Dispatches ... #5









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drwargus
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May 8



Thanks to everyone for the many varied responses to this article. As many of you know, I come from a developmental paradigm. As the human imagination becomes more complex, We develop more complex systems and forms of government. Documents like the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution represent Whole new ways of thinking about human rights.

How can we govern ourselves? The answer to some degree depends on how inclusive you are. Do you just want to take care of your city, your state, your nation, or the whole world? of course this document from the state department does not adequately address the situation. Most people are not ready to comprehend that old "us versus them" thinking is not adequate. We can no longer think in terms of our nation versus other evil empires. What is the solution? The answer will evolve over time, but psychohistory should be able to make intelligent commentary, both theoretical and practical.



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mfbrttn
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May 8



Barney and Brian,
A quick note:  Gene Sharp's how-to manual is:  From Dictatorship to Democracy, a Conceptual Framework for Liberation.  Published by Green Print.  

Re. harmful power yields because the context makes it unworkable to continue:  Gene's book spells out lots of ways to make things unworkable for dictatorial power so that it must collapse.  

Also, I mentioned the strategy re. child soldier armies: typically the opposing soldiers had to fight their way through the children while the adult commanders of the child-soldiers stayed in the back and would flee to escape capture if the fighting went "the wrong way."  Leapfrogging the children and going right after their commanders creates a new context that makes the strategy a losing proposition for would-be commanders of children.  What before made those commanders powerful now makes them fugitives desperate to escape.  

I am also vaguely remembering former President Jimmy Carter negotiating with generals in a country in Latin America for them to resign and leave the country, and not getting anywhere.  Meantime the President of the US (was it Clinton?) finally ordered an invasion force to take to the air and head south.  This was reported to the generals by their own people, and a deal with Carter was quickly reached.  My memory is missing in action re. the details.

From general strikes that show a regime's inability to control a country, to the press of outside invaders, etc., it seems there are many ways change-creating-power can meet dominant-power head on (or indirectly), leaving dominant power unable to keep its hold over people.  For example also, Brian shows many examples of workers pushing back against current power structures in our country, using organizational approaches to field adequate resources/power to challenge continued dominance.  

This approach is all about altering the terrain in which dominant power is operating, such that the attempts at exercising that dominance no longer work.  The power calculus has shifted in favor of others,  from the few to the many.  Instead of power losing faith in its own purposes, this is an approach in which power's options are curtailed by court order, legislation, boycott, country-wide strikes, and an entire array of means that render "business as usual" a quick path to jail, a quick path to economic collapse, a quick path to being voted out of office, etc., etc.  That's what I had in mind in this phrase.  

I also agree that data mining is more of the current fad, which itself has redefined the terrain of power.  And yet, perhaps, in moving in that direction, some movement toward getting to know, appreciate and relate to the real lives of others might slowly develop.  Maybe.  (Then there's the terrain-altering use of data-spilling/leaking that makes it harder to those in power to keep on as they have been.)

And through all of this, the challenge to make of our complicated world a life together that is more "lovely" than ugly, more mutually respectful than brutal.  And for all of us, the art of making it through the long, slow transition.



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Brian
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May 7



Jim, what does survival have to do with it?  Survival is an outcome. The death instinct is supposed to explain behavior.  If some people and some cultures are nonviolent, that means we need to explain why some are violent and others not.  If everyone has a death instinct, then why isn't everyone violent?



James Sturges <jhsturges@att.net> wrote:

Trevor, I think I understand your point about the importance of exceptions . . . I just can't think of any with respect to the idea that pacifist societies cannot long exist, at least not without protection from another.The Swiss come to mind; yet, the Swiss are very capable of defending themselves in those mountains if anyone ever tried to invade. Every adult male has military training and is armed.

-------Jim





On Wednesday, May 6, 2015 3:52 PM, Trevor Pederson <trevor.pederson@gmail.com> wrote:


Hi Jim

I think that understanding the exception to the rule is always important. Yes there's been a lot of war, but like heterosexuality, it's not universal. There are some primitive political economies that don't engage in it, or that get bulldozed by others who do.

Freud's very point about sexuality is that the penis and vagina connection found in most animals (there are some homosexual mammals and Bonobos kiss, engage in bisexuality, fellatio, etc.) is extremely more plastic in humans.

I think psychoanalysts rightly got a lot of flack for wanting to view things as eternal and failing to appreciate how sociological/technological changes might have changed "human nature".

Do you ever study the exceptions? 

On Wed, May 6, 2015 at 1:49 PM, James Sturges <jhsturges@att.net> wrote:
Brian,

We'll have to disagree about there being an inherent human drive to death and war. I see it everywhere.

Would you agree there is a sex drive? If so, what evidence do you have other than that humans want it, and most engage in it when given a chance?

Also, I happen to think that world government would equal world tyranny. Like capitalism, what makes things acceptable (to the extent that they are) is some healthy competition.

Incidentally, calling the death instinct "pseudo science" is incorrect, at least by the definitions of Thomas Kuhn, who I happen to agree with. The correct term for all of our areas: psychoanalysis, psychohistory etc. would be "Protoscience." This means there is no defined and repeatable "paradigmic experiment" in the areas of depth psychology.

Actually, I think that is the trap of the behaviorists, academics and other similar ilks who try to treat psychology as a science when its subject matter is inherently non-observable, being by definition subjective material.

--------Jim



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Brian D'Agostino
To


May 3 at 6:55 PM
Jim, I like your formulation of “the inextricable connection between real events and depth psychology.”  But I don’t agree with your notion that war can be explained by innate destructiveness of any kind.  There are a number of problems with this, not least of all the pseudo-scientific character of this kind of explanation.  Whether we call it “death instinct” or “killer genes” or “original sin” or anything else, this whole recourse to an innate destructive principle amounts to an argument of the sort, “Humans are destructive because there is something in us that makes us destructive,” which is no explanation at all.  It is like saying that wood burns because it has a combustible nature, or Mary is depressed because she has a melancholic nature.

The only way to understand war is to understand it historically, that is, as something that did not always exist and need not exist in the future but which came into existence under specific historical conditions and persists as long as those conditions persist.  Here is the historical analysis that appears in the IPA’s statement on violence:

The institution of war has its origins in the Neolithic period, when towns based on agricultural surplus became vulnerable to raids by armed nomads. The acts of aggression by nomads had clear economic motivations and the earliest warriors of agricultural societies most likely played a defensive role. With increasing class inequality, political elites gained increasing control over resources and used force as an instrument for gaining yet more control. It was in this historical context that the institutions of war, the state, and slavery developed simultaneously and persisted for millennia. While war has always been a complex result of psychological, political, and economic factors, it is fundamentally an instrument for the accumulation of wealth and power by self-interested elites whose perceptions of self-interest are distorted by psychopathology.

The policy-making process is more complex than indicated here, of course, and involves international relations, the politics of state and other elites, and the mass public. The decisive support for militarism and wars of aggression, however, comes primarily from hawk political elites and the predatory investors and corporate elites who benefit directly or indirectly from militarist policies (see Brian D’Agostino’s The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012). Individuals who actively pursue unlimited military power and wealth at the cost of vast, unnecessary human suffering harbor pathological motivations almost by definition, though the form that the actions of policy-makers take are heavily shaped by the institutional contexts in which they act.  

Something else you said also merits discussion: “a society which temporarily gave up war would soon fall victim to another which was not similarly predisposed.”  This concept has long been recognized in political science and is called “the security dilemma.”  Actually, the most recent research in game theory suggests that this description of “reality” is valid only under certain conditions (see Martin A. Nowak, Evolutionary Dynamics).  However, even if we assume for the sake of argument that a “kill or be killed” logic operated for much of human history, the assumption that this is an eternal feature of the human condition is almost certainly wrong.

To see why, we have to look at history as a whole.  Starting with warrior kings in antiquity, the process of conquest brought more and more of the world under larger and larger states, culminating in great empires such as those of Alexander, the Romans, the Muslims, and later the Spanish, the British, and most recently the American empires.  The logical outcome of this process of aggregation is world government, which would also mean the end of war.  In fact, the world currently has the institutional machinery needed for global governance and the abolition of war, most notably the UN Security Council.  The political conditions do not yet exist for this machinery to work the way it was designed to work, but the globalization of the world economy and the need to manage the ecological and other global crises are pushing things in the direction of cooperation.  Whether we will get there in time to avert a planetary train wreck is not assured, but if we survive long enough, that is the direction in which things are moving. 

A world in which the most powerful states (e.g. the US, Russia, and China) cooperate to constrain the ambitions of lesser states (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran, a rivalry that is currently wreaking havoc in the Middle East) is a world on the verge of abolishing war, at least in its classical form of armed conflict between states.  Other forms of armed conflict (e.g. “civil wars”) are likely to persist a while longer, but not indefinitely because once stable states emerge, the conditions for an enduring peace will be established.  Here I am using the term “peace” in the minimal sense of “the absence of war;” a more robust and profound peace can only occur as a result of continued progress towards non-violent and humane child rearing.  In summary, peace is not a “fantasy.”  It is a state of affairs towards which the political logic of history is tending.  Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, which is in many ways a flawed book, does contain a very good account of this process.

I also very much like Bob’s statement “Currently the world is experiencing the ferocious upheaval/resistance to modernity/paradigm shifts on multiple domestic and foreign fronts.”  This is the explanation of religious fundamentalism in a nutshell.

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253

  


James Sturges
To


May 3 at 12:13 PM
I'll start by agreeing with Brian's position, which I will re-state (hopefully correctly) as asserting the inextricable connection between real events and depth psychology as being the essence of psychohistory.

One thing we learn from psychoanalysis is that events which might appear to be random are often driven by unconscious, or hidden, motivations. There is a useful presumption in psychoanalysis to assume people do things, even self-destructive things, because at some level they want to.

This presumption applied to society in general implies that the ruling elites want wars and in fact find them indispensable. Personally, I go further than this and believe that what makes them ruling elites is their willingness to coalesce the undefined death instinct (call it projected, free-floating depressive or paranoid anxieties if you prefer), and lead it the resulting psychological group into bloody annihilation of self and others.

As I understand Alice's position, and other fantasies of peace, the ruling elites would have to cease being the ruling elites if it were to give up war. At the very least, a society which temporarily gave up war would soon fall victim to another which was not similarly predisposed.

----Jim





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May 7



Hello, Brian.

In answer to your question about why some are violent, and not others, if everyone has the death instinct, I would offer the following responses:

1.  It is my personal belief that the death instinct is very regularly projected into the large group mind. We all participate, psychologically, in the killing carried out by our military forces for example. I hasten to add that this does not in any sense imply ethical endorsement. As Bion stated, (paraphrasing from memory) the schizmatics are as much a part of a group as its cheerleaders. As another example, most of us do not kill meat with our bare hands, but we do it through delegation to the group.

2.  Religions are all very much based upon dealing with death, promising it, explaining it, even putting an attractive cloak upon it. Just another example of point #1, IMO.

3.  The death drive (as I see it), is analogous to the sex drive but is also structurally different. We can personally engage in sex with a partner and have no need to project the sex instinct out into a large group. Suicide, on the other hand, or homicide, cannot be carried out as a routine individualistic behavior . . . at least not more than once. So that pushes them outwards, as projections; and, in my view, creates a very important basis of large psychological groups (e.g., nations, religions, even some corporations).

4.  We can engage in sexual fantasies, and even do things in fantasy life that we would never, or could never, do in actual practice. Such fantasies are an imperfect substitute for the real thing, to be sure; but, in some cases they might be better than nothing. The same is true, in my opinion, about the death drive. Just take a look at our popular culture (cowboy shows, cop shows, even serial killer fantasies etc.) and it seems obvious to me that many of us, at least, enjoy death fantasies as a substitute for the actual act.

---------Jim


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Alice Maher
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May 7



I think it's essential, in any discussion of war, to distinguish individual dynamics from group identity dynamics. Young people join the military not because they're "violent," but because they're caught up in a societal dynamic that makes the military an appealing choice.






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Barney
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May 8


Dear Alice,'

As you point out, the military is NOT a truly violent enterprise, except for the cannon fodder. Most of what happens in the military is 1) repetitious (like prisons are); 2) boring, like bureaucracy is; 3) stupid, like clerk supervisors; 4) corrupt, like prisons are; 5) dangerous, like a construction site; 6) soul-sucking, like corporate governance is; 7) low ceilings on pay, like sanitation workers; 8) occasionally deadly, like ocean fishing; 9) a refuge for misfits; 10) unappreciated. 

It is far more violent to drive a car in America, or to live in certain cities. As Napoleon knew so well, soldiers fight for "the flag," and for their fellows in the field, not for mother or cherry pie or even the loot (which is often a main motivation but is not talked about much . . .). 

To be a civilian in wartime is often the most violent sector to find oneself in.

Barney




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Ralph Fishkin
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May 8



Alice, 

That’s a generalization.  In addition to the factors you cited, some people do join the military because they want to kill.  As a Navy doctor, taking care of Marines, I found that to be true, some of the time. 

Ralph 
- show quoted text -
============================= 
Ralph E. Fishkin, D.O. 
Secretary, American Psychoanalytic Association 
============================= 
2200 Benjamin Franklin Parkway 
Park Towne Place, Suite E 104 
Philadelphia, PA 19130 
(215) 568- 9241 (Office) 










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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8


Other recipients: barneyatbeaches@gmail.com

Count me one who is very glad not to appreciate the military! Soldiers aren't "misfits" -- they're amongst the least-loved people in society, and therefore the least pleasant (most sexist, most homophobic, most racist), who get off on depictions of the military like this because it heightens their sense of informed knowledge for being part of the club (a cut at the populace they ostensibly serve); emphasizes them as fundamentally unappreciated, which makes them feel like they haven't done any spoiling of themselves in life  -- so they've always got something on the rest of the populace, who spent their time ... shopping -- so they've set up for themselves the only conditions upon whereby they could accept gifts, rewards, love, without experiencing guilt. 

The least loved apply scars to themselves because they finally feel it makes them worthy of love -- the forlorn, cast-out, broken toy, "who" is now due to be adopted and loved by "Charlotte." 

If we can somehow change the military and the police force so it attracts more of our most well-loved and most progressive citizens, then it's due to be ... more appreciated (they'll argue for it to be shrunk back to about a tenth of its current size, of course). As is, I think a lot of us progressives are worried that it's not just underclass blacks due to be strangled in the streets, but peaceniks too, by the military who've grown tired of people pissing on their beloved flag i.e. mommy conduit. (I would never underpay anybody, of course, but grant them truly ample living wages -- what every person deserves.)

It's about impossible to go through Lloyd's work and find anything that flatters the military. Maybe this will put him in good account when more progressives finally hear about his work, and discover that -- contra some people's assertions here -- it really does come down to the unloved, Terrifying mother, and how she uses her child. (I have "mommy issues," Denis. We all do - our consciousness and brains developed primarily through our communications with her -- and most of us had mothers who were given insufficient love in life and so more needed us than loved us, so it's the norm. But I suppose your referencing this was just some kind of masculine taunt, which says something about the company you think we're in -- and the history in psychohistory, me thinks -- that you thought it might work rather than double-back on you.) 
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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8


Other recipients: barneyatbeaches@gmail.com

Actually, it's not just the image of people shopping while they serve, that they get a kick out of, but people shopping while not appreciating that their "soft" "easy" life is (ostensibly) enabled entirely by the military man's self-denial and self-sacrifice. 

It seems pretty clear to me that Americans are probably going to turn pretty nationalistic, and experience their beloved homeland as at real threat of perishing owing to "Islam." I do worry that progressives working to disarm this paranoia and keep people from being demonized, will be seen as weakening our resolve to defend our nation, our flag, in Her moment of great need. I really am not in the mood to see any redemption of the military.  


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Barney
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May 8




Dear Ralph,

Some people become doctors because they want to control and kill. 

Over the years, I have known and worked and held classes with many military men from several nations, and the last thing most of them wanted to do was to kill. Maybe that seems counter-intuitive, but for me, experience seems to bear it out. Most of the soldiers in combat areas were constantly worried about being killed, not in killing. Of course there are a few psychopaths who kill for kicks, and some who kill for revenge (that's the most prevalent in my experience) and a lot who kill by accident (you fire in the distance and maybe you kill somebody called the enemy, and maybe not). I lived and taught in Annapolis for several years and met only one psychopath (killer) among many many sailors and officers. My brother was a Marine and he was a very sweet and non-violent man despite jumping from airplanes and running toward gunfire. The key to military life is not violence but, as with peace, obedience. Obedience is a much bigger monster in human life than violence; interestingly, the most salient character trait of medical doctors is "obedience" (65%+) to authority. What is the psychohistorical paradigm of obedience? Why does "authority" (all those who are righteously quoted or referenced in "scientific" papers) make so much difference? (And is there any valid antidote to that?) The more I think about it, the more it seems like chronic "CYA" --- as does much "peer review" and "validation." Asimov said violence is the last refuge of incompetence and in many cases I agree. What'shisname (can't recall at the moment) famously said "War is diplomacy by other means," and very few diplomats worth their champagne and caviar are violent. I still believe that the closer definition of war is the armed absence of obedience, not the love of violence. 

Best,

Barney









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Ralph Fishkin
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May 8




Barney, 

What you write about military people fits with my experience too. Alice left the psychopathic young out of her idealized younger generation that seeks to join the military for "societal dynamic" reasons. 

Citations in scientific papers serve other functions besides obedience to authority. For example, they show what work was previously done, its validity, what has not YET been researched, etc.  

A final comment: people can be violent and also make war, despite not loving violence. But still, some people, love violence for a variety of reasons, including the pleasure of revenge, something you mentioned. 

Complicated world, ain't it?

Ralph

PS: Don't we have an agreement to limit our postings to three per day?  It seems that several people have been disregarding or unaware of that. I, for one, advocate that we agree to stick close to that. The alternative is to just delete emails from some people without giving their thoughts the benefit of a read. 

Ralph






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drwargus
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May 6



Alice, this article might fit the bill. 


Sent from my iPad 
Bill Argus 





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Alice Maher
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May 7



Thanks for the suggestion, Bill.  Looks intriguing.  Would the rest of the group like to discuss this over the weekend? 






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Brian
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May 7



I think this is as good a starting point as any for discussion and will comment on the article in detail this weekend.  Thank you for resurrecting the idea of a common text, Alice.  This one is so short and accessible that it can be read in a few minutes.  The piece is not psychohistorical, but it raises psychohistorical questions, such a global violence, that interest us.  It has the virtue of putting forward a big picture of what is wrong with the world and answers this question in terms of institutional factors.  I think it will be a useful exercise to ask how we, as psychohistorians, would go beyond this level of analysis.  

