Mohammed al-Sanduk

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) may be the first to have dealt with the castration complex in a logical, scientific manner. According to Freud’s theory on the issue of incest the father becomes the reminder of intellectual castration, and Freud applied this to himself by considering himself intellectually sterile and that he personally was the one that had imposed upon himself this sterility [1].

As for the term ‘intellectual castration’ or ‘intellectual sterilization’ as a societal impact, this appeared first in the 1864 work Woman and her social relationships on the occasion of the revision of the Italian Civil Code by the Italian author Anna Maria Mozzoni (1837-1920) as a result of her treatment of the negative influence of Italian society upon the woman.[2]

Arab-Islamic societies suffer from severe intellectual disabilities on the societal, and not the individual, level

By intellectual castration we mean the depriving of the intellectually castrated person of the ability to think logically, and thus of a logical intellectual productiveness capable of altering reality in a direction beneficial to mankind and his society. In order for the castration process to take place there needs to be a radical change made in the construction of the castrated person's mode of thinking. The process of intellectual and social castration is an ideologized process carried out by the community in order to contain its members within a specific mindset which it can control and direct towards its ideological prerequisites. Among the features of the intellectually castrated social personality are the following:

  • The individual possesses no individual dimensions since it is dissolved into its social environment which does not encourage individuality. The annulment and dissolution of the individual personality within the social, ideologized, religious or tribal infrastructure. It is thus perpetually in need of a mentor or guide for continuous guidance;
  • It is incapable is of thinking logically, whether intellectually or scientifically, and is dependent upon sequential narrative to establish the arguments;
  • It may be easily made to reject beliefs and its convictions in the direction of the prevailing social model (the prevailing social education is stronger than the schools’ intellectual training);
  • It may be easily contained and socially steered by the thought directed towards it;
  • It is incapable of perceiving the contradiction between scientific logic and metaphysical thought. It considers them to be two separate modes that can be handled together in unison. This pattern has emerged recently following the entering of contemporary scientific thought into these communities;
  • The aim of the intellectually castrated researcher is to arrive at the conclusion he requires, that is prepared for beforehand, and thus the capacity for innovation scientific production vanishes.

At the societal level one of the most prominent features of this intellectual incapacity is the community's inability to yield any science or spawn intellectual elites capable of steering social thought. Such a community is able to employ logic to solve social problems and cope with nature and the environment. Having the necessary material infrastructure does not necessarily mean possessing the capacity to overcome intellectual castration, for we could say that this phenomenon is not related to primitive societies which do not possess the basic material structures. Primitive societies do not fundamentally suffer from ideological domination as a principle reason for their backwardness. Primitive societies do not suffer from handicap of intellectual castration, so the path to development remains open to them, and more easily undertaken than communities that suffer from this intellectual disability.

Al-Maʽarrī: no longer able to see the intellectual and cultural decline, courtesy of Jabhat al-Nusra, 2013.

I have previously observed the regression of Arab-Islamic scientific productivity by employing a statistical method[3] between the years 2009 and 2012 and I ascribed this to intellectual constrictions[4] which emerged after the 10th century and in 2011 Robert Reilly coined the term ‘Intellectual Suicide’ concerning this phenomenon.[5] In late 2015 Eric Chaney, a professor at Harvard University, presented a statistical study of Arab and Muslim authors.[6] His was a study entirely independent of those previously mentioned, but to a large extent came to the same conclusions I had previously published. All these attempts leave no room for doubt that Arab-Islamic societies suffer from severe intellectual disabilities on the societal, and not the individual, level.

Intellectual productivity in Arab Islamic societies began to retreat centuries ago (around the 10th century AD) as a result of the process of an intellectual castration whose basic aim was to combat mental logic. The fight against mental logic is an extremely dangerous process, particularly if targeted towards reconstructing the social mindset. This process worked in favour of the Salafi ideology relying upon the Text to the exclusion of intellectual logic. Over time, the distancing from mental logic increased adherence to a prevailing closed-off religious mindset. This is what took place when Islamic thought, from about the 10th century on, was reconstituted towards a formation that has continued along the path of reconstructing Arab-Islamic societies until reaching the form that we see today.

It may be possible to diagnose the point when the social impact of this intellectual handicap in Arab-Muslim societies began by exploring the sentiments expressed in the 10th century by the Arab poet Abū al-ʽAlā al-Maʽarrī (973-1057 AD). Al-Maʽarrī was a contemporary of this period that saw the beginning of the intellectual and cultural decline. He distinguished two important factors: ignorance, and society’s acceptance of that ignorance, to the point where ignorance became widespread and socially accepted. Rampant ignorance subsequently impacted the individual within that society, as al-Maʽarrī observed:

When I saw ignorance rife among folk, I was ignored or seen as a fool,

A wonder! – That delinquents aplenty claim merit;

Alas! – That many a worthy is held lacking!

Al-Maʽarrī thus demonstrates the process whereby society was rendered ignorant and the means by which, since the 10th century, intellectual incapacity was created.

Intellectual castration at  present is carried out with the utmost smoothness via everyday social education

The process of intellectual castration at the present time is carried out with the utmost smoothness via everyday social education in the home, in places of worship and in schools which inculcate rote-learning, indoctrination and repetition, instead of teaching deduction, logical thought, the search for the new and intellectual criticism. The dangers inherent in this style of teaching lies in the difficulty of combating it or reducing its impact. It is, firstly, a prevailing social pattern and one deeply set in the social character; secondly, it is a smooth pattern that requires no intellectual effort or any specific level of culture; thirdly, it is a mindset deeply rooted in society and about ten centuries in the making.

Contemporary intellectual castration transforms the social individual into an obedient puppet driven by one who is authorised to conduct its movements via modern means of communication, and this has a major social impact that exceeds all bounds. There is no doubt that intellectual castration and the inability to accept modernity is one of the most important reasons for the sense of violent chronological alienation,[7] which has led, and leads still, to extremely odd behavioural regressiveness and frustration on both the local and global societal levels.


[1] E. M. Jones, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior, Ignatius Press, 1993, p.230.

[2] K. Mitchell, Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910, University of Toronto Press, 2014.

[3] Sanduk, M. ,The Influence of Freedom on Growth of Science in Arabic-Islamic and Western Civilizations, 2009, http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/4766/ and Sanduk M, Growth of science under the influence in Arabic-Islamic and Western Civilisations, 700-1900 (Statistical Models), Pittsburgh University, Philosophy of Science Archive, 2012 http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/9012 .

[4] M. I. Sanduk, Intellectual distortion and societal suicide, Almuslih.org.

[5] Reilly R, The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis, Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1st Edition (April 4, 2011).

[6] Chaney E., Religion and the Rise and Fall of Islamic Science, December 2015,      http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/chaney/files/science_12_10_2015.pdf?m=1452366555 .

[7] M. Sanduk, Contemporary Islamic thought and chronological alienation, Almuslih.org.

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Arab-Islamic societies suffer from severe intellectual disabilities on the societal, and not the individual, level.

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