Category Archives: Psychiatry

UPDATED: It’s All So Emotional: The Origins Of Our Degenerate, Therapeutic Culture

Christianity, Culture, Pop-Culture, Pop-Psychology, Pseudo-intellectualism, Pseudoscience, Psychiatry, Religion

The media scrum had framed the Trump impeachment circus round II as an “emotional” affair.

Over and over again did the word “emotion” inform reporting, appear on the lips of legislators,  and culminate in an “emotional” catharsis in the Chamber, where the “affected” representatives told a captured audience how they suffered.

Where did this sick therapeutic culture originate? Where else but in America.

I recalled reviewing a book, in 2005, when London’s Jewish Chronicle was a serious magazine. What a relief it was, then, to learn that Jewish thinkers didn’t herald the therapeutic age, a fact that emerges from Andrew Heinze’s outstanding Jews and the American Soul.

In his examination of “why [between 1890 and 1945] psychology became a booming cultural industry, outstripping theology and philosophy as a guide for a literate mass audience seeking advice on how to live”, Andrew Heinze, a scholar, established that “America’s Protestant heritage yielded a powerful American interest in personal development and a massive audience for popular psychology”.

The rationality of the Enlightenment had come under fire from movements espousing mysticism, romanticism, and the occult. The ascendancy of “the psychological interpretive mode” between the 1880s and the 1920s was compatible with Christianity.

The new psychotherapies “had the drama of faith-healing”; the new psychotherapists, true to their Protestant heritage, spread the faith with evangelical zeal.

What do you know? In searching for an image to accompany this blog post, I came across what looks like a work of scholarship that affirms the Anglo-American origins of these leanings as well as the coercive, manipulative nature of the “therapeutic imperative”:

Therapy Culture explores the powerful influence of therapeutic imperative in Anglo-American societies. In recent decades virtually every sphere of life has become subject to a new emotional culture. Professor Furedi suggests that the recent cultural turn toward the realm of the emotions coincides with a radical redefinition of personhood. Increasingly vulnerability is presented as the defining feature of people’s psychology. Terms like people ‘at risk’, ‘scarred for life’ or ’emotional damage’ evoke a unique sense of powerlessness. Furedi questions the widely accepted thesis that the therapeutic turn represents an enlightened shift towards emotions. He claims that therapeutic culture is primarily about imposing a new conformity through the management of people’s emotions. Through framing the problem of everyday life through the prism of emotions, therapeutic culture incites people to feel powerless and ill. Drawing on developments in popular culture, political and social life, Furedi provides a path-breaking analysis of the therapeutic turn.

UPDATED: A fair point is made by our reader in the Comments Section. I am, however, making a philosophical, or theological, point about Judaism as opposed Christianity. Judaism is more legalistic. The supernatural, mysticism, romanticism, and the occult are more compatible with Christianity than with the rationalist morality of Judaism.

 

Outsourcing Life To The Expert Class: The Menace Of The Managerial Class

COVID-19, Family, Government, Outsourcing, Pop-Psychology, Psychiatry, The State

In James Burnham’s Managerial State, explains , “political power moves away from … institutions like Congress and toward the executive bureaucracy … The effect is the reduction of nonmanagerial political institutions to increasingly nominal status. Forms of ‘constitutionalism’ may still be permitted to exist, but the managerial elite does not derive its power or legitimacy from them. It can, therefore, easily manipulate or simply ignore these institutions while pursuing its own ends.”

The managerial elite has given us our dysfunctional, atomistic, fragmented society, where traditional support systems no longer exist. To pick up the slack we have the Expert Class.

In a way, the insidious Expert Class that shapes and manages perceptions about public affairs is an extension of the Managerial State. The expert class tends to remove moral and medical decisions from individuals, families, and communities of faith by medicalizing problems of living.

Once, big-on-the-military actor James Wood got word about a veteran who was about to shoot himself in some remote location. So he galvanized the … experts. He got him “help.” He outsourced the problem.

Most people need community, not therapy.

