With the passing of time, we notice the growing state of hysteria around religion in Arab societies (with varying degrees among them, and this in turn is due to differences in the social structure and historical heritage). This hysteria which engulfs individuals and groups confines them within a stifling religious power and turns them into puppets in the hands of the clergy. It is for this reason that I think it is our right to wonder about the mental health of these self-appointed ‘spiritual leaders’ and about their legibility to assume this role of moral leaders and guides to individuals and groups, especially with the unprecedented spread of global religious channels funded by official bodies or secretly supported by governmental institutions.
Let us psychoanalyze the leaders of thought who exert an effective and direct influence on individuals in these societies where, unfortunately, this role is monopolized by the clergy. The infinite number of fatwas mainly about sexual matters is worth taking into consideration. These judgments are presented as a simple act of carrying out a divine desire and as covetousness of a heaven itself instituted on the principle of sexual excess. It is then our right to ask ourselves some questions about this duplicitous and contradictory obsession with sex. It reflects a neurotic state widespread among religious societies. They are on the one hand devout observant of frozen moral codes accompanied with a growing obsession with pornography and the decrease of individual productive labor and a growing sense of general dissatisfaction.
There are many of those who will link this situation to economic problems and oppressive governments which consume and squander the raw potential of its citizens and their pursuits. But we need to shed some light on the foundations of the oppressive mind. Oppressive governments derive their strength and power from religions. This reflects with great strength the submission of a child to a tyrannical father. The oppressive mind has three major dimensions: First, the father as a master, its branches (the male brothers who carry out the paternal law). Second, the Great God represented on earth by religions with a special mandate delegated to his advocates in the guise of clergymen. Finally this same power is delegated to tyrannical governments with the persona of the leader at the helm.
Using psychoanalytic discourse, we will try to uncover the secret behind this sexual obsession so characteristic of the men of the cloth.
Clinical studies have explained the influence of repressed biological instincts on controlling individuals by rechanneling sexual energy to a driving force working towards collective interest. The individual is overlooked in this process, giving him or her as compensation a sense of belonging, always pumped out with the feeling of security. The individual is thus confined in this sphere which enhances the interest of the dominant power. But the tyrannical mind is incapable of providing its members with security. That is why religions insist on offering all that is lacking in an imaginary heaven.
Similarly, the idea of the tyrannical family environment lead by the father cultivates and encourages self-restraint and caution towards the other who is different. This self-restraint is in agreement with the idea of sexual repression in its religious sense, and the organization of sexual relations and conduct following rigid rules. Primary happiness can be satisfied only by responding to basic biological needs in the pursuit of pleasure. All this is very crucial to the mental maturity of the individual and yet this biological imperative is perverted and repressed.
The clinical studies of Reich have explained sadomasochism, rape and many other neurotic phenomena as a result of the cultures of repression and sexual prohibition imposed on individuals, and considered them as desires perverted from their natural course. They operate through moral laws subjected to the mentality of prohibition.
Happiness and satisfaction push the individual towards effective creativity which can become possible only when experiencing the pleasure principle itself subjected to natural laws. And since the moral laws founded on the principle of repression are in disagreement with the pleasure principle, individuals need to denounce in the beginning the sexual and psychological perversion to which children and teenagers are subjected at the hands of their own family to extend that rebellion to the moral codes of spiritual leaders and that in the end will lead to a general rebellion which will extend to political institutions in order to create a new social dynamic.
I am going to look first at the clergy and question the similarities in their behavior and ways of thinking which are informed by a common neurosis. They show a sadistic attitude towards their wives and a masochistic attitude in their dealings with their governments. They share with oppressive governments the same objectives and interests and that is the absolute subjection of individuals to them both either through oppression, physical aggression (a common practice in oppressive regimes), or through psychological violence (outlined in religious practice). Both the clergy and their condoning government have signed a wedding contract of mutual interest but they both carry on hating each other. They are waiting for the most opportune moment to bring each other down when they disagree about something. If we look closer at the psychological source of these two forms of oppressive power, we see that a childhood characterized by repression and sexual deprivation enhances the emergence of certain inherited behavioral genes. As we well know, part of our behavior is subjected to a biological rule, but the external environment plays a crucial role in the selection of behavior. As neurologist Gerald Edelman has explained, the environment is not static; it is always changing and evolving following the behavior which agrees with it.
The oppressive notion attracts people who have genetic propensities for it, it enflames the sadistic behavior and enacts it through a general culture. There is a psychosomatic relation between the psyche and the body. Many forms of treatment seek to cure the body and mind all at once. This is the idea behind bio-dynamic treatment pioneered by psychologist Gerda Boyesen whose work has been acknowledged by the European Association for Psychotherapy.
The aggressive and destructive desire has also been understood by Reich and by many psychologists and psychoanalysts as a result of the rejection of sexual instinct which on the contrary has a peaceful tendency. Aggression and violence are then in their origin a means to realize these basic desires when they cannot be achieved in a peaceful way. This peaceful pleasure turns into a sadistic one, a mixture of primal sexual drives and secondary destructive drives. This is then a biological condition which can be transformed in one way or another following the influence of a given cultural environment. Sadism can also be informed by a mechanism of self-defense caused by a deep anxiety which may trigger it at the level of casual behavior or sexual practice. That is how the clergy can feel this perverted pleasure when they commit various excesses in breach of individual rights especially against women. The masculine latent anxiety derived from the fear of castration enflames men’s sadistic behavior towards their female partners.
Let us come back to the notion of patriarchal societies where the Oedipus complex is a social rather than a biological phenomenon as explained by anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in his study on the matriarchal tribes living in the Trobriand Islands. Members of these tribes enjoy a natural sexual freedom. They are organized, sociable, they work without complaining too much and at the same time they practice monogamy.
The Oedipus complex is the outcome of an oppressive notion of the father. It is then possible to say that the relation between the power of the father and that of spiritual leaders and politics in oppressive societies are closely connected. The father’s masculine power goes hand in hand with the growing power of the clergy and the growing tyranny of oppressive regimes.
Religion attracts neurotic individuals. They should perhaps stay in a mental institution to treat their bio-electric energy perhaps they can then experience a natural pleasure and stop exercising their power in their external environment. Perhaps the very nature of this religion is to blame because it seems to attract such neurotic cases.