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Male rage, aggrieved entitlement, and Andreas Lubitz

Andreas Lubitz: Becoming less of a mystery?
Andreas Lubitz: Becoming less of a mystery?

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We still don’t know for sure what led Andreas Lubitz to (allegedly) crash Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountain in the French Alps, but some of the information that’s coming out today strongly suggests that Lubitz may indeed have been motivated by a toxic mixture of entitlement and rage.

The most revealing information, assuming it’s accurate, comes from an ex-girlfriend who gave an interview to the German newspaper Bild about her time with Lubitz, describing him as a “tormented” soul given to outbursts of explosive rage and delusions of grandeur, at one point telling her that someday he would “do something” to make “everyone … know my name and remember me.”

Based on information gleaned from her interview and from other news reports, a clearer portrait is emerging of the man who (allegedly) took 149 others with him in his dramatic suicide.

1) Andreas Lubitz seems to have been a “nice guy” in public who was given to explosive outbursts behind closed doors. According to the ex-girlfriend — and I’m using the translated version of her remarks you can find in this Telegraph article — Lubitz was a lamb in public. “He … could be very sweet,” she told Bild. “He brought me flowers.” But in private he was a “weak” person “who needed love,” and was given to wild mood swings:

During conversations he’d suddenly throw a tantrum and scream at me. I was afraid.

2) His girlfriend had apparently broken up with him relatively recently, in part because she was unnerved by his explosive outbursts. There’s some confusion about Lubitz’ romantic history. The girlfriend who spoke to Bild was a flight attendant who apparently dated him for some months last year; he also seems to have had a fiancée, who may have broken up with him more recently — some accounts even suggest she left him the day before the crash. According to some news accounts, he tried to win back one of his exes by buying her a car. She evidently refused the gift.

As I pointed out yesterday, angry men tend to react poorly to romantic rejection, sometimes lashing out with violence. Roughly a third of all female murder victims in the United States are killed by their exes. While Lubitz doesn’t appear to have inflicted violence on his ex (or exes) in the wake of their breakup(s), it certainly seems likely that rage over rejection was one of the triggers of his actions.

3) He suffered from depression, anxiety, vision problems, and possibly other medical conditions and was afraid — with good reason — that he would likely lose his dream job as a result. His ex-girlfriend said that when they spoke about work, which they often did,

he became another person. He became agitated about the circumstances in which he had to work, too little money, anxiety about his contract and too much pressure.

He seems to have felt this pressure keenly, sometimes waking up screaming from dreams of plane crashes. Yet he was unwilling to give up a job he’d dreamed of having since childhood, tearing up notes from doctors indicating he was unfit to fly rather than turning them over to his employer. Indeed, Lubitz’ ex believes that his fear of being fired was the primary motivation for his final act:

He did it because he realised that because of his health problems his big dream of a job with Lufthansa; a job as captain and as a long haul pilot was as good as impossible.

4) He was regularly teased by other pilots because he started off his career as a flight attendant, a job that usually goes to women. According to the Mirror, “he was nicknamed ‘Tomato Andy’ because they believed he didn’t know if he was a ‘fruit or veg’ – a reference to his sexuality.” (The British tabloid The Star has decided, based on this, that he was actually gay.) It’s likely that this sort of treatment at the hands of his co-workers contributed to the insecurities his ex-girlfriend spoke of. [EDIT: A native German speaker tells me that the “fruit/veg” explanation does’t make sense in German. But I have seen other references to the nickname and the teasing.]

5) He evidently had a highly developed sense of “aggrieved entitlement.” After one of his girlfriends left him, he seems to have thought he could buy her back with a car. He felt he deserved his dream job as a pilot even though he was deemed medically unfit to fly, and even before his final flight was putting passengers at risk by hiding evidence of his unfitness from his employers. And he evidently felt so wronged, both by romantic rejection and by the probable loss of his job, that he decided he needed to take revenge on his enemies with a grand nihilistic gesture that would, as he told his ex, make the world remember his name.

