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The death of Sophie Hingst

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 27th, 2019 at 05:41:47 PM EST

Derek Scally, Irish Times Berlin Correspondent, has written a sensitive article about a 31 year old German woman and blogger who studied for her Doctorate in Trinity College Dublin, and worked for Intel in Leixlip near Dublin. She died suddenly last week, apparently by her own hand, a few weeks after Der Spiegel published an exposé highlighting her invention of 22 Holocaust victims, many of them supposedly in her own family.

I have written a letter to the Editor in response:

Well done to Derek Scally for his sensitive article on the death of Sophie Hingst following her exposure as a fantasist by the German periodical, Der Spiegel. (The life and tragic death of Trinity graduate and writer Sophie Hingst, News, Jul 27, 2019).

If Sophie had been a journalist providing copy for Der Spiegel, their zeal in exposing her falsehoods would have been understandable, especially in the wake of the Claas Reloitius scandal where their correspondent had largely invented 14 supposedly factual features for Der Speigel. But the reality is she was a private blogger hurting no one but her self and those who cared for her.

I suppose (Holocaust memorial organisation) Yad Vashem would also have had cause for complaint had her invention of 22 Holocaust victims, many in her family, provided ammunition for Holocaust deniers. But as Derek Scally makes clear, it didn't take a clinical psychiatrist to divine she was a troubled women in need of help, not exposure. As it is, Der Spiegel could be giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis who claim that stories of Nazi atrocities are much exaggerated.

With a good job in Intel in Ireland she had her life in front of her if she could have accepted therapeutic intervention and perhaps some public embarrassment. But it seems her whole persona had become so completely wrapped up in her "alternate reality" she could envisage no other life. Her family and friends will be devastated. Our sympathies go to them.

Blogging as an art form can embrace many genres, from citizen journalism to outright fantasy and fiction. It appears her work veered towards the latter end of the spectrum. Her only fault was to identify herself with one of her characters so completely she could no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction. Perhaps in her world, her death was just the end of a chapter. She may even be right.

But it falls to us to write the next chapter.

Mental illness is a scourge which has blighted the lives of many an individual and family and the available therapeutic and medical interventions all too often don't seem adequate or even appropriate. Many of us have active fantasy lives and the border between fact and fiction can sometimes become blurred. Who can write revealingly about the politics of De Pfeffel or Trump without being able to enter their fantasy lives, and without realizing that the facts often seem to matter much less than the fantasy.

Politics is often about the collision of rival fantasy worlds with each other and with reality, and even that "reality" is socially constructed around the experiences of many. Yes, objective realities may intrude, but the ways in which they are perceived depends very much on who is doing the perceiving and for what purpose.

Sophie Hingst may have felt a need to identify with the victims of Nazi atrocities and to distance herself from the perpetrators. Who knows what dark secrets may lie in her family's past and certainly Germany itself is still trying to deal with a legacy of war guilt. But we also have to try to transcend our own origins and deal with the challenges of today in a more constructive way. There is a role for fantasy and fantasists in re-imagining history and what it must have been like to live through that reality. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them.

It is a lesson another famous journalistic fact falsifier, one Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson and his followers would do well to learn. Brexit may indeed become as a very painful therapeutic intervention.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 27th, 2019 at 06:01:33 PM EST
Yes, except that psychopathic narcissists like that don't care if their facts are falsified and so will never whack themselves as a result.  Someone needs to do the whacking for them.
by rifek on Mon Jul 29th, 2019 at 03:19:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Der Spiegel has published a short account of her death (in German).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 28th, 2019 at 01:33:15 AM EST
Sophie Hingst: Trinity College Dublin, Department of History, Graduate Student

A new article in the German Der Tagesspeigel  ...

Marie Sophie Hingst is not an isolated case:

Vom prekären Begehren, "jüdisch" zu sein

As a "Wilkomirski syndrome", a pertinent publication referred to cases in which the urge to be a Jewish victim or related to victims is so strong that it leads to misunderstanding and twisting of reality, and may end in illusions such as those of Sophie Hingst. The title refers to Bruno Dösseker, who in 1995 as Binjamin Wilkomirski published the imaginary story of a Jewish child who had survived ghettos and camps when his writings first succeeded with his book "Fragments" until it was revealed that not a word was true. Rather, he had, according to the experts, exaggerate his suffering as an adopted child and seek revenge for what he has suffered.

