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Searched for "authoritarian personality"

Theodor Adorno--principal author

German philosopher, sociologist, composer: “The Authoritarian Personality 1950. His co-authors were Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and R Nevitt Sanford. Adorno et al questioned why the German citizens tolerated mass extermination of Jews during WWII. He discovered a composite personality from a set of traits developed from contacts with former Nazis and German citizens in various walks of life. Adorno wanted to understand why and how an Authoritarian personality could replace the individualistic and democratic style that rose to prominence in the 19th Century. The Authoritarian personality was new, ambiguous, and surprising. His book was influential; it opened new avenues of research.
Question From Visitor

4 Jan 2004

Is there such a thing as a Liberal with an "Authoritarian Personality" disorder, or is this a problem unique to Conservatives?

Perhaps there is a parallel virus we might call "Anarchy Personality" disorder. Hmmm....?
Causes of Terrorism

How personality and temperament combine in Authoritarian Personalities.
Updated 30 Jan 2010

RoadtoPeace links


Common Themes in Violence & War.
Updated 6 Sept 12

  • Sociopathic, psychopathic, or narcissistic leaders exploit Authoritarian tendencies in the genes of most of us to establish despotic Systems that motivate, create, and condone violence through humiliation and alienation.
  • Organized violence, terror, war, and genocide arise when:
Mein Kampf
Adolf Hitler
Book Review With Commentary

Mein Kampf Catalog
Vol 1, Ch 1

Hitler was more than just an Authoritarian Personality--He was an original, a prototype of the most violent extreme.
The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the Frontiers of Life.
Lee M Silver
Book Review with commentary

This book is an excellent counterpart to "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis. Each addresses a "natural" divide within and between many cultures of the world. The angles are different. Wallis addresses religion and politics; Silver expounds on the religious controversy over evolution. Wallis seeks to reach out and remove the cultural barriers. Silver is interested in why the world populace is so fearful and wary of the offerings of biotechnology. Like Wallis, Silver has stature in his calling; he is a world renowned molecular biologist. And his book is provocative.

Consider the following activities and contemporary actions.
We posit that aggression along with conventionalism and obedience are genetic in origin. These are the traits that Authoritarian Personalities wear on their sleeves, and we now propose they have their origins in the jungle and savanna. We are not yet in a position to say the genes controlling these features do so via hormones, but that is a very reasonable possibility, especially for violence.
How Extreme Authoritarian Personalities Contribute to Terrorism.

Updated 22 Jan 2009

The basic causes of violence and war seem to arise from our genes. Most species will fight other species when threatened. They also fight among themselves over territory, food supplies, mates. Humans are not different in these tendencies. Civilization arose because humans finally figured out better ways to grow and store food, how to domesticate plants and animals. The rise of civilization carried with it all the genetic armor developed in the jungles and savannas. And this gave us a problem.

Our intellectual mastery over nature, was not accompanied by an equivalent mastery over ourselves.
A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
Bruce Feiler
Book Review with commentary

To know Abraham, one must also know something of one's self as well as of his scribes. With stunning insights, Feiler leads us through the hundreds of descriptions of Abraham across three faiths.
Updated 31 May 2007

Brigadier General Billy Mitchell
Prophet Without Honor

General Billy Mitchell was the first prominent American to publicly support a vision that strategic air power could dominate future warfare.
For a quick look: Civilization captures much of our origins.

An overview can be found on Peace Via Nature's Way
A more in-depth study appears on Browser's Hub.

Our mission is to search out the fundamental reasons for terrorism, violence and war, and work toward fixing them with equal opportunities for peace among all peoples regardless of ethnicity, belief system, gender, national origin, or station in life. We must figure out the causes of violence and devise strategies to remove them.
Stephen Coote
Book Review With Commentary

Coote does a marvelous job of "novelizing" history. His book is just plain interesting to read. Instead of names, dates and places, the usual history fare, Coote brings Napoleon to life. His personal failings are woven into his military genius in unforgettable ways. Napoleon was an accomplished Authoritarian a dozen decades before the personality was defined and named.
Book Reviews

In this area we bring you contemporary book reviews of books dealing with terror or counter terror.

Selected current books that record history in the making are reviewed.
Updated 10 Apr 2009

Martha Stout (Martha Stout is a practicing psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.)

Extended Book Review With Commentary By Harry Rosenberg

Engaging, enlightening, and frightening--all at once. If there is no sociopath next door, then surely there is one on our street. Four percent of us, one in 25, according to Stout, have many or all the earmarks of a sociopath.


War and Peace

If Humanity does not change,
it will destroy itself.

HG Wells
Fundamentals of Extremism -- The Christian Right in America
Editor: Kimberly Blaker
Book Review

This collaborative review misses hardly a descriptive trick. It is an excellent review of events spawned by extremist behavior.

