War As Righteous Rape and Purification
Part One

by Lloyd deMause

[Chapter 5 from the author's forthcoming book, Childhood and History]

Psychohistorian, Lloyd deMause, writes in the preface of his book that its purpose ". . . is to reveal for the first time how the ultimate cause of all wars and human misery is the parental holocaust of children throughout history -- an untold story of how literally billions of innocent, helpless children have been routinely killed, bound, battered, mutilated, raped and tortured and then as adults have inflicted upon others the nightmares they themselves experienced."

The author has been writing about the analogous elements of birth, childhood trauma and war for over forty years. Previously, he had stated and documented well his hypothesis that war is the symbolic re-enactment of birth trauma.

In this forthcoming book, deMause expands his theory of war as birth to the relationship of war to the post-birth period. This he has accomplished by careful researching recent Germanic infantile and childhood childrearing practices and showing how they are the most important cause of recent European wars.

Lloyd deMause's pre- and peri-natal writings have been described by psychiatrist Stan Grof as ". . . a quantum leap in the understanding of elemental social events."

-- John A. Speyrer, Editor, The Primal Psychotherapy Page

War! It meant a purification, a liberation
. . . and an extraordinary sense of hope."
-- Thomas Mann

Happy people don't start wars. They don't need "purifying" or "liberation," and their everyday lives are already full of hope and meaning, so they don't need a war to save them from anything.

What sort of strange emotional disorder is it that war cleanses, liberates and saves people from? And how can killing, raping and torturing people be acts that purify and restore hope in life? Obviously war is a serious psychopathological condition, a recurring human behavior pattern whose motives and causes have yet to be examined on any but the most superficial levels of analysis.


All standard theories of war deny that it is an emotional disorder at all.1 War, unlike individual violence, is usually seen solely as a response to events outside the individual. Nations that start wars are not considered emotionally disturbed--they are either considered as rational or they are "evil," a religious category. Although homicide and suicide are now studied as clinical disorders,2 war, unfortunately, is not.

Most historians of war have given up in advance any attempt to understand its causes, claiming "it is simply not the historian's business to give explanations."3 Genocide, in particular, appears outside the universe of research into motivations, since if one tries to understand Holocaust perpetrators, one is said to "give up one's right to blame them." At best, historians avoid the psychodynamics of the perpetrators of wars entirely, saying, "Leave motivation to the psychologists."4

The standard explanations given for war by political scientists and anthropologists equally avoid clinical understanding. Instead, they break down war causes into three general categories:

1.Instincts and Other Tautologies: The most popular cause of war is that it is a result of a human instinct for destruction. From Clausewitz's "instinctive hostility"5 and Freud's "instinct for hatred and aggression"6 down to biologists' statements that war is "macho male sexual selection" that "accelerates cultural evolution,"7 none of them notice that simply assuming an instinct for war without any neurobiological, genetic evidence at all is wholly tautological, saying no more than "the group's desire for war is caused by the individual's desire for war." Since tribes and states spend more of their time at peace than at war, one must also then posit an "instinct for peace," which, through group cooperation, should favor survival even more.

One can proliferate tautological instincts at will, but only evidence counts. Unfortunately, all tests for the heritability for violence have failed completely.8 The best study of instinct theories concludes: "Human warfare, and indeed killing, are too rare to be the product of a drive that needs to be satisfied. There is no drive or instinct that builds up, gives rise to aggression, is satiated upon release, and then builds up again...Furthermore, humans also have a genetic inheritance shared with fellow primates for peacemaking, and that propensity must also be factored into the equation."9

Tautological explanations proliferate in the field of war studies. Historians are particularly prone to claiming that the reason a lot of people do something is because they all are just following each other, a perfect tautology. War is often said, for instance, to be caused by "ideology" or by "the culture of militarism" of this or that state10 or by "a marked tendency for the military to prepare offensive military plans."11

But saying war is caused by an arms race is about as meaningful as saying homicide is caused by someone buying a gun. What one expects when asking for the motivation for homicide is not how the perpetrator got the weapon but the internal development of his psyche plus the events leading up to the violent act. Besides, empirically most states start wars without an arms buildup. Germany in 1913-1914, for instance, spent less on her military than France and Russia,12 yet began WWI because she felt insecure with a smaller army than other countries and felt paranoid about being attacked.

Yet another common tautological reason for wars is that they are "preventive." Bismarck put that reason in its place when he was urged to start a preventive war by saying it was "as irrational as committing suicide because one was afraid to die."13 America even today continues to have a "first strike nuclear deterrence" preventive war policy that is based on the causing of 600 million deaths as "acceptable."14 Just as meaningless are all the theories of war being caused by "lack of collective security," or "the anarchic nature of the state system" or similar systems theories.

The lack of instruments to prevent wars is a symptom not a cause; presumably if one could discover the underlying causes of war and reduce their power, states would then set up international systems of settling differences and of providing collective security. As Holsti puts it, "To argue that we have war because of systems structures is analogous to an argument that we have automobile accidents because we have highways."15 One must not reify groups; only individuals have motives.

2. Greed as a Motive for War: War is usually claimed to be purely plunder by social scientists: "War is defined as stealing en masse what other men own."16 Yet we would never accept greed as a real motive from a man who murders his family after taking out life insurance on them, nor would we accept the excuse of greed from a man who raped and murdered women and then took some of their jewelry. Even thieves turn out to have deeper motives than greed. As James Gilligan, a prison psychiatrist who has spent his life analyzing the lives of criminals, puts it, "Some people think armed robbers commit their crimes in order to get money. But when you sit down and talk with people who repeatedly commit such crimes, what you hear is, 'I never got so much respect before in my life as I did when I first pointed a gun at somebody.'"17

That anyone should imagine that hundreds of millions of people can enthusiastically engage in mutual mass butchery over minor pieces of territory is so patently ludicrous that it is a wonder anyone could ever have taken it seriously; yet this what historians and political scientists still ask us to believe. The entire "rational decisions" school of war theorists, all of whom claim utility as the ultimate motive for war, run up against the extensive empirical research done on hundreds of wars in recent years that consistently shows that wars are destructive not rational, that wars cost even winners more than they gain, that those who begin wars usually lose them and that leaders who go to war historically never actually calculate before they do so whether the gains will exceed the costs.18

Zinnes summarizes the results of all this testing of war as a rational activity motivated by materialistic gain as follows: "After thirty years of empirical research, in which we have devoted an enormous amount of time to collecting, measuring and summarizing observations about nation-state behavior, we cannot find any patterns" that show any relationship at all between war frequency and economics, population density or any other material condition of states.19 Otterbein even shows that cross-culturally there is "no influence on war of economic or ecological factors;" even tribal warfare destroys far more than it gains, and tribes rarely even pretend they are going to war to gain territory.20 Rummel concurs, finding from his huge historical database that a country's propensity to go to war is unrelated to its economic development, its technological abilities or even its military capabilities.21

The costs of wars have repeatedly been demonstrated to be far in excess of any gains that could be hoped for.22 In Vietnam, it cost America hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill each enemy soldier; the world even today spends trillions of dollars a year to fight wars and maintain military forces, far in excess of anything that could be gained by war. In fact, wars are so self-destructive that when a nation goes to war the people must at some level realize that they are engaging on a truly suicidal venture. Often, a careful examination of the actual historical decision process reveals explicitly suicidal imagery.

As just one example from many, when Tojo called together the Japanese leadership to decide whether or not to attack Pearl Harbor, he went around the table and asked each minister to tell what he thought would happen if they attacked the U.S. Each one forecast decisive defeat. It was so obvious that an attack would be suicidal for Japan that Tojo ended up saying, "There are times when we must have the courage to do extraordinary things--like jumping, with eyes closed, off the veranda of the Kiyomizu Temple."23 The Kiyomizu Temple was well known to all present as the place in Kyoto where people committed suicide.

3. Stress Theories of War: Even those theories of war that allow that it is wholly irrational end up blaming economic stress as the cause of the irrationality. "Hard times make people feel threatened and frustrated," so they go to war from the emotional stress of economic downturns. Most leaders who try to promote peace cite the stress theory: "By eliminating the economic dissatisfaction that breeds war we might have a chance for lasting peace" (Sumner Hull) or "Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want" (Franklin Roosevelt).24 Marxist theorists in particular believe wars break out because of capitalist economic downturns. In particular, most theorists believe WWII was caused by stresses of the economic Depression.

The problem with these stress theories is that empirically wars usually occur during economic upswings, not during depressions. Wars not only occur far more frequently after prosperous periods, but are longer and bigger after prosperity, "six to twenty times bigger as indicated by battle fatalities."25 Macfie finds "the outbreak of wars has avoided years of heaviest unemployment...excessive expansions are required to germinate the seeds of war."26 In Europe since 1815, no great-power wars have been started during a depression.27 WWI broke out after 40 years of growth of real incomes for workers (80 percent higher for Germans),28 and even WWII broke out several years after Germany had regained and surpassed pre-Depression levels of production--the supposed cause, economic distress, having disappeared by 1939. Wars are in fact prosperity-reducing rituals. They are responses to what we have earlier termed growth panic--responses to progress and prosperity, not to depletion. What is depleted when nations decide to go to war is their emotional not their economic resources.

