The Psychiatry of Enduring Peace and Social Progress
March 20, 2010 at 11:28 am #1228G.B. wrote:
The Reestablishment of Peacetime Society
The Responsibility of Psychiatry
WILLIAM ALANSON WHITE’S teachings and writings from his Outlines in 1907 to the last days of his life provided much of the impetus in the development of psy-chiatry which occurred during those years. His vision and humanity, honest thinking and devotion would have been of great value to the world in the troublous times ahead of us now. It would not however be a fitting memorial to William Alanson White to spend our time on this occasion looking backward at his work and be-moaning his absence and the loss to psychiatry. He would not have us at any me-morial of his, talk about William Alanson White. The most sincere way we can honor him is to try to look forward, in the spirit of honesty, devotion and service which characterized his whole life, to face and deal with the vast problems which lie ahead.
He would recognize that there is much for psychiatry to do and we should be get-ting on with the job as he would be doing if he were here. He would recognize, as we must, that this is a sick world, with an old chronic but ever more extensive and serious sickness. Its sickness the future is uncertain indeed.
Man, again, and on a wider and more highly organized scale than ever before, has been indulging in one of his most consistent behavior patterns, war. Though it seems that, among the people of the world, relatively few want or enjoy wars, and very many suffer in many ways during wars, man persists in this senseless behav-ior century after century. Until recent years wars could take place locally without necessarily affecting or causing concern on the part of peoples in other parts of the world, but that time is past. Every war is now a threat to all the people in the world, either directly or has recently become acutely dangerous and through deprivation of materials or loss of trade.
This situation is widely recognized and no nation will ever again be able to formulate its policies on the basis of isolationism. The interdependence of all the people in this shrunken world is obvious. Fast air transport and the atomic bomb are only the latest steps in that process, which has been going on for a long time, of break-ing down the geographical barriers between groups of peoples. We are all now, perforce, citizens of the world, whether we are sufficiently mature adequately to carry that responsibility or not.
In the face of this new status as world citizens we must accept the uncomfortable fact that we are the kind of people who fight wars every fifteen or twenty years. We always have, for as far back as we know anything of the race, and if we go on be-ing the same kinds of people it is to be supposed that we will continue to fight each other.
Now that the latest war has just finished we must take one of several possible courses. First we can return to the kind of life and society we had before the war, go back to our peaceful pursuit of a living, or local social betterment, or political importance, or psychotherapy as the case may be. We could probably count with luck on fifteen years, or even twenty, of peace if we do that, but those occupations would be completely futile as we would be taken over and enslaved, literally, and our comfortable social developments thrown into the discard by a “Master Race” to whom we would appear weak and unrealistic and not fit to run our own lives. Every present indication is that the next time any self-styled master race is allowed to prepare and make such an attempt it will succeed. If our future concern is just the reestablishment of the pre-war society, slavery is absolutely inevitable. We were before the war the kind of people who allowed the Germans, Italians and Japanese to prepare openly for war for years and to pick their own time and place to attack us. If we go on being that same kind of people we are indeed not fit to survive. We will have proven clearly our lack of ability to learn from even the most painful ex-perience – biologically intolerable condition.
The second possible course is to prepare earnestly for the next war, recognizing its inevitability, training our children from infancy to live dangerously, to be able to fight effectively with ever more efficient, ruthless and terrible weapons. They must be trained to strike first because there may be no second blow in the wars of the future. Constant alertness and ruthless killing of all potential enemies will be the price of survival if we go on as we always have.
The third possible course is to find and take sure steps to prevent wars in the fu-ture. While this possibility seems obviously preferable it is something that has never yet been undertaken successfully. Perhaps it can be said that such a course has never been undertaken at all. Perhaps there is no way of preventing wars; if so we must decide whether to be slaves or ruthless killers, but before accepting either of those uncomfortable alternatives let us at least explore possible ways of prevent-ing war.
Before exploring such possibilities however, we should first consider war in relation to the human race so that we may be assured that it would indeed be good for the race to prevent future wars. It would seem to be true that, whatever the destiny of the race, the killing off of large numbers of its physically fit, intelligent and socially minded younger men can hardly be advantageous. A case might be made for wars if they could be fought by the old men and the mental defectives but that does not seem to be even a remote possibility as wars become ever more technical and demanding of all the fittest men. While the atomic bomb has been a dramatic weapon in the closing phases of the recent war, other possible weapons may be still more terrible. What of the introduction into major water supplies of a chemical which will prevent pregnancy in all females? What of the infinite capacity for killing in the hands of biologists and chemists all over the world? Any country could be paralyzed and destroyed at leisure by a well organized attack of any one of various new types – and without any development of heavy industries. In fact then the tendency is to involve not only fit young men, but every sign points to the killing in any future wars of large numbers of unselected whole populations, including women and children. This can hardly possibly be a useful procedure from a racial point of view unless conceivably it could serve to reduce population pressures in some parts of the world. This end could surely be attained, however, in less painful ways and with better selection, if such reduction of population should become necessary to the human race.
Some aspects of war are undoubtedly attractive to many people, but these advantages are clearly so far outweighed by the sufferings of others that no case can be made for continuing to wage wars on that score. Wars affect the economic status of millions of people, many of them for the better. Business booms, money flows freely, prosperity is widespread, but only where the war is not actually being fought. In the future, war may well be fought everywhere throughout the world with-out immediately compensating prosperity for anybody. Furthermore it ought to be possible for us to produce the same prosperity without killing, starving or enslaving millions of people.
Look as we may we cannot find a sensible reason, from the point of view of the welfare of the human race, for continuing to fight wars or for not preventing them. Then why do we go on doing it? Let me repeat-we are the kind of people who fight wars every fifteen or twenty years. Why? Shall we only throw up our hands in resignation and reply “human nature”? Surely other expressions of human nature are subject to extensive changes. Why not this one? We may not change nature but surely its expression in behavior patterns can be modified very extensively.
The responsibility for charting the necessary changes in human behavior rests clearly on the sciences working in that field. Psychologists, psychia-trists, sociologists, economists and politicians must face this responsibility. It cannot be avoided. Even a decision not to interfere is still a decision and carries no less responsibility. We must earnestly consider what can be done to save the race from itself, from its insatiable desire for its own blood. Can this old habitual pattern of the race be eradicated by strong combinations of powerful nations, or by legislation, or by pretending that now everyone will love everyone else and there will be no more wars, or by prayer and fasting, or by control of enemy industries?
These have all been tried repeatedly and uniformly unsuccessfully. There is noth-ing to suggest that any of them can be successful though they are all seriously be-ing recommended again by many interested people. We are even being told we can prevent wars by controlling our potential enemies’ heavy industries. I am re-minded that when the Romans were concerned to keep the Britons from fighting them they cut down all the yew trees in England so the Britons could not make long bows. The Britons took to cross bows instead, which were much better weapons. Surely we have learned something in 2000 years! Or have we? We might as well forbid the Germans to make spears or breed horses for cavalry as control their heavy industries. Every lesson of history and of common sense would suggest the futility of these methods. It is clear that something new is needed – but what?
Can we identify the reasons, why we fight wars or even enough of them to perceive a pattern? Many of them are easy to list-prejudice, isolationism, the abil-ity emotionally and uncritically to believe unreasonable things, excessive desire for material or power, excessive fear of others, belief in a destiny to control others, vengeance, ability to avoid seeing and facing unpleasant facts and taking appropriate action. These are probably the main reasons we find ourselves involved in wars. They are all well known and recognized neurotic symptoms. The only normal motive is self defense, to protect ourselves from aggression, but surely we should be able to see the aggression coming long before it breaks out in warfare and take appropriate action to satisfy or suppress it. Even self defense may involve a neu-rotic reaction when it means defending one’s own excessive material wealth from others who are in great need. This type of defense is short sighted, ineffective and inevitably leads to more wars.
When we see neurotic patients showing these same reactions in their private af-fairs we may also throw up our hands and say “human nature” or “psychopathic personality of this or that type” or we may go to work to try to help the person in trouble to grow up over again more successfully than his parents were able to do. This can be done frequently but it would have been still better if his parents had been able to help him to grow up successfully in the first place.
It would appear that at least three requirements are basic to any hope of perma-nent world peace:
First – security, elimination of the occasion for valid fear of aggression. This is at-tainable, at least temporarily and as a stopgap until something better can be ar-ranged, by legislation backed by immediately available combined force prepared to suppress ruthlessly any appeal to force by any peoples in the world. The admini-stration and command of such a force is a delicate problem but can be devised if and when the great powers really want it. A less effective substitute for this method but one which may work well enough for long enough is for the great powers to assume this function themselves. To work even well enough it will be necessary that all disputes between nations be submitted to arbitration by a world court of the highest integrity.
Second – opportunity to live reasonably comfortably for all the people in the world on economic levels which do not vary too widely either geographically or by groups within a population. This is a simple matter of redistribution of material, of which there is plenty in the world for everybody, or of which plenty can easily be made. This can easily be attained whenever enough people see its necessity for their own and their children’s safety if for no more mature reason.
It is probable that these first two requirements would make wars unnecessary for mature normal people without neurotic necessities, but their attainment depends on the ability of enough people in the right places to want to implement them, and few people are mature and without neurotic necessities. So far in the history of the world there have never been enough mature people in the right places. We have never had enough people anywhere who have been able to see and accept these facts and who are sufficiently well developed and responsible to tackle these problems.
It follows inevitably then that the third requirement, on which the attainment and the effectiveness of the others depend, is that there should be enough people in the world, in all countries, who are not as we are and always have been, and will not show the neurotic necessities which we and every generation of our ancestors have shown. We have never had enough people anywhere who are sufficiently free of these neurotic symptoms which make wars inevitable.
All psychiatrists know where these symptoms come from. The burden of inferior-ity, guilt, and fear we have all carried lies at the root of this failure to mature successfully. Psychotherapy is predominantly, by any of a variety of methods, the reduction of the weight of this load. Therefore the question we must ask ourselves is why the human race is so loaded down with these incubi and what can be done about it.
Strecker and Appel have recently defined maturity in terms of abilities which, if at-tained by enough people, could ensure the continuity and continued development of the race along the lines of its inherent destiny without wars. To quote, “Maturity is a quality of personality that is made up of a number of elements. It is stick-to-it-iveness, the ability to stick to a job, to work on it, and to struggle through until it is finished, or until one has given all one has in the endeavor. It is the quality or ca-pacity of giving more than is asked or required in a given situation. It is this charac-teristic that enables others to count on one; thus it is reliability. Persistence is an aspect of maturity: persistence to carry out a goal in the face of difficulties. Endur-ance of difficulties, unpleasantness, discomfort, frustration, hardship. The ability to size things up, make one’s own decision, is a characteristic of maturity. This implies a considerable amount of independence. A mature person is not dependent unless ill. Maturity includes determination, a will to achieve and succeed, a will to life. Of course, maturity represents the capacity to cooperate: to work with others, to work in an organization and under authority. The mature person is flexible, can defer to time, persons, circumstances. He can show tolerance, he can be patient, and above all he has the qualities of adapt ability and compromise. Basically, maturity represents a wholesome amalgamation of two things: 1-dissatisfaction with the status quo, which calls forth aggressive, constructive effort, and 2 – social concern and devotion. It is morale in the individual.”
Let me repeat parts of this “The ability to size things up, make one’s own decisions, is a characteristic of maturity,” “A mature person . . . above all he has the qualities of adaptability and compromise.” Can anyone doubt that enough people reaching maturity in these terms would not want to start wars themselves and would prevent other people starting them. It would appear that this quality of maturity, this growing up successfully, is what is lacking in the human race generally, in ourselves and in our legislators and governments, which can only represent the people.
This fact puts the problem squarely up to psychiatry. The necessity to fight wars, whether as aggressor or as a defender who could have, but has not, taken steps to prevent war occurring, is as much a pathological psychiatric symptom as is a pho-bia or the antisocial behavior of a criminal who has been dominated by a stern and unreasonable father. They are alike irrational behavior patterns resulting from un-successful development and failure to reach emotional maturity. It is evident that this failure is usual in the whole human race and has been so throughout historical time.
For a cause we must seek some consistent thread running through the weave of all civilizations we have known and preventing the development of all or almost all the people to a state of true maturity. What basic psychological distortion can he found in every civilization of which we know anything? It must be a force which dis-courages the ability to see and acknowledge patent facts, which prevents the ra-tional use of intelligence, which teaches or encourages the ability to dissociate and to believe contrary to and in spite of clear evidence, which produces inferiority, guilt and fear, which makes controlling other people’s personal behavior emotionally necessary, which encourages prejudice and the inability to see, understand and sympathize with other people’s points of view. Is there any force so potent and so persuasive that it can do all these things in all civilizations? There is – just one. The only lowest common denominator of all civilizations and the only psychological force capable of producing these perversions is morality, the concept of right and wrong, the poison long ago described and warned against as “the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
In the old Hebrew story God warns the first man and woman to have nothing to do with good and evil. It is interesting to note that as long ago as that, “good” is recognized as just as great a menace as “evil.” They are the fruit of the one tree and are different aspects of the same thing.
We have been very slow to rediscover this truth and to recognize the unnecessary and artificially imposed inferiority, guilt and fear, commonly known as sin, under which we have almost all labored and which produces so much of the social malad-justment and unhappiness in the world. For many generations we have bowed our necks to the yoke of the conviction of sin. We have swallowed all manner of poi-sonous certainties fed us by our parents, our Sunday and day school teachers, our politicians, our priests, our newspapers and others with a vested interest in control-ling us. “Thou shalt become as gods, knowing good and evil,” good and evil with which to keep children under control, with which to prevent free thinking, with which to impose local and familial and national loyalties and with which to blind children to their glorious intellectual heritage. Misguided by authoritarian dogma, bound by exclusive faith, stunted by inculcated loyalty, torn by frantic heresy, bedevilled by insistent schism, drugged by ecstatic experience, confused by conflicting certainty, bewildered by invented mystery, and loaded down by the weight of guilt and fear engendered by its own original promises, the unfortunate human race, deprived by these incubi of its only defences and its only reasons for striving, its reasoning power and its natural capacity to enjoy the satisfaction of its natural urges, strug-gles along under its ghastly self-imposed burden. The results, the inevitable results, are frustration, inferiority, neurosis and inability to enjoy living, to reason clearly or to make a world fit to live in.
The crippling of intelligence by these bandages of belief, in the name of virtue and security for the soul, is as recognizable as that of the feet of the Chinese girl who was sacrificed to the local concept of beauty. The result is, in both cases, not beauty of character or of feet, but distortion and crippling and loss of natural func-tion. Intelligence, ability to observe and to reason clearly and to reach and imple-ment decisions appropriate to the real situation in which he finds himself, are man’s only specific methods of survival. His unique equipment is entirely in the superior lobes of his brain. His destiny must lie in the direction indicated by his equipment. Whatever hampers or distorts man’s clear true thinking works against man’s mani-fest destiny and tends to destroy him.
Man’s freedom to observe and to think freely is as essential to his survival as are the specific methods of survival of the other species to them. Birds must fly, fish must swim, herbivorous animals must eat grasses and cereals, and man must ob-serve and think freely. That freedom, present in all children and ,known as inno-cence, has been destroyed or crippled by local certainties, by gods of local morali-ties, of local loyalty, of personal salvation, of prejudice and hate and intolerance-frequently masquerading as love-gods of everything that would destroy freedom to observe and to think and would keep each generation under the control of the old people, the elders, the shamans, and the priests.
Let us go back to Strecker and Appel’s definition of maturity. “The ability to size things up, make one’s own decisions is a characteristic of maturity.” “A mature per-son . . . has the qualities of adaptability and compromise.” Were you and I brought up in that direction? No; we were taught to be absolutely loyal and obedient to the local concept of virtue whatever that happened to be. We were taught that Moslems or Hindus or Jews, or Democrats or Republicans (with us in Canada, Grits or Tories) or capitalists or trade union-ists, or socialists or communists, or Roman Catholics or Methodists or any of all other hu-man groups are wrong or even wicked. It almost always happened that among all the peo-ple in the world only our own parents, and perhaps a few pe le they selected, were right about everything. We could refuse to accept their rightness only at the price of a load of guilt and fear, and peril to our immortal souls. This training has been practically universal in the human race. Variations in content have had almost no importance. The fruit is poisonous no matter, how it is prepared or disguised.
“The mature person is flexible, can defer to time, persons and circumstances. He can show tolerance, he can be patient, and above all he has the qualities of adaptability and compromise” say Strecker and Appel. Is family or school or church teaching in that direction? Almost never, and yet it is surely true that helping their children to reach this state of maturity successfully is the first responsibility of each generation. Only when this has been done successfully can we hope to have enough people able to see and think clearly and freely enough to be able to pre-vent the race going on as we have gone, from slaughter to bigger and better slaughter.
Psychiatrists everywhere have spent their lives trying, more and more successfully with a variety of methods, to help individuals who are in trouble to approach near enough to this state of maturity to be able to live comfortably for themselves and for the group; but surely it would be more advantageous to the world for psy-chiatrists to go into the preventive field where the big job needs to be done. The training of children is making a thousand neurotics for every one that psychiatrists can hope to help with psychotherapy. To produce a generation of mature citizens is the biggest and most necessary job any country could undertake, and the reward in saving of misery and suffering would be colossal.
The re-interpretation and eventually eradication of the concept of right and wrong which has been the basis of child training, the substitution of intelligent and rational thinking for faith in the certainties of the old people, these are the belated objectives of practically all effective psychotherapy. Would they not be legitimate objectives of original education? Would it not be sensi-ble to stop imposing our local prejudices and faiths on children and give them all sides of every question so that in their own good time they may have the ability to size things up, and make their own decisions.
The suggestion that we should stop teaching children moralities and rights and wrongs and instead protect their original intellectual integrity has of course to be met by an outcry of heretic or iconoclast, such as was raised against Galileo for finding another planet, and against those who claimed the world was round, and against the truths of evolution, and against Christ’s re-interpretation of the Hebrew God, and against any attempt to change the mistaken old ways or ideas. The pretense is made, as it has been made in relation to the finding of any extension of truth, that to do away with right and wrong would produce uncivilized people, immorality, lawlessness and social chaos: The fact is that most psychiatrists and psychologists and many other respectable people have escaped from these moral chains and are able to observe and think freely. Most of the patients they have treated successfully have done the same and yet they show no signs of social or personal degeneration, no lack of social responsibility, no tendency toward social anarchy. This bugbear has no basis in fact whatever. We all recog-nize these reactions as those of the immature, the inferior, the guilty, which are not found in the mature, integrated personality. Freedom from moralities means freedom to observe, to think and behave sensibly to the advantage of the person and of t group, free from outmoded types of loyalties and from the magic fears of our ancestors.
If the race is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil it must be psy-chiatrists who take the original responsibility. This is a challenge which must be met. If psychiatrists decide to do nothing about it but continue in the futility of psy-chotherapy only, that too is a decision and the responsibility for the results is still theirs. What the world needs from psychiatry is honest, simple and clear thinking, talking and writing. It needs the same from psychology, sociology, economics and politics. Clear and honest thinking can almost always be expressed in simple words which are understandable by the people who matter in a democracy. The people who matter are the teachers, the young mothers and fathers, the parent-teacher associations, youth groups, service clubs, schools and colleges, the churches and Sunday schools – everyone who can be reached and given help toward intellectual freedom and honesty for themselves and for the children whose future depends on them. Can we psychiatrists give up our protective device of hiding behind a spe-cific, difficult and variable vocabulary to avoid our obvious responsibility?
The battle, if it is to be undertaken, will be long and difficult but truth will prevail – whenever enough people want it to. With luck we have perhaps fifteen or even twenty years before the outbreak of the next world war if we remain as we are, twenty years in which to change the dearest certainties of enough of the human race, twenty years in which to root out and destroy the oldest and most flour-ishing parasitical growth in the world, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so that man may learn to preserve his most precious heritage, his innocence and intellectual freedom, twenty years in which to remove the necessity for the per-verse satisfactions to be found in warfare, and to ensure that enough people eve-rywhere do not close their eyes to the awful threats facing them as we did from 1910 to 1914 and 1917, and from 1933 to 1939 and 1941.We are the horrible ex-ample. We are the people who fight wars every fifteen or twenty years. We must at whatever cost prevent our children and their children from being as we have been, but freedom from the tyranny of these faiths and fears is not to be gained in one generation. It is therefore necessary that, for so long as it may take to change the bringing up of children in enough of the world, our close watch on each other and everyone in the world should not be relaxed for a moment.
Let us all be prepared, not for another like the last war with navies and armies and air forces, but for the next war with rockets and atomic bombs and all the mobi-lized power of our laboratories. These are the weapons of the future and with them the whole world can be reached from any place on the earth in some minutes. The people who definitely do not want to fight any more wars must promise anni-hilation to any nation which starts to fight and must be prepared immediately and ruthlessly to carry out that promise without parley or negotiation. This involves the continual upkeep of widely dispersed atomic rocket stations covering the whole world and a continual high pressure research program to discover ever more efficient methods of killing to keep ahead of any possible competition. This must go on until we, all the people, are re-educated to be able to live in peace together, until we are free to observe clearly and to think and behave sensibly. The most important thing in the world today is the bringing up of children. It is not a job for economic or emotional misfits, for frightened, inferiority-ridden men and women seeking a safe, respectable and quickly attainable social and emotional status, nor for girls filling in their time before marriage. Fortunately there are recent signs of intellectual stirrings amongst teachers which give some hope. To be allowed to teach children should be the sign of the final approval of society. represent scale of values is clearly ~ disparity between teachers’ salaries and those movie actresses or football coaches.
I am reminded of a group whose responsibility was the reclamation, training and rehabilitation of all the unmarried mothers in a certain community. The procedure was to have an “I.Q.” done and then to train the girl according to a simple chart. The upper levels rated various types of useful training. Those at the bottom, not fit for anything else, were trained as nursemaids, to bring up children. Thus, hundreds of defenseless children in that large community have been brought up by moronic unmarried mothers. Because these are psychopathological matters, psychiatrists simply have to take the responsibility of interpretation and initiative. Can such a program of re-education or of a new kind of education be charted? I would not presume to go so far, except to suggest that psychology and sociology and simple psychopathology, the sciences of living, should be made available to all the people by being taught to all children in primary and secondary schools, while the study of such things as trigonometry, Latin, religions and others of specialist concern should be left to universities.
Only so, I think, can we help our children to carry their responsibilities as world citizens as we have not been able to do. Only so can we prevent their having to live in a world of fear and chaos and cruelty and death, far more horrible than we can know. We have never had a really peaceful society in the world, but only short interludes of forgetting and then frantic preparation between wars. Can the world learn to live at peace? I think so, but only if individual psychiatrists and psycholo-gists can live up to Strecker and Appel’s definition, – “Basically maturity represents a wholesome amalgamation of two things, one, dissatisfaction with the status quo, which calls forth aggressive, constructive effort, and two, social concern and devo-tion.” If we cannot, the job will be left to what survivors there may be after the next war, or to intellectually more honest and braver people who may get a chance some generations later. With the other human sciences, psychiatry must now de-cide what is to be the immediate future of the human race. No one else can. And this is the prime responsibility of psychiatry.March 20, 2010 at 2:09 pm #9904March 21, 2010 at 3:38 am #9906
Anyway.So….what this has to do w/ seasteading?March 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm #9914
Here is a like to video on Nation Geographic’s site sence the embeded version doesn’t like working. http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/countries-places/other/ghana_ghanawitches.htmlOCEANOPOLIS wrote:
Anyway.So….what this has to do w/ seasteading?
I assume you read it? With out what Chisholm talks about TSI can’t do its mission(“…but above all we are dedicated to the belief that whatever our ideas, we want to stop arguing about them, stop proselytizing them and start living them.”)
That requires people to have “The ability to size things up, make one’s own decision….”
To consider if an act will have benign effects or malignant effects rather than if the action is called righteous or called sinful.
To reject Asabyyah(valuing the unworthy of your “people” above the worthy of those not your own).
That is all vary taboo stuff.
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