Why we love tyrants

“The wishes that underpin religious belief have to do with deliverance from human helplessness. We are vulnerable to the forces of nature, such as disease, natural disasters and ultimately death, and also to the acts of other human beings who can harm us, kill us or treat us unjustly. In recognising our helplessness, Freud thinks, we are thrown back on an infantile prototype: memories of the utter helplessness that we experienced as infants – our complete and appalling dependence on the adults who cared for us (or failed to care for us). Religious people deal with their feelings of helplessness, he suggested, by clinging to the illusion of a powerful, protective deity who will grant them an afterlife.”


“In the Kleinian scheme, there are two primary forms of psychotic anxiety: paranoid anxiety, which is the terror of being persecuted by evil, eternal forces, and depressive anxiety, which is the sense that one is guilty of having destroyed what one loves and values. Klein also described what she called the manic defence, which is a denial of helplessness and dependence on others by delusions of power, grandeur and self-sufficiency, and is expressed in the attitudes of triumph, control and contempt.”