The Pathology of Normality

 By M.K. Styllinski

“Through much of history the abnormal has been the norm. This is a paradox to which we should attend. Aberrations, so plentiful as to form a terrible normality of their own, descend upon us with frightful consistency.”

Michael Parenti


The hope for the future lies in the correct education, nurturing and guidance of the next generation of children. Yet, what we find in the 21st century is that the exploitation of the world’s children is as ubiquitous as it is accepted.

“It is just the way the world is…”

From the rubbish mountains of Rio de Janeiro where children scavenge for scraps; the “children of the stones” targeted by Israeli Defence Forces; the child soldiers and young female genital mutilation victims in Africa; the bonded labour of youngsters in India and Pakistan; the exploitation of children as prostitutes in Thailand to bearing the brunt of landmines in Nicaragua and Colombia. Children have been coerced or lured into armed conflicts in more than 30 countries in recent years and with no end in sight.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified in 1990 and was designed to enshrine the principles of protection from economic and sexual exploitation. On October 25th, 1980, the signing of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was similarly created to promote international cooperation on child rights and abduction cases. Although the objectives are well defined, corruption and cross boarder bureaucracy has ensured that inconsistency, limited funding and deference to underworld imperatives continue to thwart lasting progress. At the time of writing, the United States is the only country in the world that still refuses to sign the convention.

From 1996 data analysis indicate that during the last decade, child victims have included: 2 million killed; 4-5 million disabled; 12 million left homeless; more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents; some 10 million psychologically traumatized. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2005 we learn that: over 640 million children do not have adequate shelter; 500 million children have no access to sanitation; 400 million; children do not have access to safe water; 300 million children lack access to information; 270 million children have no access to health services; 140 million children have never been to school; 90 million children are severely deprived from food. Every three seconds a child dies from a poverty-related illness. What is more, nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in mostly inter-state wars since 1990 have been children. 15 million children have become orphans through the AIDS epidemic. In fact, one child every minute dies from AIDS. By 2007 it was estimated that “…up to 250,000 children are being used in armed groups and forces around the world in a variety of roles – including as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers, spies and for sexual purposes.” [1] By 2010, these figures had risen dramatically with:

  • 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation
  • 1 billion children are deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development
  • 148 million under 5s in developing regions are underweight for their age
  • 101 million children are not attending primary school, with more girls than boys missing out
  • 22 million infants are not protected from diseases by routine immunization
  • 7.6 million children worldwide died before their 5th birthday in 2010
  • 4 million new-borns worldwide are dying in the first month of life
  • 2 million children under 15 are living with HIV
  • 500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth

Okay, that’s a lot of figures and statistics tend to make our eyes glaze over. However, they do create an approximate, evaluation of the enormity of the situation, not least about the perception which underlies the current socio-economic framework by which these evils are allowed to exist.

These statistics are equivalent to:

  • 1 child dying every 4 seconds
  • 14 children dying every minute
  • A 2011 Libya conflict-scale death toll every day
  • A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring every 10 days
  • A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every 11 days
  • An Iraq-scale death toll every 19–46 days
  • Just under 7.6 million children dying every year
  • Some 92 million children dying between 2000 and 2010

People earning over £14,000 a year are presently the richest 4% on the planet. How has it come to this when there is more than enough food, water and wealth to take care of every man, woman and child several times over? [2] We live in an alternate reality which is as unnecessary as it is iniquitous. Poverty, hunger and easily preventable diseases and illnesses plague the world’s population. It has become so normal that the media rarely draws our attention to what is judged an unstoppable catastrophe that happens to others (the developing world) and an inevitable result of the success of global capitalism. With the top 1 percent controlling 42 percent of financial wealth in the United States and at least 80 percent of humanity living on less than $10 a day something is very, very wrong with the human condition that has allowed such a small percentage to profit from a system that keeps the wheels of misery and suffering inexorably turning for the overwhelming majority. [3]

In the words of one UNICEF official:

The continuation of this suffering and loss of life contravenes the natural human instinct to help in times of disaster. Imagine the horror of the world if a major earthquake was to occur and people stood by and watched without assisting the survivors! Yet every day, the equivalent of a major earthquake killing over 30,000 young children occurs to a disturbingly muted response. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death. [4]

The most commonly cited global statistic regarding trafficking comes from the US State Department based on 2003 data. It very conservatively estimates that 800,000 to 900,000 persons, mainly women and children, are trafficked annually across borders worldwide. Whereas the UN now believes that the number of children trafficked annually, internally and externally, is around 1.2 million. This is likely to be a greater number if we remember the lucrative nature of trafficking and it’s natural branches to narcotics, weapons and sexual exploitation, linked as they are to the global underworld, this in turn connected to governments, institutions and the general Establishment.* Trafficking and exploitation generally is hugely profitable for a minority yet with catastrophic effects on our global societies.

