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Two full psychohistorical conversations (with all names other than mine, changed)


Rather than skimming through it, I finally read all of Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of our Nature." I'm guessing that the one thing others have not discussed is his description of the crazy, utopian 1960s. In a nutshell, he's not for it. It was a period of the relaxation of self-control -- "Do your own thing, Let it all hang out, If it feels good do it, Take a walk on the wild side." What happens out of all of this is what happens to, for example, the why-don't-you-all-fade-away band, the Who, where as he says one of the band members end up being a homicidal maniac, running over his bodyguard and such. For a peaceful society, you have to eschew these temptations to be free. If you're not up for it, perhaps you're lucky enough to be like Pinker and have a mother who dissuaded him from becoming other than the perfect mensch. 

So he's ostensibly telling us the good news -- society has gotten better; much better -- while warning us away from getting too excited. So if you are to read his work about how history is "shockingly violent" and "deeply brutal." About how most previous societies were profoundly infanticidal. That it was about rapes, a lot of rapes. That tribal cultures are the worst -- he says, believe it or not, the colonialists reports of their savagery was spot-on. You're not supposed to say -- well then, why the hell History? why the hell Anthropology? and count the future as open terrain, spared heeding any scoldings to read history else repeat sins. Such blatant, youthful repulsion of elders and of the past, doesn't in his mind lead to 1920s modernism or 1960s hippie-love, but to your eventually taking a knife from your kitchen drawer and skewering your neighbour. No, as absurd as his account makes of these ginormous realms of interest and study, he wouldn't dare question any discipline -- a word he surely loves -- that encourages kids to spend dutiful hours studying, studying, studying, and enlarging their capacities of self-control and reason and self-denial. 




De Mause wouldn't discount that periods where you really feel you can let it go, be free -- youthful, golden age periods -- lead to a lot of violence. But his take is this isn't because adolescent periods are always that, which is why we should tutor ourselves to prefer the elder. His take is that they needn't be violent at all, they could be just times conducive to the most enriched living, but in the past they inevitably became violent because few of us were raised with enough love that we're not still under pressure from our internal perpetrator parental alters to feel like we'll be abandoned or killed if we enjoy ourselves too much (our alters, representatives of our denied, depressed mothers, required us to fill their gaps, and rejected us when near as infants focused on ourselves). So when things get really good, and we can't retreat, recess -- we go amok. 

Pinker's work, that is, is actually for me a bit of a kill-joy. As much as I quickly realized my dreaming, Utopian-visioned professors of pre-modern History or Anthropology weren't quite seeing their peoples quite right, I knew at least that these professors were well-loved enough to inspire me to dream big, to try and be big -- they wanted these people to be magical, at least in part, for their own selves. These people, I knew, inspired by the 60s youthful culture, will be the best we'll see into a new Golden Age inspires even more healthily raised people to change the world. When they start being discounted, it'll be mostly about liberating ourselves from their permission and goodness -- them as emblems of allowance -- not truly their blind sightedness.  

Pinker is adamant that a bourgeois society is an elder one, a sober one. This is different from de Mause. De Mause talks about them as if they were youths stepping out into a new land of promise -- ongoing growth, accruing wealth, accruing self-satisfaction, accruing self-attendance. He would argue that Pinker's sober world isn't actually intrinsically so inhibited at all, that we are prone to colour it that way so we can try and hide from ourselves the fact that what we wanted for ourselves is being realized -- surely Pinker's current state of mind. If this isn't successful, if we begin to feel like we've empowered ourselves too much, have gone too long without some large sacrifice for our sins, we'll precipitate a war or deep recession. 

One does note that even as much as Pinker goes to great lengths to suggest that "Iran" isn't so bad, he leaves room to change his tune. What is absolutely abhorrent, what was a disgrace, was the 1960s, because with its upsurge of adolescence it upset a pleasant graph that showed violence on the downswing. As much as he has talked about the current religious as having compartmentalized many of their beliefs so they're out of the way of everyday life, he doesn't spare setting them up so that they don't seem like people out of several hundred years ago, still living with us today. He doesn't spare them being seen as people "before the (Protestant) revolution" -- the new atheist way of looking at Muslims. 

If Pinker's mother didn't just bless him by discouraging his total freedom but also humiliated him, if he too at some level desires revenge upon her, not just to credit and acclaim, he might re-stage by setting up the Muslim world as both the Terrifying Mother and the Bad Child, and start pointing fingers ... look you, what's with all this disruption! 

We'll see if he goes like fellow reasoning, rationalist, atheist Dawkins, who was all Biology and study and peace and urbanity and Enlightenment ... until he wasn't, and had to settle scores. 

Patrick

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Apr 13

Dear Patrick,

Can you perhaps sum up in a paragraph what you just said. I can't make anything coherent out of it. Must be Monday morning. 

Frank

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Apr 13



Frank, I was arguing that Pinker's book doubles as a proper etiquette book -- grandmotherly wisdom. Over and over again, he tells us that we'll never be free of our instinct to be violent. We can enlarge our capacity to empathize, but love really isn't so much to be counted on so much as improved reasoning skills and increased self-control. We've become much less violent, much less depraved and barbaric, because we've increasingly become more of an elder society, where things like letting yourself be free, doesn't become our mantra. We need our enthusiasms, our passions, curbed. 

I suggest that his point of view be explored as possibly a way one might want to colour our ongoing, growing society, so that we don't have to admit to ourselves how enriched we're feeling out of these many years of increased opportunities and peace. I'm working, in a sense, to make sure that Pinker doesn't succeed in making times which are ruled by youth, like the 1920s and 1960s, things we need to actually avoid. I myself am a Utopian, and view his skewering of utopianism with distaste. 

I hope this is more clear, Frank. And thanks for the feedback.

———


Pinker is a cognitive psychologist, which in my mind means he is like an ocean biologist who only considers the life that can be viewed on the surface . . . in other words, clueless as compared with a depth psychologist. (I did suffer through one of his books, BTW.)

Being against the 60s movement is equivalent in my mind to being against the Renaissance. It brought so much opening of minds, along with revolutions in technology (e.g., computers), medicine (widespread use of antibiotics, for example), political thought (Civil Rights movement, women's movement etc.), and certainly art.

Anyone who lived through it and yet missed the point is pitiable, but not credible.

Sam



Apr 13

— — —

Hi,

How much outright violence was committed
at Woodstock, I wonder? Rapes, murders,
child abuse? The fences were knocked down,
to be sure. Drugs were ubiquitous, without
doubt. But I wonder, amidst the pot-foggy mist
that mixed with the rain, how many bodies not
engaged in consensual sexual activity were
engaged in destructive warfare or wife beating? 

I am not proposing that we all get loaded are
high on drugs, merely wondering aloud how far 
we have come from a generation of dreamers
who dared to disagree with Viet Nam, who were
against prejudice, who risked their lives in the
Civil Rights movement, who stood up for gay
rights--so fashionable these days-- and who
took on the establishment, who were witness
to, and sometimes themselves risked or suffered 
assassinations. 
Where have all the flowers gone, long time 
passing? Where indeed?! With deepest affection
for and apologies to Ann Coulter, my heroin, or
is is heroine? My spelling, oh my.....

Fred

— — —


Apr 13



And it may be remembered by all and sundry that 1960s were the original stage for the Birth Control Pills, which in many cultures forever altered the physical and intellectual relationships among the genders. 

Frank

— — —


Apr 13


...but then the great powers that be,
in whatever form you imagine: CIA,
mad scientists,nature, created AIDS.

Alas, alack, gotta put my rubbers back

Fred

— — —

Apr 13



This is the most noteworthy passage for me in the whole book:

(Norbert) Elias had written that the demands of self-control and the embedding of the self into webs of interdependence were historically reflected in the development of timekeeping devices and a consciousness of time: "This is why tendencies in the individual so  often rebel against social time as represented by his or her super-ego, and why so many people come into conflict with themselves when they wish to be punctual." In the opening scene of the 1969 movie Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda conspicuously toss their wristwatch into the dirt before setting off on their motorcycles to find America. That same year, the first album by the band Chicago [...] contained the lyrics "Does anybody really now what time it is? Does anybody really care? If so I can't imagine why." All this made sense to me when I was sixteen, and so I discarded my own Timex. When my grandmother saw my naked wrist, she was incredulous: "How can you be a mensch without a wager?" She ran to a drawer and pulled out a Seiko she had brought during a visit to the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka. I have it to this day. (page 111)

He concludes the book, incidentally, this way: 

A final reflection. In writing this book I have adopted a voice that is analytic, and at times irreverent, because I believe the topic has inspired too much piety and not enough understanding. But at no point have I been unaware of the reality behind the numbers.To review the history of violence is to be repeatedly astounded by the cruelty and waste of it all, and at times to be overcome with anger, disgust, and immeasurable sadness. I know that behind the graphs there is young men who feels a stab of pain and watches the life drain slowly out of him, knowing he has been robbed of decades of existence. There is a victim of torture whose contents of consciousness have been replaced by unbearable agony, leaving room only for the desire that consciousness itself should cease. There is a woman who has learned that her husband, her father, and her brothers are dead in a ditch, and who will soon "fall into the hands of hot and forcing violation." 

So we get this sort of neutral, distanced, account throughout, where amongst other things we learn his life was saved from depravity owing to a highly memorable incidence involving a watch where his grandmother stepped in to reign in his youthful impulses. And he finishes with a graphic afterwards, where a young man watches the life drain out of him, and afterwards, "the coup de grace," of an adult woman, already deprived of everyone that matters to her, about to be raped. 

Are we encountering here mostly his profound sadness and dismay, amelioration to those who wonder how he can talk about such awful subject manner and remain so cold? Or is it more unconscious payback against the women in his life who stepped in during his blooming adolescence during a blooming time in America's history, and made bloody sure he didn't grow up to be a rock and roll star?

-- Patrick

————————————————————————


Apr 12



Salon.com has an article about how Ann Coulter is calling Christians -- her kind -- wimps, in face of confident, effective, aggressive atheism. This bit:

O’Reilly then asks Coulter how it is that the 80 percent of Americans who consider themselves Christians “are getting thumped, they’re losing . . . .  How did that happen?”
For Coulter, the answer lies in pusillanimous Christian leaders (abetted by spineless Republicans).  Their cowardice is, she says, “ridiculous,” because “the one thing every Christian should have is courage.  The most important thing in your life, eternity, is already taken care of.  Go out and fight.  You’re afraid of being sneered at by the New York Times?”

Brings to mind deMause's description of the start of wars, where mothers are demanding courage and sacrifice and show of loyalty, from their suspect youth: 

That wars are seen emotionally as led by dangerous Killer Mothers, with war goddesses from Athena to Freyja and from Brittania to Marianne depicted as devouring, raping and ripping apart her children, is one of my most unexpected
findings during the three decades I have studied war psychohistorically. The further back in history one goes, the more wars are openly considered as being fought for
Killer Goddesses, from Tiamat, Ishtar, Inanna, Isis and Kali to the Aztec mother goddess Huitzilopochtli, who had “mouths all over her body” that cried out to be fed

the blood of her soldiers.

[...]

It is men who join the military to appeal to women as brave heroes who will save them, who respond to recruiting posters saying “Women of Britain Say ‘GO!”, who claim “all women like to hear of men fighting and facing danger” and who go to their death in battle with one word, “Mom,” on their lips. Mothers today may not send their sons forth to
battle with the adjuration “Come back with your shield or on it” as did Spartan mothers, but in fantasy many soldiers still hear the inner voices of their mothers saying to them: “Grow up and be a MAN”—i.e., kill or be killed. 

Origins of War, "Killer Motherland"

Christians are being insulted by Ann Coulter, representing their dangerous, angry mother, and it probably won't be long before she's effectively painted on shields and carried as the protective proud mother onto battlefields, as young Christians suit up against the unrelenting "bullying" (the bullying they knew from their own mothers, projected onto an outside source) of the new atheists. War of psychoclasses, like the American Civil War, and the War of Revolution. 

— — —


Apr 12


Dear Patrick, 

I have not seen that "Killer Motherland" quote before, and in my opinion it is an hysterical bullseye. With little exception, it seems, women are mostly portrayed as the "collateral damage" in wars, which they encourage their sons and spouses to fight at risk of social or military dishonor and sexual humiliation. But when it comes down to the trenches, in hand-to-hand live combat, soldiers (at least the organized and commanded ones) do not necessarily fight for motherhood and sexually loaded cherry pie, which of course represents the motherland (in most places, but not all). 

In fact, they move forward so as not to be deemed cowards (by fellow soldiers) and to fight for the approval of their comrades, who will seldom tolerate deserters (current case to wit), and for the flag under which they are pledged to serve. (Napoleon paid special attention to flag bearers and had them protected fiercely.) If fatherhood is squandered on battlefields, history until now says so be it. Nonetheless, it is widely regarded as a crime to kill women and children and a shameful lack of manhood if any male in the family even conscientiously objects, much less "deserts" the cause. 

I will read "Killer Motherland" with interest to see how the implications of the above unflinching look at motherhood plays out with mothers and their minions. Is it possible that when women write history the world looks different? What might life be like if all the mothers in the world turned deMausean? 

Thanks for the perfect quote.

Frank

— — —



Apr 12



Frank’s comments ring true to me.  There are also data about mommies and militarism, and this trumps what any psychohistorian might have written in a speculative vein.  First, public opinion data consistently show a “gender gap” in which men favor war and militarism by 10 to 20 percentage points more than women.  This empirical finding is so well established and so well known that I have to wonder what is going on when a psychohistorian chooses to ignore it.

Second, there is an empirical literature on the gender psychology of militarism that addresses not the gender gap between males and females but the androgynous vs. macho personality types among males.   When I published my hawks and doves article http://middleclassfightsback.org/resources/PolPsyc95.pdf it was the most recent and possibly the only study of its kind on this topic, and may still be.  My data show that there are two separate personality factors—machismo and authoritarianism—that predict militarist policy preferences for males.  Authoritarianism also predicts militarism for females.  I believe that authoritarianism arises from punitive parenting subcultures discussed by deMause.  There is some evidence for this in the interview data from Adorno et al’s The Authoritarian Personality but much more empirical work needs to be done in this area.  If someone can get me a research grant, I’d be happy to do the research myself.

The etiology of the machismo factor, on the other hand, is probably unrelated to the quality of child rearing.  My explanation, which I present in my hawks and doves article, is that machismo arises from male gender insecurity that is INHERENT in the way our society stereotypes the sexes, and that these social pressures exist even for people who have been raised in a completely loving way.  Here is the scenario.  In a culture in which infant care is almost exclusively assigned to women, the formation of self for people of both sexes has its deepest roots in identification with the mother.  When the sex sterotyping kicks in later in childhood, however, girls are pressured to continue identifying with their mothers, while boys are pressured to dis-identify with their mothers. 

This sets up a situation of life-long gender confinement for females (see Nancy Chodorow’s The Reproduction of Mothering) and gender insecurity for males.  Society is telling males to be tough, don’t be a sissy, go out there and kick ass, etc. etc., while deep down inside they/we feel “feminine” because we are identified with our mothers.  So no matter how much macho males try to live up to the macho ideal, they are always haunted by the feeling that deep down inside they are feminine, and need to go to great lengths to prove their manhood, even to the extent of killing other males.

This is the “default” situation for mother-raised males subjected to sex-sterotyped socialization, and it occurs INDEPENDENTLY of the quality of mothering.  Note well: I am not minimizing the importance of quality of parenting; far from it.  My point is only that quality of parenting is most likely tapped by the authoritarianism construct, while the etiology of machismo for many males has to do with the unnatural dis-identification from the mother into which males are socialized by mainstream culture.

While this explains machismo, the question then arises why some males are androgynous.  I believe there are several pathways to androgyny.  First, if a person’s father or a father figure nurtured them when they were infants, either as a single parent or with the mother, then their self-formation would be rooted in male as well as female introjects (in the dual parent scenario) and they will be naturally androgynous as adults.

Second, if boys are raised in androgynous subcultures that shield them from the sex-sterotyping of the larger society, then they can be at peace with the feminine part of themselves and live as androgynous males.

Third, a male can undo their internalized macho socialization through psychotherapy, male support groups, and the like.  Jungian psychotherapy is explicitly oriented to psychic evolution towards androgyny.  Males encounters their feminine introjects (or “archetypes,” as Jung would have it) in dreams and other products of the unconscious.  Through the interpretation of these images, the male eventually comes to see them as parts of himself and thus not threatening or alien.  This integration of unconscious feminine parts of the self into the total personality constitutes “androgyny.”

Brad

— — —

Apr 12



DeMause's take is that the unit of soldiers, the group, is itself maternal -- "regiments are our mothers". Officers as "hens." Cannons called "mom," and such. Everywhere he's written about the flag as placenta ... except in his most recent work -- "Origins of war" -- where "the fetal" seems near (this is an exaggeration, but not much) to have disappeared from his thinking. It'd be good exercise to see if he really thinks of it as such. It might be more accurate to wonder if he now thought of it more as a conduit to mother (making it comparable to one of those arms upraised to Hitler) than it is something separate, something of itself, which is how he originally viewed the fetus's relationship with the placenta. 

De Mause believes wars are specifically about the chance to kill women and children. People do a split, and project all the dangerous and bad aspects onto the others you're fighting. Your mother country becomes all good, and you're all good -- the favourite you always wanted to be -- by standing up for Her. You revenge against her through your killing/raping enemy women, and against your own bad, spoiled, vulnerable self, by killing enemy soldiers, enemy children. 

One of the strange things I have noticed in his writings, though, is a quote of his of how Hitler saw medusa's eyes as the eyes of his own mother. What I mean, is, shouldn't this have been projected -- out?, leaving his mother perhaps stern but never monstrous?

About the fact that it was regarded as a crime to kill women and children, de Mause believes that, at some level, everyone knew that though "Wars are thought of as being fought mainly by men against men, [...] most wars kill more women and children than men—today for every soldier who dies in war, ten civilians die, about half of them children." 

The sense we have of men who are sticking up for one another, who don't want to disappoint one another -- a band of brothers -- is certainly how they are shown in film. Sort of a homosocial, homosexual enclave, while a raging tempest ensues around them. Whatever the reality, the pleasure we might take in films when we see this, is what we may want when we are not quite in the mood to remerge with her but rather feel the need to situate ourselves in a simulacrum of our own terrifying infantile state, armed with some kind of totemic power. 

More along this line of thinking, that is -- "New Guinea social, religious and political institutions are primarily constructions by men to defend against maternal engulfment fears through shared beliefs and rituals." And this: "Men cling to their various solidarity arrangements to counter engulfing, poisonous women, because "Women represent an enemy, the enemy, and aggression is based on opposition to them. At every stage of the developmental cycle,men have an internal, united organization as reference; women and external enemies are the target of concern, they are conceptually equivalent."

De Mause would also say that during wars the idea, the image, of young men all dead on the battlefield is actually a pleasant one -- they've finally martyred themselves, and are being blanketed in remorse and love and appreciation by their mothers. Such was the purpose of war, what men ultimately signed up for -- this sacrifice of their youth. I can't say I've ever seen such reflected in films -- usually there's a strong sense that someone ought to pay! But I think we can perhaps catch some sense of this when we see gravestones of soldiers, side by side, or of their returning caskets, cloathed in "swaddling cloth." These men are heroes, cleansed of sin and now loved in Heaven -- not entirely a sad fate. 

— Patrick

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Apr 12



Speaking of Jung Brad, Erich Neumann wrote Fear of the Feminine and has myths that support some of what Patrick says.

Also, one of the most central hero myths is Heracles in which Hera is the evil force trying to stop him.

I'm all for psychic bisexuality, psychic hermaphroditism, or whatever you want to call it, but I don't think disowning the feminine part of your personality is the only issue.

I've written before that a lot of the fantasies and repetitions that surround the father imago in one patient have shown up with the mother imago in other patients. Although I'm not a fan of Lacan, his concept of foreclosure is the closest to this operation. 

Getting away from universals, when there is obviously so many different personality types out there, is the most important research for psychoanalytic theory, in my opinion,

Trent

— — —
Apr 12



Trent, I completely agree that there are multiple personality types, and in fact in any personality data set there are multiple typologies consistent with the same data.  It is deMause and Patrick, not me, who are proposing a one-size fits all theory of militarism.  I have no doubt whatsoever that the pattern deMause and Patrick are describing fits SOME people.  The question is, how much of the variance in hawk and dove attitudes and behavior does the deMausian factor or factors explain?  That is actually an empirical question that lends itself to quantitative research, and I have done the research and published it in Political Psychology, one of the two major peer reviewed journals in the field:  http://middleclassfightsback.org/resources/PolPsyc95.pdf

My conclusion is that authoritarianism, which corresponds to the deMausian “quality of child-rearing” factor, explains a major portion of the hawk/dove variance, and machismo explains another, comparable portion.  My proposed explanation of the etiology of the machismo factor is sociological/psychoanalytic, following the analysis of Nancy Chodorow in her classic, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (University of California Press, 1978).  I don’t doubt that there are yet other factors, and in fact in my article I combined authoritarianism with a third factor—Machiavellianism.  But these are the major factors in terms of explanatory power, and unless and until someone does other research that supports a different conclusion, this is the state of the peer-reviewed empirical research on this question, at least to my knowledge.

Brad


— — —

Apr 12



I have a lot of respect for your courage, Brad, but I've read both Dinnerstein and Chodorow, and myself used them in undergraduate papers when prof's nerves could be settled by associating what I was arguing with familiar, more mild (read: agreeable) psychoanalytic stuff. Whatever I was doing, I was communicating, will know bounds -- I was ostensibly being inspired by scholars familiar and processed and not too outlandish: such is what I saw on the horizons! De Mause never refers to them but instead to Dorothy Bloch and Joseph Rheingold. I used them (well, actually only Rheingold -- Bloch wasn't in the library) when I didn't give a wit about unnerving people, and just in keeping faith with myself. 

Mothers were once the centre of our universe. When as boys we're playing war at the age of four or five, enjoying bravado, in face of fears, it's probably appropriate to veto at least a few of the multi-causal reasons for war -- it probably isn't about oil money, for instance. And it gets harder to deny that the person who says it's about maternal distancing and insecure attachments, is guilty of narrowing down. 

We grow up, yes, but what if these early experiences changed our brains and wired us for life? What if de Mause is right that just growing, enjoying life -- becoming independent -- is for most of us something we cannot detach as a source of guilt, as something that made us guilty when we were young because it meant not attending to our insufficiently attended-to mother? And what if too much of it draws us eventually toward a need to re-stage our early childhood humiliations, bonding with our mothers and eviscerating our guilty, bad childhood selves? 

What if when we war we're accessing early childhood memories, early childhood brain states, so in effect we're two or three or five years old again -- but not in totality: we can retain the adult skills needed to strategize and build bombs, required to do the requisite amount of earned damage, acquired in our early guilty years of surely deliberate, maternal neglect. But in our language, when we talk, you'll feel the kind of rage that can only be fueled out of feeling apocalyptically abandoned and humiliated (this is Rheingold), at a very early age.

— — —

DEAR PATRICK,

"What if when we war we're accessing early childhood memories, early childhood brain states, so in effect we're two or three or five years old again -- but not in totality: we can retain the adult skills needed to strategize and build bombs, required to do the requisite amount of earned damage, acquired in our early guilty years of surely deliberate, maternal neglect. But in our language, when we talk, you'll feel the kind of rage that can only be fueled out of feeling apocalyptically abandoned and humiliated (this is Rheingold), at a very early age."

There may be a complete disconnect among the situations we are discussing as war. It sounds to me as if we are all in agreement when we conjure up visions of bombed out buildings, decaying bodies, flames, screaming, and tortured spirits. But we see and feels all that when there is no "war," so what's the difference? Is it possible that divisions of soldiers and cadres of powerful leaders are simultaneously infested with the lice of war and turn their brains into 5-year-olds, who can really battle bloodier and harder than pit bulls if you don't stop them? Why not? 

Not sure what you mean by "earned damage" or what signifies that "surely deliberate maternal neglect." What was neglected? 

I've been on the ground in a few "wars" as we all have. War means civility is almost entirely forgotten. If there are any limits they will be crossed and exceeded. Only dumb luck keeps you alive. I've never seen battlefield rage, seldom heard of it among fighting men or women. Military rage usually takes place in camps and homes and bars. 

And almost every child I know, including me, my wives, my children and most of my friends have felt abandoned at very early ages (so nobody can seem special because of that) as well as humiliated, and that probably goes for any enemy one might choose to fight a "war" against. I have met a very few people, including world renown ogres, who are innocent of abandonment and humiliation because it is almost 100% common species-wide. Thus the feelings of it are unlikely to trigger wars. What may trigger wars are factors like lack of respect, overestimation and underestimation of risks (maybe that's where the 5-year-old mind makes the miscalculations), paucity of original ideas for compromise, the human taste and desire for (hot or cold) revenge, mother, of course, and the ebb and flow of money. There are some who might say that that leaves a lot of Jews, Arabs, Celts, Germans, Russians, Chinese and English off the hook, and it does.

Frank

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Apr 13



And almost every child I know, including me, my wives, my children and most of my friends have felt abandoned at very early ages (so nobody can seem special because of that) as well as humiliated, and that probably goes for any enemy one might choose to fight a "war" against. I have met a very few people, including world renown ogres, who are innocent of abandonment and humiliation because it is almost 100% common species-wide. Thus the feelings of it are unlikely to trigger wars.

The deMausian theory goes that what is the source of war is our own feeling guilty and bad when we start enjoying ourselves too much. We experience our inner perpetrator alters leaving us -- our moms, abandoning us -- and we respond to this intolerable fate as follows:

1) We rebond to a maternal entity -- to mom -- and shorn ourselves of anything that could make us feel spoiled. Weimar Germany lead to a subsequent Germany which shorned cosmopolitanism for nationalism and provincialism.
2) We become her favourites, absolutely loyal to her.
3) We war against people we've projected all her and our own bad stuff onto -- so Terrifying Mothers and Bad Boys and Girls. 

Humiliations don't take us into war; it's more our sense of having earned them by being unfaithful to our mothers, our being spoiled and guilty. This way, she's always someone who could love us, if only we behave properly. For the least loved, dying on the battlefields, shorning ourselves of our youthful potential and sacrificing ourselves to her, is a sure way to do this.

— Patrick
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Apr 13


There are so many fuzzy words in those responses that I cannot make any coherent sense of it at all. "Unfaithful," "spoiled," "guilty." Add to that: "The source of war is our own feeling guilty and bad when we start enjoying ourselves too much," as if there really is such a daringly Utopian state. I don't believe that I suggested "humiliations" take us to war. When was there last a humiliated general who started a war? More likely are the humiliated corporals, and their mothers, naturally. 

Frank

— — —

Apr 13

Dear Patrick,

I'd like to ask you one question for clarification: Can you remember back with any accuracy at all where and when you learned the definition of the words guilty, unfaithful, spoiled, absolutely loyal, and bad?

Frank

— — —


Apr 13



The emotional tone I always took out of my relationship with my mother. I'm not sure when I learned the words, though -- "spoiled" maybe out of Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," maybe.

— — —


Apr 13

I was most interested in "absolute loyalty."

Frank

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Apr 13



Okay, sure -- and sorry everyone for all the responses. Absolute loyalty I probably learned when, as a child, and awakened out of a nightmare, I ran screaming to my mom insisting that I would protect her from the big monkeys. I felt real good knowing that was my response. I also remember, maybe sometime 5ish, hiding behind my mom when I first met the neighbours, but already sensing that self-realization would come when I wasn't so much hiding in her skirts but standing at the forefront of her property, Proud Heimdal at the gates of Asgaard. 

That's the best I can do for now. I think it's the truest answer, but maybe not. 

— Patrick

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Apr 13


So this is who you wanted to be? How does this creature represent loyalty? 

B
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Apr 13



First image isn't showing, unfortunately. Protector of my mother and her realm, always. 


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Apr 13



"What may trigger wars are factors like lack of respect, overestimation and underestimation of risks (maybe that's where the 5-year-old mind makes the miscalculations), paucity of original ideas for compromise, the human taste and desire for (hot or cold) revenge, mother, of course, and the ebb and flow of money."

Think Frank is onto it.   I might add...the deep drive to be RIGHT (and hotly indignant) is up there

— Paul

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Apr 14

Re: In a culture in which infant care is almost exclusively assigned to women, the formation of self for people of both sexes has its deepest roots in identification with the mother.  When the sex sterotyping kicks in later in childhood, however, girls are pressured to continue identifying with their mothers, while boys are pressured to dis-identify with their mothers.  

This sets up a situation of life-long gender confinement for females (see Nancy Chodorow’s The Reproduction of Mothering) and gender insecurity for males.  Society is telling males to be tough, don’t be a sissy, go out there and kick ass, etc. etc., while deep down inside they/we feel “feminine” because we are identified with our mothers.  So no matter how much macho males try to live up to the macho ideal, they are always haunted by the feeling that deep down inside they are feminine, and need to go to great lengths to prove their manhood, even to the extent of killing other males. 

This is the “default” situation for mother-raised males subjected to sex-sterotyped socialization, and it occurs INDEPENDENTLY of the quality of mothering.  Note well: I am not minimizing the importance of quality of parenting; far from it.  My point is only that quality of parenting is most likely tapped by the authoritarianism construct, while the etiology of machismo for many males has to do with the unnatural dis-identification from the mother into which males are socialized by mainstream culture.
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De Mause would argue that any society where you see "sex-typed socialization," is one where you had very poorly loved mothers. The quality of parenting, of mothering, is built in -- such and such kind of maternal care, leads to this immature, this depraved, form of society. How does this work? Men out of certain kinds of mothering end up having little interest in children other than as breast substitutes, and want women (always reminding them of their omnipotent, dangerous mothers) quarantined. Women out of certain kinds of mothering are possessive over their children, using them as well until losing interest owing to their growing up and growing away from them. 

Poorly loved mothers, he argues, give very little eye contact with their boys, making them feel much more alone and poorly attached. To ward against this, boys themselves seek to make bravado displays of their toughness, something he says you can see as early as 3 years of age. He writes that being with one's mother can be a boys' biggest desire and comfort -- as much as he's never supposed to admit it -- but with these sorts of insufficiently loved mothers, it's certainly not only that. 


Being "feminine" also means being in effect used incestuously by her, being part of her body, her excretions, and her play-toy (de Mause mentions how many machismo cultures have boys sleeping with their mothers way into adolescence). They end up picking on feminine boys, not just because society encourages them to but as a means of repudiating their own experienced incest: you're the fem, not me, faggot! That is, it isn't just that he may not ever be capable of meeting society's expectations that irks, but that they can never feel free of being intrinsically that piece of incestuously used trash, which is what he very much was in his first years of life ... like how a prostitute probably feels, owing to her early suffered child abuse. 

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