As I have maintained ever since Dr.Welner weighed in on the subject of Breivik’s mental state and goals:
“Breivik was acting out a sick minded, murderous role to satisfy his own demented sense of extreme narcissism, a grossly exaggerated belief of self importance. His murderous deed had nothing to do with the issues he appears to be grappling with, but about projecting himself into the public eye, using any means to get there. It was all about himself.“
NOTE: Here is an excerpt from the text published at the Gates of Vienna:
Breivik the Narcissist
[…] At that point, Welner rejected the idea that ABB is insane, something which his defense lawyer Geir Lippestad had already indicated might be the case, suggesting rather that he comes off as quite lucid. He even went so far as to suggest that it is an insult to people who suffer from serious psychiatric problems, most of whom never harm other people, to suggest that Breivik is mentally ill.
The above statements were made in 2011. I haven’t heard any more recent comments from Michael Welner about the case. He has also never met Breivik, nor talked to him directly.
Opinions are still deeply divided regarding Breivik’s mental state, and these divisions are likely to remain, even after the trial has been completed. Some of those who have examined him found him to be insane. Others emphasize his ability to plan ahead and cynically assess a situation as an indication that he has a twisted mind, but is rational overall. It is worth emphasizing, however, that both those who think he is insane and those who think he is sane highlight his extreme narcissism and exceptionally self-centered world view.
Welner strongly believes that Breivik is wrapped up in the idea of personal celebrity and fame, and used terror attacks to achieve this. In other words, it’s all about him, not ideology. He believes much the same applied to Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people and injured hundreds more in the Oklahoma City Bombing in the USA on April 19, 1995. McVeigh was sentenced to death and executed in 2001. As Michael Welner comments:
“A person who has a psychotic illness has ideas that are shared by none. A person who is a fanatic has ideas that are shared by only very few. A person who is violent takes an ideology that many have and wraps it around him, so that he can legitimize what’s all about him. This isn’t all about his ideology, it’s about him becoming a person we’re talking about in Canada tonight and people are talking about all over the world. This is how he would have it, but he would have to wrap himself in an ideology to give himself some sense of righteous purpose.”
That’s what this is really about: Making the entire world talk about Breivik. The manifesto itself is just an excuse for his narcissism, and the terror attacks a vehicle to achieve fame and notoriety. He wants to become known and attract attention, and committed an act so spectacular and shocking as to ensure that goal.
Breivik is a rebel without a cause, or perhaps we could say a rebel searching for a cause to hide behind. Yet the cause he champions is mainly himself, his vanity and his grossly inflated ego; everything else is secondary.
Welner sensibly points out that if Breivik had actually cared about ideology, he wouldn’t have committed an act so horrible as to scare off and alienate people who might otherwise be interested in certain aspects of an ideology. This is not about saving Europe, it’s all about promoting himself and his ego. That makes Breivik an extremely selfish individual.
Michael Welner warns that “For public officials to target political ideologies as responsible does a great disservice to the victims and their families. They were killed by a criminal who wants us to think others would do as he would, and there is no evidence to date that he even acted in a conspiracy.” In his professional experience, it is healthier for victims and their families to focus solely on the perpetrator because they can more readily separate him from the rest of benevolent society.
“If politicians and the press broad brush segments of society as responsible, then victims and their families look at their neighbors with suspicion and resentment, and the fabric of society unravels. Those who use political finger-pointing in the aftermath of such tragedy score political points and manipulate public opinion, but because they pit people against one another, they devolve their communities into insecurity and the inability to see things differently. It polarizes communities and those who do it should not be in positions of responsibility.”
Read it all here at The Gates of Vienna.