[Google translation - some links added are mine - Oui]

Binjamin Wilkomirksi's account of his childhood was published in 1995 ...

The Boy Who Had Two Lives | The Independent - June 6, 1999 |

by Oui on Sun Jul 28th, 2019 at 06:37:30 PM EST
[TCD Academics] Seminar Plan:

Marie Sophie Hingst, Reading Group: "Reading Franz Kafka:
An approach towards an (Un-)Familiar Author"

"The name Franz Kafka the familiar portrait of a neurotic, hypochondriac writer, who was able to make a problem out of absolutely everthing and died shortly before his forty-first birthday. He left an oeuvre that resembles rather a large jig-saw puzzle, open for manifold forms of interpretation. Some claim all has been said already, other find nothing has been said at all about this author. We want to meet the middle and look at a selection of well-known and unknown texts of Kafka to discuss the role of the "national" and "trauma" in his work and contrast them with those of other writers."

1.   "Are you a Jew? Identities. Questions and Answers."  ( 05.08.2015)
      "Sind Sie Jude?" Identitäten. Fragen und Antworten."

Text: Franz Kafka  to Milena, 30. 05. 1920, in: ibid. Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena,
London 1953, pp. 40-43, letter from June 1920, pp. 36f: letter July 1920, pp. 64-66.

Text: Franz Kafka an Milena, 30.05. 1920, in: Ebd., Briefe an Milena, Frankfurt am
Mein (1986) , S. 24-28, Brief June 1920, S. 134-141

by Oui on Sun Jul 28th, 2019 at 10:06:11 PM EST
A follow-up ...

Marie Sophie Hingst: TCD Fellow @JNU in Delhi

The texts we read included Kafka's letters to Milena Jesenská, Abstracts from "The Castle" and various short stories among them: "A Hunger Artist" and "The Great Wall of China". The questions raised in the discussions connected the world of the early twentieth century Prague with the twenty-first century New-Delhi. We contrasted Kafka's search for identity with our very own examination of individuality in a post-colonial society .Kafka's texts soon became the fundament to discuss political issues. We approached with the texts in our hands one of the most challenging subjects of the Indian society; the status of women. Kafka, the most subtle author of violence provided us with a vocabulary to approach the traumatic experience of the body. Gestures such as shaking hands with members of the opposite sex, clapping or whistling, kissing in public or not, were interpreted in political terms. Alienation, peer pressure and the questions of religion, caste, gender and class were connected directly with literature. The categories themselves were attached to everyday life experience.

[Reference: TCD SPeCTReSS ]

Kafka - Too Short A Story
Trauma: An Essay on Jewish Guilt
Berlin exhibit highlights how the Nazis exploited Martin Luther's legacy

Sophie Hingst was born in Wittenberg (East-Germany), the city of Martin Luther. East Germany finally embraces Luther [NY Times - 1983]

    Rudolf was Marie Sophie's grandfather. Starting in 1956, he worked as a pastor in the Friedrichstädter congregation in the city Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
by Oui on Sun Jul 28th, 2019 at 10:07:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Case of Sophie H. is an abnormal psych case.
You've little to no idea how to remedy "abnormal psych" (a/ka/a neurology), possibly symptomatic dissociative behavior which harms oneself or others. What criteria of (ab)normal psych --a/k/a rational--behavior remains to be agreed as "preponderance" of human industry--socially (un)acceptable artifacts also known as "culture".

I'm reminded by Case of Sophie H. of past and presnt controversy in public discourse arising from the question, "Who is a jew?", arising from  eurocentric academic epistemology c. 1700 classifying race "science" (Bernal, Vol I-III, bibliography). Poor, Sophie H., struggling to reconcile "ego" and "superego" archetypes of "the good life" in oneself, prescribed by the ones-who-cannot-be-named authors of secular fiction, 4th cen BCE to present. Achieving equibrium would hard werk for anyone relying on "expert" guidance to a psychological "norm", dependencies on dominance of "id" in human relations. P > R - C: privatizing profits and all that melodrama.

Having warned his reades against the dangers of analogy ("it behooves us to be very careful"), 17  Freud proceeded to the confidant elaboration of the most dangerous, "the only really statisfactory analogy': that between individual and society: "Individual Psychology is from the very first the same as Social Psychology," Freud announced. 18 [General Psychological Theory, Theories on paranoia, masochism, repression, melancholia, the unconscious, the libido, and other aspects of thehuman psyche, anthology: MacMillan, 1963, p 17]
Nadie es libre.

People are what they eat. They are what they've learned --but for genomic determination hidden in the "we." BTDT. California Cohort of Petty Landlords could not answer the question, Who is a jew? any more than they can answer "Who is a black or African American,"  or "Who is native or indegenous," or "Who is Asian," given even historical, documentented, authoritative schema establishing public and private regard for legitimate issue of patrimony --rarely alluded to citienship-- which they know and love so well:
Karl Lueger (1844-1910), well before the "final solution"
9. General Boulanger and Captain Dreyfus (1894-1906), well before the "final solution"

Poor Sophie H. From whom was she hiding?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jul 31st, 2019 at 07:00:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What coincdence.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jul 31st, 2019 at 07:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to modern urinalism...er...journalism: breathless bullshit; if it bleeds, it leads.
by rifek on Mon Jul 29th, 2019 at 03:16:59 AM EST
The author of the original Spiegel report has replied.

Why the Spiegel had to report on the Marie Sophie Hingst case - Martin Doerry

The death of the historian Marie Sophie Hingst moves me day and night ... Was it right and necessary to report on the young woman and her lies?

... A historian, a lawyer, an archivist and a genealogist had independently disovered discrepancies... After Ms Hingst had reacted to calls to remove those stories with indignation and aggressively, two notable historians were asked to intervene - without success. Eventually, I was informed because I had published a similar case, the story of the con man Wolfgang Seibert...

... She reacted to my criticisim confidently and in a focused way, and defended herself with skillful rhetoric. At the end I gave her a detailed catalogue of questions to give her a chance to comment in writing. Which she didnt use. If [she] had publicly corrected her lies the article would not have been published in that form.

... Derek Scally visited [her] a week after publication... He paints the portrait of a confused helpless person that clinged to her fake Jewish family history. He claims that I had overlooked her catastrophic psychological state. What he overlooks is that before the article, Ms Hingst was in no way desperate and despondent but confident, fierce, and determined. He only met her when her fictional identity had broken down. We met the same person but under two very different life circumstances.

... the quote that she felt as if she had been "skinned alive" by the Spiegel was seen as proof of mental cruelty. The fact that [she] had systematically spread lies about her ancestors having been murdered during the Holocaust ... was often seen as a slight sin or wasnt discussed at all.

But her made-up stories must have been regarded by the real Holocaust survivors and their families as a mockery of the victims. Also, these fictions give Holocaust deniers dangerous arguments. ... I am disturbed that I have to point this out repeatedly. And I'm also irritated by some comments that licentiously refer to my grandmother Lilli who was actually murdered in Auschwitz. The innuendo being: that man is a bit to sensitive when it comes to this topic. But perhaps especially those Germans who didn't lose family in the Holocaust should be particularly sensitive in such cases.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Aug 5th, 2019 at 12:05:19 AM EST
A good riposte. I don't think there is much fault on any side here. Neither reporter is a psychologist or psychiatrist and their primary responsibility is to publish the story as they see it, not to take responsibility for her psychological state, which, in any case, seems to have changed rather dramatically as the story unfolded.

If news publications were to hold off publishing every story because to do so might cause pain and anguish to confidence tricksters and fraudsters then very few might get published. The public good lies in the publication of the truth and the private psychological health of those exposed is a separate issue.

Sophie had options and she chose not to take the better ones. Short of some court ordering her detention in a psychiatric hospital, little could have been done to prevent this. Family and friends will be wondering if they could have done more, but few might have known how troubled she was under a confident and successful exterior. The case is best consider a personal tragedy rather than public issue with huge implications for journalistic integrity and media intrusion.

No harm was intended, and without a full coroners report we don't know the exact circumstances of her death. Many suicides are cries for help gone wrong. In hindsight some might have done things differently, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Aug 5th, 2019 at 11:49:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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