The Redefintion of Psychopathologies, or ‘ a rose by any other name would [not] smell as sweet’

Karl Jaspers founded the term psychopathology in 1913. Shakespeare wrote his line around 1594 and that’s about the only common link between the two turns of phrase.  The concept of psychopathology has been developed and redefined several times over since Jasper first coined the term, not dis-similar I suppose to the varied re- interpretations of Shakespeare’s lines in his plays. But, the comparisons stop there.  The point is psychopathologies have a much greater and more serious impact on individual behavior and how societies function than do the interpretations of Shakespeare’s lines. So why do we constantly justify the actions of dangerous sociopath behavior in terms of contemporary political and militarist jargon?  This often acts as a justification or rationalization of  an action by those who would condone any heinous deed or crime.

The recent barbarous, brutal attack which cost the life of Drummer Lee Rigby on a London street last week is a case in point. Two men attacked him with knives and machetes, killing him in full public view, while onlookers videoed and took pictures with their mobile devices (another worrying trend in the digital age). The two murderers then gave public speeches, reveling in their evil act and seizing the moment as a cause célèbre.

In terms of pathological behavior the two attackers exhibited extreme, dangerous aberrations of human behavior, which can only be described as insane or mad. Their actions demonstrated as clinical psychiatrists would argue the four Ds , which define psychopathological behavior: Dangerto others, Dysfunctionality in human relationships, Distress in maintaining normal human relationships and Deviance as their beliefs and behavior and thoughts are not acceptable in any civil society (Wikipedia, 2013). Their actions were not the acts of terrorists or acts of terrorism. They were the blatant evil deeds of hate filled, seriously disturbed individuals who hate life and all the people who contribute to the upkeep of a sane, open-minded, liberal,  civilized society. They may have thought they had a cause to hang their perverted and distorted world view on-but they did not. Yet, by labeling their actions as acts of terrorism society has given them the notoriety and infamy they desperately sought. They could quickly gather a following as the recent copycat attack  on a French soldier, patrolling the streets of his city,  to secure the safety of his compatriots has shown. Whereas who wants to follow a sociopath or psychopath hell-bent on anti social, murderous, destructive behavior?

Similarly, the two men who detonated bombs in Boston, timed to explode as runners crossed the line were sociopaths with severe psychopathologies which they chose to act on through killing and maiming innocent people whom the had never ever met or known.  Acts of murder are intentional, and like any other vile act underscore the infamy sought in such violent indiscriminate acts of rage.

Claims of seeking revenge for past wrongs committed against others by other people, cultures; or political or military grievances from the past, as a justification for such horrible aberrant behavior, give credence to the current victimhood era we are bridled with in the late modern age. Anyone with a grudge or hint of unhappiness about anything, or from the past,  seems to think it their right to make a claim on it no matter how devastating the consequences are for others.

Naming something (an act, a deed, a thing, a form and so on) for what it is, is a powerful way to gain an understanding or perception of it. Likewise to use euphemisms or metaphors which don’t engage or resonate with people, or obfuscates meaning and diminishes an act or deed usually results in lies and deception.

Joseph Goebbels (another rabid psychopathic murderer) once claimed that if you tell a lie big enough, and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it. Michael Adebolajo,, Michael Adebowale, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev caused grief and terror, physically, and in the hearts and minds of two nations and of many people around the world. They are deeply disturbed sociopaths who have relinquished their rights to reside in any open, liberal, welcoming civil society. To label them as terrorists  diminishes the abject evil of their acts and all the resulting consequences.

Wikipedia. (2013, May 26). Psychpathology. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from

5 comments on “The Redefintion of Psychopathologies, or ‘ a rose by any other name would [not] smell as sweet’

  1. Crispin Sharp says:

    Excellent stuff Lawrence. You have encapsulated my thoughts exactly. I am now going to check out your old blogs and so on and become a fan.

  2. Nicola says:

    Hi Lawrence, I don’t agree with all your article but found it thoughtful and did agree with the following “Their actions were not the acts of terrorists or acts of terrorism. They were the blatant evil deeds of hate filled, seriously disturbed individuals” and “Yet, by labeling their actions as acts of terrorism society has given them the notoriety and infamy they desperately sought”

    When the IRA were prevalent in London, this would not have been labelled as a terrorist attack in the same way or had so much meaning associated by the government and media. It’s a cowardly and brutal act of violence – but also a single murder not a bomb that kills many or similar. It’s as if everyone who has ever thought that murder is something they should do for whatever is reason is ‘radicalised’ as in your psychopathology redefinition comments.

    And look at the subsequent EDL response and elsewhere. The EDL incite hatred and violence but not reported as radicalised or terrorists, yet they inflict serious harm on entire communities.

    Politicians and anyone who has power, tell lies big enough and repeat them over and over again, then reinforce their world views by use of traditional and now online media too and I don’t mean by repeating those specific lies there although they do that too – instead they weave entire webs of false narrative, forcing in some cases through fear, people not to disagree with their world view. And labels are especially unhelpful.

  3. The reason all these acts are considered terrorism is because the powers that be need there to be terrorism. Think about it. The war on terror is an endless war with an enemy who’s face changes whenever and where ever it’s convenient.
    It makes the perfect excuse to, as been revealed lately, monitor and record information on EVERYBODY because ANYBODY could be a terrorist.
    The war on terror is not about keeping anybody safe. It’s about scaring people into thinking they need the government to protecttthem. Thus eliminating rights and gaining more control over us. It reminds me greatly of the witch hunts to be honest.
    Good article though. Except Boston wasn’t terrorism and those kids didn’t do anything.

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