Radkin Honzák

    is a Czech psychiatrist based in Prague, where he works at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) and Remedis, a private clinic, as well as at the Bohnice psychiatric hospital near Prague; he also teaches at the Institute of General Medicine in the Medical Department at Prague’s Charles University. He is the author of numerous books including Somatizace a funkční poruchy (Somatization and Functional Disorders); Babičku potrkal jelen aneb Co tomu říkáte, doktore (Grandma’s Been Gored by a Roebuck, or What Do You Make of It, Doctor); Úzkostný pacient (The Anxious Patient); Jak žít a vyhnout se syndromu vyhoření (How To Live Avoiding Burnout); Všichni žijem v blázinci (We All Live in a Nuthouse) and, most recently, Psychosomatická prvouka (The Foundations of Psychosomatic Medicine). “Throughout his trial Eichmann insisted he would never have done what he did if he hadn’t received orders. This was the core of his defence, its alpha and omega. He had gassed six million people out of obedience… It would never have occurred to him to do so of his own accord… All he did was use his little shovel to help the Leader implement his grand plan of building a new Europe. The fact that he stuck to this simplistic defence – rather absurdly for a grown-up, intelligent man – inspired the US psychologist Stanley Milgram to test whether this claim could possibly be true. He therefore carried out an experiment that proved that, if put under pressure by a figure in authority, even if not particularly great authority, two- thirds of ‘normal and decent people’ are capable of inflicting electric shocks of up to 450 volts on their fellow human beings. The experiment was replicated elsewhere with similar results, except for Germany where the proportion of those who obeyed rose to 80 per cent. Not only is homo sapiens a social creature but, as psychological research has shown, he is also a creature of the herd; the majority are scared of freedom and seek a leader. The leaders are for the most part recruited from among psychopathic individuals who lack a sense of fear and thus strike others as charismatic, even perfect in some respect. Psychopathic personalities who are adept at manipulating employ their predatory instincts as leaders of the pack. Pied Pipers know how to play their tune so that they are heard well beyond Hamelin. Some people in Russia are still nostalgic for the great Stalin; in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s only a precious few were not fascinated by Hitler; in 1946 the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won a majority in the election… None of this would be worth mentioning if it weren’t for the emergence of the new ‘iron unity’, as its creators call it, and if the little shovels of their disciplined delegates hadn’t obediently begun to dig a new river bed. This time it wasn’t necessary to hand out doughnuts, we have a figure of authority – he may be an ass but an ass sought-after by many because he is willing to bear responsibility in a stubborn way. It is high time we started to question whether it was wise to entrust responsibility to an ass.”
    Photo: Faculty of Medicine Charles University