The reason people are desperate and depressed is not because they don’t have a suicide hotline’s number handy or an AA support group buddy; but because they are bereft of family and community.

This simplest of logical deductions we are no longer even able to arrive at without outsourcing thinking to the generators of empirical evidence, the expert class.

Here is that “doh!” factor, confirmed by The Economist in, “A pandemic of psychological pain: How to reduce the mental trauma of covid-19″:

Humans are resilient. Those who experience trauma mostly cope. When their homes are destroyed by earthquakes, they rebuild them and carry on. Even the mass bombing of cities in the second world war did not break civilian morale. Nonetheless, the world should take the collective mental damage of covid-19 seriously. Steps to reduce it cost little, and can benefit not only individuals but also society more broadly.

Research into previous disasters suggests that survivors’ long-term mental health depends more on “perceived support” than “received support”. In other words, donations of money or food matter less than the feeling that you can turn to your neighbours for help. Such help is typically offered spontaneously, but governments can also chip in. France, for example, sets up “medical and psychological emergency units” after terrorist attacks and other disasters. These try to minimise the long-term mental-health consequences of such events by offering immediate walk-in psychological support near the site of the disaster. Several cities in France have reactivated this “two-tent model”, one for medical care and the other for mental care, to help people cope with the toll of the virus.

Some people draw comfort from the fact that they are not alone—millions are facing the same tribulations at the same time. But the pandemic also presents unusual challenges. No one knows when it will end. Social distancing makes it harder to reconnect with others, a step in recovering from trauma. And the economic shock of covid-19 has undermined mental-health services everywhere, but especially in poor countries.

The most important measures will be local. A priority should be bringing people together by, say, expanding internet access. Mutual-aid networks (eg, WhatsApp groups to deliver groceries to the elderly), which tend to peter out once the initial disaster subsides, should instead be formalised and focused on the most vulnerable. Mental-health professionals should connect patients to such services, and train more lay folk as counsellors. In Zimbabwe, well before the pandemic, hundreds of grandmothers were taught how to provide talk therapy on village benches to depressed neighbours who could not afford to visit a distant clinic. Such innovations can work elsewhere, too.

UPDATE (2/22/021): American Society’s Unnatural Attitude to Aging Naturally

Culture, Ethics, Family, Morality, Pop-Psychology, Psychiatry, Relatives, The Zeitgeist

In “No Country for Old Age,” The Hedgehog Review’s Joseph E. Davis writes, in essence, of the cruel biological reductionism and medicalization of old age, a natural stage of life that ought to be valued:

“When it comes to old age, illness, and death, little remains to us of common meaning or shared social rituals.”

Here are some of many profundities excerpted:

… In our society, to come directly to my point, old age is understood and framed in ways that lead inevitably to its devaluation. Its status is low and arguably is falling.
… old age [is seen as having] no value in itself. ‘Old’ signifies bodily decline, while “success” involves a ceaseless battle to defeat degeneration, and hope is always invested in the prospect of overcoming limits through self-reliance and technological interventions.

There is no space here for stillness or release, no sense of value or consolation in the evening of life. Even cultivating spirituality is framed instrumentally in terms of promoting ‘better physical and mental health in old age.’ An imperative to defeat aging and even death can only consign these realities to fear, shame, and avoidance.

…Representations of old age that add censure and shame to greater dependence and loss of one’s powers can only make matters worse.

… the sociologist Norbert Elias argues that, over time, these weakened bonds and other common features of the later years have been compounded by increased individualization and the isolation of the “ageing and dying from the community of the living.” In contemporary society, Elias argues, older people are “pushed more and more behind the scenes of social life,” a process that intensifies their devaluation, emotional seclusion, and loss of social significance. A physical and institutional sequestering and a pervasive cultural tendency to “conceal the irrevocable finitude of human existence” have made it harder for them and those around them to relate to, understand, and interact with one another. The aged and dying are less likely to receive the help and affection they need, and more prone to different forms of loneliness and painful feelings of irrelevance. “Never before,” Elias writes, “have people died as noiselessly and hygienically as today in [more developed] societies, and never in social conditions so much fostering solitude.”