Where there is a massive profit potential, statistical figures will usually lag behind, not least due to the difficulties of data collection. It is only now – after trafficking and exploitation of resources, among other issues – has broken through into the mainstream media (MSM) including movies and television dramas, that we can see this as both a symptom and recognition of the magnitude of the problem. Slavery never died, it just adapted to the times, taking advantage of the new technology that is being wired into networks of Hi-Tec greed and corruption. It is a recurrent symbol of the humanity’s perceptions and actions in the deepest possible sense. Advances in technology and globalisation only redistribute the underlying problems rooted in their very structures.

Activist and author Russell Simmons stated in a Huffington Post guest report that: “There are at least 27 million slaves in the world today, more than were ever seized from Africa in the 400 years of the slave trade. Slaves in America in 1850 cost the equivalent of $40,000. The going rate today is $90.” [5]

Have things changed so much?

As UNICEF director Carol Bellamy observed on releasing the 2005 State of the World’s Children Report: “Too many governments are making informed, deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood. When half the world’s children are growing up hungry and unhealthy, when schools have become targets and whole villages are being emptied by AIDS, we’ve failed to deliver on the promise of childhood.”

That’s half the world’s children folks – over 1 billion.

If we jump ahead to the present time of 2012, it is also almost half the world’s children who live in urban areas. Since the financial divide between low and middle income earners and the super-rich has continued to grow this necessarily means access to social services will be minimized and health risks maximized. In turn a symptom of the present economic model designed and created to fix disparity and load it to those already at the top of the pile, usually by dynastic inheritance and /or corporate success. Roughly 1.4 billion will live in slums by 2020 and since distribution of resource are connected to monopolisation by an increasingly dominant handful of corporations and their governments across the economic and social divide we will likely see an increase in ghettos and slums in some quarters of major cities which simply reflect that reality. [6]

Indeed, back in the 2003 report it was noted that International bodies such as the UN, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development all doubt that the proposed action to alleviate and eradicate poverty and exploitation can be met unless there is a concerted effort on the part of Western governments. The 2012 report comments on the targets of the Millennium Development Goals one principles of which seeks “… to ensure environmental sustainability – focus[ing] specifically on improving the lives of at least 100 million of the world’s slum dwellers by 2020.” The report continues: “This is only a small percentage of those who live in slums worldwide; the target does not address the continuing growth in the number of new slums and slum dwellers,” and this is the common problem.

 “The most violent element in society is ignorance.” – Emma Goldman

While it is admirable and laudable to seek to improve the lives of so many, why are the enormous sums of money and resources not thrown at the root causes as to why the slums arrive and their “continued growth”? What good is it if you improve the lives of 100 million only to have another 200 million arrive in subsequent years because the same root cause has not been addressed?

This assumes that central government is an effective and altruistic entity. It is not and was never designed with those precepts in mind. Quite the reverse. Looking to centralised governments to solve our problems is like approaching the Wolf to provide us with a crèche for new born babies. It is the politician who genuinely seeks to improve the conditions of his electorate that seldom makes it to the top within such a compromised system of national government. And if he does, you can bet that he will be surrounded by the same wolves restricting his ability to exercise his own creativity in favour of true emancipation: “If these goals are not met, the UN report says, “Millions will see their childhood violated through ill health or death from preventable diseases.” [7]

We have seen from a recent report by the development charity Oxfam that governments failed to meet the millennium development goals, the results of which the report warns: “45 million more children will die between now and 2015 … 97 million more children will still be out of school in 2015 … 53 million more people in the world will lack proper sanitation facilities.” [8]

And so it is.

