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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RACISM
PART 2 of 2

 

By Roy Masters
Author of "Hypnotic States of Americans"
May 8, 2012
NewsWithViews.com

[This article originally appeared in the October 1990 issue of “New Dimensions” magazine.]

[Be sure to read Roy’s Hypnotic States of Americans book]

Playing the field

The thought of anger and frustration spreading like a disease may have a familiar ring to it—it underlies many emotional illnesses. But whereas most emotionally disturbed people have a smorgasbord of judgments, the racist fixates on a non-changeable mark of distinction. For those who find variety "the spice of life," self-righteous judgment can be sparked by anything—animate or inanimate—that crosses their path and annoys, intrudes, or simply exists.

A person who is extremely hostile can find innumerable reasons to look down on people: the financial status of an acquaintance, a neighbor's wardrobe, a friend's choice of husband or wife, the boss's looks, burnt toast, cold weather, delays in plans, the tone of someone's voice, loud laughter, sad faces. This need for constant irritation can result in severe, chronic emotional problems.

Although this does not describe racism per se, it follows a similar mental process. When it is not restricted to hatred of a particular racial color, it becomes a smorgasbord of petty grievances against everyone and everything. And the more the person puts himself in the role of "supreme judge," the more guilty he becomes. The growing guilt intensifies the need to find fault until everyone and everything is on the hit list. His secret contempt towards those around him turns otherwise neutral encounters into moments of unhealthy intrigue. This constant emotional turmoil can ultimately lead to a nervous breakdown.

We have all met people like this, people who enjoy finding fault and ridiculing neighbors, friends, and family members. First it may appear as a simple case of relishing the sight of someone else's failing—and who hasn't laughed when they see someone trip and fall on a banana skin? But over the years a dark shadow creeps over and clouds the person's mind. He may even begin to suspect he is being followed or watched. What he does not recognize after all those years of emotional indulgence and denial is that the enlarging sense of fear and anxiety is actually a response to his own conscience, which becomes more insistent and more accusing the longer the person stubbornly holds fast and evolves his "rightness" through hatred. He becomes obsessively paranoid.

Initiating the next generation

This ingrained need to feel superior to others is the hallmark of racial bigotry in which there is one prime focus for self-righteous judgment—racial differences. Each new generation of bigots goes through an initiation process before entering wholeheartedly into this life built on hatred.

Consider what happens to a child born into a racist family, one that views minority groups as inferior beings. If the child shows even a hint of possessing an independent, mature point of view, this budding betrayal of the family philosophy will be detected at an early age, and the child will be degraded until he acquiesces and conforms to the clan. The family's "head bigot" knows full well the awesome power of degrading—after all, it is the process that has made him what he is. The child must be degraded so that he or she will learn to appreciate the "joys" of degrading others, and discover that, compared to his victim's helplessness, he is strong. Compared to the uncontrolled emotion he has provoked, he is in control; compared to the humiliation he has dished out, he is superior.

Through reducing another to a wretched state lower than his own, the racist feels restored to what he believes to be his former glory. Thus a military chain of command of compulsive hate mongers is formed—dominated and justified by a merciless instigating leader (such as the Ku Klux Klan's Imperial Wizard).

To reiterate, those who have been degraded by any form of authority tend automatically to live by comparison. In principle, a person who feels miserable because he has no shoes feels fortunate when he meets someone who has no feet. Therefore, a dehumanized white man who has not made it in life may feel better when he looks down and compares himself to someone he fantasizes to be less than himself—a member of a minority group. He has to look down because if he looks up he will realize his own failure.

Whether or not a racist can stop being a racist depends, basically, on the hardness of his heart. Some people can be Nazis for years, continuing to affirm the rightness of their battle against the "evil" Jews. But after experiencing the pain involved in this state of mind for a long time they may realize their error—that they have obtained a false sense of rightness through hating someone they judge as evil and/or inferior. The truth may finally catch up with them. Unfortunately, others who are more stubborn in holding on to their illusions never want to be wrong; that is where the problem lies. Such persons experience no gradual tempering of views over the years, only a further hardening of the heart and a steady progression of error.

Anyone caught on the receiving end of this blind, unjust, unwarranted hostility is in dan-ger of conforming to the judgments against him. That is to say, accuse an innocent man of being a thief and he may unwittingly become a thief. Let me explain: If a man is judged unfairly, accused of stealing, and actually sent to jail, he may become so bitter that he begins to think, "I've paid the price for something I never did; I may as well commit the crime."