By examining only the sociogenic and not the psychogenic sources of war, major theorists to date have been disappointed by the total lack of results of their research. David Singer concludes that the study of war has failed to "achieve any significant theoretical breakthrough" and is saddened by the fact that no one has found any "compelling explanation" for war.29 Bruce Bueno de Mesquita admits that "we know little more about the general sources of international conflict today than was known to Thucydides[perhaps] scientific explanations of such conflicts are not possible."30 Such extreme pessimism is understandable. Clausewitz's dicta that war is an extension of political policy has been fully discredited, and all the usual reasons for wars --for territory, for revenge, to obtain sacrificial prisoners, to obtain coups, as God's will, to stop dominoes from falling--turn out to be only rationalizations.31 But the failure to find valid motives for wars only applies to sociogenic theories, ones that carefully avoid the psychological model of human violence that has proved so fruitful in the study of the causes of homicide and suicide. We will first turn to the results of the recent clinical studies of individual violence before we propose our psychogenic theory of war.


Because those societies which have the harshest child-rearing practices have been shown to produce low-esteem adults who have the highest incidence of murder, suicide and war,32 the study of human violence can most fruitfully begin with examining the findings of clinicians who have closely interviewed murderers and determined their motives.

Most of what we usually believe about interpersonal violence is unconfirmed by statistics. Homicide is not regularly higher in big cities; cross-cultural studies find there is "no significant associations between community size and homicide or assault."33 Nor do men assault their spouses more often than women do; studies in various countries show "wives hit their husbands at least as often as husbands hit their wives,"34 although men do more damage with their assaults.35 When war is counted as violence, men constitute at least 75 percent of the victims of lethal physical violence in the United States, and die from two to five times as often from personal violence as women do world-wide.36 Mothers are not more often gentle while fathers mainly do the hitting of children; in fact, American mothers today abuse their children nearly twice as much as fathers.37

Both statistically and clinically, researchers have found violent adults have only one thing in common: poor childrearing.38 Studies of homicidal youths, for instance, found 90 percent could be documented as coming from severely emotional, physical or sexually abusive families.39 James Gilligan summarizes his decades of interviewing murderers:

In the course of my work with the most violent men in maximum-security settings, not a day goes by that I do not hear reports--often confirmed by independent sources--of how these men were victimized during childhood. Physical violence, neglect, abandonment, rejection, sexual exploitation and violation occurred on a scale so extreme, so bizarre, and so frequent that one cannot fail to see that the men who occupy the extreme end of the continuum of violent behavior in adulthood occupied an extreme end of the continuum of violent child abuse earlier in life.As children, these men were shot, axed, scalded, beaten, strangled, tortured, drugged, starved, suffocated, set on fire, thrown out of windows, raped, or prostituted by mothers who were their "pimps."

The cause of adult violence, says Gilligan, is a "collapse of self-esteem" triggered by an incident in which the murderer imagines himself or herself to be humiliated and shamed, resorting in what he calls a "logic of shame, a form of magical thinking that says, 'If I kill this person in this way, I will kill shame--I will be able to protect myself from being exposed and vulnerable to and potentially overwhelmed by the feeling of shame.'"41 Gilligan points out that shame is at the root of mass violence too, pointing out that "Hitler came to power on the campaign promise to undo 'the shame of Versailles'--and clearly that promise, and the sensitivity to shame from which it derived its power, struck a responsive chord in the German people as a whole."42 Though criminologists report that in homicides "the most common altercation was of relatively trivial origin: insult, curse, jostling, etc.,"43 these shaming events turn childhood traumas into current rage, what Katz terms "righteously enraged slaughter,"44 producing a "tremendous rush [that is] almost orgasmic" for the murderer45 as they avenge all their past hurts and humiliations. "All violence," says Gilligan, "is an attempt to achieve justice."46 As we shall shortly see, this includes mass violence as well, which also involves imagining one achieves justice through violent, righteous vengeance for earlier wrongs.


People start wars when something changes in their brains, neurotransmitters, hormones and cellular neuropeptide systems.47 This "something" is the result of a developmental process that begins before birth and is turned into a capacity for violence during childhood. Contrary to the views of Freud and Piaget, children are actually quite empathic toward others from birth if treated well. Neonates cry in response to the crying of another baby; "even 6-month-olds responded to distressed peers with actions such as leaning toward, gesturing toward, touching or otherwise contacting the peer."48 Babies who are treated well can be quite generous with their love, gently touching and patting other babies and even their mothers when they notice they look sad.

But the majority of children throughout history--particularly boys, who are physically and emotionally abused more than girls--feel so helpless and afraid that they grow up in what has been called a "culture of cruelty,"49 where they graduated from violent families to form gangs and try to dominate and hurt each other in order to be perpetrators rather than victims, thereby preparing themselves for cooperating in the violence of war. In one study, for instance, Lewis and Pincus report "a significantly greater proportion of very violent children demonstrated paranoid' symptomology [and] believed that someone was going to hurt them constantly feeling the need to carry weapons such as guns and metal pipes for their own protection"50

The more violent children, Lewis reports, "had been physically abused by mothers, fathers, stepparents, other relatives and 'friends' of the family. The degree of abuse to which they were subjected was often extraordinary. One parent broke her son's legs with a broom; another broke his fingers and his sister's arm; another chained and burned his son; and yet another threw his son downstairs. Several children witnessed their fathers, stepfathers, or mothers' boyfriends slash their mothers with knives. They saw their siblings tortured with cigarette butts, chained to beds, and thrown into walls."51 Severe neglect and emotional abuse have been shown to be equivalent to and often worse than physical abuse in producing lasting traumatic effects upon children.52

The neurobiological affects of trauma upon children have been extensively studied. As we have discussed earlier, serotonin levels are reduced by trauma, and are found in reduced levels in adult antisocial personalities, because the lower level of their inhibiting ability allows less control over impulsivity and therefore higher rates of violence.53 External stress also increases corticosterone production, decreasing the effectiveness of the hippocampal system which evaluates the emotional meaning of incoming stimuli.54 Psychopathic personalities have been found to be "actually slower to respond emotionally than the rest of us. Even when they're just sitting around, antisocial individuals are more low-key than the average person" because their noradrenergic behavioral inhibition systems were crippled due to excessive early neglect, traumas and over control by caretakers.55 Very early maternal neglect in particular produces an undersized orbitofrontal cortex--the brain region behind the eyes that allows one to reflect on one's emotions and to empathize with the feelings of others--resulting in such a diminished self and such a low capacity for empathy that the baby grows up literally unable to feel guilt about hurting others.56 Thus swaddled babies abandoned to cribs in dark rooms--as most children were in history--who totally miss the mother's gaze and loving interaction in their early years are programmed for later impulse disorders, psychopathic personalities and the need for killing in war, simply because they never have developed what today we consider "normal-sized" orbitofrontal cortexes through sustained eye contact and mutual play with the mother. As Shore puts it:

The orbitofrontal cortex functionally mediates the capacity to empathize with the feelings of others and to reflect on internal emotional states, one's own and others'.The socioaffective stimulation produced by the mother's face facilitates the experience-dependent growth. Children deprived of early visual sensory stimulation frequently show impairments in representational and affective functions that are responsible for severe emotional problems.57

Lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex produce unregulated aggression and dramatic mood state alterations in both humans and other animals because "unmodulated rage represents a hyperactivation of the dopaminergic system [and] impulsive acting out episodes [of] narcissistic rage."58 Children neglected and abused in early months "manifest pathological self-importance, or narcissism, displayed as grandiosity, recklessness insecurity and emotional shallowness [plus] the inability to feel ordinary human empathy and affection for others and the perpetrating of repeated antisocial acts."59 Thus the slow evolution of childrearing results in a slow historical increase in size in the average orbitofrontal cortex and more balanced serotonin, dopamine and other hormonal levels, resulting in a steady reduction of grandiosity, paranoia and uncontrolled rage and a diminishing historical rates of infanticide, homicide, suicide and war deaths.


One of the most important findings of Athens from his lifetime of interviewing of violent criminals is that before they kill they consult "phantom communities" who approve of their violent acts as revenges for past humiliations.60 These phantom communities are, of course, identical to the "social alters" I have discussed previously, where dissociated violent selves and internalized harmful caretakers are kept and engaged in dialogues that influence our deepest emotions and approve of our most violent behavior. Athens determined that violence didn't just follow trauma; it required a further "belligerency stage of violentization" during which the brutalized subject resolves in consultation with his inner phantoms, his alters, that he or she has had enough, that violence is sometimes necessary if one isn't to remain a victim one's whole life and that he or she will now use physical violence for those who unduly provoke or humiliate him or her. These alters are often actual inner voices telling the criminal what to do, so that

their decisions to act violently followed from a dialogue with their phantom communities--the "voices" were their phantom companions coming in exceptionally loud and clear. Lews corroborated Athens's finding that the self incorporates phantom companions when she examined Arthur Shawcross, the Rochester, New York, so-called serial killer who murdered prostitutes. "Arthur Shawcross also experienced dissociative states," Lewis reports. "At these times he would hear his mother in his head, berating him and the women he was seeing. No one was good enough for Arty. They should die."61

These dissociated social alters, it turns out, are concentrated in only one side of the brain, in one hemisphere, a different one in each of us. Frederic Schiffer explains how his studies of dual-brain psychology led him to ask his psychiatric patients to look through special glasses, one pair of which had only the left side of the left eye uncovered (reaching only the right hemisphere), the other only the right side of the right eye (reaching only the left hemisphere), so that the patient would transmit information only to one half of the brain at a time.62 He found that one hemisphere looked at the world with extreme anxiety and the other saw things more maturely:

One patient, a Vietnam veteran, whom I had diagnosed with a severe posttraumatic stress disorder, looked out of one side and developed an expression of intense apprehension as he looked at a large plant in my office. "It looks like the jungle," he said with some alarm. I asked him to look out the other side, and he said, "No, it's a nice-looking plant."