There are extraordinary people working in these organizations who daily attempt to assist, educate and empower so many of our fellow human beings. However, those in power – and more importantly, those pulling their strings – have no interest whatsoever in alleviating the appalling suffering of the world’s children. We find that the aforementioned ties between corporations, governments and their clear objectives to retain a global power base in the form of a “New International Order” extend fully into the fields of those who care for the innocent and dispossessed. For example, part of this ruse exists under the propaganda coup of the so called “War on Terror” where the UNICEF report noted that: “combating terrorism is now an explicit aim of official aid programmes”. It also noted how 30 percent of aid from G8 countries was tied to obligations to buy goods and services from the donor country. It was also tied to the receiving country having to carry out ‘reforms’ usually in the form of privatisation of state sector concerns.”

Financial terrorism in the form of debt enforcement of developing nations has always been the primary goal of G8 nations. Control wars and resources and you effectively control the destiny of any given nation which is why so many banks are secretly in the business of funding conflicts on both sides and laundering their money. Thanks to the invasions and global resource grabs of the Western powers, UNICEF puts the increase in civilian casualties at 90 percent, about half of which are children. Those lucky enough to survive the innumerable hazards of war and the dangerous aftermath of lawlessness join the new sub-culture of refuges spread across Europe to become easy prey for sexual exploitation or child labour. Some 20 million children have been forced to leave their homes due to human rights violations and manipulated conflicts. Often thrown into poverty through the loss of their parents they may also become internally displaced within their own national boarders, joining the growing numbers of street children world-wide who then add to the rapidly rising market in human trafficking and the sex trade. With the rise in population in Africa and Asia, migration and increasing urbanization means the growth in child labour is continuing apace along with the associated sexual abuse which is seldom reported or discovered.

As of 2006, 218 million children were engaged in labour which ranges from working in mines, with pesticides in agriculture, with industrial chemicals or dangerous machinery or employed for a pittance as domestic workers, in workshops and used as a cheap workforce in plantations. The vast majority work in agriculture. The earth is being poisoned by children who are forced to do so through the threat of starvation and the chains of bonded labour. A further 115 million children under the age of 15 works in hazardous conditions deprived of education and other basic children’s rights. Millions of girls work as domestic servants and home help which often prove to be another route to eventual abuse and exploitation. [9] The good news is that there has been an overall decline in the number of child labour slaves since 2004 although sub-Saharan Africa has the highest quota of child labourers. [10] For this trend to continue and not be flash in the pan inside the overall economic system that remains in place, there must be attention paid to the system itself, otherwise it will be more cyclic than a permanent success.

Trafficking can include the illegal buying and selling of babies which have been stolen from the original parents, to the use of girls as young as thirteen as “mail-order brides.” Trafficking of children as sex slaves has been due to a varied mix of factors including the rise in technology along with the deregulation of financial oversight, the collapse of communist Russia in particular and the ascendance of organised crime as well as the easing of border restrictions in Europe. Parallel to the above, the steady mainstreaming of the pornography industry as whole, including the exploitation of children on internet sites has also played a part. Evidence of institutionalized prostitution has been found in most European countries including paedophile rings which are also proliferating in tandem with internet accessibility. There are market indicators for an increasing demand from European societies to exploit the young via “Sex tourism.” Yet, there have also been a rise in the number of prosecutions for those involved in sex tourism crimes.

In the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia approximately 30 to 35 per cent of sex workers are between 12 and 17 years of age. In Mexico alone, the social service agency reports there are more than 16,000 children engaged in prostitution, with tourist destinations being among those areas with the highest number.  In Lithuania, 20 to 50 percent of prostitutes are believed to be minors. Children as young as age 11 are known to work as prostitutes. Those from children’s homes, some 10 to 12 years old, have been used to make pornographic movies. In Central and Eastern Europe alone, 1.5 million children live in public care. [11]

As families are fragmented and parents killed, orphan children are often forced to fend for themselves. The long exploited continent of Africa also represents some of the harshest and most heart-breaking accounts of the loss of childhood. In 12 African countries, projections show that orphans will comprise at least 15 per cent of all children fewer than 15 years of age by 2010. [12]

Any numbers of countless scenarios are occurring including abduction, poverty, HIV status, mental and emotional scarring, remand and detainment. Psychological damage magnetizes the likelihood of violence, exploitation, trafficking, discrimination and other abuses. Unaccompanied or orphaned girls will be sexually abused while boys will usually end up as child soldiers or in criminal gangs focused around violence.  There is also a point where it simply becomes too late to rehabilitate and heal traumas. Once children are so severely scarred emotionally something inevitably dies within. To rekindle their lost innocence and joie de vivre can prove to be an almost impossible exercise depending on the resilience and will of the child in question, and the severity of the experience. The child may also have known nothing other than violence, conflict and a will to survive. Conflict continues to rage in the psyche of the causalities long after the cluster bombs and gunshots have sounded.

