Masculine Compensatory Fantasy

I have met a veteran who suffered from this…

This article is most interesting to read especially if you write about military history.

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Excerpt

The incidence of “wannabes” claiming to be veterans, war heroes, or members of elite military units has reached ridiculous proportions. Just a couple of months ago, I heard of two more cases of exposure of such fraud by men claiming to have been Vietnam-era SEALs; one in Naples, Florida, and the other in Mobile, Alabama. Many SpecOps veterans I have spoken to have their own favorite stories about these phonies, and I have even encountered a few cases myself.

 

10 thoughts on “Masculine Compensatory Fantasy

    1. I had never understood that well what motivated my air gunner to act the way he did. He fooled everyone and the worst part is that no one now can say they were duped.

  1. This is the first post on his blog. He stopped writing it in 2011…

    WARWRITING: Reading and writing for military buffs.
    War and military events have forged the entire history of humankind throughout the 50,000 years of our known existence. Despotism, cruelty, and oppression, democracy, politics, nationhood, exploration, religions, social development, the spread of tyranny, prejudice, pestilence, tolerance, and ideals, the evil of slavery and its abolition, advances in medicine, technology, science, and the arts — all came about as the result of warfare, and continue to do so.
    This is not said to glorify war; quite the contrary. Nobody detests the pain, horror, and wholesale deaths of combat more than do warriors themselves. Yet, over the past few decades, public understanding of the importance of military history to our society today has become so eroded as to be virtually non-existent, and the armed services have fallen into disrepute. This change has come about over the past 30 years, largely because study of history in general, and military history in particular, is no longer taught by most schools and universities in English-speaking countries. Whenever military issues ever do happen by chance to be raised in academe, teachers’ most common response is cliche-ridden scorn and pacifist distortion, born of their own personal lack of knowledge about actual political/military events of the past.
    Print and broadcast media are also dominated by the new dogma of ‘political correctness’ that rejects the validity of patriotism and the harsh lessons of history that has proved time and again the necessity of democratic nations sometimes needing to go to war to protect their very survival. Press pundits and television anchor-persons habitually show an almost laughable ignorance of the historical background of the countries, conflicts, or disasters they gravely purport to be explaining. They rarely offer any historical perspective, but instead often perpetuate the widespread simple ignorance of past events that has brought about a sort of naive expectation of permanent universal peace.
    Seldom mentioned now in the halls of academe or by TV and newspapers, is that the very freedom we enjoy in Western countries today was bought at the human cost of millions of men and women who fought and died to defeat oppressive regime. As a military historian myself, who has researched and written about military affairs for many years, I believe that more widespread understanding of the role of warfare in world history is the best possible weapon in the struggle for world peace.
    From time to time, I intend to write on this ‘blog’ about the enjoyment and benefits of studying and writing military history, with excerpts from my own books and those of other authors. I intend this site to develop and grow gradually, with added helpful information about writing and reading military books, articles, theses, movie scripts, and Web sites. As part of a collective process, I cordially welcome comments from like-minded visitors about the topic and any other suggested readings in military history they care to share here.
    Best Regards.
    — Sidney Allinson.

  2. A sailor from our town interviewed by the local newspaper told in great detail how he ran around to help put fires out the night Athabaskan sunk! A sailor from out west who was onboard that night, knew the man in question. He called him up and of course the man fessed up about not really being there that night. He was a seaman with Athabaskan but was on leave when she left Plymouth on her final mission. He was not the only one, according to several survivors, who claimed they were there. Perhaps it was a sense of guilt to fabricate such statements, or just plain old attention seeking.
    Sherry Pringle

    1. Glad to see your comment Sherry.
      I know some would feel guilty and made up stories they truly believed once they started telling it their own way.
      But I think this writer makes a good point. I have met a veteran who did all that he says in the article. This veteran got caught in his own fantasy. People went along, and this became a BIG public relations frenzy.

  3. Hi Pierre,
    Can you tell me where I can get a copy of my father’s service records and discharge papers. He serviced in the navy and his name is Francis Rene Harbour and served on the destroyers.
    Thanks
    Cliff Harbour

  4. This is a very interesting problem and I can see from the article that there are likely to be multiple causes that attract people to impersonate the brave and the famous. In my own experience, certain forms of Fronto-Temporal-Dementia (FTD) can result in similar, and very convincing, fantasies. These sufferers can become increasingly the heroes of all the big stories. Usually there is some real link in their lives to the people in question, but later in the disease these stories become total fantasy.

  5. Just in case his blog vanishes…

    Monday, January 17, 2011
    Masculine Compensatory Fantasy
    The incidence of “wannabes” claiming to be veterans, war heroes, or members of elite military units has reached ridiculous proportions. Just a couple of months ago, I heard of two more cases of exposure of such fraud by men claiming to have been Vietnam-era SEALs; one in Naples, Florida, and the other in Mobile, Alabama. Many SpecOps veterans I have spoken to have their own favorite stories about these phonies, and I have even encountered a few cases myself.

    Last summer, my wife and I fell into casual conversation with a young man in a London restaurant, who within minutes proceeded to tell us wildly improbable tales of his purported adventures while serving with Britain’s elite Special Air Services Regiment. This pathetic fantasist did not even know that members of the SAS are under orders never to publicly reveal they are even members of the regiment, much less ever reveal details of operations in which they took part. His ignorant naivete is typical of these individuals who in their own rational minds surely must know that their stories will inevitably be disbelieved or challenged, but something in their psyches compels them to continue living their imaginary martial lies.

    What kind of psychological make-up causes some individuals to claim to be what they never were? It is all the more puzzling when most of these men are highly respectable in their fields of endeavour. For example, I read of two regular US Navy lieutenants who falsely (and stupidly) wore the SEAL badge in the company of genuine SEAL officers. Similarly, a naval reserve captain, who was successful in civilian life and who commanded a large reserve unit in California, was caught wearing unauthorized SEAL insignia, when challenged, averred that he was entitled to wear it. Only when confronted by his commanding admiral did he finally remove the device.

    Such individuals surely must know that their stories will inevitably be challenged, but something in their psyches compels them to continue living their lies. What kind of psychological make-up causes some individuals to claim to be heroic or members of elite units? It is all the more puzzling when most of these men are quite respectable in their real-life fields of endeavour. For example, two regular US Navy lieutenants were exposed as frauds when they stupidly (and falsely) wore the SEAL badge in the company of genuine SEAL officers. Similarly, a naval reserve captain, who was highly successful in civilian life and who commanded a large reserve unit in California, was caught wearing the same badge of the elite to which he was not entitled, and, when challenged, claimed that he was entitled to wear it. Only when confronted by his commanding admiral did he finally remove the insignia. The most tragic example is that of US Navy Admiral Boorda, who foolishly and improperly wore the “V” for Valour badge on his Vietnam Service ribbon. He was inevitably exposed, causing this otherwise splendid officer so much shame that he took his own life.

    In my attempt to understand the psychological functioning of individuals who impersonate SEALs or similar special warriors, I read about a clinical psychologist in Maryland who reviewed the psychological and psychiatric literature on the impostor phenomenon. The doctor considered that individuals who impersonate heroic or admirable others can be found suffering from many forms of mental illness. The most disturbed of these are suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and they have a fixed belief that they are somehow someone else greater than themselves.

    There are also those who have “bipolar disorder,” a condition in which the individual develops a grandiose sense of self. I also learned that sufferers of narcissistic personality disorders take on the roles of idealized persons to further their sense of superiority. All too often, this occurs in the cases of qualified SpecOps personnel who grossly exaggerate their combat prowess, just to satisfy some deep-rooted longing for recognition.

    The doctor also discussed individuals who have personality dysfunction, the most damaging of which is anti-social personality disorder Anyone suffering from this disorder assumes the role of some heroic figure for reasons of personal gain or to exploit somebody for financial or emotional gain. These individuals are the most reprehensible of the phonies.

    I learned that a very common theme among impostors is low self-esteem. This disturbance in their sense of self leads them to create ever-more-intricate webs of lies and fantasies in order to make themselves feel more important. This is a condition known as pseudologia fantastica. When the individual takes this web of lies and begins mixing it into reality, e.g., dressing as a Green Beret, Paratrooper wings, or wearing a SEAL badge, it is referred to as the “impostor phenomenon.”

    Often, especially when it relates to impersonating members of Special Operations Forces, the individual is engaging in a so-called “masculine compensatory fantasy. All SEALs, Special Forces soldiers, Rangers, Commandos, Marines, and similar renowned combat units represent the very epitome of masculinity. This is why SpecOps personnel are the frequent objects of impersonation. For many, these perceived-to-be-elite personnel are the fantasized optimal persons that an impostor wishes to be.

    Posturing by false warriors has become so prevalent, it has become the focus of clinical study, revealing how such impersonators tend to feel grossly inadequate. Individuals with very low self-esteem and a lack of sense of identity could easily seduce themselves step-by-step over the course of time into a belief that they are the fantasized superior warriors of our era. Those with low self-esteem, who genuinely need our compassion, are a far cry from those deceitful anti-social individuals who prey on trusting and unsuspecting individuals for the purpose of exploiting them financially and/or emotionally. It is these anti-social personalities who impersonate members of the SpecOps community who do the greatest damage to the trust America and Britain place in that brotherhood.

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