Binsar and Irene: You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

One thing to remember in dealing with sociopaths like Luke Preece or Binsar Simorangkir is that there is a mask or persona which lies over the true self. One of the best fictional treatments of this bizarre duality which sociopaths present is the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by the Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1886). In that novel the Dr. Jekyll seems to be an upright pillar of society but he has an evil alter ego, Mr Hyde, who is a cruel and violent man, driven by insane compulsions. The novella’s impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase Jekyll and Hyde coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.

Now the novel is meant as an allegory. It can’t be taken too literally. After all, Jekyll takes a magic ‘potion’ to cause the transformation in the text. But it has psychological depth and it has become a byword for anyone whose moral behavior is radically different from one situation to the next. It can be read as an allegory for ‘moral insanity’, which was the 19th century term for sociopath personality disorder. It is worth noting that unless the sociopath receives treatment for the condition when it first manifests just after adolescence (Luke Preece first knocked his father unconscious at 15 years of age he told us) it is likely to prove incurable.

You will note that the sociopath does maintain a ‘Dr Jekyll’ face however to try and fool the world. This face is usually conventional and they create an image that tries to replicate a nice, respected member of the community. Luke Preece used to trumpet how much he cared about teachers at the same time as Mr. Hyde- oh I mean Luke himself- was writing scathing emails about Matthew and Colm to HR calling them ‘idiots’, ‘little school girls’ and accusing them of being ‘unstable’ with a vendetta against the school manager. The outer face is of the kind, caring, concerned manager clashes sharply with the nasty back-stabber who is the real Preece. Similarly Preece was a crawling sycophant to Mariam’s face at the same time as he rubbished her behind her back to every other manager who didn’t like her (which was almost all of them.)

You will find similar Jekyll and Hyde traits in Binsar, the manager of TBI Bekasi. He has posted hundreds of pictures online of him basking in the sunlight on the beach with his family or heading off to church on Sunday morning. The expat teachers who have had the misfortune to work for him tell us that he also parades his family out as a sign of what a good guy he is.

Here are my wife and kids. You can trust me, I’m a family man,” he seems to imply.

But then we get into the nasty stuff. Binsar uses his own child as a spy in the classroom and the teachers fear teaching that class because the child runs stories back to Daddy. Irene’s wife also works in the school and is another pair of eyes and ears for Binsar. Student assistants come and go mysteriously, sometimes complaining of receiving ‘special tickles’ from Binsar. There are rumors of an arrest for inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. Binsar doesn’t pay promised airfares or reneges on a promise to pay THR. He makes a pariah out of any teacher who criticizes him and shouts at Indonesian teachers in meetings. Further back, in the really bad old days before this blog, death threats were common and he paid only half the promised wage.

So which is the real Binsar? The church-going family man who smiles for the camera or the abusive, foul bully and cheat with a reputation for threatening and intimidating teachers? It is the second one of course. It is the Mr. Hyde face which is the true one. The first one is just a mask aimed at fooling the world.

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