Aggressor Sympathy

I find it difficult to sympathize, i.e. feel the same emotion about the same thing as another person, with most people. Their concerns don’t seem pertinent, and moreover they don’t seem concerned with things that are important. I used to question myself, if there’s something wrong with me because of this. now I don’t think so. I’ll introduce one aspect that the “average person” seems to experience that I don’t, which I call Aggressor Sympathy.

Aggressor Sympathy is sympathizing with the perpetrator of a violent, immoral or criminal act. What lead me to devise this notion (I’ve no idea if psychologists have a different term for the same phenomenon) is the curious reaction the general public has to many tragedies. One such thing is suicide bombers. At least in the past the public seemed shocked and horrified more by suicide bombers rather than ordinary warfare. I on the other hand felt willing to blow yourself up for your cause is courageous, even if it’s not admirable nor wise, whereas killing people by firing a gun, dropping bombs or piloting a drone to kill people is sort of lame. Also people are generally horrified by suicide, and offended by the notion, whereas I’ve considered it a personal choice. Why the people feel that way is, according to my reasoning, due to Aggressor Sympathy. They can imagine themselves in the place of the aggressor, the one committing suicide simply for the sake of suicide or to kill others, and as they do not want to die, they feel horrified. When they feel Aggressor Sympathy for the soldier pulling the trigger or piloting the drone, their emotional reaction is lighter as this kind of violence has little effect on the aggressor. That’s why there is no outrage from the “main stream” people about drone strikes, because it doesn’t make them feel anything.

Let’s look at Aggressor Sympathy from other angles. 9/11 for example, people can sympathize with the notion of zealous terrorists hi-jacking planes and committing suicide strikes on buildings. They can sympathize, meaning they can imagine how it would feel, and they don’t like the feeling, so they hate the act and the idea, but they cannot sympathize the conspirators of an inside job to murder their own countrymen to further their political goals. This idea does not make sense to them as the juvenile public is still stuck in the archaic notion of us vs them. One country/ religion/ ideology against another. One team is red, another is blue, and they fight. The public cannot sympathize with people who see things differently.

The public sympathizes with the authority, which is the greatest aggressor and criminal there is. Be it Bush/ Obama, the pope, the CEO. They sympathize with the aggressor, that the decisions they make cannot be easy, and furthermore they project their own childish benevolence onto the aggressor. “If I was in that situation, I’d do the best I can.” They cannot sympathize with the notion that the CEO only cares about profit and his career, not the man working for his company. The politician cares only about his agenda and paycheck, not the people he is supposed to represent. The priest cares only about power over others and not closeness to God.

Perhaps the public condemns criminals like rapists, robbers and murderers too, because they know the aggressor will be punished harshly if and when they are caught, and they fear that fate. The act of violence and the fate of the victim does not concern them so much.

Perhaps I’m wrong about this. Perhaps I just don’t understand the common man and his motivations for supporting the system. Maybe I sympathize more with the victim, which has its own problems. I tend to see the whole of society as an aggressor, and the people as the victim. The real problem in cases like these is reacting with emotion to begin with, and not looking with your eyes and thinking with your mind.


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