As recently as the mid-20th Century the terrorist violence of lynching black Americans in the Deep South was common and accepted.
The pathological hatred of racism is the product of the same absence of normal-range human empathy, the absence of shared social morality, and gratification from creating immense suffering as creates the motivation for bombing of the Boston Marathon, for the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, and for the pathology in Las Vegas. The terrorist mind. Pathological anger, pathological hatred, pathological violence.
Racism is a disturbance in psychological functioning. Racism is not normal. Racism represents pathological hatred, a psychological violence that can reach the levels of physical brutality and extreme physical violence.
The terrorist mind is an absence of normal-range human empathy, the absence of shared social morality, and gratification from causing immense suffering.
Pathological sadness is formally recognized as a psychiatric disorder (DSM-5: Major Depressive Disorder). Pathological anxiety is formally recognized as a psychiatric disorder (DSM-5: Panic Disorder; Phobia; Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Even pathological happiness is recognized as a psychiatric disorder (DSM-5: Mania). Pathological anger, however, remains an unrecognized form of psychiatric pathology.
Racism is not normal. Racism is pathological hatred.
During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when civil rights workers went to the Deep South of the United States to challenge the systemic terrorism of racist pathological hatred and violence, the terrorist threat to them of beatings, firebombings, and killing was ever-present.
On September 15, 1963, four beautiful children, full of life’s promise, were at their church in Birmingham, Alabama. They died as a result of a terrorist bombing and fire at the church.
From Wikipedia: “The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of white supremacist terrorism which occurred at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963, when four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church… Described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity,” the explosion at the church killed four girls and injured 22 others.”
Pathological hatred. Pathological violence. The terrorist mind. An absence of normal-range empathy, the absence of shared social morality, a sadistic gratification from causing suffering.
The legal system has recognized pathological hatred, and the violence it spawns, as representing a “hate crime.” However, the pathological hatred and pathological violence of racism is not considered a psychiatric disorder. It should be.
Professional psychology needs to reassess its approach to pathological anger, pathological hatred, and pathological violence.
From the U.S. Department of Justice: “Since 1968, when Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law, the first federal hate crimes statute, the Department of Justice has been enforcing federal hate crimes laws… In 2009, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the federal definition of hate crimes, enhancing the legal toolkit available to prosecutors, and increasing the ability of federal law enforcement to support our state and local partners.”
DSM-5: Nothing but crickets.
The pathological hatred of racism is not normal. Racism, and the pathological violence it spawns, is a symptom of psychopathology.
The damaged information structures in the brain’s attachment networks that create pathological hatred and pathological violence distort identity structures. The identity networks for self-esteem become hyper-activated into a pathological group identity of ethnic identification; as White (KKK), as Basque (ETA), as Catholic (IRA), as Muslim (ISIS), as our nationality (war), as “our group” – and the other, the outsider, becomes an object, less than human.
Identity structures are particularly vulnerable during the young adult period of early stabilization. Young men who are lost in the emerging identity challenges of young adulthood are particularly vulnerable to the identity disturbances created by the damaged information structures of the pathology.
Women are also vulnerable to the identity disturbances of pathological hated, but they appear less so. This apparent gender difference may be related to an increased complexity in the information structures of female attachment networks, possibly due to the differing gender-related demands of early childhood parenting which were involved in the evolution of the attachment system across species and human development.
The terrorist mind of pathological hatred is not normal.
Racism is psychopathology. Pathological anger, pathological hatred, and pathological violence – psychological violence and physical violence.
Professional psychology needs to reevaluate its approach to the psychologically and physically violent psychopathology of racism, antisemitism, misogyny, and homophobia.
Pathological anger, pathological hatred, pathological violence. The absence of normal-range empathy, the absence of shared social morality, gratification from causing immense suffering.
The terrorist mind: Nice, Manchester, Paris, 911, Las Vegas, Birmingham.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857