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I was surprised, upon reviewing my posts here, that I hadn't included, apparently, anything from either of these authors. So I figured I ought to get that done!
"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." --Aldous Huxley
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." --Santayana
First, check out a pretty nice excerpt from Theodore Roszak's book at: http://www.colorado.edu/ReligiousStudies/chernus/2400/Readings/MythOfObj... (and remember, if the author takes it down, as I've found they often do when pages are shown at colleges, you may still find it at www.archive.org --a GREAT source in itself for most of the links you can no longer find!).
I recommend starting at page 67 (or 213 in the book) with Thomas Kuhn in the pdf. Page 66/210 is reproduced likely as a kind of intro to the discussion. Then on page 68/215 Michael Polanyi comes up.
But what, you ask, has this all to do with the social sciences aka "mental health" topics? Ah-hah! Very much for those who want to get at the grist of the institutional authoritarianism able to persist in these still-feudal times! Because, to deconstruct and demystify science itself is to shed further light on the lies and mystifications being deployed upon the unsuspecting and unprepared. Those folks we wish to liberate as we have liberated ourselves.
Roszak goes on to discuss, on page 69/217, "three major characteristics of the psychic style which follows from an intensive cultivation of objective consciousness": the alienative dichotomy, the invidious hierarchy, and the mechanistic imperative. Here he begins to go into a discussion of "In-Here" and "Out-There"; Roszak quotes Abraham Maslow, touching on how scientists objectify and reduce human beings.
On page 72/222, I quote:
"As two human beings relate in detachment as observer to observed, as soon as the observer claims to be aware of nothing more than the behavior surface of the observed, an invidious hierarchy is established which reduces the observed to a lower status...[where] the observer may be saying 'I can perceive no more than your behavioral facade. I can grant you no more reality or psychic coherence than this perception allows...I shall not enter into your life,...you condition of existence. Do not turn to me or appeal to me or ask me to become more involved with you...I assume that I can adequately understand what you are doing or intending without entering wholly into your life. I am not particularly interested in what you uniquely are; I am interested only in the general pattern to which you conform. I assume I have the right to use you to perform this process of classification. I assume I have the right to reduce all that you are to an integer in my science.'"
Pretty powerful stuff, and if you take the time to read more, I'm sure you'll find gems of your own!
Secondly, excerpts from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World--Revisited:
(found at: http://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/index.html )
"...[quoting] philosopher-psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Fromm:
'Our contemporary Western society, in spite of its material, intellectual and political progress, is increasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure.'
"Our "increasing mental sickness" may find expression in neurotic symptoms. These symptoms are conspicuous and extremely distressing. But "let us beware," says Dr. Fromm, "of defining mental hygiene as the prevention of symptoms. Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symptoms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for integration and happiness are still fighting." The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. "Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does." They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish "the illusion of individuality," but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualized. Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity."
"It is in the social sphere, in the realm of politics and economics, that the Will to Order becomes really dangerous.
Here the theoretical reduction of unmanageable multiplicity to comprehensible unity becomes the practical reduction of human diversity to subhuman uniformity, of freedom to servitude. In politics the equivalent of a fully developed scientific theory or philosophical system is a totalitarian dictatorship. In economics, the equivalent of a beautifully composed work of art is the smoothly running factory in which the workers are perfectly adjusted to the machines. The Will to Order can make tyrants out of those who merely aspire to clear up a mess. The beauty of tidiness is used as a justification for despotism."
"individuals have had to deindivid-ualize themselves, have had to deny their native diversity and conform to a standard pattern, have had to do their best to become automata."
"People are related to one another, not as total personalities, but as the embodiments of economic functions or, when they are not at work, as irresponsible seekers of entertainment. Subjected to this kind of life, individuals tend to feel lonely and insignificant. Their existence ceases to have any point or meaning."
"As Mr. William Whyte has shown in his remarkable book, The Organization Man, a new Social Ethic is replacing our traditional ethical system -- the system in which the individual is primary. The key words in this Social Ethic are "adjustment," "adaptation," "socially orientated behavior," "belongingness," "acquisition of social skills," "team work," "group living," "group loyalty," "group dynamics," "group thinking," "group creativity." Its basic assumption is that the social whole has greater worth and significance than its individual parts, that inborn biological differences should be sacrificed to cultural uniformity, that the rights of the collectivity take precedence over what the eighteenth century called the Rights of Man."
I would point out a blind-spot, I think, to Huxley and Whyte here. What Whyte is talking about is, in my view, basically a Euro-centric conception of the group taking precedence over the individual. In other cultures, such as so-called primitive ones, the group or "social whole" has much greater influence allowed to the individual, i.e. "crazy" people are valued and are encouraged to articulate their dream or vision.
"...pretend to be the kind of standardized good mixer that organizers of group activity regard as ideal for their purposes. This ideal man is the man who displays "dynamic conformity" (delicious phrase!) and an intense loyalty to the group, an unflagging desire to subordinate himself, to belong."
"In the more efficient dictatorships of tomorrow there will probably be much less violence than under Hitler and Stalin. The future dictator's subjects will be painlessly regimented by a corps of highly trained social engineers. "The challenge of social engineering in our time," writes an enthusiastic advocate of this new science, "is like the challenge of technical engineering fifty years ago. If the first half of the twentieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engineers" -- and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of World Controllers, the scientific caste system and Brave New World. To the question quis custodiet custodes -- Who will mount guard over our guardians, who will engineer the engineers? -- the answer is a bland denial that they need any supervision."
"The impersonal forces of...over-organization, and the social engineers who are trying to direct these forces, are pushing us in the direction of a new medieval system. This revival will be made more acceptable than the original...but, for the majority of men and women, it will still be a kind of servitude."
Submitted by Chas on