Daily Archives: February 4, 2019

The Psychology of Traitors (XIINSAMMUU GANTOOTAA)

By Bedassa Tadesse

Humberto Nagera (2002) presents an interesting description of the psychology of treason. He argues that the subject of treason has received very scanty treatment in the psychoanalytic literature, perhaps for one simple reason: that there is in each one of us, at the very least, a “minor traitor”, a fact that we cannot but contemplate with some horror, fear and shame.

It was this argument ― that there is in each one of us, at the very least, a “minor traitor” ― that attracted my attention to the article. I could find a number of examples in my country of origin-Ethiopia, particularly among those who hold political office.

If you wondered about it like me, I suggest that you take your time and read Nagera’s (2002) extended article. Below I present a brief summary of his extensive discussion of the subject: what makes the psychology of traitors (individuals who commit a treacherous act or whose behavior constitute a significant departure from expected behavior in a given situation; causing significant distress, damage, etc., to one or more individuals, and their society and nations):

1. They are those who retain vivid memories of the seamier side of childhood, family and school life. They have little difficulty in recognizing some of the predisposing causes of Quisling… the simple case of the younger son who ‘gives away’ an older brother…; the child with a grievance against his parents (typically the father) and idealizes the head of the house next door…

2. Those with “a fissure-like defect in their superego (including the conscience and formation of ideals); who suffer from the invasion of emotional relationships by the excessive need for possession and power growing out of unusually strong and unresolved infantile jealousy; distortion of the sense of identity sometimes with secondary disturbances in reality testing.

3. Individuals with certain specific constellations of conflicts, or if you will, specific (and quite complex) forms of psychopathology with very idiosyncratic developmental characteristics, dynamics, defense activities and personality traits.

4. Individuals with significant narcissistic problem (those who have difficulties seen regarding their self-esteem regulation, self-regard and feeling of self-worth and problems with their identities.

5. (READ THIS CAREFULLY): Typical, and specific for a traitor, is an enormous unsatisfied wish for the father’s love, attention and admiration, that for various reasons and frequently through no fault of their own, they do not seem able to obtain. Thus, traitors have a tormenting and ambivalent attitude toward the father “who does not think much of them”, or “has not paid them enough attention” or simply and truly did not care for them. When they reach their adulthood, traitors think poorly of the father or see him as weak or worthless, a man of little accomplishment or value. (Oromiffaatiin qabxiin kuni –nama abbaa isaaf kabaja hin qabne jechaadha).

Yaa sabakoo, ani ogeessa fayyaa mitti. Garuu waan barreefame dubbisee waa hedduun irra baradha. Isiniis dubbistanii, namootni tokko tokko maaliif akka GANTUU ta’an ni hubbattu jedheen abdadha. Kunimmoo namootni keenyi maaliif akka nu ganan nu barsiisa. Saba offi ganuun dhukuba dhukuba caaludha.

Horaa Bulaa!

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