I would like to dedicate this article to all of my friends. To Jawbreaker Savior, for her warmth and thoughtfulness. To Ooglie, for her kindness and affection. To Beast of Atheism, Liz, Ely, and all those who have helped me. And to everyone who helped make www.Punkerslut.com a reality.
Should Atheism be defended? This is a question that every inquisitive skeptic has asked themselves. After all,Guest Posting if there is no god – or no proof of a god – then should this claim be defended? The zealots who wage holy wars, slaughter men, women, and children, can at least point to the omnibenevolence of a god of sorts to excuse their actions. The clergy who indoctrinate children and ban literature will be sure to state that it is for ultimate divinity that their actions are committed. And even religious figures feel the need to persecute minorities because anybody who believes differently does not feel the warmth of their god. These figures, characters, who have molded history in their own way can all claim to have found their beliefs on the belief in an almighty god. However, to those of us who cannot make such a claim, what can we say is the motive of our actions? And to those of us who defend Atheism, what can be said of those motives?
It is an intriguing question. The religious crusader will say that he is filled with the glory and rage of god, forcing him to do the will of his master. The impious thinker, however, cannot claim such a moving force that initiates his actions. It can easily be seen why some men and women may be so unrelenting when it comes to spreading their gospel. They are inspired by the divine, by the ultimate powers that govern the mechanics of the Universe. However, to those who are unholy and irreligious – those of us who find no value or inspiration in any scripture – we cannot claim to be filled with such awe and amazement. We can only claimed to be moved by the far inferior force of reason. To those of us who defend reason and rationalism, those of us who feel that there is an undeniable power in logic, there is nothing to fill us with inspiration that is divine. The same force that motivates the theologian does not motivate the philosopher. If this is true, then to why would a philosopher feel a desire to destroy the construct of faith? Why would the philosopher feel the need to debunk the power of religion? Should Atheism be defended?
Of the Benefits of Religion
One particularly interesting question when it comes to arguing the value of belief over nonbelief, is the question of reform. Over centuries, we have seen that there has been an obvious change in the attitudes of men from different cultures. There has been praise and hate for slavery, reward and punishment for murder. Different ages and different generations brought with them different ideals, all incorporating what they believed into the framework of government and society. There have been times when people questioned the rights of women and there have been times when people questioned the virtues of mercy and tolerance. Reform is perhaps one of the greatest questions when deciding if we wish to stand amidst the camp of belief or nonbelief. Has the church – has religion and its followers – befriended the cause for reform? Or have those who befriended reform been typically of an irreligious background?
Religion has been the base of abominations. It has destroyed lives, blighted futures, and tortured the innocent. In its greatness and power, it has gone unquestion as it killed relentlessly and its power went undoubted as it celebrated on the graves of its victims. There has been no institution so universally responsible for so much when it comes to suffering and destruction. The cultures relinquished, the hopes smothered, and the joys crushed — the tender moments torn to pieces, the affectionate touches demolished, the brightening emotions desolated — the memes and ideas propogated that taught men and women to be cruel to each other, to love vice, to hold vengeance against those who believe otherwise — these ideas can be drawn back to the solitary source of religion. Happiness was sacrificed so that the church could become massive. Mercy was traded for vice; sympathy swapped for cruelty; and charity immolated for viciousness. These all done so that religion and its leaders may grow in power and wealth. There is nothing so debaucherous of compassion and humility than this overgrown vestige of greed and cruelty.
The inclinations of man have run the gamut from natural compassion to corrupt hatred. It was the purpose of the church, the synagogue, the mosque, the temple, the shrine, the baslica, to exploit the superstitions and bigotry of the common man so as to benefit itself. The prejudices of the common man was condoned, as well as fostered and promoted, when it came to the teachings of organized religion. Hate and religion went hand in hand. There was no kinship of all living creatures, no love of each other. When religion exploits the masses, by embracing a bigotted hate of the people and enforcing it, by theft, by murder, by whatever foul and ruinous means, it becomes destructive of happiness. Religion permeates the world with fear, plants the seeds of destruction, and clamps down on independent thought. Reformers who have stood up to say that slavery, or inequality of women, or the rights of children, have always been denounced by traditional religion. Those who oppose cruel and vicious atrocities have always been the target religious oppression. Reform and infidelity are parallel. Orthodoxy endeavors to destroy both institutions.
In all rational considerations, it is best to fear the man who claims that god is behind him. It is not that this godly man will be more merciless or malicious with the accompaniament of religion. It is that when a man follows what he believes god tells him, and nothing else, he is ignorant of reason and oblivious to logic. There is no evidence that you could use to convince him otherwise of his convictions. We are often told by the clergy and the other religious officials of our time that without religion, this world would tear itself to pieces. There would be no common code of ethics nor would there be any morality — there would be no purpose to act good and no motive to behave kindly. However, rarely do leaders of religion see the errors of their ancestors. And even more rarer still is when they proclaim the errors of their religion. In this deep and dark insidious way, the ecclesiastical leaders have kept their followers ignorant and blind, incapable of making choices for themselves, and reliant upon the church to guide them.
What the scholars and historians of all centuries have failed to recognize is that religion puts a monopoly on morality. Within its borders, religion evicts reason and evidence. Once this is done, there are no ethics based on rational or comprehendible reasons. If an individual is inspired by god that all individuals of a particular race are inferior and ought to be punished, then they will believe that. Any argument that a philosopher can conjure up will be rendered useless. If a churchman agrees with slavery because his god agrees with slavery, what can we say to him? Can we avail to his sense of compassion, or perhaps his faculty of reasoning? We may simply and logically explain to him that every conscious being is fuly capable of feeling suffering as he is, and therefore none ought to be in the chains of slavery. But what good would this explanation do? The religious churchman can always fall back on the argument of the divine. It has long been conceived within religion that reason is inferior to faith. If the faith commands slavery and the rational demands emancipation, then the faithful will remain slavers and rationalists will remain abolitionists. When religion condones cruelty and barbarity clamps down on opposition, progress has come to a standstill and compassion has been traded for faith. It has been with triumphant leaps and bounds that reason has smashed through the cage of religion, delivering some poor victim from the vindictive, torturous ways of faith.
“Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s work.” [Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler.] The words of Adolf Hitler are etched on to history. He did what he did because he believed that faith was stronger than reason — that blind acceptance of intuition and dogma held more value than open investigation with reason and logic. I do not believe that it was religion alone that convinced Hitler that the existence of Jews harmed Christ. It has also been his natural bigotry of being born in a Europe that was highly anti-semitic for over hundreds of years — which of course is the result of Christian thought. Perhaps, though, Hitler found appeal in the institutions of prejudice of his time. When he was young, he was like the others of his class: patriotic and pious. He was like everyone else, as he shared on the same prejudices and the same bigoted fears. Like his comrades, he was also deeply religious. Christianity cannot be entirely blamed for the way Hitler developed. The point I am trying to make, is that by using religion as an argument for your side — or by declaring that god is on your side and not on the side of your enemies — an individual then becomes distant to reason and irreconcilable with logic. In can be said, in this respect, that religion is the origin of unsolvable conflicts. Compare science to religion. Science is not based on any unworldly power. It is based on natural observation and analysis. One can argue with evidence. There is no arrogant or haughty claim about how the ruler of the Universe feels about these subjects. It is pure reason-based claims. Religion, on the other hand, is unable of finding any objective truth. There have been thousands of religions all through the ages, and as men educated themselves they found themselves less in appeal to such old superstitions. The fact, though, remains: by using religion to defend your philosophical position — particularly one which includes the murdering of millions of beings — you inevitably make an inscrutinizable and unquestionable position, because rarely would anyone believing in a higher power desire to question those who call themselves prophets.
Many conflicts are the result of religion. The Crusades, for example, shed an insurmountable amount of blood. Jerusalem, the target of the Crusades as well as other wars, has been the bloodiest city on the planet for the last two thousand years — many of the battles resulting from religious conflict. Muslims have a similar concept yet it is called the Jihad. This idea of slaughtering without caprice, killing and maiming with thoughts of your master, can undoubtedly be found to have originated amongst the most religiously-minded. Pope Urban II, at the Council of Clermont in France in 1095, made it quite clear his position — or “god’s position” — on the topic of a crusade…
For the Turks, a Persian people, have attacked them, as many of you already know, and have advanced as far into Roman territory as that part of the Mediterranean which is called the Arm of Saint George. They have seized more and more of the lands of the Christians, have already defeated them in seven times as many battles, killed or captured many people, have destroyed churches, and have devastated the kingdom of God. If you allow them to continue much longer they will conquer God’s faithful people much more extensively.
Wherefore with earnest prayer I, not I, but God exhorts you as heralds of Christ to repeatedly urge men of all ranks whatsoever, knights as well as foot-soldiers, rich and poor, to hasten to exterminate this vile race from our lands and to aid the Christian inhabitants in time.
I address those present; I proclaim it to those absent; moreover Christ commands it. For all those going thither there will be remission of sins if they come to the end of this fettered life while marching by land, crossing by sea or in fighting the pagans. This I grant to all who go, through the power vested in me by God.
