Dymphna at Gates of Vienna has published this brilliant essay on our May New English Review interview with Danish psycholigist Nicolai Sennels, "Muslims versus Westerners, The Psychological Differences", with an introduction by Dr. Nancy Kobrin.
A tip of the chapeau to Dymphna and Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna. A much appreciated effort by valued colleagues.
The New English Review has published an important essay by Dr. Nicolai Sennels, a psychologist in Denmark who has worked with adolescent Muslim criminals. He understands them perhaps better than anyone I’ve read to date, and believe me, I’ve made my way though a lot of material on the subject of criminal ‘youths’.
Dr. Sennels speaks frankly. He is so politically incorrect (i.e., truthful) that the Left in Denmark must be driven to distraction when forced to confront his ideas. In other words, what they despise you will find refreshingly sensible. This outspoken, politically incorrect Danish psychologist tells it like it is, and we all have learned to our sorrow that this is a transgression high on the list of mortal sins in the P.C. leftist cosmology.
Let me put it this way: if his book had been published in the Netherlands, he’d be in the dock with Geert Wilders, and his life expectancy would be about as uncertain, too.
We have posted about Dr. Sennels’ work on previous occasions. See here, here, and here, though they are merely prefatory comments to this remarkable synthesis at New English Review.
There is an introduction to the essay by Dr. Korbin, who is the author of the intriguingly titled The Banality of Suicide Terrorism.
The word ‘banal’ used to describe these horrific mass murderers would have seemed a larger dissonance than I could surmount had I not read Hannah Arendt years ago as she struggled to piece together for all of us the meaning of Eichmann’s evil.
For Arendt, Eichmann represented a turning point in her understanding. She removed herself from the foreground of action to stand back far enough to perceive what underlay behavior: the fundamentals of both thinking and judging. Or in Eichmann’s case, the lack of these faculties. He was not consumed by hatred; he was simply doing his job as the architect of “extermination”.
After his trial she observed that though he was an icon of modern malignant evil, he was not driven by feeling but by the work at hand — i.e., the eradication of a problem. His problem was a thorny one: how do you come up with an efficient way to rid your government of so many bodies? Not just Jews, but gypsies and homosexuals and the ‘feeble-minded’. Eventually this list of non-desirables would have included all those folks who didn’t look Northern European.
In the course of my checkered “career”, there came a time when interviews with pedophiles and wife-beaters was part of my job description (a social work position). Remembering Hannah Arendt’s concepts provided a perspective from which to understand the mentations of these men I had to question. Keeping in mind her phenomenological construct made it easier to grasp what ‘reality’ meant for them. Or, more specifically, what it didn’t mean. Included in her phenomenology of the banality of evil was the observation of a striking diminishment of the human personality in such criminals. They were tediously boring.
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Dr. Korbin says (the emphasis is mine):
Sennels adeptly outlines the key problems of why Muslims are not able to integrate into Western culture. What he doesn’t say, I shall name. We are dealing with nothing more than paranoia. Sennels stresses that the West must set boundaries because otherwise they will kill you. This kind of rage is malignant borderline behavior as in serial killing. We must come to understand such politically incorrect observations as Sennels does in order to connect the dots concerning criminal Muslims even though it is brutal.
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“Nothing more than paranoia” is quite a burden on any culture or community. It is an impossible burden if the paranoia is culture-wide.
Have you ever dealt with someone who is frankly paranoid? Have you ever attempted a simple conversation with another human being who is trapped in the amber of paranoid delusions? While what transpires is not true social communication in the sense we would consider mere conversation, the labor involved in the attempt requires a lot of nodding of your head. In addition, you learn not to make sudden movements and to assume as blank a demeanor as possible.
“Malignant borderline behavior” is a quantum leap from the merely clingy borderline behavior we have come to associate with Borderline Personality Disorder patients. The malignant version is a serious break with ordinary reality; everything is configured via the borderline’s peculiar psychopathic calculus.
Thus what Dr. Korbin says feels right to me when it comes to a consideration of the obstacles we meet in attempting to assimilate people from a “malignant borderline” culture into any segment of Western culture. The conflict arises when the underlying cultural bases rub up against one another. In the West, the concept of Justice is a main given in our institutions. For Islam, there is only submission without question. These are not compatible worldviews; they are recipes for cultural collision, like continents bumping up against one another.
The most helpful thing that Dr. Sennels has done in this essay is this: he picks out from the puzzle of jihad behavior the mental constructs behind the acting out.
