Rage

Rage
: Chris Hedges interviews psychoanalyst Charles B. Strozier about 9/11 and rage and comes out of it with a maddening New York Times story.

The doctor, who also teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “which lost 70 alumni in the attacks,” says he sees differences in the people’s reaction to 9/11 depending on whether they were there or whether they watched the horror on TV. What’s that difference? Strozier doesn’t seem to answer the question and Hedges doesn’t seem to push him.

“Those who viewed the event through the repeated images on television alone became numb,” he said. “The constant repetition of the image served to cut the disaster from reality. The images on televisions were more disorienting, more confusing and maybe more seductive. I knew from past studies that numbness leads not to anger but to rage, to anti-empathy, to undirected anger. The confusion of rage often pushes people towards violence. Numbing leads to a diminished capacity to feel.”

And, so?

So what’s the line between “anger” and “rage” and “undirected anger”? This pushes viewers to violence — where; where have you seen that happen? Isn’t “numbing” defined as a “dimished capacity to feel?” But Hedges doesn’t push the points because, as it turns out, he wants to sneak in his own agenda. Hedges wrote the book “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” He wants somebody to say that war is bad. And the shrink says it in the last graph:

You cannot underestimate the difference between the experience and the image of the experience,” Dr. Strozier said.

“Those who lived in Lower Manhattan breathed in the smell of the dead for weeks, like those at Auschwitz. We all knew what the smell was even if we did not speak about it. The dust settled over huge sections of the city, from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side.

“The chaos and fear were real to New Yorkers. This made the experience authentic. New Yorkers were much closer to the suffering. It was harder to become numb to it. And while they may have been angry, they were less filled with rage,” the professor said. “It was much harder to get those of us who were there to believe in the notion that killing others would somehow make us safer.”

Crap. So they seem to be arguing that we went to war because most of the country watched 9/11 on TV, which caused some strange form of numb rage. They seem to be arguing that if it were up to the witnesses of 9/11, we wouldn’t be going to war.

Speaking as only one witness, I’d say that logic and experience say just the opposite. As I’ve written here over the last two years, it’s people on the other coast, far away from the horror, who have been more likely to say, “Get over it.” It’s people who witnessed the event who have clear cause for anger.

Hedges and Strozier want to belittle that anger by calling it “rage” and acting as if it’s out of control and irrational.

Well, we have a right to rage. And it has nothing to do with whether we were there or whether we watched what happened on TV. We know what happened: We were attacked that day and we are threatened every day since and we have to protect ourselves. We go to war out of rational need, not rage.

Right now, doc, I’m feeling rage and it’s directed at you and Hedges.

  • http://www.jenmartinez.com/mt/ Jennifer Martinez

    “We go to war out of rational need, not rage.”
    roger that! Frankly, I am GLAD we are out kicking ass. It’s about time. Islamist terror freaks have been striking at us and committing atrocities against American citizens for well over 25 years and do you know what? We never DO ANYTHING about it. Prior to 11 Sept., UBL was calling us a “paper tiger.” Those bastards laugh at us, they cheer and dance in the streets … Nah, it’s about time. We cannot wait any longer. I didn’t need to watch planes flying into the Pentagon and WTC in order to reach this conclusion. I came to this conclusion years ago after they murdered LTC. Rich Higgins, COL. Nick Rowe, Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem, Pan Am 103, TWA 847, Leon Klinghoffer, William F. Buckley, Iran Hostages, Mogadishu …. and many more.
    Jennifer Martinez sends

  • http://asmallvictory.net michele

    Just when I finally put my emotional turmoil behind me, I read a piece of crap like this and it all comes out again.

  • ct

    In other words (the Dr. and Hedges say): “If you weren’t there you won’t have the proper masochistic and/or just self-loathing response to it. If you just see the images of it on television you will have rote, Pavlovian reactions based on your lack of ability to process such things based on the fact that you’re an idiot and not a psychoanalyst or a New York times journalist.”
    These people live in a nursery. They lecture the world from their nursery.
    The world’s dangerous; we got sucker-punched; we’re doing some needed things about it; the world’s still dangerous and will continue to be; yet the psychos and their backers now will think twice about who to make their targets at least…

  • Cooper

    “Frankly, I am GLAD we are out kicking ass. It’s about time.”
    God help us …

  • ct

    From the Dr.’s bio:
    >>>As a student at Harvard, he took a course taught by Erik H. Erikson called the Human Life Cycle and read Mr. Erikson’s book “Young Man Luther.”
    “It was a psychological study of Martin Luther,” Dr. Strozier said. “It changed my life. I wanted to use psychoanalytic study to understand history.”

  • Glen

    Okay, that article reads (at least to me) like the good Mr. Strozier had a theory and has managed to fit the facts to match his theory. He has interviewed 54 people? And somehow, out of his interviews of 54 people (I wonder if they were randomly picked or if they are a “representative sample” or whatever the pollsters call it) he has come to the conclusion that those who were present in NY on Sept. 11, 2001 don’t have the bellicosity and rage that us neanderthals in the rest of the country do? I’m willing to bet my next paycheck that Strozier is anti-war and he couldn’t understand why the majority of the country was ready and anxious to show some military might after 9-11. So, to him, the only thing that explains this is that the majority of the country experienced 9-11 via the “image of the experience” and not the experience itself.
    Give me a minute here… Okay, I just interviewed 5 people in the office here, and my results show that those of us who don’t know Mr. Strozier personally think he is a nitwit.
    I wonder, if I walked up to Mr. S. and slapped his face, would he respond with bellicosity and rage and strike back, or, since he was there and experienced the attack directly, would his attitude be that he is angry, but less filled with rage?
    I like that last statement too – “It was much harder to get those of us who were there to believe in the notion that killing others would somehow make us safer.” Umm, I feel safer today than I did on Sept. 12, 2001 – how about you? And strangely enough, I’m still pretty angry and bellicose, but I don’t feel full of rage.

  • ct

    “Frankly, I am GLAD we are out kicking ass. It’s about time.”
    “God help us,” Cooper says. Yes, I agree; but we also have to make the effort ourselves. One of God’s attributes is wrath. Sometimes He uses humans to carry out that wrath. In the case of some of these terrorist support states it would have been difficult for God to do anything more in the direction of making their lives naturally miserable. Considering the God-forsaken state of their lands and societies already…
    (Cooper, in case you have a Chris Hedges I.Q. I’m intentionally misreading your remark…)

  • Catherine

    Hedges is the same idiot who ruined the graduation ceremony at Rockford College by giving his “war is bad” and “losing is good for the US, it humbles us” speech. He was booed and the students were outraged that he wanted to turn their graduation in to a political platform, and I would have been too. Hedges is another one who thinks he’s still in the middle of Vietnam and thought the students were apathetic and didn’t get it. He doesn’t get it.

  • http://whoknew.typepad.com Jeremy Brown

    There’s too much to refute all at once, but I’ll have a go at one bit. Yes, obviously those present at ground zero felt the most vivd horror, but the rest of the world was numb? I wish pathologically numb people would realize they speak for themselves alone. I have never seen images on TV as horribly real. I can only compare it to the way toddlers look at TV and have trouble remembering that it’s not a window into a real world. The trouble is, of course, the TV on 9/11 was a window on the world, though it seemed impossible that it could really be happening. For months I had real flashbacks to the TV image of the first tower falling and I don’t think I’m an oddball, nor do I think it’s just because I’m from New York. Everyone here in Massachusetts was walking around in shock, though my brother in Manhattan found that hard to believe. I think people were viscerally shocked all over the world from those images — that’s what they should be analyzing, since I think it may be unprecedented (though I wasn’t around to see how TV coverage of Viet Nam and the civil rights movement were felt). I’m reminded of how anti-war commentators often said that TV coverage of the Iraq war made it seem like a video game — I wanted to shout “speak for yourself you soulless bastard.”

  • http://mysite.verizon.net/res1uo0x/ A.W.

    First, what ever happened to the concept of righteous anger.
    When I was a teenager because of my disabilities i was denied my right to an education. Was i angry? You bet I was! And I had a right to be angry.
    Second, I wish someone did a very simple study about anger, support of the war, etc., according to geographic location. See if there is any correlation between the distance we were from the events of 9-11 physically, and the emotional feelings.
    My guess is it depended on whether the sun was still up in that part of the world, whether it was shown on TV, whether it as carried live, and yes, whether you were an american contributes greatly. For all the PC attempts to internationalize the tragedy, it was mainly Americans who died that day and the next time it will be americans dying. that is why we take this a little more seriously than, say, France.
    A.W.

