The Destruction of Civility Through Deranged Psychologism 1
|| Arrested Mental and Spiritual Development
|| Prerequisite Essays
|| Demonic Cabal
Nastiness disguised as honesty now permeates our culture. We have been trained by this new ideology to ventilate feelings which the old cultural ideology taught us should be "repressed." The old "niceness ideology" produced the belief that negative feelings were bad or sinful, and should be denied or repressed. Then came the emancipating New Ideology which proclaimed that all feelings are good and should be expressed no matter what. It's better to have free expression and health than repression, guilt, and illness, said the new prophets.
So, without developing the ability to discriminate, people began to accept the indoctrination that uncontrolled expression of all emotions was "honesty" and beneficial to all. And we soon had the full-blown ideology of nastiness--you could now be as nasty as you wanted and excuse and praise it as honesty.
We have learned this new ideology through its dramatization and promotion through television, movies, the theatre, books, newspapers and especially the new therapies.
The established culture, said the first new prophets of nastiness, was dreadfully void of passion. What is desperately needed, they preached, was an attack on the established order and its principles of "niceness" and conformity. These prophets felt that it was not only necessary to transform societal institutions radically but simultaneously to change one's individual psyche.
The niceness ideology assumed that its adherents, the "good people," should not "have" negative feelings concerning their jobs, family, politics, and life in general. If people had those particular feelings or thoughts (of revenge, violence, lust, deceit, etc.) they were considered to be un-Christian or un-American and should feel guilty about having them. Thus persons either pretended they didn't have them or kept them to themselves out of fear of being ostracized from the community, family, or social group in which they lived.
It's interesting, however, that capitalist ideology preached that greed and unrestrained combativeness was hunky dory. In fact, capitalist psychologists pretended to show that greed and competiveness were human "instincts," similar to the instinct for survival.
The nastiness ideology was touted as a positive step: it allowed people to move beyond the ritualized superficialities of ordinary living. You could relinquish your feelings of guilt, shame, "sin," self-deprecation, and fear. It allowed the man or woman who didn't know how to express anger to "let it out" (though many became fixated on mere ranting and discharching senseless emotions). New psychological scams were thus born: Anger Management and Assertiveness Training.
Rather than buy into the pre-established life-style of the 8-5 job, having a family, being ambitious, and holding feelings in, there developed in the 1960s and 1970s the "alternative sub-culture." It included the drop-outs, the psychedelic obsessives, the vegetarian addicts, the communes, clothes from Goodwill, the switching of sexual roles, the revolt against the Protestant ethic, ventilating feelings at one's personal whim, and so on. From one end of the spectrum the new consumers of the new ideology moved directly to the opposite end, indiscriminately assuming that their alternative "life-style" was, in fact, the utopian solution to existing social ills. Yet these appearances of revolt were counterfeit. The struggle to radically transform the psyche remained impotent because the only thing that had actually occurred was the movement from one extreme to its equally obsessive opposite.
The movement selling the "counter-culture" was nothing but a new marketplace promoting the consumption of alternative commodities: rock stars instead of politicians; bell-bottoms instead of Brooks-Brothers, the Whole Earth Catalogue instead of Sears and Roebuck.
In the twenty-first century, the mass of people have reacted to the earlier counter-culture fad and have returned to the opposite extreme of bland, unthinking conformity: new disciples of a New Niceness Cult. But the interesting thing is that the new conformists have retained one element of the earlier sub-culture: the ideology of nastiness.
The most apt depiction of the ideology of nastiness occurs in the movie Autumn Sonata, starring Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullman. In this definitive scene, all the destructive elements of the ideology of nastiness are graphically portrayed in Liv Ullman's irresponsible, mindless rage:
Okay, so this young girl had a mother who wasn't capable of much love and was self-obsessed with her career. Our responsibility in life is to go ahead, whatever our situation happens to be, and develop ourselves as best we can. It isn't morally or psychologically legitimate to blame other people for what we've done--or not done--with our lives.
1. Other people have made me what I
'You managed to injure me for life.'"
2. I'm not responsible for my character
or my behavior:"I didn't dare to be myself."
3. I have the right to unload my hatred
and resentment however I want:
"You're a goddamn escapist. You're emotionally crippled."
Implications of the Ideology of Nastiness
The important questions remain: Why do people buy this ideology, in what direction does the nastiness ideology move us, and what are its implications?
The retention of the ideology of nastiness has eventuated in the cultural phenomenon of mass infantilism: adults indulging themselves in uncontrolled negative emotions, believing that mere expression and ventilation are intrinsically "affirmative" and assuming that nasty behavior is a sign of power, strength, courage, manhood/womanhood and necessary to maintain one's "integrity." Such obsessives never consider that such mass infantalism could be an effective means for rulers to condition people not to be able to resist a fascist movement - such as economic globalism - but to accept it eagerly.
Infantilism and nastiness are the manifestations of the debilitating assumption that your emotions are directly caused by someone else's behavior. This assumption asserts that people make us angry, situations make us bored, friends make us cry, and instructors make us resentful. People who adhere to this nastiness ideology blame everyone else for their feelings and actions. They refuse to recognize that they are responsible for their emotional states - not others.
"...You rarely feel glad or sad because of the things that occur from the outside. Rather, you make yourself happy or miserable by your perceptions, attitudes, or self-verbalizations about these outside events."
Albert Ellis and Robert Harper, A New Guide to Rational Living
Through progressive awareness 2 we gain the understanding that nastiness is not natural, inevitable, or the only alternative to earlier emotional repression. Negative emotions are complex patterns of conditioned response which we can and should overcome. Individuals allow these patterns to be indoctrinated into them by a culturally distorted perception of human psychology and the nature of reality.
"Our negative emotions are in ourselves and are produced by ourselves. There is absolutely not a single unavoidable reason why somebody's else's action or circumstance should produce a negative emotion in me... We have negative emotions because we permit them, justify them, explain them by external causes and in this way we do not struggle with them."
P.D. Ouspensky. The Fourth Way It is the responsibility of the critical thinker to understand and transform negative emotions. You can learn to recognize that your indignant, self-righteous anger is a conditioned response. You can begin to question this pattern, suspend the immediate emotion, and explore alternative ways of facing the issue or the problem. You can begin to ask yourself such questions as: How could I have been more aware of the situation and avoided merely letting myself react unthinkingly? Do I wish to remain with this infantile behavior of blaming others for my feelings and refusing to take responsibility for my own emotional life?
Transforming a negative emotion doesn't imply that one is emotionless or emotionally repressed. You remain aware of situations, of your immediate reaction to them, and then you rationally decide what response is best for you and others. As a critical thinker it's your responsibility to take responsibility for your responses to situations. This involves conscious effort and serious self-exploration. You learn to share your perceptions of people and events - not assuming that your perceptions are necessarily THE truth.
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1 Psychologism: Forms and applications of psychology that promote emotional and mental irresponsibility; the misapplication of psychology to areas where it does not belong; pop psychology
2 Progressive awareness: critical thinking, critical consciousness, and self-awareness
See the author's book Progressive Awareness