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Dispatches from Clio's History





me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 10


Hi, I thought I'd introduce myself. 

I'm Patrick McEvoy-Halston. I've been reading DeMause's work for years, and its influenced my writings on literature and film. DeMause deals with material that is tough, very tough, to associate with progressives. The history part of what he's done is being brought up again -- the idea that societies have been progressing -- but those liberals advocating it, like Steven Pinker (whom as a progressive I actually do not trust), are careful not to suggest that human beings have been improving, becoming biologically superior, and this seems to have been sufficient to prevent it from rankling. 

This is of course what DeMause asserts, that childrearing has been improving across time, as mothers give their children more love than they received, leading to people who are objectively superior -- in his view, the liberal reader of the New Yorker is a thousand times more emotionally evolved than the New Guinea tribesman/woman. It is hard to imagine this flying today as a prospect worth exploring in any meeting of decent people. So too his explanations for the origins of autism, homosexuality ... and overall his focus on the mother as the central factor on whether peoples are peaceful or violent. 

I don't know how much work can be done on his theories today -- collectively our brains may just be too set on seeing it as rightwing --  but I'm hoping it's being done, which is why I joined this list. DeMause's thoughts have changed over time -- his first works talk a lot about the importance of the fetus's journey, something experienced by us all, but later becomes just another "extension" upon which the influence of the mother, how depressed or how loved she was, is explored. I'd love if work was being done that noted how his thoughts have changed, and whether they've decided that his later work is more to be trusted (my view). If someone actually showed how his work could be improved, where his theories fail, in a way that convinced me, I'd be delighted. I've read many challenges, but admit I see it as regression, perhaps because looking at his work straight means incurring your own mother's wrath/abandonment, as it means you're clearly not prepared to lie to help her save face either, nor efface and co-opt to gain her approval.

If you're interested in seeing some of the work I've done, writing about literature, feel free to explore it here: 



My current writings, my writings on film, are found here: http://patricksjustincasesite.blogspot.ca

Thanks for your time. I'll be lurking, respectfully. But as a finish, a thought: if one is DeMausian psychohistorian, you really can't in good conscience advocate the study of history. You go back in time, you're dealing with people who were raised with less warmth, and from whom you have little to learn -- they're a study of depravity. If it doesn't worsen you, it's less time spent with those who could have improved you.

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drwargus



Feb 11



Lloyd's childrearing stages also create different mindsets and worldviews in the children. The more the abuse, the more primitive the empathy and overall cognition. When the child reaches puberty, he/she begins to look at the world and ask: "where do I fit in? What opportunities does the world offer for me?" Societal status effects that vision. Privileged children have more opportunities than those from Ferguson Missouri.

Cognitive dissonance can set in when some strict, rigid parenting sets up a worldview in the children that does not match reality. My feeling is that ISIS is just such a response. There is no room in "their perceived outside world" for their religion, their beliefs, their culture, their future, and ultimately their egos. (It is analagous in our country when a fundamentalist hears about evolution, or the right to life movement clashes with unwanted pregnancies, or freedom of religion clashes with nuns who brandish yardsticks.)  There is simply no cognitive space for this outside world in their egocentric minds. They sense that they are being attacked and the only thing that they know how to do is fight back. People thus regress into very primitive and tribal defense mechanisms.

One of my few criticisms of Lloyd's work is that he tries to explain everything on the basis of psychology. Parenting (nurture) effects DNA (nature), but once the damage is done via child abuse, the environment is excluded. The damaged psyches are not subject to environment anymore. Wars are restaged traumas, period. No room is made for life conditions (like poverty, access to resources, etc.) that are constantly changing. PH thus becomes static as opposed to dynamic.

Bill


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 11



Hey Bill. Yeah, that is essentially his view. If one agrees with him, he's not so much static as he is sticking to the point. Pointlessly straying less, he encourages fertile explorations of the relationship between mother and child in the first few years of life. 

I'm sure you've read his criticism of the environment as an explanation for historical change. He shows some pretty exciting ways in which harsh environments -- the kind we'd expect to have a major influence on a person ... such things as fighting in wars, living in denying terrains -- are ones we actually choose to be in, if we've emerged out of certain childhoods. It's interesting -- ballsy-- and helpful, because such is the command now of "environment" -- poverty, PTSD, geopolitical "shaming"  -- as a factor, one mentions someone's dismissing it and you've obligated that person outside of serious consideration. 

Personally, it matches up. Your brain develops in the countless interactions with your mother (or mother and father, if, like, I'm sure all of us, we came out reasonably progressive families, where the father was also present and involved), with most of that happening early. If I was rich, the charities I would donate to would be those that would ensure the early contact between mother and child was assisted as much as possible. Reducing poverty is of course going to help that, but I'd want caregivers in to assist the mother's interacting with the child, with no thought of leaving until the first few years were done.  

And about your first paragraph, I would like to mention that Lloyd's view, concerning those whose childhoods were as adverse as terrorists, is that that attitude, "what does the world offer me?," is shut down mostly by the young adult him/herself ... s/he feels in attending to and thinking primarily of him/herself, s/he's now outside his/her mother's approval and love -- has been completely abandoned by her -- and backs away immediately. What's particularly awful about an austerity-world that shuts down opportunity is it means that more emotionally evolved people, who could make so much of their adult life, are getting strangled ... something regressing adults who are sacrificing them, are at some level pleased by. 

Anyway, that's a couple long posts from me today, so I'll leave it at that. 

Patrick


dr.bobstern



Feb 11



"Cognitive dissonance can set in when some strict, rigid parenting sets up a worldview in the children that does not match reality."

Same could probably be said about childrearing that goes to the other extreme.  That is, children who expect to automatically be rewarded by the world consistent with the training nexus they experienced as young'uns:  they got "self-esteem" trophies for merely breathing.

Some "privileged" kids -- with all those choices and resources -- can become famously dysfunctional.

I've also noticed that some children who were raised in less rigidly religious homes have gone on to become far more rigid and "observant" adults than their parents.

Are any of the observations about childrearing outcomes in relation to terrorism -- especially cross-culturally -- borne out by any controlled statistical studies?

Bob

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Alice Maher



Feb 4



Do psychohistorians have anything to offer as the world struggles to understand recent events? (Yes!!)  Can we put the emergence and behavior of ISIS in historical and psychodynamic contexts in a way that offers new insights and has the potential to be useful?  

If we can come together and do that, perhaps Clio or representatives of the IPA could write an article for a major publication….?


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 11




DeMause would see ISIS as just another example of a people who've had it with societal growth. Not a geopolitical phenomena, but a childrearing one, where people who were rejected early by their unloved, immature caretakers, people who understood early that self-growth/attendance is bad and sinful, no longer can handle their own individuation and so re-bond to a maternal entity and go to war against people they've projected all of their own "bad" aspects into. 

In his view, ISIS is just another way in which growth is meant to be dampened -- the most prominent and relevant today is austerity economics, which collectively (though note: not the well-raised, richly loved ones) people want because at some level they know it lays waste to previous prosperity and crushes "sinful" opportunity ... it forestalls greater disaster, like absolute maternal rejection. 

Patrick

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Molly Castelloe



Feb 14



Speaking of "un-nurtured mothers" and the effect of childrearing on history, here's a thought experiment about how to talk to a toddler about racial stereotypes: 


Alice Maher



Feb 14



Molly, I think this is a fascinating thought experiment.  On the one hand, I agree that it's important to teach children not to stereotype, but whether that can be done in language is another question.  Sometimes overemphasis can come across as protesting too much and call the child's attention to something that might not have entered their consciousness at all.  (Why is mommy making me think about black and white when I'm thinking about how cool that bus is?)

Another issue has to do with... and here I'm taking this in a somewhat different direction.... the sanitizing of fairy tales and other children's stories. Children have very powerful, scary fantasies of sex and aggression, and if the message they get is that those things are bad to think about, they might conclude that their oedipal wishes are also bad.  In the good old days, fairy tale parents abandoned their children in the woods and the children pushed them in the oven in revenge.  Do those kinds of stories make children feel that violence is acceptable, or do they communicate that fantasy is acceptable but reality isn't, and help the child understand the differences? 


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 14



I don't understand,  Molly. Are you posting this because unloved, un-nurtured mothers raise children who will project their own "badness" onto other people, and think that perhaps one way to alleviate this is to teach them about stereotypes? Or are you posting this because talking about un-nurtured mothers is itself surely the result of being under the influence of stereotypes, which must be educated away? If the latter, then what someone like DeMause (and everyone who agrees with him) needs is massive re-education, not a place at the psychohistorical table. 

