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I am motivated to write this today by the words of Anders Breveik who killed 77 people in Sweden in 2011.

Anders said:

"I've had a dehumanization strategy towards those I considered valid targets so I could come to the point of killing them"

Tears are coming into my eyes now, but I will just keep typing...


I write Australia because I once led a discussion of emotional intelligence for some police officers attending a leadership class at the University of Canberra. One of them was very quiet for most of the hour. Near the end of the discussion he spoke softly and told the group that what I had been saying about emotional intelligence, the importance of emotions and empathy touched him deeply. He said when he was in the military they had been given "de-sensitization training." Then he described some of the ways they did it

I think you will see the connection.

I hope I don't need to say anything more for those of you who read this. But I will say this, I am absolutely positive that for the world to be a safer place for all of us, we must put more emphasis on feeling our feelings and listening to and learning from them. And we need to listen less to those who try to de-humanize and de-sensitize us.

S. Hein
April 25, 2012
Ubon Ratchathani,


Because I am in Thailand where there is a lot of talk about Buddhism and meditation, I want to add that Anders also said he used meditation to help him "de-emotionalize" himself. I have never been a fan of meditation so this news is a sad indication of one way it can be misused. It is an extreme case, of course, but I fear meditation often serves to de-sensitize us and de-humanize us to some degree, however small or great.

See also

Emotionally Intelligent Soldiers

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