02 Dec 2006

Every Person Is a Bit Worried When He Starts a New Job

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Saudi Lord High Executioner Abdallah Al-Bishi discusses his profession and career.

11:31 video

Note that the announcer quotes my own favorite line of Arabic poetry, from Ahmad ibn al-Hussein al-Muttanabi (915-965):

اÙu201eسÙu0160٠اصدÙu201a اÙu2020باءا Ùu2026Ùu2020 اÙu201eÙu0192تب
ÙÙu0160 حدÙu2021 اÙu201eحد بÙu0160Ùu2020 اÙu201eجد Ùu02c6اÙu201eÙu201eعب

The sword is truer in tidings than the books,
On its edge lies the border between gravity and sport.

Hat tip to LGF.

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Dominique R. Poirier

The great interest of this news lies in the fact that it is indeed the confession of a serial killer hidden behind an official position. This serial killer has been endowed the right to kill and to mutilate other people in the frame of justice enforcement. I find it is a very interesting account for whoever is interested in psychiatry and criminality.
I have been unable to view the video since Internet Explorer has repeatedly failed to carry on the task during each and all of my attempts to view it. That’s why my comment relies on the sole transcript of this video. But it is much enough to reach to the following conclusions.

Several of the statements the man makes are unmistakably indicative of a lack of empathy, indeed. An interview conducted on a broader range of subjects would have been helpful to definitely pronounce a clear cut diagnosis. But there is enough to assume this man is definitely psychopath. Psychopathy is a mental disorder cited in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition) and best known under the appellation “antisocial personality disorder.”

To cite an extract of Wikipedia on psychopathy “a psychopath is defined as having no concerns for the feelings of others and a complete disregard for any sense of social obligation. They seem egocentric and lack insight and any sense of responsibility or consequence. Their emotions are thought to be superficial and shallow, if they exist at all. They are considered callous, manipulative, and incapable of forming lasting relationships, let alone of any kind of love.”

This description, I think, fits closely the statements made by this man, and since psychopathy may be hereditary, coincidence makes that his father was executioner himself.

Coincidentally, I have been given the opportunity to know a psychopath for long. At first I was intrigued by this man’s behavior until I have been given the opportunity to take some courses on fundamental in psychiatry. From this moment on I began to understand the reason of such odd behavior and I undertook an analysis of my own on him (unbeknown to him) in order to have a better understanding of what a psychopath is. The father of this man was known for shooting in the ceiling when he was drunk as a way of demonstrating his power, he was Commissaire in the Renseignement Généraux (a French domestic intelligence service) during the German occupation of France
So, this interesting experience allows me today to spot this mental illness when the case arises.

Eventually I got interested in this aspect of criminology. It is a fascinating subject since not all pshychopaths turn criminals and since the psychopath is usually conscious his feeling toward others doesn’t fit the “standard”. Such a psychopath “hides” in our society psychopath and is even likely to sit on a Board of Directors as behind bars, concealing his true nature behind a well crafted “Mask of Sanity” (the psychopath I know held successively several positions as General Manager and CEO during his lifetime).
I have witnessed the way a shrewd psychopath simulates empathy, kindness, and love; and I can say that some psychopaths may be surprisingly convincing at it. But since the psychopath has typical vulnerable points, it is relatively easy to trick him and put his mask down.

Since I find useful to turn my comments into contribution justifying publishing on this blog, I will add that successful “professional killers” paid for to kill persons who made themselves disturbances for organized criminal gangs, mafias, and even sometimes governments, are often not only psychopaths, but also paranoids. It just happens that in the case of this peculiar “profession” psychopathy and paranoia becomes qualities of utmost importance. The successful professional killer who acts unlawfully (contrary to what is the case of this Saudi executioner) is expected not to feel some empathy for his victim. For there would be some chances for that he would sometimes fail to properly and faultlessly carry on his “mission” or “contract.” Paranoia is the second quality of the professional killer in the sense that it makes him over cautious and distrustful, so that he will not confess his crimes to someone and he will take all precautions while planning his aggression. If he is smart enough he will be able to conceal his true nature behind this well crafted “Mask of Sanity” I previously mentioned, a term coined by Dr Hervey Milton Cleckley, in 1941, in his authoritative book The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality.

In the case of this Saudi executioner we may notice the following interesting statements he made during his interview.

“I was surprised that the people who supervise this field summoned me, saying I had a mission.”

Probably, some had noticed early on his lack of empathy, and so concluded he was a likely good executioner, a task any balanced person would repugnant or psychologically too hard to carry on.

“I was at school, and an execution was set for my father in Mecca. It was to take place in front of the King Abd Al-‘Aziz Gate. Before all that happened at the Al-Haram Mosque, the executions were held there. We showed up. I was a little boy. The first thing that came to my mind when people talked about executions was the digestive system.”

This striking statement demonstrates that, as a young boy, he already lacked empathy to the point that for want of this feeling his interest focused on the digestive system of the victim, a terrible and appalling confession, indeed.

“He carries the memory of many events, which naturally could have an effect on people, but one sees that he relates to some of them with humor,” says the reporter as a way of putting the emphasis on the total lack of empathy of the executioner.
“He denies that the executioner is cruel. He considers himself one of the most compassionate people, and all the stories about him come from rumors,” the reporter comments.
“First TV host: Do you cut off hands, or do you just do beheadings?
Abdallah Al-Bishi: Yes, yes. I carry out the punishment of cutting off thieves’ hands, as well as the cutting off of a hand and a leg on alternate sides, as is written in the Koran.”

Here his answer shows us he brushes aside any possible accusation of cruelty, rejecting all responsibility on the Koran. I noticed that psychopaths usually express this need to justify their acts as a way of concealing their true nature and feelings. Sometimes, shrewd psychopaths (such as the one I know, for example) go as far as organizing relatively complex plots whose goals are to antagonize their “target”. Thus way psychopaths get the pretext they needs in order to publicly justify their “retaliation”.
In history, the use of this trick top antagonize others has been best exemplified by the staged Polish attack of the German radio station of Gliewitz, Hitler (a diagnosed psychopath) used as justification of the invasion of Poland on August 31, 1939. Helmut Alfred Naujocks, the man of the Nazi intelligence service, who, disguised in Polish soldier, carried on this staged attack, was himself psychopath.
“First TV host: Abu Badr, do you remember the first time you carried out an execution? Do you remember that day?
Abdallah Al-Bishi: I remember it to this day. I was surprised when the officials in charge asked me to carry out one of Allah’s punishments. When I came, I was told it would be an execution, and I said: “No problem.” I took the sword that used to belong to my father, may he rest in peace…”

This other statement shows that his total lack of empathy allowed him to perform his duty as if a natural thing.
“First TV host: How was the experience, especially since it was your first time. How did you feel?
Abdallah Al-Bishi: Every person is a bit worried when he starts a new job, and is afraid he will fail.”

For him, it is a job like any other. Once more, his answer underlines his lack of empathy.
“Second TV host: Abdallah, what was your most difficult beheading? Have you ever beheaded someone you knew?
Abdallah Al-Bishi: Yes, I have beheaded many people who were my friends, but whoever commits an offense brings it on himself.”

The psychopath I have had the opportunity to know misbehaved, and even sometimes did great harm, against several members of his family including his wife, his two children, and his mother. Each and all of these times he justified himself in providing “proofs” (even though they were sometimes farfetched or very unlikely to happen) of the attacks and misbehaviors he had been victim of. He just considered he was the true and only one victim of all that happened and always managed to find complaisant witnesses, and insisted especially on his exceptional kindness. To some of those witnesses he even asked to provide a written testimony in order to prevent any possible legal action which he feared, with reason, could possibly occur. Psychopaths are also described by some specialists as “intraspecies predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs.
“Second TV host: Abdallah, sometimes at executions, the condemned asks to be pardoned by the victim’s family, right?
Abdallah Al-Bishi: To be pardoned?
Second TV host: Do you go and talk to the victim’s family?
Abdallah Al-Bishi: Yes, yes. I intervene in the reconciliation efforts. There are many good people on the scene, who intervene through the authorities or the police. May Allah reward them all. But the first to mediate is me, the executioner on the scene.”

Here, the man has been visibly caught by surprise and quickly caught up. This part of the interview exemplifies the need of the psychopath to conceal his lack of empathy.

Further comments and observations about the fascination exerted by knives, swords and axes upon would be criminals would be equally interesting, but, regretfully, I lack the required knowledge about this subject to bring anything worthy. I know for sure there is something interesting to learn about it but never found any book or article related to this other topic. I just hope a law enforcement expert will enlighten us as I attempted to do it so on psychopaths.

Further reading on the subject:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy_Checklist-Revised_%28PCL-R%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_Personality_Disorder

The Secret Wartime Report: The Mind of Adolf Hitler. By Walter C. Langer, 1973.

(In French language) Naujocks; L’Homme qui Déclencha la Guerre, by Peis Gunter, Jai Lu publishing house, 1965.

The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality, by Dr. Hervey Milton Cleckley, 1941.

Also in movie, the best film I know, which brilliantly focus on manipulations techniques used by an influential businessman and psychopath upon a naïve layman: A Matter of Taste, a French unnoticed movie directed by the late Bernard Rapp in 2000.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0217119/



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