Schiffer finds he can help patients by having them analyze the emotional attitudes of the traumatized hemisphere, since "the troubled side is often like a traumatized person who hasn't been able to move beyond the trauma, even when removed from it, because he continues to expect retraumatization."63 Schiffer and others have done extensive work on dual-brain psychology, including putting one hemisphere to sleep with sodium amytal and finding the patient well-adjusted and pleasant, while putting the other side to sleep made him belligerent.64 He also showed that children who were admitted to hospitals after abuse more often showed abnormalities in brain waves of their left hemisphere and that PTSD patients felt more distress in their left hemispheres. Schiffer concludes:

Traumatic memories are likely closely related to a lower brain center called the amygdalain each hemisphere which is inhibited by a high-level cortical center, the orbital frontal lobe in that same hemisphere. Both the orbital frontal cortex and the hippocampus tend to try to calm the amygdala. We have too little information to do more than speculate about why the left brain may be more involved in the traumatic experiences of abused patients. Patients who have strong reactions to the glasses apparently have two distinct parts of their mind--one that sees the world as threatening and one that sees it as much less so. Frequently I have asked a troubled part of a person to stop attacking the other part of him, and suddenly the person feels remarkable relief.65

These alters which still live in the past, seeing the world as threatening and abusive, constitute, as Schiffer says, two separate minds, one frightened and angry, the other denying the concerns of its partner. When the more grown-up hemisphere moves into new freedom and new behavior, the traumatized hemisphere reexperiences the fear and helplessness it stores from early childhood and produces the "growth panic" I have found lies at the root of war and other violence. This struggle between the hemispheres is not always unconscious; more often it is simply dissociated, with one hemisphere being unaware of the feelings with which the other hemisphere is filled. When Rudolph Höss, SS Kommandant at Auschwitz, says, "I have never personally mistreated a prisoner, or even killed one. I have also never tolerated mistreatment on the part of my subordinates,"66 he is not being disingenuous.

The nontraumatized half of his brain sincerely believes he and his subordinates never mistreated a Jew as they were beating and torturing and murdering them by the hundreds of thousands. His social alter in his traumatized hemisphere was fully in control and cut off all meaning of what he was doing, which to his non-traumatized hemisphere appeared as normal. He had two brains which he was forced to keep separate; as he put it, "Many a night as I stood out there on the railroad platforms, at the gas chambers, or at the burnings, I was forced to think of my wife and children without connecting them to what was taking place."67

This dissociation into traumatized alters occurs more in groups because one feels more helpless and more depersonalized in large groups,68 particularly in the largest groups, nations, and therefore more fearful. When we think of acting in society or even of what it is like to speak in front of a large group, one feels more open to attack, to humiliation, and one can more easily switch into the traumatized hemisphere. Our first line of defense when in a social trance is to cling to a "strong" leader or a "strong" subgroup, merge our alters with them and join in various group activities, often violent ones, to defend ourselves.

Thus it makes sense that Freud, Le Bon and others define the inevitable characteristics of a group as invincibility, grandiosity, irresponsibility, impulsiveness, suggestibility and fearfulness,69 all qualities of the neglectful and traumatic figures stored in our social alters. Without the laterality of the brain, neither politics nor religion can exist, as they do not in other animals who do not have divided selves. (In fact, the only other animals who do sometimes go to war and murder each other senselessly are chimps and dolphins, both of which are large-brained, lateralized creatures with the beginnings of the ability for self-recognition.) It is only because humans have radically lateralized hemispheres with larger impulse inhibitors--orbitalfrontal cortexes and hippocampuses--that they are able to go to war with one hemisphere and build Leagues of Nations with the other.

The lower the childrearing mode, the more divided are the hemispheres. New Guinea natives can be warm and friendly while in their more mature hemisphere and suddenly switch into their social alters in the other hemisphere and kill you because they think you are bewitching them. The lower the childrearing mode, the more traumatic the early experiences, and the more divided the hemispheres. In tribal societies, switching into warrior alters is a simple process: "The man or boy leaves his former self behind and becomes something entirely different, perhaps even taking a new name the change usually accomplished through ritual drumming, dancing, fasting and sexual abstinences a new, warriorlike mode of being, denoted by special body paint, masks and headdresses."70 In modern societies, with a wide range of childrearing modes, "only 2 per cent of recruits kill easily, so the rest must be brought to do so by careful military training" featuring new traumatic experiences.71

The split mind begins to form with early trauma, even perinatally. Fredrick Leboyer, author of Birth Without Violence,72 once told me that babies born with his non-traumatic techniques not only were far more calm and happy after birth but "less one-handed," less brain-lateralized. The two halves of the brain are even sometimes recognized in political imagery. Hitler, for instance, often spoke of a strange "kinship" between the Aryan and Jew (the two sides of his brain): "Has it not struck you how the Jew is the exact opposite of the German in every single respect, and yet is as closely akin to him as a blood brother? so closely allied and yet so utterly dissimilar."73 This split mind is responsible for what is termed "the banality of evil;" one side is banal (Winnicott's "False Self"), the other side evil (the "Bad Boy" alter). It accounts for how nations can joyfully choose violent leaders to take them to suicidal wars, and yet one part of their mind can be wholly unaware of what is happening. For example, the following is William L. Shirer's description of sitting in the Berlin Sportpalast watching Hitler shouting and shrieking that "he will go to war this Saturday. Curious audience, the fifteen thousand party Bonzen packed into the hall. They applauded his words with the usual enthusiasm.

Yet there was no war fever. The crowd was good-natured, as if it didn't realize what his words meant."74 The dual brain also explains how "ordinary Germans"--extremely traumatized by "ordinary German childrearing" around 1900--could have, during the Holocaust, "humiliated, beat and tortured defenseless people and then shot them in the back of the neck without the slightest hesitation [and then dissociate and] pose before their living or dead victims, laughing into the camera {and] write home that these snapshots and extermination anecdotes would someday be 'extremely interesting to our children.'"75


The primary sources of violent political behaviors are the concrete mother-child interactions of one generation earlier--how mainly the mother responded to, cared for and conveyed her feelings and fears to her fetus, infant and young child. We have already described in Chapter 3 how going to war is preceded by flashbacks to intrauterine, perinatal traumas and group-fantasies of the need for national rebirth. Here we will begin to examine the sources of human violence in early mother-child interactions.

Videotape recordings of children's relationships with their mothers in the preverbal period "have been shown to remain essentially the same over time and to be duplicated with other 'substitute' mother figures. A child who has a warm, affectionate relationship with the mother will relate to others in a warm, affectionate manner, whereas a child with a guarded, distant relationship will relate to others in a guarded, distant manner."76 This maternal relationship is eventually restaged in international relations in a concrete manner, being acted out in "the sandbox of history" with nations playing the emotional roles of the mothers and children from early life.

Mothers in history who because of their own life experiences see their children as harmful and aggressive have historically mainly treated them in ways that have made them grow up as violent adults, by routinely inflicting upon them murder, abandonment, neglect, binding, enemas, domination, beatings, sexual assaults and emotional abuses77 that are later restaged in wars and political behavior. Necessity was not the main source of these cruelties toward children--wealthy parents were historically even more overtly rejecting, giving their children to others at birth for years for what they expected would be abusive caretaking. Fathers have until recently usually only worsened this early traumatic upbringing, since historically the father has almost always been mostly absent from the child's early life --most fathers in history spending their days in the fields or factories and their nights in the taverns (see Chapter 7). When home, fathers have lent little support to mothers in caretaking and emotional nurturance, requiring that his wife "mother" him rather than his children.

Growing up, Mahler found, is built upon basic maternal care, since "differentiation is from the mother, not from the father."78 Therefore, women not men have until recently for better or worse been the main sources of care, neglect and abuse throughout history. As St. Augustine put it, "Give me other mothers and I will give you another world." His words have been confirmed by recent clinical studies. What Erikson said about girls has been found to be true of all children: "By the time a girl developmentally turns to the father, she has normally learned the nature of an object relationship once and for all from her mother."79 In short, mothers are major actors in childhood history--they are perpetrators80 and not just victims, as the theory of patriarchy holds.

Most of the extremely abusive historical childrearing practices which are detailed in the next three chapters of this book are routine reactions to the child's daily needs and growth process, wherein immature mothers expect their children to give them the love they missed as a child and therefore experience the child's independence as rejection. As one battering mother said, "I have never felt really loved all my life. When the baby was born, I thought he would love me, but when he cried all the time, it meant he didn't love me, so I hit him."81 Surveys show mothers in most cultures report initial feelings of "indifference" toward their newborn.82 In fact, childbirth often triggers post-partum depression and feelings of emptiness83 because it means the mother must give up her own hopes to receive the care she missed from her own mother.84 The moment the infant needs something or turns away from her to explore the world, it triggers her own memories of maternal rejection. When the infant cries, the immature mother hears her mother, her father, her siblings and her spouse screaming at her. She then "accuses the infant of being unaffectionate, unrewarding and selfish as not interested in me."85 All growth and individuation by the child is therefore experienced as rejection. This is why social progress, prosperity and new political freedoms are so anxiety-producing. "When the mother cannot tolerate the child's being a separate person with her own personality and needs, and demands instead that the child mirror her, separation becomes heavily tinged with basic terror for the child."86 Children first experience "growth panic" anxieties because their mother rejects, humiliates or punishes them for their needs and for their individuation. As adults, they then turn to paranoid and violent political behavior during periods of growth and individuation because society threatens to reproduce this intolerable early maternal rejection, shame or punishment. Because these maternal interactions are so early, they are primarily nonverbal, which means that politics has a dominantly nonverbal quality that can only be studied by research into illustrations rather than words--group-fantasies shown in cartoons, magazine covers and TV images. This is why I often watch the nightly news on TV with the sound off.87

It is likely that the centrality of mothers in bringing up children is even responsible for the fact that men are more violent than women and universally fight wars. Testosterone is not the cause, as is usually imagined, since (1) testosterone levels are actually lower in the most aggressive boys,88 and (2) "testosterone is present in boys and girls in roughly the same amounts before the age of ten" and (3) although "all normal boys experience a huge surge of testosterone in early adolescence, [they] do not all display increased aggression[so] testosterone does not cause aggression."89 Evidence is beginning to accumulate that it is differential treatment of boys, especially by mothers, that is responsible for their higher rates of violence in later life. Boys in every culture are physically punished more often and with greater severity than girls;90 boys are more often used sexually by their mothers in their early years than girls;91 boys are given less nurturance, are ignored more often, are spoken to less and are coached to be more violent than girls;92 boys are subject to over control by humiliation and shame more often than girls;93 and boys are more harshly disciplined for the same actions by parents and teachers.94 Mothers also see their boys as "just like his dad," and take revenge against them for their husband's actions--after all, Medea killed her sons, not her daughters, to hurt Jason for his infidelity.95 Thus although boys begin life with no more aggression than girls, they grow up to be more violent simply because they are less trusted and more feared by their earliest caretakers.

Although the battlegrounds may change, wars--whether between mother and child or between nations--are inevitably about the basic feelings of infancy: trust, security, approval, domination, envy, rage, threats, shame and independence.96 Since having a child revives in mothers long-dormant wishes for the closeness that they missed from their own mothers, mothers often envy the child each of the needs they are asked to satisfy, thinking, "I never got that; why should my child?" Even today psychologists find many mothers reject their infants in many ways because they "fear bodily damage due to the child's aggressiveness."97 But before the nineteenth century mothers throughout history were so immature that they thought their infants were so full of violence that they would "scratch their eyes out, tear their ears off, or break their legs" if they didn't tie them up in endless bandages, "so as to resemble billets of wood so the flesh was compressed almost to gangrene."98 Therefore, through most of history, early mother-child interactions which most "good-enough mothers" today are capable of--centering around mutual gazing, babbling and smiling99 --were all missing, because mothers tightly bound their babies up at birth and stuck them in another room, severely neglected for their first year of their lives.100 International affairs has not throughout history been much negotiated in a secure and peaceful manner because infantile life was not very secure nor peaceful.

Sociologists and historians have avoided looking for the family sources of wars and social violence. Whenever a group produces murderers, the mother-child relationship must be abusive and neglectful. Yet this elementary truth has not even begun to be considered in historical research; just stating that poor mothering lies behind wars seems blasphemous. Instead, the grossest sort of idealizations of historical mothering proliferate. When, for instance, studies of the sources of the extreme violence of the Mafia turn to depictions of Sicilian mother-child relations they inevitably come to resemble the happy, loving families out of "The Godfather." Yet it is only when an Italian psychoanalyst, Silvia di Lorenzo, writes a book on La Grande Madre Mafia that her descriptions of typical Sicilian mother-child interactions begin to give us an accurate picture of the maternal origins of Mafia violence:

If a boy of theirs commits a slight fault, they do not resort to simple blows, but they pursue him on a public street and bite him on the face, the ears, and the arms until they draw blood. In those moments even a beautiful woman is transformed in physiognomy, she becomes purplish-red, with blood-shot eyes, with gnashing teeth, and trembling convulsions, and only the hastening of others, who with difficulty tear away the victim, put an end to such savage scenes.101

Thus the conditions of early mothering have profound affects on adult human violence. It is not surprising that Ember and Ember found in their cross-cultural studies that where the mother sleeps closer to the baby than to the father and uses the baby as a substitute spouse--usually sexually--there is more homicide and war.102 Every childrearing practice in history is restaged in adult political behavior. Children whose mothers swaddled them and were "not there" emotionally could not as adults maintain object consistency and grew up paranoid, imagining "enemies" everywhere. Children whose mothers regularly did not feed them in a timely fashion experienced the world as malevolently withholding. Children whose mothers rejected them with depressive silence experienced peaceful international periods as threatening. Children whose mothers dominated them and who were engulfing often choose totalitarian political leaders. Children whose mothers were so needy they describe their children as "born selfish and demanding" and or who saw them as "angry since birth" experienced other nations as demanding too much or as angry "bad babies." Children whose mothers used them as antidepressants chose manic, often violent leaders to counter their own depression. And mothers who ridiculed and humiliated their children whenever their activities didn't coincide with her own were experienced in the international sphere as poison containers of intolerable ridicule and shame--as in "the shame of Versailles." It is not surprising, then, that violent, authoritarian political behavior has been statistically correlated with rejecting, punitive parenting.103

As Godwin puts it, society is an "exopsychic structure" where adults restage the "parental purification system" of childhood by "cleansing bad, frustrating and abusive aspects of the parent-child relationship" in the political arena.104 In Chapter 3 I have dealt extensively with the evidence showing that war and social violence are preceded by rebirth group-fantasies of cleansing and purification of "sins." It is only the elimination of the most abusive and neglectful historical parenting practices in some nations that have allowed them to set up trusting, non-violent rules of political interactions and have permitted them to achieve more or less cooperative democratic societies and to avoid fighting wars with other democracies. Obviously international peace will not prevail until most parents around the world trust rather than fear their children.


War, then, is the act of restaging early traumas for the purpose of maternal revenge and self purification. Wars are clinical emotional disorders, periodic shared psychotic episodes of delusional organized butchery intended--like homicide--to turn a severe "collapse of self esteem" into "a rage to achieve justice." Wars are both homicidal and suicidal--every German in 1939 who cheered Hitler on as he promised to start an unwinnable world war against overwhelming opposing nations knew deep down they were committing suicide.

Like all homicides and suicides, wars are reactions to our failed search for love, magical gestures designed to ensure love through projection into enemies, by "knocking the Terrifying Mommy off her pedestal" and by "killing the Bad Boy self." As Kernberg puts its, violence occurs only when "the world seems to be split between those who side with the traumatizing object and those who support the patient's wishes for a revengeful campaign against the traumatizing object."105 Thus the early crisis in maternal love, which had been internalized during childhood in Terrifying Mommy and Bad Boy alters, is resolved by acting out on the historical stage the revenge against the Terrifying Mommy and by the wiping out of the Bad Boy self.

1. War as Righteous Rape--Revenge Against the Terrifying Mommy: Enemy nations in wars are often pictured as women (see Chapter 3), witches, even placental beasts. When they are seen as women, enemies are there to be pushed around, not eliminated, since even when raging against a bad mommy the hurt child knows he needs her desperately. This is why Hitler kept hoping to manipulate Mother England into being friendly. And it is why he didn't destroy Paris when he marched into La Belle France. Nations to the west of Germany were mainly seen as mommies to be revenged against, to be "knocked off their pedestals" but not to be eliminated. "Francewas not marked for subjugation but rather for a secondary role in the Nazi scheme [and] Hitler was always keen on reaching some settlement with the British [therefore] the German army fighting in the west was given strict orders to conduct itself according to the rules of war."106 The same group-fantasy of war as righteous rape was voiced by Germans in 1914, when they imagined that "only if we are able to hurt England badly will she really leave us unmolested, perhaps even become a 'friend.'"107

2. War as Purification--Killing Off the Bad Boy Self: Enemy nations are also imagined as Bad Boys, disobedient, disgusting, violent, sexual--everything one was accused of as a child by one's caretakers. If the Bad Boy self can be killed off entirely, "finally mommy will love me." This is why Hitler vowed to wipe out the "bad" nations to the east and settle "good Germans" in their place. Poles, Russians, Jews, every nation east of Germany were projected with Bad Boy imagery: "Slavs were considered subhumans, to be either murderer starved to death."108 Moscow, Hitler promised, would be leveled and turned into a reservoir, and Jews would be totally eliminated. In addition, WWII would be a suicidal mission for millions of Germans, thus killing off the "Bad Boy" part of themselves, the most vital, growing, independent self. Then the "good German" self that remained would be purified and would finally be loved by mommy, the Motherland.

It is not surprising that in early societies bloodthirsty War Goddesses ruled over battlefields, since wars are all about resolving the crisis between Terrifying Mommies and Bad Boys. Leaders are delegated the task of being sacrificial priests. Even simple societies go to war to win the love of mommy; in the Yanomamo war ritual myth, the culture hero Child of Water goes to war and slays enemies to "end chaos" and "do what his mother desires and thereby win her approval."109 The role of the father in war is quite different: it is to provide the violence needed to rape and revenge the Terrifying Mommy and to punish and wipe out the Bad Baby.

Hitler carried a dog whip everywhere he went, the same whip he and millions of German children were beaten with by their fathers.110 Oddly enough, nations don't go to war as revenge against bad fathers--the drama is earlier than that. Even though children are terribly frightened by their father's violence in the family, the goal in starting wars isn't finally to take revenge against the father, but to "kill the shame," to purify the self and to force mother to love you--to organize men into Fatherlands so they can conquer Motherlands.

Nations switch into their dissociated traumatized hemispheres after periods of peace and prosperity because the individuation challenges of social progress means separating from mommy, a dangerous act in adulthood if it was not allowed by the mother in childhood. Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others, noticed the growth panic that went along with prosperity and progress when he wondered in his journal why Americans felt such a "strange melancholy in the midst of abundance."111 Increases in freedom and prosperity for people who have been abused as children lead first to fears of separation and then to a clinging to the early abusive mommy, even to merging with her. But to merge with a mommy means losing one's masculinity--it means becoming a woman--therefore long periods of peace mean castration.