Mistreatment and false accusations have a strange way of seeping into the very fabric of our thinking and can lead us to become a reflection of someone else's opinion. So a black youth who is continually made the brunt of scorn, hostility, and distrust may find himself fulfilling the negative expectations projected onto him by others.

For the racist, that is icing on the cake—actual confirmation of his original judgment. Again, the racist mentality never wants to admit to being wrong. Of course, it is human nature to want to feel good about ourselves—never to be wrong in our own eyes. Yet there are two ways of doing that: One of them is simply to develop the maturity and wisdom to deal graciously with people who are cruel to us. A person who lives this way evolves real character and does not need to degrade others, nor does he allow others to degrade him. He retains his own original integrity.

But until victims of cruelty find their way back to their lost dignity, which is to say, as long as they continue to hate the abuse they have received, the alternative kicks in quite unconsciously—and I do mean unconsciously. Relief comes only by losing consciousness of humiliation and pain by becoming "conscious" of a superior position in relation to another's humiliation. So, as the saying goes, we do unto others what was done unto us. And for any ego caught in this mechanism, abusing others does not seem cruel, because it feels so right. Feeling justified, good, and superior becomes the only standard of right and wrong.

Hating wrong has a strange way of making a person feel right about himself. People may actually feel they have a duty to hate what they consider to be wrong. The danger of this is that hatred, like a whirlpool, can suck consciousness into it so profoundly that a person loses sight of his true condition. Hatred can generate an alternate "reality" that tells a person he is superior—right by comparison. For this reason alone, hatred is difficult to drop. It creates a peculiar vision. It converts true enemies into "friends" and what might have been true friends into enemies.

Those with real strength and integrity tend to threaten the racist's delusions of righteous-ness. The contrast between true virtue and the hate-based variety is just too painful. There-fore, for the racist, true dignity in others has to be destroyed. Remember, in this process what feels good is good, and evil is anything that makes a person feel uncomfortable. This myopic standard is all the racist sees—perhaps that's all he wants to see. Hate produces an altered state of consciousness, and no civil rights law in the world can govern that unruly passion. It is an addiction worse than any drug.

Downward spiral

A drug addict's tolerance to his "substance of choice" grows with use. He must continu-ally increase the dosage to receive the same "benefit." Just like the drug addict, a racist in-duces in himself a temporary rush, a high, by abusing and degrading his "race of choice." And just like the addict, his tolerance grows until simple name-calling and humiliation are not enough to satisfy him. The need escalates, becomes more demanding, and may in some cases lead to violence.

In a previous era, white racist organizations and individuals perpetrated terrorism against blacks. Blacks were intimidated, hunted down like wild animals, brutally beaten, castrated, lynched. Today, Skinheads use steel-toed boots, knives, and baseball bats on minorities of all races. The predator is still very much alive and with us today.

Of the Skinheads, Los Angeles Detective Michael Brandt warns: "They are a threat to the moral fiber of our society." Some Skinheads—possibly the fastest growing racist group today—may simply be emotionally disturbed youngsters looking for an outlet to express their feelings; others thrive on shocking the staid, straight-laced society they condemn as hypocritical. But the most dangerous members are those who totally embrace the neo-Nazi mentality and reflect Hitler's philosophy of Aryan race superiority.

In the sick mind of the hard-core racist, this almost religious commitment to "racial supremacy" can justify even the most barbarous acts of predation. The following excerpt is of unknown origin, but it perfectly describes the mindset of the most extreme sort of criminal racist:

"The glory of the predator's life is the hunt. And everything must be arranged in sub-servience to this need. No one dare interrupt the joys of predation. Their form of religion or mysticism comes often in the middle of a crime, of some exquisite cruelty they are inflicting upon a victim. To them, the victim is all that exists. The pleasure of the victim's suffering is like food for their degraded spirit, elevating them into feelings of ecstasy and omnipotence. And the victim's suffering is utterly of no consequence. In his mind, the victims exist for his pleasure, like a crocodile with his prey. "

However, the victim's suffering does not "satisfy" the predator, but only whets his ap-petite further. Similarly, the sick needs of a brutal husband are never satisfied by beating up his wife and children. Although he may not understand the compulsion he is under, his need to inflict pain escalates to the point that he may literally destroy his family, and then out of guilt, take his own life. Sadly, victims often unknowingly contribute to their own problem by not understanding how to stand up for themselves in a right way, without anger. When a person allows himself to be victimized, he actually increases the aggressor's power to destroy. Battered women know this all too well.

