What are some of the psychological reasons for why and how wars started? I’m looking into psychological motivations and the thinking distortions and biases that contribute to wars and genocides.
Psychological reasons for why wars start?
Many people believe that religion is a major cause of wars. However, I believe the issue is deeper than religion. If you dig deeper, a fundamental issue is actually tribalism. Humans are tribal animals, always dividing ourselves into groups. Religion is just one way that we can divide ourselves. We can also divide ourselves by race, nationality, political ideologies, gangs, vaccinated vs the unvaccinated, and in many other different ways.
Hate & Oppression Narratives
Hate often builds and develops from the feelings of resentment. If a group of people believe that they have been unfairly treated or oppressed in some way, resentment can develop at a collective level. To add some complication to this, perception, projection, and interpretation need to be considered.
Just because we perceive something in a certain way, it doesn’t make something true. So, hatred can develop from perceived oppression, not actual oppression. I’m not saying real oppression doesn’t exist, simply stating a possibility. Oppression and victimhood narratives can also be taught to the population via the education systems, media and news outlets. This is a form of indoctrination.
Resentment is a nasty and dark state of mind which can lead to evil being committed in the name of revenge.
What is Extremism & How Does it Happen?
Extremism is partly explained by having an absolute belief in something. There is no consideration for the possibility of truth to any opposing view. Any opposing view, or contradictory evidence will be immediately discarded or distorted.
This can be the result of indoctrination from childhood. This indoctrination partly happens due to people only being given, or being force fed, one-sided information. They are being told what to think, rather than being taught how to think. Only being given one-sided information doesn’t encourage critical thinking, and the considering of different ideas and possibilities.
Collectivism & Individualism
Judging people primarily as a collective rather than as individuals is one of the primary reasons and ways of thinking that can lead to the justification of wars and genocides. Focusing on the individual is a great defence against genocidal collective thinking.
Collectivism can lead to group and class guilt, and the scapegoating and demonizing of entire groups.
Carl Jung talks about the dangers of projecting our negative or shadow traits onto other people, particularly groups of people. Dark traits that we deny ourselves will be projected out onto those we dislike.
Scapegoating & Dehumanizing
Scapegoating and dehumanizing groups of people plays a large part when it comes to the justification for genocides and wars. There needs to be some blame placed on some group. Like Hitler did with the Jews.
It also helps to dehumanize a group. This is connected to superiority and inferiority. When Japan invaded China in 1937, the Japanese referred to the Chinese as animals, and not human.