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The Doctors of Jihad By: David Gutmann
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, July 19, 2007

Significant power, whether political, scientific, or psychological, is always two-faced : fire can heat
your house or burn it down. And doctors, whether they are shamans or neurosurgeons, because they exercise power over life and death, have always been viewed with some ambivalence, some mistrust. If they have the power to heal, then they also have the power to hurt - and they might be tempted to use it. Thus, a  Mayan peasant that I once interviewed named his village Curandero as a witch: "first he sends you what he then heals.." 

Unfortunately, this universal human suspicion is more than a complete fantasy: like a number of contemporary Islamic physicians, some doctors have been tempted to the Dark Side of the Force. For example, some medicos - few in number, but numerous enough to have societal as well as individual impact - are in actuality would-be murderers manque', who deny their lethal but unconscious impulses via the disciplines of medecine, and it's life-saving practices. So long as their
Superego prohibitions against murder are in place and practiced, these physicians are stabilized and can serve their healing profession.  However, in war-time (as during Jihad) collective imperatives  come into play which can temporarily supplant, as the psyche's spiritual governor, the  institution of the Superego.

While the Superego forbids murder, the code of Jihad, which in war-time  has acquired the Superego's moral force, demands  killing. In the name of Allah the slaughter of Yahud and Kuffaar is required and sanctified. Murder can be  indulged without guilt and the clinician steps aside to reveal the hidden Killer, the terrorist in surgeon's scrubs.

In this scenario lethal rage is prior to the guilt and Superego functions which are in conflict with such
impulses. But I am persuaded that the Arab doctors who "go to the bad side," are troubled more by shame than by guilt. The anger expressed in their Jihadist acts is reactive against covert shame rather than productive of guilt. Mohammed Asha, the  Jordanian doctor who masterminded the recent London car-bomb plot  may be typical of this particular syndrome.

Young Dr. Asha got his Neuro-Surgery training in Amman, where he was  the star of his third year class, and dubbed a "genius"  by the assistant dean of his medical school. Not surprisingly, Dr. Asha was reputed to be condescending, and a British neighbor reported that he had a "sense of self-importance about being a doctor." 

Perhaps seeking a larger frog pond to dominate, Dr. Asha emigrates to the UK, where his superiors in the national Health Service are apparently not as impressed with him, and require that - like a mere resident - he practice under supervision. Adding to these insults, Dr. Asha finds himself in a medical environment that owes little to Arab science, but much to Christians, to Jews - and to women. Along these lines, the NHS is itself something of a matriarchy, loaded with stroppy females who - unlike his traditional Islamic wife - wear neither shawls nor bourqas. Given his superior manner, Dr. Asha might well have been   black-balled by the no-nonsense Brit nurses. Worse yet, his clinical work might have been supervised by senior women.

Once the narcissistic buffers against  humiliation - e.g., unquestioned patriarchal authority and machismo, backed up by submissive "dhimmi" underlings - have been undone, two likely outcomes are possible for the shame-prone individual: depression, which is rage turned inward against the self, or violence - which is rage turned outwards against others. Like many Arab men who have experienced humiliation in a modernizing and feminizing world, Dr.  Asha  seems to have gone
for the homicidal/ violence option. Luckily, his attempts at car-bombing were apparently not

Finally, there is the "Grandiosity" route into medical practice: some men become doctors not out of a desire to help and heal, or to achieve social status, but out of a lust for power - a wish to play God.  Medecine grants them, while they are still young,  power over life and death of individual patients. But as they age, these grandiose men seek broader social arenas, beyond individual bodies, of the sort provided by the hectic, seemingly unrestricted field of revolutionary
politics. Absolute power - in Orwell's words, "the boot forever in the face"- becomes the fantasied goal of such driven men, and they will kill without compunction to achieve it. This was the Faustian route followed by (among others) doctor Che Guevara, "Papa-Doc" DuVallier, doctor Mengele of Auschwitz, doctor Jack Kevorkian, and in our time by Assad of Syria, Al-Zahar and Al-Zawahiri, second-in-command of Al-Qaeda.

Arabia breeds haughty princelings, some of whom are attracted to the title of "doctor" as well as to the power and prestige that go with it. Undoubtedly, more Zawahiris and Ashas are in the works.  
Say hello to Islamic Rage-Boy, MD.

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