Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden and the Terror of Narcissism

Osama Bin Laden was angry. Osama Bin Laden was feared. He was also, it seems, a sort of pathetic. Among the items U.S. troops pulled out of the compound of the terrorist leader last week, videos of Bin Laden in a blanket, watching himself on television. If true reports, the warlord is seen as "a vain pathetic old man." When I put this in the New York Times read, I immediately thought of the 1990 song "Mr. Jones" by the band Counting Crows: "When I watch TV, I want to see me staring back at me."
And what did the old fox was seen not only himself, but a younger version. U.S. forces confirm that bin Laden was his beard die, to manage his image to appear more vibrant to his supporters around the world.

Should not we be really surprised. The nature of evil, ultimately, is narcissism. And the end result of our narcissism is always evil. Sometimes it hurt to see in preening and offers. Other times can be seen in the ease with which one takes offense. Sometimes the offense even morphs into a crusade or jihad, around the world or in your office or church foyer closet.

Essayist David Brooks, picking up the contemporary psychological models of clinical narcissism, the narcissist has found that the self is "the sacred center of all that is holy and right." This then affects how the narcissist receives criticism and personal insults.

"If someone treats him pejoratively, he sees that as a deliberate and brutal attack," Brooks writes. "If someone threatens his reputation, he considers it an act of blasphemy."

Blasphemy is exactly the right word. The reason the offense, whether American troops in Saudi Arabia or the boss' forget to to invite you for Christmas, is so all-consuming for some, because it is an attack on a god and a rich, self - image.


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