Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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mortal part.” It does the “dirty work” for the entire self by rendering that work “proper” and in that way protects the entire self from awareness of its own guilt and its own death.

In doubling, one part of the self “disavows” another part. What is repudiated is not reality itself — the individual Nazi doctor was aware of what he was doing via the Auschwitz self — but the meaning of that reality. The Nazi doctor knew that he selected, but did not interpret selections as murder. One level of disavowal, then, was the Auschwitz self’s altering of the meaning of murder; and on another, the repudiation by the original self of anything done by the Auschwitz self. From the moment of its formation, the Auschwitz self so violated the Nazi doctor’s previous self-concept as to require more or less permanent disavowal. Indeed, disavowal was the life blood of the Auschwitz self.*  
Doubling, Splitting, and Evil 
Doubling is an active psychological process, a means of adaptation to extremity. That is why I use the verb form, as opposed to the more usual noun form, “the double.” The adaptation requires a dissolving of “psychic glue”20 as an alternative to a radical breakdown of the self. In Auschwitz, the pattern was established under the duress of the individual doctor’s transition period. At that time the Nazi doctor experienced his own death anxiety as well as such death equivalents as fear of disintegration, separation, and stasis. He needed a functional Auschwitz self to still his anxiety. And that Auschwitz self had to assume hegemony on an everyday basis, reducing expressions of the prior self to odd moments and to contacts with family and friends outside the camp. Nor did most Nazi doctors resist that usurpation as long as they remained in the camp. Rather they welcomed it as the only means of psychological function. If an environment is sufficiently extreme, and one chooses to remain in it, one may be able to do so only by means of doubling.

Yet doubling does not include the radical dissociation and sustained separateness characteristic of multiple or dual personality. In the latter condition the two selves are more profoundly distinct and autonomous, and tend either not to know about each other or else to see each other as alien. The pattern for dual or multiple personality, moreover, is thought to begin early in childhood and to solidify and maintain itself more or less indefinitely. Yet in the development of multiple personality, there are likely to be such influences as intense psychic or physical trauma, an atmosphere of extreme ambivalence, and severe conflict and confusion over identifications21 — all of which can also be instrumental in doubling. Also relevant to both conditions is Janet’s principle that “once
* Michael Franz Basch speaks of an interference with the “union of affect with percept without, however, blocking the percept from consciousness.”19 In that sense, disavowal resembles psychic numbing, as it alters the valencing or emotional charge of the symbolizing process.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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