In Russia and its full-blown integration of cartel-capitalism and the underworld, the annual number of ‘children left without parental care’ has more than doubled over the last 10 years, despite falling birth rates. Conflict has orphaned or separated 1 million children from their families in the 1990s and an estimated two to five per cent of the refugee population are unaccompanied children.  By 2010, an estimated 106 million children under the age of 15 are projected to lose one or both parents. Among them, the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS is expected to jump to more than 25 million. [13] The real threat as we shall see, is not so much individualized crime and mafia networks but the governments and agencies that utilize and promote this dichotomy, not least the higher rung of child molesters operating above the law).

War is of course, about money and power – it has always been so. It is the dominant pathology that has existed for thousands of years. Children are the primary generational channels for its continuance.  As homage to the Mongol hordes which invaded back in the thirteenth century, George Bush’s legacy in Iraq is the fuelling of hatred against the US invaders seated in the hearts of the young. There is no question that a new intifada will grow to adulthood in a very short space of time as will an accompanying civil war care of the age-old balkanization tactic of imperialist invaders. Keep the population traumatized and distracted while stimulating old hatreds and religious contentions while you grab the resources. Children become the pawns of the warlords, arms dealers and the intelligence agencies that fuel this enmity in all directions in order to isolate and funnel its potential. This policy is at work in Afghanistan which as of 2009 has highest infant mortality rate in the world along with 70 percent of its population lacking access to clean water. UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children regional director for South Asia, Daniel Toole, said: “Afghanistan today is without a doubt the most dangerous place to be born.” [14] After nearly twelve years of NATO and the US military’s strategic presence in the country it is little wonder that Afghanistan is in the state it is. Control of the opium fields and the oil and gas pipelines was always the prime mover.

The British playwright Harold Pinter commented on this hypocrisy and double standards most notably personified by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair: “One of the most nauseating images of the Iraq war was Tony Blair kissing an Iraqi boy. What he was not kissing was the dismembered corpse of an Iraqi child or the mutilated body of another.” [15]  Joining the “leaders of the free world” in their path to destruction is a large portion of the populace which essentially simply does not want to see. The obvious threads of deception are ignored even if waved under our noses. This allows the interconnected nature of this predatory system of trans-generational destruction to feed off each other in a cycle of layered demand from industrialized and transitional economies.

The emulation of the pathological culture of the USA reveals itself in many developing countries where the “trickle down” of greed is an exported norm. It continues to replace diversity and traditional cultures with a vacuum of frenzied child productivity and cheap labour. This is the hidden side of “democracy” and “free trade,” the illusion of which is distilled through the intense suffering of countless children to produce the life-style demand for greater consumer freedom in the supermarkets and shopping malls. A trade in flesh and the perpetual insistence of America’s moral exceptionalism makes the residue of this ignorance particularly toxic.

UNICEF and many other charities and NGO’s are struggling within a system which favours small gains rather than to relinquish a vice-like grip on the usefulness of former colonies and regime changes that pay dividends in ideological and material expediency. Human rights will continue to come way down on the list of priorities unless it proves convenient to champion their chartered rights within the geo-political chessboard. One commentator noted: “What is needed is a new generation of international social entrepreneurs to harness the unused technology of the multi-nationals to the needs of the poorest countries.” [16]


After all these miserable statistics it would be wrong to say that there is not good news. There are less interstate wars than ever before, greater health and sanitation along with innovation and technology pulling increasing numbers of the world’s population out of poverty and hunger. Successes in combating cancer and other serious diseases have shown a sharp incline as well as the overall rate of global violence falling significantly in recent years. No doubt, given the media slant to negative news there are countless reasons to suppose that acts of kindness, courage and altruism are very much part of our daily lives on planet earth.

The point of this first post – and the series as a whole – is not to bemoan the state of the world and criticize for the sake of it; anyone can do that – just look at your average newspaper column. What we can do is see why, how and who we have allowed to subject humanity and this planet to such evil for so long and in doing so, we will see just how wonderfully creative, inventive and altruistic the majority of human beings truly are. This is a vital principle to keep in mind.

It is not the innate nature of humanity to despoil its environment and embrace abuse, neglect, violence and apathy, though we have been duped into thinking that this is an inevitable result of humanity’s “selfish gene” or Darwinist tendencies. These negative effects translated through statistics and taken as a whole are caused from a complex set of social, environmental, political and cultural norms and it is not my intention to unduly simplify these causes. Yet, there is in my view, a common cause which underlies all of these age-old and seemingly intractable problems: psychopaths in power, the psychologist’s term for the embodiment of evil as it is religiously termed. They lie at the root of social iniquities and play a key part in all of the above listed horrors at every conceivable process of their manifestation.

Does it sound hackneyed or seemingly obvious?

Wait a while…there is more depth to the problem than it may seem and goes very deep into the heart of what we consider to be the human condition and our struggle for meaning.

Psychopaths are the crucible of all our collective shadows. Perhaps to some, they allow us to learn the most painful of lessons and thereby grow through experience, cultivating wisdom to pass on to our children and friends. But as the nature of society changes, the traditional pathways by which such warnings were communicated have been eroded or have disappeared altogether. These signs are not always obvious and the lessons of history are quickly being forgotten with the rise of technology and the speed of change. As a consequence, the dominance of psychopaths engaged in methods of herding of normal human beings means that a crisis is coming wherein the cycle must turn or we will become shackled in ways which will make the nightmares of the past define our future. For now, children symbolise a gold that is routinely melted down and mixed with the cold lead of the psychopath’s dream.

Perhaps a large enough number of Humanity can find its noble and courageous qualities in order to transduce them into a workable framework for widespread social change. The 12th monkey, critical mass may be at work here still. A prerequisite for ensuring a more equitable future is to make a priority our understanding of psychopathic subversion in our daily lives and in the wider world so that we are better able to see the signs and forge new ways for our own and our loved one’s survival. The loss of knowledge on the nature of the psychopath in our midst and the widespread pathology it has induced has had catastrophic effects on our world. It is these effects and their causes that we will look at in greater detail.

We will start with one of these effects which are having an increasingly insidious influence in modern life: narcissism, a psychological disease which has gained significant ground in recent years. A narcissistic culture is the perfect breeding ground for more extremes forms of pathology and may benefit those who seek to implant a particular view of reality over the mass mind.


[1] UNICEF Paris Conference ‘Free Children from War’ On 5 and 6 February 2007.
[2]  ‘Toby Ord: Why I’m giving £1m to charity’ By Tom Geoghegan BBC News Magazine 13 December 2010.
[3] ‘The developing world is poorer than we thought, but no less successful in the fight against poverty’, by Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion World Bank, Data and Research, August 2008.
[4] ‘The Progress of Nations 2000’.
[5] ‘Twenty-Seven Million Slaves’ By Russell Simmons, Huffington Post, September 17, 2009.
[6] State of the World’s Children 2012 |
[7]  Ibid.
[8] Oxfam International’s Response to the UN Secretary-General’s report:‘In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all’ Oxfam’s Four Priorities for Action at the 2005 Review Summit of the Millennium Declaration – the ‘M+5 Summit’ In his report ‘In Larger Freedom,’ the UN Secretary-General has set out a bold agenda for international action. take ambitious, but essential steps to save lives and advance collective security in the 21st century.
[9] ‘Facts on Child Labour’ – International Labour Organization |
[10] ‘The end of child labour – Within reach, Global Report under the followup to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work,  report to the International Labour Conference, 95th Session 2006For more country data, please visit: ipec/simpoc/index.htm or for background documents visit
[11]  ‘Child Protection Handbook for Paliamentarians’ By Carol Bellamy, UNICEF |
[12] UNICEF Child Protection –
[13] Africa’s Orphaned Children UNICEF 2003. |
[14] ‘Unicef’s state of the world’s children report 2009: Where is the worst place in the world to grow up?’ by Haroon Siddique, 20 November, 2009 The Guardian, datablog
[15] ‘Divide and rule out’ by The Guardian, December 14, 2000.

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