Let those who have been hirelings for a few pieces of silver now attain an eternal reward. [Council of Clermont, France, 27 November 1095, By Pope Urban II. From: Fulcher of Chartres, A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem: 1095-1127, Book I, Chapter III, translation: Frances Rita Ryan, 1969.]
From reading this speech given by a vicious person, it can easily be seen that they were not a friend of mankind, nor were they a friend of reform. They provoked perhaps the bloodiest wars in history. Of what institution, of what belief, of what foundation can all this mass murder be blamed? Religion. With its foul motives and unconscionable behavior, it has allowed the most horrendous and vindictive behavior all over the centuries. Pope Urban II was not the first to condone such a massacre. In 1154, Pope Eugene III called another crusade, “We, moreover, providing with paternal solicitude for your tranquillity and for the destitution of that same church, do grant and confirm by the authority conceded to us of God, to those who by the promptings of devotion do decide to undertake and to carry through so holy and so necessary a work and labour, that remission of sins which our aforesaid predecessor pope Urban did institute” [Summons to A Crusade, Dec 1, 1154, by Eugene III. Given at Vetralle on the Calends of December. From: Doeberl, Monumenta Germania Selecta, Vol 4, p. 40, trans in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 333-336.] In 1215, Pope Innocent III made a declaration for a crusade…
To those that refuse, moreover, if any by chance shall be so ungrateful to our Lord God, they (the clergy) shall firmly protest on behalf of the apostolic see, that they shall know that for this they are about to answer to us, at the final day of a strict investigation, before the tremendous Judgment. First considering, however, with what conscience, or with what security they will be able to confess in the presence of Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God, into whose hands the Father gave all things, if they shall refuse in this matter, as if it were properly their own, to serve Him who was crucified for sinners; by whose gift they live, by whose benefit they are sustained, nay, more, by whose blood they are redeemed. [Given at the Lateran, on the nineteenth day before the Calends of January (Dec 14th) in the eighteenth year of out pontificate. Trans in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 337-344.]
It is a cruel confession to have been responsible for the murder of others because of their creed — but to what level of inhumanity does the bar rise when you ardently condemn those who do not join in your sickly pleasures? Nothing has been no statement in human history that was so degenerative. Any individual who finds virtue in the murder of masses is nothing short of a brutalitarian. These men, religious leaders who promoted one of the bloodiest movements – and proudly – that history has to offer, were each an ignoramous without the sympathy to understand the plight of the “infidels.” There are numerous eye witness accounts of the Crusades…
Many fled to the roof of the temple of Solomon, and were shot with arrows, so that they fell to the ground dead. In this temple almost ten thousand were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet colored to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared.
This may seem strange to you. Our squires and poorer footmen discovered a trick of the Muslims, for they learned that they could find a gold coin in the stomachs and intestines of the dead Muslims, who had swallowed them. Thus, after several days they burned a great heap of dead bodies, that they might more easily get the precious metal from the ashes. [The Capture of Jerusalm, 1099, by Fulk of Chartres, chapter 27-28. Edited for clarity. ("Byzant" changed to "gold coin" and "Saracen" changed to "Muslim.")]
However, when the hour approached on which our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to suffer on the Cross for us, our knights began to fight bravely in one of the towers–namely, the party with Duke Godfrey and his brother, Count Eustace. One of our knights, named Lethold, clambered up the wall of the city, and no sooner had he ascended than the defenders fled from the walls and through the city. Our men followed, killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles….
The battle raged throughout the day, so that the Temple was covered with their blood. When the pagans had been overcome, our men seized great numbers, both men and women, either killing them or keeping them captive, as they wished. On the roof of the Temple a great number of pagans of both sexes had assembled, and these were taken under the protection of Tancred and Gaston of Beert. Afterward, the army scattered throughout the city and took possession of the gold and silver, the horses and mules, and the houses filled with goods of all kinds.
Later, all of our people went to the Sepulchre of our Lord, rejoicing and weeping for joy, and they rendered up the offering that they owed. In the morning, some of our men cautiously ascended to the roof of the Temple and attacked the Muslims, both men and women, beheading them with naked swords; the remainder sought death by jumping down into the temple.
Among those who entered [Jerusalem] first were Tancred and the Duke of Lorraine, and the amount of blood that they shed on that day is incredible. All ascended after them, and the Muslims now began to suffer.
Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood.
Now that the city was taken, it was well worth all our previous labors and hardships to see the devotion of the pilgrims at the Holy Sepulchre. How they rejoiced and exulted and sang a new song to the Lord! For their hearts offered prayers of praise to God, victorious and triumphant, which cannot be told in words. A new day, new joy, new and perpetual gladness, the consummation of our labor and devotion, drew forth from all new words and new songs. This day, I say, will be famous in all future ages, for it turned our labors and sorrows into joy and exultation; this day, I say, marks the justification of all Christianity, the humiliation of paganism, and the renewal of our faith. “This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,” for on this day the Lord revealed Himself to His people and blessed them. [A.C. Krey. The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eye-witnesses and Participants. (Princeton: 1921), pp. 256-262. "Saracen" changed to "Muslim" for clarity.]
Were these men Atheists? Were they fluent in the works of Epicurus? Did they consider Democritus to be a hero? Were they Materialists, holding account natural causes for natural phenomenon? The answer is a resounding no. They were Christians, full of pride in their religion and committing such actions at the command of Christianity. They were only fluent in what the preachers taught them and what the Popes told them. They held Christ to be their only hero. These men, incredibly superstitious and heartless, were vicious and relentless. They attacked the Jews on account of religion. Had religion been eradicated by the ancients, such a conflict would not have arisen. If only these men had the mind to reason, such bloodshed would have been spared. Instead of focusing on religious quarrels – unsolvable quarrels – they could have focused on endeavoring to make each other’s lives better, to promote creativity, to become more affectionate of each other. But their primary goal was not sympathy. At the command of religion, they beheaded, they slayed, they murdered, they raped, they pillaged. Even so, these Christians were made cruel by their religion. What can be said of the Jews who defended Jerusalem? One observer noted, “Yet because of the many troubles and the fasts which they had observed they had no strength to stand up against the enemy.” [The Crusaders in Mainz, May 27, 1096, Soloman bar Samson.] Their religious rituals had made them weak. They were unable to fight off the crusaders. The Jews were afraid of Christians raising their children, so when realizing that they were outnumbered and weak, they slaughtered each other. One eyewitness claims…
The women there girded their loins with strength and slew their sons and their daughters and then themselves. Many men, too, plucked up courage and killed their wives, their sons, their infants. The tender and delicate mother slaughtered the babe she had played with, all of them, men and women arose and slaughtered one another. The maidens and the young brides and grooms looked out of the Windows and in a loud voice cried: “Look and see, O our God, what we do for the sanctification of Thy great name in order not to exchange you for a hanged and crucified one….” [The Crusaders in Mainz, May 27, 1096, Soloman bar Samson.]
In the name of religion, these Jews fasted, made themselves weak, and then were unable to battle the onslaught of the crusaders. Once the crusaders had taken their city, they slaughtered each other with great propensity. Those who were unable to kill themselves were given aid from family and friends. In the name of their god, they were unwilling to accept another religion. They sacrificed their own lives and killed their children just so that they would not have to trade one mental illness for another. The Crusades certainly were not the only instance of a religious war. In fact, Italian city-states once organized a revolt against Rome. In response, unspeakable atrocities were committed…
When Italian city-states organized and revolted against Rome in 1375, Robert of Geneva hired a mercenary band to reconquer the area for papal control: Swearing clemency by a solemn oath on his cardinal’s hat, Cardinal Robert persuaded the men of Cessna to lay down their arms, and won their confidence by asking for 50 hostages and immediately releasing them as evidence of good will. Then summoning his mercenaries… he ordered a general massacre ‘to exercise justice.’ … For three days and nights beginning February 3, 1377, while the city gates were closed, the soldiers slaughtered. ‘All the squares were full of dead.’ Trying to escape, hundreds drowned in the moats, thrust back by relentless swords. Women were seized for rape, ransom was placed on children, plunder succeeded the killing, works of art were ruined, handicrafts laid waste, ‘and what could not be carried away, they burned, made unfit for use or spilled upon the ground.’ The toll of the dead was between 2,500-5,000. [A Distant Mirror, by Tuchman, pages 321-322.]
For the sake of god, these men pillaged, destroyed, and raped. They were indiscriminate in their cruel and atrocious actions, leaving even children with the severest scars that life had to offer. It was this ignorance for the value of life that emboddied itself in religious this — this licentious and irretrievable sentiment instilled in the hearts of religious zealots that worth cannot be found in humanity. From going to church, they learned to disrespect natural inclinations of kindness, to adhere to all aggressive motives, to throw off any coming to affection. Virtue was hated and vice loved. The religious man only understood two things: that he was going to heaven as long as he believed, and that his aggressions against others of another faith were acceptable — they were even promoted by the one who granted him eternal life. In the hearts and minds of the crusaders and religionists lied these two beliefs, side by side as they made perfect kindling for the most barbaric, unfeeling, and brutal behavior that the world would ever see.