This toxic mixture of anger, entitlement, and grandiosity is, not to put to fine a point on it, quintessentially male. Women don’t fly planes into mountains or buildings to take retribution on a world that they see as their enemy; men do. Women don’t track down their exes and murder them; men do. (I am oversimplifying somewhat here; these are overwhelmingly male crimes, but not exclusively so.)

While only a tiny fraction of a percent of men resort to acts as violent as killing an entire planeload of innocent people, there are unfortunately many men out there cultivating a similar if less extreme mixture of anger/entitlement/grandiosity, devoting their live to collecting grievances and daydreaming about some apocalyptic revenge.

After five years of writing this blog, I have to say I have become very familiar with this personality type. These guys are everywhere in the toxic online world of Men’s Rights Activists, MGTOWers, PUAs and PUA-haters. No, Lubitz was not, as far as we know, an MRA. No, I don’t expect that any of the MRAs I write about will resort to mass murder, though there are a few I hope the authorities are aware of.

My real worry is that the extreme and often violent rhetoric of many of those in the mainstream of the Men’s Rights movement could push some man who is already close to the edge over it. I don’t see this as unlikely in the slightest; indeed, it seems almost inevitable. I will have more about this, and about the vitriolic anger my posts about Lubitz have inspired amongst some MRAs, in a later post.

EDIT: I removed part of a quote because the translation I was using (by The Telegraph) was wrong, according to a native German speaker in the comments below. I also added a note in the paragraph about other pilots teasing Lubitz, and made a couple of minor tweaks in that paragraph and elsewhere.

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brooked
7 years ago

I see, so if a man suffered emotional stress for being mocked for being insufficiently masculine/heterosexual, that’s “aggrieved entitlement,” huh?

Um, people get sympathy for emotional suffering and condemned for mass murdering as revenge for life’s frustrations. This is for 149 people not named Andreas Lubitz.

brooked
7 years ago

The first sentence in my post is a failed blockquote because I’m all about the blockquote monster these days.

Jackie
Jackie
7 years ago

Uh, I’m not sure about all this yet. I don’t think this information should be treated as fact yet. The fact that you had to mention an that a native German speaker thought the whole “fruit/veg” thing didn’t make sense raised some flags for me, plus the speculation that he was actually gay. porree’s comment confirmed this.

I mean, isn’t there a police report to go with this? Or do released reports not happen in Germany or France? This just seems way too soon to have a full and conclusive report of anything yet. It’s just not…right to me.

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

I see, so if a man suffered emotional stress for being mocked for being insufficiently masculine/heterosexual, that’s “aggrieved entitlement,” huh?

What, you think this post suggests that saying hurtful and vicious things about a man is okay? Just to be clear, it’s not okay. But it’s also not okay to fly a planeload of people into a mountainside. Someone who is receiving harassment from co-workers ought to be able to file a grievance for a hostile work environment, and someone who is struggling with mental health issues ought to be able to seek help for it without fearing shame or the loss of a job (that latter with a few caveats, such as when many dozens of lives could be at risk).

Ellie
Ellie
7 years ago

RPW are basically female NiceGuysTM. It’s the irony of ironies. Play at twee 1950s gender roles if it makes you happy, but do NOT pour fuel on people’s insecurities.

