After I have been subjected to a deluge of aggressive insults with various innuendos sent to my email address following the debate broadcast on France 24 “The Burka Ban Debate in France” (08/ 07/ 2010), I decided to devote an analytic article to the phenomenon of insults and verbal aggressive behavior so prominent among religious people in order to understand their inability to use a more elevated language. I would like to understand the reasons which confine them within a narrow and closed cognitive container.
Let us first try and analyze this type of verbal aggression fraught with sexual images. These insults reflect a condition of repressed sexual desires seeking an outlet. The religious person is always carrying out acts of unconscious sublimation to burry in his/her inner depths these misrecognized desires. This mechanism of self-defense and self-repression is in turn maintained and blurred by accumulating negative residues in their immediate social and cultural environment.
I would like to concentrate on the use of words “happiness” and “joy” which are mistakenly understood as a synonym of “pleasure”. This term is denigrated and resented in many societies today where it is used interchangeably with the word “happiness” or “joy”. There are here shades of meaning which are totally overlooked. The believer’s naïve intellect fails to recognize its subjection to a culture which strengthen its authority through abstract facts deeply engrained in procedural or implicit memory. The interaction between short and long term memory affect in an unconscious way our behavior and habits sometimes allowing data to emerge in our conscious life in a distorted way.
And if we want to delve deeper in this psychological condition hidden behind such words, we find that “happiness” reflects the primacy of concepts acquired from our surrounding. When some misperception which accompanies the condition of intellectual complacency is added to it, we are overwhelmed by a condition of joy or cheerfulness. “Pleasure”, on the other hand, is a condition which complements these moods. Sexual intercourse helps to channel and process the energy produced by these emotional states and affects which, as we know, are located and closely connected with the sexual organs.
Let us come back to the insults built around sexual images. They express fantasies experienced by the impotent religious person and an outlet for these inner images accumulated by various mechanisms of psychological repression and so muddled among themselves. That is why the religious person uses insults which express sexual positions and practices, as in group sex, on other occasions, he or she reveals primitive desires, buried deep in his/ her mind in an unconscious way (as in the description of sexual intercourse with the mother which he/ she projects on the other who is different from them). The religious person is in reality expressing transgressive fantasies and prohibited wishes and perhaps even distant memories stored in our genetic constitution.
This defective condition is obviously found in individuals living in repressed societies which hold the individual in a condition of perpetual enslavement. A person aware of his/ her biological specificities and their external environment define in a conscious and responsible way the principles, values and ethics which respect every person, and continuously striving to establish similar principles when dealing with all living creatures without exception.
The problem with people who are brainwashed, programmed to act in a mechanical way and unaware of these basic civic values and way of life are incapable of getting on with themselves, let alone with other people. They are in a perpetual state of denial with regard to their instinctive drives, intolerant towards the other who is different from them. The cultural environment within which they live annihilated sexual desires and transformed sex into a mechanical act of mere reproduction.
This gap between instincts and biological needs and the external culture account for schizophrenic behavior and leads to numerous other psychological disturbances and deep anxieties.
Henry Laborit, an expert in neurobiology explains that language is the main and primary factor which leads to the foundation of domination as it comes to take an institutional aspect linked to the group rather than the individual. Here, sexual satisfaction is sublimated and replaced by the satisfaction derived from domination. This is why it is noticeable that individuals living in societies built on various taboos tend to give up on a large amount of sexual rights in favor of first individual then group domination. Paradoxically, these same oppressed individuals are strong defenders of the moral values which clash with their own instinctual needs. All this is contained within the same sphere of ego domination, this ego, it is possible to say, serves collective interest at the expense of the individual who is devoted to serving them in exchange for trifle and very simple satisfactions for a reward.
Let us come back to the repressed biological satisfaction, i.e., sex, and its relation to anxiety and hostile (verbal) behavior.
The aim of sensory activity for each individual is to achieve a certain structural satisfaction, known as biological balance, that is, it is seeking happiness and joy and pleasure all at the same time. But when these biological drives collide with external laws built on the principle of domination, anxiety begins. This anxiety results from a realization of the impossibility of achieving the desired pleasure derived from the satisfaction of instincts. The individual tries to escape from this anxiety by showing a hostile and aggressive behavior towards any stimulant which may challenge these repressed instincts. Aggressive behavior expresses an attempt to alleviate psychological anxiety resulting from struggles and neurological activities concentrated on various levels in our biological system. A repressed person would find such latent and concealed instincts so difficult to recognize, let alone respond to and satisfy.
Here we can say that the majority of religious people resort, sometimes unconsciously to showing a hostile and aggressive attitude full of sexual expressions and images (and this is the most common and least serious form of aggression they practice). These sexual expressions constitute an outlet for the believer’s sexual energies and repressed fantasies. Clearly we are dealing here with neurotic subjects.
Let us not forget also the struggle between that which is acquired and the instinctual drives recorded in our procedural memory. The act of sublimation increases the degree of separation between our consciousness and the unconscious and this results in a gap between implicit and explicit memory.
For this reason, I find it is better for us to come back to the pleasure principle. We need to reconcile it with values acquired from our external surrounding to define new moral attitudes which recognize and respond to our instincts and which at the same time do not clash with collective interest.