Thus Kant's dicta that wars are necessary because "prolonged peace favors effeminacy" parallels Machiavelli's claim that war exists to purge nations of effeminato, the "daily accretion of poisonous matter [caused by women's] conspiracy to "poison' manhood" and John Adams' query to Jefferson, "Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance, vice and folly?"112 In fact, in groups where they do not have effective war rituals available when people experience severe ego disintegration, people often go amok--a dissociative state where people suddenly kill people in wild, uncontrolled sprees, as often occurs in the otherwise placid Balinese.113 Even chimpanzees "go amok" when given food supplies by humans and "engage in episodes of apparently unprovoked explosive behavior as though they had entered an ASC [Alternate State of Consciousness]to discharge an inner state of tension similar to human dissociative behaviours"114 Prosperity appears to be anxiety-producing even in non-human primates, switching them into their more violent, dissociated hemispheres. Chimpanzees who are not artificially fed by anthropologists live in "peaceful, open groups without signs of any dominance hierarchy, enforced territoriality or single leaders."115

Prosperity leads to starting wars most often in societies where the economic advances of a minority, a more advanced psychoclass, outrun the childrearing evolution of the majority, producing in the less advanced psychoclasses extreme anxieties about changes that require individuation. Thus the most destructive wars have occurred in the twentieth century when there is a rapid "leap into modernity" by nations whose average childrearing lagged badly behind their social and economic progress--so that they tried to run modern capitalist systems with crippled human capital--while the most peaceful periods (for instance, Europe's "century of peace" from 1815 to 1914)116 occurred while the childrearing of most Western European nations was most rapidly evolving and could keep up with the individuation challenges of modernity.117


In Chapter 4 evidence was presented that wars most often occur after leaders have been in office for some time and are seen as weakening in their ability to be in control of national group-fantasies. Thus, the longer the leader is in office, the more likely he will be to take the nation to war. This is confirmed in the case of the United States, where no president has gone to war during his first year, his "strong" phase; where smaller wars sometimes begin in the second and third year of office, as the president weakens; and where its three most destructive wars--the Civil War and the two World Wars, with their hundreds of thousands of American battle fatalities--occurred at the end of 45, 48 and 103 months of the terms of Buchanan, Wilson and FDR, after their group-fantasy strength had collapsed.

Much empirical work has been done on the historical study of war cycles.118 A cycle of about 25 years in the level of violence for most nations in recent centuries has been determined,119 as though each new generation must be thrown into the mouth of Moloch as a purification sacrifice. There has also been considerable work done on economic cycles and their close relationship to war cycles,120 with the finding that "wars between great powers occur during periods of economic expansion, while stagnation hinders their outbreak [so that] after 1815 no wars have been started during a depression."121 Furthermore, "fatalities follow the pattern of [economic] upswings and downswings perfectly the average annual fatality rate was21 times higher on upswings than downswings."122 Thus, although wars have been confirmed to be the results of prosperity, it is because no psychological analysis has ever been attempted that scholars have had to admit, "We do not understand the causal dynamics of the long wave encompassing political and economic elements."123 In the remainder of this chapter we will present a psychogenic theory of group-fantasy cycles that will explain this periodic alternation between economic depressions and wars.

In the chart below, four American group-fantasy cycles have been drawn for the past two centuries of American history, each consisting of four phases: (1) Innovative, (2) Depressed, (3) Manic and (4) War. At the bottom of the chart are listed the major depressions and wars, which coincide with the second and fourth phases of group-fantasy. In the middle of the chart is drawn Klingberg's extrovert-introvert Foreign Policy Mood Curve, which he compiled by counting such foreign policy indices as the proportion of presidential speeches given over to positive action needed in world affairs.124 As can be seen, there is a close correlation between Klingberg's mood index stages and my independently-derived group-fantasy phases.

An outline of the four group-fantasy phases is shown below.

American Group-Fantasy Cycles

Empirical verification follows on each point in the outline, stressing American and other national group-fantasies and its resulting political and economic behavior. Then the four phases are followed in detail at the end of the chapter for German childrearing around 1900 and its restaging in the four phases of group-fantasy from the Weimar Republic to World War II and the Holocaust.

Group-Fantasy Phases

1. Innovative Phase:

A new psychoclass comes of age after the previous war, a minority of the cohort born two to three decades earlier and raised with more evolved childrearing modes. This new psychoclass introduces new inventions, new social and economic arrangements and new freedoms for women and minorities, producing an "Era of Good Feelings," a "Gilded Age" that for a few years is tolerated even by the earlier psychoclasses. By the end of the Innovative Phase, however, the challenges produced by progress and individuation begin to make everything seem to be "getting out of control" as wishes surface into consciousness that threaten to revive early maternal rejection and punishment.

In addition, as women, children and minorities get new freedoms, older psychoclasses find they cannot be used as much as they previously had been as poison containers who can be punished for one's sins. Purity Crusades begin, anti-modernity movements demanding that new sexual and other freedoms be ended to reduce the anxieties of the nation's growth panic and "turn back the clock" to more controlled times and social arrangements.

2. Depressed Phase:

The older psychoclasses become depressed because of their new individuation challenges, expecting punishment for them, and produce an economic depression by withdrawing money from circulation, by raising interest rates, by reducing consumption, by limiting trade and by making all the other surplus-reducing motivated "mistakes" in fiscal policies that are so familiar in economic history. Economic depressions are motivated internal sacrifices which often kill more people than wars do.125 Cartoons prior to and during depressions often show sinful, greedy people being sacrificed on altars,126 and the depressed nation becomes paralyzed politically, unable to take action to reverse the economic downturn. Just as depressed individuals experience little conscious anger--feeling they "deserve to be punished"--so too nations in depressions are characterized by "introverted" foreign policy moods, start fewer military expeditions and are less concerned with foreign affairs. The feeling during depressions is "I should be killed" for my wishes rather than "I want to kill others." Depressions are economic anorexias, where people starve themselves to avoid being eaten up by the Dragon Mother, the maternal vulture of infancy. The nation begins to look for a Phallic Leader with whom they can merge and regain their failed potency and who can protect them against their growing delusional fears of a persecutory mommy.

3. Manic Phase:

As eventual economic recovery threatens fresh anxiety, manic economic, social and military activity builds up as a defense against depressive anxieties, as the nation engages in speculative investment, credit explosions, foreign belligerence, military buildups and other grandiose, hypergenital attempts to demonstrate omnipotent control of symbolic love supplies. Apocalyptic group-fantasies of a world full of evil and a God who is furious and about to end it all proliferate, producing severe growth panics such as the American "Great Awakenings" that occurred in manic periods prior to wars. Continued prosperity leads to a search for poison containers, both internal (minorities, criminals, children) and external (foreign enemies), who can be punished in national Purity Crusades as Bad Boys who embody the nation's sinful greed. Maternal engulfment fears increase as grandiose defenses and memories of being a helpless baby return, so people imagine their nations as "pitiful, helpless giants," with gigantic needs, but helpless to satisfy them. As paranoid delusional enemies seem to surround the nation, sacrificial rebirth group-fantasies appear, complete with devouring placental sea monsters, picturing violence as the only antidote to growing fears of disintegration of self.127

4. War Phase:

When another nation is found that agrees to provide the humiliation episode needed as a casus belli, a tremendous relief is felt of "Aha! I knew the enemy was real and not just in my head." The group-psychotic insight that diabolical enemies are strangling and poisoning one's nation forces a final complete switch into the social trance wherein group-fantasy becomes reality, goals disappear and violent action becomes irresistible as early traumas are restaged.128 The neurotransmitters, hormones and neuropeptides of the nation change dramatically, in the same manner as the neurochemistry of individuals changes as they move toward violence.129 War provides the opportunity for both righteous rape and purification. The righteous rape can be described as both maternal (Mother England) and homosexual (the soldiers)--in fact, war is overwhelmingly a homosexual perversion, since men leave their female partners and go abroad and stick things into other men's bodies. The purification accomplishes the sacrifice of the Bad Boy self, both through the suicidal part of war, killing the nation's own youth as sacrifice of soldiers, and the homicidal part, killing the enemy, each representing Bad Boy selves that must be wiped out so the mommy-nation can finally love the "real" self.

Thus wars and depressions can be seen as classically occurring in cycles similar to individual manic-depressive cycles of violence, only stretched out into periods of approximately one full generation in length. Each of the first three American group-fantasy cycles in the chart above is approximately 50 years long and ends with two wars, first usually a "nice little war" as a sort of trial balloon and then a full-fledged war that produces the rebirth of national virility. This pattern was partially broken after WWII--when improving childrearing reduced the size of both economic downturns and wars--and since when there has been a shorter cycle of group-fantasies, wars and recessions (see discussion at the end of this chapter). Although most Western nations in the past three centuries have had the same "four wars a century" pattern as the United States, whether they also have followed the same four-stage group-fantasy cycle has yet to be investigated.130


The central force for change in economic life is the result of earlier changes in childrearing among a minority of the society. The usual causal chain of modernization theory--that more prosperity means more money for improving childrearing--is simply backward, both because empirically childrearing change always precedes economic change131 and because the richest families traditionally have not given more to their children, they have routinely sent them out at birth to abusive caretakers. Those children whose parents actually bring them up themselves and try to surpass traditional childcare practices grow up as a new, innovative psychoclass that tries the new social and economic ventures which soon appear dangerous to the earlier psychoclasses.

The innovative phases in the chart of American group-fantasies above are familiar to every student of American history as periods of unparalleled growth and technological invention.

They contain the early growth of steamboats, railroads and telegraphs; the two phases of the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution with its rapid industrialization and immigration; the Second Industrial Revolution after World War I; and even the computer revolution produced by the Spock generation.132 These were times when not only was national income soaring and work hours dropping, but "there was a tacit or explicit consensus between employers and labour organizations to keep labour demands within limits that did not eat into the profits, and the future prospects of profits high enough to justify the huge investments without which the spectacular growth of Golden Age labour productivity could not have taken place."133 Thus investment in children paid off in investment in productivity.

During these innovative phases, governments manage to work out various formal and informal rules to settle international disagreements. Since peace is not just an absence of war and involves establishing intergovernmental organizations and conferences to resolve disputes, nations that are not in an emotional state of collapsed self-esteem have regularly found ways even without an overarching international government to break stalemates and settle their disagreements without violence.134 Whether by bilateral agreement or through the restraints of peace conferences, innovative psychoclasses have demonstrated that there are many ways--such as buffer states, compensation and concerts of power--whereby issues can be resolved outside of power politics that lead to wars.

Each of these innovative phases also were periods of women's rights, the best-known of which in America were the early nineteenth-century groups pressing for women's education, jobs, new divorce laws and property rights; the post-Civil War Woman's Sufferage Movement; the post-WWI women's rights movement; and the post-Vietnam War feminist movement. The earlier psychoclasses--both men and women--reacted to these freedoms for "the new women" with extreme horror.135 Just as the economic advances of early modern Europe resulted in a million women killed as witches, the progress of the modern innovative periods engendered fears of the femme fatale phallic females136 --a restaging of the early Terrifying Mothers--who were "strongly passionate and endowed with strong animal natures"137 --who produced "sexual anarchy" where "men became women [and] women became men."138 Ever since Cato wailed in 195 B.C., after a few Roman women sought to repeal a law that forbade them from wearing multicolored dresses, that "women have become so powerful that our independence has been lost in our own homes and is now being trampled and stamped underfoot in public,"139 innovative periods in history have produced anti-women Purity Crusades designed to reverse social progress and return to more familiar repressive times.140

Purity Crusades have, of course, centered on sexual morality, whether they combated Noyes' "free love" debates before the Civil War or Margaret Sanger's birth control ideas in the 1920s.141 They include "moral reform" crusades against prostitution, against pornography, against alcohol--against everything that represented unfulfilled wishes, including even bicycle seats, that "might cause women's moral downfall."142 Even the reduction of the work week--the Saturday Half-Holiday Act of 1887-- was opposed as likely to cause the masses to turn to "dancing, carousing, low behavior, rioting, shooting, and murder."143 Children's rights were opposed because any relaxation of punitive childrearing would inevitably lead to "running wild, blatant disobedience masturbation and insanity"144 and since children are "made monsters in life by indulgence in infancy" if given the slightest independence would go "directly to the grog shop, the gambling house or the brothel."145 Cars for women were opposed because they could be turned into "houses of prostitution on wheels."146 And whenever the Purity Crusade began, it usually continued right into the next war, which borrowed its language and moral fervor, so that it seemed the war itself was a purification of the nation. Thus purity reformers of the 1850s, reacting to the feminism of the time, began a crusade against sex between Southern white men and black women, objecting to slavery not so much on behalf of the rights of the slaves but in order "to protect the sexual purity of America." In the words of purity crusaders, "The Southern states are one Great Sodom a vast brothel" which only a war between the North and the South could clean up.147 Thus, too, World War I was said to have been needed to be fought "to save men from moral decay [from homosexuality]"148 and the Vietnam War was accompanied by a fantasy that, according to Time's special issue on "SEX IN THE U.S.," found a dangerous "demise of Puritanism" in America due to "Freudian psychology" that had made "America one big Orgone Box [of] pornography."149 Eventually, all Purity Crusades move abroad and punish our desires in living enemies.


The task of controlling growth panic by depressions is given during the modern period mainly to central banks, which first flood the nation with low interest liquidity to encourage overinvestment, excess borrowing, inflation and stock market bubbles, and then, when the expansion becomes too sinful for the national psyche, reverse the monetary expansion by increasing interest rates and reducing liquidity ("Taking away the punch bowl when the party gets going.")150 Depressions come because really people become depressed, reducing their spending and investment, and feel hopeless. Depressions are, as Keynes said, "a crises of sentiment a collapse of confidence."151 The task of government, according to Keynes, was to recognize that demand (desire) is subject to irrational contractions which had to be offset through fiscal and monetary manipulations--rather like a psychiatrist prescribing medications to change serotonin levels. Yet neither Keynes nor any other economist asked why people periodically become depressed and reduce their activities.

In fact, nations enter into depressions because they feel persecuted for their prosperity and individuation by what Jungians have termed the "Dragon Mother"--the needy, "devouring mother of infancy who cannot let her children go because she needs them for her own psychic survival."152 Weston has found anorexics in particular are dominated by fantasies of persecution by the Dragon Mother, who "gives her child the impossible task of filling her ‘limitless void''' so the child fears being "eaten alive."153 To prevent this, when these children grow up and try to individuate, they refuse to eat so they won't have any flesh on them for the Dragon Mother to devour. Economic depressions evidence similar group-fantasies of devouring mommies; they are "economic anorexias" where nations inflict economic wounds upon themselves to limit consumption, become "all bones" and not tempt the devouring Dragon Mother. Banks, in particular, are often pictured as greedy dragons. For instance, President Jackson imagined the Bank of the United States was what he called the "Mother Bank" that by issuing paper money was a "bad mother dominating her children" who had to be stopped before the nation was eaten up, and so conducted a "kill the Great Monster" campaign that would "strangle the many-headed hydra" and kill it.154 Needless to say, his success in "crushing the Mother Bank dragon" led to an economic downturn.

That depressions purposefully punish families is rarely acknowledged. In the depression beginning in 1873, for instance, produced by "a decade of speculative excess and overinvestment,"155 there was "20 percent unemployed, 40 percent worked for only six or seven months a year, and only 20 percent worked regularly."156 Depressions have killed hundreds of thousands of women and children, a sacrifice of Bad Children greater than many wars. Yet depressions are still seen as "beneficial purges" of the economic bloodstream; as the Treasury Secretary said in 1929 as the Federal Reserve helped push the world into depression, "It will purge the rottenness out of the system."157 Depressions are indeed blood purges, only sacrificial, similar to the practice of the Aztecs sacrificing humans and regularly drawing blood from their thighs and genitals to "feed" the goddess to prevent her from becoming angry with them for their sinful prosperity.158 Thus William K. Joseph's study of cartoons and ads during 1929 found they were "full of strong, wealthy women, but the men were pictured as puny, neurotic, and insignificant."159

That depressions--like anorexia and like all blood sacrifices--are self-inflicted wounds and not just the results of "mysteriously wrongheaded monetary policies"160 is still not admitted by most economists. The end of prosperity comes "with a sense of relief."161 Even the "mistakes" by authorities that lead to a downturn are unconsciously motivated: for instance, the "mistake" of the Federal Reserve in 1925 in lowering interest rates and igniting the stock market bubble, followed by the "mistake" of their overly restrictive monetary policy after 1929 that reduced the stock of money by a third and turned the downturn into a severe depression, plus the "mistaken" higher tariffs of the Hoover administration and the "mistaken" budget-balancing of the Roosevelt administration,162 all were determined by the nation's sacrificial group-fantasy of a devouring Dragon Mother who needed to be placated.

One of the best defenses against fears of maternal engulfment is merging with a Phallic Leader to restore potency. Anzieu found small groups regularly searched for a narcissistic, aggressive leader when they felt that "everything is crumbling" in the group.163 Parin found the Anyi tribe he studied, where the mothering was neglectful and incestuous, produced men who feared being "poisoned, devoured and castrated by women" and who chose exceptionally violent leaders because they felt that "the preoedipal mother is more dangerous than the oedipal father," and merging with a "strong and severe father" saved them from feeling castrated.164 And Blum found that when nations choose "hypnotic-like surrender to the leader," they overcome "infantile helplessness and weakness, childhood traumata, child abuse and neglect and feelings of being unloved [through] an escalation to war [whereby] the sacrifice of the sons in battle by their oedipal fathers and a ‘macho' defense against femininity are powerful dynamics."165

The initial task of the Phallic Leader is to "make real" the growing paranoia of the nation:

It is as if a therapist said to the paranoid-schizoid patient, "You really are being persecuted. Let me help you by naming your persecutors you and your true friends can fight the persecutors and praise each other's righteousness, which will help you realize that the source of aggression and evil is out there, in the real world. And you thought it was all in your head!"166

The most effective Phallic Leaders have been found to be "narcissistic personalities who are characterized by intense self-involvement [whose] interpersonal relations are frequently marked by a lack of empathy, [who] oscillate between feelings of grandiosity and omnipotence and feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem [and who] are particularly susceptible to feelings of shame and humiliation."167 Only narcissistic leaders who from early childhood have felt shamed and humiliated could, like Richard Nixon, lead wars that had no other purpose than to avoid accepting "a national humiliation [that would] destroy our country's confidence in itself."168 The deep well of loneliness created in them by the emotional distancing of their mothers is usually worsened by the absence of their fathers, which has been found by Broude to result in hypermasculinity and violence.169 The loneliness leads them to volunteer as delegates to lead large masses of people out of their depression through "macho" politics. Conquering women and conquering nations are one for the Phallic Leader.170 It is no coincidence that virtually all of America's wartime presidents were adulterers or compulsive womanizers.171 Conquest is the political function of the Phallic Leader. As Hitler put it, "The crowd is a woman after a speech I feel as if I had a sexual release."172 Dominance and violence restores and purifies the self. As Hitler said after the Röhm massacre, "So! Now I have taken a bath, and feel clean as a new-born babe again."173

Thus a Phallic Leader wards off the humiliations of maternal abuse and neglect by political violence. Lyndon Johnson, for instance, remembers his engulfing mother's withdrawal of affection whenever he failed to do as she wished, "walking around the house pretending I was dead [and] refusing to speak or even look at [me]."174 As a result, he had a recurring dream that a stampede of cattle--a symbol of maternal engulfment175 --was coming toward him while he was paralyzed in a chair, and that he cried out for his mother, but no one came.176 His fear of helplessness and humiliation returned just before Vietnam, when, he said, "I felt that I was being chased on all sides by a giant stampede coming at me the American people were stampeding me to do something about Vietnam I deserved something more than being left alone in the middle of the plain, chased by stampedes on every side."177 According to his biographer, he "avoided at all costs the threat to his self-esteem that public humiliation might entail"178 and started the war. The war restored his and the nation's masculinity: "unzipping his fly, [Johnson] pulled out his penis and asked the reporters (according to one who was there), 'Has Ho Chi Minh got anything to match that?'"179 The war castrated the "enemy," not Johnson: "I didn't just screw Ho Chi Minh. I cut his pecker off."180 Those who opposed the war were women: "[They have] to squat to piss."181 Going to war meant not being a woman, not being overwhelmed by mommy.