Jackie
Jackie
7 years ago

Gosh you sound like a pretty sad person yourself having made all these generalised comments about men. Personally I am fed up with all the ‘unpleasant sensationalism’ surrounding this tragedy. I also find it strange that a day after the crash the company who thought a co-pilot they employed was ‘fit to fly’ were so quick to start searching his house and pointing fingers before all the evidence was gathered. Another of their aircraft plummeted out of the air in Nov. in Spain warnings were made (pilot managed to re-gain control). Also 2 pilots almost unconscious over Cologne after a pollution problem on a similar plane. Can we not all just wait for the facts? – the planes other recording device has conveniently not being recovered so as far as I can see this is all presumption. Why did the pilot need to leave the cockpit to go to the toilet after only 30 minutes anyway – perhaps he was feeling ill? Maybe the co-pilot passed out? It is all open to speculation at the moment and should remain so until the facts are properly established. That plane was nearly at the end of it’s flying life and it wouldn’t be in the company’s interests to say it was their fault would it? (LAst full service in 2013 – eek!). I’d say innocent until proven guilty on all sides! At the moment we know nothing really only what is being ‘belched from the mouths of ‘self-interested and perhaps biased parties’ and Germans are hardly (generally) renowned for compassionate honesty. I would like to see the truth unveiled (whatever that may be) for the sake of the victims and suffering families.

zarathustratheserpent
7 years ago

@David

My real worry is that the extreme and often violent rhetoric of many of those in the mainstream of the Men’s Rights movement could push some man who is already close to the edge over it.

That’s the whole point. Manosphere leaders don’t actually want to make any meaningful political change. They want to keep their followers bitter and resentful because it gives them money and power. Having a follower snap and commit mass murder fuels the fire. They don’t consider how terrible the long term consequences can be. They’re only thinking about short term gains.

@AllisonW

Martin Luther King wasn’t less effective because of the existence of Malcolm X. If anything, I’d wager MLK was *more* effective because Malcolm X provided the teeth that served as the “or else” to MLK’s perfectly reasonable demands for equality.

Yeah. Unfortunately we don’t learn about this at all at school. We only learn about how nice and nonviolent MLK was, and that nonviolence alone makes change. To add insult to injury, schools then teach how the fight for racial equality is over. (At least that’s what I was taught. Maybe kids these days learn a little bit more.) Point is, MLK and Malcolm X put both of their strategies together. Violent and nonviolent resistance are both potentially effective weapons. You can’t ask the powers that be nicely to make change. You actually have to force it.

AllisonW
AllisonW
7 years ago

Agree, zarathustra. The modern American Left’s uncritical fetishisation of pacifism makes it virtually toothless and is really disheartening. I’ve actually been told that my feminism is more analogous to Malcolm X than MLK (simply in terms of my views on how to solve the problem; I’m certainly not important enough to be compared to either of them in terms of what they accomplished). At the time, I wondered if that meant I was going down the wrong path.

But these days, I think a serious social movement for equality really requires a Malcolm X as much as an MLK. One of them is the olive branch, and one of them is the teeth, and the two of them complement each other. You could compare it to the “good cop, bad cop” scenario that’s often referred to when the tactic is used by those in authority.

Orion
7 years ago

German and French police are way more tight-lipped than American police are. It may be a long time yet before they release the kind of report Americans would expect to have seen by now.

Aunt Edna
Aunt Edna
7 years ago

HuffPo has “What we know so far about Andreas Lubitz” compilation:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/28/germanwings-andreas-lubitz_n_6961378.html

One argument that speaks against Lubitz’ *premeditated* “blaze of glory” act of revenge on the world is lack of any manifesto, suicide note, etc. Grandiose suiciding mass murderers typically leave some document(s) and/or other traces of their “mission” for posterity to secure the full impact of their heinous act on the world. But (so far) there is no evidence that Lubitz planned it in any way, and the way the tragedy developed (or as he ensured that it developed) wiped out any definitive traces of his revenge motive (if that’s what it was).

There is then also an unfathomable, but real possibility that it could have been an impulsive, spur-of-the-moment act.

We’ll likely never know for sure; but it is true beyond reasonable doubt that such acts of mass murder-suicide are indeed driven by male rageful, aggrieved entitlement; and if Lubitz did commit this act deliberately as all indications suggest, that rageful desire to “get even” with the world for his real and imagined miseries had to be a motivating force.