[Note: “acting out” is a term that is often applied to young children. Unable to conceptualize and explain their conflicts, they demonstrate them in sometimes startling ways. Thus the child with a new baby brother or sister, sick to death of being told how lucky he is to be “the big boy” now, can’t explain how it feels to hear this bright, cheery annunciation every time someone comes to visit the new baby. So he retreats to an earlier, easier time before The Thing arrived: he demands his own baby bottle and blanket, or he reverts to baby talk or bedwetting. Those whose temperaments prefer the direct approach will bop this hideous creature with the nearest heavy object. Thus, “acting out” is doing instead of explaining. For the most part, parents understand what’s going on and attempt to ameliorate the older child’s obvious upset. However, when acting out becomes chronic or bizarre, parents often need a helping hand, someone who can translate the strange behavior, offer a contextual explanation and make suggestions to alleviate the older child’s obvious suffering.]
In general, modern extremist Islam doesn’t hold with psychological explanations for behavior. A culture based on submission doesn’t leave a lot of room for emotional nuance. Thus, when “youths” become entangled with the criminal justice system in the West (be it juvenile or adult), that clanging you hear is the sound of dissonance in the extreme.
Dr. Sennels’ experience, both within the system in which he worked and with individual delinquents, is instructive — sadly so. However, it is inherent in academic pioneering to experience social isolation and even enmity from colleagues who have no desire to risk looking at the truth of the situation. His fellows have long since learned to keep rowing, heads down, saying nothing not already predigested and handed on in a slick package. Color between the lines, damn it! They know that following Sennels’ path will lead them to the same kind of ostracism and shunning he experienced. What they don’t recognize is the internal experience of telling it straight: doing so really does set you free, even if the cost of owning a piece of Truth seems too high to those who have a nice sinecure within the system.
So Sennels is a maverick. A maverick who was asked to leave the system and was, in fact, encouraged to make his exit quickly. The encouragement came in the form of a lump sum ($20,000.00) reward for leaving voluntarily. Eventually he found other work with the military doing psychological screening of soldiers back from the sandbox in Afghanistan. Even more importantly, he wrote a book explaining what he’d learned about culture and criminal behavior while working for the city of Copenhagen. Among Criminal Muslims is not yet available in English, which is most unfortunate. As Dr. Korbin mentions her work with Somali teenagers in Minnesota, an overview is desperately needed for the poor folks on the front lines of this war.
The first differentiation Sennels makes is not between “foreign criminals” and ethnic Danish miscreants. Instead, he is at pains to show the reality of non-Muslim foreigners:
… “Criminal foreigners” is not just a generalizing and imprecise term. It is unfair to non-Muslim foreigners and generally misleading.
Discussing psychological characteristics of the Muslim culture is important. Denmark has foreigners from all over the world and according to official statistics from Danmarks Statistik all non-Muslim groups of immigrants are less criminal than the ethnic Danes. Even after adjusting, according to educational and economic levels, all Muslim groups are more criminal than any other ethnic group. Seven out of 10, in the youth prison where I worked, were Muslim. [my emphasis — D]
Dr. Sennels provides a useful summary of the differences he found in working with Muslim “youth”. I mean differences in world view and in perception of the self. I will list them in the order he has written and explained them.
You and I may have differences of opinion regarding his emphases, but the good doctor has the experience to back up his opinions. We may also differ in the ordering of the list itself, but I couldn’t find a reference to which characteristic he considers more important. However, put the pieces together and they spell I-s-l-a-m, at least in its current manifestation in communities of immigrants.
Here’s the short list:
- Locus of Control
- Self-Reflection vs. Consequence
- Muslim Identity
Dr. Sennels is aware that these smaller parts of a larger dynamic whole have to be considered separately for the sake of analysis. Nor does he say his list is complete. These are simply the stumbling blocks he encountered in attempting to “counsel” Muslim criminals, to guide them toward less anti-social ways of interacting in Danish culture.
The problem is, of course, they don’t give a fig about Danish culture. They are Muslims first, second and third. Denmark just happens to be where they’ve parked their parasitic little selves and guess what? Denmark owes them for the privilege of having them in its midst.
Here are some brief summaries of his much larger elaborations:
Western Culture Anger vs. Muslim Anger
We all learn early that anger isn’t ‘cool’. Bullies and loudmouths are in a chronic one-down position in group formation in the West. However, the opposite is the case with Muslims, who see our insistence on remaining calm as weakness not wisdom (President Obama, please take note). Our lack of “holy anger” permits our Muslim opponents to exploit this need to appear cool, calm, and collected.
