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Brenman, E. (1985). Cruelty and Narrowmindedness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:273-281.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:273-281

Cruelty and Narrowmindedness

Eric Brenman

In normal development love modifies cruelty; in order to perpetuate cruelty, steps have to be taken to prevent human love from operating. My contention is that in order to maintain the practice of cruelty, a singular narrowmindedness of purpose is put into operation. This has the function of squeezing out humanity and preventing human understanding from modifying the cruelty. The consequence of this process produces a cruelty which is 'inhuman'.

If we consider the Oedipus myth from the angle of the role played by the Gods, we can follow this process. The God Apollo had ordained that Oedipus would kill his father Laius and marry his mother Jocasta. No mortal, that is, human, intervention could be proof against the God's prediction. Here we see the omnipotent narrowminded persistence: nothing can stand in the way of the omnipotent Gods' determination.

Laius' only hope was that Oedipus should not survive. Here we see counter-cruelty presented as the only solution. Oedipus was delivered to a shepherd with orders to abandon him on a mountain; but human compassion, the antidote to cruelty, intervened, as the shepherd had not the heart to do this and entrusted the child to a Corinthian shepherd. But this humanity was of no avail.

As a result of cruel destiny, Oedipus killed his father on his journey to escape patricide, emphasizing again the impotence of human understanding. After marrying Jocasta, Oedipus had to root out his father's murderer, and pursued this course with

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