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#1
Old 09-26-2015, 11:20 AM
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Is Psychological "Doubling" real?

From Robert J Lifton's The Nazi Doctors:

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The key to understanding how Nazi doctors came to do the work of Auschwitz is the psychological principle I call “doubling”: the division of the self into two functioning wholes, so that a part-self acts as an entire self. An Auschwitz doctor could through doubling not only kill and contribute to killing but organize silently, on behalf of that evil project, an entire self-structure (or self process) encompassing virtually all aspects of his behavior.
Do you think it's a real "thing" that can be diagnosed? Or just something Lifton made up to somehow explain seemingly ordinary people doing evil things?
#2
Old 09-26-2015, 11:24 AM
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well, the opposite of this would be cognitive dissonance, i think
#3
Old 09-26-2015, 11:27 AM
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I think its a real coping mechanism. We also see this in gangbangers and mafioso. People can be horrific killers yet also loving parents.
#4
Old 09-26-2015, 11:45 AM
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I think a better and more common example would be soldiers doing their (legal) duty and killing. They dont want to bring that part of themself back home. Some arent successful.
#5
Old 09-26-2015, 12:09 PM
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How is that different from compartmentalization?
#6
Old 09-26-2015, 12:22 PM
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Sure. The whole persona is a construct of other sub-personas, memes, emotional traumas and various bullcrap. There is no such think as an actual person or a real "self", psychologically. It's all a crazy mishmash of interconnected impulses, ideas and emotions.

Just check with yourself. Are you really "you" or is that "you" just something you make up as you go along. I know there is no real "me" in here, though there was of course a time when this was not obvious. The me is/was just a collection of stories.

Not only do I think that what the OP mentions is real, I think it is completely unavoidable and much more advanced than that. People have a huge amount of sub-personalities running around in their minds, and then they have a few that are for "public use". Everyone is insane, some are just hiding it better.
#7
Old 09-26-2015, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
... Everyone is insane, some are just hiding it better.
I think you really meant "Everyone is [composite or disjointed or multi-faceted], some are just hiding it better".

The other thing that folks do pretty easily is objectify the enemy. It's hard to torture real people. It's easy(er) to torture subhuman scum who are polluting or threatening your culture and way of life.

Once you can make yourself see the enemy as not on a par with real humans like yourself and your cohorts, all sorts of nastiness gets surprisingly and seductively easy.

With a little practice, most of us could work in a slaughterhouse killing cattle. With the right mental attitude adjustments, humans of other colors or shapes or religions easily become closer to cattle than people. And we can then work in those kinds of slaughtering operations too.

The human mind is a wonderful but grubby place. It can do such masterful work. And such ghastly evil.
#8
Old 09-26-2015, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
I think you really meant "Everyone is [composite or disjointed or multi-faceted], some are just hiding it better".
Well...

- People have the wrong idea about who/what they are
- They live almost completely in a world of their own imagination
- They are full of fear, confusion, hate and resentment
- They are all hearing voices in their heads

Not knowing who you are, living in a fantasy and hearing voices sound pretty insane to me. Some are hiding it, others are unaware of it, nobody is free of it*




* Well, except guys like Adyashanti and the other enlightened dudes. From what I understand they do not fit the previous criteria.
#9
Old 09-28-2015, 12:59 PM
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All people play roles. Are you the same person at work that you are at home? The same person on this forum that you are at a bar?

I don't know whether the idea of doubling is necessarily the best explanation for this phenomenon compared to compartmentalization or other theories, but it's an inherent part of who people are. I don't think you could avoid it if you wanted to. Admittedly, most of us do it in constructive ways so that we don't talk baby talk to the boss and we don't show spreadsheets to the kids, but it's the same mental framework being used.
#10
Old 09-28-2015, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
All people play roles. Are you the same person at work that you are at home? The same person on this forum that you are at a bar?

I don't know whether the idea of doubling is necessarily the best explanation for this phenomenon compared to compartmentalization or other theories, but it's an inherent part of who people are. I don't think you could avoid it if you wanted to. Admittedly, most of us do it in constructive ways so that we don't talk baby talk to the boss and we don't show spreadsheets to the kids, but it's the same mental framework being used.
That's everyday codeswitching you're describing, which comes from a healthy understanding that different circumstances have different social norms and then being able to behave "appropriately" (however that's defined) in each circumstance.

Robert J. Gould was describing a phenomenon where people can have two completely different moral frameworks in two different settings, allowing them to (say) perform vivisection and other horrific tortures on human beings as part of their daily job duties, and then come home and be loving and empathetic spouses and parents in their private lives. In other words, the two sides to this person are in complete opposition to each other and, intuitively, it seems impossible that one person could be able to contain both personalities within himself and appear sane.

So this is a lot more involved than, say, men being loving fathers at home and slaughterhouse butchers at work. These were people who were able to inure themselves to medically torturing other people -- performing experimental surgery without anesthesia, for example, where "patients" were screaming in agony and dying on the table -- and then come home and feel emotionally moved to cuddling their toddler who just scraped their knee. Instinctively, it feels like something wrong is going on with this person, that they are able to turn on and off their empathy and other natural human feelings so absolutely like that.