Some of us think institutional factors are unimportant and see psychohistory as a substitute for the kind of analysis this article provides.  My own view is that institutional factors are just as fundamental as psychological factors, and that psychohistory supplements rather than displaces the kind of analysis presented in this article.  In the past, our efforts to talk about these different pictures of psychohistory were hanging in the air and went nowhere because we didn’t have a common text and a specific theory on the table.  If we all read this article, we can have a more informed discussion with a well-defined thesis to critique.

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253



From: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com [mailto:cliospsyche@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Alice Maher
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2015 4:56 AM
To: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [cliospsyche] The quiet global crisis that scares the State Department - Vox
- show quoted text -



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Mark as complete


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Ken Fuchsman
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May 7



Bill,

The article is certainly political, there is not much historical here, and I didn't notice anything that was psychological or psychohistroical.  What made you think this might be a good common text for us to read?






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drwargus
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May 7



All politics is psychological and this is speaking to psychological and cultural development. As life conditions change, the human institutions must develop and become more complex. I believe this is much of what Lloyd talks about in his developmental stages. If psychohistory is to remain relevant, I believe that it must be able to contribute to discussions like these.




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 7


Other recipients: drwargus@aol.com

The QDDR proposes a number of ways to improve its focus on these issues. For instance, it proposes a new investment on data-driven forecasting designed to predict conflicts and mass atrocities. If State Department diplomats have a better way of knowing countries are most at risk of serious violence, the theory goes, they can know where to invest resources in order to prevent those conflicts from getting worse.

This is what deMause provides.Those who had the least warm childhoods, those who had the least-loved and therefore least-loving mothers, will have learned that their own individuation and self-growth is "spoiled" and a bad thing, and if life "provides" them such anyway, they'll eventually need to re-bond to a maternal entity -- a mother nation, a maternal group ... whatever -- become her good boys and girls, and destroy everyone they've projected their own "sinful" vulnerability and striving selves into. The task will be to see if those most qualified by their emotional temperament to do so, will finally shorn themselves of their need to make everyone they've protected from neanderthal rightwing minds in their own countries as people of grace, courage and thorough beauty. 

This is not a sure thing. Salon's progressive editor, Joan Walsh, has admitted that mostly black Americans, for example, spank and hit and intimidate their children (Brittney Cooper, a leading black intellectual who contributes at her site, has said this straight-up, and argued that she will endeavour to do no such thing herself) -- that this has been going on for generations. But, she maintains, this has only been to prevent their children from getting killed by white masters if they appear too uppity. That is, she maintains who they are in fact are the most brave and loving of mothers, who do the very last thing they would do in the world, only because they love their children so much they did even this, to save them. 

It's nonsense. Liberals shouldn't need this to create an egalitarian, progressive society, that tolerates the abuse of no one. But the majority just can't do it ... I think because they experience some weird feeling that if peoples really were capable of this kind of damage, and there was no better reason for it other than they were angry or disinterested or just plain brutal or just didn't care, then these people maybe ....deserve scorn and hatred

... and sensing this, what-would-prove, self-oblivion for a moment arising in themselves, they lock in firm to seeing those whom they want to love and respect as more noble than you could ever imagine. And they'll fight you to the death if you diss them for it. 

In case I wasn't specific enough, what we need to do is chart childrearing across the globe -- levels of unlove and brutal treatment -- as well as areas of growth. If societal progress is becoming marked in any region where the childrearing wouldn't allow for it, these peoples will go 1930s provincial, new-things-hating, well-loved-people hating, Nazi. 


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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 7


Other recipients: drwargus@aol.com

"mostly" should have read "most".


my apologies.

If you'd like a link to Joan Walsh's article, it can be found here: 

If you'd like to read what Brittney Cooper wrote about black childrearing, you can find it here



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dr.bobstern
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May 7



"...better governance"
What came up for me was that at all levels, from personal to global, humanity's rational ability for self-governance, to plan for the future, rely on facts and analysis, delay immediate gratification (governance over the selfish, immediate),  has been short-circuited by inflammatory politics, ideology, greed, fantasy.  And media technology has accelerated this degradation of self-discipline by allowing manipulators of human passion a powerful platform to inflame.

Here at home, we should be worried about our domestic future, as there seems to be no longer a commitment by electoral losers to be the "loyal opposition."  American politics has become a competitive zero-sum game where, at least for Fox News Republicans, governance is not a priority: winning the competition by whatever means necessary and undermining the opposition by whatever means necessary... is.











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mfbrttn
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May 7



In response to this article...  
Some years ago I participated in a conference of political scientists at Rutgers University, and heard one professor sum up  the tenor of things in his field as the Cold War was closing down:  "Understanding international relations from here on out reduces to the study of cognitive psychology."  As a therapist, I was struck that he said this at all, and that his sense of the psychology crucial to understanding such matters as historical violence and its avoidance lay with cognitive psychology only, and did not include anything from the clinical realm, from developmental psych, from psychoanalysis, etc., etc.  That said, on to the article... This is a first draft, so I apologize for it not being tighter.

In reference to this article, I am reminded of two of James Scott's books, Seeing Like a State, and The Art of Not Being Governed, where he suggests that there has from the first been a disconnect between the way governments map the societal world and the ways people informally work life out.  The close-to-the-ground realities of life are less conceptually neat than what the state cares about in terms of ability to assess and collect taxes, etc.  The state proceeds at a more conceptual, reduce-life's-complexities-so-we-can-manage-them, big picture level; ordinary life is woven out of the fine grain of everyday reality, with lots of variability -- personal and local relations perspectives are everything.  In my recent work with government managerial approaches, I see the tendency toward that gap over and over.  

With the best of intentions (or not), what goes on at the big level is not in contact with what goes on at the actual-life level. Louis Wirth (reported in Jack Saul's Collective Trauma, Collective Healing) wrote about this as an ecology of human relations, with a "meso layer" of organization required between the micro layer of lived life and the macro layer of these large institutions. There needs to be a linkage between the centers of policy and power on the one hand, and the people who live with the impact of those decisions on the other. That layer consists of intermediary organizations.   In my work currently, we are discussing the intentional creation, the building-in, of opportunities for "empathy-walks" between the larger layer and the actual people with the actual difficulties government is trying to address.  Rightly or wrongly, I read the state department's "fine bore" approach (as reported in this article) as a shift in that direction.  State does not propose to alter its fundamental aims, its structure, and it does not propose empathy either.  What it proposes is the currently idealized use of data mining to pick up on clues that conditions are ripe for violence in one place or another, so that prevention (whatever that might mean) can be initiated.  Data-mining may invite a tilt toward use of empathy in two ways:  determining what the categories are to pursue in the mining, and getting to know what's actually going on in a given locale or region such that these clues are being generated.  If you don't use empathy at both these stages of data mining work, reality will tend to surprise you; that may press state toward empathy in this project, just as social media may as well.  


In regard to the tension between institutional and psychological readings of historical matters, a long standing dialogue here at Cliopsyche.. I am reminded of Bergen and Luckman's work, the Social Construction of Reality, in which two perspectives always are operating, and no sociological phenomenon can be understood without both.  One is the perspective from the top, from the macro or institutional level, and the other is from the bottom, from the level of the individual.  

Systems thinking (e.g., Peter Senge's work) suggests that institutions and other large scale systems may be initiated by individuals working together, but systems/institutions can take on a life of their own and run away with us, creating consequences we do not intend -- and carrying us right along with them, perhaps with conviction we're doing the right thing and perhaps with a sense of being appalled by a current of events from which we cannot extricate ourselves, as in the Cold War.  Systems can own us, in part because here and now so many people's lives are  organized around them:  these are the roles we play in each others' lives and this is how we do it.  As Durkheim, and Berger and Luckman, argue:  this gives social/cultural arrangements a solidity much like nature seems to have.  This is "reality" to us because everyone else believes it is and acts accordingly.  And that creates the contexts within which lie the choices we can make, no matter what our childhood was like.  Childhood may change, but systems live on through their sheer durability, at least for awhile.  (This being the macro-down perspective.)

In addition, because institutional contexts are everyday reality for adults, the tenor of life within those institutions is reality for that very large subset of adults who are parents (practically everybody)... And that makes it the reality that infants are born into and children grow up in. For them, as Berger and Luckman note, this is how the world has always been, much as the sun's rising, the mountains standing there, etc.  Institutions are unquestionable, taken for granted (unless parents thought otherwise).  As adults we figure out our options within the roles, mandates, values, etc. of those institutions.  Institutions thus have a kind of cognitive hold on us.  In addition to that, current neuroscience research suggests that the emotional states of parents in response to the world as they know it become part of the fabric of the emotional self of children:  If the world is perceived and presented by parents as violent, controlling, gentle, empathic, or whatever, that becomes the experience children encounter and absorb emotionally, making it the foundational experience children have as to "what it means to be human around here" or "how I must go about dealing with others" -- which then becomes the core of how the child-grown-into-adulthood will be prepared to treat various parts of the human world when he or she grows up.  The macro world thus cycles through parent-child relations into the intimate world of DeMause; but equally, the intimate world of DeMause cycles forward through children's growing up and enacting what's been absorbed into the choosing of options in adult historical circumstances, the initiation of policies, the shaping of historical actions.  Childhood's early emotional relational experience thus cascades forward into the shaping of historical life some decades in the future.  Both dynamics reinforce each other, or create possibilities for change in each other.  This is not best understood as an in the moment snapshot, but rather as an across-generational-time dynamic.  But both are leverage points for intervention.  Change needs change at both levels:  the impact of adult situations on children, the acting out of a past-childhood onto adult decisions affecting historical life in the present.  What happens in childhood emotionally and relationally plays a powerful role in historical life, in this complex way.  However, you can also look at the institutional level apart from childhood and the emotional templates carried forward (a very measured way of expressing such powerful passions, attachments, distresses and loves).  

System dynamics are not only an interplay of levels, they are an enactment of motives having to do with control and power.  That makes them enormously consequential for real life.   Historical actions are in part re-enactments of prior experiences relating to love or control, violence and power, from early life, from teen age years, and from early adulthood (as Jervis showed many years ago).  And adulthood very often gets enacted onto or transmitted to children, who will then be prone to "speak" of those matters via action as adults in various institutional settings when they move into leadership roles.  (Cf. also Alice Miller).  That is the emotional dynamics from childhood side of it.  It is multi-generational, cascading forward, creating a kind of lag between what children were steeped in and when they will enact it on the stage of history.

The other side is that the institutions within which or against which historical actions will be initiated have dynamics of their own and can run away with our lives.  From the point of view of the ecological movement, the cumulative impact of myriad little decisions whose pattern is created by consumer capitalism has nothing to do with what ordinary folks want to bring about, but is bringing about those dire circumstances all the same.  And, also on this side of things, and pertinent to Brian's line of thought, I am reminded of Hans Morgenthau's analysis of power as the purpose of politics, the instrument by which those who govern make things happen, the tool they are forever sharpening, the motive for positioning for future conflicts, etc.  Here too, very different from Peter Senge's runaway system dynamics perhaps, is the dynamic of power pushing itself in certain directions just because that's what power as a context is about.

So there are two dynamics, each complex in its own right.  The childhood-to-adulthood dynamic has a complex, multi-generational dimension; the systems layer has both "systems dynamics" and "power dynamics" dimensions.  Instead of either-or, there seems to be a dialectic-over-time, with a built-in lag effect, in which these two complex layers interact, while yet being somewhat independent of each other.  Institutions as systems take on a life of their own, as Senge notes with his types of system dynamics and as Morgenthau spelled out in regard to political life.  Add in the reality that we are a world of many cultures, countries and peoples, all with our own overlapping and interacting institutions, and the possibility of system-run-away is clear, as also is the possibility of massive concentrations of power and wealth.  Things can move suddenly in ways the system-controllers are not expecting, as they can also move very rapidly in ways ordinary people are not expecting.  

The fact that things are organized in massive institutions, wielding enormous military, judicial-legal, and economic power, clearly creates enormous power differentials, leaving many people powerless and vulnerable to being killed, tortured, incarcerated, dispossesed, stolen from, exploited, abandoned, etc.  It is this enactment of ruthless, violent and exploitive power at the expense of the life-dreams, the hopes, the loves, the labors, the neighborhood connections, the communities, the cultural values, the physical intactness, the very lives of others, that brings to life the moral response, the caring, the sense of moral outrage, that says this all must be transformed into relationships in which respect for the lives of others prevails and organizes the particulars of institutional life, in which empathy and concern and generosity permeate the organizing and the policies and the conduct of institutions, a tying together of the work at the centers of power into everyone's ordinary lives in ways that are all about nurturing local family and community resilience and supporting life.  As Brian has articulated it, there needs to be a moral shift from harm-centered relationships between the macro and micro level, and genuinely collaborative relationships -- as in genuine worker-owned businesses, or truly collaborative worker-management businesses like the briefly successful Saturn car company.  This is the clinical goal if you will, a shift in how people encounter each other, engage each other, comprehend emotional life with each other.  It involves a coming out from the current managerial model that pervades governments and businesses for the most part, into a different way of being macro and micro together.  (It also involves a coming out from the pre-programmed emotional patternings of relationships and ignorance of emotional life that each upcoming generation absorbs from the adult world into which they were born, as Alice has articulated so beautifully.)  

How then to foster this kind of change?  There seem to be three levels of answers.  First, as Alice is pursuing:  education in emotional life and in how to do it better.  Not only does that help individuals and school systems do life better together, we can hope that as that thinking slips one way or another into the jetstreams of cultural discourse, it becomes a way of thinking more broadly accessible to institutional leaders, to media, and to the conversations, even among the powerful, about how power should be conducting itself.  Harmful power begins to yield because it loses legitimacy in its own mind, as in the release of Gorbachev by his military kidnappers in Russia not so very long ago.  

Second, as Brian argues, power yields to better ways because it can't get away with doing otherwise any longer, and that happens thanks to the development of a mesolayer of organizations that oppose the larger power of those at the institutional centers.  For example, there's a movement to teach town governments how to enact legislation prohibiting fracking within their boundaries (against which fracking businesses are mobilizing state-level legislation to prohibit town governments from exercising this kind of legal control over their own destinies).  This is the open battle of mid-level organizing against macro-level domination.  In situations of outright totalitarian control, Gene Sharp has a small how-to book for those who want to bring down the regime, hollowing it out by creating an alternative culture within, dramatic events that show the regime as powerless, etc.  Harmful power yields because the context makes it unworkable to continue.  In dealing with child soldier armies in Africa, one of the military-political strategies is to jump over an advancing army of children (in part so as not to have to kill them) and attack the adult commanders who are operating at the rear, thus making this particular calculus of power no longer safe and therefore no longer of interest; better to forget trying to raise armies of children on the cheap as they no longer make you invulnerable.

On the third level, perhaps, is the MIT Presencing Institute's ULab initiative, with 26,000 students worldwide engaged recently in an interactive web-based but also locally-sited, and person-to-person support group based, endeavor which tried to support people worldwide to take the reading of their own deeper sense of what is needed to transform this world and then setting out to do just that.  This is a form of seeding capacities for making culture anew, within governments and in the business world, to pioneer new ways of being institutions.  This is a world-wide revolution percolating from the top down so to speak, the generation of non-harmful forms of organizing economic liveliness and political life as well (Cf. the Presencing Institute's example in Indonesian politics.)  It is a bit like Gene Sharp's creation of an alternative culture as well.  The macro level can become coopted for other ways of operating by social innovators.  But the core power institutions themselves can also become populated by individuals with a different emotional culture who initiate new, more empathic, respectful and life-supporting ways of organizing their institutions because that's the wave of the future and the right thing to do. 

All of this reflects a number of clinical values.  These are moral values that transcend clinical work, of course.  But they do reflect the reality that clinical thinking, which permeates psychoanalysis as we would hope it would, is value-charged.   First, less physical violence is better.  Second, a shift from callousness to relatedness, empathy and concern is a good thing, not just as feelings but as the core of how actual relations are conducted. These both bear on human-to-human relationships, across the micro, meso and macro levels.  

Third, facing reality is better than denying reality when there are things that must be attended to and can be attended to.  This is interconnected with the fourth: self-care is better than self-neglect.  It is better to take care with real life than to indulge any number of alternatives, not only individually but as communities, peoples, countries, and globally.  These two  values bear especially on our human-to-Earth relationships.  

In short, it seems to me that the psychohistory discussions to date articulate a multi-leveled understanding of dynamics that are themselves multi-leveled, powerful, and interacting.  They suggest, to me, that there are multiple points of leverage in the system-as-it-is that can help the system-as-it-should-be emerge in its place.  All these interventions aim at the same enormous cultural shift toward a more mature, more fully human-capacity-based (empathy, foresight, moral sense) way of making life together.  All seem to me worthy of respect, worthy of investment, worthy of energy and commitment.  They seem different and yet natural allies in this great endeavor of cultural transformation.  Which, to return to where I started, is the point in clinical forms of psychology as contrasted with cognitive:  We are all about transformations in thought but also transformations of heart that engage real life, in its actual complexity, in ways that reflect greater wisdom and integrity within self, greater integrity in the conduct and shaping of institutional and everyday life together, greater empathy, concern and generosity, such that we grow in our shared resilience and do life better together.  (Cf. Jack Saul's Collective Trauma, Collective Healing).

Michael Britton



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Barney
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May 7



Dear Michael, 

"For example, there's a movement to teach town governments how to enact legislation prohibiting fracking within their boundaries (against which fracking businesses are mobilizing state-level legislation to prohibit town governments from exercising this kind of legal control over their own destinies).  This is the open battle of mid-level organizing against macro-level domination.  In situations of outright totalitarian control, Gene Sharp has a small how-to book for those who want to bring down the regime, hollowing it out by creating an alternative culture within, dramatic events that show the regime as powerless, etc.  Harmful power yields because the context makes it unworkable to continue.  In dealing with child soldier armies in Africa, one of the military-political strategies is to jump over an advancing army of children (in part so as not to have to kill them) and attack the adult commanders who are operating at the rear, thus making this particular calculus of power no longer safe and therefore no longer of interest; better to forget trying to raise armies of children on the cheap as they no longer make you invulnerable."

Altogether an admirable draft, in my opinion, maybe because I entirely can see what you mean in most of it. 

With the paragraph above I'd appreciate a bit of elaboration, especially the boldface statement. (What is the name of the little Sharp book?) 