Returning to neutral

So, how can we defend ourselves against becoming casualties of hatred and psychological abuse? The answer is to learn to stand up to personal put downs with dignity and courage, without returning the same hate as the racist's. Feel the hurt (the pain of the cruelty or humiliation) without hating back. Granted, we are only human, with many feelings we cannot control. But when we are subjected to cruelty, there is one response we can control, and that is resentment.

Without the extra dimension of resentment, cruelty has only a temporary sway over us. We may feel its impact, but it will not have the power to convert us into one of the haters. By dealing with racism in this way, the character of the targeted victim grows, and holds up a mirror to the racist. If this "psychic self-defense" principle could be taught to the victims of persecution in sufficient numbers, they would grow in strength and grace and bring the age of racism to a screeching halt. The philosopher Nietzsche said, "What does not kill a man makes him grow stronger."

Adversity is overcome by meeting the challenge with dignity and character. The proper way to deal with hatred is not with more hatred, but with a neutral attitude of patient strength and forbearance. Traditional Christian faith calls it "longsuffering." Responding in that way, you will never descend into the realm of your adversary. Even if someone treats you in a degrading way, you will not feel degraded. Instead, you evolve your humanness.

The popular film "War Games" clearly illustrates the invaluable lesson of how to defeat the enemy. A young man gains access to the Pentagon's computer and activates a war game. By computing the trajectory of the Soviets' ICBMs, the computer makes a counter-move, and a counter-move to their counter-move, and so on. The game becomes serious when the computer begins to see the exercise as reality, and is poised to fire actual missiles at the Soviet Union, initiating global thermonuclear war. However, the computer also has been designed to learn from experience through analyzing data, and just in the nick of time discovers that an all-out assault would only lead to the complete destruction of both sides—a lose/lose scenario. Through deductive reasoning, the computer concludes that the only way to win is not to play the game.

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Epilog

As a Jew living in England during WW II, I personally experienced persecution at the hands of vicious anti-Semites. Most of my family was lost in the Nazi holocaust. And I was constantly confronted with degrading remarks and violence for being Jewish. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned not to return hate for hate. This discipline set me free from being a victim of racism. Moreover, the benefit this understanding bestowed on me throughout my life, which I never could have imagined at the time, has been nothing short of miraculous. For my part, forgiving those who had been cruel to me saved my sanity. But it also converted many enemies into friends. It's amazing what a little bit of good will can do. For part one click below.

[To free yourself from entanglement in the intimidator’s game, you must learn to deal properly, without resentment, to pressures of any kind. My Be Still and Know meditation exercise shows you how to do this and helps you practice remaining in the proper state. You can try it before you buy it and, if you like it, purchase your own copy, at fhu.com or by calling 800-877-3227.]

Click here for part -----> 1,

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Roy Masters—who in his 80s continues to broadcast the longest-running counseling show in talk radio history, his internationally syndicated daily radio program Advice Line, grew up in pre-WWII England. He started his journey toward understanding human nature when as a teen he saw a stage hypnotist at a vaudeville show in Brighton. The hypnotist easily put volunteer subjects in a spell and made them do outlandish things, like dancing with a broom and forgetting their own names.

Puzzled by the hypnotist’s mysterious power, Roy distinctly remembers pondering the question: “Why can’t hypnotism be used to make people act sensibly, rather than foolishly?” Inspired by the idea of harnessing this baffling force for good, he later pursued the art of hypnotism and established a successful hypnotherapy practice.

After several years of practice, Masters made his central and pivotal discovery about the root of people’s emotional problems, addictions and complexes. He realized that people did not need hypnosis, because their core problem was that they are already hypnotized—not by a clever stage performer, but by the stresses, pressures and seductions of daily life.

He used his knowledge to discover a way to help us become de-hypnotized, and discovered that the root of the power of negative suggestion lay in our wrong emotional response, that of resentment. Masters’ remarkably effective exercise, a simple observation technique called Be Still and Know—is at the core of his unmatched track record in helping people overcome even the most serious mental-emotional problems, and is the centerpiece of a successful program within the U.S. military community (“Patriot Outreach”) that is helping thousands of military personnel and their families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

1- Website: www.fhu.com
2- Website: FixAnxiety.org

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For the racist, that is icing on the cake—actual confirmation of his original judgment. Again, the racist mentality never wants to admit to being wrong. Of course, it is human nature to want to feel good about ourselves—never to be wrong in our own eyes.