Merging with a Phallic Leader involves switching into the dissociated hemisphere and entering into the social trance. Atlas has shown that political trances derive their power not from any magical "charismatic" qualities of the leader but from the correlation between adult hypnotizability and abusive childrearing.182 The Phallic Leader, like a shaman, is adept at entering into trance states himself--Hitler often called himself "a sleepwalker." Political meetings are easily seen as altered states of consciousness. A journalist reports getting "caught in a mob of ten thousand hysterics who jammed the moat in front of Hitler's hotel shouting, ‘We want our Führer!' I was a little shocked at the faces, especially those of the women. They reminded me of the crazed expressions I saw once in the back country of Louisiana on the faces of some Holy Rollers. They looked up at him as if he were a Messiah, their faces transformed."183 Switching into their social alter gave them a shot of dopaminergic power, exactly the same as taking amphetamines, that made them feel merged with both the Phallic Leader and the group, the nation, the Volk. Fichte described this merging as he felt it take hold of him:

When I thought of the Volk and saw it, and when the great feeling of it gripped me, when a great crowd moves before me, when a band of warriors passes before me with flowing banners. I feel the indestructible life, the eternal spirit, and the eternal God. I am immediately freed from all sins. I am no longer a single suffering man, I am one with the Volk184

Because nations continue to live in both their hemispheres as they go to war, they must both prepare for war by maneuvering an enemy into a pose where they can be righteously attacked, and at the same time provide deniability that their nation is really responsible for the war. Leaders might recognize, as Theodore Roosevelt wrote to a friend in 1897, that "In strict confidence. I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one."185 But Phallic Leaders usually find ways to invent "unprovoked attacks," from Wilson's lies about the sinking of the Lusitania and LBJ's lies about the attack in the Gulf of Tonkin to Hitler's lies about an attack by Polish forces. One of the most complex lies that carefully provoked an attack that was then pretended to be a surprise was that of President Franklin Roosevelt's year-long actions to get Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. Stinnett's voluminously-documented book, Day of Deceit, demonstrates that in October of 1940 FDR secretly began to carry out a series of eight actions that forced the hawks among the Japanese government to go to war with the U.S., embargoing trade, "tightening the noose" on their economy and deploying American warships on "pop-up" cruises within the territorial waters of Japan, then purposely leaving the U.S. fleet unprotected at Hawaii and hiding the fact that Japanese codes had been broken so that the attack would be a "surprise."186 If FDR hadn't provoked his unnecessary war with Japan, American military strength would have been fully available for fighting Germany years earlier, and the Holocaust may not have been as disastrous.

A typical case of provoking an enemy can be shown for the actions of John F. Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis, which we earlier187 examined briefly. JFK's childhood was typically abusive, dominated by his mother's emotional distancing of him--"She was never there when we really needed her. [She] never really held me and hugged me. Never."--and her brutality, battering John with "hairbrushes, coat hangers, belts and shoes [and] once slapping young Bobby's face so viciously that she punctured his eardrum and split his lip."188 The result in JFK was a phallic-narcissistic personality focused on conquering women in "daily assignations and a lifetime of venereal disease [and] a steady diet of mood-altering drugs."189 Claiming a mythical "missile gap" with the Russians, Kennedy was elected President to "get America moving again" after the peaceful Eisenhower Fifties, and soon authorized the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba over the objections of most experts who said it would fail, telling his aides he "wasn't going to be ‘chicken.'"190 The resulting failure was taken by him as a personal humiliation, for which he needed revenge. He authorized Operation Mongoose, various assassination attempts against Castro, including using the Mafia, but success evaded him.191

By 1962, Kennedy decided to regain his potency by invading Cuba with U.S. forces. He told the military to prepare for a U.S. invasion of the island and asked his staff to formulate a pretext that would give an appearance of a Cuban attack on a U.S. airline that would justify it.192 But war with a small neighbor would not be enough; Kennedy moved to make certain the Russians would be involved in the war. On January 31, 1962, he asked Khrushchev's son-in-law, Aleksei Adzhubei, to meet with him and, in order to humiliate the Russians as he felt humiliated, told him he was preparing to attack Cuba like Russia attacked Hungary: "If I run for re-election and the Cuban question remains as it is," he said, "we will have to do something" about Cuba. Kennedy told a startled Adzhubei, "I called Allen Dulles into my office [after the Bay of Pigs] and dressed him down. I told him: ‘You should learn a lesson from the Russians. When they had difficulties in Hungary, they liquidated the conflict in three days [by sending in troops.]'" Adzhubei repeated this to Khrushchev, who told Soviet diplomats: "An attack on Cuba is being prepared. And the only way to save Cuba is to put missiles there."

In April 1962, 40,000 American troops began practicing invading Cuba in North Carolina,193 and by October 6, 1962, thousands of American troops were positioned for invasion, along with plans and equipment, prepared to invade on October 20, 1962, using the Bahamas as an invasion base camp. But on October 16, 1962, the CIA took clear U-2 photos that told them Russian nuclear missiles were in Cuba. Kennedy told no one of his own bellicose actions and threats, instead declaring the Russian move wholly unprovoked. Despite the fact that 100 million Americans lay in the range of the Russian missiles--and despite the opinion of his staff that they made no military difference at all because nuclear missiles on Russian submarines had long been stationed a few miles off Cuba--Kennedy instituted a naval embargo and prepared for a full-scale attack on Cuba, risking a nuclear World War III. Saying "If Khrushchev wants to rub my nose in the dirt, it's all over"194 and "we must not look to the world as if we were backing down,"195 Kennedy fully expected war. When his staff told him there were diplomatic means which could be used to remove the missiles, he replied, "The object is not to stop offensive weapons, because the offensive weapons are already there, as much as it is to have a showdown with the Russians of one kind or another."196 Since Kennedy had already publicly declared the U.S. was "prepared to use nuclear weapons at the start" of any war,197 Kennedy's embargo and invasion would mean nuclear war if the Russians didn't accept the humiliation and back down, "one hell of a gamble," as Kennedy put it.198

Luckily for mankind, Khrushchev backed down, was removed from office because of the humiliation and America was rescued from its self-inflicted humiliations. For his role in hiding the real cause of the near-apocalyptic actions, President Kennedy remains universally seen as one of America's greatest Presidents because he "kept his head" during the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Nations engage in manic economic and political projects for the same reasons newly successful rock stars go to all-night parties and take drugs--to get a "dopamine rush" that counters the depression and guilt about their success. Political paranoia and slow ego disintegration are now seen in conspiratorial group-fantasies, fears of femininity and imaginary humiliations by other nations. These are countered in the economic sphere by manic overinvestment, risky ventures, excess money supply growth, soaring debt and stock market speculations, and in the political sphere by jingoistic nationalism, expansionist ventures, military buildups and belligerent, insulting foreign affair behavior. As in drug addiction, each dopamine rush leaves a dopamine hangover that requires an even larger manic activity to overcome the resulting depression. Purity Crusades multiply as anti-modern and anti-child (Bad Boy) movements. Fears of "becoming feminine" (desires to merge with mommy) are countered by persecution of homosexuals. A search for external enemies results from the growing ego disintegration, as grandiosity fails and Poison Alerts and sacrificial group-fantasies proliferate.

