Trying to make sense of the insane

In reading about the horrific tragedy in Norway, I was trying to think of how, even to a diseased mind, it would make sense to mow down a large number of trapped unarmed young people. How could you possibly think it would bring credit to your cause (whatever it is)?

I know I may be engaged in the futile pursuit of trying to make sense of the actions of someone who has to be crazy, but such people do not seem to be crazy in the sense of having no idea what they are doing. This guy was clearly a coldly calculating person, planning the murders with great precision.

So what is it that causes their calculations to go so awry in the one particular area of gauging the likely reactions of ordinary people to their actions? Why can’t they see that it will cause people to recoil in disgust?


  1. Matthew says

    Perhaps he was simply one man lashing out against those he disagreed with. It could be that he did not have any particular objective in mind. Or maybe his only goal was to create nationwide fear of possible future attacks. It has been reported that he is talking to police and that he wants to explain himself so hopefully we will have an answer to all this soon.

  2. henry says

    It was reported that he was angry at the government for its multi-cultural ‘experiment.’ His attack on the island that killed so many youth was at a time when the ruling Labor Party was holding a youth conference.

    So it seems that it was a political target due to his anger at the current ruling party.

  3. Anonymous says

    Shalom Mano,

    I’m not sure that the word “insane” makes sense here since “sane” is a relative turn applicable, at best, to the immediate community in which the individuals under discussion live.

    I have become increasingly mistrustful of dismissing individuals as crazy, stupid or insane when the real issue is: “that person does not adhere to my understanding of my reality.”

    The question, for me comes down to: is that person’s understanding of reality harmful to me and my society? If “no” then ignore the person. If “yes” then protect my society from that person by any and all means allowable by my society.

    The planet is thick with people who for a variety of genetic, environmental and societal reasons don’t share our view of reality.

    Once we wrap our heads around how the German Reich — it was much more than Adolf Hitler — sought to protect Germany by slaughtering 11 million undesirables, individuals like Anders Behring Breivik are easy.



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