… Health and longevity are the ends to which remedial action is directed and by which outcomes are evaluated. Even in discussions that include exhortations to build strong connections and communities, loneliness and isolation are treated as individual conditions, and references to community easily coexist with talk of genetic hardwiring, the role of the prefrontal cortex, and the ways in which neural mechanisms might generate feelings of loneliness.

… Typical advice is often some form of self-help: “take a class,” “get a dog,” “volunteer”; build your confidence with social skills training; seek out behavioral therapy. With therapy—highlighted for its positive “impact”—the aged lonely can be helped to see that their low self-worth, perceived isolation, or feelings of being unwanted are probably just cognitive misapprehensions that need to be “restructured.” Once this restructuring is accomplished, the aged can better match what they want in social life with what they have and get on with aging with more success. The status quo can now appear in a new, more uplifting light.

Current constructions of old age in individualistic terms of self-reliance, the fit body, productive accomplishments, or an imperative to deny or defeat aging technologically cannot but deepen our predicament and the need to render it invisible. This is what makes the cultural logic of these constructions irredeemable. They leave us in a cul-de-sac, hemmed in by a predatory commercial culture, a punishing ideology of health, fewer and weaker social ties, an ethic of active striving and mastery, and a mechanistic picture of ourselves. Moving beyond the devaluation of old age requires other orientations and other practices for which we must look elsewhere—to other societies, past or present, and to older traditions. …

… The social orientation of the evening of life need not be individualistic, but toward family and the localization and strengthening of social relations. Similarly, the view of the life cycle need not take its bearings from youth and middle age but from roles and identities appropriate to old age, with their own norms and rewards. These norms and rewards need not be defined in terms of active striving and productivity, but in terms of release, such as from social climbing, and a more contemplative attitude toward the world.

No Country for Old Age,” by Joseph E. Davis, The Hedgehog Review.

UPDATE (2/22/021): And the good about aging in America.

NEW COLUMN: American White Male Misery Is Real

America, Crime, Healthcare, IMMIGRATION, Nationhood, Psychiatry, Race

NEW COLUMN IS “American White Male Misery Is Real.” It’s on WND.COM and The Unz Review. An excerpt:

A CNN profiler was speaking about the El Paso shooting, on August 6, in which 22 people were murdered by an angry white man.

She blamed the killer’s sense of white privilege. Mass murder carried out by white, young men, the “analyst” was saying, occurs because these young men cannot adjust to a changing society. They cling to the way things were, when the country was predominantly white.

In other words, the oppressor in these young white men wants to continue to oppress.

When whites commit unspeakable acts of violence, it is said to only ever come from a place of power and privilege.

When browns and blacks commit unspeakable acts of violence, it only ever comes from a place of powerlessness and deprivation.

With distressing regularity, we’re lectured that black or brown evil is a consequence of systemic oppression; white evil a result of frustration over having to relinquish the systemic role of oppressor.

For heaven’s sake: Let’s not be insensible to contradictions. Let us apply the same method, irrespective of the perp’s skin color, in uncovering the causation of crime.

It goes without saying that mass shooters all are evil, not ill. No good can come of medicalizing bad behavior. Mass shootings are “a moral-health, not mental-health, problem.”

You can’t have a color-coded theory of causation; one for whites; another for blacks and browns.

Ditto for suicide. When a white man offs himself, it’s not because he’s no longer The Boss.

Like the profiler just mentioned, other social scientists implicate a “decline in income and status” in white suicide. It’s discounted and mocked, but, however you slice it, white male misery in America is real.

Better than most media, The Economist’s writers are still no angels. They, too, dance like so many angels on the head of a pin, so as to downplay the effects of systemic hostility toward the white men of America. …

… READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN IS “American White Male Misery Is Real.” It’s on WND.COM and The Unz Review.

RELATED ON TWITTER: