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Kaptajn Bligh pskologisk set (side på engelsk)

Captain Bligh was a textbook case of a person with a paranoid personality disorder. In other words, he was moderately insane, albeit not entirely dysfunctional. The symptoms of this disorder were all evident in his behavior, even by his own accounts of the events: suspiciousness; the expectation of exploitation raising the need (in his mind) to be constantly on the defensive; doubting loyalty and fidelity; reading hidden meanings and overly complicated motives and intentions in trivial events; low self-esteem; feeling others are conspiring against him; and the belief that everyone else is unethical and conspiratorial. 

Paranoids are riddled with suspiciousness, and tend to find hostile and malevolent intentions behind trivial occurrences, such as the disappearance of a few coconuts from an abundant, replenishable supply. The crew might expect to be called “thieves” and “rascals”, that being their lot in life. However, the acting officers were there voluntarily, including Fletcher Christian, who in fact had signed on hoping Bligh could be a good mentor and teacher to him.  Unfortunately, a paranoid’s behavior is self-designed to prove their adequacy, and their sense of superiority becomes exaggerated and is accompanied by belittlement of others. Christian never had a chance of truly befriending Bligh or ever earning his respect.

Bligh was especially abusive of Christian. Paranoid tendencies are prone to develop among those who feel inferior because of a defect or handicap that make them feel noticeably different from their peers. Because Fletcher Christian was more educated, more handsome and attractive to the ladies of the island, and from a more ‘gentile’ class of society than Bligh was, the likelihood that Bligh would be envious of him was extreme. Bligh’s treatment of him as more like one of the crew than as an officer was his way of making clear that Christian was a mere subordinate as opposed to an equal, for a paranoid can have no equal owing to their constant fear of being usurped.

Bligh was intelligent and capable, another attribute of most paranoids, who are usually highly efficient and conscientious.  There is no doubt that he was a superior sea captain, he proved that with the accomplishment of the impossible 48-day trip from Tahiti to Timor in an overloaded small boat with only enough food and water for 5 days . Those circumstances called for a strict leader with a strong sense of order and discipline. His obvious stinginess and lack of compassion worked in their favor and helped them to survive the grueling trip. Nevertheless, Bligh’s actions prior to that life or death situation, on what could be considered an average, peaceful voyage by most standards, were the cause of his demise at the hands of Fletcher Christian and the mutineers.

It can be said that Christian’s actions were too extreme, that a stronger man could have borne the stress for the completion of the journey. Many a woman has sustained the abuse of a paranoid delusional in their marriages for a lot longer than the two years the voyage of the Bounty would have taken if all had gone well. Then it would have been a simple matter to have never signed on with Bligh again and leave it at that, as opposed to destroying the careers and lives of not only himself, but of all the men who accompanied him. Not to mention the grueling struggle to survive endured by the men put off the Bounty with Bligh. However, the hostile, suspicious attitudes of a paranoid bring about aggressive feelings or behavior, and even rejection by others. Considering the close quarters they were forced to live in, with no chance of even occasional escape from this tyrant during the voyage home, it may have felt to Christian it would have been just too much to bear. It must also be taken into consideration as well the attachment of Christian and other crew members had developed for their island women. After the paradise they had experienced during their stay on the island, the prospect of a 6 month journey filled with Bligh’s irrational abuse would be intolerable.

Paranoid personalities are characterized by projection of their own hostilities and conflicts onto others. Their fears of losing control and being seen as inferior often become self fulfilling prophecies, which seem to justify their original feelings, although they are unable to see their own roles in this cycle. Perhaps he had an abusive childhood, or perhaps he was born that way; this aspect of the man was not discussed in these texts. Whatever the cause, the resulting adult man known as William Bligh showed clear symptoms of mental disturbance.

Nordhoff, Charles and James Norman Hall. Mutiny on the Bounty. Boston: Back Bay Books, 2003.

Bligh, William and Edward Christian. The Bounty Mutiny. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

For specielt grafologisk intereserede er her Blights underskrift, der vist fortæller en del om hans personlighed:

Jeg har læst en lille bog om grafologi og man tyder meget simpelt, hvad der står direkte, altså:
Blight er en person der slutter som han begynder, han fører tingene til en nærmest pinefuld slutning, med en taktfasthed og en korrekthed, der må virke afskrækkende på hans omgivelser. Han er en praktisk mand uden de store ambitioner (ikke meget over bogstaverne - altså opstreger i bogstaverne l, i og h) udover en slavisk gennemførelse af ordrer og de ting han er sat til at varetage - disciplin er måske det rette ord. Det store bogstav B er "puttet ind", så han gør ikke et stort væsen af sig ligesom hans fornavn er "rimpet sammen" til noget næsten ukendeligt/anonymt. G'et har ingen fylde, hvilket traditionelt oversættes med, at han ikke har drifter, patos og lyst i sit liv - han må f.eks. have følt sit ægteskab, som mere en pligt end en drift.
Man lægger mærke til at understregningen er en fortsættelse af det sidste h, hvilket kan tydes, som at han fører ting til enden med "kors og stjerne på". Det passer med at han går helt ud i det afsindige for at korekse sin besætning, hvilket også er et spørgsmål for ham, om at bevare sin værdighed - han har ikke noget stort "over-jeg", der kan belønne ham, så han får kun "belønning" gennem gerninger og når han får ret. Han er en rigtig "Per-nittengryn", der bliver nødt til at få ret hele tiden, hvilket gør ham til en pertendlig beregner, men ikke nødvendigvis et behageligt menneske at snakke med.

Dette er min amatør-udlægning. Hvis det falder nogen for brystet, skal jeg gerne fjerne det igen.
Christian Bruun Borup



Sidst opdateret:  20:29 23/09 2014
 

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