I'm going to re-read the piece later so I can enjoy it twice.

Thanks,

Barney


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Alice Maher
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May 7



Bill, at the risk of being a bad girl and adding a 4th post for the day, I have to tell you that I really liked this article.  It resonates with me not just because it seems valid, but also because it helps explain differences in the way some members of this group feel about the perspectives of other members.  

"The world's institutions are no longer adequate for today's problems."

Some people here are focused on the "institution" of psychohistory.  They see it as provocative when some of us say that we need another, deeper, overarching model to help psychohistorians make a leap to addressing ancient and future problems in a way that opens the door to new insights and transformations.  Some of us - Brian, Ken, Denis - are focused on making psychohistory an intellectual, scholarly subject of study.  Others - me, Joel - want to trash the existing psychohistorical theories and figure out new ways of looking at old stories.

I found this article to be very helpful, not just in understanding the new global world order, but in understanding myself and the dynamics of our group.  I don't know what your understanding and intent was, but I'm grateful to you for sharing it.   



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Brian
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May 8



This gives my take on the article and responds to Michael.  The author is correct that the international system is not working very well—I think we all knew that already—but does not provide an analysis why.  If I am mistaken about this, would someone please summarize in one or a few sentences the author’s analysis of why the international system isn’t working?  He is reporting the findings of a State Department Report, so by extension it would appear that the authors of this report do not have an analysis either.

This is a familiar scenario.  It is called “The Emperor has no clothes.”  This report was written by people working for the State Department, so it is extremely unlikely that the authors of this report are incompetent or poorly informed.  I will leave it as an exercise for people on this list to figure out why the article contains no analysis of why the international system isn’t working.  There is a very simple answer to this question, but I don’t want to give it away before others have had a chance to work on this puzzle.

Given the absence of an analysis, why do I think it is worth reading this article?  Because it shows that the people running the State Department  recognize the need for global governance in order to solve the interconnected global problems that humanity faces.  Anarchy is not working.  Jim said that he thought world government would be tyranny.  Well, it certainly could take that form, but the same can be said of any government whatsoever.  Is the solution to abolish government, or is the solution to create institutions for keeping the power holders accountable?

Now for Michael’s post.  First, data mining seems to me like an extension of what already exists.  The CIA has long had a vast apparatus for analyzing information from all over the world and using it to predict what will happen in every part of the world.  Data mining just extends this apparatus.  The really important questions are how we change the purposes to which this knowledge is put.

Michael, your discussion of “the social construction of reality” is right on point.  In a previous post I suggested that we need to talk about the way social systems and individuals interact, which is exactly what you’ve done.  I argued that holistic explanations were the thesis for deMause, and his “methodological individualism” was the antithesis, and that we now need a synthesis that integrates systems and individuals.  Your thinking on this, including your discussion of the centrality of power, is exactly where we need to go as psychohistorians, in my opinion.  I was also glad to hear the name Gene Sharp in this discussion, probably the most important theorist of power in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Like Barney, I’d like to know the title of the particular book by Sharp you mentioned.

Finally, I love the way you think about the world and how to change it: “In short, it seems to me that the psychohistory discussions to date articulate a multi-leveled understanding of dynamics that are themselves multi-leveled, powerful, and interacting.  They suggest, to me, that there are multiple points of leverage in the system-as-it-is that can help the system-as-it-should-be emerge in its place.”  Right on!

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253





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drwargus
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May 8



Thanks to everyone for the many varied responses to this article. As many of you know, I come from a developmental paradigm. As the human imagination becomes more complex, We develop more complex systems and forms of government. Documents like the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution represent Whole new ways of thinking about human rights.

How can we govern ourselves? The answer to some degree depends on how inclusive you are. Do you just want to take care of your city, your state, your nation, or the whole world? of course this document from the state department does not adequately address the situation. Most people are not ready to comprehend that old "us versus them" thinking is not adequate. We can no longer think in terms of our nation versus other evil empires. What is the solution? The answer will evolve over time, but psychohistory should be able to make intelligent commentary, both theoretical and practical.




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mfbrttn
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May 8



Barney and Brian,
A quick note:  Gene Sharp's how-to manual is:  From Dictatorship to Democracy, a Conceptual Framework for Liberation.  Published by Green Print.  

Re. harmful power yields because the context makes it unworkable to continue:  Gene's book spells out lots of ways to make things unworkable for dictatorial power so that it must collapse.  

Also, I mentioned the strategy re. child soldier armies: typically the opposing soldiers had to fight their way through the children while the adult commanders of the child-soldiers stayed in the back and would flee to escape capture if the fighting went "the wrong way."  Leapfrogging the children and going right after their commanders creates a new context that makes the strategy a losing proposition for would-be commanders of children.  What before made those commanders powerful now makes them fugitives desperate to escape.  

I am also vaguely remembering former President Jimmy Carter negotiating with generals in a country in Latin America for them to resign and leave the country, and not getting anywhere.  Meantime the President of the US (was it Clinton?) finally ordered an invasion force to take to the air and head south.  This was reported to the generals by their own people, and a deal with Carter was quickly reached.  My memory is missing in action re. the details.

From general strikes that show a regime's inability to control a country, to the press of outside invaders, etc., it seems there are many ways change-creating-power can meet dominant-power head on (or indirectly), leaving dominant power unable to keep its hold over people.  For example also, Brian shows many examples of workers pushing back against current power structures in our country, using organizational approaches to field adequate resources/power to challenge continued dominance.  

This approach is all about altering the terrain in which dominant power is operating, such that the attempts at exercising that dominance no longer work.  The power calculus has shifted in favor of others,  from the few to the many.  Instead of power losing faith in its own purposes, this is an approach in which power's options are curtailed by court order, legislation, boycott, country-wide strikes, and an entire array of means that render "business as usual" a quick path to jail, a quick path to economic collapse, a quick path to being voted out of office, etc., etc.  That's what I had in mind in this phrase.  

I also agree that data mining is more of the current fad, which itself has redefined the terrain of power.  And yet, perhaps, in moving in that direction, some movement toward getting to know, appreciate and relate to the real lives of others might slowly develop.  Maybe.  (Then there's the terrain-altering use of data-spilling/leaking that makes it harder to those in power to keep on as they have been.)

And through all of this, the challenge to make of our complicated world a life together that is more "lovely" than ugly, more mutually respectful than brutal.  And for all of us, the art of making it through the long, slow transition.





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8



Conservatives won in Britain, despite an austerity climate that was ruining the economy and soddening people's lives. The usual questions are being asked -- did Conservatives better manipulate the populace? play to their worst sides? hide from them temporarily all the misery they'd been on the receiving in and instead focused them in on other concerns?

As a psychosocietyian, I of course would be available for this counter -- the counter I offered you guys a few weeks ago -- and so they might be nudged to actually know people a bit differently than their preferred psychological model, which has the populace as fundamentally sound of mind (i.e. they naturally do not want to suffer; they want prosperity) but manipulatable when people play to their worst sides:

Paul Krugman, at his blog, has just explained why austerity-favouring politicians in Britain might well get re-elected. He writes:
Well, you could blame the weakness of the opposition, which has done an absolutely terrible job of making its case. You could blame the fecklessness of the news media, which has gotten much wrong. But the truth is that what’s happening in British politics is what almost always happens, there and everywhere else: Voters have fairly short memories, and they judge economic policy not by long-term results but by recent growth. Over five years, the coalition’s record looks terrible. But over the past couple of quarters it looks pretty good, and that’s what matters politically.
This is the common sense understanding of how people work that liberals generally (always?) prefer, that they're basically good but have certain weaknesses that make them exploitable. He's wed to it, unfortunately, so that if it was only one quarter that looked pretty good, he'd of made the exact same argument. If it wasn't even that ... if there weren't any promising economic quarters but conservatives we're dangling goodies of some kind, like tax cuts, it would be amended slightly, but he'd in essence argue the same thing: These good people's weakness isn't their "fairly short memories," but their "sweet tooths" --  sadly ready to gobble down anything sweet-sounding given to them without thought of the long-term. The liberals role is to press and educate, get the news out, so that perhaps these instinctive tendencies in the populace can be abated by forcing them to do some hard recall, some temporary restraint and denial ... this too -- thank God! -- they're capable of. 

I think this common sense understanding of people is wrong, and, other than deMause, the only person I've heard argue that people actually know what they're getting when they vote in people that will ensure hard times, is the conservative historian John Lukacs. Lukacs had argued that people knew the kind of world Reagonomics was about to bring, they weren't fooled or conned or exploited, and that the people chose it because they knew it was required to breed character, something Lukacs believed it did as well (and also David Brooks: his new book is all about it). To him, it showed something impressive about them that they intrinsically preferred a "testing" environment to one always dispensing "candy." 

Lukacs is a very erudite nut, of course. It's de Mause who's got it right. At certain times, people vote in politicians who will ensure further suffering and growth-inhibition, because, without it, they will feel something worse: complete abandonment by their mothers, installed as alters in their right hemispheres. 

De Mause would argue the should-be-common-sense argument that voters actually well-remembered the five years of suffering, not the two quarters of economic improvement; and in fact are maybe about to vote back in conservatives in spite of the fact of recent economic improvement. In de Mause's view, the people aren't good but prey to unfortunate weaknesses, but rather people who rightly fear the feeling of apocalyptic abandonment they experience when they know they've still been enjoying themselves way too much, making life "selfishly" about themselves, rather than the group (the mother). In de Mause's view, people aren't those out of some quaint Irish village that are maybe prone to drinking too much and forgetting themselves, but rather those who've seen wicked terrors and can spot those who'll invite them back -- i.e true society-advancers -- progressives -- a mile away. He sees them as more "Grimm," and rightly. 

De Mause says that most children did not have parents who could be completely enthusiastic about their children's growth, and tended to punish them, abandon them, when they focused too much on their own needs rather than those of their own. He argues that most children conclude out of this experience, two things: one, self-attention and growth is bad, a sin; and two, that being vulnerable -- what they most felt like before being abandoned -- is itself a terrible, punishment-worthy crime. This they learn so hard it changes their brains -- "super ego" develops ... which to super-ego-almost-never-saying de Mause, is really internal perpetrator alters. If you renounce growth, you're not anywhere near as deserving as punishment. If the 60s and 70s had just continued on, it would have driven people mad. 

Not you or me, no -- but we were better loved. 





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8



It’s always interesting to see how folks take away or emphasize different aspects of a particular theorists’ work, especially Lloyd’s.  Sometimes it tells us as much about us as it does the theory.  I will always feel indebted to Lloyd as his writings represent my awakening to the horrific reality of child abuse and models of human behavior including object relations and trauma theory, epigenetics, family dynamics and large group process.  I was inspired by him and the work of many other psychohistorians.  This inspiration was partly why I went on to work in child welfare in NYC for most of my career working clinically with unimaginable forms of individual, family and community trauma. What I took from psychohistorical models made me able to see process within a system that functionally relied on pointing fingers.  I must say that your emphasis on mothering only (“it's the mother primarily all the way through”), devoid of systemic and/or group process models or specifically, the delegation process in Lloyd’s work, will lead folks to suggest you are mother bashing and in many cases, blaming the victim.  I am not trying to analyze you and say that you have mommy issues and this is why you are focused on just this aspect of Lloyd’s work.  I have no place or right to do so.  Lloyd has often been criticized for blaming mothers.  The way you present his work justifies those critiques. I don't want to see his work so easily written off. 
Denis     

Denis wrote here that he has "no place or right" to suggest that I have mommy issues and that this is why I have ostensibly mischaracterized Lloyd's contributions. I would have thought otherwise, that he really did mean to suggest I had mommy issues and felt he had every place to assert it, considering he begins by priming us in the traditional way an adult talks to a child to get them onto something about them that is awry and telling ... Sometimes it tells us as much about us as it does the theory. ... before bringing up the dismissing assignation that he ostensibly hasn't the least interest in pinning it on me. 

I would suggest that what is happening concerning deMause is people finding ways, not so much to keep him relevant to future generations, but to keep him from beginning rejected by themselves ... they can't let certain parts of what he says into their consciousness, because when they begin to do so they find themselves angry at a man, who, after all, has given so much to them, for the indefensible crime of saying most of our mothers were so unloved they simply re-inflicted the tortures they themselves suffered upon us -- for the indefensible crime of showing up our own beloved mothers. 

I would endeavour to invite further rejection of deMause by pointing out that a fair distillation of how he thinks is going to look appallingly woman-hating to anyone who is still seeking to prove a loyal defender of their own mother's -- i.e. most men, especially -- reputation, because they're in the way of progress. I don't want them as guardians, thank you -- they're more like more like self-interested counsellors who've taken over, who don't want anyone to actually meet the man for fear that some things that need to be kept hid, can no longer be hid from. 

DeMause argues that the whole nature of the society you are in depends entirely on the relationship between mother and child. Does it innovate, does it not innovate, does it war, does it suppress war, does it torture, does it try not to torture, does it allow bourgeois happiness, or does it hate against the thing so much that it genocides against those deemed most happy and mercantile -- the whole bit. You want to know about ISIS? Islamic terrorists? Sorry -- a fair characterization of deMause has you going straight "there" as well; so you if you want to be a loyal deMausian and keep him relevant to headline topics, you're going to be in the hard spot of doing so while essentially never referencing him. 

I don't think that whatever group models or systems you propose be referenced, whatever evasive and neutral terms skillfully used, will shield you from the fact that underneath it all, to use deMause fairly, you've got to use the mother-child dyad as the engine from which everything else unfurls ... unless what unfurls is blissful and flattering, you're mom will be onto you -- "You're saying my beating you is responsible for global war! You ungrateful jackass!!!" -- and you'll know it and shy away. 




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8



Correction: "you're mom will be onto you,"  should read: your mom will be onto you. 





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Barney
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May 8




Dear Patrick,

My sainted mother used to say: "Do away with women and you'll do away with war." 

She was an objective realist. But she was also a Canadian.

Barney






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Denis O'Keefe
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May 8



Patrick,
I smiled reading this.  You may be right, at least unconsciously, I may have been suggesting that you have mommy issues.  I added that comment after completing the message and, when reading it over, realized it could be interpreted that I was saying you have mommy issues, which I can't possible know, but might have been intuited as the unconscious does.  So to clarify, I meant to comment on my own biased reading of Lloyd's work emphasizing what I found helpful in my clinical work within institutions.  Any take on his work that doesn't include system/group level phenomenon should rightly be critiqued as mother bashing, which at that point in our discussion, you seemed to me to be doing.
Denis   




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8


Other recipients: barneyatbeaches@gmail.com

She didn't watch her language, apparently. 

We need more women; just better loved ones. We don't get there by people who keep mom sacrosanct but who war against the "whores" (i.e. socially approved targets of hate, who, if not overtly female, bear conspicuous feminine and/or maternal attributes) -- in the end a lot of women get the battering the revenge-intent boys need to deposit, and so not just truly poor them! poor mothers! but also ...whither the next generation of children (I hope I'm using that word right)?  



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Barney
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May 8



Patrick, 

As my friend Sydney Zion used to say: "Trust your mother, but cut the deck."

Found it to be excellent advice, more than good even with my mother's mother. She was very tricky and her tongue was never watched, by her. She was the most infamous curser in Manitoba (to this day). My favorite: "You should have all your teeth pulled out except one. That should be saved for a terrible toothache."

Yiddish is super good a vivid curses. She was a virtuosa. 

Barney 



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mfbrttn
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May 8



I'm not sure where to add this in:  I'm reading the Anthropology of Childhood by Lancy, second edition.  It is a well-written, comprehensive review of anthropological research around the world on all matters related to child-raising, including infanticide and abandonment.  I am finding the detail and the contextual analysis, so far, a remarkable education in life around the globe vis a vis children, and (hopefully not prematurely) recommend it as relevant to the issues you all are discussing -- not as tilting one way or another but as supplementing or complementing the discussion.
Mike Britton


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Joel Markowitz
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May 8



Some wise woman said that, were there no men, this would be a peaceful world populated by fat, happy women.

Joel





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 8


Other recipients: djo212@nyu.edu

I don't really know what you mean by "including system/group level phenomenon." What I know is that when you described Lloyd's works, you provided no sense that what we were dealing with is the terror and fear of unloved, abandoned children, and all its eventual consequences for society. Instead I read something completely sterile. It got nods, but is this what we are supposed to emulate? Is this what Lloyd himself wants? the kind of writing he criticized as dominating books about the emotion-packed "landscape" that is human history?

Thanks for explaining what was going on while you wrote your pointing-out that I too, like Lloyd, am  worthy of being IDed a mother-blamer. 






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Barney
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May 10



Mike, 

Fine advice. Will look for it. Thanks.

BC






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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 9



As a mother-hater, my very worst day of the year is Mother's Day. It's awful: all these people paying homage to the women we mother-haters hate the most! So what we've taken to doing is getting together into a maternal cave, and reading things we've written that are so dripping in mother-hate, it's easy for us to imagine it permeating the uterus cave, going through the body public, and causing each and every one of them to die off. 

A contribution will be made tomorrow by my friend, Vanessa Vargas-Cooper, who's actually just posted it at the feminist site Jezebel; it's great, of course, so if you're a mother-hater too, please feel free to read: a Toast to all the Brave Kids Who Broke Up with their Toxic Mothers. 

I'll be reading some of the things I've written for the Clio's History discussion site. I'm just going to pick a couple at random, as I can't remember a single one where I wasn't fuming at mothers while I wrote.  

Then, after enjoying a paleo feast made entirely from ... well, you know, we like to finish the day by paying homage to the greatest mother-hater of our age, the psychohistorian Lloyd deMause. 

We could just read random parts from his work too, because every paragraph contains some wisdom pertaining to our faith. But we often tend to go to chapter seven of Emotional Life of Nations, because its one of the juiciest.

What follows is a partial line-up of what we'll be reading about infanticidal mothers, the worst mothers of them all! who do all their villainy for no reason at all other than their being really mean people who take pleasure in others' misery.

THE INFANTICIDAL MODE OF CHILDREARING IN NEW GUINEA

I have termed the earliest mode of childrearing the infanticidal mode
because parents who routinely resolve their anxieties about taking care of their
children by killing them without remorse also convey this attitude to their other
children by demonstrating throughout their lives that their personal existence is not
important to them except as the children satisfy the needs of the parents.

