict by creating consensus on ideologies that promote the superiority of one group over others” (p. 741). Pratto, et al, believe that social dominance is a tendency that runs across all groups, not just Christians or religious fundamentalists. Further, that the ideologies that promote and maintain hierarchies and inequality are the specific tools which give legitimacy to prejudice and discrimination, and they have to gain widespread acceptance in order to be effective. They refer to these ideologies as “hierarchy-legitimizing myths” (p. 741) and state that they maintain social, racial, gender, and economic oppression by contributing to consensual inequality.
Social dominance theory focuses on the structural and institutional factors that promote social dominance and oppression, and posits that all forms of oppression such as gender, racial, and class inequality reflect a general tendency for humankind to form and maintain social inequality (Sidanius, Pratto, Laar, & Levin, 2004). Great significance is placed upon social institutions such as schools, corporations, organized religions and marriage practices which allocate power, wealth, food, healthcare, etc., to the dominant and privileged while simultaneously shifting undesirable things such as dangerous work and imprisonment toward the powerless.
A Social Domination Orientation (SDO) scale was developed to measure “the preference for unequal relationships among people” or “the extent to which one desires that one’s in-group dominate and be superior to out-groups” (Pratto, et al., 1994, p. 743) or “the desire of one group to dominate others” (p. 757) based upon the researcher’s hypothesis that there are those who favor an unequal, or hierarchal, superior/inferior class system. The theory assumes that people who are more socially dominating favor hierarchy-enhancing ideologies and policies, and that they assume societal roles which favor social inequality. The research made assumptions that SDO would be positively correlated with ethnic prejudice, nationalism, chauvinism, patriotism, cultural elitism, sexism, political-economic conservatism, noblesse oblige, meritocracy, military policies, and punitive policies such as the death penalty and lengthy prison terms.
The overall outcome of their research shows that: 1. men are more social dominance oriented than women, 2. people who are highly socially dominant seek professional roles which enhance social inequality while people who are not highly socially dominant seek professional roles which enhance social equality, and 3. people who are highly socially dominant support political and social ideologies which support social inequality. Unsurprisingly, SDO correlates negatively with empathy, tolerance, communality, and altruism.
Other important findings were that those scoring high for SDO do tend to seek professional positions which are hierarchy enhancers such as law, police enforcement, politics and business while those scoring low on SDO seek professions that attenuate hierarchies such as social work and counseling. The higher scorers for social dominance were also more nationalistic, patriotic, and culturally elitist. Persons who scored high for SDO related to ideologies that espoused ethnic prejudice and sexism. Social policies that were chauvinistic and militaristic were supported by SDO persons while policies which supported gay rights, women’s rights, minorities’ rights, and social welfare programs were not favored by those with high SDO. Interestingly, the majority of SDO individuals were affiliated with the Republican Party.
With respect to attitudes toward war, the researchers parsed out two separate attitudes toward war—wars of dominance versus wars for humanitarian reasons---and found that SDO individuals favor wars of dominance and do not support wars for humanitarian reasons. As predicted, authoritarianism, political-conservatism, and high scoring SDO individuals are correlated. Regarding personality measures, SDO does not correlate with agreeableness, conscientiousness or openness. Additional research has shown that SDO correlates positively with support for military programs and capitalism (Sidanius & Pratto, 1993), along with racism and sexism (Sidanius, Pratto, & Brief cited in Pratto, et al., 1994).
After taking into account social dominance theory, Altemeyer (2004b) conducted research to find individuals who rate high on both social dominance and right wing authoritarianism and found that, while this is a relatively small group of the population, they exhibit the greatest desire to dominate others, the greatest amount of ethnic prejudice and authoritarianism, and score highest on meanness, along with amoral, exploitative, manipulative, and dishonest behavior. While his prior research reflected that high RWAs were highly prejudiced people, Altemeyer now found that High SDO-High RWA individuals rate the highest on prejudice. They are extremely biased people who adopt stereotypical views and are very hostile to a wide range of minorities (homosexuals, women, blacks) even more so than SDOs and RWAs.
