Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen: How otherwise good people can commit heinous crimes

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013 12:00 am

How does someone who is devoutly religious commit evil acts that get innocent people killed? How can people who believe in tolerance act hateful and vindictive to those with whom they disagree? What about those who promote the natural selection of Darwinism, but at the same time strive to protect the weak?

In psychology, these examples come under a phenomenon known as “compartmentalization.” This is when people separate thoughts and feelings that are incompatible with each other. The defense of rationalization is often used to keep these incompatibilities isolated.

While everyone uses compartmentalization from time to time, there are extreme examples throughout history. One of the most famous is former FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

For 22 years, Hanssen gave the Soviets many of America’s most sensitive secrets — thus creating untold and irreparable damage to our national security. What made this case different from other spy cases was his incredible use of compartmentalization.

For one thing, the famous spy was an Opus Dei Catholic. This is an institution of Catholicism which emphasizes God in daily life. Regular church attendance, study and daily devotions are an integral part of this faith. Hanssen also encouraged FBI subordinates who were Catholic to follow his example.

Yet he seemed unconcerned about undercover agents needlessly killed by his acts of disloyalty.

He was also a devoted family man and considered a good husband and father. Yet he rationalized away harm, as well as the pain and suffering that would eventually bring unmitigated shame upon his family.

At the same time, Hanssen had a stripper girlfriend. He also set up a video camera while having sex with his wife so one of his best friends could watch live performances.

He was not a political ideologue and did not have any love or respect for the values of the Soviet Union. Hanssen liked money, but that was not his primary motivation.

He did not drink, use street drugs, gamble or have large amounts of debt.

So what created a personality that built walls around so many different values and emotions?

Theories vary, but one possibility is the belief these individuals have about themselves.

Although others may see them as successful, they usually do not. When people develop compartmentalization as a defense, there is a high probability that an emotionally or physically abusive parent helped create a personality with disconnected emotions and values.

These individuals rationalize to themselves that they are smarter than most and are unappreciated by peers and superiors. This seems to be the motivator in Hanssen’s case. He was upset that the FBI did not take his ideas for improvement of the agency seriously. That created a revenge issue. It was also his belief that the FBI was so stupid, he would never get caught. The clever spy was almost correct.

In 2001, Hanssen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Today, he spends his 23 hours of his life in an isolated cell with no visitors other than his wife and attorney.

While compartmentalization is a common human trait, extreme cases can obviously be harmful to one’s self as well as others. Examples of this can be found in some individuals with concrete religious, political or other foundations of philosophical idealism that can only function by isolating conflicting beliefs and emotions.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and retired psychotherapist.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 6:23 am on Wed, Nov 27, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Why is it that these columnists get to change their profiles depending on the column they write?

    "Retired psychotherapist?" Seriously?

    Last known occupation for Steve Hansen was counselor at Lodi High School. Now he's suddenly a "retired psychotherapist."

    And, moderator, I'm not making any of this up, so there should be no reason not to post my comment.

     
  • Todd Cronin posted at 7:57 am on Tue, Nov 26, 2013.

    Todd Posts: 106

    It is a fairly EASY answer Steve......
    They are a product of bad sperm!

     

Recent Comments

Posted 13 hours ago by Andrew Liebich.

article: Letter: There is no contest in the gube…

Facts are not allegations Mr. Heuer. Facts are facts. The information presented in Cortopassi's ad is quite easy to substantiate by sim…

More...

Posted 13 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: Joe Guzzardi’s June 20 column c…

Boben , As far as the "fan club" is concerned, not much to gripe about as of late. I know you love to attack Joe`s posts. He …

More...

Posted 14 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Letter: Joe Guzzardi’s June 20 column c…

I work to help many immigrants and train on this. I think the Mr Liebich little mistaken - were before 5 rules - now change in month July …

More...

Posted 14 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Letter: Questions for Obama supporters

Sorry jos = jobs above in my post. My bad. [sad]

More...

Posted 15 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Letter: Questions for Obama supporters

MR Kinderman Just for your information because I now know it to be important to you Ms Pelosi's full name is; Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro …

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists