Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society

June 2024 Forums General discussion Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society

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  • #83753
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I have decided to branch off this topic from the thread on education and the reduction of violence.  

    The article suggests that perhaps the apparent rise in mental illness is not a rise in mental conditions per se, but a rise in unhappiness, and a way to disengage from an inhuman society.

    "The most deadly criticism one could make of modern civilization is that apart from its man-made crises and catastrophes, is not humanly interesting… In the end, such a civilization can produce only a mass man: incapable of spontaneous, self-directed activities: at best patient, docile, disciplined to monotonous work to an almost pathetic degree… Ultimately such a society produces only two groups of men: the conditioners and the conditioned, the active and passive barbarians.

    — Lewis Mumford, 1951"

    "Underlying many of psychiatry's nearly 400 diagnoses is the experience of helplessness, hopelessness, passivity, boredom, fear, isolation, and dehumanization — culminating in a loss of autonomy."

    Why the Rise of Mental Illness? Pathologizing Normal, Adverse Drug Effects, and a Peculiar Rebellion

    Meel

    #110572
    Richard
    Participant

    This is a very interesting topic and I highly recommend Jacque Ellul's "The Technological Society" and his follow up book "Propaganda". Ellul built on the work of Lewis Mumford yet he went beyond Mumford's focus on technology to look at how what Ellul called "technique" changed society. Technique is a form of organisation in mass technological societies and its sole aim is efficiency. Efficiency above all else!Propaganda, or "public relations" as Edward Bernays called it, is necessary to condition human beings to function in a society which, on the one hand places great emphasis on individuality, but requires conformity, efficiency and regimentation; a society of mass men who believe they are individuals. A neat trick!Certain mental illnesses can, at least in my opinion, be viewed as a form of rebellion against society. Society defines what is "normal" behaviour and what is not normal. If certain people can't adapt to our society they can be labelled "deficient" or "disturbed". We live in a regimented society with very little tolerance for true individuality. Our sleep patterns, our social relations, our relation to work and to consumption, the environment, and our health have all suffered as a result of the never-ending demand for efficiency and constant growth.Thanks for posting the link to Levine's article, I look forward to reading it – time permitting, of course!

    #110573
    Richard
    Participant

    That was an interesting article!I can recommend Sheldon Wolin's "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism". Wolin discusses a political system (in the US but it applies to most liberal democracies) in which the leaders at the top are interchangeable and move between the political and corporate worlds with ease. Unlike traditional authoritarianism (Fascism, National Socialism, Bolshevism) inverted totalitarianism requires an apathetic, disengaged public in order to allow Big Business to get on with the business of controlling society's agenda. According to Wolin, capitalism has shaped the political system to the detriment of populist democracy.Bruce Levine asks the question: Do our societal institutions promote passivity, isolation, boredom, fear, economic uncertainty, a sense of helplessness? Sheldon Wolin answers that, yes, our society does promote such feelings and does so intentionally in order to keep the herd quiet.This is a very interesting interview with Sheldon Wolin by Chris Hedges: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12550 

    #110574
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    RichardI watched 1/8 of the interviews – very good.  I’ll get on to the others as time allows…“Bruce Levine asks the question: Do our societal institutions promote passivity, isolation, boredom, fear, economic uncertainty, a sense of helplessness?   Sheldon Wolin answers that, yes, our society does promote such feelings and does so intentionally in order to keep the herd quiet.”Yes, but how exactly do they do it?  Are we saying that there is a conspiracy at the top, that all capitalists get a little booklet of some kind, saying “make sure you promote passivity, isolation, boredom, fear, economic uncertainty, a sense of helplessness among the masses – you must keep the herd quiet?”  I’m not questioning the phenomenon, I’m just wondering how the hell it is done.  And what exactly is it about “the herd” that keeps them so quiet – psychologically speaking, I mean. I guess people really like to fall I with everyone else, as can be seen by all the crazes people jump on; MAMILS(middle aged men in lycra – the ones on bicycles), the water bottle fad, the macrobiotic fad, and now, the juicing fad……We are in a “Newspeak” society, aren’t we.  Democracy isn’t really democracy.  Freedom isn’t really freedom.  Individualism is really just about being a consumer.Meel

    #110575
    Richard
    Participant

    Hi Meel,I'm glad you enjoyed part 1 of the interview. Sheldon Wolin is very interesting to listen to, he has a very interesting take on the US political scene and, by extension, politics in other Western nations.You're right that people like to be a part of the herd, it gives people a sense of security, I think. Creating economic uncertainty is not difficult, and keeping people passive and apathetic is easy given the capabilities of mass entertainment. Economic uncertainty leads to fear, a sense that "things could be worse" so it's best to keep your head down and take what you're given. A sense of helplessness, powerlessness, naturally follows.Maybe capitalists do have a little book with instructions on how to do this. "Taming the Herd – Part 1: Random Firings, Stagnant Wages and Disneyland". In all seriousness, I think people who attain a certain amount of power and wealth just see it as natural that they should use whatever means necessary to keep "the little people" quiet. Pure self-interest.Democracy is not democracy. The apathetic herd must be roused every few years to trudge off and vote and then return to their consumer toys or to sit at home worrying about whether they'll get fired on Monday like So-and-So was fired last week. Well, whatever is happening in the world at least I can reaffirm my individuality by heading off to the mall and buying a gold iPhone just like everyone else.

    #110576
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    #110577
    Richard
    Participant

     I can't believe I missed International Happiness Day!  Oh well, maybe I'll remember International Reality Day. 

    Quote:
    I would not go so far as Slavoj Žižek who, asked what he found most depressing, answered “the happiness of stupid people”.

    I love this! LOL Slavoj Žižek appears to be someone else I'll have to look into; I like his honesty! Meel, have you had time to watch the other parts of the Wolin interview? I'd be interested in hearing your opinion.

    #110578
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I am still going through them – will be back with a summary at the end.He is certainly an interesting character and very clear thinking in spite of his age – every sentence carefully crafted!

    #110579
    moderator1
    Participant
    Richard wrote:
     This is a very interesting interview with Sheldon Wolin by Chris Hedges: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12550 

    Can't seem to find the other episodes.  Link please.

    #110580
    Richard
    Participant

    This is the link to all eight episodes: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=74&jumival=1250The link to the above link was on the side of the video player under the title "Multipart Episodes".

    #110581
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    If you have been reading my posts on this forum, you will know that I have an interest I genetics and that many of my post carry the message that “genes matter” (NOT that the environment doesn’t).This time I would like to post some extracts from an article where the emphasis is on the other side of the coin.  It’s about mental illness and about how traumas in childhood (and also at other stages in life) have great influence on whether you develop mental health issues.The article doesn’t discount genes all together of course, it says the following:"Of course genes play a role in making some people more vulnerable to psychiatric disorder than others, but the formidable advances in molecular genetics over recent years show that the same genes are involved when people are diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD and even autism.More importantly hundreds, possibly thousands, of genes are involved, each conferring a tiny increase in risk. Hence, as American genetic researcher Kenneth Kendler says: “The genetic risk for schizophrenia is widely distributed in human populations, so that we all carry some degree of risk.” Everyone reading this article is likely to have some risk genes although, of course, some will have more than others."http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/26/mental-illness-misery-childhood-traumasHowever, the message the article carries is that life traumas are very important in increasing the risk of developing mental illness. And that the medical profession is still very geared towards using drugs to treat these illnesses, whereas what would often be more beneficial is “talk therapy”; the patients need to be able to talk about the traumatic events in their lives.  Because this involves quite a bit of time with a personal councillor, I guess it is very expensive, and therefore not widely available.  You need to be literally on the brink of throwing yourself over a cliff top, and have the rail ticket to get there in your pocket, before you are given any such counselling on the NHS.Reading an article about over 85’s dying in greater numbers now since the introduction of cuts, and that this could have been caused by heart attack and strokes being brought on by worry about their economic situation, this made me think.We are all living with increased level of stress and anxiety as capitalism seems to ratchet the gears up; worries about job security, benefits, environmental degradation, housing, you name it. This can only mean that as capitalism carries on, mental health issues are bound to just keep on increasing.

    #110582
    Giuseppe-Joe
    Participant

    RD laing comes to mind, his The Politics of Experience in particular

    #110583
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    You might find this programme very interestinghttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b071skp5My own view is that Oliver James is well worth listening too, although he does sometimes go a little too far on the anit genetics and although he has railed against selfish capitalism, he has sadly come to the conclusion that what we need is unselfish captialism!.A quote from his book, "Not In Your Genes":"Professor Robert Plomin, the world’s leading geneticist, said in 2014 of his search for genes that explain differences in our psychology: ‘I have been looking for these genes for fifteen years. I don’t have any’. 

    #110584
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Thanks, Tim, an interesting debate in your link, however, more so because of the other contributors rather than Oliver James.James says explicitly in the debate that he is “at odds  with the scientific community” – by that I assume he means he is at odds with what is the current view among geneticists and genetics researchers.I find that, for people who are still suffering from biofobia, they make the mistake again and again of trying to infer that there must be a mapping from ONE psychological trait to ONE gene.  That is NOT the case; almost always there are several genes at play, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands.  Sometimes it’s the case that all or some of these genes have been nailed down, sometimes not – it’s a huge task. In the past, before scientists knew much about sub-atomic particles, they could still make a reasonable prediction that they were there, due to their impact on the physical world around them.  It’s the same with genetics and twin studies; the studies point to there being factors of heredity at play and the challenge is then set to find them.Deborah Orr in the Guardian has pointed to the irresponsibility of James’s contentions:“Even if James had conclusive evidence to back up his absolutist claim – which he does not – I would suggest that such news should be broken gently. Very many caring parents already suffer agonies of guilt as they support their children through these conditions, which can be debilitating and frightening. Instead, in recent weeks they’ve been turning on the TV or radio, picking up a newspaper or glancing at a website, to find that James is bumptiously confirming their darkest fears, and telling them that their child’s mental illness is indeed All Their Fault.I think this is both unnecessary and cruel. James is putting his own need to express his iconoclastic and inchoate views above the need of vulnerable people to be respected, considered and supported.”http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/12/oliver-james-is-wrong-to-blame-parents-for-their-childrens-mental-illnessThe quote from Plomin you mention is taken out of context, in the below quote refuted by Stuart J. Ritchie (University of Edinburgh):“James: “Robert Plomin, the most widely cited authority in this field in the UK, told the Guardian newspaper in 2014 that, as regards psychological traits, ‘I have been looking for these genes for fifteen years and I don’t have any’ (Wilby, 2014).”This is an out-of-context quote mine. To be clear, because this is a source of some confusion: we can know that a trait is genetically influenced (from methods such as twin studies) without knowing the specific genes involved (knowledge about which comes from different methods, such as genome-wide association studies). Thus, Robert Plomin is noting that, whereas we know that many psychological traits are strongly heritable, we do not yet know the specific genes involved (the reason for this is that very large studies are needed to have the statistical power to detect specific genetic associations; these take longer to put together than the average study). There is nothing contradictory or surprising about this.In any case, James is out of date: genome-wide association studies in 2014 and 2015 have uncovered specific genes related to educational performance, to IQ and to the personality trait of neuroticism. Even larger studies with even more impressive genetic results are on the way.”https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/jump-gun-and-you-will-be-shot-down

    #110585
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Giuseppe-Joe wrote:
    RD laing comes to mind, his The Politics of Experience in particular

    Yes, some Party members in the 1980s were keen on him and Thomas Szasz's Anti-Psychiatry.  There were a couple of articles on it, I think. I'm not sure those who wrote them still adhere to this view. There does seem to be a genetic element in some mental illness (via the anatomy and physiology of the brain as part of the body), not nearly as much as some claim but still some, as that Guardian article Meel quoted said (and which seems to present a balanced position).Just found one of the articles: "Are You Being Driven Mad?" by S. Coleman that appeared in the May 1981 Socialist Standard (but not one of those in the archives section here but I'm sure there will be some spare copies at Head Office) which quotes favourably Szasz's The Manufacture of Madness.

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