Of particular importance, he found that social dominators do not have religious upbringings, are indifferent toward religious matters, and seldom attend church while most high RWAs are fairly religious and are regular churchgoers. SDOs are not typically taught by their parents to be socially dominant, rather they indicate that life experiences have taught them that the world is dangerous and people cannot be trusted. While authoritarians are dogmatic, SDOs lack a consistent ideology other than the desire to dominate others. Authoritarians have a lot of fear and self-righteousness, and lack insight into how prejudiced they are. SDOs, on the other hand, are very aware of their prejudices. RWAs are highly inclined to trust people who tell them what they want to hear which makes them susceptible to SDOs who can fake religiosity by “donning sheep’s clothing to take over the flock” (Altemeyer, 2004b, p. 427). SDOs are egomaniacal rating high on “power-mad” and “manipulate, cheat and steal” scales. As Altemeyer states, social dominators “want power, they want to dominate, and they want inequality” (p. 435) while authoritarians typically rate low on these factors. Most SDOs are males while RWAs appear to have an equal number of males and females. High SDO-High RWA personalities, although relatively small in number, were virtually all males and they were leaders, not followers. “Social dominators want to dominate, and authoritarians are inclined to submit” says Altermeyer (2004b, p. 426), so it was a paradox as to how someone could test high on both SDO and RWA when viewed from this standpoint. Altemeyer (2004b) notes this of the complimentary motives of SDOs and RWAs:
This marriage of complementary inclinations is further promoted by many jointly held attitudes. Besides sharing racial, ethnic, sexist, and sexual orientation prejudices, both high SDOs and high RWAs tend to have conservative economic philosophies and tend to prefer right-wing political parties. Thus they will often find themselves allied on societal-economic-political issues (p. 426).
Altemeyer notes that neither RWAs or High SDO-High RWAs correlate positively with those who identify with liberal political beliefs. He does say that High SDO-High RWAs would be the most likely to lead radical right wing movements and insist on being in the top power positions in organizations. Because RWAs are obedient and submit to authority more easily, they would fall prey to either SDOs or the amoral, unscrupulous High SDO-High RWAs. Altemeyer’s work has been valuable in better understanding the personalities and attributes of authoritarian personalities, and their subsequent societal outcomes, however, like social dominance theory, Altemeyer’s work does not discuss the intrapsychic dynamics of pathology. Thus, there is no discussion of the nexus between the intrapsychic features of pathology and the sociocultural context. An understanding of both are necessary in order to understand that the inner world and the outer world feed off each other, interact with each other, and create perpetual cycles of internal and external dysfunction. Altemeyer’s substantial contribution in understanding masculine pathology lies in his explications of the outer personality and behavioral traits common to authoritarian persons such as those within the religious evangelical movement.
While no research has been conducted to determine the relationship between the spectrum of masculine pathology (narcissism, sociopathy, and psychopathy) and SDO and RWA, it is likely there is a high correlation with many diagnostic features. Narcissism, which has varying degrees of psychological strength, can be malevolent or benevolent. Benevolent narcissism remains endemic in all cultures and refers to a psychological construct which presents to the world a benevolent façade, but whose inner structure is discriminatory and sexist. Glick and Fiske (1997) refer to “benevolent sexism” in which the male “relies on a kinder and gentler justification of male dominance and prescribed gender roles” (p.121), one in which the male projects a romantic and idealized view of woman where she is in need of protection by the dominant gender, man. With the underlying assumption that women are weaker and inferior to men, he is able to rescue her from a stressful, if not dangerous, world, resulting in mirroring of gratitude, praise and adulation from the woman, and internalized feelings of paternal heroism on his part. In short, he is able to validate his superiority and his belief systems through her acquiescence in playing the role which he dictates for her. This type of sexism is subjectively positive for the sexist since he perceives that women benefit from his set of beliefs even though women remain restricted and confined to traditional roles of lesser importance, status, and power. Because of his disorder, he introjects an idealization of himself, a grandiose sense of self, and