I’d like to point out one other aspect of those events where aggrieved entitlement leads to mayhem: typically their perpetrators are members of socially privileged strata. The (usually young) men who commit these atrocities are white and at least middle class, raised in material comfort and with easy access to not only modern conveniences, but all kinds of opportunities, including those of possible professional help. We typically don’t see the working stiffs, who struggle to make ends meet and arguably could have genuine grievances against the unjust world, going on murderous-suicidal rampages.

Michael Kimmel and Cliff Leek called this phenomenon “the unbearable whiteness of suicide-by-mass-murder:”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-kimmel/the-unbearable-whiteness-_2_b_2350931.html

Jackie
Jackie
7 years ago

@Orion

Ah, yes. Thanks for that info.

@Aunt Edna

It would make more sense if there wasn’t a note. Isn’t suicide more of a spontaneous thing than a premeditated one? I’d imagine if he was going to commit suicide, he’d have a lot of time to think about things from home to the middle of a flight. It’s also likely that he didn’t premeditate killing all those people, either, in that case, but I’d honestly rather wait for police report. It’s possible he could have left a note or message or some kind that hasn’t been found yet.

I also think it’s a little too early to think of this as a guy as someone trying to take as many people as he can with him. For all we know, he could have just had been suddenly overwhelmed and wasn’t thinking clearly at the time, not that it makes it any better, but we barely know anything about this case. I think it would more prudent to analyze the manosphere and see how they react to the news for now. A post like this shouldn’t have been made until the police report comes out.

scalyllama
7 years ago
Reply to  Jackie

@Jackie

There are indeed many other possible explanations of the crash, but your examples are unlikely candidates.

In the case of Helios Airways Flight 52, the pilots became unconscious due hypoxia caused by lack of cabin pressure. The flight was on autopilot, which was not interfered with, and eventually crashed after running out of fuel. Completely different from from the Germanwings crash where the evidence so far indicates that the autopilot was deliberately tampered with.

I can’t find info on the other incident you mention, but a plane falling out of the sky is very different from a commanded descent, however rapid.

I’d also like to point out that this blog has been at the back of the pack with speculation, eschewing the initial bleatings of the Manosphere that he was an angry beta out for revenge. It’s only been with further information that Dave has turned in that direction. We also don’t buy the ‘madman’ hypothesis here. It is inaccurate, not to mention ableist.

scalyllama
7 years ago

Regarding suicide/death notes, some research indicates it is much more common for there to be no note at all. The figure is approximately 1 in 6 (note to no-note), in some studies, but apparently it varies depending on the culture. I can dig out the references if anyone’s interested (or you could look them up – the reading is fascinating).

I’m not sure if there’s much evidence on notes in the case of grandiose murder/suicide events. Since we don’t really know yet, it’s hard to say if we should expect a note or manifesto or not.

Jackie
Jackie
7 years ago

@scalyllama

I’m aware the blog hasn’t been speculating, which is why I’m critical of this post. It’s just that the article seems to have most of its information from an unreputable tabloid, if some poster are speaking true. I’m not sure it’s the right place to get information about Lubitz’s social life. I think it would be better if an actual police report came out rather than using a tabloid interview which may or may not have been skewed for readings, especial since “Bild has been described as ‘notorious for its mix of gossip, inflammatory language, and sensationalism’ and as having a huge influence on German politicians,” according to Wikipedia. (Which I guess you may also take with a grain of salt.)

That’s all I’m saying.

Ann Morgan
Ann Morgan
7 years ago

Well, you can thank Vox for all the male entitlement, as he does his utmost to convince men they are entitled to a supermodel who will put up with unlimitted sociopathic behavior. Unfortunately, such women come at a very high price, like the 6 million $$ Vox inherited from daddy, and absent that kind of money, a man who thinks he can behave like an asshole and still is entitled to a supermodel girlfriend, or ANY girlfriend -because Vox say so- is setting himself up for a very great disappointment.

lkeke35
lkeke35
7 years ago

What it sounds like is a perfect combo of the traits that describe some of the more extremes forms of narcissism. I’m not diagnosing him but the traits listed are some of the traits for that condition.