In America, these paranoid fears of apocalyptic punishment for success have taken the form of revivalist Great Awakenings, which occurred at the end of long period of peace: the First after 24 years of peace (1714-38) under the Georges, the Second after 30 years of peace (1815-45) under Madison and Monroe, and the Third after 31 years of peace (1866-97) following the Civil War. These apocalyptic fantasies of fears of how furious God (Mommy) was because of mankind's sinfulness merge into the war movements that follow. The American Revolution has been said to have been "caused by a pandemic of persecutory delusions" featuring "a fear of effeminacy"199 and a fantasy of "Mother England persecuting her children."200 Similarly, beginning with the Annus Mirabilis of 1858, daily gatherings of thousands of people in spontaneous prayer meetings took place, where people fell down, saw visions and went out and destroyed their goods in preparation for the end of the world.201 This apocalyptic mood lasted and merged with the "cleansing in the fires of war" that would "purge the virus" of the nation in Civil War bloodshed that was "sacramental, erotic, mystical, and strangely gratifying."202 All these apocalyptic group-fantasies were caused by the growth panic of a period of prosperity--exactly the opposite cause from Barkun's theory of millenarian movements being produced by "deprivation" and "natural catastrophes."203

Perhaps the classic era of paranoid fears leading to apocalyptic group-fantasies as punishment for prosperity is the period before World War I--when the world growth rate jumped to over five percent, and when Europe appeared to be going clinically paranoid from "the decadence of the times [when] no more rank, titles, or race [meant] all is mixed, confused, and blurred [and] the end of the world seemed nigh."204 Prosperity and the beginnings of liberal reforms produced widespread growth panic that decried "the decline of religiosity, the disintegration of the patriarchal family, and the decline of respect for authority."205 Fears of "becoming feminine" proliferated, along with campaigns against homosexuals. Goethe's Werther (Goethe: "Anything in the world can be endured, except a series of wonderful days")206 was revived during the late nineteenth century as thousands of Germans committed suicide during their rising prosperity, climaxed eventually by all of Europe going to war and committing suicide. At the end of the nineteenth century, books like The World's End Soon pictured the degeneration and apocalyptic demise of Europe and feminine blood-sucking vampires derived from representations of the New Woman as an "oversexed wife who threatened her husband's life with her insatiable erotic demands"207 flooded the popular literature. Artists featured vampires devouring helpless men,208 and invented modern art as "a pervasive vision of Fragmentation" showing "everything disintegrated into parts whirlpools [that] led into the void."209 H. G. Wells wrote a book in 1913, The World Set Free, that predicted an apocalyptic war using radioactive "atomic bombs" that would nearly destroy the world and lead to the eternal peace.210 Objective journalists wondered if "Europe was about to become a gigantic madhouse."211 Nations felt they had to defend themselves against their growing paranoid delusions. "That the English are merely waiting for a chance to fall upon us is clear," declared the German Chancellor.212 Only starting a "preventive war" could save the nation.213 "I believe a war to be unavoidable and the sooner the better," said the German Chief of Staff.214 Europe was swept up in "a terrible readiness, indeed a thirst, for what Yeats was to call the ‘blood-dimmed tide'fascinated by the prospect of a purging fire."215 Going to war would prevent engulfment by the Terrifying Mommy, would avoid effeminacy and restore potency, and would purge the national arteries with a good bloodletting that would purge the polluting prosperity,216 teach the Terrifying Mommy enemy a lesson and sacrifice the sinful Bad Boy so mommy would finally love the Good Boy self who remained.


Even though wars are supposed to be fought between men, they have equally affected women and children. In most wars, more civilians are killed than soldiers, and, according to UNICEF, "in the wars fought since World War II 90 percent of all victims are found in the civilian population, a large share of them women and children."217 In our imaginations, however, wars are mainly about women and children. Divine wars were always fought for a goddess of war, from Ishtar to Teshub, almost always mothers of the war heroes,218 "crying to be fedhuman blood."219 Even the Hebrew Lord counsels Moses to "kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the virgin girls keep alive for yourselves [to rape]."220 Yanomamo war raids might kill a few men in raids, but would abduct all enemy women and rape them.221 Child murder and rape were the center of ancient war. The Greeks often used to rape all virgin girls and boys in wars and often trod all children of a city to death under the feet of oxen or covered them with pitch and burned them alive.222 As van Creveld puts it, "During most of history, the opportunity to engage in wholesale rape was not just among the rewards of successful war but, from the soldier's point of view, one of the cardinal objectives for which he fought."223

Socarides describes the function of sexual sadism as

Forces and extracts love; destroys the threatening body of the mother rather than be destroyed by her discharges, aggressive impulses that threaten annihilation of the self even to the point of sexual murder; achieves temporary freedom from fear of the engulfing mother reassures against and lessens castration fear; cancels out separation anxiety.224

Clinical studies of rapists find it a result of extreme childhood neglect and abuse, continuous shaming and humiliation--and often even of actual sexual abuse as a child.225 The rapist's fantasies center around control and dominance, and the actual rape is often triggered by "flashbacks" to earlier humiliations that had to be restaged in sexual violence, where "my life would flash in front of my mind so I went out looking for a victim."226 Rape is a "pseudosexual act," first done for violence and revenge, then sexualized: "I wanted to knock the woman off her pedestal, and I felt rape was the worst thing I could do to her," said one serial rapist.227 Much of the time the rapist cannot even orgasm, but this doesn't matter because he has defiled, degraded and humiliated the woman: "After the assault I felt relieved. I felt I had gotten even. There was no sexual satisfaction; in fact, I felt a little disgusted."228 Sex may be the weapon, but revenge is the motive.

Rape fantasies are extremely widespread; in America, a third of all men regularly fantasize about raping women during masturbation or intercourse,229 while in a country like Yugoslavia--where earlier historical childrearing practices are still prevalent in the zadruga so that the rape of children is routine--adult male rape fantasies are so strong that rape is a common, everyday part of life even in peacetime.230 Before wars, humiliation group-fantasies proliferate, as nations spend more and more time trading gratuitous insults, complaining about being humiliated and pushed around by others, and worrying about not receiving the recognition due them,231 all flashbacks to early shame and neglect. The unrequited love for the mother is reexperienced in "rejected overtures" with other nations. Hitler, for instance, clearly explained his reasons for starting WWII as arising out of rejected maternal love:

I have repeatedly offered England our friendship, and if necessary closest co-operation. Love, however, is not a one-sided affair, but must be responded to by the other side. I do not want to conquer her. I want to come to terms with her. I want to force her to accept my friendship232

The war that began as rape to win love ended as rape to win love. When the war was nearly over, sitting in his bunker in 1945, Hitler justified his rape of Europe as necessary because, he said,

It could not be conquered by charm and persuasiveness. I had to rape it in order to have it.233

In a world full of humiliating, rejecting, provocative motherlands, neighboring countries seem to be "just asking to be raped." Group-fantasies of wanting to "explode into her" to "penetrate her life" and avenge her for "turning down our overtures" in order to "knock her off her throne" and "teach her a lesson she won't forget" begin to be expressed in diplomacy, political cartoons and in the media.234 Hypermasculinity begins to infect the nation's mood with the need for "standing tall" and "displaying our firmness" with a "stiffening of the national will." Newspapers headline rape fantasies to goad leaders into war; as the British tabloids screamed out before the Falkland invasion, "STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA." Cartoons begin showing barbarian men in neighboring nations about to rape men's wives.236 Leaders begin to express projections of rape in meetings, as when Lyndon Johnson excitedly asked before expanding the war in Vietnam, "how many times do I let a fiend rape my wife?"237

Finally, when the group-fantasies peak and action to "get some respect" is irresistible, war begins as "righteous rape" against any enemy that can be imagined to be a convenient humiliating mommy. War, gang rape and degradation of women merge into one. For instance, the Serbian attacks on its neighbors that followed the overt rape cartoons like the one above had "the degradation and molestation of women central to the conquest, women of sixty and girls under twelve being gang-raped, often in front of their relatives [while men] pushed bottle necks into our sex, even shattered, broken bottles, guns too[as men screamed] ‘I'll fuck your mother, all your mothers.'"238 Wars usually begin as group-fantasies of mother-rape, revenges for earlier neglect and domination, righteous violence that will "teach her a lesson."


But while war is seen as an way to avenge maternal mistreatment, it is also a merging with the Terrifying Mommy to wipe out the Bad Boy self whose fault it must be that mommy wasn't loving. The purification of mankind through the sacrifice of children to an avenging goddess was, of course, the practice of ancient societies like Carthage, where tens of thousands of jars have been found with charred bones of sacrificed children along with inscriptions saying they had been killed by their parents to cleanse their sinfulness.239 The symbol of the warrior in Aztec society was a bleeding fetal war-god standing at the placental center of the city whose blood streamed out into the four quarters of the universe, feeding every citizens of the state.240 In every war, young men march off essentially to commit suicide as heroic acts of sacrifice, "losing ourselves [in] ecstasy because we are conscious of a power outside us with which we can merge."241 As one soldiers wrote during WWI, "Sacrificing oneself is a joy, the greatest joy. Never before has such a powerful desire for death and passion for sacrifice seized mankind."242 The Bad Boy self must die for the Good Boy self to be loved; therefore, blood must flow to renew the sinful nation: "The souls of nations are drinking renewal from the blood of the fallen soldiers."243 Soldiers may sent back to their mothers dead, but they are wrapped in "living flags," maternal symbols, as though they had been reborn into new swaddling-clothes with a new chance to be loved.244 A soldier "dies peacefully. He who has a Motherland dies in comforting her, like a baby falling asleep"245

The ecstatic relief once war begins is felt because it is the revanche supréme for early abuse and because it promises to cleanse the self of sinfulness. However convinced people are as they begin wars that the "enemy" is outside themselves, they are in fact fighting alters inside themselves--raping Terrifying Mommies and killing Bad Boy selves. Nations "descend into visions of purgations and redemption" in a "holy war [to] cleanse our souls of the dross of selfish pettiness."246 War is "the highest happiness that ordinary men can find,"247 a "purifying thunderstorm"248 that provides a chance to be "born again"249 a "triumph of righteousness"250 and a "magical restoration of potency."251 "It is a joy to be alive," rejoiced a German paper in 1914.252 "The heather is on fire. I never before knew what a popular excitement can be," wrote an American as the Civil War began, describing jubilant crowds "with flushed faces, wild eyes, screaming mouths."253 At last, one could take revenge against the Terrifying Mommy, kill the Bad Boy self, be reborn and finally become pure and lovable, all in one splendid act of mass butchery.


Lloyd deMause is editor of The Journal of Psychohistory, President of the International Psychistorical Association, Director of the Institute for Psychohistory and author and editor of seven books and many scholarly articles. View the website at The Institute for Psychohistory.

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