projects devaluation onto the female who is the “bad object,” the split off imperfections within himself that he cannot internalize because they pose a threat to his ego, a threat to his sense of being in control and omnipotent. The “good” that he perceives in the female is not her essence of being (which is feminine and what he devalues and finds inferior), rather he values her submission to his ideological, androcentric, biased belief system. In other words, he rewards her submission to his ego desires, not her personhood or her being. This is a simple and satisfactory, albeit not thorough, explanation of the psyche of many males in fundamental religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Glick and Fiske (1997) contrast this with “hostile sexism” in which the male has openly hostile and negative towards women, with an overtly dominating paternalistic expression to her. The difference between the “benevolent sexist” and the “hostile sexist” is a matter of degree. The hostile sexist is overtly denigrating and finds the feminine ways of being so threatening, that simple devaluation is insufficient. He wants to either psychologically or physically completely dominate her. In the most extreme cases, he wants to destroy her either psychologically or physically. His pathological valence is so great, his defense against threats to his sense of omnipotence and perfection so substantial, that he perceives himself as “all good” and she is “all bad.” Unable to even reward her for submitting to his ego desires, he must destroy her personhood, or worse, her entire being. While different in both degree and overall expression, the genesis of the sexist attitudes between “benevolent” and “hostile” sexism is the same and so is their reinforcing nature of traditional gender roles in society.
Swim and Cohen (1997) define three types of sexism: 1. overt, 2. covert, and 3. subtle. Overt sexism is defined as “unequal and harmful treatment of women that is readily apparent, visible, and observable, and can be easily documented” (Benokraitis & Feagin cited in Swim & Cohen, 1997, p. 104). Examples are when males sexually harass women, do not permit women to drive in society or do not permit women the legal right to divorce or own property. Most highly developed countries like America and Great Britain have seen substantial decreases in overt sexism over the past several decades due to changes in law and sociocultural norms.
Covert and subtle sexism exist in both developed and undeveloped countries. Covert sexism is the act of “unequal and harmful treatment of women and men in a hidden or clandestine manner” while subtle sexism “is characterized by openly unequal and harmful treatment of women that goes unnoticed because it is perceived to be customary or normal behavior” (Swim & Cohen, 1997, p. 104). Men who exhibit covert or subtle sexism may verbally espouse egalitarian gender roles, but their actions are inconsistent with their stated values. When covertly sexist, men may say they are against gender inequality in public, but will exhibit sexist behavior when he feels the environment will allow him to do so. Stating a belief that women and men are equal, a male manager who has a pattern of only asking the female managers to get coffee or write the minutes for team meetings is covertly sexist. Also, a man who espouses gender equality, but is a consistent viewer of pornography (which demeans women) is covertly sexist.
Even more hidden, a male who is subtly sexist may express disdain of sexual harassment or sexual objectification of women, but demonstrate a pattern of always deferring to men in social groups, allowing them to speak to the group more often than women, and interrupting and stopping women from speaking. Other common examples are men who espouse fundamental religious beliefs. They will refute that they are sexist by arguing that their religious beliefs admonish them to “honor women,” but they may prevent a woman from entering the workforce, or not permit her to have control over her reproductive choices. His justifications for sexist actions are justified by theology. He is unable to perceive that much of theology is sexist. These males likely have a genuine desire to treat women well, but confound sexism with “good treatment.” This is further complicated by those women who internalize these sexist beliefs and accept being denied the freedom of independent thought and choice. Adopting and internalizing the very beliefs which disempower themselves, these women are nurturing a sociocultural environment which disproportionately disfavors them, perpetuates female adversity, and keeps women imprisoned in a world of economic, social, and political servitude. Although research by Spence and Hahn (1997) indicates a decline in the more overt kinds of sexism, Swim and Cohen (1997) report that covert and subtle sexism is still pervasive in our current social and political environment.
Benevolent narcissism has conspicuous parallels with benevolent sexism although narcissism is a psychological disorder and sexism is a belief system. Technically speaking, one can be sexist without having NPD and visa versa, but I suspect that the two are, in most instances, inextricably linked no matter how subtle the relationship. Benevolent narcissism also has intimacies with religious patriarchy throughout history, overtly proclaiming “I am good” while covertly participating in discriminatory, despicable and, sometimes, heinous acts. The rejection of female priests and rabbis is clear devaluation of, and discrimination against, women. Pedophilia is despicable and repugnant, not to mention criminal. Beheadings and torture as demonstrated throughout the “Holy Crusades” during the Middle Ages were blatant examples of religious psychopathy. Preaching “love thy neighbor as thyself” on the Sabbath while burning people at the stake is psychopathic. Particularly disturbing is that the Rorschach tests for sixteen (16) Nazi leaders, including Goering and Hess, were administered and scored, only to find that there was no clinically discernable features of psychopathy. Douglas Kelley, the psychiatrist who administered the tests, along with Gustav Gilbert, a psychologist, found no frank pathology. Kelley had this to report on the findings: “From our findings we must conclude that such personalities are not unique or insane but also that they could be duplicated in any country of the world today” (cited in Harrower, 1976, p. 342).
Malevolent narcissistic pathology is far more overtly insidious and malicious than the more covert benevolent narcissism. Kupers (2005), writing on pervasive malignant masculinity in the prison system, refers to “toxic masculinity” as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence” (p. 714). Connell speaks of “hegemonic masculinity” as comprising “the domination of women and a hierarchy of intermale dominance” (cited in Kupers, 2005, p. 716). Both definitions have remarkable similarities with sociopathy. While both benevolent narcissism and malevolent narcissism are insidious, perhaps the most salient difference is that benevolent narcissism is pathology with a mask, or what some refer to as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” while malevolent narcissism is pathology that parades largely without a mask.
Although a robust theory, social dominance theory overlooks the intrapsychic dynamics of persons who are dominating and controlling. Altemeyer’s research on authoritarianism is equally valuable; however, it also fails to identify clinical and diagnostic features. If the world is to survive the malignant rampage of leadership that is endemic in virtually all institutions and organizations, people are urged to become informed about the spectrum of masculine pathology---narcissism, sociopathy, and psychopathy---and purge it from global power structures. It is this spectrum which exists at the top of global power with an uninformed and obedient following which form the underpinnings of a world headed toward annihilation. Robert Jensen, journalism professor and feminist author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, makes a persuasive case for the end of masculinity because it has reached its apex in terms of malignancy to society, specifically against women. He correctly writes that males are socialized to be tough, aggressive, and even cruel. He also states that there are those male predators who are beyond help, but there are also those who have internal tension pertaining to the society’s expectation of “real masculinity” which entails lack of compassion, vulnerability, and gentleness versus being a vulnerable human being with traditionally feminine traits of care and concern. I am unsure if masculinity needs to end or whether it is a matter of redefining it and socializing males based upon a more psychologically mature definition of masculinity which I wrote about in my first book, The Anatomy of the Soul: An Authentic Psychology. A definition of mature masculinity which allows for men to exhibit traditional feminine traits of vulnerability, compassion, kindness, gentleness---all traits that correlate with the heart. Without question the definition of masculine gender identity as we have known it for millennia and which is correlated with narcissism, sociopathy, and psychopathy must be transformed or it will surely bring about the end of life on this planet because of its obsession with control, power, and domination over others. Women continue to hold onto the hope that males will mature. As Andrea Dworkin, noted feminist, once said, we women believe in the humanity of men against all evidence to the contrary. It will take continued emphasis on deconstructing current masculine ideologies as well as parents teaching their male children a more mature way of being a male; nay, teach their sons how to be fully human---with a compassionate heart.
Woodward, M.S. Psychotherapist and Author: The Anatomy of the
Soul: An Authentic Psychology
To be published in 2008: Malignant Masculine Power: The Narcissistic Consciousness of Deceit, Exploitation, Domination, and Destruction That is Leading the World Toward Annihilation
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