I’ve been seeing so many parallels lately between these kinds of men and the racists who inhabit Stormfront and the religious homophobes, too. They all have so many traits in common. They all long for some grand apocalypse, the only difference is that that some of them want race wars, instead of gender wars. Just like MRA’s they see race,sexuality expression and gender expression, as some zero sum game where, when PoC, gays or transgendered, gain anything, they insist on seeing it as a loss for themselves and constantly agitate and advocate for the destruction of anybody who aren’t straight, White and male.

In fact, although there are more a few Black MRAs and homophobes, the vast majority of these hateful people tend to be White and male, and I don’t know what to think about that factor. Was it always like that? Is this something new? Both groups even produce their lone wolves who go out to commit acts of violence, in an effort to make a point or foment that war they long for.

And yes, both groups have their female followers, who will do or say whatever it takes to win whatever scraps of approval that the adherents throw at them. They’re no different than the Uncle Toms/Tomisinas, who cozy up to racists, for a paycheck or approval, too. There’s a reason why people like that are treated with contempt. It’s normal to feel disgust for their behavior because they believe cozying up to the monsters of the world will make them immune and sadly and inevitably, the monster turns on them anyway. We know that’s what’s going to happen to them and we know that their delusions just put them in danger. They’re certainly to be pitied, if nothing else.

So many similarities between these groups, that the traits are almost interchangeable. The only difference is in the flavor of their hatred.

lkeke35
lkeke35
7 years ago

ETA: the above rant is not meant to be specifically applied to Andreas Lubitz but to MRAs in general.

GrumpyOldMangina
7 years ago

@ikeke: There does seem to be a very strong tendency for people who are bigots to be bigoted toward a wide spectrum of people. This group, which is overwhelmingly white hetero male, seems to feel that they are supposed to be lords of the universe and anything that women, blacks, hispanics, etc. get is directly stolen from their birthright. Anti-semitism is pretty common, too. In other words, it seems to be a general character dysfunction rather than a specific prejudice, if that makes sense.

Jarnsaxa
Jarnsaxa
7 years ago

“Germans are hardly (generally) renowned for compassionate honesty.”

Well, let’s definitely generalize an entire culture’s character rather than the character of a guy who flew a plane into a mountain. That’s lots better.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Are there two different Jackies? Because the Jackie comments with the blue green pattern don’t seem trollish, but the Jackie comment with the yellow green pattern does seem like a troll because there’s not all men stuff followed by sweeping generalizations about German people. Confused!

Jackie
Jackie
7 years ago

Yes, there’s two different Jackies. I try not be trollish…At least I’m pretty sure I’m not trolling when I post…maybe unintentionally in ignorance but not, like, on purpose. I’m not THAT much of an ass.

Also, my family comes from Germany and Russia, so, yeah, I wouldn’t be generalizing anyone, let alone a large chunk of my family.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

You weren’t the trollish Jackie, it’s the other one. To clarify.

dsfrogs
7 years ago

Someone in my writing group is writing a book about a guy who (in the twist ending) will murder his ex- girlfriend.
Someone else’s description was “good guy snaps”, and I just… 0_0

mildlymagnificent
7 years ago

But these days, I think a serious social movement for equality really requires a Malcolm X as much as an MLK.

I think it’s always been true. It certainly was for second wave feminists. Women in business suits, church-going matrons and Gloria Steinem types were much, much more acceptable to men and conservative women than the fearsome butch ladies in overalls with their No 2 buzzcuts and safety pin earrings or the sexual liberation raunchy types like Germaine Greer.

Made life for us fairly conventional middle-income unionists a whole lot easier with the spectre of those monsters lurking in the minds of the people we had to deal with.

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