Violence is a currency in religion. It has manifested itself into the sects, the denominations, the cults, the religions, the varied forms of insanity. If you find any institution where the mental faculties are disregarded to the mental illnesses, you are bound to find unsolvable conflicts abound. Even beyond that, you are bound to find a collective of degenerative individuals who would relish in their work as violent beings.
Human history in all ages is red with blood, and bitter with hate, and stained with cruelties; but not since Biblical times have these features been without a limit of some kind. Even the Church, which is credited with having spilt more innocent blood, since the beginning of its supremacy, than all the political wars put together have spilt, has observed a limit. A sort of limit. But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy — he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered.
He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty. The babies were innocent, the beasts were innocent, many of the men, many of the women, many of the boys, many of the girls were innocent, yet they had to suffer with the guilty. What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.
The heaviest punishment of all was meted out to persons who could not by any possibility have deserved so horrible a fate — the 32,000 virgins. Their naked privacies were probed, to make sure that they still possessed the hymen unruptured; after this humiliation they were sent away from the land that had been their home, to be sold into slavery; the worst of slaveries and the shamefulest, the slavery of prostitution; bed-slavery, to excite lust, and satisfy it with their bodies; slavery to any buyer, be he gentleman or be he a coarse and filthy ruffian.[Letters from the Earth, Letter 11.]
In August 1572… in Paris and elsewhere in France… it was Christian against Christian. The Roman Catholics, by previous concert, sprang a surprise upon the unprepared and unsuspecting Protestants, and butchered them by the thousands — both sexes and all ages. This was the memorable St. Bartholomew’s Day. At Rome the Pope and the Church gave public thanks to God when the happy news came. During several centuries, hundreds of heretics were burned at the stake every year because their religious opinions were not satisfactory to the Roman Church… ["The Damned Human Race," subsection: "The Lowest Animal," by Mark Twain.]
Religion, being the origin of unsolvable conflict, has destroyed more cultures and lives than possibly any other institution. It has infected minds with hate and dogma. It has given individuals permission to cause suffering, rewarding them even. It has made some men so bigoted and hateful that would kill themselves, only so that they can die knowing happily that they caused suffering to someone of another faith. It is this mentality, this religiousness, which has caused the holy wars that plagued the face of the earth. Even Albert Gore understands this…
Jefferson knew history. He could look back on centuries of religious war in Europe: on massacre, burning, rape, pillage, and hatreds that tore nations apart and soaked the earth in blood. He knew from history and human nature how easy it is to arouse mass, murderous passion when religious demagogues cry that God wills it…. My mother’s people, the Lafons, were French Huguenots, driven out of their homeland because of their religious faith, Protestantism. They found a new home in America…
We have had narrow escapes. Americans are human beings, subject to the same temptations and the same pride and the same fears that affilct people of all nations. Puritans in Boston hanged Quakers in a grim public ceremony on the limbs of the Great Elm on Boston Common. Baptists under Roger Williams had to flee Massachusetts…. Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, was murdered by a mob…. Anti-Semitism is a stain on our history. For many decades, Jews could not buy houses in some parts of town. They were banned from many organizations…. Their innocent children suffered the thousand daily humiliations that prejudice could heap upon them, and suffer still….
Even as we celebrate our religious liberty today, killing in the name of religion goes on all around the world. At this moment, the Muslims of Sarajevo are being shelled by artillery from the supposedly Christian Serbs in the mountains above the helpless city. The peaceful, inoffensive adherents of the Baha’i faith in Iran are imprisoned and murdered by the Iranian government. Their crime? The Baha’is beileve in the spiritual unity of mankind. Saddam Hussein carries on a campaign of terror against the Shi’ite Muslims in his Iraq. Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt machine gun tourists. Hindus and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent are at each other’s throats. Northern Ireland blazes with gunfire between opposing sides who claim to worship the same Christ…. Throughout history, religious wars have always been the most brutal and cruel and merciless. [Vice President Albert Gore, speaking at a Religious Freedom Day ceremony in Richmond on January 14, 1994, in a building designed by Thomas Jefferson.]
The wars and conflicts caused by religion are innumerable. The world has been plagued with this disease called religion since mankind could explain a natural effect with a supernatural cause. Why would men be so inclined as to try and slaughter their fellow kin? Why would mercy, affection, and kindness be evicted from the hearts of men, replaced with tyranny, hypocrisy, and corruption? Religion. It made men into monsters, unfeeling and smiling at the aid of torture. Brutal and relentless, religionists all over the world have always sought out targets to persecute, have always looked for victims to make their lives more miserable, have always endeavored to do the will of their god. In the name of divinity, for whatever the spirits demanded, the priests and popes paid: with lives, happiness, hope. When a religion embarks with causing suffering as goal, the first thing that has been lost is justice.
It has been stipulated in modern times by particular Christians that Satanists and other anti-Christians abuse and sacrifice children. These reports circulate primarily Christian newspapers. As far as the truth is concerned – which it is not of concern to these Christians – Christianity has caused more suffering on this planet than Satanism ever could imagine. In the name of Christianity, however, more child abuse has ocurred than in the name of any other religion. One criminal investigator noted, “The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people don’t like that statement, but few can argue with it.” [Kenneth V. Lanning, Supervisory Special Agent at the Behavioral Science Instruction and Research Unit of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Quote from the October 1989 issue of the professional journal, The Police Chief.] Carl Sagan notes on several incidents of excessive child abuse…
(1) Mya Obasi, a Louisiana schoolteacher, was — she and her sisters believed after consultation with a hoodoo practitioner — possessed by demons. Her nephew’s nightmares were part of the evidence. So they left for Dallas, abandoned their five children, and the sisters then gouged out Ms. Obasi’s eyes. At the trial, she defended her sisters. They were trying to help her, she said. But hoodoo is not devil-worship; it is a cross between Catholicism and African-Haitian nativist religion. (2) Parents beat their child to death because she would not embrace their brand of Christianity. (3) A child molestor justifies his acts by reading the Bible to his victims. (4) A 14-year-old boy has his eyeball plucked from his head in an exorcism ceremony. His assailant is not a satanist, but a Protestant fundamentalist minister engaged in religious pursuits. (5) A woman thinks her 12-year-old son is possessed by the devil. After an incestuous relationship with him, she decapitates him. But there is no satanic ritual content to the “possession.” [The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan, pages 160-161.]
Numerous atrocities, all in the name of the unseen, have been committed. However, Christianity is not the only one to blame when it comes to child abuse. The Hare Krishnas also fail to see value in humaneness. They can be noted and remembered for their taste for abuse and their enjoyment of suffering. The following allegations by certain of their followers are being held against them…
* Children forced to sleep in unheated rooms
* Forced to walk great distances in cold without coats or shoes
* Deprived of medical care for malaria, hepatitis and broken bones
* Scrubbed with steel wool until they bled
* Moved to schools in different states without parental
The earliest bioactive materials which were used within the body were identified as called Prostheses (Hench and Thompson,Guest Posting 2010). These Prostheses had to be standardized according to the physical properties of living tissues. Professor Bill Bonfield et al. (1981) was the pioneer of researching mechanical properties of living tissues, its skills were especially centered on bone to make Prosthesis. The basic objective of making the Prosthesis was to achieve a combination of physical properties of living tissue with minimal toxic response to the surrounding structures (Hench and Thompson, 2010). These prosthesis had the limitation of stress shielding and bone resorption. Professor Bill Bonfeild explore the concept of Bioactive materials and design bio composite that matches more to the mechanical properties of living tissues and removed the limitation i.e., resorption of the underlying bone structure (Hench and Thompson, 2010). The Bio active mechanism is the procedure through which living tissues are attached and integrated to an artificial implant with a chemical bond (Tilocca, 2009).
There are many applications of bioactive materials in tissue engineering (Tilocca, 2009). Tissue engineering is the art and science of biological substitution through which tissue function is restored. This is achieved with the formation of biological scaffold provide structural support to the tissue which later filled with number of cells and implantations (Chen et al., 2012). The requirements of scaffold materials to fulfill the demand of tissue engineering, are biocompatibility, the material doses not respond on unresolved inflammatory reaction, mechanical properties must be sufficient to prevent surface failure, controllable interconnected porosity which can help to grow cells and support vascularization (Chen et al., 2012). About 90% porosity with 100micrometer is essential for cell growth and proper vascularization (Chen et al., 2012). Bone has natural combination of inorganic calcium phosphatase appetite and a biological polymer called Collagen in which associates are deposited (Chen et al., 2012; Buzea et al., 2015).
In tissue engineering 3-dimensional scaffold is formed which is fabricated with natural or artificial materials exhibit high porosity and pore interconnectivity (Hoppe et al., 2011; Maeno et al., 2005; Sachot et al., 2013). The function of scaffold is not only to provide structural support to the bony structure but also to enhance cell proliferation and differentiation of Osteoblastic cell (Hoppe et al., 2011; Aversa et al., 2016). Several Inorganic Bioactive materials could form a desired porous scaffold with suitable mechanical properties. According to the researched literature the ionic dissolution is the key procedure through which inorganic material behavior in forming scaffold and interact with living tissue can be understood in vitro and Vivo. Some inorganic elements such as Sr, Cu, Co, Zn was already present in the human body and play anabolic effect on bone metabolism (Hoppe et al., 2011). The introduction of therapeutic ions in the scaffold material to increase its bioactivity (Sachot et al., 2013). The release of ions after exposure of physiological environments is effected on the bioactivity of scaffold related to osteogenisis and angiogenesis (Hench and Wilson, 1993; Hoppe et al., 2011; Hutmacher, 2000; Okuda et al., 2007).
Role of Inorganic Ions in Bone Metabolism
Human bone has natural process of healing through the process of remodeling. Remodeling is the process of deposition and resorption of bone tissue by Osteoblastic and Osteoclastic cell activities. As remodeling occurs, Osteoblastic cells produced new bone cells and Osteoclastic bone cells destroyed or resorbed existing bone. This formation and resorption process called Remodeling. Failure in maintaining the balance of remodeling results in multiple problems like Osteoporosis and Arthritis (Habib et al., 2007).
The remodeling procedure is regulated by few growth factors, hormones and inorganic ions such as Calcium (Ca) (Heinemann et al., 2013; Julien et al., 2007; Liu, 2003; Saltman and Strause, 1993), Phosphorous(p) (Heinemann et al., 2013; Julien et al., 2007), Silicon (Si) (Liu, 2003), Strontium(Sr) (Liu, 2003), Zinc(Zn) (Liu, 2003; Saltman and Strause, 1993), Boron(B), Vanadium(V), Cobalt (Co), Magnesium(Mg) (Cepelak et al., 2013), Magneese (Mn, Copper(Cu) (Liu, 2003; Saltman and Strause, 1993). Inorganic ions dissolution plays a very important role in the process of bone healing (Mouriño et al., 2012; Mirsayar et al., 2016, 2017; Petrescu et al., 2015, 2016 a-e; Petrescu and Calautit, 2016 a-b; Aversa et al., 2016 a-o, 2017 a-e).
Metal ions act as an enzyme co-factored effect on signaling pathways to stimulate the metabolic effect on tissues engineering (Hoppe et al., 2011). Metal ions play important role as therapeutic agent in hard and soft tissue engineering. Ca and P ions are the part of the main component of inorganic apatite of human bone (Ca10(PO4,CO3)6OH2) (Bielby et al., 2005; Habib et al., 2007; Hoppe et al., 2011; Mouriño et al., 2012).
Bioactive Material has ability to release inorganic ions and contributes in natural bone metabolism (Bielby et al., 2005; Habib et al., 2007; Karageorgiou and Kaplan, 2005; Maeno et al., 2005).
First Generation Biomaterials
Early biomaterials were used to replace damage or missing living structure that’s why biomaterial assumed to have compatible physical properties similar to the natural structure with minimal tissue reaction or toxic effect on tissue. Most of the materials were bioinerts (Sundar et al., 2012; Petrescu et al., 2015).
Second Generation Biomaterials
During early 70s bioactive material such as bioactive glass, ceramic glass and composites were introduced in the field of tissue engineering. These materials make a chemical bond with natural tissue and elicit tissue generation by enhancing production of tissue forming cells, through the ion dissolution process from the surface of materials (Sundar et al., 2012).
Second Generation bio materials also includes resorbable biomaterial such as calcium phosphates. It has ability to breaks down chemically and reabsorb to equivalent ratio of that regrowth tissue (Shirtliff and Hench, 2003; Gramanzini et al., 2016).
The material tissue bonding involves 11 steps of reacting. First 5 steps involves surface material reaction of ion exchange which followed by poly condensation reaction. This surface reaction provides a layer of hydroxyapatite layer that equivalent to the inorganic layer of natural bone tissue.
Third Generation Biomaterials
The concept of resorbable materials and bioactive material is merged to form third generation bioactive resorbable glass and ceramic material that can activate gens in tissue engineering (Shirtliff and Hench, 2003). Bioactive materials are used in powder, solution or micro particles form to stimulate tissue repair (Sorrentino et al., 2007; 2009). The release of chemicals in the form of ions dissolution from the bioactive materials and growth factors such as bone morphogenic protein that enhance the cell proliferation (Hench and Polak, 2002; Sundar et al., 2012) due to osteo conduction and osteoproduction process. The surface reaction of material that gives ions dissolution responsible in intracellular and extracellular response (Hench and Polak, 2002; Sundar et al., 2012).
Cell Cycle and Gene Activation
Osteoblastic cell differentiation and proliferation is controlled by the activation of a synchronized sequence of genes which undergo mitosis of cells after that the synthesis of extracellular matrix by bone cells occur (Polak and Hench, 2005). There is genetic control of cellular response to the bioactive material also present. When human Osteoblastic cells expose to ionic dissolution of bioactive material seven families of genes are activated. These activated genes express protein that effect on differentiation and proliferation of osteoblast (Sundar et al., 2012). The ion dissolution of bioactive materials that enhance cell repair at molecular level by creating scaffold on the damage bone tissue (Polak and Hench, 2005; Sundar et al., 2012). After construction of scaffold it is necessary to build blood vessels in it.
Table 1. First, second and third generations of bioactive materials with their applications
Generation Material Difference in function
First Bio inert Replace tissues without
generation reaction with tissues
Second Bioactive Making chemical bond
generation with tissues
Third generation Bioactive plus Gene activation
Third Generation bioactive materials are also useful in making vascularization in scaffold.
Third Generation Bioactive materials work by the activation of genes for rapid differentiate and proliferation of cells for healing at molecular level.
This is revolution in molecular biology it makes connection between inorganic materials with living tissue (Sundar et al., 2012).
The materials used in scaffold are synthetic polymers such as Polysaccharides, Poly (x-hydroxy ester), hydrogels or thermoplastic elastomers (Boccaccini and Ma, 2014; Rezwan et al., 2006) and other important materials are bioactive ceramic such as calcium phosphate and bioactive glasses or glass ceramic (Boccaccini and Ma, 2014; Rezwan et al., 2006) composites of polymers and ceramics are being produced to enhance mechanical scaffold stability and to improve tissue interaction (Bielby et al., 2005; Kim et al., 2004).
Polymers are the chain of molecules which has repeated unit in it. Repeated unit make polymers differ it from other small molecules. Monomer, the elimination of small molecules such as water and HCL during polymerization (Ratner et al., 2004).
Linear polymers with variety of molecular weight are used for biomedical application. But molecular weight may depend on the polymers chain integration with other hydrogen bond which give it more strength. Higher molecular weight corresponds to more physical properties melting viscosity also increases with respect to the molecular weight.
The syntheses of polymers are of two methods, additional polymerization chain reaction and condensation polymerization (Ratner et al., 2004).
Polymers are in amorphous or semi crystalize form. Its crystalline state can be increased by short side group and chain regularity. Its crystallization increase its mechanical property which determines the thermal behavior and also increases its fatigue strength (Ratner et al., 2004). The deformation behavior is the key factor for tensile strength. Amorphous, rubbery polymers are soft and extensible. Semi crystalline polymers are less extensive.
The most important property of polymers to use as biomaterial is the stress at the point of breakage or failure. Failure means catastrophic (complete breakage). The fatigue behavior is also making polymer to use as biomaterials. In liquid or melted state polymer has high thermal energy. Viscoelastic property also represented by its thermal behavior (Perillo et al., 2010). Linear amorphous Polymer with increase temperature 5-10°C, converted from stiff glass to leathery material (Boccaccini and Ma, 2014; Ratner et al., 2004).
The most often used for 3D scaffold biodegradable synthetic polymers, saturated polymers includes Poly-x-hydroxy esters, poly (lactic acid) PLA and poly (glycolic acid) (PGA) as well as poly (lactic-Co glycolide) (PLGA) Co polymer (Rezwan et al., 2006).
Due to the chemical properties of these polymers which allows hydrolytic degradation through de-esterification. As degradation occurs, the monomer component of these polymers eliminates from the natural pathways of the body. The body has the mechanism of tri-carboxylic acid cycle, which remove monomer of PLA. The Monomer of PGA also eliminated by the highly regulated mechanism of body.
The process of degradation is accelerated by the auto catalysis due to its carboxylic end groups. This heterogeneous degradation contributes in neutralization of the carboxylic end group at the surface and diffusion of soluble oligomers from the surface towards inside (Rezwan et al., 2006), this helps to reduce acidity on the surface layer. The degradation rate is increased due to the auto catalyzing of the carboxyl end group. Hydrolysis of amorphous polymer such as PDLLA is more frequent because of it less crystalline property.
The molecular weight and degree of polymerization within the polymer determine the amount of water to be diffuse, temperature, buffering capacity, pH and ionic strength. The degree of crystallinity also effect on the rate of degradation. The crystals are chemically more stable as compared to amorphous material so it resist penetration of water into the matrix.
The acidic by product of PLA, PDLLA use in tissue engineering. Some other products are used to counter acidic environment and control degradation. PDLLA has biocompatibility and good osteoconductive potential. PDLLA application used for scaffold formation in tissue engineering (Boccaccini and Ma, 2014; Mano et al., 2004; Rezwan et al., 2006).
Polypropylene fumarate is an unsaturated polyester. Its degraded products, propylene glycol and fumaric acid, are biocompatible and also removed from the body.
The double bond at the back-bone of polymer that become cross linkage causes hardening in it. Its mechanical properties depend on its molecular weight. Polypropylene fumarate is used for scaffold in tissue engineering (Hedberg et al., 2005; Mano et al., 2004; Rezwan et al., 2006).
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are produced by microorganism and aliphatic poly esters. Due to its biodergrable and thermoprocesseble properties it is used as biomaterials. PHA, particularly poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), copolymers of 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV), poly-4-hydroxybutyrate (P4HB), copolymers of 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyhexanoate (PHBHHx) and poly-3-hydroxyoctanoate were used in tissue engineering. For obtaining desirable application PHA may use by blending with other polymers, enzymes.
The challenge is to have a cost effective industrial production for some PHA polymers due to their lengthy and expensive exploration process (Rezwan et al., 2006).
Surface Bioeroding Polymers
These polymers undergo heterogeneous hydrolysis interaction with water. This process referred as surface eroding. Surface eroding behavior is opposed to bulk degradation behavior. With these properties, polymers are known as poly (anhydrides), poly (ortho-esters) and polyphosphazene. Having surface eroding property these polymers have minimal toxic effect, having mechanical integrity and increase bone growth in porous scaffold (Apicella and Hopfenberg, 1982; Rezwan et al., 2006).
Ceramic materials were used in daily routine. Ceramics are solid which inorganic and non-metallic in nature. They present in both crystalline and monocrystalline form. Glasses and glass-ceramic are subclasses of ceramic (Rezwan et al., 2006; Morales-Hernandez et al., 2012).
Although, the first Bioactive glass 45S5 was discovered by L. Hench in 1969, Bioactive glasses with the composition of SiO2, P2O5, Na2O, CaO started to be clinically use only from 1985 (Brauer, 2015).
The clinical success depends on its properties of degradation in solution forming surface layer of hydroxycarbonate appetite, making bond with bone and ultimately replaced by natural tissues (Döhler et al., 2016). It is biocompatible in vivo. It has tendency to crystallize, which makes processing into sintered porous scaffolds (Döhler et al., 2016; Gorustovich et al., 2010). It tends to show a lower solubility, degradation and bioactivity.
Bioactive mats used for healing application and soft tissue repair, making pours scaffold and reinforcing degradation of polymers. Bioactive glass also help in preparation of glass fiber-reinforced polymers to get composites with anisotropic properties, which can be used in degradable fixation devices for bone fractures (Döhler et al., 2016; Gorustovich et al., 2010).
The ability of bioactive glass to release ions in physiological solution provide therapeutic benefits. It also provides help in bone regeneration bactericidal action orvascularization (Saiz et al., 2002; Rezwan et al., 2006).
Hybrid ceramo-polymeric materials have been also developed (Schiraldi et al., 2004; Aversa et al., 2009) with improve biocompatibility and mechanical properties.
Structure of Bioactive Glass
The degradation of Bioactive glass in physiological solution that form hydroxyl appetite layer which allow bonding between glass and the bone which enhance bone regeneration instead of just bone replacement (Rezwan et al., 2006). All this procedure is strongly supported by the specific structure of bioactive glass with both the polymerization of phosphate and silicate (Cormack and Tilocca, 2012).
Glasses have two things amorphous structure and temperature behavior makes it versatile. There are long intervals between temperature variables from super cold liquid to solid glass that is a crystalline solid. At high temperature decrease its viscosity. Oxides glass is manufactured by melting of precursors (Jones and Clare, 2012).
Bioactive glass particle size also effect on the resorption and formation of bone. Smaller the size may affect more rapid resorption and involve in substitution of new bone than the larger particles (Cormack and Tilocca, 2012).
Effect of PH and heat on Bioactive Glass
Bioactive glass has an ability to make bond with bone tissues by releasing ions, to form appetite layer. Ions release process increases in low pH and the formation apatite layer become faster through which cells adhere and proliferate (Shah et al., 2014).
Bioactive glass has tendency to crystallize on heating that reduce its capability of making appetite. If Potassium is substituted with sodium and fluoride is added to it thus increasing calcium alkalication ration, the crystallization process at sintering scaffold and degradation process forming appaite in few hours (Shah et al., 2014).
Bioactive glass has ability to effect on gene expression profiling of human osteoblasts. Ionic products of Bioglass® 45S5 dissolution increases the level of 60 transcript of twofold or more and regulates RCLgene. A c-myc responsive growth related gene and also control cell cycle regulators such as G1/S specific cyclin D1 and apoptosis regulators including calpain and defender against cell death (DAD1). It also contributes in gene regulation of cell surface receptors CD44 and integrin β1, various extracellular matrix regulators including metalloproteinases-2 and 4 and their inhibitors TIMP-1 and TIMP-2. It shows Bioactive glass has property to enhance the osteo productive process (Xynos et al., 2001; Yamamuro et al., 1991).
Bioactive Silicate Glass
The biological activity Hench Glass depends on the partial dissolution of silicate network and reactivity of the glass surface. Silicate glass is amorphous solid in nature. It is structurally covalent bond of SiO4 linked with (BO) oxygen atom (Lee et al., 2016).
Bioactive Phosphate Glass
The phosphate Bioactive glass has the structural formula of P2O5 having a network with CaO and Na2O as modifier. Their constituent’s ions are also natural ingredients of bone that’s why it has affinity with bone to make chemical bond with it. Its solubility can be regulated by modifying its composition therefore it is clinically potential and resorbable material (Lee et al., 2016).
Bioactive Calcium Phosphosilicate Glass
During the short healing period the putty of calcium phosphosilicate is the material of choice, which is also reliable material for osseous regeneration and to preserve.
Crest bone and surgeries related to implants (Kumar et al., 2011). A very frequent changes of Ca and Na modifier occurs at high temperature, the fast migration of Ca and Na can be seen and at high temp phosphate and silicate network also effected (Kim et al., 2004).
Composite Bioactive Material
The composite of polymer and bioglass is achieve to get benefits of both types of materials for the reinforcement of porous scaffold. By taking advantage of formability of polymers and bioactive behavior of bio glass (Schiraldi et al., 2004; Rezwan et al., 2006).
Metal Bioactive Material
Titanium is biocompatible to human body tissue. It has its physical properties which makes it more desirable material than other alloys. As compared to the gold alloy its four specific gravity is four time less. Titanium is a light metal and has resistant to corrosion. It is strong and ductile metal. Titanium has high strength and weight ratio that makes it popular among all. It has low thermal conductivity and low weight due to which patient can use it comfortably without experience of hot and cold sensation. It is biocompatible and hypo allergenic. It helps and encourage surrounding bone to grow that enhance rapid healing (Cortizo et al., 2006; Smith, 1981). New glassy metals alloy and hybrid metals-polymeric systems (trabecular sintered Titanium scaffolds) may be designed for optimum mechanical properties for osseointegration (Apicella and Aversa, 2016; Aversa et al., 2016).
Bioactive Materials Coating Techniques
To improve surface properties some bioactive materials are coated on the surface of the implant. There is essential to understand the specific technique through which materials are deposited. Calcium phosphates are the largest group of materials most widely used for this purpose (Neifar et al., 2016).
Dry Deposition Techniques
Dry deposition techniques are physical coating techniques deal with the deposition of calcium phosphates (Kokubo et al., 2016; Annunziata et al., 2008) Among different types of techniques plasma spraying technique is most widely used commercially (Annunziata et al., 2008).
Plasma-Spraying (PS) technique
In this technique, the precursor material is deposited on the target metal (implant) through plasma hot jet. If this procedure is performed in atmospheric pressure (Atmospheric Plasma Spraying, APS) or it is performed under vacuum (Vacuum Plasma Spraying, VPS) or under reduced pressure (Low Pressure Plasma Spraying, LPS).
Radio Frequency (RF) Magnetron Sputtering
Sputtering is the technique through atoms or molecules are ejected and bombarded from vacuum chamber on to the target forming layer of precursor material with high energy ions (Perrotta et al., 2015).
Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD)
PLD is the vapor deposition method through which focused pulse laser is subjected to the target and a thin layer of film CaP is deposited on the target and create these product Ca4P2O9, Ca3(PO4)2, CaO, P2O5 and H2O (Rezwan et al., 2012). Forming high-energy plasma cloud is composed of Electron, atoms, ions, molecules, and molecular clusters and, in some cases, droplets and target fragments.
Table 2. Showing the techniques, thickness, merits, demerits of Bioactive materials
Narcissistic traits and behaviors are exacerbated by undeserved success.
Within a single year,Guest Posting Barrack Obama had been elected to the Presidency of the United States and had won the Nobel Peace Prize. While the merits of the first achievement are debatable, there is a consensus, even among his most ardent supporters, fans, and acolytes that he absolutely does not deserve the second honor.
What happens to a narcissist (Obama) whose grandiose delusions suddenly come true? What are the psychological effects on a narcissist when his fantasies of success and perfection materialize, even though his real-life accomplishments do not warrant such a turn of events and are wildly incommensurate with the adulatory feedback he keeps getting?
I. The Narcissist’s Delusions of Grandeur
A delusion is “a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary”. Delusion is, therefore, a belief, idea, or conviction firmly held despite abundant information to the contrary. The partial or complete loss of reality test is the first indication of a psychotic state or episode. Beliefs, ideas, or convictions shared by other people, members of the same collective, are not, strictly speaking, delusions, although they may be hallmarks of shared psychosis.
There are many types of delusions. The narcissist typically holds grandiose-magical convictions that he is important, omnipotent, omniscient, irresistibly charming, brilliant, perfect, possessed of occult powers, deserving of special treatment (entitlement), or a historic figure of cosmic-messianic significance.
II. The Narcissist’s Reaction to Success: The Grandiosity Bubble
A Grandiosity Bubble is an imagined, self-aggrandizing narrative involving the narcissist and elements from his real life: people around him, places he frequents, or conversations he is having. The narcissist weaves a story incorporating these facts, inflating them in the process and endowing them with bogus internal meaning and consistency. In other words: he confabulates – but, this time, his confabulation is loosely based on reality.
In the process, the narcissist re-invents himself and his life to fit the new-fangled tale. He re-casts himself in newly adopted roles. He suddenly fancies himself an actor, a guru, a political activist, an entrepreneur, or an irresistible hunk. He modifies his behaviour to conform to these new functions. He gradually morphs into the fabricated character and “becomes” the fictitious protagonist he has created.
All the mechanisms of pathological narcissism are at work during the bubble phase. The narcissist idealizes the situation, the other “actors”, and the environment. He tries to control and manipulate his milieu into buttressing his false notions and perceptions. Faced with an inevitable Grandiosity Gap (the abyss between his fantasies and reality), he becomes disillusioned and bitter and devalues and discards the people, places, and circumstances involved in the bubble.
III. When Reality Intrudes: The Grandiosity Gap and the Grandiosity Hangover
The grandiose fantasies of the narcissist inevitably and invariably clash with his drab, routine, and mundane reality. We call this constant dissonance the Grandiosity Gap. Sometimes the gap is so yawning that even the narcissist – however dimly – recognizes its existence. Still, this insight into his real situation fails to alter his behaviour. The narcissist knows that his grandiose fantasies are incommensurate with his accomplishments, knowledge, status, actual wealth (or lack thereof), physical constitution, or sex appeal – yet, he keeps behaving as though this were untrue (i.e., keeps denying reality’s intrusions).
The situation is further exacerbated by periods of relative success in the narcissist’s past. Has-been and also-ran narcissists suffer from a Grandiosity Hangover. They may have once been rich, famous, powerful, brilliant, or sexually irresistible – but they no longer are. Still, they continue to behave as though little has changed.
The Grandiosity Hangover and the Grandiosity Gap are the two major vulnerabilities of the narcissist. By exploiting them, the narcissist can be effortlessly manipulated. This is especially true when the narcissist is confronted with authority, finds himself in an inferior position, or when his Narcissistic Supply (admiration, adulation, affirmation, or any form of attention) is deficient or uncertain.
IV. The Roller-Coaster Narcissist
The narcissist cathexes (emotionally invests) with grandiosity everything he owns or does: his nearest and dearest, his work, his environment. But, as time passes, this pathologically intense aura fades. The narcissist finds fault with things and people he had first thought impeccable. He energetically berates and denigrates that which he equally zealously exulted and praised only a short while before.
This inexorable and (to the outside world) disconcerting roller-coaster is known as the “Idealization-Devaluation Cycle”. It involves serious cognitive and emotional deficits and a formidable series of triggered defence mechanisms.
The Cycle starts with the narcissist’s hunger for Narcissistic Supply: the panoply of reactions to the narcissist’s False Self (his feigned facade of omnipotence and omniscien
This article explores how media education partnerships will help institutions in the MENA and the U.S. provide culturally-appropriate education to their students, and the positive impact of each partnerships’ faculty and students being exposed to media, journalism and communication students and practitioners from other cultures and nations.
Often the most fleeting contact with international visitors can have a far-reaching and unforeseen impact. Drawing from the authors’ media teaching,Guest Posting research, and practice in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the article addresses the inspiring and enriching cultural impact of media education partnerships between the U.S. and the MENA. The article outlines keys to creating and sustaining successful media, journalism and communication university partnerships, reporting specifically on an international media education collaboration in progress between l’Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information (IPSI), University of Manouba, Tunis and Bowling Green State University. The article also explores how media education partnerships will help institutions in the MENA and the U.S. provide culturally-appropriate education to their students, and the positive impact of each partnerships’ faculty and students being exposed to media, journalism and communication students and practitioners from other cultures and nations. It gives evidence as to how media education partnerships can not only develop professional standards in media, but also build capacity to strengthen democratic practices, build civil society, increase critical thinking and awareness, minimize and manage conflicts, fight negative stereotypes that often emerge as a reaction to governmental and corporate media discourses.
An increased attention to the growth of civil society in the Middle East and North Africa (see, for instance, Amin & Gher, 2000; Bellin, 1995; Borowiec, 1998; Brand, 1998; Darwish, 2003) reveals that civic discourse functions best where there is free access to information and where unhindered discussions allow citizens to examine all sides of civic issues. Because information and communication technology (ICT), media, and journalism are some of the most important sites for civic debate, they are essential partners in any nation’s efforts towards enhancing civil society. As nations in the Middle East and North Africa MENA continue to enhance civil society, it is imperative that their journalists and media and communication professionals have the professional training and dedication to maintain the highest codes of conduct and practice that will make them integral components in the process of building civil society.
At present, however, media critics have shown that the professional activity of journalists in MENA countries is still very vulnerable (Amin, 2002, p. 125). As an expected consequence, MENA education programs in the communication discipline, most notably in news media, journalism, telecommunications and media technologies, have tended to support powerful institutions and individuals, rather than civic discourse and the voices of students as citizens (Amin, 2002; Rugh, 2004; Lowstedt, 2004). For example, investigation on media systems in eighteen nations in the MENA (Rugh, 2004) revealed that radio and television in all these countries, excepting Lebanon, are still subordinated to powerful institutions. There have been several recent international summits acknowledging these concerns. For example, the 2004 conference of the Institute of Professional Journalists in Beirut on “Media Ethics and Journalism in the Arab World: Theory, Practice and Challenges Ahead”, had as one of its main themes the pressures on Arab media and journalists from local governments and other powerful players inside the Arab world. During the Arab International Media Forum held at Doha, in March 2005, workshop discussions underlined that the Arab media’s independence have yet to be established within countries where the media have been strictly controlled. And, perhaps the most important summit thus far this millennium, the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (UN WSIS), held in Tunis, November 2005, addressed the immense challenges of the digital divide and other concerns in the MENA.
Investigating educational partnerships in the MENA
As evidenced by summits on Arab, MENA and related global media, there is an emergent body of research on MENA media (see, for instance, Amin, 2002; Cassara & Lengel, 2004; Darwish, 2003; George & Souvitz, 2003; Lowstedt, 2004) and of research on the potential for media technologies generally and, specifically, in efforts to democratize the region (see for instance, Alterman, 1998; Dunn, 2000; Hamada, 2003; Isis International, 2003; Lengel, 2002a; Lengel, 2002b; Lengel, 2004; Lengel, Ben Hamza, Cassara, & El Bour, 2005). However, there is very little research focusing on the benefits and challenges of media education partnerships between nations in the MENA and those outside it. A broad-scale evaluation of the current situation of MENA media education is needed to fully assess the financial, pedagogical and attitudinal constraints found across the region. Additionally, what is needed is an exploration of how cooperation and collaboration, partnerships between the MENA and other regions to develop educational partnerships which can enhance media education in the region, through shared online resources, shared experience, mutual commitment to MENA media students’ academic and professional development, and positive interaction between those within and outside the region.
This article addresses such research needs by investigating the potential for partnerships in the MENA. It presents key components for creating and sustaining successful university partnerships in media, journalism, and communication. It also explores how media education partnerships can help universities within and outside the MENA to provide culturally-appropriate education and training to their media, journalism, telecommunications, new media, and communication students, develop innovative online and distance learning initiatives, cultivate a community of practice, and foster a positive impact of each partnerships’ faculty and students being exposed to those media instructors, researchers, students, and practitioners from other cultures and nations. The article reports specifically on a media partnership in progress between l’Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information (IPSI) at the University of Manouba in Tunis, Tunisia and Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, USA. It focuses on the experiences of the faculty co-directing the partnership in media, journalism and international communication, particularly the process of developing and sustaining the partnership. The article reflects on the future vision of media education in the MENA, particularly the challenges and the future of investment in the media education by governments, educational institutions, and civil society and media organizations within and outside the region. Finally, it analyzes how media education partnerships can not only develop professional standards in media, but also build capacity to strengthen democratic practices, build civil society, increase critical thinking and awareness, minimize and manage conflicts, fight negative stereotypes that emerge as a result of the often inattentive, insensitive and inaccurate nature of governmental and corporate media discourses.
