Is Breivik Insane? Mental Illness and Extreme Right-Wing Ideology
The French newspaper Le Monde reports that a member of the right-wing political party the National Front was suspended for making an apology on behalf of 32-year-old Andres Behring Breivik on his blog, la valise ou le cercueil. Jacques Coutela described Breivik as “résistant”, “une icône”, “le premier défenseur de l’Occident”, “Charles Martel 2″ – as a “resister,” “an icon,” the first defender of the West,” “Charles Martel 2″ (a French medieval king during the Crusades). Coutela also described Breivik as “mais simplement un visionnaire face à la montée de l’islamisation de l’Europe” — “simply a visionary confronting the rise of the Islamisation of Europe.” He has since removed the inflammatory posts after the Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP) — the “movement against racism and for friendship among people” — filed a complaint against him. The National Front itself has condemned the attacks.
On Tuesday, lawyer Geir Lippestad said that he believes 32-year-old Andres Behring Breivik is “insane” and does not know why he has been asked to represent him. Lippestad is a member of the Labour party whose youth wing (AUF) Breivik targeted in a massacre that killed 68; he describes Breivik as “very cold” and said that he had taken unspecified drugs “to be strong, to be efficient, to keep him awake” during the shootings.
Breivik has admitted to the killings but does not accept criminal responsibility for his actions. Lippestad also says that Breivik “remains unaware of the revulsion his attacks have sparked and does not know the number of people he killed last Friday.” He has been linked to far-right groups, said he believed he must “save Europe from Muslim takeover” and stated his hatred of multiculturalism, Islam and feminism, among much else, in a 1500-page online manifesto. He is to undergo a psychiatric evaluation by two experts; if he refuses to do so, Lippestad said he will not represent him, says the Guardian.
Two experts interviewed in the BBC suggest that, beneath Brevik’s right-wing ideology, there is likely to be a “deep level of mental disturbance,” as Professor Jeremy Coid, professor of forensic psychiatry at Queen Mary college, University of London, says.
Ian Stephen, a forensic clinical psychologist, says that Breivik’s manifesto was “one of the scariest documents I’ve ever read”:
“It’s written by a man who’s absolutely meticulous in his development of his philosophy and he’s researched everything, obviously shut away for a long period of time reading, researching, digging into the internet, reading books and formulated this absolute policy of hatred of anything that is Nordic in a sense and looking at planning how to take over the world totally converted in a sort of very rather insane over-complicated deluded manner.”
Professor Coid also compared Breivik parallels with David Copeland, the London “Nail Bomber,” whose attacks in 1999 were aimed predominantly at London’s black and gay communities. Copeland was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and Coid suggests that Breivik’s case is also an example of “where extreme right-wing beliefs merge with paranoid psychosis, or delusional disorder”:
“In terms of delusional disorder, sometimes the belief that someone starts out with is not particularly bizarre, and these people often get missed. Over time, it becomes apparent that what is going into their head is enormously wrong.”…
According to Coid, Breivik could possibly also have a severe narcissistic personality, which might be indicated by “whether he gets off on publicity and being the centre of attention. Or, depending on his social interactions or the lack of them, he might have a “more schizoid personality.” Coid’s belief, though, is that Brevik has paranoid psychosis, or delusional disorder.
Besides terrorism charges, Breivik has also been charged with crimes against humanity, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in Norway.
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