Thursday, February 2, 2017

Deeper into Lloyd's theories -- farcical idea, or valued pursuit?

I've suggested that what we need is for people to really engage with DeMause's theories, and note when he says things that seem inconsistent. Perhaps he isn't. Perhaps there is a way in which apparent inconsistencies appear to exist, but which can be revealed as simply part of the complicated way things play out. But nevertheless, I wanted to provide an example of the sort of thing I wish people were taking on... testing, to see if they're sufficiently testing his work while reading him, rather than in a sense falling under his spell. 
Here's an explanation for the popularity of Hitler in Emotional Life of Nations, which explains Germania as a merging with the Terrifying Mother, but which emphasizes the merger with Hitler as merging with the protective Phallic Father: 
"The ecstatic enthusiasm of the jubilant masses of people who celebrated their Phallic Leader came directly from his promises of a violent Purity Crusade that would end what Hitler called the "poisoning hothouse of sexual conceptions and stimulants
[and the] suffocating perfume of our modern eroticism [which is] the personification of incest" --all three images suggesting flashbacks to the sexually engulfing mommy of the family bed. Even during the Depression, Germans said, "We are
somebody again!" only because of their delusional merger with their Phallic Leader."
Here Hitler is phallic, mostly a Strong Man, and strength comes from merging with Him. His Germania is designed to "ward off engulfment by the Terrifying Mother." 
Here's an explanation of what merging with Hitler was like in "Origins of War in Child Abuse": 
The notion that Adolf was “overly nursed” and “overindulged” by his mother is without a shred of evidence. Like all war leaders, he was fused with her—claiming “My only bride is my Mutterland”—and he personally acted like a usual
German/Austrian mother while speaking to his audience, screaming and bounding on tables and threatening others with death. One German who knew Hitler said, “Hitler is the most profoundly feminine man he has ever met, and there are moments when he becomes almost effeminate.” His listeners knew him as a perfect representative of their own Killer Mothers, Goebbels saying they “felt like a child in the arms of a mother” with him. 
So here Hitler is evidently maternal. And rather than helping Germans avoid feelings of incest, of maternal domination, he reminds them of them constantly, with all his "screaming and bounding on tables." He isn't here the Strong Father, nor the perfect servant to the Mother -- the loyal knight -- but rather Mother Herself.
This is just a quick test of his work I did this morning. But it really pays to do a slow reading of his work, not just to learn, but to test. At the very least things get slippery. If there is actually much interest in deep analysis of his work at this site, maybe I'll supply another example later.
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David Chayes It seems that you are asking, "how can one make sure to understand DeMause at the deepest level?" My answer is: the most important is not really analyzing the text but introspecting and recognizing the persistent effect of one's own personal infancy trauma. One will have reached a sufficiently deep understanding when, after one heals the trauma in oneself, one is able to recognize instantly the psychological patterns--not so much in the formal political events, but in the emotions and mannerisms of the people everywhere around oneself, including those who are engaged in the politics.
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David Chayes For what it's worth--I'm more interested in this fundamental issue than in discussing different views of feminism, Patrick.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston DeMause would say you're being too modest: you CAN go from reading individuals to how they'll be in a group, i.e., "formal political events." Can you see it all, sufficiently, without DeMause, without any social theorist, if you've healed yourself? Possibly. But I think here you're taking on the pretty formidable task of making most of social science a waste of energy, all textual analysis, if I'm understanding you right. Just heal yourself, and if someone forced you to account for all social phenomena without ever reading a book, you could actually do it, if there is any purpose to it, by working hard at expanding all your institutions. 

For me, I learn both about the world and myself through challenging DeMause's texts. I think he points out things about ourselves most of us who think we've healed haven't yet healed sufficiently enough to be able to accept. (I'm worrying about all this talk about "healing"... somehow it feels like a masochistic posture, when personal evolution is surely about self-confrontation.) So in a sense I'd be as happy to see people engaging with his explorations of group dynamics, what happens with the "social alter," as I would people discussing someone like the psychiatrist James F. Masterson's works. 

Out of your personal experience, is Hitler more a Terrifying Mother or Phallic Father. When you've felt need to cling to someone strong, does this person represent a terrifying mother you're scared of or a father than can be imagined as dealing upon her the killing blow? Out of that personal experience, I can extrapolate the situation at large when people merge into their social alters, and designate Hitler properly, favouring one of DeMause's accounts over the other.
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David Chayes It is the other way around: you can never grasp the full meaning of a societal psychohistory theory as long as you leave your own psychohistory unexplored. And in order to explore it you have to approach it wholeheartedly and without preconceptions. You have to see what your own personal issues mean to YOU, directly, based purely on introspection, without plastering over gaps and 'blind spots' by tentatively “borrowing” from external frameworks.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston David Chayes You've got to be healed first. And the way there is to spurn outsider' help, any therapist, any company of anyone who is healthier than you -- like, possibly, DeMause -- and just introspect your way to the truth? From this introspection, you can get to the point that you can manage your way through conversations involving ready reference to the Terrifying Mother and Phallic Father, without in rebuttal mentioning only "healing" and "wholehearted" openness, and without slyly manipulating a prejudice of others' arguments by characterizing them as simple and unsophisticated? You can get that healthy? Am I just so unhealthy that I don't see it?

I don't want plastering. I want more textual analysis of a very fine social scientist's works, more hard work, the kind of work that involves considerable introspection, done. I remain convinced that this would a emotional and intellectual undertaking which would encourage a great deal of understanding of ourselves personally, and of how we behave in groups. It hasn't just barely been started; it hasn't started at all. And you're calling for even less than this? Why?
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David Chayes Not less. More.
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David Chayes Reading DeMause provided me the clues I needed. But then I needed to see the truth in myself, by myself without DeMause "holding my hand" or "speaking for me."
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David Chayes It is futile to "theorize" about a phenomenon while bypassing the true first-hand data that we possess about it as an individual.

Actually, the fact that one is willing to forgo this personal exploration is a dead giveaway that there is something essential that one is missing. It indicates that one has a 'blind spot' caused by one's personal unprocessed psychological baggage.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston David Chayes I argue for more exploration of DeMause, which is something you'd think would be the everyday for a site specifically named DeMausian psychohistory, and you see only a facetious argument to bicker with, saying instead, let's not discuss your references to the Killer Mother and the Phallic Father, let's turn this whole thing into a discussion on theory, where I demonstrate how wise I am to have read DeMause a bit but not really involved myself much in his work, because that would be HIS taking over me, and absolutely at the cost of attending to something more worthwhile -- one's own baggage. It can't be done otherwise, you say. If you start wanting to analyze what a theorist like DeMause said, it's always displacement away from the infinitely more worthwhile introspection you could have been doing. Your exploring it more deeply, doesn't show that YOU'VE ALREADY DONE all that introspection and personal therapy, and are therefore ready to start refining his thinking and improve it; it only shows one's own avoidance. 

Your criticism would make absurd anyone's doing any exploration of a theorist's work. Any textual analysis, any deep analysis, would actually be a foolish clinging on, in your view. Every explorer of Freud or Jung is not understanding herself better through deep exploration and testing of his works, but depriving themselves of the real growth that would have come if they only skimmed a bit, and then left for a cave to do a massive period of introspection. I think this is avoidance. I can talk about my mother easy-peasy. I know all about the Terrifying Mother and how that draws one to sacrifice one's own self-actualization. I personally sure as hell know about the abandonment depression incurred when you persist in an area of self-growth that your mother tried to dissuade you from, because to her it meant your leaving and abandoning her. I see no problem, no waste of time, in still wishing to pursue further exploration of DeMause's great creative work. Someone out there, have you actually gone at his work, with enough respect and focus, with enough repeated visits, you're seeing development, you're seeing improvement -- or maybe regress -- and want to note this down for other people, so they can realize where DeMausian studies might fruitfully go next?

If there is NO exploration of DeMause's work at hand -- and I'm testing this arena to see if there is, or if there are any willing, at this at least promisingly titled "locale" -- if every attempt to explore his work is waylaid into ostensible OTHER MORE IMPORTANT things we/you should be doing, that end up drifting us away very far away into what seems actually an less emotionally committed realm; or belittled as INTRINSICALLY a suspicious thing to be doing; this is a deeply sad fate. Some new DeMausian studies will have to be set up at some point, and sure as hell it will have to filled with people so suspiciously unprogressive, they see the current feminism movement as a societal evil. Jesus.
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David Chayes I offered you a clue to something that might turn out to be an important avenue of exploration for you, and you gave a lengthy answer where you did not engage with the core of my suggestion. That is your prerogative . . .
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston David Chayes Do you ever encourage a thorough exploration of DeMause's works? How do you know that I have not already done the introspection/self-therapy you've called for, when I encouraged people to start exploring his work? Why was this your response?
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David Chayes It is pretty clear that we are not connecting in this perspective.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston Maybe I've misunderstood you. If what you're saying is that we should make sure we're focusing on our own personal development, our disinclination to avoid our pasts, and so be able to really recognize the truth when we see it, this is wise. And we have to make sure we've done this, or we're not going to be able to discern whether Lloyd was closer when he said "this," or further away when he said "that," well, that sounds very wise. But after that, you're not then saying that we shouldn't do deep analysis of his writing, are you?
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David Chayes I'm saying that one should try to identify the theme of the book within one's own psyche. My own experience is that when I got in touch with the relevant parts of myself, I started to notice the theme all around me, without effort. Things that, before, had seemed complicated to understand in people's (and my own) behavior became plain and obvious to me.

I am all in favor of exploring the book to discover more meaning from it. But at the same time, let's remember that the basic idea of the book is not complicated, so usually when something appears complicated to us, it is likely due to some unclarity within our own personal context, and the answer will come from examining that context--not from analyzing the book to death.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston I think it gets complicated, contradictory. But how do we know when in response to my pointing out that Lloyd says in some places we are fused with a Phallic Father and in other places that we are fused with the Terrifying Mother, when he argues two different types of clinging that go opposite ways, that lends to two very different understandings of what went on in the German psyche with Hitler -- a very replica of what is happening now -- you didn't address it but rather talked theory? 

What theme, exactly? I have a hard time thinking of his works and identifying it as a theme? Is it that childrearing plays out in society? Okay, but isn't how that exactly develops a bit complex, not always obvious to grasp? Is it easy to pinpoint when people have switched into their social alters, and what that will entail? Do we know what happens when people experience growth panic -- Lloyd's big point -- and the sequence of what follows next? Do we know when people have clung back with their Mothers, when this makes them feel effeminate, when this will mean their bonding with a Phallic Father in response, how the subsequent splitting will occur and who will play the part of the Terrifying Mother and the bad self? Do we know when it is that this phase will turn in on itself, and they'll aim for some kind of suicide? Do we know why it is that even as they've split off all their ostensibly bad aspects off into an other and feel like holy knights defending their Mother, they nevertheless still sufficiently see themselves as bad that they need it resolved in their own defeat and death? Doesn't make sense. Why is that?

I think it gets intricate, at the very least; it expands as you think it through and becomes very deep. Lloyd has argued that we organize society so that we can displace aspects of ourselves we cannot handle within ourselves and remain sane, onto institutions, which exist entirely for that purpose. This means that absent any other development, the fact that society has denied a lagging psychoclass the institutions, the agreed upon people to stigmatize without guilt, that it required to maintain their everyday equilibrium, would mean they'd start going rabid crazy, as the rightwing has, as Hillbilly Country has, over the last few decades. This alone would require their stopping society somehow and bringing back institutions as they once stood, rewinding the clock to the 1950s, not just the fact that society has changed specifically owing to progressive leadership. 

But Lloyd argues you cannot therefore ignore the importance of what kind of force has been engineering this change, for if it has been progressive leadership, then somehow even those left behind will nevertheless have been forced TO PARTICIPATE in it somehow (how that works is something of a mystery too, as to all appearances they appear to spitting at it the whole time)... experience its lure into unallowed self-actualization, and this too causes psychic disintegration of a kind. One kind is about feeling aspects of oneself that one can no longer displace to the outside, and this makes you unable to function. The other kind is about feeling abandoned and discombobulated, owing to feeling absent Mother's love and about to receive Her revenge. Don't seem the same thing, exactly. And worth clarifying, thinking through. How do they entwine together?

Lloyd defines soldiers as minions of the Mother delivering revenge upon bad boy selves. This surely would entail very righteous warriors, determined mostly to humiliate and kill. He also elsewhere characterizes them as most interested in being sacrifices, as sacrificing themselves. He calls this the primary point of war. How does this warrior function? How can he be both sadistic and deeply masochistic at the same time? And if a whole society goes warrior, if our current society is about to, isn't this something worth disentangling?

Lloyd sometimes says that when we've bonded with the Terrifying Mother we feel grandiose, like as if we're her favourites now. He elsewhere seems to characterize people bonded back to Her as actually mostly still scared shitless of Her, well aware of her as still medusa, not as some glowing holy beauty. I'd like to get at what is going on there. I think this is important to our time as well. 

These are a few things to come to mind. I think as much as with any theorist around, though you do need to make sure you're growing so you can appreciate what s/he is saying -- something I still think you can readily do while tangling and challenging the work itself -- s/he's worth much more than our saying, "yeah, sure, there's probably SOME point to digging deep, but actually not THAT much, so why emphasize it?" Is it really true that once you've grown emotionally and healed childhood harms, you can pretty much identify exactly why everyone around is behaving as they are, you can recognize displacement and splitting, poison containers and holy knights... the restaging of earlychildhood experiences at a social level, how unconscious need plays out in social reality, in all its variegated ways, without further exploration of theorists like Lloyd DeMause who've spent their lifetime exploring it? 

Lloyd's an abundance worth our risking our being overwhelmed by, in my opinion. I'm curious to see if in the future you'll post here some comments on what you see ahead for us now, and if I recognize some DeMause in it. The bit about current feminism being a false god, manipulative and evil, sounds DeMausian... but not of profound understanding but of partaking in the ghastly follow-up to the Innovative Stage, where progressives / feminists serve as "bad selves" who carry our own ostensible selfish, self-serving wickedness. I'm going to leave it at that.
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