Psychological Difference Number Three: Honor

Saturday, July 3, 2010

IN AN article by Nicolai Sennels, who was a therapist and counselor for 150 Muslim criminals in Denmark prisons and 100 non-Muslim criminals, he expresses his concern that the way Muslims think may be incompatible with Western civilization.

He discovered several important differences between Muslim criminals and non-Muslim criminals, all of which stem from their culture, which stems primarily from basic Islamic teachings. One of the most important psychological differences he found was "honor." I will quote from the article:

Honor is a central concept in the Muslim culture. Many Danish newspapers experienced mass rage from Muslims, when they published and re-published the Danish Mohammed cartoons. They have realized that Muslims are very easily offended.

What kind of honor needs to be protected by threats of terror and boycotts? Is this really honor? Maybe if seen through the glasses of a culture based on a book written 1400 years ago. However, when seen from the perspective of modern Western psychology, it surely is not. From our perspective such behavior is closer to being dishonorable.

Having to constantly keep up one’s appearances, becoming insecure and reacting aggressively when criticized is the result of low self esteem. Unfortunately the Muslim culture tells its men that criticism must be taken completely personally and met with childish reactions.

True self confidence would allow the individual the ability to think or say: “Ok. You have your own opinion about me or my religion. I have another opinion, and as I trust myself, I will not let my view of myself, or my central values, be disturbed by you.” Knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses and accepting them is the core and basis of good self confidence.

If you had ever spent time in a Muslim community you experience this very clearly. You would find yourself constantly trying not to offend anyone and you’d treat everybody like a rotten egg. Jokes, irony and, especially, self-irony is as good as non-existent. It creates a superficial social environment where unhealthy hierarchies appear everywhere because nobody dares to, for instance, point out the weaknesses of childish men and make fun of the powerful. There is an old Danish fairytale about a little boy that points out the nakedness of the King; "He has no clothes on!!” embarrassing the proud King wearing his non-existent magic clothes, which are only visible to "good people" (actually, the King was just naked - because the tailor had cheated him!). Such a story could never have been written in a Muslim culture.

Many young Muslims become assailants. This is not just because of the Muslim cultural acceptance of aggression, but also because the Muslim honor mentality makes them into fragile, insecure men. Instead of being flexible and humorous they become stiff and develop fragile, glass-like, narcissistic personalities.

Unfortunately, most journalists and media people use the term “honor” when describing cases of violence where the offender makes excuses for himself by stating that his honor was offended. Since the concept of honor is completely integrated in the social rules of Muslim culture, it is seen to be justifiable when honor is threatened. This extends to beating or killing women who want to claim such basic human rights as to choose, for themselves, their own sexual partners. By using this term, as used by the offender, the media automatically takes the perspective of a clearly psychopathic and narcissistic excuse for treating other people badly. Instead, we should take our own Western culture as a basis when describing such crimes. Terms like “family execution," “childish jealousy,” “control maniac” or “insecure” would be much closer to our cultural understanding of such behavior.

Read the whole article: Muslims and Westerners: The Psychological Differences.

Read other differences: The Psychological Differences Between Muslims and Westerners.

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