“The Lucifer Effect” (Phillip Zimbardo)

Came as another national surprise. Updated 09 Sept 2013

  • North American college students in a prison experiment:
    • Were corrupted in 24 hours, feeling and playing the roles of abusive tyrant or crushed prisoner
    • The first “prisoner” broke in 36 hours.
  • This is the Lucifer Effect.
    • A product of the SYSTEM--and predictor of Abu Ghraib!
Neocon Manifesto: [Continued]

Updated 6 Sept 12

  • Deter attack from whatever source;
  • Strengthen alliances;
  • Preclude others from interfering in areas of American Interests. [interests, even if soil, read that as Imperial Economic-Interests]
  • Shape the future through cooperative relationships.
  • Maximize value of ad hoc [military] coalitions.
  • While the US cannot police the world, it must never depend solely on international mechanisms. [In other words: pre-emptive war is OK. But look where the Neocon philosophy led us in Iraq, in full view of the unlearned lesson of Vietnam!]
Updated: 01 Jan 2009

John Dean of the Nixon Administration and Watergate fame
Book Review with commentary

We quote from Publisher's Weekly

"Few critics have as effectively put the disparate pieces together, linking them to what Dean says is a broader pattern of secrecy from an administration that does its best to control the flow of information on every subject ... and uses executive privilege to circumvent congressional scrutiny."

See also: John Dean's own remarks on this.
Irshad Manji
Book Review with commentary

Irshad Manji is one of those rare people who combine sharp wit with very serious business--the future of world society.
Until American society seriously addresses the roots of violence, we can be sure our authoritarian natures will reflect poorly on our society. We are not different in such expressions, others can be worse, as the African and Asian genocides prove. But as the only superpower, we have some responsibility to lead the world in peace, not in violence. Yet we allow Lucifer to guide our destiny.

John Dean – Public Servant

Updated 09 Sept 2013

  • In his “Conservatives Without Conscience,” Dean is talking about the Neoconservatives or Neocons.
  • They are Authoritarian to the core.
  • Without conscience defines the Sociopath.
In a word: Bring peace to humankind.

"If you would not be forgotten,
as soon you are dead & rotten,
either write things worth reading,
or do things worth the writing."
- Benjamin Franklin -
Republican Party Hijacked Without Rank-And-File Consent.

Resources: Conservatives Without Conscience, by John Dean, and The Authoritarian Specter, by Bob Altemeyer and information each references.
Sam Harris
Book Review With Commentary

For those of us who feel depressed by this country's ever increasing unification of Church and state, this little book is a welcome hit of adrenaline." -- Marc Hauser, Harvard Univ, author of "Moral Minds"
This legacy of the Korean War came as a huge surprise at the time. American soldiers captured by the Chinese army were forced to attend classes daily on Communist doctrine. Many, too many, came to believe what they were exposed to. This was the shocker. "How could this be?" We all asked ourselves. We are patriotic are we not ? Of course we were, and so were our soldiers. And that is still the case. Those are the facts, and we were perplexed at the time. How could that not have been? After all, this was an entirely new dimension of war, to us at least.

It took this site editor a good long while to realize that it could not have been otherwise. And our godless adversaries had figured that out and were able to take full advantage of our cultural ignorance, some might say weakness.
The Authoritarian Personality
Theodor Adorno et al 1950
Book Review With Commentary

Theodor Adorno, along with Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford, produced a monumental work that illustrated why ordinary Germans were so caught up in Nazi anti-semitism and racism during WWII.
Science, Democracy, and the New Fundamentalism

Dick Taverne
Book Review With Commentary

Taverne sees through the hypocrisy and fraud inherent in modern Fundamentalism. He gets down to some of the perceptual and expressive ills of humanity. He frames his many arguments around the use and misuse of the scientific method in its effects on many facets of our lives.
Jessica Stern
Book Review With Commentary
By Harry Rosenberg

Terror in the Name of God by Jessica Stern is a must read by anyone who cares about the future of humanity. Any scholar of terrorism will find new information from the terrorists themselves.

Updated 19 Oct 2012; 20 July 2013

GENETIC PRECONDITIONS Jungle/Savanna Heritage (Evolved DNA)

Unifying Principle: Authoritarian Personality along with Sociopaths (psychopaths) hijacking movements, religions, and nations to suit their own purposes.

Monotheism is a compelling idea. At once, the monotheisms provide purpose and fellowship here and now with paradise hereafter for the faithful. See Religion and Violence for an eyeopener on the fellowship side.
14 Sept 2007

Too often key events that affect the future of humankind go unnoticed or even forgotten. The works of Mendel, who discovered the genetic code is one example coming to mind. Charles Darwin himself was not fully appreciated in his own time in spite of a high and controversial profile. Some of his deepest insights are just now coming into general acceptance. Giants who followed him would include not only Gregor Mendel, but James Watson and Francis Crick with vital help from Rosalind Franklin. Because of them, humanity now has a much better view of itself. They enabled a new beginning on the question of nature/nurture. Neither was very clear before Darwin. Darwin, Mendel, Watson, Crick, and Franklin comprise humanity's heroes in biology, the nature side of the coin.
It is not just history that repeats itself, fables do too. That is, of course, if they happen to be politically correct.
A century of social and academic research have not come close to revealing a general theory of terrorism. What seems to fit one group, fails for another. Terror modes change over time as do their nominal motives and adversaries.
A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers

Bruce Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer

Book Review

Has organized religion (monotheism) really begun a terminal decline? This question reverberated in the backs of our heads as we got into this readable book on a subject that is still taboo in many quarters. Yet it is groundbreaking; indeed, it is eyeopening as well. What sets this book apart from those by other atheists is that it provides actual data and may be the first attempt we have seen that ties the need for, and expression of, religion to such traits as authoritariansm—Right Wing variety--but basically a genetic expression of society first codified by Adorno et. al. and extended by Milgram and Altemeyer himself.

