Inside the Mind of Anders Behring Breivik

By Fredrik Walløe

A 28-page summary from the report on Breivik’s mental state was leaked to Norwegian broadcaster TV2 some days ago. I  live-tweeted the highlights, but here’s a short report for those who missed it.

It came days after it was revealed that Breivik may have suffered sexual abuse as a child, and revealed some bizarre views.

Leaked psychiatric report on Anders Behring Breivik

Leaked psychiatric report on Anders Behring Breivik

(Source: TV2)

The report speculates that his delusions might have started in 2006, after his company went bankrupt and he went to live with his mother. While living there, he withdrew socially, and refused to look for a job or apply for benefits. Breivik spent an increasing amount of time in his room and didn’t wash his own clothes or cook for himself.

From 2009 onwards he began to suspect he was under surveillance.

In 2010 there was a noticeable change in his behaviour, according to his mother. It appears that his understanding of social interaction was diminished, but the details of what that means are not available at this time. What is mentioned, is that he would alternate radically in his behaviour towards his mother, from sitting too close to her on the couch, to not accepting food from her. She said he became uncomfortably intense, irritable and angry. Breivik spoke more and more about his ideology – which his mother dismissed as outlandish.

In conversation with psychiatrists Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim, he is described as using numbers and statistics in the place of emotional language – when assessing his ‘operation’ he measured its success in percentage terms – and appears completely emotionally detached.

Breivik says he feels no remorse, and that his actions were necessary and motivated by his love for the Norwegian people. His main lawyer, Lippestad, has told the press that he no longer expects his client to regret murdering 77 people.

When asked to evaluate his act of terrorism, Breivik remains void of empathy and focuses on how it affects his reputation and whether it might expedite the political project and assumption of power in Europe that he envisages.

The psychiatrists say he doesn’t express emotions when speaking of his family or childhood, and add that he tends to stare a bit, blinks quite often and uses few gestures. Breivik has a slightly rigid body language, which they believe is linked to his diagnosis.

Breivik uses a strange militarised language, exemplified by things like ‘low-intensity civil war’, which is linked to his believe that there is an ongoing civil war in Norway. He has also made up some words of his own and redefined others: Suicidal-Marxism is one example.

He believes he is the ideological leader of Knights Templar, which has mandate to rule Norway – in what seems to be some sort of dictatorial militarised fashion – as well as to act as judge and jury. They say he appears to perceive this responsibility – to decide who lives and dies – as real, but burdening.

In his view, a considerable part of the population are traitors, probably several hundred thousand people out of about five million. What is to happen to these ‘traitors’ is unclear, but judging from what has been written about his views, it  seems appropriate to assume that they were to be executed if found guilty of ‘treason’. The text seems to imply that those who refused to join him would be in trouble of that sort, but those plans are not stated explicitly in the part of the report that was leaked.

Breivik considers it likely that he will be made regent of Norway at some point in the future, once a coup of some sort has taken place. If he becomes regent, Breivik wishes to be known as Sigurd Korsfareren [rough translation: Sigurd The Crusader] the second.

Despite carrying out a terrorist attack against Norway and planning to execute an unknown number of other Norwegians if given the chance, Breivik considers his love overdeveloped.

Breivik believes there is ethnic cleansing going on in Norway, and lives in fear of being murdered. And he believes there’s a chance that this [presumably Europe-wide] civil war might spark WW3.

Among his more colourful plans are the reserves – or camps – for ethnic Norwegians, whose DNA is to be tested so that those with the highest racial purity can be bred.

Beyond that, he believes the royal family will be removed through a revolution in 2020, and replaced with whoever is deemed the most Norwegian person in the country. This is treated in genetic terms, and he wants to test the DNA of some dead Viking kings against the DNA of the general population. Whoever possess the DNA most similar to that of these Vikings – whose lives ended around 1000 years ago – gets to rule Norway. One assumes awkwardness would ensue if the person deemed most Norwegian was, say, a Marxist.

Breivik changes between referring to himself as ‘I’ and ‘we’ – that is to say, he speaks of himself in plural. The psychiatrists speculate that he might have experienced hallucinations, and that some of the people he claims to have met do not exist outside his mind. They cannot confirm this, and it’s hard to judge how credible that theory is based on the summary of a report.

Of 22/7, he says it was ‘brutal, but genius’. They say he is incapable of seeing themselves from other perspectives.

The report recognises that Breivik is focused and that he pulled off a highly complex operation and wrote a lengthy manifesto which required him to handle a large quantity of information. They also mention that his recollection is unnaturally good, both in terms of details and situations.

Breivik speaks of things related to himself as though they are of grand importance: his use of nicotine and candy becomes parts of some military strategy, as opposed to mere habits.

His delusions are thought to have developed gradually since 2006, but some symptoms may have presented far earlier. They point to him being warned by police for tagging as a teenager. The details that underlie this odd statement are presumably to be found in the full report. This text is based on the leaked 28-page summary of that report, which consist of 243 pages.

Breivik denies being suicidal, but states that martyrdom is desirable. The psychiatrists consider him a threat to himself and others, and conclude that he is a paranoid schizophrenic in need of treatment. Breivik disputes this conclusion, and claims that his views have been taken out of context and that the report contains factual errors on just about every page.

The majority of the information comes from the leaked report, which is available in Norwegian only at this time.

Other information comes from previous news stories and my own research on Breivik and the terrorist attack on 22/07. Links to these news stories are available upon request.

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(Cross-posted from Breivik’s delusions: breeding camps, dictatorial rule by DNA, and WW3 by Fredrik Walløe.)

3 thoughts on “Inside the Mind of Anders Behring Breivik

  1. Feel like it would be informative for English readers to get an outline of the current state of the debate in Norway, before launching into the contents of the report. Issues circle around transparency, accountability, political matters, and it is highly contentious at the moment, as there is currently a dispute going on in between the contents of the report and statements by other practicing psychiatrists who have read it, etc etc etc. In other words, context would be useful….

    Especially as we shouldn’t forget that the discourse he taps into is every bit as real as his actions, and not something he alone has been iterating.

    • Thanks Ragnhild – that’s interesting. I’m glad you raised the context of the current debate in Norway about which I, and probably most English readers, know virtually nothing.

      You’re also completely right that Breivik’s sanity or insanity does not change the fact that his thinking is informed by a poisonous racism that is becoming more and more commonplace in Europe and which appears even in “respectable” newspapers and leads to daily violence and abuse on the streets in ways less dramatic than the horrors of Breivik’s actions but arguably no less dangerous for society as a whole.

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