Partnerships and civil society building
Citizens, scholars, practitioners and civil society organizations argue much needs to be done to democratize media, journalism and unrestricted access to information and communication technology in the MENA (see Camau & Geisser, 2003; Cassara & Lengel, 2004; Chouikha, 2002; Newsom & Lengel, 2003; Tetreault, 2000). An important place to begin this transformation is to foster educational collaboration within and outside the MENA that recognizes the role that a free and independent media plays in transition to building democracy and which understands that journalists can serve as models of participants in democratic processes.
As MENA nations engage in building civil society, it will be critical that journalists in the region have not only the skills they need to do their work well, but also the insights necessary to negotiate the challenges posed by democratization. These insights are enhanced by international exchange. The ever-growing presence of information and communication technology (ICT) and the additional resources and challenges that ICT offers journalists and citizens alike create even more opportunities for democratic dialogue and international exchange (Eickelman & Anderson, 1999).
Because democratic dialogue is a hallmark of civil societies, exchange and dialogue between two international partners is at the heart of the international collaborative program “Capacity Building for a Democratic Press: A Sustainable Partnership to Develop Media and Journalism Curricula in Tunisia.” The program, which was launched in 2004 with a two-year funding commitment from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI),1 highlights a hands-on practicum approach in which l’Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information, University of Manouba, Tunis students benefit from practical professional journalism skills through internships with U.S. and MENA media organizations and engage in interactive and practical training in media and journalistic production and practice. This media educational partnership is creating sustainable core curriculum additions at the Tunisian partnership university including new program specializations in Women, Media and Democracy, as well as in Journalism and Human Rights. It is important to note that IPSI is the only press institute or program of study in Tunisia and, arguably, the only one in North Africa.
The partnership combines in-person and online contact between IPSI and BGSU faculty and the students with the cultural knowledge and both traditional university learning environments on the two campuses, and online through Blackboard, the BGSU online course delivery program. The project serves both undergraduate and graduate students at both partnership universities, enhances faculty instruction and online and face-to-face curriculum development, and creates sustainable and wide-reaching partnerships between academic institutions, civil society and NGOs, the private sector, and policy makers.
Developing a community of practice: Keys to successful media education partnerships
The most successful partnerships cooperate and collaborate as a community of practice. What brings members of a community of practice together is a shared vision and goals, and a passion for mutual dialogue (Preston & Lengel, 2004). Respect for human worth and dignity, individual voices, and wrestling with complex social issues are characteristics of democratic environments (Kubow & Fossum, 2003; Kubow & Kinney, 2000; Kubow, 1999).
Communities of practice are emerging as important bases for creating, sharing, and applying knowledge. These communities share ideas and innovations, collaborating across traditional hierarchical structures and geophysical boundaries. Part of the mission of the partnership discussed in this article is to maintain a sustainable community of practice in the area of media, journalism, communication and ICT. In this partnership a diverse and committed group of media, journalism, communication technology, comparative/international education and democratic education researchers, teachers, practitioners and students are engaging in the examination and creation of democratic media and online civic discourse. Through face-to-face meetings, online learning, several workshops in both the US and Tunisia, and participation in and reporting on the UN World Summit on the Information Society, the community of practice supports the concepts surrounding the development of a free and independent media and will internationalize and professionalize media institutions in the U.S. and Tunisia, and, more broadly across the MENA.
The partnership transcends traditional university course work and practice to become an actual community, sustainable beyond the 24-month schedule of grant-supported activities. Because of the commitment of the participating institutions, the community will sustain and grow through further curriculum development, research and related activities involving additional partners throughout the MENA. This will occur mainly due to the transformative nature of the interaction. Personal, direct contact with citizens from other culture and nations can break down stereotypical imagery and ideas, which often emerge the result of government and mainstream, corporate media discourses. The direct interaction, intensive collaboration and co-learning, and respectful dialogue of partnerships can create a level of compassionate interaction between the partnership participants who create the community of practice.
1) Commitment of institutions involved in the media partnership
Communities of practice cannot be created or sustained without commitment. Outlined hereafter are six keys to creating and sustaining successful online university education and training partnerships: 1) Commitment of partnership institutions; 2) Commitment and expertise of personnel; 3) Commitment to providing access to ICT and other facilities and resources to students and faculty at both partner institutions; 4) Commitment to engaging with professional media, journalism and civil society organizations; 5) Commitment to program development and enhancement; and 6) Commitment to sustainability.
First and foremost, partnerships can only be created and sustained if there is commitment on the parts of both participating institutions. In the case of the partnership described in this paper, several strong reasons attest to the importance of choice of university in a collaborative partnership. First, the Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information (IPSI) at the University of Manouba, Tunisia is the only media and journalism university institute in the nation (MERST, 2002). Second, faculty and administration at IPSI are committed to the partnership at all levels. They have welcomed both face-to-face (F2F) and online participation between students and faculty and between students and students at both universities. Institutional commitment has also resulted in internal and external support for the program. While the Middle East Partnership Initiative, a U.S. State Department program, as provided a highly competitive grant of $100,000 US (See Appendix 2) A significant cost-share (220%, or $220,000) in support of the partnership program has been provided primarily by BGSU, with additional support from civil society and private sector partners. In adherence to the university’s commitment to international education and exchange, several BGSU units have articulated their support of the program. The University Provost, the Executive Vice President, and Deans of three different Colleges have expressed their commitment.
2) Commitment and expertise of personnel
Along with commitment at the institutional level, primarily by directors and key leadership of each institution, a second key to successful partnerships is the commitment and expertise of the faculty who will develop, implement, and sustain the partnership program. The IPSI-BGSU partnership, for example, emerged from the long-standing relationships originally developed by U.S. Partnership Co-Director when she was a Fulbright Researcher in women and media in Tunisia, 1993-1994.2 Ten years after her first in-country work in Tunisia, issues surrounding media, democracy and the information society remain a challenge for that nation and elsewhere in the MENA. Thus, the rationale for the partnership is that there is a great deal of mutual benefit of international educational exchange, of opportunities to learn first-hand about diverse practices in media and journalism from both partner institutions’ faculty and students, and to work together toward enhancing civil society in the MENA and abroad.
The partnership team members are widely published and nationally and internationally recognized. The partnership co-directors, coordinators and key administrators have each directed or co-directed international educational programs in China, Croatia, France, Great Britain, Austria, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the MENA. Finally, partnership co-directors’ expertise in women and the media, particularly in the MENA (see Azouz, 2005; Azouz, 1994; Lengel, 1998; Lengel, 2000; Lengel, 2002; Newsom & Lengel, 2003) was crucial to the success of the “Women, Media and Democracy” workshop, detailed below.
3. Commitment to providing access to resources
A third key to successful partnerships is the commitment to providing access to ICT and other facilities and resources to students and faculty at both partner institutions. IPSI students are exposed to the digital audiovisual equipment and the strong web development curriculum and tools available at the Institute. Of particular importance to the partnership, ISPI students have access to 150 computers with Internet access, which affords the opportunity to engage in the distance education component of the program with the U.S. Partner institution. BGSU faculty and students are benefitting by learning from the extensive international teaching, research, and media and journalism production experience of the IPSI faculty and administration. Also, there are several key strengths of the U.S. Partner for the MEPI exchange. The first strength is the cutting-edge journalism, multimedia, computing and production facilities housed in the BGSU School of Communication Studies, which houses the Departments of Journalism, Interpersonal Communication and Telecommunications. Further, as an Internet 2 campus, Bowling Green State University has an advanced technological infrastructure that fully supports all of the online and telecommunications activities cited within the programs of this grant. BGSU’s IDEAL unit (Interactive Distance Education for All Learners) oversees the development and implementation of distance (i.e., web-based) course work and communication on campus. Additionally, the University is part of the larger OhioLink library system, which allows MENA faculty and students participating in the partnership to access materials and holdings at all of the state universities and many of many of the private colleges and universities in Ohio, and also provides links to that other U.S. library systems. Finally, additional technology services are being provided by WBGU-TV PBS and the US Embassy in Tunis which are both providing digital videoconferencing services for the quarterly meetings between the two universities.
4) Commitment to engaging with professional media, journalism and civil society organizations
Because Tunisia is hosted the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, November 16 – 18, 2005, all eyes of the media, communication and technology world have been focused on Tunisia, its government, and its media organizations to assess how the Arab nation is addressing the challenges of overcoming the digital divide, and of developing civic discourse and equitable communication flow in the nation (Lengel, 2004). In this sense, IPSI students have been best positioned to report on the UN WSIS and related events in Tunisia this past year. IPSI faculty developed a program to focus reporting curricula around the WSIS (IPSI, 2004). The online component of the university partnership has also enhanced IPSI students’ efforts to share first hand observations about the preparation leading up to the UN WSIS, and to report directly during the actual event to their counterpart students in the U.S.