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    “Hedges is the same idiot who ruined the graduation ceremony at Rockford College by giving his “war is bad” and “losing is good for the US, it humbles us” speech. He was booed and the students were outraged that he wanted to turn their graduation in to a political platform, and I would have been too.”
    I was going to say. What else should one expect from Chris Hedges? That’s what he does. It’s like expecting John Pilger to suddenly abandon all his rhetorical baggage.

  • Jakob

    “Frankly, I am GLAD we are out kicking ass.”
    This kind of macho talk may be good for the locker room, but it really lowers the level of political discourse. This isn’t a football game. Innocent men, women and children are dying in Iraq because Bush started this misguided war.
    I’m all for self-defense and bringing terrorists to justice. However, Bush’s pre-emptive war doesn’t make me feel any safer. I believe that many more people around the world hate and fear the US now than they did immediately after September 11, and that innocent Americans will pay for this.
    Jeff, you never struck me as much of an ass-kicker. I would think that you, as a self-described ex-pacifist, would be embarrassed by such talk.

  • Sandy P.

    No, Jakob, the hate is now out in the open. That’s the difference. It’s been there for a long, long time. It’s been taught in school, fed by politicians for a few decades now.

  • Catherine

    Really Jakob? You think there are more dying today than would have on any given day under Saddam? Can you produce numbers to substantiate your claim
    Or let’s take the favorite academic mantra for the last few years, “we kill thousands a year through the economic sanctions.” Ignoring the bilions Saddam sold to the UN “oil for food” and medicine program that he never passed on to the people (except Baathist supporters and favored Palestinians). Somehow I think Saddam is responsible…
    Hospitals are open, schools are open, electricity supply is now more stable than before Saddam (inspite of constant sabbotage) and soon the Iraqis will have a stake in the oil as a trust for their future (based on the Alaskan model).
    The problem is most people lump “all Arabs” into the same boat and they are not. Iraqis aren’t sympathetic to Palestinians for example because of their favored status for jobs and University spots under Saddam. They have their differences too and anger at each other.
    Ditto on what SandyP said.

  • Catherine

    Here is an article by a U of T professor regarding how inconsistant Mr. Hedges is when telling a story. His most famous story in particular.
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1064470656874&p=1006953079865

  • ct

    Jakob writes:
    “I believe that many more people around the world hate and fear the US now than they did immediately after September 11, and that innocent Americans will pay for this.”
    No, human nature respects power. Especially American power that is wielded responsibly and with good will for good ends. They attack us when we show a lack of will to defend ourselves and to act resolutely against the forces of chaos and terror. (They also like it when we do interventions and bring some adult supervision and mentoring into their lives…)
    The key is having real, common-sense, effective, grounded-in-classic-American-values leaders in power and not Euro/U.N. clones or clone wannabees…

  • http://spleenville.com/ Andrea Harris

    I love this sentence: “Numbing leads to a diminished capacity to feel.”
    Duh-er! Every dentist knows that.

  • Jakob

    ct writes: “Human nature respects power. Especially American power that is wielded responsibly and with good will for good ends. They attack us when we show a lack of will to defend ourselves and to act resolutely against the forces of chaos and terror.”
    I believe that nations respect power, which is why I never felt that Saddam was a threat to us. Why would he be a party to attacking the most powerful nation on earth when doing so would ensure the end of his reign?
    But I believe that terrorists resent power, and that they strike out against perceived arrogance and abuse of power. Israel is powerful, but remains a target of terrorists.
    As for attacking when we show a lack of will to defend ourselves, remember that the Sept. 11 attacks occurred on Bush’s watch.

  • ct

    Prior to ousting Saddam we hadn’t made the needed show of power. The Clinton Adminstration looked the other way for 8 years when the U.S. was repeatedly attacked. This gave the terrorists and Saddam the impression that they could do whatever they wanted and there would be no response or only a token response. That changed.
    The Sept. 11 attacks were planned way back in ’96. The general impression of American weakness was very strong. Clinton gave an impression of incredible and consistent weakness. Obviously W. is a different kind of leader and thank God…
    As for terrorists resenting power… Who gives a f***? Who gives a fuck what terrorists resent? And it’s not like they don’t have an ideology and program that they espouse. Check it out sometime, it’s very fascist and ugly. If you’re a left-wing liberal you may be looking in a mirror though when you look into the terrorists favored world-view, so make an effort to factor that in when discerning the impressions of it all…

  • Jakob

    ct, anyone who wants to prevent terrorism should care what terrorists resent.
    Or maybe you want to address the problem by threatening suicide bombers with the death penalty.