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Meerloo, J.A. (1969/1970). Eichmannism: Cold Violence and Robotized Pugnacity. Psychoanal. Rev., 56D(4):609-614.

(1969/1970). Psychoanalytic Review, 56D(4):609-614

Eichmannism: Cold Violence and Robotized Pugnacity

Review by:
Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., Ph.D.


As part of a more elaborate study of human versus animal aggression, I would like to focus here on one example of what we might call man's cold, deluded and intellectualized aggression. Certainly, the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem was essential to the understanding of man's bureaucratization of evil.

Robotization is a result of the psychological influence on man of the machine age. A great many publications1, 2, 4, 5 are now appearing on the subject of automation, mechanization and bureaucratization, and what they may do to man. The Eichmann process in Jerusalem made us keenly aware of the insane cruelty of the automatic-acting intellect that is not guided by human emotion. It pointed up man's perverse searching for “correctness” in the execution of the most immoral acts, using means of utmost efficiency and attention to mechanical detail. Let us bear in mind that this view on Eichmannism is but one aspect of the much larger problem of violence in man.

Towards the end of World War II, I had the opportunity to cross-examine several of Hitler's hangmen who were accused of committing atrocities. Each time I was struck by the machine-like thinking of these men. They had banished all warmth, emotion and individuality from their lives. How similar is the attitude found among some of our violent criminal youngsters.

The Eichmann example reflects a process of psychological and moral decay that can influence and infect any person. The cold violence and deluded hatred of Eichmannism have become the foremost problem of our time.

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