In addition to participating in this important media and technology event, partnership students and faculty are also interacting with media, communication, and civil society organizations. Online and face-to-face work with civil society organizations, such as the Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) and le Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT), provides important insights into the impact of media and communication on civic discourse in the MENA. Media organizations such as BBC North Africa; Tunis Afrique Press (TAP); Mosaique – a new private Tunisian radio station; newspapers including La Presse, Essahafa, Le Renouveau, El Horia, Le Temps, Essabah, Echourouk, and Essarih; Magazines including Réalités, and L’Observateur; and private sector partners provide important professional development opportunities for students’ professional development.
A final strength for enhancing interaction with civil society results from the location of BGSU, one of just a few major research universities within close proximity to the largest and oldest Arab-American communities in the United States. The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, only 15 minutes from campus, is one of the largest mosques in the U.S. and houses one of the largest congregations. Interaction with the Arab-American community occurred while IPSI students and faculty were in residence at BGSU for a three-week workshop and internship program, through a welcome reception, a summit, and through interview opportunities for journalistic reporting assignments. Perhaps the most compelling interaction was with editors and journalists of Arab American media organizations, including the Arab American News, The Arab Gazette and, most notably, The Journal & Link, who engaged an outstanding, critical debates with the partnership students about the challenges of creating and sustaining free and independent media in both the MENA and the U.S.
5) Commitment to program development and enhancement
The mutual interests of BGSU and IPSI faculty and administration in the areas of international media and journalism; in the impact of ICT on journalistic practice; in the digital divide in the MENA; and shared interests in ethics and values, civil society and democracy through the media; and a common balance of media theory and practical skill-building stressed at both institutions create a solid foundation for the partnership’s program goals and serve to focus the broad goals of the partnership. These mutual goals and interests lay the groundwork for the fifth key to successful university partnerships: a shared commitment to similar program development and enhancement goals. Commitment to such program milestones such as new media, journalism, communication and ICT degree focus areas at IPSI include a Bachelor of Science in Journalism in International Media, and Masters of Science in International Media and in Environmental Journalism. During the academic year 2003-2004, IPSI has inaugurated the first Master’s degree in the entire MENA in specialty topics in the media. During the same year, specialty topic was sports reporting. The BGSU-IPSI partnership teams topics idea can be sustained in future years with such topics as “International Reporting on Technology Issues” and “International Reporting on Democracy”. The partnership faculty teams are also working to enhance the IPSI’s MSc (master’s of science) in new information and communication technologies (ICT) to include new online curricula through the Frontera program (see description of Frontera below). In addition, the partnership is developed and implemented an intensive U.S.-based workshop on “Women, Media, and Democracy”, internships for Tunisian students with area media organizations, and on-site professional development consultations with regional and national media executives. Below, several aspects and program milestones are discussed as evidence of successful implementation of the program.
Women, media and democracy
Enhancing the lives of women is one of the pillars of the Middle East Partnership Initiative. As mentioned above the most important program and curriculum development effort thus far in the partnership has been curriculum development in the area of women, media, and democracy. A key milestone if the IPSI-BGSU partnership has been the “Women, Media, and Democracy” workshop which brought a competitively selected group of Arab students and faculty to the BGSU campus for a three-week intensive workshop from July 17 – August 5, 2005. In this workshop 10 IPSI and 9 BGSU graduate and undergraduate students from the US, Russia, and China were brought together to collaborative explore about women, media and democracy and the points at which those topics overlap and interact. These large topics and those areas where they do interact are critical to the health of civil society in countries around the world. Thus a three-week workshop, no matter how intense, only offered the international group of students the chance to scrape the surface of the issues. Nevertheless, students from both institutions reported how much they learned and grew from the workshop. The curriculum involved each student engaging in individual research and journal assignments, group research and presentation assignments, outside-of-class group and individual work, a series of guest lectures, visits to Arab-American media organizations, and other extracurricular activities.
There were several scheduled online activities at regular intervals in throughout the workshop, each which used Blackboard, the BGSU online course delivery program.1 Each session’s online dialogue topic was developed in relation to particular readings, the presentations by guest lecturers, the documentaries viewed, class discussions, and other activities of the workshop. Students were expected to not only take part in the online discussions, by reacting to other people’s posts, but also by offering discussion points of their own. Participating in the online discussions not only added to IPSI and BGSU students’ learning about women, media and democracy, but it also made the workshop very enjoyable. In addition, it was the hope of the workshop organizers that they could learn from the students about these discussions that will help to develop effective communication between students at great distances, primarily between students on-site on their respective Tunis- and Bowling Green- based campuses during the academic year following with workshop.
All participating students, but in particular the IPSI students, stated that the online component of the “Women, Media and Democracy” workshop was one of the most enjoyable and valuable to them. Many felt more comfortable communicating online, rather than during class discussions, which took place in English, the third language for students from Tunisia and Russia, and the second language for the student from China. They could think and write at their own pace, read others’ postings, and thoughtfully respond. They were encouraged not to speak to their peers in the computer lab, but communicate only through computer mediated communication (CMC).
Online components of media education partnerships
Although education policymakers in the MENA acknowledge the fact that overall progress within their societies relies heavily on introducing new technology in training, very few practical steps have been taken in reaching that objective, such as fostering the implementation of e-learning technology in educational establishments. The severe digital divide between much of the MENA and Western, industrialized countries point to several factors. Social barriers, such as illiteracy and low educational access, and economic barriers fostered sometimes by regional political crises are two of them. Furthermore, there is a lack of an appropriate legislation acknowledge distance education degrees, and also financial, pedagogical and attitudinal constraint to technological enterprise in education: prohibitive Internet access prices, lack of Arabic content, fear that traditional educational system looses ground in favor of an unconventional pedagogical scheme that might have unexpected outcomes (Abouchedid, 2004).
These challenges have been addressed through an online component of the media education partnership, called Frontiers of New Technology Education, Research and Action (Frontera), a program that has linked over 1,000 students from 14 different universities worldwide since its inception in 1996, including BGSU, IPSI, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the women’s campus of King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.3 Accessed through the Blackboard online learning environment housed at BGSU, Frontera allows students at both partnership institutions to connect online and focus a dialogue on topics including online civic discourse, the Digital Divide, media and journalistic ethics, and international affairs reporting. Students who have been teamed with others in the online international exchange forum have reported that their connection through Frontera has lasted long after their ‘official’ time with the program has ended (Lengel, 2002; Lengel & Murphy, 2000; Marin & Lengel, forthcoming).
Through Frontera, students are asked to both interrogate the Internet and encounter it as a discursive tool to explore critical issues in international and intercultural communication. The project affords students the opportunity to learn across borders and cultural differences. Through computer mediated communication (CMC), students work “together” in “cyber classrooms”, across national borders and cultural differences, to explore ethnicity, nation and citizenship, the potential for civic discourse with persons from different cultures and nations. During the past decade students of diverse heritage, Mexican, Norwegian, Nigerian, Brazilian, Indian, Spanish, Turkish, English, Arab, US, Welsh, Irish and Russian to name only some, have engaged in dialogue through Frontera.
Grouped into small CMC teams and using Blackboard (in the case of the IPSI-BGSU partnership; other partnerships use their university email accounts), students have been informed that they are part of an international university partnership. They are also told that are to explore their differences; differences of created by the boundaries of nationalism, but also boundaries of race, class, ethnicity and one’s own identity.
6) Commitment to sustainability
Perhaps the most important key to a successful partnership is the commitment to sustaining it. It is in regard to this key that online connection is so crucial. The strong online component of the IPSI-BGSU partnership positions the Internet and CMC as mechanisms through which to explore this crossing of boundaries because it made possible the students’ ability to journey virtually to other places, thus facilitating a virtual “community of practice” of student peers and faculty. Along with curriculum materials, this community of practice is one of the most sustainable components of the overall partnership.
Along with the online community of practice, other sustainable outcomes from the partnership project include, but are not limited to the following: 1) new Bachelors and Masters degree programs offered by IPSI in, among others, International Media and Environmental Journalism; 2) a curriculum book targeted to IPSI faculty in international media; 3) online educational materials including a CD-ROM targeted to MENA region graduate and undergraduate media and journalism students, which will report on the program outcomes and will enhance students’ skills in international affairs reporting, interviewing and other journalistic skills, as well as raise awareness about civil society and media ethics; 4) the website titled “Capacity building for a Democratic Press” which will include assessments of the program, examples of writing from the Arab and US students, and details of the milestones of the overall program, and key readings and references. One projected outcome of the program is that it will aid participants’ examination of media, journalism, and online civic discourse.
The potential for sustainability of the partnership is one of the primary factors in the assessment of the overall partnership program. Given the particular nature of this program, there are also some useful external performance measures. Over time the program will be able to collect samples of the media content developed by the program’s students. Some workshop participants, upon their return to Tunisia after their study and internships in the U.S., have already published reports and articles on their experiences and the overall partnership program in the Tunisian media. More reporting of this type is anticipated in the future. In addition, both the students’ work and any coverage the program elicits would have an impact on audiences in the MENA and abroad. Finally, the online community of practice of faculty and students at both partnership universities will sustain not only because of the ease of online dialogue, but of the important relationships developed both face-to-face and online.