Although anthropologists commonly excuse infanticide as required by
"necessity" and don't count it as part of the homicide rate their informants themselves
report otherwise when asked why they kill their infants, stating they killed them
because "children are too much trouble," because the mothers were angry at their
husbands, because they are "demon children," because the baby "might turn out
to be a sorcerer," "because her husband would go to another woman" for sex if she
had to nurse the infant, because they didn't want babies to tie them down in their
sexual liaisons, because it was a female and must be killed because "they leave you
in a little while" or "they don't stay to look after us in our old age." 

Infanticide by mothers can be thought of as an early form of post-partum depression. Siblings
commonly watch their mothers kill their siblings and are sometimes forced to take
part in the murder. In many tribes, the newborn is "tossed to the sows, who promptly
devour it. The woman then takes one of the farrows belonging to the sow who first
attacked her baby's corpse and nurses it at her breast." Pigs, by the way, are
commonly nursed by women at their breasts, then often used for sacrificial
purposes and discarded thus disproving the notion that infanticide is made
necessary because of lack of breast milk. Even when the baby is buried, it is often
found by other children: "the mother...buries it alive in a shallow hole that the baby's
movements may be seen in the hole as it is suffocating and panting for breath;
schoolchildren saw the movements of such a dying baby and wanted to take it out to

save it. However, the mother stamped it deep in the ground and kept her foot on it.

...

Anthropologists often report the infanticidal actions of New Guinea mothers
without noticing what they are actually doing. As a typical instance, Willey reports
in his book Assignment New Guinea that a group of mothers were gathered outside
the police station to protest some government action, yelling, "Kill our children."
Willey says, "One woman in the front line hurled her baby at the police, shouting,
"'Go on, kill my child!' When the senior officer caught it and handed it back to the
mother, she held it up and yelled, 'Kill my baby.'"  Invariably, these mothers are

reported as very loving, not infanticidal.

...


Individuals or groups who murder and eat babies are in fact severely schizoid
personalities who handle their own rage, engulfment fears and devouring
emotional demands by either murdering children to wipe out the demands they
project into them or by eating them in order to act out their identification with
devouring internal alters. Indeed, anthropologists are only reflecting their own
denial rather than looking at the evidence when they conclude that the ubiquitous
infanticide in New Guinea is really a good thing for children because then "children
are desired and highly valued [because] there is no such thing as an unwanted
child."

As one step beyond their need to murder children, infanticidal societies are
commonly found to treat children as erotic objects, again in a perverse attempt to
deal with their own severe anxieties, repeatedly sexually abusing them in incest,
pederasty and rape. It is to this sexual use of babies and older children in New

Guinea that we will now turn.

....

The Sambia, like most New Guinea groups, have prolonged postpartum
taboos that prohibit couples from engaging in coitus for at least two and a half years
following the birth of each child. Anthropologists always portray these postpartum
prohibitions as unexplained "cultural beliefs," as though there were no personal
motive for them, but in fact they are simply practices chosen to express the mothers'
desire to use their children rather than their spouses for sexual arousal. Since a taboo
this long means women choose to have sex with their children rather than their
husbands for much of their lives, it is obvious that they are unable to achieve the
level of mature love relationships, and instead, like other incestuous individuals,
need to have sex with children in order to counter deep feelings of depression. Like
all infanticidal mothers, New Guinea mothers, unloved themselves in childhood,
feared as polluted by her society, devoid of intimacy with her husband, needs her

children rather than loves them.

...

Since Poole was the only New Guinea ethnologist who interviewed both
mothers and children, he obtained the most complete reports of maternal incest.
Like infanticidal psychoclass mothers everywhere, Bimin-Kuskusmin mothers
consider their babies to be part of their own bodies, "never permitting the infant to be
detached from contact with her body" and breastfeeding the baby "not only on
demand, but also sometimes by force," whenever the mother needs the stimulation.
Mothers, Poole says, constantly masturbate the penes of their baby boys, while trying

not to let their incest get out of hand:

...


No better description can be imagined of the infanticidal, incestuous mother
using her child as a poison container to handle her depression: mother wants to
annihilate her inner tormentors, she kills her child; mother needs sex to counter her
depression and deadness, she masturbates it; mother is angry or sad, she twists and

hurts his penis.

...

Children are experienced by mothers as extensions of their bodies, and any
separation or independence is seen as rejection of the mother, as reminders of the
severe rejection of the mothers' own childhood. Mothers do not allow others to nurse
their children, saying their milk is "poison," and even do not allow their one- to twoyear-
olds to visit their relatives for fear they would "poison" them. When a mother
dies, often the "infant would be buried with her even if perfectly healthy," and if
the infant dies, "the mother remains secluded with it for days, wailing, attempting to
nurse it," blaming it by saying "I told you not to die. But you did not hear me! You
did not listen!" When infants begin to show any sign of independence, they are
either wholly rejected and ignored or forced to stay still. Typical is the Wogeo child,
who Hogbin describes as often being "put in a basket, which is then hung on a
convenient rafter...or tree" and "discouraged from walking and not allowed to
crawl...[forced to] sit still for hours at a time [and only] make queer noises" as he or
she is immobilized to avoid even the slightest movement of independence from the
mother. Anthropologists regularly see these ubiquitous New Guinea baskets and
net bags in which the infants are trapped and in which they are often hung on a tree
as "comforting," even though it means that the infants often live in their own feces
and urine and can neither crawl nor interact with others. Only Hippler describes
them as a function of the mothers' pattern of "near absolute neglect" of her child

when it is not being used erotically.

...

This emotional rejection and lack of verbalization has been widely noted
among infanticidal mode parents in simple societies. When the baby stops being a
breast-object, it simply doesn't exist. In my New Guinea childhood files, for instance,
I have over 1,000 photos from books and articles showing adults and childrenincluding
one book of over 700 photos of Fore children taken randomly so as to
capture their daily lives. Virtually all the photos capture the adults continuously
caressing, rubbing, kissfeeding and mouthing the children's bodies, but only two

show an adult actually looking at the child.

...

So difficult is it for New Guinea area mothers to relate to their children as
independent human beings that they are unable to feed them regularly once they are
off the breast. Like contemporary pedophiles, they do not so much love their children
as need them, so when the parents' needs end, the child can be emotionally
abandoned. When still on the breast, New Guinea children are constantly being
force-fed, so that nursing "becomes a battle in which the mother clutches the child,
shaking it up and down with the nipple forced into its mouth until it must either
suck or choke." As soon as they are off the breast, however, the mothers no longer
need them as erotic objects, and they have difficulty understanding that their

children need three meals a day.

...

Throughout the New Guinea area, children are "not only turned loose for the
daylight hours but also actively discouraged from returning to the parents" and so
are forced to join "a transient gang." As is usual in gangs, the older children "lord it
over" the younger, often beat them and make them their servants, particularly their
sexual servants, since they were used to constant sexual stimulation by their parents
as studies have shown, "incestuous children are uncommonly erotic...easily
aroused...and readily orgasmic." Malinowsky was one of the first to report sexual
intercourse beginning at age four in the Trobriand Islands, where "children are
initiated by each other, or sometimes by a slightly older companion, into the
practices of sex," including oral stimulation, masturbation, and anal or vaginal

intercourse. Others since then have confirmed the pattern:

...

New Guinea men fear women as incestuous,
engulfing mothers whose "menstrual blood could contaminate and kill them." By
raping boys, these pederasts reverse their own being passively used as erotic objects
and instead actively use the boys sexually. Thus the boys become sexual objects
devoid of the mother's frightening configurations, while restaging the maternal rape
of their own infancy. Both the boys and the men recognize the rape as being like
breast-feeding, rationalizing it as necessary for growth, telling the little boys, "You all
won't grow by yourselves; if you sleep with the men you'll become a STRONG
man...when you hold a man's penis, you must put it inside your mouth-he can give

you semen...It's the same as your mother's breast milk." 

...

The notion that boys must be given semen to stop them from growing into
females has a certain logic to New Guinea people. Like all maternally incested
children, they feel that being used sexually by their mothers "pollutes their blood"
and since the boys consider themselves responsible for the seduction they feel "full of
women's pollution" and need semen to "get mother's poison" out of them. Since as
infants they were used erotically by always being rubbed against the mothers'
bodies, they were intimately familiar with her menstrual fluids, remaining with her
in the menstrual hut, and so an explicit association is made between menstrual

fluids and poison

...

The ritual both demonstrates "we are all bleeding, polluted mothers here" and
tries to undo the feeling of being polluted by cutting the boys with the razor-sharp
leaves in their nostrils and the cane-sword down their throats. The boys
understandably "tremble, urinating and defecating in fear" during their torture. Yet
the feeling of still being incested, polluted maternal sex-objects remains with them,
since so many continue to bleed their noses, tongues or penises periodically the rest

of their lives.


There's no doubt about it -- Lloyd hates mothers more than any of us, which is saying something, because I've argued in public that the reason for all our current problems is that we stopped burning witches. He is beyond redemption, by even the most wizardly of opponents, who'd have us see him as actually wretchedly full of love for these vile beasts!!! This is why he is our god, our protector, our all. Be with us tomorrow, our one and only ... we'll need all of your delicious hate to make it through the day!






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Barney
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May 9


You know how to make a mother proud.

b



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Barney
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May 9



Dear Patrick,

I cannot even begin to fathom how sub-moronic it is to hate anything, much less one’s mother. Surely you are joking about your “Mommy issues” and in the best Colbertian tradition, you are simply making other Mommy haters see how trivial and silly they are. I think you may be a bit heavy handed, but as you mature you will deal in a little more delicacy and it might even be funnier for it.

I do tend to feel a bit flustered and irritated by your too frequent, in my opinion, use of Lloyd deM as a schtick. 

He does not seem to hate “mothers” so much as to give them credit for what non-uterus-containing persons have not given them proper credit for since 1963. 

You might want to keep in mind that Dr. deM references himself in some of his most grotesque descriptions of life in the past, and the inevitable role of mothers in it, and I think you might not count on him so much in terms of actual versus fantastical human behavior.  

I wonder, in honor of Mother’s Day (a terrific commercial success), if anybody on the Clio list will venture to accurately characterize their mother in 25 words or less? A haiku or a limerick is also acceptable. 

b.2.0509



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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 9


Je suis Charlie Hebdo. 






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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 9



Tell us more about how unappreciated the military is, Barney. It causes a lot of carnage involving women and children ... is this something we need more appreciation for?

Last post for a couple of days ... I need to begin casting my wards. 






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Brian
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May 9



Thank you Barney, this is said more eloquently than I ever could. 

My mother is close to the point of death and I have written something that will be incorporated into a memorial booklet.  I would like to share the first three paragraphs.  Of course, it is customary to only say positive things about someone who is dying or recently died, so this does not and is not intended to capture my mother’s full humanity.  But in truth, I feel I was lucky to have the person I did have as a mother, and I don’t think that my gratitude is evidence of unexamined psychopathology.  Here is what I wrote:

My most fond memories of Mom go back to my childhood and adolescence, when we lived in a big house on Worthington Road in the Town of Greenburgh, New York.  We had a four acre estate that included magnificent trees and landscaping, a sprawling lawn, and a large pond with ducks.  My dad and uncle owned a Garden Center nearby and I attended Iona Grammar School and Prep in New Rochelle.  These were my formative years and I will be eternally grateful for the love and joy I absorbed from my mother, which nurtured me and became the best of who I am today.

I remember all the summers when I would go with Mom after breakfast out to her rock garden next to the pool.  She would bring her mug of tea and a hand spade to putter in the garden.  We merged with the roses and marigolds, the azaleas and junipers, the red cedar mulch, and little statues like the dwarf sitting on a mushroom and the miniature pagoda.  She would pull out little weeds and pinch off dead flowers and leaves.  I will never forget her liveliness and the immense joy she found in this garden. 

Children, as we all know, learn their deepest lessons from what they observe, not what they are told.  When I spent those precious moments with my mother, I learned that life is beautiful, and that the world is good, and that I am a good too, and that life is meant to be lived in the present moment and savored for its beauty.  Those experiences and that lesson became a bedrock of my life, and through the years have given me an inner sanctuary, an inner garden that no amount of cynicism and human destructiveness in the outside world can take away.





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Alice Maher
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May 9



I'm very moved by the personal stories shared by Brian and Ken, and honored that you would be willing to share them with us.  I find your stories very helpful in understanding, and in motivation to understand.  Thank you.

My mother had a high school education and one of the highest emotional intelligences of anyone I ever knew.  In this context, this memory stands out. Once, when I was an adult and she had wrapped her head around my career choice, my move away from literal Catholicism, and my embrace of homosexuality as a non-sinful alternate way of loving, she said this to me:  "You were always the perfect child.  You did everything you were supposed to do; everything we asked you to do.  But it never seemed like you were FROM us. We could SEE you, but we couldn't IMAGINE you."

To me, that said it all.  It addressed the mother's longing to imagine her child - even more than the longing to raise a perfect one - while at the same time addressing her awareness that that kind of full understanding of another was impossible.  Without ever reading the analytic literature or being in therapy, she had intuitively come to accept that her daughter was a person separate from her, and share that awareness with me.

She died in 2008, after a long period of Alheimer's dementia.  But even during that time, she was, with a nod to Julianne Moore, "still Peggy."  Her aides loved her even after she stopped speaking to them. 

Thanks for the question, Barney.  






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Joel Markowitz
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May 9



Alice,

That's terrific! -- "her longing to imagine her child" etc.-- that entire paragraph !

Joel





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Barney
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May 10


Dear Brian,

A lovely and poignant remembrance.  What is your mother's name? 

Barney




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Brian


May 11


Thanks, Barney.  My mom’s name is Marion.





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 11


Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net

There's an article at Salon, I believe, talking about how so many Americans make the biggest deal out of Mother's Day, but then go around and make sure they elect in governments that are very conservative on the issue of maternal leave, providing little to no funding. It's splitting: you venerate the mother, defend her to death, and tell all sorts of fond memories of her ... of her endless patience when you were bad, and then go about supporting such things as the military, that always seem so good at targeting civilians targets (read: mothers and children), and denying the government the chance to provide resources that would support the like of single mothers. 

I'm sure the original Mother's Day was a feminist victory; I wouldn't be surprised. But right now it feels conservative ... All these people fighting to show how much they love their mothers will find some bewitching opponent they'll want to suppress into silence with their masculine fortitude. Watch how Islam gets portrayed, for instance. Also deconstructionists in universities. 

I'm a socialist; I support theory, deconstructionism in universities, because it's always the more progressive students and professors who are with it; I expect the equal presence of women and men in all fields; I also believe that there is nothing more crucial to the future success of our world than giving every financial resource to parents, to the community that supports parents -- if I was in charge, 9/10ths of military funding would be transferred to parental assistance. But I'm down on the Mother's Day because it's become but another imposition of elder veneration that youth need a complete break from for society to get what it requires for innovation ... for them, for youth, to get their deserved lot in life.

When youth move beyond their parents, at some point, parents get anxious, get angry. It's a sad thing if they've got their children so under wraps they ultimately succeed in getting them to half-venerate the like of Mother's Day just so they get to continue on in life. We start entering Caliban territory, then ... all life as an effort to figure out what will please an always shifting God. 

Of course I root for your parents -- for your mothers -- and for all of you as well. But as I said, down with Mother's Day. (For those of you who care, my protective wards succeeded: I'm free from annihilation for at least another 364 days!) 




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 12


Other recipients: barneyatbeaches@gmail.com

He does not seem to hate “mothers” so much as to give them credit for what non-uterus-containing persons have not given them proper credit for since 1963. 

You might want to keep in mind that Dr. deM references himself in some of his most grotesque descriptions of life in the past, and the inevitable role of mothers in it, and I think you might not count on him so much in terms of actual versus fantastical human behavior.  

DeMause doesn't hate mothers; in his "cosmology," there really is no one to hate (not even Germans in the Nazi era, whose abhorrently awful experiences in childhood really just have to be explored by anyone who wants to count themselves as truly literate) and really only one thing to regret -- that evolution started homo sapiens off on a very very poor start. He mentions over and over again that parents re-inflict the damage they themselves experienced onto their children -- there is little to no choice in this. He makes plain, over and over again, the delusions unloved mothers suffer from when they "encounter" their children -- they see them as their own deliberately-abandoning parents, for example. He argues that children can represent a woman's chance at individuation and happiness, which displeases their own unloved and possessive mothers, and so deny their children to forestall parental judgement. Etc. But he isn't about lending credit. Yes, all innovation owes to improved maternal care between mothers and children. But also true, is that the foremost perpetrators in history are mothers as well. The age that lends credit to women, here-before denied by a patriarchal society, isn't best understood as about brave women overcoming bad men, but rather as about the slow rise of maternal care breeding children of both sexes that no longer psychically need for women to be shut down, because the mother is no longer someone simply terrifying, someone associated with forestalling psychic rest, individuation -- life

DeMause is providing what he argues is the everyday, the usual sort of actual behaviour of peoples in the past, and in tribal societies of today. It's not fantastical, but the real so awful and exposed it seems as if we've entered the terrain of Bosch. Pinker did the same thing in Better Angels of Our Nature -- terrifying, unbelievable, stuff, that he argues was the norm. Take a peek -- like deMause, he realizes that in order to persuade one to his point of view, he has to get one to see people as living in a psychic-madhouse environment that seems impossible, given our whole history on how we've been taught to broach them ... he has to get you so that when you return to reading history, you start resisting, start feeling angry, as if you're being forced to consciously cloud your brain, so it all begins to seem so tamped down, neutral and sane. 
The problem for progressives who unfortunately still feel a need to tilt themselves on over to the side of abuse-apologists, in their unconscious obfuscations of the actual psychic states and behaviour of the tribal peoples before them, is that they've furnished in their careers means by which they can be wholesale discredited if one is no longer simply a neanderthal illiberal if you out yourself as "whiggish" in your view of history ... if they lose their control of the culture wars. I'm not sure they think this could happen, but they should worry that Pinker, who argued that people who essentially argued his point years ago were ripped apart by anthropologists for doing so -- even accused of genocide -- really has not gotten much flack for his highly publicized book (Zuckerberg made it his first choice for his Facebook book club). He presents himself as being massively brazen and risk-taking, but that would have been him presenting his book ten years ago, not, apparently, today. Right now, he's probably just helping unroll a way of way of seeing things that could prove ultimately terrible -- an agent of a darker time; a first advance of a what an age is rolling out, not himself ... "pas lui meme." 

Something is shifting. I suspect what that is, is people realizing that for our own time to be seen as frowning sufficiently on youthful rebellion and innovation, the best of progressives, the best of people, from just-time-past have to be discredited. They need to be shuffled off to the side and their positions taken over by more "sober," more "serious," academics, who won't in their fanciful desire to see those outside the Western world as prettily better than us, essentially put forward nothing of more worth than a grand swath of sheer lies. Deconstructionists could be accused of the same ... just  those who tied people into knots and disabled Western defence against a menacing world, spared all such self-defeating entanglements. Theory, which has been lead by the most progressive people on earth, could be at risk. Provincialism back into universities, and what is truly avant-garde, discredited for a generation.







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Brian
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May 12



Patrick, your presentation of deMause’s ideas make a positive contribution to this discussion.  However, determinism is no longer tenable, even in the physical sciences.  It is now known (and was known when deMause was writing, but the knowledge was still diffusing from the physics community) that the human body and brain at the quantum level are chaotic and unpredictable.  They are more predictable at larger time-scales, but still probabilistic.  This is perhaps what we experience subjectively as free will.  Or, to use an emerging metaphor from cognitive science, we are programmed by our traumas and culture, but we can reprogram ourselves and transcend these defaults through self-reflection, psychotherapy, and spiritual practices such as meditation.

Here is how I view the human psyche (drawing largely from Jung).  Experience and trauma imprint themselves on our nervous systems, but even our initial experience is not entirely a function of objective reality, but is filtered through our cognitive perceptual schemas.  If someone experiences inadequate mothering or parenting, the trauma and neglect is stored in the nervous system as chronic stress, rage, anxiety, etc.  This may be related to the chronic muscular rigidity described by Wilhelm Reich.  The internalized experience of the parents becomes part of the self (i.e. “introjects”). 

Throughout the lifetime of the individual, the brain and nervous system retain a large degree of plasticity and, as mentioned above, at the quantum level are dynamic and chaotic.  Thus the unconscious of the individual and their total psyche contain traumatic and other experiences, but these are continually subject to transformation.  Jung described how recurring archetypes of wholeness, for example the mandala symbol, periodically appear in dreams, representing a kind of spontaneous tendency towards healing and individuation.  If the individual becomes conscious of this process and begins to attend to the signals from the unconscious, the transformation of trauma and development of individuation can be accelerated. 

I don’t think this picture minimizes the damage that people sustain from inadequate parenting.  But it is consistent with what is known about physical reality and Lloyd’s determinism is not.   

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253








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How war really works according to Volkan, in 4 1/2 minutes




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Alice Maher
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May 12



While we're waiting till after the conference to read and discuss written material presented by Brian and Ken, I'd like to invite you to watch my videographer's very rough preliminary edit of the 25 minute video of my students interviewing Vamik Volkan.  In it he summarizes his theoretical model, his life's work, and his hope and recommendations for the future.  I'm hoping to figure out a cool way to end the video and a worthy place to direct the conversation  for people on Facebook and Twitter who might be intrigued.  (I hate "join the conversation"; other ideas needed.)

I would be grateful if you would take the 4 1/2 minutes to watch it and share your thoughts.  It's presented in simple lines and broad strokes with much room to quibble over details, but I think if there's have any hope of intriguing the masses to think in new ways, this kind of presentation is the way we need to begin. 

password VOLKAN






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Molly Castelloe
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May 13


Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

It's interesting, Alice. He says the same things he says in the interviews I started videotaping with him in 2008.
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Alice Maher
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May 13


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: How war really works according to Volkan, in 4 1/2 minutes

Yes, Molly. I'm looking forward to seeing your film at the conference! I find it intriguing that the two women in this group have a powerful reaction to his work, while the men seem not to respond to it very much....





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 13


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: How war really works according to Volkan, in 4 1/2 minutes
Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

I admit it's a bit too pastelly for me. He seems to want for everyone to have their space and basic integrity, which is fine, but where does, say, the feminist who wants to take more than a poke at frat bros and their rape culture, fit into all this? Is she just someone needlessly throwing mud, when she should have just had a sit-down and engaged in mutuality?


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Barney
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May 13




Dear Alice,

I think men, as when they encounter a very homely woman,  must be just naturally more polite than to comment at all.

Barney


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Alice Maher
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May 13



Lol get over it and comment! ;)

Sent from my iPhone


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Bora
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May 13


Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

Hi Alice,

I think this video is a great edit of the full-length interview you
have on your website.  The only comment I have is about the very last
thing Volkan says in the clip: about there always being 'people in
each large group who are willing to talk'.  This is such a key
concept, but it doesn't feel 'sticky' enough.  I wonder if it might
work better with a more dynamic track that 'pushes' forward Volkan's
message at the end.  He is very soft-spoken and measured in his
speaking that I only caught the message on my second viewing.

Anyway, it's a wonderful video.  Thank you so much for sharing with
us.  I always look forward to your posts on the forum.


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Alice Maher
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May 13


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: How war really works according to Volkan, in 4 1/2 minutes

Hi Bora, thanks so much for your response.  It makes a lot of sense and I'll pass it on to my videographer.  Much appreciated!

Paul, the students who interviewed Volkan were in 9th grade.  They took our class starting in 7th.  They don't appear in the short video to protect their privacy, but all of the questions were theirs. You can hear them asking those questions in the longer video.

Next week my 8th grade students are going to do an exercise based on Volkan's model.  They're going to write about prejudice from the perspective of their individual identities, and again from the perspective of their group identities.  ("As a black person, this event makes me think/feel... but as Michael, I think/feel.... )  The name of our program, Emotional Imprint, is based on the idea that from a distance our hands all look alike except for small differences in size and color, but when you look closer you see that our fingerprints are totally unique. In a similar way, each of us is a unique individual, but in times of stress our "handprints" rise to the surface and take over from our "fingerprints," and we react as representatives of our large group/s.

That's a way that Volkan's model can come alive and be immediately useful in the present moment.  That's why I like it as much as I do.

I think there's a clear gender distinction in this group.  I see the men as arguing over who has the longer reference list, while the women are working to create something and breathe life into it.  





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Brian
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May 14



Alice, when I went click on the link to watch this, I get a Vimeo screen that asks for a password.  Can you provide us the password?



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Alice Maher
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May 14



Brian, the password was provided under the link. It's VOLKAN.

I'm thinking of inviting people on social media to join a different kind of "conversation" - an arena where they agree to think about their motivations for posting and address whether they're posting as individuals and/or as representatives of a particular large group. A Facebook friend reframed it in this way, "to make people think why they think what they think."



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Brian
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May 14



Alice, I think the video is very well done.  The technical quality is excellent, and I like the way you flash the student’s questions on the screen and keep Volkan as the only talking head, which gives unity to the piece and keeps the viewer’s attention on the substance of what is being said.

I think Volkan is doing good work in the area of “conflict resolution,” for lack of a better term, and has made some important, original contributions to the field, especially his  concept of chosen traumas.  That said, I also have some critical feedback.  First, what Volkan does is not entirely original.  Other practitioners in this area, such as Jean Paul Lederach, do comparable work, and have made their own original contributions.  In saying this, I don’t mean to devalue what Volkan is doing, just to put it into a broader context.  It is a good thing, not a bad thing, that this field is much bigger than Volkan, because we need all hands on deck to turn the tide against violent conflict.

Second, the success of Volkan’s practical work does not entail that all his beliefs about this work, much less about broader questions of war and human nature, are correct.  The notion that humans are warlike because natural selection made us that way is a controversial and in my mind very dubious proposition.  More on that when we resume the “war” thread in June.  In addition, the notion that war in general is driven fundamentally by ethnic divisions and mass psychology is, in my opinion, AT BEST a misleading oversimplification.  If you want a less misleading simplification, I think it is that war is an instrument for people who already have a lot of wealth and power to get more.  This is a fundamentally different model of war, but one that I think holds up better to reasoned analysis and the vast body of available evidence on this topic.  Mass psychology plays a role, but geopolitical considerations, and the role of powerful special interests in the internal politics of states are by far the more decisive factors.  I have articulated this viewpoint in considerable detail on this list and will not elaborate on it further here.      

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253



From: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com [mailto:cliospsyche@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Brian D'Agostino
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2015 6:10 AM
To: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: [cliospsyche] How war really works according to Volkan, in 4 1/2 minutes


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Alice Maher
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May 14



Thanks, Brian, I really appreciate this!

I agree with you that Volkan's ideas are simple, maybe to the point of appearing simplistic, and not fully accurate.  But I'm speaking here as a representative of my own "large group identity" - a psychoanalyst who thinks of ways to catalyze change in a mega and malfunctioning system.  In my day job it's individual people's psychic realities, and in my other life I try to find ways to catalyze new insights and changes on a larger scale.

That's why I like his simple ideas and way of presenting them.  I think they will be much more likely to catch the attention of people roaming through Facebook or Twitter, and a tiny percentage of those people could help take it further.  Eventually more nuanced truths would emerge, but if we begin with debates over research studies eyes will glaze over immediately.  People don't know how to use disembodied intellectual ideas, but the potential exists for discovering concrete ways to make real use of simple metaphors like his.  (That's exactly what I'm doing now, referencing my own large group identity as a way of trying to make myself better understood.)

I wouldn't say that your model of war is so "fundamentally different" from his or mine.  As you say, mass psychology plays a role, but it's not the only role. As an analogy, I would say that the psychology of an individual plays a large role in his or her success at any particular job or partnership, but the reasons for success or failure must take many other variables into consideration as well, such as the type of work, the supervisor, the salary, the dynamics within the corporation, co-workers, etc.  My emphasis is on the internal psychodynamic end and that's what I'll continue to emphasize because it's the "tent" that I live under, but I'm in no way implying that the other factors aren't significant in individual and large group dynamics. 

Thanks again for the very helpful comments. :)





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Paul Elovitz
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May 13

Alice, the video is quite nice and effective.  How old were the students Vamik Vollkan was speaking to?  Colleagues who want to know more abour Vamik's peacemaking work and background should read the Festschrift for Volkan in the Sept. 2013 Special Issue of Clio's Psyche on Peacemaking, Trauma, Veteran Suicide, and War.  It is available at cliospsyche.org/ back issues.
Paul

Paul H. Elovitz, PhD, Historian, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Professor, Director of the Psychohistory Forum, and Editor, Clio's Psyche





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 13


Other recipients: Pelovitz@aol.com

Yeah, I'd like to know how the students reacted. Did they argue? Did they counter -- like Jews were known for compared to their suppressed German classmates? Or were they lulled by the palliative tones to accept the, alas, mournful and chastising message, that human beings are always going to have it in them to war?  






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Alice Maher
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May 13



The whole video is on my website, www.changingourconsciousness.org or www.emotionalimprint.org. The kids were amazing but we don't want their faces plastered all over Facebook and Twitter.



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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 13


Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

In the new Avengers film, we are told at the end by the newly created android, Vision, who is meant to be seen as offering a dispassionate and accurate assessment of humanity, that humanity, though great, is ultimately doomed. Just before he says this, he makes a joke where he admits "he was just born yesterday"... but you know that we weren't meant to be factoring this in when assessing the accuracy of his ultimate judgment of "man's" fate: he is simply meant to be understood as wise and right. He is meant to be an effective counter to Tony Stark, to Iron Man, who is always arguing that there exists some means by which we can invent our way out of troubles --  no, sorry, the inclination for war and self-destruction is always in man. Pinker argued the same thing in "Better Angels" -- that we can alleviate our need for war by playing to our capacity to reason, but parts of our brain will always be craving it. 

Now is any of this truth? Or just our taking pleasure in making human kind seem still far from perfect -- forever distant from  "God's" own perfection -- which provides the sadistic thrill in shrinking the young's own ambition -- you think you have unlimited capacity? think again! -- and the thrill in feeling -- having enthusiastically deflated yourself -- that you're now worthy of love from parental gods, who would have turned away from you it you just thrust past them and left them in the dust?


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Brian
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May 13



Patrick, in a previous post you agreed with my critique of the “death instinct” but here you seem to be endorsing the notion of killer genes, which I think is equivalent.  We will be discussing this topic more fully in June in the war thread, but for now, let me say this.  If evidence counts for anything, Pinker’s theory is full of holes.  Brian Ferguson and Douglas Fry have shown that he cherry picked his examples of extant “hunter and gatherer” societies, misinterpreted the data that he did pick (e.g. every one of his so called war-deaths among the Ache and the Hiwi were not committed by members of these societies but by armed outsiders driving them off their land, and that his sample was not typical of the kind of forager cultures that scholars agree existed during the paleolithic, where the killer genes supposedly were selected.  These criticisms are devastating and Pinker’s whole analysis rests on this now thoroughly discredited use of data.

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 13


Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net

I'm not in any way in support of the idea of killer genes. I'm suggesting people who argue for the idea like it because it makes human beings seem limited. I'm not familiar with Ferguson and Fry's studies, but I might take a look. If Pinker made the error you're accusing him of, it's quite the story. I strongly suspect that all evidence will eventually point to showing hunting and gathering tribes as constituting those of the worst childrearing and the most aggressive of "men." 

What is at stake with both deMause's and Pinker's works is nothing less than the discrediting of two whole disciplines of study (if the past is the nightmare deMause says it is, and made from people different from us -- i.e. worse childrearing -- why study it? if tribal societies are fantastically more warlike, shouldn't the emphasis simply be on bringing them up to speed?), and I don't think Pinker, at least, is quite prepared to usher anything as significant as this about just yet, so we may not have seen all that will eventually be brought to bear against those now recuperating hunting and gathering societies from Pinker's assault. You yourself have directed us to a study of a particular pygmy culture. I'm not sure I'll read that either, but the blurb on the back of the book referencing all the kissing and touching that was deemed proof of fatherly love, could just have been their making their children into mother's breasts -- so more about incest than love. That is, the opposite.

I've met one of the people who's on the web disproving Pinker -- Christopher Ryan -- and I assure you, he's not a healthy guy, and I'd personally want him far away as the "protector" of any collection of peoples.   

You've got a lot invested in this, and you're a good person; what develops might unravel you too -- take care.  


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mfbrttn
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May 13


Paul,
I'm not finding Sept 2013 or a Festschrift on Volkan in the back issues...  Maybe I'm not approaching this correctly?  
Mike Britton






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ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing




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Brian
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May 14



This responds to Patrick’s last post, which raises larger issues that merit a new thread.  First, in doing psychohistory or social science, we need to do whatever we can to compensate for our own cultural or ideological biases and/or our tendency to project our own unresolved psychological issues onto others.  There is a tendency to assume narcissistically that other people and other cultures are like us, where “us” refers both the observer as a member of a cultural group, and as an individual with our own unique psychobiography.  Western culture is notably violent and we have a long history of imagining people in stateless societies as violent savages; that is, we assume they are like us, except that we have states to keep us from killing one another and they don’t have the benefit of that.  While DeMause has attributed human behavior to childrearing, not genes, his low view of non-Western, stateless peoples is of a piece with this cultural bias.

It does not follow from this critique that I am advocating the opposite, “noble savage” picture of tribal or hunter-gatherer or prehistoric humans.  I agree with Lloyd that adequate child-rearing is a highly-developed skill that primates and humans are not born with, and that inadequate parenting sets up an intergenerational cycle of abuse that needs to be overcome through a long process of development.  But at least some societies that have lived on a tribal level or a prehistoric level of technology, such as the Aka pygmies, may have over a span of millennia evolved advanced childrearing skills and an advanced consciousness regarding children. To assume that societies that have not created states and advanced technologies are primitive in every other respect is just an ethnocentric bias of our own culture, which is advanced in some ways and no doubt primitive in others.

Again, I am not romanticizing hunter and gatherer societies.  I am trying to take a truly empirical attitude, namely, that each culture is unique and has its own long and unique history.  It is nothing less than arrogance and bigotry to assume that we already know what another culture is about because we are superior and have a universal theory that accounts for all human variation.  In this respect, the anthropologists have it right.  To characterize another culture adequately, we need to dispense with our preconceptions as much as possible and approach the work empirically, inductively, empathically, and with humility.

To be sure, many anthropologists bring a romantic bias about pre-modern or non-Western cultures to their work, and this creates the opposite problem of selectively overlooking and/or rationalizing abusive childrearing, neglect, violence etc.  Here, deMause provided a corrective and I stand unequivocally with him on the need to confront and expose abusive childrearing subcultures wherever we find them.  But I reject his assumption that non-state and technologically primitive cultures are necessarily abusive and that all anthropologists are romantics who overlook and excuse abuse.   

This brings us to the question of Lancy’s Anthropology of Childhood, which Michael Britton said he is reading.  I agree with Michael that we need to learn everything we can from such a well-researched book, but at the same time we need to have our antennas out for anthropologists who overlook and rationalize abusing parenting.  Michael, I’m not sure what you meant when you said that Lancy doesn’t “tilt one way or the other,” but if that means that in the name of anthropological impartiality he is unwilling to confront abuse and advocate for children, then that would be very problematic. 

To be sure, the roles of participant observer and whistle blower are not in harmony and put anthropologists in a real bind.  In order to earn the trust of people from other cultures so that they will reveal what is really going on in the intimate corners of their lives, they cannot then turn around and blast them, the way deMause has done, for their abusive child rearing.  To write the kind of book that Lancy has written with skill and integrity means presenting these other cultures on their own terms while still communicating the relevant information about child abuse, in a subtle but clear way.  It is not necessary to explicitly label abuse as such, which would mean burning your bridges with your contacts in those societies.  Rather, it is enough to depict practices that people in those societies think are OK but which people from more enlightened child rearing subcultures will recognize as abuse.  Michael, how well do you think Lancy pulls this off?

Patrick, you said “what develops might unravel you too.”  To what were you referring?

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253

  


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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 14


Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net


I'm saying that the reason Pinker didn't receive much flack wasn't because he fits our ongoing prejudices -- as you are arguing -- but rather our emerging ones. If he had come out with his book ten years before, I believe he would have put himself in a dangerous spot -- those calling him Whiggish, pro-European colonization, pro-Bush wars, anti-Islam, would have knocked him off his rocker: Pinker isn't wrong to talk of the power of the pro-native mafia, or whatever he calls them. I believe however that more and more liberals are experiencing growth panic -- that is, are wanting to distance themselves from points of view that will keep our world advancing, progressing, endlessly (not Western expansion, of course, but things like peace-making and improved care of citizens: empathy for everyone in the world); are wanting to distance themselves from people who represent the most hopeful of "men." So now rather than siding with fellow academics and intellectuals who would attack him, decent people, like Frans de Waal and Edward Herman, Foucault scholars, diaspora scholars ... anyone who is trying to resuscitate the world previously dominated by the West, I believe they've allowed themselves to become part of the famous quiet majority that ultimately leans patriotic Right. As these same people make it seem that Islam or China is "surrounding" us, surpassing us, and that Western civ. is at risk, they'll use the like of Pinker's research to feel justified in expunging all those academics that have ostensibly just been feeding themselves fat while quieting everyone else through guilt (Pinker says he isn't akin to Samuel Huffington, but he does make his pro-Islamic stance in the book seem conditional ... on their continuing to "compartmentalize" their religion; and if this slides, then they become one of those violent "id" cultures that he clearly believes the world should show prejudice towards.)

The best of men and women, the kindest, the most emotionally evolved, will NEVER accept that hunter and gatherers, tribal peoples, are more violent, less empathic, less evolved, than the worst of European conquerers. Doesn't matter the reality of it. They will never accept that these people don't have, as Diamond just argued, just as much to teach us (by which he of course means more) as we do them. Doesn't matter the reality of it. The number of people out there who can accept the truth of this reality but who are not ideologists, patriots -- those who wish ill on the rest of mankind -- are very very few. Almost all of them are right, or, like Pinker, indeed sliding right (remember, he's for superego control, not the power of empathy, so he reads a bit like David Brooks). So it's a terrible thing for the world if truth ultimately proves victor here. We're going to see scholars out themselves as more and more ridiculous, as, after an avalanche of proof is unveiled in an intellectual environment which has suddenly switched away from its previous existence as heavily pro-French theory, heavily left, heartily cosmopolitan, heavily anti-American parochialism, they make their stands on the thinnest of reeds, growing louder and louder as indeed the reed strips down to bare nothing. It's tough to not sound ridiculous, grow belligerent and "savage" -- like Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, when lost back into the jungle -- when all the support that was at your back is suddenly withdrawn. 

The most dangerous thing I've heard from some of the critics of Pinker is the assumption that we're being lorded over by a narrow sort of liberalism, of the patriotic kind Pinker ostensibly partakes of. Academia is not well described as a place where other cultures can only be seen as replicas of ourselves, but rather a place so powerfully if not predominantly anti-imperialist, anti-right wing West, it is understandable that many conservative critics describe it as anti-American and left-infested. In short, when I read critics like Chetan Bhatt describing academia this way, I think to myself ... "you've seen nothing yet: that is, you're not prepared for how at a loss you'll be when academia actually goes the full way you're assessing it to be now." "You haven't been these last years a hearty warrior battling peer prejudice, but someone the institution has wanted to put forward to showcase their cosmopolitanism, their distance from the American muck. This changes the moment 'the nation' becomes more a beleaguered mother-country -- a beloved mother -- that desperately requires help. This is beginning to happen now." 

I haven't addressed the evidence you referred me to -- that put forward by, for example, Pederson and Fry. It strikes me that people are not going to focus so much on evidence of people living twenty thousand years ago (I believe they were massively violent, fiddling with their own childhood traumas and so much and afraid of growth, they'd didn't evolve for millenniums, of course -- but I might get into the nitty-gritty of it). If what they want is to turf progressives out of the universities, severely put them on edge, they'll focus on tribal cultures today -- those we have been made to experience as lessons to us all; those who so much represent "the vulnerable," "the innocent"... those who so much remind us of our own "guilty" vulnerable childhood selves, who were "rightly" attacked by our mothers and fathers, we want an excuse to demonstrate parental loyalty by hurting them bad. If someone can take a camera and go into any one of them and show infanticide taking place, in the upcoming climate, they'll all be done for. Those saying, "hey, it's not what you think/not as bad as it looks," will be stampeded down, as like a capitalist banker when the curtains have been drawn away, and the populist crowd presses. 


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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 14


Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net

Brian, in the Bookforum article critiquing Better Angels, Douglas Fry argues that nomadic cultures are peaceful and profoundly democratic -- equal in wealth, opportunity and status.  

DeMause addresses these ostensibly utopian cultures and argues that every one of them be understood as actually full of schizoids, who don't own anything for fear of being called selfish, who don't trust anyone enough to allow someone to function as a leader, who fear change too much to allow for hoarding and surpluses, etc. 

If we have lost our interest in fighting against Western parochialism, against our own regressive predecessors, who projected their own demons onto the other; if collectively we start wanting to see the West repossessed of grandeur; then I think a lot is going to depend on exactly how tribal societies treat their children. We -- that is, yes, many of us liberals -- will not be interested in covering up or in looking away, but in finding reason to no longer give so much a damn about something that has tainted us with so much guilt -- we'll be looking for reason to dismiss. We may actually all decide not to see, for example, the licking and fondling of infants as loving parental caresses -- as have so many anthropologists -- but as instead the clear explanation -- incest -- for why these people remained still all of their lives, why they never advanced or progressed, why they stayed tribal. 

If we come to this conclusion -- that cultures are nomadic not because they are onto something democratic and satisfying, but because terrible childhoods stopped them from even attempting something more advanced, then whatever the evidence or lack of evidence of mass burials, notches in bones, child sacrifice, in the prehistoric, will prove sort of beside the point ... We'll dismiss them not because they were more violent but because we'll know why they stayed so long so chillingly the same -- they were all Harlow's monkeys, who hadn't yet psychically calibrated themselves enough to even begin the human story. 


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Trevor Pederson
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May 14


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

What about being nomadic to follow the food sources and because of a lack of knowledge of animal husbandry and agriculture?

What if they were healthier animals and they needed to go through different eras of slavery to become the unhealthy animals that we are today?






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Brian
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May 14



I think Fry is one of many anthropologists who tend to romanticize the “noble savages” and Pinker and deMause tend to demonize them.  Neither Pinker nor deMause has done any actual fieldwork and base their ideas entirely on the secondary literature.  Both of them, as far as I am concerned, are guilty of cherry picking the evidence to fit their theories, which is antithetical to real science. At least anthropologists actually interact with real representatives from extant “hunter and gatherer” societies and so they have a feel for the concrete reality, however much they selectively perceive what they are predisposed to perceive.  Pinker and DeMause also perceive what they are predisposed to perceive and in addition are one step removed from the data and therefore on shakier ground.

Pinker took his highly problematic sample of extant hunters and gatherers from another non-anthropologist with a theoretical axe to grind, Samuel Bowles, an economist.  The way these guys appropriated and misused anthropological data is embarrassing.  Patrick, you tend to engage in ad hominem arguments, which are also antithetical to science.  Instead of addressing Fry’s actual critique of Pinker, you dismiss the whole thing by appealing to Fry’s bias.  If we keep doing that we will not get anywhere, because we all have biases.  I agree with Ken that we need to address questions of evidence on their own terms and by engaging in disagreements with people from other viewpoints, people on both sides can keep one another honest.

In spite of Pinker’s one-sided picture of violence in the Paleolithic, I think he has a very nuanced picture of “human nature” as consisting of both violent and pro-social tendencies and I think he has some good insights into the evolution of political institutions in history.  Psychohistorians, or at least deMausian psychohistorians, go beyond Pinker by explaining the destructive tendencies as primarily the result of childhood trauma.  In addition, I think we need to see prehistorical societies as falling along a spectrum from violent to peaceful, depending on the ecological circumstances in which they live.  Cultures evolve.  Primatologists have found that even colonies of animals learn and have rudimentary cultures.  If Western civilization evolved from extremely brutal child rearing modes to much more enlightened childrearing modes in less than 2,000 years, how can we assume that hunting and gathering societies, like the Aka Pygmies, remained static for even longer periods of time?  This is ethnocentrism at its worst.

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253




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Ralph Fishkin
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May 14


Re: [cliospsyche] RE: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Well then, Brian, psychohistorians are as reductive as the others they criticize.  What is the evidence for that ecologically based spectrum?  What are the other factors involved in “destructive tendencies”?  Are we each grinding our favorite theoretical axes, or are we developing a complex integrated theory and eliminating hypotheses that have no basis beyond hunches, and preferred fantasies?  Why is it necessarily ethnocentrism at its worst for western scientists to assume that hunting and gathering societies remained static for long periods, just as Western Societies did?   

Oh, and what is objective about “enlightened”?  Didn’t the Germans believe that their rigid child rearing practices were enlightened? Who comes forward to say that their own policies are archaic? 

Sorry, I’m feeling combative today.  Must be mom’s fault!  Or, was it dear old dad? 

Ralph 










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jhsturges
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May 14


Re: [cliospsyche] RE: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Brian, I'm just going to throw out there that your attempt to be "empirical" and "scientific" reveal a strong cultural bias of which you may not be aware.  :)

------Jim



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Howard S
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May 14


RE: [cliospsyche] RE: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Dear Brian, Ralph, Trevor, Patrick, and everyone in the Clio'sPsyche community,

Good afternoon from Oklahoma. May I suggest some readings to help address the theoretical goat rope?  Three anthropologist/psychoanalysts have studied childhood, parenting, and their relation to adult life etc.  in preliterate societies and are highly critical of relativism. They are Arthur Hippler, and L. Bryce Boyer and his wife Ruth M. Boyer.  Bryce Boyer wrote the book Childhood and Folklore: A Psychoanalytic Study of Apache Personality (Psychohistory Press, 1979); Ruth Boyer wrote the book Apache Mothers and Daughters: Four Generations of a Family (Univ Oklahoma Press, 1992).  Arthur Hippler studied the childhoods of people of many preliterate societies and is published in numerous journals, and is also critical of relativism and romanticizing life and childhood in preliterate societies.

Also to be noted is anthropologist Robert Edgerton's Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony (Free Press, 1992). Although his focus in not on childhood, it is a good evidential critique of cultural relativism.

Warm regards,

Howard


Howard F. Stein, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Oklahoma City, OK  USA;



Interdisciplinary Seminar facilitator, American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center (AIDPC)/Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, College of Public Health, OUHSC, Oklahoma City OK; Research Associate of the Center for the Study of Organizational Change, University of Missouri, Columbia



howard-stein@ouhsc.edu

Phone: 405-787-6074

Poet Laureate, High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology

Home address: 1408 Oakhill Lane, Oklahoma City OK 73127 USA
________________________________________


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Brian
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May 15


RE: [cliospsyche] RE: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Howard, thanks for the references.  Can you recommend a chapter or article that might serve as a good focal point for discussion on this list? 

Yes, Jim, science is one of my core values.  But some of my best friends are humanists.  I even associate with a few ignoramuses. :-)     

Whew, Ralph, I must have hit a raw nerve.  Was I too critical of Western Civilization or not critical enough?  When you say "psychohistorians," which ones are you talking about?  I don't think anyone has accused Lifton or Erickson of being reductive, but in my view, deMause is.  Do you feel I am being reductive when I speak of an ecologically based spectrum?  In fact, I had just finished saying that childrearing is important so in referring to ecological factors as well I thought that I was being ANTI-reductive.  Culture has multiple sources.  The main ecological variable is the abundance of food relative to the size of the human population.  Some of the articles in the Fry book I mentioned discuss evidence that this is correlated with the degree of violence in cultures. 

I think it is rare or non-existent for ANY culture to remain static.  When you say that Western Societies were static, which ones and at what times did you have in mind?  During the so-called Dark Ages in Europe, advances in farming technology laid a foundation for future economic growth, and the culture of the Germanic tribes was interacting with Greco-Roman institutions and cultural forms and with Christianity and Judaism in complex ways that eventually produced the distinctive amalgamation of these elements that we know today as European Civilization.   

Western scholars used to think that China and India were static, but the more they learned about these societies, the more it became apparent that this view was erroneous and reflected their own ethnocentric prejudice.  Yes I think "it is necessarily ethnocentrism at its worst for western scientists to assume that hunting and gathering societies remained static for long periods."  On what basis would someone make such an assumption without actually studying the phenomenon in question?  The anthropologist Eric Wolf said it all in the ironic title of his book, "Europe and the People Without History."  Anthropologists who actually bother to study tribal cultures, say those of the Native American or African peoples, are not so quick to come to this conclusion.  Perhaps some of these cultures are, in fact, static but that would be an empirical question, wouldn't it?  My guess is that it would require an unusual degree of ecological stability, zero population growth, isolation from outside influences, and other conditions that are not normally present.  Hunters and gatherers have the same neural machinery that people in advanced industrial societies have, with the same vast capacity for learning and creativity.  The fact that they have managed to live in harmony with the Earth and we have not suggests to me that we have something to learn from them. 

As for child rearing, do you really think that the kind of child rearing culture prescribed by Benjamin Spock was not objectively more enlightened than one characterized by corporal punishment and sexual abuse?  In For Your Own Good, Alice Miller pointed out that Hitler was severely beaten on a regular basis and that his speeches resonated with so many Germans because abusive parenting was widespread in the country.  But his speeches did not resonate with ALL Germans, and in fact more of them voted for left political parties than for the conservatives and the National Socialists.  This suggests that there were different "psychoclasses" in Germany, deMause's term for subcultures shaped by different child rearing practices.   

The German Social Democratic Party was an engine of democratic reform in Imperial Germany, a process that was derailed by complex factors that go well beyond the mass psychology of ordinary Germans and that include the Versailles Treaty, the class and institutional politics of the country, and geopolitical dynamics of the other European countries that were shaped by group fantasies of the elite classes, analyzed by David Beisel in The Suicidal Embrace.  In saying all this, I am making a critique of psychohistorical reductionism, which has been one of my mantras on this list.  But since I consider myself a psychohistorian and have good company with the likes of Lifton, Strozier, and many others, I don't think it is fair to say that all psychohistorians are reductive. 

Brian 

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D. 
President 
International Psychohistorical Association 
917-628-8253 




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 15


Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net

Patrick, you tend to engage in ad hominem arguments, which are also antithetical to science.

You provide the distinct impression there's only a specific way you're prepared to accept the world, and that science will be a vehicle to it. I'm sure this is just another ad hominem attack, but it remains true, and I doubt this is good for science either. 


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Alice Maher
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Patrick, I agree with you and with Ralph about Brian.  But I think that exactly the same thing can be said for you, for me, and for each and every one of us.  We all speak from a personal center - a personal identity and a group "tent."  (I'm curious how Joel's' model of a "group mind" relates here.  It seems similar in some ways and different in others.)

I think that Volkan's model can be useful, methodologically, in the here and now, to help us move forward from the place where we regularly get stuck.  If we realize that we're all speaking from different centers, respect those individual and group "tents" and work to understand them, and refer to them at appropriate times with respect for our human perspectives and differences, I bet Clio can move to a new place without regressing to these kinds of regular, predictable and unnecessary attacks on our simple humanity.



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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] RE: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing
Other recipients: bdagostino@verizon.net

Brian, I don't think you'll like the anthropologists Howard refers us to. They're the ones deMause uses to make tribal cultures seem "demonic" ... that is, possessed of such wretched childrearing that their neural circuitry is actually not at all like ours, and are so intent on fiddling with childhood traumas and afraid of losing all parental approval by actually, like, growing, they remain stuck for twenty thousand years. Actually, not stuck -- every two millennium or so they angle their spears slightly differently. They're the type of anthropologists who make it seem that it is only accurate to say they live in harmony with nature, when you take into consideration that nature is precisely the entity that gave us red and tooth and claw for 99.99999% of its existence ... you know, lizards and everything else, remorselessly eating one another. 


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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing
Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

Alice, two people are talking to one another. One of them is perspicacious, a good listener, doesn't project onto the world, and wishes well for the world -- the product of truly loving parents ... someone of deMause's helping pscychoclass. The other is none of these things. We might find it agreeable to say the former "speaks from a personal center,"' but the later would be better typified as dripping goo from some dark tar sand void of despair. We should want a society where everyone warrants being seen as "speaking from a personal center," as possessing that sort of gravitas ... but some people from god awful family backgrounds, experiencing extreme forms of growth panic, simply will want to eat everyone up: in this situation, it'd be wise not to get in the room with them at all, but wait until they've sacrificed a hundred "bad" kids, revenged themselves on a hundred abandoning mothers, so, sated, are a bit closer to the fit mental state required for a tete-a-tete. 


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Alice Maher
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Patrick, I don't think we can divide people that way, into the good guys and the bad guys, even if we soften it by saying that the bad guys must have had bad mothers.  When I said that we all come from different centers, I wasn't suggesting value judgments at all.  Psychopaths and psychotics have centers too.

What I was suggesting is that the people here - you, me, Brian, et al - come from different personal centers and group "tents," and I think it would help if we acknowledged that in our Clio communications.

BTW, in your model, if people are in fact as you describe, it seems as if the only way to handle the problem would be to kill them.  Are there other alternatives?


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Ken Fuchsman
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

When we resume our discussion of warfare after the IPA Convention is over, Brian has suggested we look at the  2013 volume War, Peace and Human Nature, edited by Douglas Fry. Brian says this is a collection by scholars who find hunter-gatherers were peaceful. 

A 2014 volume, Violence and Warfare Among Hunter-Gatherers, edited by anthropologists Mark Allen and Terry Jones, documents extensive warfare in the Paleolithic. It will be helpful to explore the evidence in these and other books. 

We will have our work cut out for us. 



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Barney
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May 15


"To be sure, the roles of participant observer and whistle blower are not in harmony and put anthropologists in a real bind.  In order to earn the trust of people from other cultures so that they will reveal what is really going on in the intimate corners of their lives, they cannot then turn around and blast them, the way deMause has done, for their abusive child rearing.  To write the kind of book that Lancy has written with skill and integrity means presenting these other cultures on their own terms while still communicating the relevant information about child abuse, in a subtle but clear way.  It is not necessary to explicitly label abuse as such, which would mean burning your bridges with your contacts in those societies.  Rather, it is enough to depict practices that people in those societies think are OK but which people from more enlightened child rearing subcultures will recognize as abuse.  Michael, how well do you think Lancy pulls this off?"

Dear Brian,

A riveting good letter. I've one philosophical issue:

I am at a loss to figure out how the epithet "whistle blower" in any way has meaning when it comes to anthropology. Do you mean that anthropologists are going to witness "other" cultures doing stuff (mostly sexual, of course, with some human sacrifice, scarification, animistic medicine, and corporal punishment on the side) that might get the tribal members labeled for all legalists to see as "abusive"? 

Must I, as an anthropologist (or as a citizen), see a man slap his toddler son across the face in a Manhattan supermarket because the boy is screaming for his mother, who entirely ignores his hollering, and either step in personally or call a cop? Can I whistle-blow on humanity? 

To repeat the obvious: mammals punish their offspring with slaps and spanks and nips and bites and occasional dustups and fistacuffs, and not all civilized folks detest incest, and Heaven knows what all else. Humans are mammals. Most mammals do not, ever, learn "bad" or "abusive" child raising practices; a dog mother mothers like all other mother dogs, and a lot like most humans; same goes for a cat, a tapir, an elephant, a goat, a camel, and even the celebrated bonobos. 