In other words, we have opposite views of who is in control in any given situation.
Locus of Control — Internal or External?
Here is where the differences in character formation show up most sharply. As Dr. Sennels notes, every Western library has shelves devoted to self-help books; our phone books are chock-a-block full of every imaginable form of therapy, counseling, and coaching. We chase the self-creative life (and, man, it sure does show sometimes). Our bedrock belief here is that we are responsible for the lives we create, at least to the extent that we have the choice in how we deal with the cards life hands us.
Nothing like that exists for Muslims. For them, obedience and submission are primary. If the environment does not “adapt” to them, then the feelings of resentment and being owed something predominate. Actually, many delinquents in Western culture who were never taught responsibility for self sound similar to these people. Anyone who has lived with a teenager remembers those growing pains.
Only for Muslim immigrants this is not a ‘stage’ of life, it’s a permanent condition. It feeds off the grandiosity that Islam inculcates. Pure poison.
Self-Reflection vs. Consequence
Here, Dr. Sennels says, is where Western attempts to view Muslims as “just like us” run aground. Don’t hold your breath waiting for gratitude, reciprocation, or cooperation. They won’t be forthcoming. Respect? It flows only one way: toward the Muslim. Dare to ask for mutuality and watch any purported gains in maturity disappear.
This one appears to have been the wake-up call for Dr. Sennels. He was dealing with third-generation Danish-Somalis, Turks, Pakistanis, Iraqis, etc., and they did not view themselves as Danish. They were Muslims. Assimilation into the host country does not work and all the best intentions in the world won’t change that.
By now we all know Islam’s version of honor. Dr. Sennels elaborates on it:
If you had ever spent time in a Muslim community you experience this very clearly. You would find yourself constantly trying not to offend anyone and you’d treat everybody like a rotten egg. Jokes, irony and, especially, self-irony is as good as non-existent. It creates a superficial social environment where unhealthy hierarchies appear everywhere because nobody dares to, for instance, point out the weaknesses of childish men and make fun of the powerful. There is an old Danish fairytale about a little boy that points out the nakedness of the King; “He has no clothes on!!” embarrassing the proud King wearing his non-existent magic clothes, which are only visible to “good people” (actually, the King was just naked — because the tailor had cheated him!). Such a story could never have been written in a Muslim culture.
Many young Muslims become assailants. This is not just because of the Muslim cultural acceptance of aggression, but also because the Muslim honor mentality makes them into fragile, insecure men. Instead of being flexible and humorous they become stiff and develop fragile, glass-like, narcissistic personalities.
Dr. Sennels notes that Western culture and Islam treat the raising of children (boys, anyway) in diametrically opposed ways: in the West, we keep young children on a short leash, gradually lengthening it as the child proves his ability to handle responsibility and to meet guidelines. Our goal is a mature adult who can self-motivate and create a life for himself.
Muslims have inverted this process:
…it is different — especially for the boys. They have lots of freedom in their early lives and as they get older more and more cultural/religious restrictions and expectations appear to support the family structure. By the time they are 20 years old, their parents often have already chosen their future wives or husbands.
I urge you to read the whole essay. Dr. Sennels shares his concerns about the future, his sense of failure regarding assimilation, and his hopes about what can be done to counter some of the harm.
I agree with him that average citizens can fight this. He outlines some steps:
…study the Qu’ran and the crime statistics (the only two sources you need to convince yourself that Muslim immigration is a very bad idea).
Then they could present their opinions in a confident manner when conversation turns to the subject of Islam and Muslim immigration at lunch, work and at family dinners. A popular movement composed of average citizens standing up against the immature and psychologically unhealthy culture of Islam is the way and the goal. Nothing is more important than that. [emphasis in original]
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This review of Dr. Sennels’ paper only scratches the surface of his ideas. It would have been fruitful to compare some of his knowledge to Jerome Kagan’s ideas on children’s morality, especially when he discusses some of the consequences of daycare in early childhood (scroll down to see the pertinent parts of his speech). It would seem that daycare children develop similar problems to Muslim children in a Western culture. In addition, using Kohlberg’s stages of moral development would provide a marker for the early point at which Islamic political ideology stops maturing.
But such a comparison would have made this post even longer. I hope some brave moral philosopher will use Dr. Sennels’ material to do just such a detailed comparison and contrast between the West and Islam, based on the deviancy in each.
I urge you to read the original at New English Review. They have a place to reply and an email address for Dr. Sennels.
The mystery remains, though: why isn’t the book available in English?