PRETEND WARRIOR SYNDROME (PWS) - a biological cry for help?
by Sasha Uzunov
John Anthony Hines, aged 69, was recently found guilty in an Australian court of falsely acting as a Vietnam War veteran. Characters such as Hines evoke little sympathy from real-life veterans who have faced death or have had mates killed in battle. We tend to view military impostors as being con-men seeking financial gain or suffering from a psychological problem. I would like to offer a third explanation, even though I am not a qualified psychologist, biologist, anthropologist. However, I can only offer observations, anecdotal evidence and material that I have gleaned from the media.
What if Hines's behaviour, as well as the disturbing increase in the number of Pretend Warriors, is a biological cry for help? What if it is the male body's pre-programmed wiring that is reacting subconsciously to a political and societal phenomenon?
As Peter McAllister, an archaeologist with the University of Western Australia and the author of the new book “Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be,”
"I have a strong feeling that masculinity is in crisis. Men are really searching for a role in modern society; the things we used to do aren’t in much demand anymore, and it seems we’re having a little trouble finding a way to establish ourselves. I don’t know about America, but it’s certainly the case in Australia, that men have an ignorant, blithe assumption that they are the best that’s ever been. But it’s not really supported by the facts at all."
Sam Vaknin, an Israeli writer, has done a herculean amount of study on narcissism and psychopathy and what he terms "Malignant Self Love. No doubt Hines would be an interesting case study for him to examine. As mentioned above, Pretend Warriors can easily fit the profile of a narcissist who needs to feel important by inventing stories about himself or simply a conman trying to gain some kind of financial advantage--and the resulting behaviour may not have anything to do with a "biological cry for help over a crisis in masculinity."
But consider this for a moment. With the ascendancy of Western feminism beginning in the early 1970s has come the overall positive outcome of equality for women but--as with any movement such as socialism or capitalism--there has come a radical extremist fringe with outlandish conspiracy theories about masculinity. Instead of masculinity being considered a biological process or an ingrained survival behaviour in men as part of evolution it has assumed the mantle of evil itself. We know that the vast majority of crime, acts of violence are committed by men against other men and women. There has in recent times been an alarming increase in violence committed by young women but men remain the majority perpetrators.
The flip side of this is, and here lies the paradox, masculinity is needed even by those who are opposed to it on ideological grounds. On Australia Day, 26 January 2012, Australia's first female Prime Minister, who in her youth was a radical feminist, needed the protection of a male Federal Police bodyguard as Aboriginal protesters had surrounded her and the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott in a Canberra restaurant. The image of the event, which appeared in the media, has become a national icon.
Conservative Canadian commentator Mark Steyn takes a more strident view on the paradox of modern Western masculinity. He cites the December 1989 massacre of 14 female students at the Ecole Polytechnique (University of Technology), Quebec, Canada by gunman Marc Lepine (Gamil Gharbi) who had a hatred of women:
"To those who succeeded in imposing the official narrative, Marc Lépine embodies the murderous misogynist rage that is inherent in all men, and which all must acknowledge.
“The defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lépine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate—an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The ‘men’ stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.”
Hines pretending to be a Vietnam Veteran and acting out his own fantasy world of special operations or "black bag ops" could be a symptom of masculinity in crisis. (LINK to Courier Mail story):
"Those who knew Hines... say the man who loves war movies, Rambo, John Wayne and Chuck Norris cast himself as a hero in his own fantasy.
"He can't have lived that double life, because he was too busy living his real life," said a person who knew him then."
Twice-divorced father-of-four Hines, now an invalid pensioner, went from the CMF [now Australian Army Reserve] and eight years in the NSW [New South Wales state] police force into stunt work, private investigation, carpentry and bit-part acting.
Wannabe warriors are also found in the Fifth Estate, journalism. Take American television reporter Geraldo Rivera who claimed on camera during his tour of Afghanistan in late 2001 to have been in the southern city Kandahar at the very spot where three US Army soldiers were killed but was instead elsewhere in Afghanistan.
The question all of this poses, if masculinity is stigmatised as being evil by the mainstream media, and young boys and girls at school are encouraged to swap traditional gender behaviour such as boys playing with girls dolls and girls playing with toy trucks, why do we still get Pretend Warrior Syndrome?
Photo sources: News Limited