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Brian



Feb 14



The fact that infant care in our society is assigned almost exclusively to females means that the deepest and most unconscious introjects of both sexes are female.  It also means that when adults of both sexes project this infantile material, it is onto women that we project it. Note that all this operates independently of the quality of parenting, which has been Lloyd deMause's focus. Dorothy Dinerstein and Nancy Chodorow did explore the abovementioned gender asymmetry, and its implications for sex stereotyping. Concern with the quality of parenting and concern with sex stereotyping are not mutually exclusive.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTEto females  DROID


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 14




The fact that infant care in our society is assigned almost exclusively to females means that the deepest and most unconscious introjects of both sexes are female.

Just noting, for anyone who isn't aware of his theories, that this too — however true it may be — isn’t DeMausian. In his discussion of the denial of psychology in the study of society, within chapter five of "Emotional Life of Nations," DeMause writes: 

Ever since Kroeber launched cultural determinism as the central anthropological theory early in the century,9 tautological explanations have dominated the social sciences as is apparent in Lowie’s claim that culture is “a thing sui generis, the formula being omnia cultura ex cultura.” That this tautological circularity has made anthropological evolutionary theory sterile is slowly becoming evident. In fact, according to Tooby and Cosmides, the Standard Social Science Model of cultural determinism has recently collapsed. This model, they say, states that “the cultural and social elements that mold the individual precede the individual and are external to the individual. The mind did not create them; they created the mind,” a theory that turns out, they say, to explain nothing

In DeMause’s view (and of course my own), cultures where you see women spend most of the time with children are ones where the women badly needed their children to make up for love denied them elsewhere — as stimulants and anti-depressants — and where men have not much interest in, are afraid of, their wives and the maternal home, and are far more interested in playing war at work than kneading playdough with their kids. 

In the DeMausian view, as women become more emotionally healthy, through the central evolutionary mechanism of improved love over generations through the funnel of the mother-daughter dyad, as they come to have less of a need to use their children and become more genuinely nurturant with them, you get boys who grow up, not only better nurtured but less afraid of women, and much more insistent on helping out — not a chore, but an opportunity! 

You get enough of these types of people together, you’ve got a society which doesn’t assign the role of childrearing to anyone, but rather beams of the love that happens when most of the parents are emotionally mature enough to delight in their journeys with their beloved children. If evolved people are surrounded by people who think differently, they’ll superimpose their own natural way of wanting to exist as a family over whatever looks to be forced on them, like Jews amongst more regressive Germans in 19th/20th century Germany. 

-- Patrick
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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 12



If we are in one of those historical stages DeMause writes about where collectively the majority no longer had the childhoods to sustain further progress, where overall society will lose its cosmopolitan aspects and become provincial, we should see more and more of us talking about how we're hearing voices in our heads, voices -- those of our internal parental (i.e. maternal) persecutors -- telling us to sabotage or kill those who represent mother-neglecters ... aka the spoiled, the self-centred, the selfish. 

Kanye West stepped up on stage once again during these Grammy's to once again protest someone's winning over his Beyonce -- the Queen Bee. In DeMausian estimation, he's the good boy, acquiring love and respect from his mother that he in fact may have never received in real life, by serving as her loyal protector, by abdicating himself within/to Her. 

Link about this at Jezebel

Elsewhere, Joan Walsh at Salon.com noted how Jonathan Chait's well-read defence of white progressive women from POC (people of colour) at NYMagazine was done out of a strong feeling of coming to their defence, out of chivalry. She thought it was insulting to women ... as if they couldn't speak up for themselves. But if this is another instance of this DeMausian phenomena, where even many liberals now are rejecting their autonomous selves, it's not so much foul for taking over another's voice but for becoming completely party to someone else's -- the maternal internal persecutor within our heads ... contained, according to DeMause, in the right hemisphere, of all those of mothers who were denied respect and love. 

Is there anything more important to our time now than an appreciation of the phenomena of growth panic?


-- Patrick


Brian



Feb 12



Welcome to the listserv, Patrick.  I consider myself a kind of neo-deMausian and have some problems with Lloyd’s ideas as he originally stated them.  I am especially skeptical of applications of his ideas to public events with insufficient attention to the institutional realities that provide the stable and long term context in which group fantasies operate.  If the US is in the grip of a growth panic, it’s news to me.  Stock prices are booming, but this has little to do with the real economy, which is technically in a recovery but in which very little real prosperity is trickling down to ordinary people.  The unemployment rate is lower now than in the Great Recession largely because the labor force participation rate is depressed, a measure of people leaving the work force because they don’t think they will ever find work.  A person is counted as “employed” if they have a part time, minimum wage job, and many people need to cobble together two or more such jobs to earn a living and still are having trouble making ends meet, especially with rising food costs (see Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed for a realistic picture of what it is like living on the minimum wage.)  Wage growth remains stagnant or sluggish at best.

If there is a growth panic group fantasy, it is surely not the fantasy of the majority of Americans, but most likely of the upwardly mobile minority who are prospering in this economy and especially of the political and media elites who a pumping the mass public full of messages about how well everything is going, messages that no doubt confuse people, or make them cynical about how out of touch the elites are, but which surely cannot eradicate the reality of their daily lives, which are filled with economic insecurity and disillusionment about the American Dream.  I have written about all this in my book The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America (Praeger 2012). http://middleclassfightsback.org/

Brian


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 12



If there is a growth panic group fantasy, it is surely not the fantasy of the majority of Americans

Why not? If one is a DeMausian, the Great Depression owed to the majority's growth panic -- they wanted it to kill the 20s opportunities and growth. This we've done to a great extent, but nevertheless progressives are succeeding in other ways ... it's harder than it was to get away with sexism, homophobia, etc. Society is ceasing to be a place that will "handle" needs you need to detach yourself from, so you can go on with your everyday life. 

The rich may not be feeling any growth panic: they may at some level understand that their independence as human beings is being shortchanged, as they play the role of the dismissive parent, the rest of the populace will suffer through but try not to complain too much about. 

Patrick


Brian



Feb 12


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

Before we can assess what a group fantasy might be, we need some minimal grasp of reality in order to be able to assess what is fantasy and what is reality.  If you are in the middle of a housing bubble and you think you are in a period of economic growth and prosperity for ordinary people, you are living in a fantasy for sure, but not the kind deMause posited.  The bubble will not be able to sustain itself because asset prices must eventually come into line with the underlying value of the assets and increasing debt in unsustainable.  Reality exists and exerts its effects independently of our fantasies.   

The physical world is a reality that exists independently of individual and group fantasies.  If you don’t believe me, try jumping from the top of a tall building with the fantasy that you can fly.  Similarly, real median compensation (wages and benefits corrected for inflation) have been mostly stagnant in the United States since around 1974, a departure from previous decades due to deindustrialization and capital flight.  Rising levels of consumption were sustained by increasing consumer debt, an inherently unstable state of affairs that had to come to an end eventually and did, once in the late 80’s and again with the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008-2009. 

No correction of the underlying problem—which would require a more egalitarian distribution of property and income—has occurred and so whatever economic growth is occurring now is also unstable.  There could not have been a growth panic in recent decades because there was no economic growth for the average American except a growth of debt.  If there was a group fantasy, it was the fantasy that people could enjoy a rising standard of living even as their wages and benefits were leveling off and they were going deeper into debt.  The values of their houses were increasing, but it was a bubble and after 2008 many found themselves under water with their mortgages.  This is reality no less than the description of the law of gravity.

There are solutions to this crisis of advanced capitalism but they require institutional and policy reforms; wishful thinking will not do.  I have elaborated this analysis and these solutions, including worker ownership and control of enterprises and a Green New Deal, in my book. http://middleclassfightsback.org/  I believe that mass psychology matters and that group fantasies play a role in politics, but Lloyd’s theory of growth panic does not correspond to the economic facts as I understand them.  This is my second post for today and most likely my last; other responsibilities beckon.

Brian


Joel Markowitz



Feb 12


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

To repeat again: I agree with Brian that deMause excellently documented child-abuse-- but that his applications of his understanding of child-abuse to history have been mistaken.

Joel


Brian



Feb 12


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

Joel, just to clarify, I was not critiquing de Mause’s theory about the impact of child-rearing on history but only his theory that growth panic can explain group fantasies of the mass public.  I should add that when the rich and political elites impose austerity policies on the middle class and the poor, growth panic can’t explain that behavior either.  If they were imposing the austerity on themselves, the theory might make sense, but not as an explanation for imposing austerity on others.  That has a very simple explanation—the rich feel entitled to appropriate the wealth that others produce and see progressive taxation as a kind of theft, so they want to starve the public sector so they can keep their own taxes to a minimum.  This is just class war, pure and simple.  There are unconscious motivations involved in austerity policies, to be sure, but I don’t see how grow panic can be one of them.

As for child rearing practices, I would say that DeMause was mistaken that it provides a sufficient determinism for explaining all change in history, which he called his “psychogenic theory of history,” but I think there is some truth to this theory and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, which you seem prepared to do.  It is plausible to me that much of the decrease in violence over the course of history, as discussed by Stephen Pinker, John Mueller, James Payne and others is attributable to advances in child rearing.  We discussed Lloyd’s psychogenic theory on this list and the current issue of Psychohistory News (attached) contains an article that gives excerpts from this discussion.  The article, entitled “How Much Does Child Rearing Really Impact History,” appears on page one of the attached.  I know you don’t find my arguments convincing, Joel, and I don’t find your Oedipal theory of history convincing either, at least as a single factor that explains everything or the vast bulk of what needs to be explained.  We will just have to agree to disagree.


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 13



There could not have been a growth panic in recent decades because there was no economic growth for the average American except a growth of debt.


It's true, a lot of Americans, a lot of Americans of poorer childrearing, have not just seen their income remain stagnant, but have had their hopes for the future effectively squashed. But America grows anyway ... in ways that affect them. Unlike the 70s, you can't get away as easily being a racist, being sexist, being a homophobe. You can't get away as easily resting content in your past-times ... if you like football, you're going to start hearing that it needs to be shut down because it's a brain-damaging, barbaric sport, you're going to have a sense that it's future, ultimately, is no longer inevitable; if you like video games, you're losing the protection of it being a "geek" pastime -- something people who proved eventual winners engaged in -- as it is now repeatedly criticized for its sexist representations of women -- i.e. "gamer gate." 

All around you, the people you used to be able to casually hurt ... are being protected, and the societal force that would do that is progressive: at some level it's still for encouraging possibility in human life, even if not especially yours. So too news of marijuana legalization, gay marriage, news of increasing minimum wages in cities, news of healthcare slowly becoming available to all Americans, news that the stifling and joy-killing "teaching to the test" as the nation's overall favoured teaching pedagogy is increasingly under attack ... there's a sense, even, that overall wages might even start going up (and perhaps too, debt forgiveness? -- I've seen more discussion of it), and again under progressive leadership -- one that scolds rather than finds virtue in its most regressive citizenry. 

What has not yet been lost about this post-world war two world is the sense that the purpose of life is still self-realization -- what Obama did -- not to "selflessly" sacrifice yourself into some dumb group identity, some cause, some fight, so perhaps some generation down the line can enjoy the pleasures you're denying yourself. 

But DeMause argued that Germans eventually turned against the freedom-enabling Weimar republic, his focus wasn't on the working class but more the middle classes -- those of them who for a good while made something of the freedom ... The growth panic I guess I'm concerned about most, isn't what those who "are beholden" to Fox News are favouring, but those who actually for a good while had good-enough childrearing to be able to cheer and support Obama. If they begin to understand that progress isn't being countered by an increase in misery somewhere -- that some sacrifices aren't being made to the maternal maw -- they'll begin to feel that they themselves are vulnerable to some sort of apocalyptic punishment. 

I'm not really looking forward to a day when the middle class fights back. I do not trust that their "fight back" won't be something along the lines of 30s Germany, quite frankly. I want a cosmopolitan society where progressives ("coastals") keep insisting the rest of the country adjust ... and since places like San Francisco, Seattle, New York are now not just concerning themselves with such things as environmental reforms but reforms in wage and worker protections (eg. increased minimum wage to 15 dollars an hours; retail worker rights (in San Francisco)), this will mean their being expected to see great promise in the framework we're already working within, rather than insisting on something completely outside (as Chris Hedges advocates, or, rather, sees as the only means by which reform can be effected), something angry and punitive ... something revenge-seeking

-- Patrick


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 13



Also, Brain, I read the newsletter you posted. This bit -- My theory is that in a large majority of cases the person idealizes the punitive father, while internalizing the father’s contempt for weakness and dependency, which is associated with the nurturing mother -- suggests that you're not Neo-DeMausian but anti-DeMausian. To DeMause, those of regressive, conservative Republican backgrounds would of had un-nurtured mothers who used their children to satisfy unmet needs. They don't come to hating the weak and dependent owing to internalization -- admiration of their fathers -- but because this was how they felt when they were being abused by their mothers, this was what a good part of their childhoods felt like -- this who they mostly suspect they are and always will be, and so disown! 

Also they do it because when their mothers -- seeing their children as rejecting them, deliberately, just like their own mothers did -- abandon them/punish them for their individuation, they try desperately to figure out what it was they did or were that had earned this apocalyptic occurrence. Since what they mostly were weak and dependent, they conclude that being weak and dependent is a very bad, a very wicked thing. 

This is DeMause ... when it comes to those who aren't of progressive families, the father is a marginal influence and the unloved-and-therefore-incestuous-not-nurturing mother ... is all.  Talking about the strong father is another way people of these backgrounds can try and build him up so to imagine their own mothers somehow thereby being dwarfed. 

Admittedly, DeMause does this in his own work. Despite the whole thing being about mothers, he almost never mentions his own (though it's always implicit, and he does once refer to her as abandoning), and instead, most memorably, describes his punitive, spanking father ("made me disassociate and believe I was flying"... or something like that) ... There have to be reasons why DeMause, whose theories overtly favour a highly progressive, a highly cooperative and nurturing and socialist and feminist society, is cited by libertarians and even National Organization for Men types. 

-- Patrick 


Brian



Feb 13


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

Patrick, if labelling me anti-deMausian makes sense to you, so be it.  For what it’s worth, Lloyd liked the article of mine referenced in the newsletter and published it in the Journal of Psychohistory 39, 3 (Winter 2012).  To my knowledge he has never published anything anti-deMausian.  I republished it with his permission as an appendix to my book.  In any case, I am not anxious to pass a litmus test of any kind; the only standards of quality that I recognize are those of the scientific method.  De Mause has always claimed that his theories are scientific and as such they need to pass the test of empirical validation or they should be discarded. In my article, I cite the evidence on which my theory of political attitudes is based and note the need for more empirical work in this area; I argue that this is consistent with the essence of Lloyd’s psychogenic theory of history, but not necessarily in the form he conceived of it.  If you want to read the article, here is the link: http://middleclassfightsback.org/resources/Psychology%20of%20the%20Radical%20Right.pdf

I find it interesting that for you the notion of the American middle class fighting back conjures up fantasies about Nazi Germany and “something angry and punitive ... something revenge-seeking.”  Angry, yes, but why fascist, punitive, and revenge seeking?  As far as I know, the human fight-flight response—the basis of both anger and fear—is an instinctive capability that has served us very well over our several million years as a species.  Anger is a healthy response to any threat to the integrity of human beings, whether physical or other.  Sometimes fear is also appropriate, but only anger can motivate the kind of political action needed to avert imminent catastrophe on this planet. 

Predatory investors and CEOs representing a miniscule fraction of the earth’s population are maintaining, with the unwitting cooperation of the majority, a political/economic system that perpetuates global poverty, war, and ecological degradation.  If the majority of people don’t get angry at this system and take appropriate political action, public affairs on this planet are in big trouble.  It was militant political action of this sort during the populist movement that brought about the reforms of the Progressive Era, enraged people in the streets who formed the social base of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and angry women and men who fought for racial equality, an end to the Vietnam War, women’s and gay rights, environmental protection, and more.

Of course anger is not enough and misdirected anger can certainly be destructive.  But the anger exists quite apart from anything I do or fail to do, and it is already being misdirected to myriad scapegoats, from religious and racial minorities, to gays, to union officials and unionized workers.  I wrote The Middle Class Fights Back to focus popular anger where it belongs and can do the most good—on a state capitalist system that concentrates wealth and power at the expense of ordinary people and indeed of the earth’s ecology, on which a humane and sustainable future depends.  Most importantly, I provided a policy agenda that can actually create such a future, which provides a coherent direction for progressive movements.  This policy agenda is encapsulated in 7 one-minute pod casts at: http://middleclassfightsback.org/new-book.php

Brian


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 14


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

If populism is not so much what it was in the 60s, which according to the DeMausian take was a period where the populace felt they were permitted growth, a period which allowed the most progressive of them to take the societal lead, but more like it was in the (1920s-regretting) 30s, then it's worth getting concerned about. In the DeMausian view, the 30s was a period where populism amounted to people abandoning their individuated selves and bonding into maternal groups -- the volk, nationalism -- and the target, the enemy, wasn't just CEOs, but more those who best represented our "guilty" individuated selves. These would be the most liberal, the most progressive amongst us ... in Germany, it was the Jews. I see a future where wonderful people like Alfie Kohn, who believes children shouldn't be afflicted with homework, and that there is no such thing as a spoiled child, will be seen as enemies -- you don't think we're all spoiled rotten, gluttonous people! look around you!!! I see a future where those trying to de-pollute our environment of stereotypes, encourage empathy, will be seen as having allowed our nation to be vulnerable to infiltration and attack, and be deemed traitors. 

The DeMausian take is to see revenge-seeking as primarily revenge against early childhood humiliations, against one's mother. In the DeMausian take, if society is exploitive ... this is actually what the populace wanted -- for example a hard-money, austerity environment is one way a populace punishes itself for previous growth. If we're in the revenge-seeking mood, a la DeMause, then we'll split our mother into one wholly good, which we'll bond to, and wage war against the other.  

I'm glad you're open to the idea of "predatory CEOs and unwitting cooperation of the majority" is not just reality but something that requires proof. I myself subscribe to the DeMausian thesis that the majority may unconsciously cooperate, but never unwittingly, and that predatory CEOS have only the power we want them to have -- such is the pleasure we can derive from suffering.

You're aware of the DeMausian take on fight-flight. He talks about it differently ... in conjunction with individuation panic and flight away from internal reality. Most certainly not as benign, nor (thank god!) universal. 

The argument that we're inevitably doomed if we don't get angry and fight is not DeMausian. In his view, what primarily ends a period of suffering is the simple fact of the majority deciding that they've done enough penance for previous growth, and now will once again allow themselves more good. I know that a lot of good people agree with your point of view, but it's not DeMausian. 

If your take is right, if your take is what psychohistory has to offer, it doesn't seem so urgent to me that more people study it -- for isn't it in its essence mostly already be carried out in thought today? Evil CEOS, virtuous public, problematic stern fathers, righteous fights, universal human drives ... not much shaking up there.


-- Patrick


Trevor Pederson



Feb 14


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

Hi Patrick 

Can you say a little more about what you mean by "our nation”?


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 14


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my head"

Hello Trevor, I think I've been kindly warned via private post not to post too much, but it must be okay to respond to your question. By "nation," I mean group ... and by group, in this context, I mean our mothers, our girth of our mothers, which we in our feeling abandoned, are pleased to have found means to be allowed to count ourselves within ... knights to wherever She would issue us. 

-- Patrick
—————


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 14



DeMause argues that when people collectively feel abandoned by their internal parental (maternal) persecutors, who've had it with all their growth, they will begin to re-bond with her in some kind of group -- the German Volk being an example of this. He argues they will split their understanding of her, bonding only with her "good" aspects and dispatching the rest onto some "other" -- during the Iraq war, he points out how Saddam Hussein was depicted in cartoons as a demon-mother who tortured kids. 

With this in mind, I would like to encourage list members to take a look at the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, just out on the newsstands ... does it suggest that people are preparing themselves for this kind of re-bonding, are feeling (especially) drawn to experiment with splitting the feminine? Take a good look at the cover, then flip the magazine over and explore the other side. Sports Illustrated, of course, is not a magazine that our most emotionally evolved, our most progressive citizens, exactly covet reading ... it's a good mag to look at to explore what's appealing, now, to those down a notch ... unless of course one believes that corporations engineer the mental states of consumers, then it provides just another example of their vile twistedness. 

--- Patrick


Brian



Feb 14



Yes, only a left wing ideologue would think that corporations engineer the mental states of consumers.  Any fool knows that they spend hundreds of billions of dollars on advertising every year as a public service.


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 14



Exactly, they do ... what bizarre needs the public must have! So different from common lore/sense -- someone ought to address them!

-- Patrick


Trevor Pederson



Feb 14



Has everyone seen the Century of the Self and how psychoanalysis was involved in modern advertising?



david



Feb 14



Thank you Trevor for posting this link. It’s one episode of a BBC production in 2002. It’s just under an hour, quite well done and worth watching. It shows how both Brian and Patrick are correct.

—————-


Alice Maher



Feb 15



As we all know, history is important.  The history of Catholicism and Freudianism is in my bones.

In contrast, given that I never read Lloyd De Mause or participated in discussions of his model, my knowledge of the history of the IPA and the evolution of psychohistory is full of holes. I've been very interested in the different interpretations of his model presented by members of this group, but since I don't have a foundation I find it hard to respond.

Does anyone have a respected, accurate summary article, written by or about him, that I could read?  Or perhaps we could read and discuss together?  (Forgive me if this question has been posted before.  I'm sure it was, but it was probably at a time when I was too busy or less interested.)


Thanks!
Alice


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 15



Hi Alice. I wonder if chapter 5 in his "Emotional Life of Nations," might be the place to go. It is longish, but a good quaff of what he thinks. 

-- Patrick


Alice Maher



Feb 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: De Mause summary article...?

Thanks so much, Patrick! I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Sent from my iPhone
—————


Molly Castelloe



Feb 15



Patrick,
In response to your question, I sent the story of the mother trying to teach the child about steroetypes because I felt we were discussing the un-nurtured mother and childrearing at an intellectual distance (maybe a steroetyped way, too?) and wanted to move toward another (more emotional) dimension, and get closer to the mother-child dynamic. Many mothers in my neighborhood are trying to "re-educate" their children in just this way. What I find with my own kids, 8 and 10, is that it can at times be very hard to put myself in their world and perspective. 

Who remembers it can be hard for a child to sit still at the dinner table and maybe 5 mins is enough to expect?  Or that if their feet don't touch the floor b/c the chair is too tall, maybe they need a footstool underneath to help them keep still or more grounded?

Some of DeMause's theories blame the mother/nanny too much, it seems to me. The nuclear family and modes of caretaking have changed radically. There are many more fathers involved and women working at home, too. 

I like Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's idea of "alloparenting" and the development of children dependent on both mothers and an array of others: fathers, babysitting coops, tag-teaming that mothers do, playdates, people in addition to the biological mother. (Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding, (2011).

Alloparenting is contrasted with "exclusive care," (rearing by only one caregiver).
This kind of caregiving assistance from the father or others is beneficial for maternal emotional fitness. It also reflects the mother's trust in her environment, or, on the other hand, her reluctance and anxiety to allow anyone else to care for her child and her distrust of her surrounds.

Thanks for your contributions to the list.

Molly


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 15



Thanks for the response, Molly. For what it's worth, I don't think there's any mother-blame in DeMause's works, for there's no choice in the matter ... if a woman is well-cared for, properly respected, she'll raise loving children; if she was denied all that, she'll use her children -- period. The ability to choose different, doesn't somehow squeak in there at all. There is actually no one available to point fingers at in DeMause's works. Basically, he's saying we started off as a species some several hundred thousand years ago, where children got care only because of how they stimulated the mother ... love hadn't entered the picture at all. Since then, we've had a lot of work to to, but some of us are now finally getting it right. The only thing to possibly blame, that is, is the wretched start evolution granted us with. 

Alloparenting sounds genius. They key, though, is how emotionally evolved these multi-parents are ... one single mother, working alone with her children, is vastly better than her-and-support group, if she's more emotionally evolved than they are. DeMause talks about the dangers of extended families, where grandmothers intrude on their daughters' care of their children, to the ill of the children. But, yes, I get the gist of what you prefer, and I agree ... I like the idea of the state getting involved and helping people raise their children as well -- sending in parent-assistants. 

-- Patrick

P.S. I'm very glad you're enjoying my contributions. 
—————


Brian



Feb 15



Alice, your question about deMause is a good one.  Maybe Patrick, Denis O’Keefe, David Lotto or someone else can suggest something.  My familiarity with Lloyd’s work is based mostly on Foundations of Psychohistory, which I don’t think contains a concise statement of his ideas.

I have some further thoughts about Century of the Self.  Although the filmmaker in telling the Edward Bernays story frames it as an application of psychoanalysis to propaganda, I wonder if this is really valid?  It seem to me that Bernays’ thinking was really behaviorist, and in fact the Wikipedia article on him said that he also drew on Pavlov.  We didn’t need Freud to know that sex is pleasurable, and fundamentally what Bernays did, it seems to me was to use sex to sell products and ideas.  Isn’t this just an application of Pavlov’s psychology on humans using mass communications?  You want people to buy something, so you create an association in their minds between the product and a sexy woman.  Or you want people to reject communism, so you associate it with something that causes fear.  It seems that Bernays built his whole career on cranking this Pavlovian paradigm with business and political leaders, and did so with indefatigable salesmanship.  What is particularly Freudian about this?  


drwargus



Feb 15


Re: [cliospsyche] RE: psychoanalysis and social control

I think the author believes it to be Freudian because the desires our subconscious. He was appealing to subconscious desires, not rational or conscious desires.

Thank you very much for posting this restaurants. Do you know where we could find the other three episodes?


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 15



I agree, Brain -- Pavlov.

Dangerous idea, that -- a small group of corrupt people are determining the entire behaviour of the masses, for as we know that's what Germans thought of the Jews. The left says this is what corporations are doing, the right that this is what liberal people in university (or liberal courts) are doing. Personally, I think the reason this idea is taken for granted amongst the left is suspect and worth exploring ... one is allowed to try and make the life for better for people, even if you acknowledge you find it hard to actually like them much i.e., they needed to be good-hearted but sadly naive and uninformed.

Chris Hedges argues in "Death of the Liberal Class" that (our current crop of) liberals are always representing themselves as the populace's guardians, but in fact find it/them disgusting, and enjoy thinking of them as so playable. I don't like, don't trust, Hedges, but I think this is true ... and why should they like them? they've been regressing for 20 years now and have become a Fox News crowd -- it's an honest and astute assessment. 

-- Patrick

P.S. I'm a DeMausian, which means I believe that people, the masses, can actually at times want in leaders who'll enact policies which will not just kill other people but (during periods of atonement for previous incurred growth) bring upon themselves a Depression, make their own selves miserable. If you believe this, which, again, I do, then the idea that ultimately advertising is working at the bequest of the public, that they don't engineer tastes but maybe only put a bunch of stuff out there as trial balloons (the role he also ascribes to newspaper headlines), which the people will only latch onto if it matches their current needs, seems readily plausible. This means advertising is only effective if it plays to the needs of people now, and advertisers -- however they like to think of themselves -- are actually in sort of the masochistic role, of urgently guessing what mood, exactly, the finicky mass might be in today. If the advertisers disappear, the public will find some way to satisfy their developing needs, however inadequately without their group delegates -- i.e., advertisers -- having trod some options for them. 

The power of authorities has little place in his works ... for a very interesting example of this, explore his exploration of Milgram's experiments, where he concludes that people didn't inflict shocks because they were manipulated or cowed, but because the setting provided cover for them to guilt-free switch into their persecutory selves, born out of unloved childhoods. They used the university; they used the experiments.  

I'm lead now to think of Goldhagens' study "Hitler's willing executioners." What I appreciated about it was that it went at the idea that Germans had been manipulated, played, and argued that, no, Germans were the problem ... Hitler was incidental: there were a million people who could have played out his group-delegate role, without history changing one iota. 


Brian



Feb 15


RE: [cliospsyche] RE: psychoanalysis and social control

I believe the other episodes are available on YouTube.  They are entitled, The Engineering of Consent, There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, and Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering.

Bill, Oedipal theory and all the rest of the Freudian system address defense mechanisms and other psychological processes that are unconscious for most people.  But it is common knowledge that sex is pleasurable and that is all Bernays needed to know in order to condition behavior on Pavlovian principles.  People may be unconscious that they are being manipulated, but that is not the same as repression in the Freudian sense.  What seems new in Bernays’ work is to use the infrastructure of mass communications to control with a behaviorist agenda the images and information to which millions of people are exposed. It seems to me that it works on Pavlovian principles and doesn’t utilize anything that is specifically Freudian.

Patrick, thanks for suggesting Chapter 5 of DeMause’s Emotional Life of Nations.  I will read this with great interest, as soon as I can carve out a few hours on my agenda.  At the moment, I am running behind on a number of other projects that require my attention.

Brian


Dcarveth



Feb 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Patrick, this echoes the difference between Freud's and Bion's theories of group psychology. For Freud the leader (compare the advertiser) dominates the group; for Bion, if the leader doesn't lead the group where the group wants to go, the group simply chooses a new leader who will.

Best,

Don


Brian



Feb 15


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

I want to address three issues that have come up repeatedly on this list: the problem of what I call “psychohistorical reductionism,” the alleged innate destructiveness of people, and the class and psychoclass specificity of group fantasies.

First, regarding reductionism, it is common for theoretical innovators to over-emphasize the explanatory power of their ideas, and Lloyd deMause is no exception.  In fact, in the passage Patrick quoted, he went further and simply inverted the “Standard Social Science Model of cultural determinism,” replacing the claim of its adherents that it explained everything with his own claim that it explained nothing and that all historical phenomena and change in history can be reduced to individual psychology and group fantasies rooted in the childhood experience of individuals.  While I think there is a lot of truth in deMause’s psychogenic theory of history, stating it in this reductive way is misguided and if this is psychohistory, then mainstream academics are entirely justified in rejecting it.

I can illustrate the issue here with an analogy.  Superstring theorists in physicists claim to have a “theory of everything” because they have identified a unified field of all the laws of physics.  But although all of nature is physical, not all of it can be reduced to the phenomena that exist at atomic and lower levels of simplicity.  In reality, biology requires other laws of nature, for example the laws of game theory and other determinants of natural selection.  These biological laws must be consistent with the laws of physics but are not mere extrapolations of the laws of physics.  The reason is that living systems, while comprised of the same matter and energy as stars and minerals, have properties and characteristics that inanimate matter and energy do not possess.  Biology cannot be reduced to physics.

Similarly, social phenomena such as culture, systems of production, and the state have properties that cannot be reduced to the psychology of individuals.  For example, the production of goods and services is an inherently social activity in which both capital and labor are necessary constituents.  Virtually every individual has some relationship with the system of production and their thought and behavior is necessarily shaped to a large extent by their social location.  Hedge fund managers occupy a subculture with a very different view of the world than public school teachers, for example.  The nature and evolution of social systems is determined by laws and a logic that operate only at that level of complexity and not the level of individual psychology and behavior. 

For example, the accumulation of capital is something that can only occur within a set of institutional arrangements that individuals can conform to or resist but cannot create or alter as individuals.  These arrangements can be altered by individuals acting in groups, but when that occurs, new phenomena come into play—for example, the way political parties interact with interest groups and with the branches of government—that cannot be understood as a simple extension of the laws that govern the individual.  There is necessarily an interaction between individual and group psychology, on the one hand, and the institutional processes that occur in governments, corporations, universities and so on.

Second, regarding innate destructiveness, the first episode of Century of the Self depicted how Freud and many others made sense of the savage destructiveness of World War I, and after Freud of World War II and Nazi Germany.  The notion that these things were the expression of deep and universal destructive impulses does not survive the most elementary kind of rational scrutiny.  For example, the overwhelming majority of soldiers who enacted the bloody killing in the world wars did not do so without coercion.  They were drafted and faced ostracism and imprisonment if they did not comply.  Then they were put under military discipline and faced the threat of court-martial or worse for insubordination or desertion.  Thrust into such extreme circumstances under duress, ordinary people did enact mass killing, but this says nothing whatsoever about murderous impulses of the individual or of group fantasies.  Indeed, if people were spontaneously murderous, why would political leaders need to induce them coercively to play the role of mass killers?

A similar thing occurred in Nazi Germany.  The National Socialists got more votes (44%) than any other single party in the 1933 parliamentary elections, but not a majority, and in fact socialists and communists outnumbered fascists in the German electorate.  Moreover, the vote that the Nazis received greatly overstated their actual support because this was anything but a “free and fair” election, as we would say today.  In the wake of the Reichstag fire and before the election, the German Communist Party was suppressed and 4,000 communist leaders were imprisoned.  As in any totalitarian state, once in power the Nazis enforced severe penalties for dissent, which could include torture and death. 

While a large segment of the German population was no doubt swept up into the anti-Semitic and militaristic fantasies cultivated by Nazi propaganda, there is also no doubt that many resisted, mostly through the socialist and communist underground.  And for every active member of the underground, there must have been many more who sympathized but were not willing to heroically risk torture and death to actively participate.  I wonder how many of us on this list would have risked torture and death to resist Hitler.  Because there was no public opinion data inside Nazi Germany, we don’t know how widespread the opposition to the regime was, but given that socialists and communists were nearly half of the electorate before the Nazis came to power, this most likely was a very large plurality of the population, if not a “silent majority.”  All of this is a far cry from Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners, which depicts a monolithic German group mind.

Third, and this follows from the foregoing analysis, group fantasies are generally those of classes and psychoclasses, not of entire nations.  Psychoclasses, for those not familiar with this term, are groups of people who have similar personality characteristics due to the experience of similar child rearing practices. On this point, deMause is self-contradictory because while he created the concept of psychoclasses, he then proceeded to ignore his own concept when talking about monolithic group fantasies.  In the first and second episodes of Century of the Self, it is apparent that many business and political elites were motivated by a group fantasy about the masses of people having dangerous impulses and being too irrational to participate in a democracy.  Not all elites thought this way, however, and the film also showed how the New Deal leadership and the inventors of scientific opinion polling believed in the rationality of ordinary people and believed that people could be educated about public policy, which Roosevelt in fact did systematically.  While Hitler ruled through force and intimidation, FDR was an immensely popular president who was elected four times.  This suggests that when given a chance to freely choose their leaders and to participate in government in a meaningful way, ordinary people can in fact do so and act in a much more rational way than the conservative elites would have us think.

In summary, I think there is a lot of conventional wisdom on this list that needs to be re-examined in the light of reason and evidence.

Brian


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)


Feb 16



HItler ruled through force and intimidation? Everyone agree with this?

The distinction between FDR and Hitler is absolute? Everyone agree with this? Hitler provided .... or, rather, people made use of him to ensure they were better provisioned as well. If the New Deal period was so awesome, and showed how admirable everyday Americans are, why are "progressives" during this period given so much praise by someone like Chris Hedges, who hates no one more than spoiled, self-attendant people -- catch his attack on 60s progressives, the hippies, to get a measure of it. He only wants to praise those who are self-abnegating, self-sacrificial, which is a pretty demented state of mind to me -- sort of anti-human. If it the New Deal was so admirable, why does Morris Dickstein accuse the whole period as nationalist, a period where people admonished themselves by thinking of themselves more as types, categories of people, rather than as distinct individuals? If it was so awesome, why through the whole period were they still mostly self-laceratingly blaming themselves for not succeeding, rather than jumping hole-hog to a better era, like they insisted for themselves in the 50s? Was anybody interned? 

Your future is entirely dependent on the amount of love you received as a child. If you have issues arising out of your childhood, but are in a very progressive society, you'll try and use the existing "arms" of the society and twist them towards your own purposes (Alfie Kohn has just said argued that what-are-in-truth regressives are currently taking over/co-opting progressive pedagogy, and making it somehow pro-testing, pro-homework, for example). If you have fewer issues than other people, but are living in a regressive society, you'll become part of the generation that invents something better to fit the more benign world you believe humans deserve, or you'll leave, and set up something better elsewhere (DeMause believes that places like Japan and U.S. were examples of places where we saw progressives -- those of superior child-rearing -- migrate). 

This, too me, is bang on ... so it doesn't feel right to malign it by assessing it as "reductive." Is there another word available? Distilled ... to its essential essence? Let's try it. Mainstream academics are justified in rejecting theories which are distilled .... no, doesn't work. So let's try, Mainstream academics are justified in rejecting theories which stick to the point rather than stray elsewhere so we don't become guilty bad children unswervingly pointing our fingers at our surely selfless, long-suffering mothers. 

DeMause talks a lot about group dynamics, what is permitted when people engage in groups that it not permissible at an individual level. The whole idea of the social trance, for example. He doesn't let it become a whole different, independent thing, like biology compared with physics, because he believes it co-operates with our need to make the social sphere, what happens in society, something apart from ourselves, something we can dismiss as not part of individual me -- it gets rid of the guilt part, which can get in the way of our enjoying hurting people. So if a country wars, it's not your own private desire to see people murdered which is being exercised. If society makes people homeless, it is not your private desire to have people feel your own neediness and pain so that you don't have to feel it, which is being enabled. 

There is a sense that what happens at some times in society is independent of your individual self -- or at least part of it yourself. To DeMause, when we war on other countries, or against women and children in our own society, it is our right hemispheres which are in charge -- the internal persecutors he says are contained there. Our left is actually ignorant/independent -- it's looking at the work of part of him/her s/he isn't at the moment familiar with. 

Brian, your whole bit about how soldiers are reluctant to kill is a certainly not what DeMause argues -- he says they are eager to rape and kill (there is a bit about how training changed in Vietnam to get soldiers more successful killers, but compared with the whole, it's just a blip). Your view goes down easier ... by viewing soldiers like this, one doesn't become the affluent-born hippie taunting the lot of the working class soldier -- baby killer!!! I feel pretty confident that some here could refer to historians/scholars who provide contrary accounts. If I was tasked with doing this, I'd probably start with the references referred to in DeMause's notations. 

Your account of Germany ... well, it's intimidating to read ... intimidating, because there could be ample evidence existing now against your argument that cocky Goldhagen had it completely wrong, but you present yourself as if you've marshalled every dutiful historian to your cause, who feel pretty confident they can wipe out all the aberrant views that have been popping up over the last few decades just by showing up as an angry brotherhood. If this is the public mood, if we want to live in a decade where we all agree that the worst thing you can be is presumptuous, spoiled and elder-defying, if we want ordinary folk to be good but afflicted, for soldiers to be reluctant to kill, for us to be innocent of the wrath we're about to inflict of the world -- because who could possibly have had the courage to resist it!!! -- it hardly feels like one should bother. This is not a phalanx I would presume to want to penetrate. Best bet is to see what young progressives like Lena Dunham are doing, and see if somehow DeMause can be smuggled in there.  

I mean it, Lena Dunham ... read her book and catch how she takes down/humiliates the elders in Hollywood who tried to "help" her in Hollywood. Here's someone who isn't afraid of looking like a spoiled brat that some hardworking mechanic from the 1950s would like nothing better than to take a whipping to. We should be sure that even if we're put in the unfortunate position of coming to see the kind of everyday folk who voted for Nixon as fundamentally decent people, we're still angling the unfortunate results of our studies so that it might find some appeal ... there

-- Patrick


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 16


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Thanks Don!


Trevor Pederson



Feb 16


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Patrick, you write:

Your future is entirely dependent on the amount of love you received as a child. If you have issues arising out of your childhood, but are in a very progressive society, you'll try and use the existing "arms" of the society and twist them towards your own purposes (Alfie Kohn has just said argued that what-are-in-truth regressives are currently taking over/co-opting progressive pedagogy, and making it somehow pro-testing, pro-homework, for example). If you have fewer issues than other people, but are living in a regressive society, you'll become part of the generation that invents something better to fit the more benign world you believe humans deserve, or you'll leave, and set up something better elsewhere (DeMause believes that places like Japan and U.S. were examples of places where we saw progressives -- those of superior child-rearing -- migrate). 


This sounds a lot like Wilhelm Reich's genital character who managed to escape childhood development without the trauma and armoring to become the superman which nature would produce if unhindered.

I very much admire a lot of Reich's work but this view shows more about how Reich had to egoistically represent himself to others as perfect than as a careful analysis of genius. 

As Fairbairn, Freud, and others point out, it is the schizoid types who have less of a connection to others and more of a connection to their intellectual functions (memory, phantasy, etc.) that become the great intellectuals, scientists, and artists. Without this increased libidinal connection to these intellectual functions one can hardly hold together all the relevant information of one's field, and take in the new relevant empirical data to contribute to knowledge. In health these types have a chance to become important creators and innovators while in pathology they can have very severe problems. 

Your future isn't entirely dependent upon your psychosexual character, it is also very much dependent upon the class you are born into, the access to good education, the crime or aggressive elements that you must protect yourself and loved ones from, the ideals of masculinity and femininity that exist in your class, and many other class factors. 

People on the right like to pretend that poor people can simply just work hard and get out of the hell hole they were raised in. They have a very simple view of people as rational agents who choose to work hard or choose not to and are therefore responsible for being poor. In contrast, clinical experience points to the fact, again and again, that there are only so many narcissistic injuries and betrayals in love that a person can experience before they shut down and regress. When you have a schizoid who already feels like an outsider and who doesn't have strong connections to others and a violent neighborhood in which he is put down for not being manly enough, put down for not being successful with women, encouraged to suppress the altruistic and caring parts of his personalty so he doesn't have weaknesses that others can exploit, etc. he will shut down. Neurosis, mysticism, and criminality are the outcome for some, but for others with post-ambivalent ties to culture, identity becomes much more important. Identity is based upon traditions and discourse and for many years it has been taken to be the most important determinant of an individual in the humanities. The schizoid with post-ambivalent ties may take on the ideal of masculinity in the area and become someone who loves sports while never having played them and memorize stats of the players to offer up to others in conversations. He isn't close to others in an emotionally significant way but he shares their traditions and social ideals and interacts with them through this. 


Trevor


Brian



Feb 16


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Patrick, I have added my comments after yours.

From: clios...@googlegroups.com [mailto:clios...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Patrick McEvoy-Halston
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 8:49 AM

To: clios...@googlegroups.com
Subject: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control


HItler ruled through force and intimidation? Everyone agree with this?

I did not say that Hitler ruled ONLY through force and intimidation.  But if he had the universal support that you seem to think, why did the Nazis need a secret police to root out dissenters and need torture to punish dissidents and why did they ban opposition parties and democratic elections?

The distinction between FDR and Hitler is absolute? Everyone agree with this? Hitler provided .... or, rather, people made use of him to ensure they were better provisioned as well. If the New Deal period was so awesome, and showed how admirable everyday Americans are, why are "progressives" during this period given so much praise by someone like Chris Hedges, who hates no one more than spoiled, self-attendant people -- catch his attack on 60s progressives, the hippies, to get a measure of it. He only wants to praise those who are self-abnegating, self-sacrificial, which is a pretty demented state of mind to me -- sort of anti-human. If it the New Deal was so admirable, why does Morris Dickstein accuse the whole period as nationalist, a period where people admonished themselves by thinking of themselves more as types, categories of people, rather than as distinct individuals? If it was so awesome, why through the whole period were they still mostly self-laceratingly blaming themselves for not succeeding, rather than jumping hole-hog to a better era, like they insisted for themselves in the 50s? Was anybody interned? 

I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Are you attacking the New Deal?  Do you think we would have been better off with four more years of Hoover?

Your future is entirely dependent on the amount of love you received as a child. If you have issues arising out of your childhood, but are in a very progressive society, you'll try and use the existing "arms" of the society and twist them towards your own purposes (Alfie Kohn has just said argued that what-are-in-truth regressives are currently taking over/co-opting progressive pedagogy, and making it somehow pro-testing, pro-homework, for example). If you have fewer issues than other people, but are living in a regressive society, you'll become part of the generation that invents something better to fit the more benign world you believe humans deserve, or you'll leave, and set up something better elsewhere (DeMause believes that places like Japan and U.S. were examples of places where we saw progressives -- those of superior child-rearing -- migrate). 

This, too me, is bang on ... so it doesn't feel right to malign it by assessing it as "reductive." Is there another word available? Distilled ... to its essential essence? Let's try it. Mainstream academics are justified in rejecting theories which are distilled .... no, doesn't work. So let's try, Mainstream academics are justified in rejecting theories which stick to the point rather than stray elsewhere so we don't become guilty bad children unswervingly pointing our fingers at our surely selfless, long-suffering mothers. 

I basically agree that the amount of love a person receives as a child is decisive for their own happiness and affects society as whole in important ways.  That is not what makes deMause reductive.  Rather it is the mentality that the society and history as a whole can be understood entirely as a function of this one factor.  This ignores the fact that when individuals interact in the context of institutions—workplaces provide a familiar example—our choices are constrained by the way the institutions function and all of this needs to be studied in its own right.  Government is another example.  The kind of choices offered to voters are not a simple function of group fantasies of the mass public but also reflect the organization of institutional power, both within the government, say in the Pentagon, and in important interest groups, especially big corporations, and in the plutocracy and the way money dominates the political process.    

DeMause talks a lot about group dynamics, what is permitted when people engage in groups that it not permissible at an individual level. The whole idea of the social trance, for example. He doesn't let it become a whole different, independent thing, like biology compared with physics, because he believes it co-operates with our need to make the social sphere, what happens in society, something apart from ourselves, something we can dismiss as not part of individual me -- it gets rid of the guilt part, which can get in the way of our enjoying hurting people. So if a country wars, it's not your own private desire to see people murdered which is being exercised. If society makes people homeless, it is not your private desire to have people feel your own neediness and pain so that you don't have to feel it, which is being enabled. 

The process that deMause is talking about certainly affects ideologies and these in turn legitimize power.  I have never disputed the importance of this, but it is not the only source of ideology, which is also a function of the power relations that are being legitimized.  In order to succeed, an ideology must (1) resonate with unconscious motivations, and (2) legitimize power.  If (1) is not the case, it will not engage the population.  If (2) is not the case it will not serve the purposes of the rulers and they will not embrace and support it, which is a major reason that ideologies persist.  In my article Psychology of the Radical Right I tried to show how group fantasies rooted in individual experience underpin free market and militarist ideologies that are perpetuated by corporate and Pentagon elites because they serve their purposes. 

To reduce history and politics to psychological factors is misguided and one of the main reasons that psychohistory as DeMause defined it is not taken seriously in academia.  I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater (to use a deMausian metaphor), but if we don’t outgrow the reductionism, psychohistory will remain in an intellectual ghetto.  I can’t help but think that many of us like being in this ghetto, where we can blame the marginalization of psychohistory on everything but ourselves.  I think psychohistorians, not all of us but many of us, are marginalizing ourselves and need to take responsibility for that.

There is a sense that what happens at some times in society is independent of your individual self -- or at least part of it yourself. To DeMause, when we war on other countries, or against women and children in our own society, it is our right hemispheres which are in charge -- the internal persecutors he says are contained there. Our left is actually ignorant/independent -- it's looking at the work of part of him/her s/he isn't at the moment familiar with. 

More reductionism.  The physics and biology analogy applies.  Institutional processes give rise to levels of complexity that need to be understood on their own terms.

Brian, your whole bit about how soldiers are reluctant to kill is a certainly not what DeMause argues -- he says they are eager to rape and kill (there is a bit about how training changed in Vietnam to get soldiers more successful killers, but compared with the whole, it's just a blip). Your view goes down easier ... by viewing soldiers like this, one doesn't become the affluent-born hippie taunting the lot of the working class soldier -- baby killer!!! I feel pretty confident that some here could refer to historians/scholars who provide contrary accounts. If I was tasked with doing this, I'd probably start with the references referred to in DeMause's notations. 

So if the masses of people want to rape and kill, why do you need to draft them to fight in wars?  Or in the case of the current volunteer army, to provide middle class livelihoods for people who have very few other routes into the middle class.  If people would rather kill than flip burgers in Burger King, why pay soldiers at all and why spend billions of dollars every year in advertising and other recruiting activities?  All the killers should be lined up around the block at every recruiting station for a chance to satisfy their deepest desires in exchange for room and board.

Your account of Germany ... well, it's intimidating to read ... intimidating, because there could be ample evidence existing now against your argument that cocky Goldhagen had it completely wrong, but you present yourself as if you've marshalled every dutiful historian to your cause, who feel pretty confident they can wipe out all the aberrant views that have been popping up over the last few decades just by showing up as an angry brotherhood. If this is the public mood, if we want to live in a decade where we all agree that the worst thing you can be is presumptuous, spoiled and elder-defying, if we want ordinary folk to be good but afflicted, for soldiers to be reluctant to kill, for us to be innocent of the wrath we're about to inflict of the world -- because who could possibly have had the courage to resist it!!! -- it hardly feels like one should bother. This is not a phalanx I would presume to want to penetrate. Best bet is to see what young progressives like Lena Dunham are doing, and see if somehow DeMause can be smuggled in there.  

I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I presented facts about Nazi Germany that are not controversial, but which are ignored by Goldhagen and others because these facts do not fit their ideology.

I mean it, Lena Dunham ... read her book and catch how she takes down/humiliates the elders in Hollywood who tried to "help" her in Hollywood. Here's someone who isn't afraid of looking like a spoiled brat that some hardworking mechanic from the 1950s would like nothing better than to take a whipping to. We should be sure that even if we're put in the unfortunate position of coming to see the kind of everyday folk who voted for Nixon as fundamentally decent people, we're still angling the unfortunate results of our studies so that it might find some appeal ... there

I have no idea what you are talking about.  Can you state your main idea without assuming that I already know what you’re talking about?


PETSCH...@appstate.edu



Feb 16


Re: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Amen, Brian. 
In Berlin exactly a month ago I saw the von Stauffenberg exhibition in the building in front of which he was shot.  I 
was totally astonished at the amount of resistance to the regime that is shown in this sizable presentation. 
Graduate students and professors over the years have ferreted out large and small groups from all walks of life 
who opposed the regime and who for the most part were caught and killed. Jews, Poles, communists, socialists, 
Catholics, Protestants, liberals, conservatives, military, etc.  It is one of the finest, most up-date and modern 
exhibits I have seen so far. Most astonishing to me, after studying this period for decades is Hitler's uncanny ability 
not to be killed by his own military. 
Also support your point about deMause and childrearing. 
I hope snow does not bury you wherever you are on the E. Coast.   


Ralph Fishkin



Feb 16


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

I agree with Peter’s “review” of the van Stauffenberg exhibition.  I saw it 5 years ago.  Very moving.   

Ralph 
- show quoted text -
============================= 
Ralph E. Fishkin, D.O. 



J. I. (Hans`) Bakker



Feb 17


Re: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

I would like to know more about  the von  Stauffenberg Exhibition. 

Do they have a web page? Is there an exhibit catalogue. 

This goes against some of the popular conceptions of people being merely compliant. 

Catholics, Protestants, Liberals, Conservatives, military, etc., is a bit different from the usual scenario. 

(Jews being strongly opposed at an early stage is also a bit contrary to some narratives.) 

I knew that actual Communists were opposed, of course, and Poles would often have reasons two be opposed. 

At a used book store yesterday here in Albuquerque I saw more than 100 books on fascism, the Nazi regime, Hitler, etc. 

But when I travel I always tend to buy more books than I can possibly carry on the plane! 

The Society for Cross Cultural Research (SCCR) starts tomorrow morning, but there are all kinds of meetings going on here. 

The weather was cool, but like Spring in Boston! Meanwhile the whole East Coast seems to have real snow. 

Cheers, 

Hans      J. I. Bakker 


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 17


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Hey Trevor, I think somewhere along the line I failed to answer one of your questions -- sorry about that!

As Fairbairn, Freud, and others point out, it is the schizoid types who have less of a connection to others and more of a connection to their intellectual functions (memory, phantasy, etc.) that become the great intellectuals, scientists, and artists. Without this increased libidinal connection to these intellectual functions one can hardly hold together all the relevant information of one's field, and take in the new relevant empirical data to contribute to knowledge. In health these types have a chance to become important creators and innovators while in pathology they can have very severe problems. 

Okay, but the DeMausian take is different ... he talks about being given the liberty to play by parents (mothers) who were above the norm for the time. For example, 

It was the developmental new strengths of the intrusive childrearing mode, not changes in “culture,” that produced the dramatic historical innovations of the Reformation, humanism and industrialism. For instance, what allowed James Watt to invent the modern steam engine was his parents’ teaching him to read and allowing him to endlessly experiment with the steam kettle for hours every day in his family kitchen, changing the world by his curiousity

I think this is right ... and it sort of goes in the opposite direction of "yours". Yours is about disconnect from people, this view is that it is born out of increased interaction between parent and child, owing to more genuine interest in the child by the parent.  

Your future isn't entirely dependent upon your psychosexual character, it is also very much dependent upon the class you are born into, the access to good education, the crime or aggressive elements that you must protect yourself and loved ones from, the ideals of masculinity and femininity that exist in your class, and many other class factors. 

DeMause argues that the Jews in Germany were of a superior psychoclass to the rest of the Germans -- they loved their children more, and their children had better self-esteem for it. It was this, primarily, which allowed them to make something of what was offered in their societal environment to become enfranchised, despite resistances from the rest of the German populace. The fact that they had better-loved parents mean that they had parents who were more comfortable with their individuating from them, dissenting from them -- they didn't need them so much to serve them, to give them the love they were denied by their own parents. This means that freedom was to them an opportunity, not something that could lead you dangerously astray indeed. 

What ultimately stopped even the huge power of their not feeling guilt when they succeeded, was Germanic regression -- when Germans could no longer handle the opportunity-enfranchising Weimar 20s and regressed provincial (back to mommy). On the lookout for those who best represented the guilty striving self who would dare individuating from mommy, they targeted their most progressive citizens -- the Jews. 

Anyway, not psychosexual character, but the amount of love you received as a child. DeMause would explore whether people of a similar social class are actually the same psychically/emotionally, if overall their childrearing, the amount of love they give their children, is around the same ... and this, mostly, explaining their grouping into some kind of outward social class. If not, if you are a child of parents who are superior, you'll have to deal with what your neighbours think of your not, for example, spanking your kids, your "spoiling" them, but you won't be possessed so much of parental alters (kind of like the superego) informing you of how bad you are when you succeed, that make you feel actually kind of good when you remain content with your assigned lot.  

The rightwing says it's all up to you ... and are speaking mostly to the working classes (who mostly possess, I believe, about the same level of childrearing) ... those who at their core don't want a society which enables them too much, who want leaders to encourage them to turn on themselves so they don't risk blaming those in society meant to represent their terrifying parents. I don't want to enter the power of their dark world; I'm thinking of the power provided when you have the chance of grouping together with those gifted with having received more love ... if things get really bad, like with the Puritans in Europe, it may yet be possible to Mayflower yourselves over to America and start something better there!

-- Patrick 

P.S. Nice tree. 


PETSCH...@appstate.edu



Feb 17


Re: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Hans, 
Te following is about as good a description as I found.  Being there was one of 
the more meaningful experiences in my long history with the regime. 
By the way, the German/NATO HQ is in the same complex; that is why the text next 
to the photograph of the Museum Exhibits is so important. 
Peter 


Trevor Pederson



Feb 17


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Hi Patrick

There is a history in psychoanalysis of noting not enough maternal care and too much are a bad thing (which Winnicott summed up nicely in the 'good enough' mother).

Nietzsche and others have talked about the importance of 'reactive affects' in contrast to the 'will to truth'. Instead of the ideal mother ideally raising the child and that child going on to have a pure love or pure interest in science or art, I think many biographies will show that pride, envy, inferiority, etc. and other reactive traits will be involved. Narcissism is often needed to feel entitled to introduce new views and ideas.

Things are complicated and having just one axis concerning love is too simple.

Schizoid individuals often don't feel in home in their bodies and body psychotherapists often point to how they have thin, extremely tight bodies that show an adaptation against being in their bodies/looking to connect to the body of another. The coldness that one can sometimes feel from them in projective identification (i.e. when they assume the parental imago and make you feel like they did) also indicates the parental care involved. You can think you are right but it's not the same as having evidence or reasons.

I can assure you that every patient I've worked with who is assured of having had his mother's love didn't get 'good enough' mothering and has narcissistic issues.

If you do more reading in psychoanalytic theory and compare and contrast the different schools you'll find many conflicting views. You can just choose the view that makes the most sense to you or the most popular one and call it a day, but all individuation and maturation comes from thinking against oneself and giving some credit to the opposing viewpoints.

Trevor 


me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)



Feb 17


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Nietzsche and others have talked about the importance of 'reactive affects' in contrast to the 'will to truth'. Instead of the ideal mother ideally raising the child and that child going on to have a pure love or pure interest in science or art, I think many biographies will show that pride, envy, inferiority, etc. and other reactive traits will be involved. Narcissism is often needed to feel entitled to introduce new views and ideas.

I know all this. This was the take that I, that all of us, grew up with. I in fact never heard that genius owed to simply being loved, to allowance. I got "there" when I understood just how wretched past childrearing was, then when I learned of the appalling lives of many geniuses I realized that at some level, many of them could well still have had a better start than the majority culture around them. Without the love, no genius. With some of it, you could still get geniuses ... but one's sadly afflicted with the problems you've listed for us. If only they'd gotten more.

-- Patrick

Anyway, third post today. Thank you very much people. I'll check in again tomorrow. 


Trevor Pederson



Feb 17


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social control

Patrick, things are complicated and I keep sensing that you want to make them simple. There's to much "love," not enough, there's too much discipline, there's not enough, etc. and also inheritance that selects for certain impulses, projects, etc. that cause the fixations without the parent acting out of the ordinary.

It's not always that a genius with more love would have done better, it could be that his class or environment caused too many ego injuries later in life. If he or she had gotten more love then he or she might not have formed character the way they did. When you have someone with masochistic (echoistic) character that doesn't like to be noticed by others, then this inhibition could economically push them towards artistic pursuits:

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” (Winnicott)  

If this person got more love and wasn't so afraid of rejection then they wouldn't be as driven in their pursuits. There are also many different routes to being an artist and this isn't the problem of them all.

If there is no love from the caregiver the child would be horribly affected, no one is disputing the importance of love. However, having the most conflicts and tensions in a person can produce very good results or a very neurotic person.

Trevor



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