As to the OP's question, I think it's a little backwards. The fact is, we know people are able to do this, somehow. Gould just put a label on it and tried to figure out how it could happen. That's really no different than most other mental illnesses throughout the history of psychiatry -- scientists observed unusual behavior out in the wild, and then theorized what could cause it and gave it a name.

I guess the question is, do we agree with Gould's theory or do we have an alternate explanation? Not having researched this area myself but having read The Nazi Doctors, Gould's theory seems like a good one to me.
#11
Old 09-28-2015, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
All people play roles. Are you the same person at work that you are at home? The same person on this forum that you are at a bar?

I don't know whether the idea of doubling is necessarily the best explanation for this phenomenon compared to compartmentalization or other theories, but it's an inherent part of who people are. I don't think you could avoid it if you wanted to. Admittedly, most of us do it in constructive ways so that we don't talk baby talk to the boss and we don't show spreadsheets to the kids, but it's the same mental framework being used.
Still most people seem to think that there is a "real you" in there somewhere, which there just isn't. It's just more masks and roles.
#12
Old 09-28-2015, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gallows fodder View Post
I guess the question is, do we agree with Gould's theory or do we have an alternate explanation? Not having researched this area myself but having read The Nazi Doctors, Gould's theory seems like a good one to me.
I think LSLGuy's theory makes the most sense. It's not that these people have two different personas, or two different moral codes, it's that they define the people they are torturing, mistreating or killing as other or sub-human, and therefore the moral code doesn't apply. You go home and snuggle your own babies, and tell them you love them, but you don't necessarily do that to every stranger's baby you see in the street, because you've put those babies into a different category. If you can put certain groups of people into another category (for example cattle to be slaughtered, as LSLGuy sugggests), then you can torture and kill them without violating your moral code, which applies only to humnas.
#13
Old 09-28-2015, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gallows fodder View Post
That's everyday codeswitching you're describing, which comes from a healthy understanding that different circumstances have different social norms and then being able to behave "appropriately" (however that's defined) in each circumstance.

Robert J. Gould was describing a phenomenon where people can have two completely different moral frameworks in two different settings, allowing them to (say) perform vivisection and other horrific tortures on human beings as part of their daily job duties, and then come home and be loving and empathetic spouses and parents in their private lives. In other words, the two sides to this person are in complete opposition to each other and, intuitively, it seems impossible that one person could be able to contain both personalities within himself and appear sane.
Call it codeswitching, doubling, compartmentalization, or whatever you like. What I'm saying is that I believe it's the same mechanism. It's part of the basic human toolbox and only insane people don't do it every day. It only seems remarkable in cases like this because people have their heads so far up their asses when it comes to understanding their own behavior. "Oh, I'd never do that! I'm a wonderful human being and they're inhuman Nazis."

Which is suspiciously like what the Nazis said, except they substituted the word Jew.

The Stanley Milgram experiment ought to say all we need to know about this. 95% of people insist they would never do that, but only 5% of them are right. That means that 90% of us are lying or ignorant. We have to insist that Nazi scientists are not like us in order to maintain our happy fictional view of ourselves.
#14
Old 09-28-2015, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
Well...

- People have the wrong idea about who/what they are
- They live almost completely in a world of their own imagination
- They are full of fear, confusion, hate and resentment
- They are all hearing voices in their heads

Not knowing who you are, living in a fantasy and hearing voices sound pretty insane to me. Some are hiding it, others are unaware of it, nobody is free of it*




* Well, except guys like Adyashanti and the other enlightened dudes. From what I understand they do not fit the previous criteria.
Speak for yourself. Oh, wait, you can't. You don't have one. Your post is a mish-mash of 1970's pop psychology and woo.
#15
Old 09-28-2015, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Call it codeswitching, doubling, compartmentalization, or whatever you like.
Hijack, but codeswitching is completely unrelated to compartmentalization or doubling. Codeswitching is just having two (or more) ways of speaking, depending on your audience and context. Almost everyone does it to some degree, even if it's just knowing not to say "motherfucker" while you're at church.
#16
Old 10-01-2015, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
Still most people seem to think that there is a "real you" in there somewhere, which there just isn't. It's just more masks and roles.
That's just stupid. Why would I put on a mask when I'm by myself? There is a real, unfiltered me. The existence of a mask presupposes that there is something you are masking. The existence of a role presupposes an entity that is performing that role. (If I were the role, then I would be unable to change roles.)

Plus, the fact that there is some entity that "seems to think there is a 'real you'" means that you think there is a "real you" that thinks this. If ti were the mask thinking this, we could take it off. If it was part of our role, we could get rid of it by taking on another role.

The sense of self is an important part of being a functional human being, and a lack of that sense of self is the cause of the personality disorders. For instance, people with BPD have no sense of self--they just change depending whether they are in idealization mode or devaluation mode. The lack of stability is what keeps them from functioning.

The real me is behind every mask I wear, and every role I play. Heck, the real me chooses what masks or roles I use. The Milgram experiment only proves how much we tend to want to delegate repsonsibility to others. The scientists were TRUSTED, and that made all the difference.

That's all it's about--how easy it is to be misled by our natural desire to trust those in authority. It's why I'm so big into questioning authority.
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