Mammalian parenting does not change: only the human rules regarding child rearing do. It's not hard to see that the illusion that human regulations can alter fundamental species behavior is absurdist. 

To the fierce and fanatical "spare the rodders" and "let them have a childhooders" and "above all else we have to protect our childreners," and all the lovely "toxic mothers" and "fey fathers," the "children" represent a very forlorn and fragile ray of hope; fear for the "children" is really fear of their own demonstrated weaknesses and doubts. 

How does one convey the idea of child abuse in a "subtle way"? ["Behind closed doors and only to the faithful, the barbaric slicing off of a boy child's foreskin and the subsequent "sterilizing" sucking of the penile blood by the sanctified priest cutter is practiced daily, as is clitorectomy on countless young women. The laws of man and God casts a blind eye on such acts."] Is that subtle enough? 

I can mention many more ways that almost any mammalian society/community/tribe behave toward offspring that zealots may blow a whistle on, but anthropologists wont. The anthropologists earn the trust of the people they report on by carrying in as few preconceptions as possible and steadily and forcefully continuing to remove the preconceptions that are still clinging before they commit thoughts and images for the record. Unless an anthropologist can successfully do that cleansing operation, and can continually keep it up no matter what, there is little hope the student (anthropologist) will learn anything important or report anything of significance.

I believe there is no human society so strange to us (even to those who barely realize other civilizations exist) that some lazy professor won't slap a iconograph on them and slot and pigeon hole them, and make them fit all previous preconceptions that appear so fluently (and occasionally fraudulently) in academic references and footnotes. 

The problem is that many on-the-surface travelers and under-qualified historians are as frustrated by primitive strangeness as a pickpocket in a nudist colony. Many are actually embarrassed by direct, straight-forward, naked looks at real people(s) who live in parallel times and yet in different contexts (tents?). These ersatz anthropologists are the ones who blow the whistles. Scrupulous anthropologists do not require the people they observe and report upon to react and respect any other rules of behavior than the ones that have kept their genetic tendril alive to this point in time. 

As a side issue: 

If I can nominate one of the most overused and meaningless words in current English, then I pick: "Abusive." 

It can never reach the dizzying heights of numb-nuttedness that "empower" still occupies, but  it's up there near the throne. 

Barney



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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing
Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

Okay, my "tent" is the most emotionally evolved one. 

Stop them from hurting people; heal them; bring them up to speed so that when we're comparing "tents," we're comparing structures of truly equal worth, rather than grand modernist edifices vs. shanty towns. 


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Alice Maher
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Be careful, Patrick.  "The most emotionally evolved" sounds like a close cousin of "superior human beings."

When I was in training as a classical analyst almost 40 years ago (I'm about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of my med school graduation), they only accepted people for training who had the requisite type of "ego strength."  I had friends who committed suicide or moved out of town after being rejected for analytic training, because the clear message was that you are defective in such a way that you have no hope of redemption.

That's the tragic flaw in the field of psychoanalysis that we've been struggling with ever since.

If you were raised by sucky parents and emerged as a sucky person, that needs to be honored and confronted at the same time.  If you live in that tent, then that's where you live. 


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Barney
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May 15



Dear Patrick, 

Can you name any two things that are of equal worth? 

Worthiness is among the most ephemeral and self-indulgent of all concepts, perhaps the least scientific, and among the most vague. It shares that contextual niche with "worthless." 

Barney.2.051515

P.S. I suppose all have noticed that until the 20th of May all of the dates are the same backwards and forwards?

How ominous is that?

B



One must of course always ask, "To whom?" 








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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing
Other recipients: alicelmaher@gmail.com

Everyone cautions me ... apparently how I say things will sink the reputations of good minds (note: I've just made deMause not only a mother-hater but a bigot, so I'm sure I'll hear from Denis again shortly), encourage genocide, draw upon me a crowd of angry mothers, and perhaps draw God to withdraw from us this pleasant grassy habitat we call earth! ... And yet I'm more left than Sweden!

It is awful to hear you actually had friends commit suicide after some jackass (read: massively unloved person) took pleasure from reducing them into human jokes, from humiliating them. Whatever you've heard from me here, believe me, when I'm face to face with someone suffering from abuse, what they'll feel foremost from me is respect for that self that is still sort of there, and that deserved to have had a chance to flower and surprise us all -- what a wondrous voice to the human conversation! Scholars who are keeping whole peoples to themselves so they can dabble with what they want to make of them -- do I study? do I heal? do I protect? do I enshrine? do I use them to scold others? --  I approach differently. There I mostly want to remind them that if you were dealing with a family chained to a cycle of ongoing child abuse, you're not still going to be sorting through them to perhaps find harmony on earth; you're not going to sanctify them by calling them a culture; you'd only study them on their own terms to show them you fundamentally want to respect them, but you'd still effectively be a gate-crasher whose primary intention is to change them, as quickly as you can, so that they come into a different form, vastly improved from their previous, sickeningly sodden selves. 


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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing
Other recipients: barneyatbeaches@gmail.com

Ripe oranges and ripe apples are of equal worth -- both terrific fruits; equally delicious tastes. Two fully formed minds, spared child abuse, are of equal worth -- you'll feel their leadership and spirit in all of their disparate endeavours. I don't know if the people who created "science" would ever use science to discount me, but if they did I would suspect it wasn't the science that made them do it but a foulness of spirit. A powerfully unloved person will inevitably grow up into a human monster -- a society of any worth would appreciate that the latter incarnation owed to a denial of everything that should have received in life, so it will protect them, resuscitate them -- love them -- and thereafter do what they can so that each and every human being gets the guaranteed ripe fruit self they'll all possess, if they get the nurturance they deserved. 


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PETSCHAUERPW@appstate.edu
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May 15


Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Fellow psychohistorians... 
One of the points the deMause made, and which I have seen in our academic setting, is that all people who grow 
into abused and abusing households do not turn into monsters or stay so if they were so at one point in their lives. 
New psychoclasses could not have emerged if everyone were stuck in the one in which they grew up. That is, if a 
person or persons grow into horrible environments, or even only moderately unsupportive and unloved ones, he or 
she can see the negative environment for what it is and change his or her behavior for the better. 

I do not want for the whole psychohistorical house to come down on me, but let me say first it is possible for 
massive numbers of people to "grow out" of war-time trauma, prison and abuse. We heard of it here. It is also 
possible for massive numbers of warriors to lead a normal life after having been at a front and killed, sometimes 
with abandon. I spoken to many such men. It is also possible for children who were abused to see what terrible 
experiences they were for them and say to themselves, I will do better with my own children. I heard a 
presentation in Heidelberg by a colleague from Israel who spoke of the traumatic early lives of three artists, how 
that experience influenced their art, and how they worked that early experience out through it and became 
otherwise "normal" human beings.   
So then, my take, we would never have had any progress as a species toward better childrearing and more 
thoughtful approaches to many givens around us, if at some points some parents had not reared their own 
children differently than they were reared. 

Have a good weekend. 

Peter 


Peter Petschauer 
Prof. Emeritus, Appalachian State University 
Author of "In the Face of Evil; The Sustenance of Traditions" 




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Barney
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May 15





Dear Peter, 

If it is acceptable to say BRAVO!!!!   Then BRAVO!!!!

Barney




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Brian
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May 15



Yes, I agree Peter, but want to add that I think Lloyd was inconsistent on this point.  At other times he talked about people being entirely determined by their history of experience.  What you say relates to something I posted previously:

From: Brian D'Agostino [mailto:bdagostino@verizon.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 1:04 PM
To: 'cliospsyche@googlegroups.com'
Subject: RE: [cliospsyche] My very worst day of the year -- Mother's Day

Patrick, your presentation of deMause’s ideas make a positive contribution to this discussion.  However, determinism is no longer tenable, even in the physical sciences.  It is now known (and was known when deMause was writing, but the knowledge was still diffusing from the physics community) that the human body and brain at the quantum level are chaotic and unpredictable.  They are more predictable at larger time-scales, but still probabilistic.  This is perhaps what we experience subjectively as free will.  Or, to use an emerging metaphor from cognitive science, we are programmed by our traumas and culture, but we can reprogram ourselves and transcend these defaults through self-reflection, psychotherapy, and spiritual practices such as meditation.

Here is how I view the human psyche (drawing largely from Jung).  Experience and trauma imprint themselves on our nervous systems, but even our initial experience is not entirely a function of objective reality, but is filtered through our cognitive perceptual schemas.  If someone experiences inadequate mothering or parenting, the trauma and neglect is stored in the nervous system as chronic stress, rage, anxiety, etc.  This may be related to the chronic muscular rigidity described by Wilhelm Reich.  The internalized experience of the parents becomes part of the self (i.e. “introjects”). 

Throughout the lifetime of the individual, the brain and nervous system retain a large degree of plasticity and, as mentioned above, at the quantum level are dynamic and chaotic.  Thus the unconscious of the individual and their total psyche contain traumatic and other experiences, but these are continually subject to transformation.  Jung described how recurring archetypes of wholeness, for example the mandala symbol, periodically appear in dreams, representing a kind of spontaneous tendency towards healing and individuation.  If the individual becomes conscious of this process and begins to attend to the signals from the unconscious, the transformation of trauma and development of individuation can be accelerated. 

I don’t think this picture minimizes the damage that people sustain from inadequate parenting.  But it is consistent with what is known about physical reality and Lloyd’s determinism is not.   

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253




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Howard S
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May 16


RE: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Dear Brian,

Good afternoon from stormy Oklahoma. I haven't forgotten your request. I suggest the following paper by Arthur E. Hippler: "The Athabaskans of Interior Alaska," American Anthropologist 75(5) 1973.

I think that it will advance our discussion of child rearing and everything else to be as empirically-minded as possible. Ideology has always stood in the way of scientific (or any other kind of) advance.

Warm regards,

Howard

Howard F. Stein, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oklahoma City, OK  USA;

Interdisciplinary Seminar facilitator, American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center (AIDPC)/Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, College of Public Health, OUHSC, Oklahoma City OK; Research Associate of the Center for the Study of Organizational Change, University of Missouri, Columbia

Phone: 405-787-6074
Poet Laureate, High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology
Home address: 1408 Oakhill Lane, Oklahoma City OK 73127 USA

Sent: Friday, May 15, 2015 3:10 PM
Subject: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing



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Brian
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May 16



Thanks, Howard.  Ken and I want to discuss after the IPA conference the extent and nature of violence in prehistoric societies and have some more recent articles in mind, but when we’re done with that discussion, I recommend that we read this article.  Whether or not the article addresses violence, I think the discussion in this thread raised its own set of issues and I look forward to reading something that came to your mind in response to this discussion. 

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253



From: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com [mailto:cliospsyche@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Stein, Howard F. (HSC)
Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 4:59 PM
To: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com
Cc: Stein, Howard F. (HSC)
Subject: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing

Dear Brian,

Good afternoon from stormy Oklahoma. I haven't forgotten your request. I suggest the following paper by Arthur E. Hippler: "The Athabaskans of Interior Alaska," American Anthropologist 75(5) 1973.

I think that it will advance our discussion of child rearing and everything else to be as empirically-minded as possible. Ideology has always stood in the way of scientific (or any other kind of) advance.

Warm regards,

Howard

Howard F. Stein, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oklahoma City, OK  USA;

Interdisciplinary Seminar facilitator, American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center (AIDPC)/Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, College of Public Health, OUHSC, Oklahoma City OK; Research Associate of the Center for the Study of Organizational Change, University of Missouri, Columbia

Phone: 405-787-6074
Poet Laureate, High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology
Home address: 1408 Oakhill Lane, Oklahoma City OK 73127 USA

From: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com [cliospsyche@googlegroups.com] on behalf of Brian D'Agostino [bdagostino@verizon.net]
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2015 3:10 PM
To: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing
Yes, I agree Peter, but want to add that I think Lloyd was inconsistent on this point.  At other times he talked about people being entirely determined by their history of experience.  What you say relates to something I posted previously:

From: Brian D'Agostino [mailto:bdagostino@verizon.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 1:04 PM
To: 'cliospsyche@googlegroups.com'
Subject: RE: [cliospsyche] My very worst day of the year -- Mother's Day

Patrick, your presentation of deMause’s ideas make a positive contribution to this discussion.  However, determinism is no longer tenable, even in the physical sciences.  It is now known (and was known when deMause was writing, but the knowledge was still diffusing from the physics community) that the human body and brain at the quantum level are chaotic and unpredictable.  They are more predictable at larger time-scales, but still probabilistic.  This is perhaps what we experience subjectively as free will.  Or, to use an emerging metaphor from cognitive science, we are programmed by our traumas and culture, but we can reprogram ourselves and transcend these defaults through self-reflection, psychotherapy, and spiritual practices such as meditation.

Here is how I view the human psyche (drawing largely from Jung).  Experience and trauma imprint themselves on our nervous systems, but even our initial experience is not entirely a function of objective reality, but is filtered through our cognitive perceptual schemas.  If someone experiences inadequate mothering or parenting, the trauma and neglect is stored in the nervous system as chronic stress, rage, anxiety, etc.  This may be related to the chronic muscular rigidity described by Wilhelm Reich.  The internalized experience of the parents becomes part of the self (i.e. “introjects”). 

Throughout the lifetime of the individual, the brain and nervous system retain a large degree of plasticity and, as mentioned above, at the quantum level are dynamic and chaotic.  Thus the unconscious of the individual and their total psyche contain traumatic and other experiences, but these are continually subject to transformation.  Jung described how recurring archetypes of wholeness, for example the mandala symbol, periodically appear in dreams, representing a kind of spontaneous tendency towards healing and individuation.  If the individual becomes conscious of this process and begins to attend to the signals from the unconscious, the transformation of trauma and development of individuation can be accelerated. 

I don’t think this picture minimizes the damage that people sustain from inadequate parenting.  But it is consistent with what is known about physical reality and Lloyd’s determinism is not.   

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253


From: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com [mailto:cliospsyche@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Barnard Collier
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2015 3:44 PM
To: cliospsyche@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [cliospsyche] Re: ethnocentrism, anthropology, and child rearing



Dear Peter, 

If it is acceptable to say BRAVO!!!!   Then BRAVO!!!!

Barney


On Fri, May 15, 2015 at 2:31 PM, <PETSCHAUERPW@appstate.edu> wrote:
Fellow psychohistorians...
One of the points the deMause made, and which I have seen in our academic setting, is that all people who grow
into abused and abusing households do not turn into monsters or stay so if they were so at one point in their lives.
New psychoclasses could not have emerged if everyone were stuck in the one in which they grew up. That is, if a
person or persons grow into horrible environments, or even only moderately unsupportive and unloved ones, he or
she can see the negative environment for what it is and change his or her behavior for the better.

I do not want for the whole psychohistorical house to come down on me, but let me say first it is possible for
massive numbers of people to "grow out" of war-time trauma, prison and abuse. We heard of it here. It is also
possible for massive numbers of warriors to lead a normal life after having been at a front and killed, sometimes
with abandon. I spoken to many such men. It is also possible for children who were abused to see what terrible
experiences they were for them and say to themselves, I will do better with my own children. I heard a
presentation in Heidelberg by a colleague from Israel who spoke of the traumatic early lives of three artists, how
that experience influenced their art, and how they worked that early experience out through it and became
otherwise "normal" human beings.
So then, my take, we would never have had any progress as a species toward better childrearing and more
thoughtful approaches to many givens around us, if at some points some parents had not reared their own
children differently than they were reared.

Have a good weekend.

Peter
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Mark as complete


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mfbrttn
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May 16



Brian,
To answer your question about the Lancy book:  I am only a few chapters into it -- returned my library copy and ordered a copy of my own so I can underline.  Still waiting for it to arrive.  I am cautious about giving my impressions so far, as it is only "so far" into his work..  That said, it appears a small number of tribes were non-abusive to their children, while the larger number of societies (apart from the modern world -- at least of the West) saw children prior to the age of five as either economically useful (and put them to use as early as possible) or as expendable (with high rates of infanticide and abandonment).  He so far relates the later to ecological conditions and the struggle to subsist, and gives a number of ways the cultures who dispose of small children think about infants (generally relating to their being either unwilling to really come into this world from the spirit world, being poised between the spirit world and our own, or being taken over by an evil spirit who must be killed).  He contrasts what he states is the vast majority of societies/cultures with our own, stating that in those other cultures the most important people are the oldest, with the hierarchy of value extending down to infants who are least valuable, while ours inverts this value schema, placing infants and children at the apex of importance, ranking other members of society less valuable by age down to the elderly as the least valued.  He seems to have a bit of a mission to say that our taken for granted views of childrearing cannot accurately be projected onto the rest of the world, as it doesn't fit.  Some of the examples that are given of what people do in getting rid of infants show brutality, and a question is raised or noted about the impact of the frequent deaths of children prior to age 5 on their parents and the capacities of the parents to bond to children under that age -- but he also suggests that parents can be brutal in one instance and yet love the surviving children on the other hand (make of that what you will).  I'm not sure where his argument is going to go, or whether it actually goes anywhere, as he seems to have organized the book around stages of childhood and the variation in practices attendant on those stages, a kind of reportorial approach to "set the record straight" as it were regarding what people actually do.  Again, I'm not too happy saying all this as I haven't read the rest of his work yet, but that's the impression I get so far.
Michael




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The mandala


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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 16



Brian said this about the mandala: 

Jung described how recurring archetypes of wholeness, for example the mandala symbol, periodically appear in dreams, representing a kind of spontaneous tendency towards healing and individuation.  If the individual becomes conscious of this process and begins to attend to the signals from the unconscious, the transformation of trauma and development of individuation can be accelerated. 

My question is: is the mandala an asshole, or what? If it really meant us well, wouldn't it be appearing every night, like a genuinely loving caregiver, giving us the continuous contact we need to believe we deserve an individuated life? Wouldn't it avoid having us mistake the fact that we deserve to evolve out of traumas and become more individuated, only because we served so much penitent time outside its healing influence -- because we've been the good boy or girl, who spent so much wayward time hurt, lonely, and frustrated, without complaint? For a lot of Jungian patients, I bet this describes a lot of their childhoods ... so the mandala that appears occasionally ... like the hunter and gather tribe that is, finally, the discovered oasis of goodness in a world otherwise full of compromise and blight ... fills us with so much hope, because it shines on us the fact of our otherwise bearing so many scars and wounds. 

Brian's example makes the mandala seem like some core part ourselves, that knew what it was to deserve better than this, and is trying to make sure we don't go down; but if the mandala is really a placenta/vagina .... mother symbol, when we were with her during the period -- infancy and early childhood --when we were devoted to her, and so therefore most fully earned her love, then it might be one and the same as the vagina dentate that'll have it with us if make use of the allowance our forlorn lives have gifted us to go whole-hog in our individuation and self-development. 

That is, if it's just the "us" who earned love because we were devoted to her, because we hadn't yet threatened upon her the same abandonment (which comes automatically in life, just by the fact of our aging into later childhood and adolescence) she had received from her own caregivers, then I'm wondering just how much of our lives ends up qualifying as the "having strayed" part of the mandala equation? I wonder how much individuation and self-development is subsumed with one's accepting one's role as but a part of a vastly significant, mystical universe -- the maternal re-bond? I know I'm making the mandala symbol sort of fascist, but to deMause both the mandala and the swastika were vagina or placental symbols (the swastika is a placenta symbol in Foundations, but a vagina symbol in Origins, in case anyone's interested in closely documenting deMause's changes). 

We seem to talk a lot about soldiers who recovered to live normal lives. I have a problem with this. There's a huge portion of Americans who aren't keeping up so well with progressive reforms ... who may in fact mostly be supporting the idea of gay marriage because it subsumes yet more people within a conservative institution/ideal, and so are for it but virulently against abortion rights, for instance ... and I suspect that a solid portion of military personnel count amongst its constituents, so our constant referral to them is like being a proud reader who turns so frequently to the like of hard sci-fi: shouldn't we prefer to avert this kind of company, rather than seem naturally drawn to it -- why the the attraction to the forlorn warrior? 

I like deMause's example of how so many Jews rebounded after WW2, after genocide, and his linking it not mostly to excellent support groups but to the fact that they were, after all, German's best, most lenient, most tolerant and loving parents -- the most developed psychoclass, which is why they got targeted in the first place. It suggests, instead, that our most natural company are the most loved, not those who may like us seem to have earned love because we bore wounds and sacrificed, rather than indulged and "spoiled." If we tend to gravitate too much that way in our psychohistorical discussions, how much are we just using our own wounds to succour for ourselves more love? How much are we building the case that those who just keep on "arrogantly" disrespecting our elders by reforming away all their regressive societal ways, surely "have it coming?" 






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Clio’s Psyche

DeMause the Demonizer




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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 16



I've argued that we're in the process of emerging into an era of intense growth-panic, and our need to distance ourselves from our own "spoiled," "indulging" selves, is why so many prominent writers are arguing for the same main villain. Yes .... ISIS, but also -- the hippies. Steven Pinker, Chris Hedges, and David Brooks, are construing the 1960s as the most self-indulgent and least self-sacrificial era ever. According to them, if we want a better future, we've got to purge ourselves of what we learned from them (flipping through Brooks latest work, one of his "heroes of character" appears to be a self-sacrificing Catholic, who didn't at all agree with the 60s culture she was living amongst). If you want a sense of the new emerging sensibility, developing even in many youngish liberals (the regressing ones), here's an example from today ... from a Portland-dweller. 

I see them in a different light, of course. What I love about the 60s is that this wasn't incremental, modest, change, but wholesale -- youth just took over: they were quite willing to overturn everything previously held in reverence, in undue respect, for what is actually better. When I read deMause, I don't encounter someone demonizing people; I encounter instead this 60s voice -- that one that so grates people because it's unapologetic in its belief in itself; that takes pleasure when a frowning elder gets steamed because it's such a joy when you can be loose-limbed even while planted just before your monsters!  -- the hippie girl daunting a flower before the pissed-off working class police officer -- and one that is also proudly girding for itself ground that it has no plans to give up (damn straight!). 

DeMause believes that capitalism is some kind of fantasy solution that tends to the needs born out of some kind of regressive childrearing that is beginning to -- with the emergence of some finally belonging to the helping psychoclass -- pass. He talks about the military as the same kind of sad but once necessary fantasy solution for adults born out of destructive childhoods as well (he says it exists to rape and kill, I believe, and also as a way of depleting ourselves of surplus resources that would otherwise actually improve our lives). He believes well-loved parents will always nurture children who are even more emotionally healthy than themselves, so parents would always be tempering their assessments of their kids with the knowledge that what they're doing that grates ... might grate simply because it belongs in some still unallowed category of self-attendance that the parent can't quite dip into as freely as can the child. He's for a socialist society ... for the hippie, grassroots, everyone-is-actually-a-special-snowflake, 60s' culture, that we were once in the process of forging in an uncompromised, un-pissed-off-parent-looking-over-our-shoulder-(and-in-an-effective-way)-the-whole-time way.

Someone may never have pressed him on it, but it's not just what he writes but also the tone of it that suggests, that argues, that we shouldn't be afraid to challenge our whole need to learn about this nightmare realm, history (I've written about this before, but if you're a frequent reader of liberal online sites you'll be noticing how many young progressives are accusing the teaching of Western civ. as a kind of assault -- too many rapes! too many regressive attitudes! -- as too punishing and insulting to the sensitivities of the youth before them -- though there's some backlash to this amongst some others [again, the regressing ones, in my judgment]). 

Concerning anthropology, his tone for me doesn't lend to demonizing. What it does is empower you, so that if you're a young progressive who walked amongst a people and recognized instantly that you were within a community of ongoing child abuse (you don't need to win their trust so to gain entrance to their private lives and so discover it -- there surely are many overt tell-tale signs), you won't, in a sense, fail the people, limiting your ability to help, by slipping into some kind of self-involved state which has you succouring your own "commendable" modesty ... which has you projecting onto them so that they're some kind of fragile "you" that is being picked on by parental bullies, but rather just do what you'd do if you encountered a community of child abuse within your own society. If you have every resource available to you ... if you're living in some advanced Scandinavian country which provides enormous resources to societal nurturance, then you'd get involved immediately, separate the children form the adults -- stop further abuse -- and treat everyone concerned as if they are all shortchanged human care and love. The whole history they'd accumulated for themselves, all their familiar practices, won't concern you much -- it deserves to be completely forgotten as something built actually out of love has a chance to develop. If you don't have that, then you temper, talk trade-offs, be very careful not to invoke closed doors -- but only then.

I like making this all sound so ... gatecrashing, because it causes unease amongst those who turn fretful -- be cautious! be careful! -- when one goes "too far" in one's presumption, and for me living rightly these days seems to require my imagining myself some strong-flung bolt that can attend calmly to the wind, be poised in consideration of the clouds, even as it passes through considerable blocks of obstructions ... but of course this treatment will be slow, and careful, and done over a lifetime: no loud noises or elephants in the room -- but rather many gradual "acclimes," by many attendant "Alices."    

In short, when so many are agreeing that the one who goes too far one is verging on the devil's turf, rather than leading on the angels, being "demonic" is a slurring paint that nevertheless marks you as one of the actual good guys. Fear the one who instead makes it seem that when life has forced them to temper their ambitions, in the end it lead to wisdom and maturity: this is the making of the proud provincial, of the true villain, who reborn in modesty will numb so much potential happiness and self-development the young, especially, should have known. 




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Brian
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May 16



Patrick, how can there be a growth panic without growth?  Median wages and benefits in the United States have been stagnant or declining since the 1970s.  Increases in GDP have been benefitting the minority, especially the top one-tenth of one percent.  While the US is technically in a recovery and we have low unemployment in theory, in reality the majority of Americans who would like to have full time jobs at living wages have either given up looking for them, are working part time, or are killing themselves with two or more minimum wage jobs in order to make ends meet.  It is even worse in Europe, and worse still in the developing world.  What world are you living in?

You can rationalize all this by recasting Lloyd’s growth panic theory more broadly to be about non-economic “growth” such as expanding gay rights.  But in that case, let’s be honest about what you’re doing and let’s acknowledge that the theory as he originally presented it does not correspond with economic reality.

P.S. Someone recently reminded us that there is a three post limit.  I would like to reiterate that point.  The list has been quiet today, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Silence can be the sound of people thinking.  I love that sound!

Brian

Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253



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jhsturges
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May 16



I have long regarded growth panic as a swing-and-a-miss by Lloyd. It is a bit too teleological for my taste. 

As part of these misgivings, there is Lloyd's position that the past was so psychologically impoverished (infanticidal psychoclass, etc.); and yet, the ancients produced the most enduring literature/philosophy/spiritualism/myth on the planet. I could never buy into the theory that they were all trucking along on the level of BPD, NPD or worse.

I think it was a nice theory; just wrong. Wrong theories can still be highly useful in framing a question, as Einstein pointed out in a succinct little essay about Kepler, and the way he used what we now think of a false theory as a stepping stone towards eventually achieving his sublime 3 Laws of Planetary Motion.

-------Jim










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Clio clings to an innocent-- and misled-- focus




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Joel Markowitz
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May 16




Clio's a real democracy.  Every theory gets an equal vote.  No single   
theory-- and there are many of them-- is superior to others. 

Yet Clio does TEND to crystallize on ONE range of opinion. 

MOTHER is important to Clio in a big way.  Not FATHER-- who was, in   
fact,  primary  in directing history. 

Clio focuses disproportionately on PRE-OEDIPAL development.  In   
individuals, that's the boy's stage of development  (groups have been   
male thus far in history)--  ONLY BEFORE HE IS FOUR YEARS OLD AND   
OEDIPAL. 

  ------------------------------------- 

Clio deals almost exclusively with the nursery and playground-- where   
only mother, really, is important.   Not  the adult world.   Not   
where history is made. 

That's why deMause has taken Freud's place as far as Clio is   
concerned.   deMause -- and Clio-- focus on child-abuse.  They want   
the "good breast"-- the loving mother-- over the"poisoned breast"--   
the hating, abusive mother. 

Clio's against child abuse ... Clio believes that friendly discussion   
will solve problems-- a friendly, cooperative, talk (the innocent   
gatherer-scavenger-hunter mindset).  Not a Freudian-based,   
psychodynamic understanding of the problems 
         
        involved. 

And we all agree that child-abuse is bad; and that mothers should be   
loving. 

Clio hasn't mentioned Freud for a long time; nor has Clio REALLY   
dealt with Freudian thinking.  Instead:  deMause has become a   
preoccupation with Clio.   deMause  greatly exaggerates  Mother's   
role in history. 

Clio doesn't think in terms of oedipal determinism.  That happens at   
ages 4 and later -- the fundamental dynamic influences of paganism   
and history. 

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Contrary to Clio's thinking, children don't run history.  deMause is   
wonderful in discussing infant and child rearing.  But I believe that   
EVERY ONE of his theories on history is wrong! 

Mothering certainly affects the human condition.  E.g., a good mother   
tends to give a child confidence.  BUT MEN HAVE RUN HISTORY.  Boys   
compete with Father during their oedipal development;l then they grow   
up fearing Father; rebelling 

        against Father; submitting to Father; identifying with Father ... 

Women were severely suppressed.  While The Church insists otherwise,   
TENS OF THOUSANDS (according to authorities) of women were burned as   
witches as a warning to millions of women.  To become Stepford   
wives-- OR ELSE! 

That is: women were forced to accept the traditional role assigned to   
them-- to keep  a low profile; to obey their husbands; to be as   
asexual and as pious as possible ... 

Men brought up by toxic mothers were usually too insecure, too busy   
trying to simply survive, to become leaders. 

Clio's thinking becomes relevant to psychohistory only when Clio   
dares to think in terms of oedipal determinism and Father-- despite   
injunctions against that focus by this Christian Era. 


Joel 




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Alice Maher
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May 16



Cheers, Joel!  I can't say I understand all your words, but your "music" is beautiful. I respond to it more than anyone else's here. I'm reminded of Einstein's statement that you can't solve a problem using the same level of thinking that was used to create it. Your thinking is at a different level of abstraction. :) 





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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
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May 16


Other recipients: markowitzjoel@gmail.com

Well, the response from this particular portion of Clio, is that focusing on the father, even when complaining angrily about him, is a means of respite from thinking of the massive titanic power of our mothers in our early childhoods. One of the few sexist spots left that sometimes gets a "clear" scan from progressives, from feminists, is when we focus on that dastard, the authoritarian father, who we must focus on and pulverize for a chance of a truly egalitarian, "hunter and gatherer" utopia! But the alert espy that this has become just another enclave where we can superimpose a father-run land as necessarily our primary focus, rather than acquiesce to the healing that would lead to us to feeling uncomfortable, maybe even bored, when necessity ostensibly requires we focus mostly on empowered men.  

I've read some issues of Clio's Psyche, and there's quite a bit about the authoritarian (read: father overlorded) family -- did you miss that? Also, Brian focuses on the power of the father ... in fact I believe he gives his mom the clear (no trauma in her company, I believe) while focusing on his Republican father (and all that implies). And the head of Clio -- Paul Elovitz, right? -- summarizes deMause as someone profoundly influenced by ... not his overwhelming, abandoning mother, but by his belt-lashing, terrifying father ... even given deMause's own insistence that it is only really appropriate to focus maybe equally on the father when you're talking "helping", both-parents-equally-evolved-and-involed, psychoclass -- and that ain't he. 

I do like the way you write, though, some poetry to your formulations. A splash of an intense intelligence with vivid observations, but I don't want so much want to help you prepare your man-cave den, so a group of mostly men can focus once again, mostly on "the Man." 


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Ralph Fishkin
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May 16



When I agree with Joel, I think I should say so, because I have disagreed with him on so many occasions.  I agree that both mothers AND fathers are important in psychohistory.  But that is only a partial agreement, so don’t get too smug, Joel.  I disagree with you when you merely reverse the polarity and emphasize father and the oedipal period at the expense of mothers and the pre-oedipal developmental period. And, don’t forget, fathers AND mothers are important in post-oedipal, oedipal AND pre oedipal development. 

I also want to thank Peter for his thoughtful email earlier.  I don’t get all this discussion of Lloyd de Mause. He was a scattershot theorist who hit the mark sometimes but who was wildly inconsistent and contradicted himself. I find political ramblings based on his writings to be a waste of time, and I am just deleting them. I thank Brian for his reminder about the three post per day limit that most of us are observing. 

One more thing, when we get around to deciding on the readings on war, can links to them be posted so that they can be accessed more easily?  That would encourage participation. 

Ralph 









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Ken Fuchsman
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May 17 (22 hours ago)



Ralph,

Brian and I will post links to the readings on war so that everyone can have the opportunity to read them,   


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Joel Markowitz
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May 17 (22 hours ago)



Thanks, Alice.  I value your support.  I'm otherwise accustomed to   
being a voice in the wilderness ... 

Joel 
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jhsturges
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May 17 (19 hours ago)



Joel, I have been thinking of replying to your posts . . . but maybe now is the time.

First, I will say that I am also a Freud lover. There is absolutely no substitute for reading his original works, in my opinion. 

To illustrate his effect on me, I was reading one of his books in bed one night when my wife looked over and saw tears streaming down my face. "What's the matter?" she asked.

"It's Freud," I replied.

"Did he die?" she asked.

"Yes, in 1939," I replied.

My point is that the depth of intrapsychic insight in his works is so phenomenal that I developed an almost personal relationship. There are still times i think of him as my psychological father (and Melanie Klein as my mother.)

HOWEVER . . . here is my push-back on the Oedipus Complex: I believe it became a right of passage of Freudian psychoanalysts to enter into shared hypnotic trance with their teaching analyst and receive the Oedipus Complex as a posthypnotic suggestion. Of course, once installed, a posthypnotic can never be uninstalled. It's in there forever. (Thank you, father Sigmund, for revealing the structural workings of the Ucs.)

I know Freud eschewed classical hypnosis; but, as we have learned from Milton Erickson, the whole psychoanalytic technique (relax, free associate, age regress etc.) is a hypnotic induction. Moreover, the transference indicates the induction is mutual.

And YES, I do have some humility about giving my opinions on these matters to a professional in the field . . . but que sera sera.

Incidentally, I expand my skepticism to include Freud's whole infantile sexuality argument . . . but it is natural to have some disagreements with a parent . . . right?  :)

--------Jim

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Barney
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May 17 (19 hours ago)


Dear Jim,

Sublime post. Brought several smiles. Bull's eye. I went back to read some Freud (in German) and, alas, not even one tear. On the other hand, Erickson makes one laugh out loud. A great psychologist has a great sense of humor.

Barney


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Alice Maher
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May 17 (19 hours ago)



Makes perfect sense, Jim. If you haven't immersed yourself in a powerful psychoanalytic process from both sides of the couch, one where you experience a genuine transference neurosis (unfortunately a term that we got rid of because the field was too scared of it), reading Freud can feel profound and ridiculous at the same time. And you'd be right, it is. I've experienced one of those processes and catalyzed maybe a couple more. The rest don't approach the full depth and intensity of the dynamic constellation and immensely powerful change process that Freud led us to imagine. 

I suggest reframe the "Oedipus" question in this way:  Why do we love who we love? What are the forces that lead us to the conviction that this person fulfills and completes us?




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jhsturges
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May 17 (18 hours ago)




Alice, I am familiar with, and attracted by, the "fulfill and complete" phraseology to describe love; but, consider it lacking.

One problem is that it implies a deficiency in the individual personality, a la the discoveries of Heinz Kohut in the field of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

This would suggest that a person with the best possible parenting might somehow have a diminished capacity for love . . . a thought which I find abhorrent.

For these reasons I think that love must be placed in the category of the group mind. The group mind is what completes a person . . . even one with "perfect" parenting.

The group mind is, of course, not the natural purview of the clinical couch . . . but it should be the focus of psychohistorical discourse.

--------Jim


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Trevor Pederson
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May 17 (16 hours ago)



Its not a diminished capacity Jim. The person who has full internalization of the imago has more love, and for a wider group of objects. The person who doesn't has more passionate and intense love for fewer objects, and is more likely to suffer ego injuries. 


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Alice Maher
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May 17 (12 hours ago)



My point in asking the question about love is to get you thinking about the question in the full depth and complexity that it deserves, and to point out that Freud is the person who helped us take the "music" of unconscious forces and begin to put "notes on the page" - to imagine forces like sexual passion and rage, conflict and defense, conscious and unconscious, subjective and objective, abstract and concrete, maternal and paternal, the symbolic and the real, etc, and begin to codify them, put them into words, and harness those forces to do the work of insight and conflict resolution.

His early musical notation was the equivalent of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with more than a few sour notes, but he paved the way for symphonies (also with plenty of sour notes) to be written, listened to, discussed and internalized.  I totally love him.














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