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Psychodynamics of the Muslim world -- an allegory

Reader comment on item: How the Cartoon Protests Harm Muslims [by Leading to a Separation of Civilizations]

Submitted by Dr RJP (United States), Feb 14, 2006 at 15:21

Imagine if you were living in a single-parent household with a very strict, authoritarian father. Even though your father has never expressed any unconditional love towards you, you convince yourself that he really does loves you even though his love is totally conditional on what you do or do not do for him. You quickly learn that when you do not do what he expects of you, you are punished severely. Yet, you are never really sure what you need do to satisfy him, since what he asks is often contradictory. Whatever your father asks, though, you are expected to do it without question, contradictory or not.

You may be asked to do things that are personally unpleasant to you, but you cannot complain, nor refuse, for any complaints or rebellion are met with sadistic punishment. Normally, the main purpose of punishment is to correct your behavior out of love for you and a concern for your well-being. Not in this family, for punishment is dispensed without any love whatsoever. Fear is the primary motivator.

Your father has taught you since birth to love and respect others, but only if they are like you. For those who are not like you, you are taught to avoid them and distrust them. You are taught that the rest of the world is envious of you and your possessions, especially your land. You are taught to hate your enemies, and that killing your enemies will make your father very happy.

If you do not like these rules placed upon you, there is nothing you can do about them. You cannot complain, and you cannot abandon your home for that is punishable by death.

Usually, children are taught to emulate their parents, but in this case, you are told never to emulate your father because your father is unique. In fact, you have no idea what he is really like. Altough he is not a god, he wants you to treat him like one, and like a god, his word cannot be questioned, modified, or rescinded. If you are angry about what he has done to you, displaying anger towards him will likely get you killed.

So, what is a son to do?

Simple – blame everyone outside of the family and displace your anger towards them.

Sound familiar?

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