Updated: 11 Oct 2008.

Abuse of Power?
Enrich the already rich?
Erstwhile Dictator?
Venal Personality?
All the Above?
We have collected the signing statements published by Coherent Babble. Editorial comments following many raise serious questions.
March of Folly -- From Troy to Vietnam
Barbara Tuchman
Book Review With Commentary

This is a profound but very readable book. The March of Folly reads the historical rhythm of waves, cresting and crashing again and again in monotony. Again and again, Kings and democrats alike persist in stubborn belief that their power is not only invincible but infinitely wise.
Gene Sharp 1973

Book Review and Commentary

Another chink in the human edifice of peace is available in this book.  Short it is, but loaded with key information it also is. A contemporary of Stanley Milgram,  Sharp illustrates how the findings of  Adorno and Milgram on the  Authoritarian Personality  play out in society. All three predate Altemeyer’s  excellent study of Authoritarians in politics that  Dean was able to bring into the 21st Century in the philosophy of the  Neocons,
William Pfaff
Extended Book Review with commentary
By: Harry Rosenberg

Pfaff brings the currents of history to life, not by listing a series of events on timelines, but by illustrating their underlying currents: struggles for dominance and control. He does this--in ways unique for his time--in the retrospective style of a historian. He views current events in their proper and often surprising historical context. Nationhood and nationalism go hand in hand. In his view, nationalism will pass in due course as something better comes along. He does not dwell on what that might be. But we surely agree. Nationalism is too much akin to jungle warfare to bring peace to humanity.
Op-Ed: By Vel Nirtist March 2005
October 23, 2004
Nov 2004

Excerpts from the New York Times
[Commentary -- Road to Peace]
Updated 04 Apr 2010

For a quick overview of our research see: Peace Via Nature's Way.

Roots of Terror Briefly and Some Avenues Now Apparent

This project illuminates some very human ills that we and our children face. From what we now know, questions posed have or can find answers. It is that simple yet that complex in implementation, for no culture on earth has the ready answers, only partial ones.
Stefane Hessel is a 93 year old veteran of WWII. And more. After release from a Nazi concentration camp, he entered French government service and rose to represent his country as a diplomat. He is an unabashed liberal and patriot. He wrote a 13 page book, Indignez vous! (Cry out!), with nothing factually new between the covers, but with content organized to hit home.
Causes of Terrorism

As ghastly as terrorists have been and still are, we will err in our strategy against them if we do not account for their humanity and how they develop their inhumanity. Books detailed enough to understand something of the psychology of practicing terrorists are all too few.
Bart D. Ehrman

Extended Book Review.

The subtitle directly addresses a quandary of our age:

"Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)"

Ehrman is one of those rare people for whom the pendulum of faith has swung in both directions, but not to such extremes that he lost touch with either pole, religious or secular. Jesus, Interrupted, like his "Misquoting Jesus", contains biographical detail. Unlike the extremists on either side of the divide, Erhman is quite respectful of believer and atheist alike. Like a growing number of people, Ehrman characterizes himself as an agnostic, one who can rejoice in understanding both the worlds of faith and logic. His telling point is that the bible is the most influential book ever written, however its writing came to be in and by human hands. For that very reason it deserves deep study--the kind he has devoted his career to and reports here.
Why do certain societies, including ours, have an instinct for stirring up conditions leading to violence? Not all do. Why such dramatic differences?
Updated 7 April 2010

Identifying the Psychological Traits
Published 1996 Bob Altemeyer
Book Review with commentary: Updated 15 Jan 2008

Bob Altemeyer, is both daring and credible. He is an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Manitoba. His professional focus is the social psychology of authoritarian personalities; it is his specialty. Unlike the Freudians and political pundits, his calling is to understand and define the personality itself in scientific terms. Toward that end he finds that three basic traits explain the behaviors authoritarians exhibit: Submission, Aggression, and Conventionalism. Readers should carefully note his definitions of each before drawing conclusions of their own.
Conceived on 12 Sept 2001, RoadtoPeace is a web site individuals can use and study in trying to make a difference in our violent times. We also provide extensive internal and external links to sites and pages pertinent to the subject at hand. As a friendly site linking to us put it:

[RoadtoPeace:] "Seeks reasons for terrorism in various aspects of religion, economics, history and psychology, stressing the complexity of the issue. The way out appears to be seen in equalizing opportunities, remedying historical injustices, and advancing independent thinking."