Sunday, 20 April 2014

anarchist quotes on Psychology

Article by Dennis Fox on anarchism and psychology.

Sakolsky (2011):
[T]he human impulse toward mutual aid is further suffocated by those in the debraining industry who professionally proselytize on behalf of an apolitical positivist psychology. The latter’s emphasis on blaming ourselves for our own alienation and oppression is then reinforced by our everyday relationships of mutual acquiescence in which we are constantly encouraged to “be realistic,” get with the program, stop whining, pop an anti-depressant if necessary, and, for god sake, appear upbeat.

 Furthermore, I’m not ignoring psychologists’ roles as enforcers of conventional Western middle-class values and agents of state and corporate power. It’s a sordid history, from intelligence and personality testing that categorizes people for bureaucratic social control, to pacifying prisoners, workers, mental patients, students, and women, to psychological manipulation ranging from spreading distorted models of normality to advertising corporate products to interrogating prisoners at Guantanamo Bay (Herman, 1995; Tyson, Jones, & Elcock, in press).

“Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” for example, stems from the diagnosis of “anarchia” that Benjamin Rush, the “father of American psychiatry” and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, applied to resistors to federal authority whose “excess of the passion for liberty” constituted “a form of insanity” (Levine, 2008).

anarchist psychologists (e.g., Chomsky, 2005; Cromby, 2008; Ehrlich, 1996; Fox, 1985, 1993a; Goodman, 1966/1979; Sarason, 1976; Ward, 2002),

For Landauer, “People do not live in the state. The state lives in the people”

For Goldman, “The problem that confronts us today, and which the nearest future is to solve, is how to be one’s self and yet in oneness with others, to deeply feel with all human beings and still retain one’s characteristic qualities” (cited in Shukaitis, 2008

Personality theorists consider how circumstances – family, friends, school, etc. – affect growth from self-focused infant to socialized adult, and sometimes how different societies produce the personalities they need. Social psychologists make a mantra of the interaction between “the person” (e.g., personality, emotion, beliefs) and “the setting” (the presence of others, configuration of a room, perceived norms), although mainstream views of setting typically exclude society, culture, and history (Tolman, 1994).

Critical psychologists have objected to psychotherapy‘s most common approach: helping us adapt to an unsatisfying world by internalizing problems and solutions rather than recognizing their societal nature. Psychology’s claim to be a science separate from philosophy accompanied 19th century Social Darwinism, which imagined and demanded a competitive, striving human nature for a dog-eat-dog capitalist world. It assumed rather than challenged hierarchy, patriarchy, and race privilege. Twentieth century psychologists who eventually became therapists encouraged people to fix themselves rather than challenge bosses, political elites, or dominant institutions more broadly. And still, today, mainstream therapy helps us function, boosting our confidence and self-esteem and maintaining our relationships so that we can get through school, get to work on time, keep at it one day after the next, mastering stress reduction techniques and ignoring any inkling that something outside ourselves might be at fault even when millions of us have identical “individual problems.” These culturally disseminated clich├ęs have become part of our everyday psychology, seemingly obvious and natural and right (Fox et al., 2009).

Gross believed that “[w]hoever wants to change the structures of power (and production) in a repressive society, has to start by changing these structures in himself [sic] and to eradicate the ‘authority that has infiltrated one’s own inner being’”

Also taking into account societal context, from a more existentialist direction, was anarchist Paul Goodman’s contribution to gestalt therapy (Perls, Hefferline, & Goodman, 1951).

At the dawn of modern psychology, Augustin Hamon (1894) advanced a social psychology that
emphasized systematic, empirical research and situated the “problematique” of social psychology at the interface of the individual and societal levels of analysis…. They linked a strong commitment to social movements expressing anarchist-communist ideas with a critical reevaluation of concepts in the social sciences, criminology, etc.; that is to say, Hamon conceived of the social sciences, sui generis, as critical sciences. (Apfelbaum & Lubek, 1983, p. 32; see also Lubek & Apfelbaum, 1982)
In 1967, Abraham Maslow, one of a handful of theorists looking to anarchism as something of a model (Fox, 1985), taught a course called Utopian Social Psychology. It addressed “the empirical and realistic questions: How good a society does human nature permit? How good a human nature does society permit? What is possible and feasible? What is not?” (Maslow, 1971, p. 212).

" Although some forms of humanistic and even New Age thought claim compatibility with social change movements (McLaughlin & Davidson, 2010; Rosenberg, 2004; Satin, 1979), too many participants insist the only way to change the world is to work only on themselves. Capitalists, of course, happily sell us whatever we need to meditate and communicate, practice yoga and Tantra, discover our authentic selves, and wander down our spiritual path of the moment, positive, happy, self-absorbed, and non-threatening. Understandably, thus, anarchists often reject these individualistic solutions and focus instead on more systemic approaches."

"Similarly, some psychologists using anarchist frameworks (McWilliams, 1985; Rhodes, 2008) incorporate insights from ecopsychology and ecofeminism as well as from Zen, Taoism and other psychologies challenging Western notions of consciousness and reality, self and other (Ornstein, 1972; Rosenberg, 2004). "

Milstein (2009) maintains that anarchism’s “dynamism” stems from the notion that “humans aren’t just fixed beings but are always becoming. Seeing all life as able to evolve highlights the idea that people and society can change. That people and the world can become more than they are, better than they are”

Cromby (2008) noted that, unlike Marxist psychologies (Seve, Holzkamp, Vygotsky), there is no influential anarchist psychology. Imagining such a project, S. Brown (2008) emphasized that though it may seem “simply not the business of psychology to extend itself beyond the study of the person … the model of the person adopted at any given time is always framed in relation to a contrasting notion of the collective” (p. 1). An anarchist psychology “will not emerge from a different model of the person but rather from a simultaneous rethinking of person and collective together” (p. 2). “Indeed the very thought of creating such a disciplinary division seems inimical to anarchism. But what we might say is that psychology in an anarchist register must take ‘life’ as its object rather than ‘subjectivity‘ or ‘the individual‘” (S. Brown, 2008, p. 10).


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