And What Science Can Do About It

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“A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all, but torture without end.”

—JOHN MILTON, Paradise Lost

 

“God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen.”—The much-beloved Serenity Prayer, unredacted, as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr

 

 

 (Even if the only part of this that you know is the famous first sentence, it should still be obvious that no matter what are the problems that one might have to deal with, including hardship and/or others’ sinfulness ad infinitum, everything’s a matter of whether or not he has the power to change the realities that others had the power to create.)

 

“Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalities, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”—John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

 

“There is a way of speaking which is... entirely correct and unexceptionable, but which is, nevertheless, a lie....  When an apparently correct statement contains some deliberate ambiguity, or deliberately omits the essential part of the truth... it does not express the real as it exists in God.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran theologian executed by the Nazis

 

 

“The aide, who sounded uncannily like Karl Rove, informed Suskind with great condescension that a ‘judicious study of discernible reality’ is ‘not the way the world really works anymore.’  The aide explained: ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.  And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”—Frank Rich, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, The Decline and Fall of Bush’s America, regarding the supposed intellectualism of journalists, whom that aide sarcastically called a “reality-based community”

 

 

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”—Chinese proverb

 

“The difference between a little more and a little less justice in a social system and between a little more and a little less selfishness in the individual may represent differences between sickness and health, between misery and happiness in particular situations.”—Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man.  One could only wonder what kind of “sickness and health” this was that he mentioned even before “misery and happiness.”  Certainly the victims’ health other than mental health, would be at stake in very few situations.

 

“Problems are made to be solved, Melody reminds us, and the best thing we can do is take responsibility for our own pain and self-care.”—from the Hazelden webpage for Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go, meaning that those who are considered codependent, which is another way of saying that someone else is outrageously responsible for their problems, should let go of their own resentment

 

“So I need to know how you, John McCormack, could believe that lying to me about what you knew of Birmingham’s career-long pedophilia could benefit me, and help me to ‘put it all behind me.’”—Paul Cultrera, of Hand of God fame, speaking before Bishop John McCormack on January 28, 2003, though, in fact, if Paul did believe that the Catholic hierarchy was unaware of Birmingham’s predations, that would have benefited Paul.  He could have “let go” easier if he believed that Birmingham was his only victimizer.

“At the slaveholding South all is peace, quiet, plenty and contentment.  We have no mobs, no trade unions, no strikes for higher wages, no armed resistance to the law, but little jealousy of the rich by the poor.  We have but few in our jails, and fewer in our poor houses.”—George Fitzhugh, written in the 1850s

 

“What gives hope to Al-Anon/Alateen members?  Many have experienced situations that others would find unbearable, yet they develop strength and hope for the future.  ‘I looked around me at group meetings and saw a few people as hurt and bitter and angry as I was,’ said one member, ‘but most were facing life as it came.  They were able to accept what I thought were outrageous situations.  And I wanted to learn how they did it.’”—The beginning of the preface, of As We Understood, A Collection of Spiritual Insights by Al-Anon and Alateen Members  (“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him,” suggests an open-mindedness concerning one’s higher power.  Yet that spirituality, and how one’s will is to be surrendered, obviously isn’t open-minded as to what constitutes the right outlook concerning outrageous situations.).

 

“I am responsible for my own perceptions of the world.  I accept the fact that the world that I see is largely the world I make.”—The message on one of the Ernie Larsen Change Cards, “52 affirmation cards,” “wise and motivating affirmations,” “These positive messages give us a chance every day to choose the happiness that change brings.”

 

 

(Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a novel about the billionaires going on strike which leads to everyone appreciating how much society needs them, and which includes a hero murdering a state legislator who tried to revoke a charter granted to him, and another hero intentionally makes a passenger train crash which doesn’t seem to matter since all the passengers contributed in some way to the non-Libertarian status quo, is great because it shows how “parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish, as they should.”—Alan Greenspan  (The Wikipedia webpage on her says, “When asked in a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club what the most influential book in the respondent’s life was, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.”)

“Now there’s hope.”—a slogan from a commercial for antidepressants

 

“We, too, were lonely and frustrated, but in Al-Anon we discover that no situation is really hopeless, and that it is possible for us to find contentment and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.  We urge you to try our program.  It has helped many of us find solutions that lead to serenity.  So much depends on our own attitudes...”—in the “Suggested Al-Anon-Alateen Welcome,” from Al-Anon’s current handbook, How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics

 

“Regardless of whether we speak of ‘mental health’ or of the ‘mature development’ of the human race, the concept of mental health or of maturity is an objective one, arrived at by the examination of the ‘human situation’ and the human necessities and needs stemming from it.  It follows, as I pointed out in Chapter Two, that mental health cannot be defined in terms of the ‘adjustment’ of the individual to his society, but, on the contrary, that it must be defined in terms of the adjustment of society to the needs of man, of its role in furthering or hindering the development of mental health.”—Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, the foreword of which begins, “This book is a continuation of Escape from Freedom...”

 

“I do not want the peace that passeth understanding.  I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”—Helen Keller

 

 

 

(a barbecue apron from Lehman Brothers, in which high yield is a euphemism for high risk, but that means high excitement)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is a summary of my other web pages on victim correction as a panacea, Victim Correction as a Panacea, Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression, Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea, Schopenhauer on Predators, Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming, Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips, Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management BookOut of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008 webpage, which contains notes of exactly the acceptance that people gave of  my experience that introduced me to this, one of my About Us webpages with more details of this experience, Message to Intellectuals in the Islamic World, Candace Newmaker’s Experience, Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good, A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction, The Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction, and Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man, and What It Indicates About What’s Shaping Modern Culture.

 

 

 

 

 

ictim correction as a panacea is the self-help problem-solving approach that plays a huge part in the “personal responsibility” that modern Westerners take seriously, response-ability for one’s own welfare.  This is basically goal-oriented victim-blaming, victim-blaming followed by, “and if he and others who had a problem like his dealt with their own problems more effectively, as follows, they’d benefit....”  The goal is solving problems with as much self-motivation, self-reliance, and forgiveness as possible.  In whatever respects one is weak or strong, the weak serenely accept, the strong courageously change, and the stronger don’t have to worry about changing or accepting anything.  In societies with rampant depression, self-blame gives hope, since if the roots of your problems are inside yourself, then you can solve them.  The victim-self-blaming cognitive distortions of modern Western depression follow the same pattern as absolutist propaganda, using an overgeneralized all-or-nothing filtered thinking based on emotion and unfounded assumptions, to magnify what is supposed to matter and minimize what isn’t, label things as would suit it, and tell people what they should think and do.

 

The only way to achieve this would be to correct those whose welfare is at stake, so that they could solve their own problems as effectively, stoutheartedly, and free of conflict, as possible.  Even Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, wrote, “Every form of causeless self-doubt, every feeling of inferiority and secret unworthiness is, in fact, man’s hidden dread of his inability to deal with existence [as she would define how people would naturally deal with what existence naturally is]. But the greater his terror, the more fiercely he clings to the murderous doctrines that choke him [as she would define ‘doctrines’].”  This reductionism to self-reliant self-blame seems good, since the more that such a conflict is reduced to how the person with the problem could most effectively take care of his own problem, the more that the personal responsibility for the problem would go to the person who’s the most motivated to deal with it effectively.  If one rationale for victim correction doesn’t work, it’s replaced by another.  Neo-Buddhism means failsafe coping skills.  Simply being morally right, has never earned or achieved anything.  As can be seen in Nietzsche, the weak could easily seem to be the dangerously WILLFUL ones, since everyone’s beliefs regarding what they deserve are shaped by their own SELF-WILLS, and the weak can exercise their supposed SELF-WILLS only in ways that would seem mollycoddle, “dishonest” and “ignominious,” whereas red-blooded strength is “honest,” proud, and at least forgivable (i.e. must be forgiven).  We must appreciate all the hidden dangers of unchecked “victim-power.”  As Niebuhr wrote, power, which would include victim-power, “cannot be wielded without guilt, since it is never transcendent over interest,” over (hidden and surreptitious) SELF-WILL.  When religious Good Americans are trying to talk someone out of violating rules where this would likely cause someone to suffer a depression, they’d probably feel free to take this as seriously as it deserves to be taken, but when looking at depression caused by what our culture says are normal and inevitable imperfections, caring about the risk of depression would seem subversive.  Feeling sure that the weak have hidden agendas, doesn’t seem paranoid.  If this worldview were “with a human face,” just think of all the mollycoddle SELF-WILL, victim-power, and inadequate response-ability for one’s own welfare, that the untermenschen could get away with!  Sure, those skeptical of psychology use as an example of why, the diagnosis of Draepetomania, or a compulsion of slaves to run away, though if a slave’s reality was that if he kept trying to run away he’d suffer more than if he didn’t, his attempts to run away could have been called self-defeating, unrealistic, etc.  An article in the Irish Times said about a traditionalist Catholic order whose founder was an extreme child molester, “If Pope Benedict fails to deal with this organisation, his papacy will go down as a ‘dictatorship of relativism’ for its own betrayal of justice,” and self-help conceptions of personal responsibility are certainly a dictatorship of relativism, since, “Your claims that this is morally wrong are only your whiny, unrealistic, controlling, and SELF-WILLED opinion,” is a lot more mandatory than is, “Your claims that this is morally wrong are only your opinion.”  Possibly a reason why the financial markets are sometimes called the “marketplace,” as if they might as well be a Third World farmers’ market, is that the more banal they’d look, the more that giving power to them wouldn’t seem to be giving power to venerated authority, the only sort of power that truly seems scary.

One could call the part of the Serenity Prayer that’s usually redacted, the “Oh, and by the way,” part, since any psychology that’s inspired or heavily influenced by The Serenity Prayer would have to say, “You should courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t, which sounds nice and reasonable.  Oh, and by the way, this has to mean that whatever your realities are, including hardship or others’ sinfulness, ad infinitum, that’s what you simply must deal with.”  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  Himmler’s advice would have said that when we deal with our own troubles, the strong do get forgiven and the weak don’t.  Sure, this is stereotypically Nazi, but it would also be the most pragmatic (in the microcosmic sense) and well-adjusted approach. These are exactly the benefits that psychologists often get from using the AA approach, or other pragmatic approaches.

 

 

Aggressiveness seems ineradicable, and objections to it seem eradicable.  We simply must accept this, just as we simply must accept the basic principles of economics, and for the same basic reasons: that no matter how unfair this is, it’s the most reliable way to motivate people to do what must get done, and that this, therefore, is the sort of honorability, self-responsibility, etc., that our culture and its sanctions take seriously.  Well-trained people are more well-adjusted.  Sure, Orwell’s 1984 says, “Never, for any reason on earth, could you wish for an increase of pain.  Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop.  Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain,” but the question of rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., is more complicated than that.  Right now the average American would respond to most of the traumas that contribute to our unnaturally high rates of depression, anxiety, etc., by saying “Oh, well, that’s life,” though if he knew that it contributed to our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., it would be pretty hard for him to say that anything that contributes to an unnaturally high rate of anything, “is life.”  Anathematizing the weak in the simple-minded fashion that’s typical of anti-intellectualism might sound like the ultimate Nazi-esque moral bankruptcy, but this would fit our principles of freedom based on responsibility for our own welfare, would stop manipulative victim-posturing and all other victimhood, would pressure the weak to try to empower themselves which would benefit them, and would get those who are the most reliably motivated to solve the problems, to do it as well as possible. The title of the chapter about Reaganist deregulation, of Charles R. Morris’ The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown, is, “Wall Street Finds Religion,” and that’s how this fundamentalist and very demanding religion (“But that’s where a quarter-century of diligent sacrifice to the gods of the free market has brought us.”), must construe who are the sinners with the defects of character, and who are the martyrs.  As Lord Lister said, “Be strange to the familiar,” and if we used that sort of common sense skepticism and objectivism, we could see what our usual conceptions of personal responsibility really lead to.

 

 

As Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle says,

Why big institutional investors like pension funds continually come to Wall Street to get raped is the million-dollar question that many experienced observers puzzle over.  Goldman’s own explanation for this phenomenon is comedy of the highest order.  In testimony before a government panel in January, [CEO] Blankfein was confronted about his firm’s practice of betting against the same sorts of investments it sells to clients.  His response: “These are the professional investors who want this exposure.”

In other words, our clients are big boys, so screw ’em if they’re dumb enough to take the sucker bets I’m offering.
 

Rather than being comedy of the highest order, that explanation is actually rather typical for the sophistry of victim correction as a panacea.  It seems that the only personal responsibility that really matters is response-ability for one’s own welfare, and that the only strength of character that really matters is STRENGTH of character.  Since the investors voluntarily entered into the deals with Goldman (and probably got more of a warning of the dangers than most blamed victims do), any blame that Goldman could get, could be labeled as anti-freedom opinion.  On the other hand, treating the investors as responsible for what they expose themselves to, relies on the fact that they’d want to prevent any problems that would hurt themselves, and feels good since this encourages red-blooded strength.  Both victim correction as a panacea, and the laissez faire ideology that Goldman Sucks is known for, require an absolutist and unconditional tunnel vision that could easily look like comedy of the highest order, such as when pragmatic people who’ve just had others cause them big problems, list and objectively describe all the wrongs that had just been done to them, and then follow this with the punch line, “…and now I’m supposed to just shut up and adjust to these realities, since doing so would benefit me, and I must take care of myself like a big boy/girl.  ”  Yet this tunnel vision must be this absolutist and unconditional, since otherwise, too much anti-freedom opinion and evasions of personal response-ability would triumph.  Obviously, Blankfein was proud of his pro-freedom logic.

Of all people, Alan Greenspan wrote, in the introduction of his The Age of Turbulence, “This book will try to examine the ramifications of the collision between a rapidly changing globalized economy and unwavering human nature.”  Yet laissez faire economics is supposed to hold that capitalism is synonymous with human nature.  If you’re on the aggressive end of a power play, it’s assumed that of course that’s human nature.  If you’re on the passive end of a power play, it’s assumed that of course you don’t like it that the world isn’t as you’d have it, but if you’re realistic you’d realize that courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t would benefit you.  It’s human nature for you to do what benefits you, so a self-responsibility that’s based on this is the most reliable way to make sure that what needs to get done, gets done.  That’s what works.  If your human nature doesn’t adjust to the problems, your objections would be labeled as manipulation, victimology, a culture of victimhood, egotism in believing that you deserve better, etc.  The same goes for how the self-help worldview is supposed to suit human nature.  Yet anyone who’s honest with himself, would have to see that the self-help approach of, “It’s your problem, so what are you going to do about it?” could very easy come into conflict with the human nature of those who must deal with their own problems like this, no matter how much the victims’ resistance to this approach would be labeled as manipulation, victimology, etc.  That’s what works, irrespective of everything else, such as whether the person causing your problem is addicted so he’s considered not guilty by reason of insanity, or he simply chooses to do certain problem things and you’re as incapable of changing his choices as you’d be of changing an addict’s choices.  Economist Steven Landsburg said, “Most of economics can be summarized in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’  The rest is commentary,” and the person who has the problem is the one who has the reliable incentives to solve it.

As one could see in the deregulation leading up to the Great Crash of 2008, the law of the jungle becomes the ultimate source of virtue, since it: holds responsible those who have the most reliable motivation to do what has to be done, does this efficiently (as our cultural norms define this word), serves the greater good, follows natural laws, determines objectively who’s a success and who’s a failure in doing this, settles disputes objectively and with finality, fights mollycoddle SELF-WILL, fights for freedom, etc.  “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” could happen to anyone.  And while this might sound too radical, the fact would still remain that no matter what happens to you, including hardship, sinfulness, etc., ad infinitum, it wouldn’t matter what is or isn’t your fault (which may be subjective anyway, and caring about blame could seem whiny, judgmental, controlling, etc.), only what you could change or deal with (which is objective and self-reliant).  Telling those who are morally responsible how they should fix or prevent problems would be naïve and unreliable, while telling you (or you telling yourself) how you could take care of yourself better, and expecting that to lead to enough physical results, would be realistic and reliable.  A webpage on the Madoff Help website, GRANT ME THE SERENITY: Helpful Words for Challenging Times, begins, “No one wants to hear that loss, change and suffering are inevitable…  No one wants to be reminded that life is a series of losses, small & large, starting from birth & ending in death…  No one wants to realize that we all suffer loss & change in one way or another.  Yet behind every door is someone adjusting to change, adapting to crisis or coping with unsettling loss or tragedies,” so this is just as applicable to any outrage.  (Sure, Madoff’s sentencing judge called his crimes “extraordinarily evil,” and “staggering,” but...)

Victim correction as a panacea is very similar to much of modern Western culture, especially in the economics realm, where the law of the jungle seems necessary in order to motivate people.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called the gold standard of personal responsibility.  Currency that isn’t based on the gold standard is called “fiat money,” and personal responsibility that’s based on anything besides whose problem it is, unless the wrongness of the situation is undeniable, could be called a fiat standard of personal responsibility.  The thinking of the Victorian Era liked the gold standard since it gave money an objective value, whereas governments would determine the value of fiat money, based on abstractions that may sound nice, but in an unstable and unpredictable economy could produce unintended consequences.  Of course, the gold standard has produced unintended consequences, but they could be accepted as “just the way that life goes sometimes,” so “productive” and “realistic” people could seem obligated to accept them like this.  After all, the gold standard is what’s natural, since it developed naturally rather than among a bunch of people who “know what’s best for us.”  Likewise, if “personal responsibility” means response-ability for one’s own welfare, that’s objective, whereas  responsibility that’s based on blame would involve abstractions based on morality, which may sound nice but could have unintended consequences, such as people getting what they want by “proving” that they’re victims rather than through effort, and those who are held responsible not taking responsibility since they’re not motivated to take responsibility for someone else’s problem.  Of course, victim correction as a panacea has produced unintended consequences, but they could be accepted as “just the way that life goes sometimes,” so “productive” and “realistic” people could seem obligated to accept them like this.  After all, victim correction as a panacea is what’s natural, based on who wins and who loses naturally.  Sure, the law of the jungle in the economic sphere obviously produces a great deal of helplessness leading to depression, but without the law of the jungle, why would people bother trying their hardest to be successful and productive?

Typically, the Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, says, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression....  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.”  Sophisticates think that this consists of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions and is to be solved by mega-medication, as versus those who aren’t sophisticated, who think that this consists of 34,000,000 weak characters, though this could more appropriately be called Sophist-ication!

The following is on the first pages of Michael Lewis’ book Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street, from 1990:

What Gutfreund said has become a legend at Salomon Brothers and a visceral part of its corporate identity.  He said: “[Let’s play] One hand [of Liar’s Poker], one million dollars, no tears.”

...The final two words of his challenge, “no tears,” meant that the loser was expected to suffer a great deal of pain but wasn’t entitled to whine, bitch, or moan about it.  He’d just have to hunker down and keep his poverty to himself.

...And if you wanted to show off, Liar’s Poker was the only way to go.  The game had a powerful meaning for traders.  People like John Meriwether believed that Liar’s Poker had a lot in common with bond trading.  It tested a trader’s character.  It honed a trader’s instincts.  A good player made a good trader, and vice versa.  We all understood it.

It might seem strange to say that anything for liars, tests character.  Yet AA’s Big Book’s exploration of what constitutes: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs,” and, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character,” focuses very much on, “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else....  If we were to live, we had to be free of anger....  [Fear] somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.”  If you define “character” as not whining bitching and moaning, even about losing a million dollars, then Liar’s Poker certainly could test a player’s character.  The test wouldn’t be to see how few lies he tells, but how little resentment anger and fear he shows.  While this might seem to be the sort of strange attitude that the pigs on Wall Street would have, it’s worth remembering that Bill Wilson was a stockbroker.  He wrote the Big Book during the Great Depression, when those who define “strong character” like this would have had to try to stop a lot more whining bitching and moaning, than they would have when the economy was healthy.  To many people, the word character would seem fuddy-duddy, restrictive, judgmental, etc., unless character means this gutsiness, the sort of strong character that those on Wall Street would show off.  Whatever a culture, and the socioeconomic pressures that it produces, labels as “weak character,” “inadequacy,” “personal responsibility,” then that’s what those who were conditioned to believe in that culture, will tend to believe.  Innovation Corrupted, The Origins and Legacy of Enron’s Collapse, by Malcolm S. Salter, says, “Enron’s political and business strategies were forged in an environment in which exploiting regulatory ambiguities and weaknesses were commonly viewed as admirable achievements,” which follows this same pattern.  Both the Enron case, and the Madoff case, are relevant to more than frauds; both show how much whether one succeeds or fails is basically a crapshoot, so it may be very easy to cheer a fraud as if it’s a real success.

African-American street slang for victim-blaming is “The Flip Game.”  You could really see this in how those on Wall Street who caused the problems could now act helpless and realists would accept this, whereas plenty of people who didn’t cause their own helplessness can’t act helpless without looking as if they’re playing the victim role.  The kind of helplessness that much of Wall Street is now pleading, can be called winning helplessness, since it can win people what they want, the right to cause problems and not take responsibility for them.  The very same victim-correctors who’d chide victims for acting as if their victimization should win them something, would probably be willing to accept the claims of helplessness of the honorably gutsy people who caused the problems.  They’d win a free pass from responsibility, since: now they’re completely helpless to turn back the clock and undo what they did so holding them responsible for it would be hitting below the belt, caring about it would be just resentment, their intent was at least somewhat understandable, etc.  The Wall Street version of this is that they’re usually our daring gutsy heroes, and now we must understand their helplessness to undo what they did, in order to deal with reality on reality’s terms.  If it weren’t for the bailout, and the consequences that we’d all have to accept were the huge natural consequences of the economy collapsing, Wall Street’s claims of current helplessness would seem even more acceptable, natural.  You might think that those who really are helpless would deserve more due to their helplessness than would the gutsy people who cause the problems, but the rules of The Flip Game say that the claimed helplessness of the “winners” is winning helplessness since it really would win them a reprieve from responsibility, while the helplessness of those who really are helpless would seem to be the sort of problems that realists realize must be dealt with self-reliantly at whatever cost, and whatever was their intent.  Moral responsibility is never at whatever cost.

On September 29, 2008, as CNBC covered the House of Representatives failing to pass the bailout bill on the first try, a CNBC anchor said, “The Dow traders are standing there staring [at the screens reporting this story] in amazement, and I don’t blame them!”  No doubt that anchor was a real supporter of Wall Street, who had faith that these professionals speculating on the various investments was the best way to make sure that the workers and potential workers got what they deserved, and the buyers got what they wanted.  Yet these same people seemed very unapologetic that the judgment of these Masters of the Universe was so bad that of course the public now had to bail them out.  They were thinking, in essence, “I want my nanny to take care of me!”  Instead, it seemed only natural that they were amazed that the public wasn’t doing so more readily.  After all, those who control the money have so much power that if they aren’t saved from the consequences of their own greed and stupidity, we’d have to suffer big consequences.

Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article of July 9-23, 2009, The Great American Bubble Machine, said that only the high-rolling investors knew about the lowering of the standards for the tech stocks during the tech bubble, quoting a Wall Street insider as saying, “They [Goldman Sachs, and, no doubt, others] built these stocks upon an illegal foundation—manipulated up—and ultimately, it really was the small person who ended up buying in,” and since this was illegal these small investors did have some recourse, but if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have the bone-chilling fear of what happened to them that what we have about the supposedly manipulative weak.  The American public does have “pitchfork” moods regarding bailouts provided by the government, but if masses of Americans ever had a “pitchfork” mood about Wall Street’s greed simply ruining our economy, that would seem un-American.  Plenty of people who didn’t invest in such things lost a lot from the bubbles popping, but they have no recourse, and of course we don’t see them as victims except for regarding the money they lost in the guv’mint-sponsored bailouts.  You might think that Wall Street involves everything that Populists hate, in that it involves the intellectual elite engaging in manipulative machinations that involve abstractions, claiming to be aiming for “what is good.”  (As Taibbi’s article says, “Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they [on Wall Street] begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased,” but that sort of SELF-WILL posing as what’s good, is what makes America great.)  Yet chances are that the Populists would get outraged only when this means that the money that the average person loses, is through tax-paid bailouts.  And, of course, now that the public already knows about such tactics, it could seem that this whole issue is just past history, since we’ll never allow this particular abuse again.  It’s amazing how easy it is to minimize the culpability of what’s really responsible.

As one could see now, such a laissez faire concept of personal response-ability could seem good ’n’ gutsy, until you see the consequences of the moral bankruptcy.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, and dogmatically necessary illusions as laissez faire economics has, the very illusions that got our economy into such trouble.)  Victim correction could be a trap, since it’s very easy to fall into its promises of unconditional personal response-ability and proud self-reliance.  If your optimism, brain’s biology, survival skills, independence, resiliency, perseverance, etc., are strong enough that you could adjust and adapt if you lived in a society without rampant depression, but not strong enough to adjust and adapt to a society with it, and you live in a society with it, then YOU’RE TOO WEAK TO DEAL WITH YOUR REALITIES, so you’ve got some HORRIBLY DANGEROUS INADEQUACIES. No problem could really be a problem if the victim prevented solved or dealt with it well enough, so victims who don’t take care of their own problems well enough seem omni-responsible.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU.  “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” doesn’t necessarily mean, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” but is necessarily that unconditional, all-or-nothing, and

 

 

Yet when you wish prosperity for someone, you wouldn’t be wishing that he’d develop a better work ethic.

This mentality of victim-blaming, “You get what you deserve,” is very much a part of what caused the Great Crash of 2008.  Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe, by Gillian Tett, quotes Blythe Masters, who’d worked at J.P. Morgan, as saying, “The economic models that Hancock and Merton and others upheld were right in a sense, but the problem is that they did not give enough emphasis to all the human issues, the regulatory structures, and things like that.  The idea was that those issues were just noise in the models—but that is just dead-arsed wrong.   We don’t live in that kind of world of perfect economic models.”  Since these models came from Wall Street, and economists who got their educations in programs that prepare people to work there, they’d have to reflect the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which holds that, as long as the “regulatory structures” don’t interfere, market forces will make sure that everything is fairly priced, and, therefore, everyone will get what they deserve.  This is very similar to the logic of Victim Correction as a Panacea, both the assumption that one somehow deserves his own problems, and the assumption that defining “personal responsibility” largely as response-ability for one’s own welfare is most realistic, since people are motivated to take response-ability for their own problems and to engage in manipulative victimology if we cared about moral responsibility.  As The Origin of Financial Crises, by George Cooper, says,

This second team has a different explanation for why market behaviour fails to fit with the Efficient Market Hypothesis.  One of the conditions for markets to operate efficiently is that they be left alone, free to operate without interference or manipulation.  If market prices are pushed around and manipulated by external forces, for example by government interference, then the markets cannot be expected to behave as efficient markets should.  The “get out of jail free card” for the Efficient Market Hypothesis comes from noting that financial markets are not free markets but are heavily manipulated by government and especially central bank interference.  This leads to an intriguing possibility: that boom-bust asset price cycles and non-normal return distributions are not due to some inherent failure of the markets, but are instead the result of central bank interference.

The book also says, “The [Long Term Capital Management, one of history’s great failed Wall Street companies] fund was staffed by the crème de la crème of those that had been responsible for developing the Efficient Market Hypothesis.”  Robert C. Merton was one of its founders.  A webpage on the Libertarian website of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Mr. Moral Hazard, says about LTCM when it wanted the Fed to arrange for it a bailout paid for by private Wall Street companies, “But while its managers liked playing the market, they apparently didn’t like the market playing them,” so it seems that even they were too manipulative when their wealth was at stake, and that the effects that the collapse of LTCM would have had on the world economy wouldn’t matter, only that Wall Street learn its lesson by LTCM collapsing.  This quasi-bailout couldn’t possibly seem to be the markets being “heavily manipulated by government and especially central bank interference.”  Even these believers in the Efficient Market Hypothesis are supposed to be susceptible to moral hazard, taking too many risks confident that the guv’mint would get them a bailout.  The person whom that webpage calls “Mr. Moral Hazard,” is Alan Greenspan, who obviously doesn’t believe in heavy manipulation by government.

In other words, if you’re weak, even if you’re a victim, then if you don’t simply take response-ability for your own problems, you’re among The Enemy.  Whenever anything goes wrong in the economy, it would have to be blamed on those who’d somehow get more than what they’d won.  If you weren’t a victim you’d be a winner, so your getting what you deserved would seem to be what makes our economy work.  Yet since you are a victim, your getting what you deserve would seem to be what would ruin the economy.  While self-help books that talk about problems that are at least partially non-economic might not look like Efficient Market Hypothesis dogmatism, that still involves the mentality of a “get out of jail free card,” which someone must provide, and be held responsible for, just as unconditionally.  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” or anything that would imply this, is one heck of a get out of jail free card.  It would seem that if you don’t minimize others’ moral responsibility for your problem, then you’re resentful, controlling, judgmental, unrealistic, etc.  If this all-or-nothing absolutism isn’t taken literally, that would leave too much room for manipulative victimology, and too much interference with people doing what they must by winning battles.  Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged includes, “I saw that any man’s desire for money he could not earn was regarded as a righteous wish, but if he earned it, it was damned as greed,” but the modern version of that would be, “I saw that if any man desired money he could not earn, he was regarded as the sort of manipulative parasite who’s to blame for every problem in our economy, but if he had the chance to earn it, he was considered to be what makes our economy great.”

Now, much of the public sees the sort of dangers that pragmatic psychologists could expect us to adjust to.  On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 of March 4, 2009, Paul Begala said, “So, Democracy Corps, which is a nonprofit that Carville is affiliated with, did a poll.  And they put Limbaugh’s name in there, as well as those—as those two who were central, I think, to some of the Republican attacks on then Senator Obama.  And it turns out that Mr. Limbaugh’s negative was 58 and that Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright were right at about 50.”

The Addiction Process, Effective Social Work Approaches, by Edith M. Freeman, when describing the philosophy of Twelve-Step groups, tells of, “the existential understanding of Gelassenheit, which teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration.”  In the real world, if one ever tried to apply that sort of understanding to aggressive willfulness and how much it would defeat others, that would seem to be a ridiculously unnatural attempt to re-engineer human nature.  Of course, “Serenely accept whatever you’re helpless to change,” certainly tries to re-engineer human nature, but those who are helpless are motivated to think in such radically unnatural and conformist ways.

The Harvard Public Health webpage Experts Discuss Lifelong Impact of Early Childhood Adversity, says,

Research already has indicated that the more adversity in early life - abuse, neglect, poverty, and other stressors - the greater chance that children will experience depression and substance abuse problems as adults.  In addition, said Shonkoff, epidemiological studies have suggested an association between early-life trauma and later physical diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and some forms of cancer.

“We suggest that the biology of stress [offers] important insights into the roots of how poverty gets under the skin and into the [developing] brain and immune system,” said Shonkoff.  While some stress is normative and character-building [the importance of which would depend on how a culture’s norms define “character”], he noted, excessive and persistent adversity produces sustained elevations of stress hormones such as cortisol that are potentially damaging to the brain, especially in the early childhood period when basic neural circuitry is developing.

And, of course, working- and middle-class people could experience similar stresses, just less of them.  And, of course, though Gary W. Evans, professor of human ecology at Cornell University was quoted in a Washington Post article about more research along these lines, as saying, “We know low socioeconomic status families are under a lot of stress—all kinds of stress.  When you are poor, when it rains it pours,” when this stress happens, our “character”-building cultural norms would simply minimize this as if it’s simply among the normal imperfections of life that everyone deals with.  When you consider that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of the word stress, in this sense, is, “a factor that induces bodily or mental tension,” it might seem only natural to figure that if you’re suffering from depression after experiencing several factors that induced bodily or mental tension, then you’re not really a devastated victim, so you should just take some medication.  Yet now, people seem more willing to treat 34,000,000 American adults suffering from serious depressive disorders, as a social problem rather than as just 34,000,000 American adults needing to take medication.

The threshold of human endurance, is the hidden element.  Right now, if you were in the middle of a traumatic experience of a sort that contributes to our rampant depression, then chances are that if you discussed this with those you know, while they may see the seriousness of it, the bottom line would always be, “That’s just the way life goes sometimes.  You’ll just have to courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t.”  All of our revered and respected institutions, also, would have no idea what actually does contribute to our rampant depression.  Things would look very different if this element were no longer hidden!

The financial meltdown of 2008 would have led to the sort of helplessness that tends to be taken as a given.  On September 17, 2008, we had a run on the bank, with Americans pulling nearly $150,000,000,000 out of their money-market accounts and putting it into treasuries, which paid no interest but were safe.  In an article in the September 19, New York Times, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, was quoted to have said about a meeting that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke (an expert on the Great Depression) and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. (whom another NYT article called a “hard-charging former Wall Street deal maker,” and whom a 2006 BusinessWeek article, “Mr. Risk Goes to Washington,” called, “one of the key architects of a more daring Wall Street, where securities firms are taking greater and greater chances in their pursuit of profits.”) gave for some Congresspeople to warn of what could have happened if the government didn’t bail out the desperate financial institutions, “When you listened to him describe it you gulped.”

Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said about this meeting, “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”  When he described the meeting as “somber,” Dodd cut in, “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words.  We have never heard language like this.”

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

All of this, was the result of a few decision-makers in banks deciding to make unsafe loans, followed by a few people in the financial markets panicking and acting as if the rate of default on home mortgages were a lot higher.  If the federal government hadn’t stepped in, who knows how bad the economy could have gotten?  However bad it got, whoever was hurt by it would simply have had to deal with their own problems.  Any resulting helplessness, after all, would be “just the way that life goes sometimes,” not some authority figure who thinks he knows what’s best for you.  Stupidity on the part of higher-ups in financial companies didn’t constitute victimization, victimhood, and even if it did, that wouldn’t win you anything in the real world.  Only effort leading to success would. 
If you held yourself responsible for your own success or failure, you’d be more likely to succeed: more confident that you had the opportunity to succeed if you were good enough, and more resourceful in finding ways in which you could change the only person you can, yourself.  As part of the mentality that led to the market meltdown, Reagan said that “The 10 most dangerous words in the English language” are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”  One could now say that the 11 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I want to fix you, and I’m here to help.”  Probably the most effective way for terrorists to attack us would be to get jobs in Wall Street and then screw up the economy.  We’d never dream of torturing them to get evidence, and they could always defend themselves by saying that no one could really prove that their intent was malicious so we should stop acting like their victims.  If they came up with new financial innovations, then we’d have to accept that innovations, along with all the other products of freedom, are sacrosanct.  If we mollycoddled the weak who were hurt by this then we’d be enabling weakness, etc.

A victim who testified at Madoff’s sentencing hearing on June 29, 2009, said about the SEC and FINRA, “They were willing to relax all regulations that would have uncovered his fraud.  The justification for relaxing the regulations was to ease the burdens on Wall Street firms, the very firms that bankrupted the world economy.”  Yet this could be justified with the same pragmatism that would justify, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference....  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  That is, that people are motivated to do what they’re motivated to do, and realism means accepting this fact.  This could mean not burdening those on Wall Street as they do what they’re motivated to do, or accepting that those impacted by hardship, sinfulness, etc., are far more motivated to resolve the problems than are those who caused them.  There could very easily be no limits to such realism, since as long as those who are powerful enough to cause the problems, cause them, we must arrange things so that they’ll cause fewer of them, and/or those who are motivated to solve the problems, would.

Sure, the judge who sentenced Madoff called what he did “extraordinarily evil,” but even he could find plenty of excuses, such as that his fund wasn’t originally intended to be a scam, that his making it a scam was done out of desperation.  As he testified during his sentencing hearing, “Although I may not have intended any harm, I did a great deal of harm.  I believed when I started this problem, this crime, that it would be something I would be able to work my way out of, but that became impossible.”  Since what he did was a crime, we don’t have to accept that.  Yet when someone causes the sort of helplessness that contributes to our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., but there’s no way to fight back legally, you could bet that the excuses regarding why what he did was understandable, would seem to be an all-important source of serenity for the victims.  The basic idea of psychoanalysis is that it’s very easy to believe what one wants to without consciously choosing to do so, and when one subconsciously makes himself believe what he wants, that really isn’t evil, even if he’s very bad at reality-testing when he really wants to believe something.

 

             

 

Pat Buchanan, in a syndicated column in 1977, wrote, “...despite Hitler’s anti-Semitic and genocidal tendencies, he was an individual of great courage...  Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone.  His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.”  The “defects of character” stressed by AA’s Big Book, resentment anger and fear in general, are the same as what Buchanan and Hitler meant by “character flaws,” i.e. not handling one’s own problems (whatever they may be) with enough stolid and self-reliant backbone.  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” as well as, “Whatever your problem is, courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t,” also define “character flaws” as supposed weakness masquerading as morality.

Niebuhr was a hell-raiser, before Stalinism made him fatalistic about human nature.  Yet if any organization preaches the Serenity Prayer at people, the final result would be the same, that self-reliant STRENGTH seems good, and weakness that tries to get persuasive strength from emotion and/or abstractions seems intolerably bad.  Both, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” and, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” say that übermensch human nature must be taken as a given, and untermensch human nature is to be feared as insidiously WILLFUL.  As the history of The AA School of Self-Help Psychology shows, Nazism, minus anti-Semitism and committing outrageous aggression, equals taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as you’d have it.

The homepage of the Mental Illness—What a Difference a Friend Makes website, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says, “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about one in four adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.”  As the title suggests, this website is about getting the friends of the 26.2% of the American adult population, to support these people rather than stigmatizing them.  The ways in which one friend treats another, is one of the few sociological factors of this huge social problem, that we could honorably take seriously.  If we take the other sociological factors seriously, we could seem to be trying to manipulate like untermenschen, and/or to restrict the übermenschen.

Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, by John H. Greist, MD and Thomas H. Greist, MD, says, “According to National Institutes of Mental Health figures, 20,000,000 people or approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a serious depressive disorder in any given year.”  To say that as doctors treat the million of Americans who suffer a serious depressive disorder in any given year, they should know this rate since it would help the doctors treat each individual as if their depressions simply are their problems, completely ignores the fact that this involves an unnaturally high rate of helplessness, happening to millions of people, year in and year out.  Millions are at stake.

 

 

A webpage for Zoloft says, “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults,” a statistic that seems pretty typical.  Also typical is that this is preceded by, “Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition,” as if “character flaw” means the literal weakness of devastated people who don’t seem to be trying hard enough rather than the moral character flaws of those who devastated them.  Typical attitudes towards this social problem, are: “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, and that’s simply among those biological illnesses that are parts of the natural order,” “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, so these 34,000,000 American adults should take antidepressants, or learn to have optimistic outlooks,” “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, and the question that we should ask about this is whether it consists of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, or 34,000,000 rather severe weaknesses of character,” “Sure, depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, but everyone knows that we must accept the helplessness that this culture regards as normal, since all must deal with the normal vicissitudes of life,” and, “If you care a lot that depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 American adults, something must be wrong with you.”

 

When you’ve seen ads and other guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “So how am I supposed to fit in with all this?  Such a high rate of depression can’t be only natural!  This can’t just be brushed aside!  If the public knew about this, it would be pretty hard for people to insist that of course everyone accept and deal with what causes it, and that if they don’t, that’s victimology, self-righteousness, resentment, whining, excuses, manipulative machinations, etc.!  We could even say that we hold these truths to be self-evident, in that people would naturally be aware of what’s wrong with what causes rampant depression, if only they weren’t culturally conditioned to believe that these are just life’s inevitable imperfections so something’s wrong with them if they don’t adjust to them!  A true awareness of how unnatural are both this and what causes it, would be the ultimate 

“If I should soon experience the sort of trauma that contributes to this, would the unenlightened be seeing my character as the weak one?  And would the more enlightened people see what happened to me as if it’s just one of those diseases that sometimes happen?  Every society’s culture has norms which determine what its conformists regard as adequate or inadequate.  According to these norms, the level of helplessness that produces that level of depression is what seems normal, which characters seem too weak to deal with that reality, etc.  Depression is the only dread disease of which many of the causes seem sacrosanct.  If enough research were done to prove these causes, and enough people knew the results, then it would be hard for anyone, even an all-American military type, to say explicitly, ‘Sure, what’s happening to you is the sort of thing that’s been proven to contribute to our rampant depression, but everyone knows that when that sort of thing happens to you, you’re just going to have to deal with it.’  Victim correctors only want addicts’ kids, etc., to be more self-efficacious, serene, etc.  What’s in question is ENDURABILITY, which couldn’t possibly be called theoretical, utopian, Quixotic, philosophical, eggheaded, cosmic, manipulative, etc., or even expendable.  Naturally, most people tend to believe in ideas that inspire gutsy optimism, and disbelieve in ideas that inspire whiny pessimism, and to believe that the millions of Americans with depression are simply suffering from deficiencies of Vitamin P, feels a lot better than does realizing how this is a social problem!  If I really do care how scary this rate of depression is, it would be me who’d seem scary, because of all the untermensch victim-power I’d have.  Everyone knows that what’s at fault, is inside the millions of victims.  No one has an inalienable right to endurability.  This sounds like just the sort of heroic but vapid belief system that conservatives would think that we’d want to believe in, but faith in what causes rampant depression isn’t the sort of thing that people would naturally want to believe in!

“Apropos of that norm, how much lowering of that unnaturally high rate of depression would seem centrist, and how much would seem radical?

On one hand you have the psychological advisors and other pragmatists who are very aware of how important fitting in always is, and on the other you have natural human feelings.

All this serves to deter people from getting what they want in “mollycoddle,” rather than “red-blooded,” ways.  This is all very systematic.  As the Philadelphia Grand Jury report on their Archdiocese’s enabling of pedo-priests put it,

The bottom line always seems to be that strong equals good, or at least excusable or defendable, and weak equals bad or at least suspect.  The more powerless that you are, the more that you must serenely accept, and the more courage that you’d need to change what you must, so the more likely it is that you’d seem inadequate, maybe manipulative.  No matter how much the person who caused the problem is acting helpless and evading responsibility about it, the victim is the only one who’d be told seriously, “You’d better stop acting helpless and start taking responsibility,” since for him to take responsibility would be self-help and self-empowerment, while moral responsibility is moral, both preachy and naïve.  It seems that action is good, analysis is bad, so the stronger you are, the better you’ll look.  Of course, what Gandhi called truth-strength, Satyagraha, wouldn’t count, and might even seem scary, since that would seem analytical, abstract, guilt-based, potentially manipulative, etc.  The logic that winning through strength is honorable while winning through assertively standing up for one’s own rights is at least suspect, is basically Nazi, but assertiveness could very easily be labeled as a manifestation of hidden SELF-WILL, resentful and/or manipulative.

 

 

Functioning in a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., could be a lot like functioning while one has cancer that hasn’t reached a debilitating level.  Even one who has such a cancer has to provide for himself and take care of certain things in order to keep functioning, day after day.  (There is no alternative.)  Such a person would also want to live a normal and respectable life as possible, and would rather be thinking about “getting on with life” than about the possibility that his cancer treatment won’t work.  He’d also want to be optimistic that it would work.  If the cancer isn’t debilitating, the only reason why a cancer patient wouldn’t function would be his feelings, and of course pathetic feelings are immaterial.  Cancer, and leading a normal life despite it, are fairly common in his society, and doing what “everyone knows” is that common, must be what’s right.  Sure, we could ban certain things that can be proven to cause cancer, but so many cancers don’t have a clear cause that they could seem to be among those problems that are basically inevitable, so we’ll simply have to accept them.  (If you try too hard to find and eliminate the causes, this could cause the sort of pro-freedom backlash that a study showing that large doses of saccharine could cause cancer, caused in the 1970s leading up to the Reagan Revolution.)  Those who cause the cancer that wouldn’t have happened naturally are private companies, not government, so this isn’t real oppression.  This would all seem only natural, since the cancer patient would have internalized it from his culture.  When you consider how many cancer patients aren’t “dysfunctional,” it really isn’t surprising that so many people without cancer keep functioning productively even when they’re among the more helpless in a society with rampant depression, since they, also: must provide for themselves and take care of certain things, would want to lead respectable lives, would want to be optimistic, couldn’t let pathetic feelings disable them, would figure that this is the way that all the mentally healthy people around them deal with their own problems, would likely figure that the question of blame is ambiguous pointless and anti-freedom, and wouldn’t treat the privately-caused rampant depression as real oppression, and this would seem only natural.  If cancer patients could live like this, anyone could.

According to the Serenity Prayer school of psychology, the fact that the person who has the problem, would simply be held response-able for dealing with it by courageously changing what he could and serenely accepting what he couldn’t, would be a fait accompli.  It’s pretty safe to say that there’s always an out, in that if the person who has the problem wants to be well-adjusted and non-passive, then she’ll see how what caused the problem is at least excusable, and how much she plays an active role.  Right now, the market is glutted with victim correction.  The most basic thing that a society needs is homeostasis, so whatever serves it has to seem good, and whatever hinders it has to seem bad.  This is our unconditional everyday coping skills.

 

Our natural senses should really be attuned to avoiding what causes rampant depression, since, no matter how much our folkways equate goodness with red-blooded strength, what causes rampant depression really doesn’t naturally feel right.

In fact, probably anthropologists could find out how the conformists of each different kind of society that has rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would fill in the blank in the following: “Oh well, we’re just going to have to accept what causes our rampant devastation; that’s ________.”  In modern Western societies this would be “life” and/or “human nature,” though rampant devastation obviously isn’t a natural part of life.  In theocracies, this would be “God’s will,” though obviously God wouldn’t want rampant devastation.  In Communist countries, that would be blamed on pretty much whatever suits them.  In others, such as the Dobu in the South Pacific, who have no problems attacking each other, that would be blamed on whatever suits their norms and beliefs.  And, in the end, conformists’ faith in their attributing the causes to what they attribute them to, wouldn’t depend on coercion from the thought police or inquisitions.  If you don’t accept what life, human nature, God’s will, etc. are, then something is very wrong with you.  That’s all that conformity needs, even conformity to rampant devastation.  And in societies with rampant devastation, conformity to these expectations that we choose to be well-adjusted is so crucial, that halfway measures (or even 9/10 measures) will avail us nothing.  Deviants, on the other hand, could seriously question their own societies’ rampant depression.  Since destruction is all too easy, truly responsible people would reject anything that significantly contributes to rampant devastation, no matter how strongly their cultural norms say that accepting it is responsible and rejecting it is irresponsible.  Right now, it may seem only natural to respond to one’s own society’s having rampant depression, by figuring that the millions affected had better take antidepressants and/or learn to think right.  Yet a society could take to that sort of “solution” for only so long, especially since, if the socially-sanctioned causes aren’t addressed, they could only get worse.  Since AA founder Bill Wilson was a stockbroker, and the Big Book was written during the Great Depression, AA-style self-help is basically a stockbroker lecturing those living in the Great Depression that they should just take response-ability for their own welfare, and stop whining.

 

 

Sure, as Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace,” but since this ain’t going to happen in the material world, the victims had better get their serenity through inner peace.  Most people try to fit in with what’s honored in their own societies, and if that means “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference....  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” then that’s what it means.  It would seem very trendy to expect someone to believe, “My strife is all in my head, and depends on my thinking counterproductive thoughts, so I’ll  choose not to feel the strife,” but very un-trendy to expect someone to believe, “My desires that cause others trouble are all in my head, and depend on my thinking counterproductive thoughts, so I’ll  choose not to feel those desires,” though both of these are true, for the same reasons.  If, instead, those in our society felt uneasy about blaming the victims, just imagine how many of our problems wouldn’t be solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them effectively!  No matter how you blame victims, just because you blame them doesn’t mean that they have to feel guilty or insulted or overpowered, etc.

Of course, it’s very easy to figure that this rampant depression is just one of many realities that we must deal with, so if we truly do care about this then that’s just our own whiny and deviant opinion, until we remember that:

and that depressive disorders affecting 34,000,000 American adults, is quite a lot of be immersed in!  In the light of this rampant depression, most of our conflicts look different.  If science were able to demonstrate which of our problem realities that our culture says are “just the way that life goes sometimes,” are really beyond the threshold of human endurance, that would be the ultimate natural and objective accountability.

 

 

Manic-Depressive Illness, Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, by Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin and Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, says, in its chapter on personality differences, “Character has been defined as ‘personality evaluated’—that aspect of an individual which bears a moral stamp and reflects the person’s integrative and organizing functions.  The concept of character is employed less frequently in the United States than in Europe, although it is often used interchangeably with that of personality.”  Actually, the word character is used plenty in the United States, whether it be in comments on depression or from the likes of Pat Buchanan and Frank Buchman, to pass judgment on how integrated and organized are traumatized people.  After all, such judgments aren’t moralisticSomeone absolutely has to provide our society’s homeostasis, since things simply have to remain integrated and organized.

As Paul Gilbert’s Depression, the Evolution of Powerlessness says, ‘Once we recognize that depression and anxiety are innate potentials and not the result of malfunctioning “organs” (at least in the majority of cases) then our conceptualisation of depression changes.  To give one example, in aggressive groups, primates at the bottom of the hierarchy are tense and anxious and this is self-protective and adaptive.  Evolution is unconcerned with individual happiness and our expectations that humans should be happy is a human construct.’  That rate of depression certainly doesn’t indicate that it largely results from either genetic chaos, disorder, or the extreme end of a normal range.  So why do we treat the victims as if The Problem is that inside of them, they have depressive or anxiety disorders?”

It seems that naturally the solution to this is medicating these millions of Americans, mega-medication.  Seeing rampant depression like this, has become our conditioned reflex.  Some things are so banal, that they’re very profound.  What could seem to be attempts to re-engineer übermensch human nature would seem scary, whereas not only would chemically re-engineering untermensch human nature not seem scary, but resistance to this would seem insidious.  Or some problems could be solved through cognitive therapy along the lines of The Serenity Prayer, though Niebuhr wrote skeptically in The Nature and Destiny of Man, in the Age of Anxiety, “There will be psychiatric techniques which pretend to overcome all the anxieties of human existence and therefore all its corruptions.”

Dr. Fredrick Goodwin, in his speech about young men in the ghettoes running around like monkeys in the jungle, said that violence in ghettoes should be remedied by treating five-year-old ghetto kids who show irascible tendencies, as if these are dangerous incipient violent tendencies.  “You are going to leverage it through individuals, not through large social engineering of society,” so pragmatism would correct their brain chemistries whether they’re unusually monkey-like or not.  Sure, Eliot Spitzer said on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, on March 22, 2009 about Wall Street, “...it’s kind of odd, because everybody derided leverage in public, but in private, participated to the hilt,” though Dr. Goodwin obviously had no problem with honoring it in public, or even with not setting risk-benefit limits, as long as the leverage is the pragmatism of people taking response-ability for their own welfare.   (Possibly, talk about leverage is like locker-room talk: both sound offensive most of the time, but when it’s time to act gutsy, both seem ideal.)  One could empirically prove that inner-city youth aren’t unusually monkey-like, but one can also empirically prove that correcting these victims through medication “works” the most effectively.  If one goes for whatever has the most leverage, concerns about who or what is to blame, would seem as impractical as finding blame.  Deleveraging, or moderating leverage, in this sense would always seem bad, since we need whatever self-responsibility that would most reliably do what has to get done.  The Great Crash of 2008 showed how dangerous a reliance on inadequately limited leverage could be.  Sure, now leverage seems to be “the L word,” but at one time leverage seemed to be a great way to get a free ride in the name of pragmatism.  (As Henry Paulson testified in 2000 before the Security and Exchange Commission, about allowing investment houses to use more leverage, “[W]e and other global firms have, for many years, urged the SEC to reform its net capital rule to allow for more efficient use of capital.”)  Both leverage in the investment world, and the leverage that comes from re-engineering victims, mean that those who pay the costs are the victims, not the ones who make the real decisions, which is where the dangers come from.  Of course, too much leverage, with aggressive emotions backing it, leads to bubbles that eventually pop, since just because people keep pushing things in a certain direction using leverage, doesn’t make it sustainable.  As Paulson’s On the Brink says, “Leverage works just great when times are good, but when they turn bad it magnifies losses in a hurry.”

Dr. Goodwin’s department of the George Washington University Medical Center, is called the Center on Neuroscience, Medical Progress, and Society, and it’s pretty clear what he’d consider to be the role of society in making progress in solving the problem of our rampant depression.  (Of course, it would seem acceptable to expect friends to give moral support, etc.)  No matter how much society could be proven to have caused a good deal of this depression, the individuals (i.e. the victims) would have the most reliable motivation to solve the problems.

Niebuhr’s favorite theological doctrine was the Doctrine of Original Sin.  Reinhold Niebuhr, a biography, by Richard Wightman Fox, says that in the last half of the 1930s Niebuhr had almost a cult following among young Christians in England, giving a student conference at Swanwick.  Among his fans (not his detractors), a favorite limerick was:

t Swanwick when Niebuhr had quit it
A young man exclaimed “I have hit it!
Since I cannot do right
I must find out tonight
The right sin to commit—and commit it.”

But, of course, if anyone thinks that The Serenity Prayer implies a fatalism about others’ sinfulness, that person would seem to be victim-posturing, whiny, negativist, resentful, etc.  Quite possibly because of the financial effects of the Vietnam war, a.k.a. “governemnt spending,” that’s exactly what our culture is now so concerned about protecting us from.

The Fine Art of Propaganda, A Study of Father Coughlin’s Speeches, Father Coughlin being a fascist priest in depression-era America, quotes Propaganda Analysis for January 1, 1939, as saying about the propaganda of diverse fascist groups, “All sing the same tune—words and music by Adolf Hitler, orchestration by Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels... It can be sung with variations, but always the refrain is ‘Jew!’ and ‘Communist!’”  In the same sense, victim correction as a panacea can be sung with variations, but always the refrain is attributing untermensch attributes to the victims.  Supposedly, they choose to be weak for “fun” and/or profit, make use of their own weaknesses for “fun” and/or profit, don’t try hard enough to deal with their own problems stolidly enough, or otherwise were corrupted by their own weakness.  And if one specific refrain is disproved, it would probably be replaced automatically with another, equally confident and unequivocal, refrain, “for the victims’ own good,” of course, since dealing with their own problems pragmatically would benefit them.

Every zeitgeist comes with moral pressures to enforce its norms.  The moral pressures of the zeitgeist that produces this much depression, involve such things as “personal responsibility,” “self-reliance,” and “pro-freedom.”  If you don’t fit in with this morality, you could therefore seem controlling, manipulative, blame-finding, etc.  Not only that, such conceptions of morality seem to be eternal truths, and one of the most basic goals of Globalism is to make the world accept such “pro-freedom” eternal truths.  To treat the norms behind a lifestyle that causes depressive disorders to affect 34,000,000 American adults, as if they’re eternal truths, really would require a lot of machinations, to hide a lot of genuine truths.  Yet pragmatism would tell everyone that they’d benefit if they ignored these truths, since optimism would make them more likely to succeed in life.

If instead, this were treated as a social problem in the same way that many social movements in the 1960s treated social problems, it would seem very strange to talk about millions of Americans suffering from depression, as millions of Americans who’d better get fixed through antidepressant medication, cognitive therapy, etc.  As Alan Greenspan wrote, in The Age of Turbulence, about conditions in 1975, “Coming off a decade of civil rights and anti-Vietnam War marches, anyone who could have foreseen 9 percent unemployment would have expected massive demonstrations and barricades in the streets, not just in the United States but also in Europe and Japan, where the economic problems were equally severe.”  Certainly the same should go for depressive disorders affecting 34,000,000 Americans, maybe not massive demonstrations and barricades in the streets, but plenty of research about the causes of the rampant depression, and the public caring about what the results indicate about “what everyone knows” that you simply must deal with.

It seems that the helplessness that causes our rampant depression, is just some of the inevitable imperfections of life and/or human nature.

Just imagine what the 1960s would have looked like if, instead, these social movements had said, “If racism, sexism, etc., bother you, then go to a cognitive therapist and learn how to think more optimistically about the opportunities that people have.”  You’d be amazed how many appeals to higher loyalties would seem more moving than would a concern about such rampant depression: expectations that we be pro-freedom, not try to control or restrict others, not seem emotionalist, be forgiving, love an anti-resentment spirituality, be stolidly rock-ribbed, avoid those intellectualist social sciences, etc.

Frankly, when I look at the fact that those who surround us obviously accept such statements that look at that much depression as if The Problem is inside of the millions of sufferers, I think that any of those who accept this, who sees all the space on my website that I’ve devoted to victim correction as a panacea, must think that I’m pretty self-satisfied about my own ideas.  Then I figure that if, someday, these same people saw how real is the social problems that must be causing this, they’d look back to the present and think,

How could we have possibly just accepted such premises as, “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, and this consists of either 34,000,000 rather severe weaknesses of character, or 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions.”?

              

William Ryan, in his definitive Blaming the Victim from 1971, wrote, “As a result, there is a terrifying sameness in the programs that arise from this kind of analysis,” and since this has become even more anti-intellectualist and low-budget, it’s become even more of a panacea—predictable, simplistic and anti-analytical.  Reductionism reduces distractions.  And the Reagan era was proud of this moral bankruptcy; the great patriotic song that arose during the Reagan era begins by saying, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I worked for all my life,” because “they” took them away, I’d just buck up and deal with this.

 

This is pedophile Dr. George Reardon, while in an ethics hearing in 1993, listening to two of his victims testifying.  He was the one who died in 1998, but in 2007, 50,000 to 60,000 slide photographs and about 100 movies of kiddie porn, was discovered hidden in a wall of a house in which he had lived, most of which he took of kids from when he was in medical school, and working for Hartford’s Saint Francis Hospital.  One could say that in this picture, he showed a great fear of victim-power.  Sure, local police Detective Frank Fallon said, “Reardon has the potential to go down in the history of the United States of America as one of the biggest monsters in this genre,” but that didn’t stop him from feeling afraid.

 

 

 he Tragedy of Victim Correction as a Panacea~

 

 

As the above says, this is Al-Anon approved literature, for Alateen.  You couldn’t make this stuff up!  Persuading people to think like this works best with Groupthink, but if you, on your own, must deal with a devastating reality in order to fit in and function, then you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and our self-responsible cultural norms (“Everybody knows that The Serenity Prayer is good.”) would provide the Groupthink.  As Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop?, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, in a survey of addicts’ family members, “...the words that everyone used were powerfully negative: ‘devastating,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘horrible’.”  Yet no concerns that would interfere with the victims’ self-responsibility could matter, since in the long run, caring about them would only mollycoddle and weaken the people who’d have to take care of themselves optimally.  Victim-blaming is incentives-based.  George Vincent wrote, “To survive growing up in an alcoholic family is second only to surviving the Holocaust,” but the big difference is that despite the fears that addicts’ kids feel, they aren’t really in mortal danger, so Buddhists, etc., could say that these fears are only illusions.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called chicken soup for the soul, unconditional serenity and courage.  If that’s stooping to the lowest of the low, then sometimes we’ve got to stoop to the lowest of the low in order to make sure that problems get solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism; “Your righteous objections are only your opinion!” becomes, “Your righteous objections are only your self-righteous, resentful, manipulative, controlling, unpragmatic, whiny, judgmental... opinion, and you simply can’t afford those disgraceful victim attitudes!”

Yet though it might seem only natural to want to feel better by practicing Buddhistic self-discipline and self-re-education, and this doesn’t involve any medication, this is hardly natural.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “We the Living” could very much object to this sort of de rigueur coping with helplessness, Stoically!  Yet though a Marxist mentality of, “Love your brother,” is supposed to degrade the natural human spirit, a requisite mentality of, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t,” mustn’t, or you might have problems coping with reality.  (Everybody loves The Serenity Prayer, right?)  In general, we do revere self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, and don’t revere self-responsibility for how one’s own choices affect others.  Victim-power seems to be the tyranny of helplessness, though, “But look at how helpless I am about what I did!” is the ultimate tyranny of helplessness.

In general, this sort of self-help is cognitive therapy, the modern version of behaviorist psychology, so this can be given the title of behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s classic book, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, pragmatic in such a way that’s far more important than such abstract niceties.  This represents what is good, what most motivates people to do what must get done, which is what those who have the problems should want.  If, instead, the advisee insisted on drawing his own honest well-founded conclusions about what was happening to him, he’d be told that he’d better realize how important it is that he think in whatever ways would maximize his chances of self-reliant success in solving such big problems.  What else could Alateen members, etc., be told, “Go right ahead and fail to deal with your problems adequately.”?

This self-help logic could be used interchangeably for all sorts of problems, including exploitative lovers of every variety, unemployment, and literally even cancer and getting up the mettle to fight it.  Responsibility for one’s own choices means blame, naiveté, and controlling (As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, “The power necessary to control the wicked is the danger, not the wicked,” and chances are that most of what contributes to our very unnaturally high rate of depression, isn’t even truly malicious.), while response-ability for one’s own problems means self-reliance, realism, and freedom.  Claiming, “You caused your own problem,” makes Victim Correction as a Panacea sound the most justifiable, while, “You’ve simply got to take response-ability for your own welfare, your own problem,” is the fallback position, since all problems must get taken care of.  The self-help formula for conflict resolution is for general public consumption, and it works.  If such sophistry weren’t so predictable and absolutist, just think of how often people could: lose faith, play the victim role, not do what needs to get done (by those most motivated to do it), etc.  Like Sarah Palin, this has both the appeal of going rogue, and the appeal of conformity.  America’s latest, most trendy, patriotic song begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.  And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.”

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, can really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter, including one to an addict’s family member, would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

This was the original middle-class going rogue with conformity.  As It Can’t Happen Here says, “Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious—than America,” and devotion to anything that would imply, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would require obsequiousness of Biblical proportions.  The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.

 

 

Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.

 

 

As far as self-help is concerned, the bottom line is that you’re simply going to have to deal with your own problem whatever it may be, and expectations that one simply deal with normal problems are interchangeable with expectations that one simply deal with an addict in the family.  “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.  For anyone in trouble, this would be: self-help, self-responsibility, self-care, self-protection, self-actualization, self-empowerment, etc.  As any conservative social analysis would say, you, that teen who looks like Archie, etc. could think productively, or think counterproductively (though if you’re the problem person, then probably we’ll just have to accept your counterproductive thinking, since people aren’t perfect and we mustn’t try to re-engineer human nature).  The effects of “Archie’s” dad’s actions are short-term (since others are motivated to resolve them), but the effects of Archie’s reactions are long-term (since others aren’t).  Twisting reality in “positive” ways is realistic, since it increases people’s chances of success.  Archie’s non-addicted parent (who’d really have to have a Gelassenheit “productive” attitude, what with all that she must do to make her family as normal as possible), has just as much autonomy as does the typical adult, since addicts’ power over others is physical, not authoritarian. 

In general, motivation is everything; irrespective of moral responsibility, addiction or lack of it, etc., the only personal responsibility that we could count on is one in which those held responsible for problems are those motivated to take responsibility.  Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, says, “The [conservative] movement swallowed whole the quack doctrine of supply-side economics, adopting it with almost comically ferocious zeal,” and self-help, also, must follow this pattern, since in a gutsy and as-uncompromising-as-reality fashion, it holds that no matter how much others are responsible for your problems: if you win you win and if you lose you lose, that’s what’s realistic (what most reliably works), and that stupidity is a virtue in the name of freedom.  (We all know where intellectualism leads.)  Idiot America also says about a Cuban-American refugee who worked with AIDS patients in the early 1980s, “The situation reminded her a little of the way things had worked in Cuba, where the government would tell you something that you knew from your own experience could not possibly be true, yet people seemed willing to believe that it was, and to act upon that belief, until the manufactured reality displaced the actual one [which is also the classic definition of brainwashing, washing the brain of “bad attitudes”].  She felt she was working in parallel worlds.  There was the world of the disease, and of the people who had it; and then there was another world, in which everything was a symbol and in which her patients stood for something,” and one could say the same thing about this sort of self-help, where there’s the world of what people like Archie must actually deal with, and then there’s the world of what they symbolize: our duties regarding the never-ending virtues and necessity of response-ability for one’s own welfare, which shape what we should believe irrespective of what we’ve learned from experience, e.g. that Archie looks at himself.  (Marxism applies how cultural conditioning works, to shaping “the ideal society,” right?)

 

 

It’s amazing which moral norms could (i.e. must) seem less important than whether or not the person with the problem is doing what’s necessary for him to overcome it successfully.  That seems good; “whining” seems bad.  What’s most important in practical terms, might go very much against what we’d like to believe is important.  Banalities get things done.  Realism is the ultimate mandate.  This is the sort of Populism that H. G. Wells called “magnificent stupid honesty,” adamantly anti-manipulative-morality, so this sort of supposed populism would adamantly accept what causes 15% of the adult population to suffer serious depressive disorders in any given year.  (This “honesty” often has big unintended consequences, but could seem all-important.)  “Stop doing that, since it’s judgmental and controlling!” would probably make you at least hesitant, but, “Stop doing that, since that sort of thing has been proven to contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders!” would probably seem judgmental and controlling to you.  If this weakness-anathematizing conception of personal responsibility weren’t that absolutist, plenty of problems wouldn’t get resolved well enough, yet the fact that this is that absolutist, is pretty scary.  (Yet, the fact that so many stupid and reckless people got such important jobs on Wall Street, shows that even this very costly way of motivating winning could fail in very important ways, though they could always be excused as “inevitable human imperfection.”)  Sure, on Larry King Live on August 11, 2009, economist Ben Stein said, “Big government is a terrifying subject” (i.e. the kind that you could openly and proudly get terrified about), but you don’t dare say, “Big depression is a terrifying subject,” even if you’ve been there, or, “Big Wall Street greed is a terrifying subject.”  Also, on an interview on a Christian radio network, Stein said, “...science leads you to killing people.”  Magical thinking like this could seem more acceptable to economists, since they could always figure that consequences don’t really matter, since those who have the problems are always motivated to solve them; that “works.”  Self-help’s conception of which freedoms, self-determination, personal rights and responsibilities, etc., do, and which don’t, seem to matter, sounds like something right out of The Communist Manifesto (and certainly plenty of others in the 19th Century noticed this, too), “...in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade,” and since someone must take responsibility for the consequences of adversarialism, “self-responsibility” must mean that in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered forms of personal responsibility, we have set up that single, unconscionable personal responsibility—response-ability for one’s own problems.  (A better word than freedom might be right, i.e., “I have a right to expect something better!”  “No, the only right that you have is to become a winner by protecting yourself better, with proud self-reliance!”)

 

 

 

 

In fact, though we’re supposed to take addictive behavior as a given since addiction is a disease, the law certainly doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity, one can’t be brought out of real legal insanity through “hitting bottom” or an intervention.  Addicts’ family members, who can’t change them, must minimize their responsibility and magnify the responsibility of their own reactions, but the law, which can change most addicts with whom it comes into conflict, doesn’t have to minimize and magnify.  As the publishers’ notes of Gene M. Heyman’s Addiction: A Disorder of Choice says, “He shows that the causes of addiction, its control, and its potential reduction are the same as the causes, control, and reduction of all voluntary behavior.”  (Certainly you could imagine what would result if someone said at an Al-Anon meeting, “But when he relapsed, it was because he got angry and chose to, not because he saw something that triggered a compulsion to drink!  That means that my objections are legitimate!” or even, “But the person who caused this problem, whom I can’t change, isn’t addicted!”)  Yet whether or not addiction is involved, you could always find some sophistry to make courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t seem legitimate, and ignore any facts that would disrupt this pragmatism; form follows function.   This, also, could be called “pragmatic logic,” applicable to any realities that contribute to our rampant depression.  Both an acceptance of an addiction, and an acceptance of aggressive human nature, are fatalism about unrestrained desires, what the pleasure centers of our brains make us do, etc.  What works for AA is what works for addicts, i.e. for addictive personalities, which would single-mindedly insist on: excuses to do what one pleases, stopping righteous indignation and “controlling,” etc.  The more that we serenely accept übermensch, active, imperfections, the more that we can’t afford to accept the untermensch, passive, imperfections of those hurt by them, and who, therefore, must deal with them in order not to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  If this wasn’t as simplistic and resolute as Reagan, their awareness that they’re victims would leave them both too weak by feeling helplessness and making unrealistic expectations, and too strong in that they could insidiously get the benefits of victimhood.

 

 

Your realities are whatever they are, and either you deal with them or you suffer the consequences.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU.  To paraphrase a Catholic riddle: “What’s the difference between a victim corrector and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.”  As pioneering behaviorist John B. Watson wrote, “The raw fact that you, as a psychologist, if you are to remain scientific, must describe the behavior of man in no other terms than those you use in describing the behavior of the ox you slaughter, drove and still drives many timid souls away from behaviorism,” and the only real difference between behaviorism and cognitive therapy is that it credits humanity with self-control abilities that animals don’t have, such as the ability to choose to serenely accept hardship and sinfulness; training people who are motivated to be trained is a lot easier.  (This self-control would benefit the person who serenely accepts the hardship, sinfulness, etc. that he’s helpless to change, whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted. )  As Paul Krugman wrote, “The truth is that good old-fashioned demand-side macroeconomics has a lot to offer in our current predicament—but its defenders lack all conviction, while its critics are filled with a passionate intensity,” and one could say the same for debates between those who stress personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choices, which could usually be called “blaming,” “guilt-based,” “controlling,” etc., and the gutsy people who stress red-blooded personal response-ability for one’s own welfare, which could always be called “self-help,” “self-empowerment,” “realism,” etc.  As the Great Crash of 2008 shows, some things will never change.

 

THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.

♦♦♦♦♦

 

Sure, Rush Limbaugh is more unpopular than Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, and conservatives could be afraid that such aggressiveness looks “ugly” to the public.  Yet, especially if you’re in big trouble, if you thought like Limbaugh and the other attack politicians then you’d face up to your problems more serenely and courageously, and we dare not care how profoundly ugly is coaching Archie, etc., into having attitudes of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  Victim Correction as a Panacea, is Gelassenheit and similar all-encompassing attitudes about physical response-ability for one’s own problems, exactly what a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would most need.

Sure, Niebuhr wrote that he was shocked about Buchman’s admiration of Hitler, though The Serenity Prayer summarizes the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation:   As with a panacea, we must see the entire world in terms of the ineradicable SELF-WILLS of the sinful, the ignominious and surreptitious SELF-WILLS of victims who don’t represent their own bad experiences to themselves as being as innocuous as possible (“Those manipulative whiners want to believe that someone owes them something!”), and, therefore, our responsibility to do this.  Niebuhr wrote that Buchman’s faith that dictators, business tycoons, etc., should use their power to push Christianity, vapidly ignored how realpolitik would affect the outcome, “The slightest acquaintance with the history of Christian thought on the problem of the relation of the absolute demands of the gospel to the relativities of politics and economics would prove its childishness,” but the same could also be said about applying a simplistic sloganeering spirituality to the situations that contribute to our rampant depression.  It isn’t possible to get any more vapid than,“Serenely accept everything that happens to you in a society with rampant depression, that you’re helpless to change.”

The wave of the future, the “new economy” of self-responsibility, requires that we want to be responsible members of society, take response-ability for our own welfare.  With that approach you’d be more likely to succeed, and that’s good, maybe irreplaceable.  Your natural objections to this would be counterproductive (though you’re free not to hold others personally responsible by these standards, as long as you hold yourself responsible by them).  The same would go for minimizing any “whiny” lessons we might learn from the Great Crash of 2008.  If we can’t change wretched excesses on Wall Street but can change victims’ not fixing the consequences adequately, then either we correct the victims or we’ll have a dysfunctional society.  Since we simply must solve our problems, our perceptions must be distorted in order to fit in with this; there is no alternative.

 

 

(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)

 

 

 

Nothing can drive anyone away from this sort of cognitive therapy, just as nothing can drive Archie away from his unconditional and immoderate, contrived serenity and courage, though Gelassenheit is very unnatural social engineering.  In self-help books about codependency, stories in which the problem spouses are addicted are absolutely interchangeable with stories in which the problem spouses simply choose to act like buttheads, since in both cases the victims are equally unable to change the victimizers’ behavior.  Whatever you must do to take care of yourself, is whatever you must do to take care of yourself, so you must look at yourself when you’re looking for things that you could correct in order to solve your own problems.  Sure, the Financial Times on March 10, 2009 quoted Bernie Sucher, the head of Merrill Lynch operations in Moscow, as saying, “Our world is broken—and I honestly don’t know what is going to replace it.  The compass by which we steered as Americans has gone.  The last time I ever saw anything like this, in terms of the sense of disorientation and loss, was among my friends [in Russia] when the Soviet Union broke up,” but Americans have been culturally conditioned to serenely accept economic difficulties, and not to accept supposedly manipulative whining about them.  Those with plenty of “personal strength” would tolerate Wall Street Darwinism and its effects.  Archie could “get on with life” since folk wisdom, common sense, says that that’s what everyone must do; everyone could “stick it out.”  (On June 19, 2009 [just before the threatened bloodshed began, “On 9/11 we were all Americans, and tonight we’re all Iranians.”], when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that they were going to crack down on the protests of the election fraud, he said, “If the political elite want to ignore the law or break the law then they are taking wrong measures...,” so dogmatists of all stripes excite their followers by condemning the supposed intellectual elite.)  Archie, and others who are powerless, couldn’t afford the dysfunctionality of feeling disoriented or lost.  Realism requires that this self-responsibility be the lynchpin, so any concern that would conflict with this must be shrugged off.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  We all must adjust to and deal with reality, and others determine what is reality for you, which tends to mean that the strong (whether or not they’re addicted) determine what is reality for the weak.  Resiliency is everything.

 

 

 

Wall Street, August 23, 1929,  “As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief….  That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”—Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008

 

 

That’s why self-help in general tends to admire Al-Anon, The Serenity Prayer, etc., and this self-reliant ethos.  The only thing that really matters is what you do and don’t have the power to change.  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems.  Since Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA who wrote much of their Big Book, was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depression, one could call this The Great Depression Stockbroker’s Approach to Self-Responsibility; we’d have to be firm with those victims and whiners who object to productivity that involves strong character, such as “creative destruction,” and, “Your problem is your problem.”  The economist who, just after the Great Depression, came up with the concept of creative destruction, Joseph Schumpeter, also wrote during the Depression that recovery from it, “is sound only if it [comes] of itself.  For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustment of its own which has to be liquidated in turn, thus threatening business with another [worse] crisis ahead.”  Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money says that Maestro Alan Greenspan, in an interview, “had an abstract fervor for the glories and potentials of creative destruction,” and, in the abstract, saying that alkies’ teens, etc., should have an attitude of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” sounds just as proudly productive.

 

 

 

 

For More On Correcting Archie,
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“There have been too many suave statements that reassure nobody, too many empty platitudes, too great a lack of frankness and realism, too much of an attitude of trying to whistle in the graveyard at midnight.”—Stock Exchange President Richard Whitney, September 17, 1930

 

“[Whistleblower Hugh Sloan] and his wife believed in the same things they had before they came to Washington.  Many of their friends at the White House did, too, but those people had made a decision that you could still believe in the same things yet adapt yourself.”—Woodward and Bernstein, All the President’s Men  (Even addicts’ family members can’t afford to be maladaptive.)

 

“Can we still be a great nation when, in running for the presidency, it is considered to be politically unwise for a presidential nominee to talk about ‘helping the poor’?  Fritz Mondale certainly learned that reality in spades.  Challenging Ronald Reagan in 1984 on the issue of ‘compassion’ and ‘fairness’ and speaking often of ‘the poor,’ he won only one out of the fifty states.  When John Kerry ran against Bush in 2004, not only, of course, didn’t Bush talk about helping the poor, but I am unaware that Kerry ever once allowed the word ‘poor’ to come out of his mouth, only speaking, over and over again, of his concern for ‘the middle class.’  The closest I ever heard him get to the poor was when he once referred to those ‘aspiring to the middle class.’”—Vincent Bugliosi, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder  (After all, you probably couldn’t prove that any given poor person isn’t responsible for his own poverty, and even if you could, he still must be motivated to try to get out of poverty.  The higher the unemployment and underemployment rates would go, the more people would be in this boat.)

 

 

 

 

As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, from 1932, “Thus, for instance, a laissez faire economic theory is maintained in an industrial era through the ignorant belief that the general welfare is best served by placing the least possible political restraints upon economic activity….  Its survival is due to the ignorance of those who suffer injustice from the application of this theory to modern industrial life but fail to attribute their difficulties to the social anarchy and political irresponsibility which the theory sanctions,” though laissez faire economics works and causes problems for the same reason why, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” works and causes problems, that the person whose welfare is at stake is the person who has the most reliable motivation to do what must get done.  Sure, this leads to those who suffer the injustices attributing them to their own failures in courageously changing what they can and serenely accepting what they can’t, but this is what’s most pragmatic.  Of course, both of these forms of responsibility for one’s own problems would produce plenty of depression anxiety and other grief, but both could still be said to work, in that in practically all cases, your problems are most likely to get solved if you’re the one who’s responsible for solving them, and that should be what you want.

In Atlas Shrugged, Cherryl, a girl working in a small shop, who has Populist attitudes that the rich deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor, marries railroad mogul James Taggart, who has very petty bourgeois attitudes of caring about the poor.  At the end of the chapter “ANTI-LIFE,” one night she gets into an argument with him, he ends up hitting her, and she runs away.  Soon after, she runs into a social worker, who chides her, “It’s a disgrace to come to such a state... if you society girls had something to do besides indulging your desires and chasing pleasures, you wouldn’t be wandering, drunk as a tramp, at this hour of the night... if you stopped living for your own enjoyment, stopped thinking of yourself and found some higher—”, and Cherryl responds by saying, “No!  No!  Not your kind of world!”.  Then, she runs away and kills herself by jumping off a bridge.  Of course, the social worker could have told her plenty of objective facts about what unwilling “losers” have to go through.

One can only wonder how natural it would be to respond to the kind of world that assumes that of course everyone should face up to their own problems with “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” even when that means, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” as in the case of “Archie,” or those who face similar problems caused by people who aren’t addicts, but can’t change them.  In essence, this would be responding to, “So you don’t like what causes our rampant depression and anxiety disorders?  But everyone known that that’s as common and ordinary in our society as depression and anxiety are, and everyone must adjust to what’s common and ordinary!  Why must you whiners indulge your own pity parties, victim power, etc.?” with, “No!  No!  Not your kind of world!”.  How anti-life would that level of de rigueur Stoicism, along with having to do whatever it takes to change what they can, seem?  What with the financial meltdown, plenty of people will be recognizably in this situation.

(This is the heading of the section of Al-Anon’s workbook Blueprint for Progress, Al-Anon’s Fourth Step Inventory, for those who seem to be codependent to take a fearless moral inventory of behaviors, including helpful ones, that are labeled as “controlling.”  Frankly, just about any helpful behavior in a relationship that’s considered codependent, would be considered “controlling,” as in, “Sure, you think that what you’re doing is trying to help, but supposedly trying to help someone is a great way to control him.”  This morality-based “control” is in the same sense of what the Mississippi preacher mentioned by Bobby Kennedy’s administrative aide James Symington, meant by tyranny, “One preacher let me into his church, and told me, ‘You represent a tyranny.’   I said, ‘How do you think black people feel living in Mississippi with no rights?’   He said, ‘Well, it’s better to have a lot of little tyrannies than one big one.’”  Control based on one person having power over another, is only a little tyranny.  Of course, if those driven into depression, anxiety disorders, etc., by such behavior, instead fixed themselves by taking antidepressants, choosing to think positively, eating more omega-3 fatty acids, etc., that wouldn’t seem controlling, anti-freedom, manipulative, resentful, etc.  If you object to sinfulness, that’s really your will-to-power.  One could only ask: if control, resentment, etc., really were character defects so the person who had them got bad karma, what would be the learning experience that he’d get to teach him what’s wrong with them, that he be reincarnated as an SOB so he could see what it feels like to be on the receiving end of victim-posturing control tactics?)

 

 

 

 

Just imagine what it would look like if cognitive therapy gave equal time to re-engineering any aspect of human nature that might give us problems:

Of course, the daily reader that’s a part of Al-Anon Conference-Approved literature, Hope for Today, means hope that comes from inside the victims, unconditional serenity or resourcefully making some things better in their own lives, not hope that others would take moral responsibility.  While this is supposedly because the addicts’ addictions are diseases so debilitating that they make the addicts not guilty by reason of insanity, even if the person who caused the problem isn’t addicted to anything, if the victim can’t change his choices, then the victim must serenely accept them.  We’re to have the same faith in this failsafe sort of self-responsibility, that we’d have in any other cultural norms, as if it’s a universal truth that will work forever.

 

Paul Gilbert’s Depression, the Evolution of Powerlessness says that across cultures, “Supportive caring environments with low levels of social threat and which provide a sense of belonging and worth tend to produce happier individuals than environments in which social structures are fragmented and disorganised, cannot provide a sense of belonging and where relationships are marked by suspicion and hostility.”  To socially pressure such unambiguous victims to correct any inadequacies they may have in dealing with their own problems, could qualify as chaotic fragmented disorganized suspicious and hostile, or as supportive caring and uplifting.  Such unconditional self-empowerment would benefit them, and would have enough respect for them not to coddle them.

Ironically, the chapter of Blaming the Victim about the health and mental health concerns of the poor, is titledThe Hydraulics and Economics of Misery.  In psychoanalysis, “hydraulics” actually refers to their idea that human aggressiveness is ineradicable, so like hydraulics, the pressure of one’s aggressive desires keeps building unless it’s released in some way.  Therefore, misery can’t seem to operate like hydraulics.  If both aggressive feelings and hurt feelings were that ineradicable, how could a society get its homeostasis?  If we fatalistically accept aggression, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” then the only way that this society could keep functioning would be, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” and blaming the victims for not doing this expediently enough.

 

 

Something very vital is missing here.

The more research on what causes our rampant depression is done, and becomes known, the easier it would be for those like Jane who’d be accused of engaging in “pity-parties,” not choosing to be as happy as they could be, choosing to be weak so they could somehow use their weakness as manipulative tools, etc.  James Bryce wrote in 1888, in The American Commonwealth, that public opinion is “The master of servants who tremble before it,” and in a society with rampant depression, a lot of that public opinion would qualify as untermensch SELF-WILL.

In fact, if an American did care, to a degree and with a persistence that would be worthy of this social problem, that depressive disorders affect about 34,000,000 American adults, you could bet that he’d be treated as if what he’s supposed to do is NOT CARE.  If he does, plenty of untermensch attributes would be attributed to him, such as: weak, passive, whiny, bitter, resentful, manipulative, insidiously self-interested, counterproductive, troublemaking, controlling, restrictive, blaming, excuse-making, anti-freedom, intellectualist, self-righteous, self-pitying, subjective, unrealistic, immature, negativist, defeatist, melodramatic, emotionalist, and judgmental.

And, naturally, this means...

Certainly you could imagine what would happen if you responded to one of those who figured that naturally you’re simply supposed to adjust to the norms that cause our rampant depression, by saying, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.  Sure, for depressive disorders to affect about 34,000,000 American adults is a very serious social problem, but in order to fit in, you’ve got to minimize the problems around your somewhat.  Therefore, I’ll treat this as if it were just a moderately severe social problem.”  After all, if you could care somewhat, then that would make you somewhat discouraged, maladjusted, thinking like a victim, etc.

There is a terrifying sameness in the blaming of any victims, whether they be the poor, or those in trouble who are to solve their own problems by helping themselves through self-help, including those who don’t seem good enough because they don’t “let go,” “stop blaming others,” “look at themselves,” “try to have hopeful outlooks,” “accept the fact that the world that they see is largely the world they make,” etc., across the board.  The two excerpts from Blaming the Victim that would tell you the most about the current victim correction, are, “All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational,” and, regarding a then-popular belief that poverty is perpetuated by a “culture of poverty” that tells the poor not to try hard enough so if only we eliminated the “culture of poverty” we could eliminate poverty,

A related point—often the most overlooked point in any discussion of the culture of poverty—is that there is not, to my knowledge, any evidence whatever that the poor perceive their way of life as good and preferable to that of other ways of life.  To make such an assertion is to talk pure nonsense.  To avoid making such an assertion is to admit, at least implicitly, that the culture of poverty, whatever else it may be (if, indeed, it is anything more than a catch phrase approximately as respectable intellectually as the concept of The Pepsi Generation) is, in no conceivable sense, a cultural phenomenon.

And, of course, this means only the urban poor; rural poverty wasn’t supposed to come from a culture of poverty, though rural culture is a lot more culture-bound, and a lot of that culture is anti-intellectualist and fatalistic.  Claims that the urban poor had a culture of poverty, said that the urban poor chose poverty due to their supposed cultural norms.  You’d be amazed how much the zeitgeist of the current victim correction as a panacea, attributes a self-defeating or passive-aggressive intent to the victims, such as by, “You’re attracted to trouble, but this is on a subconscious level, so I can’t prove this,” “Sure, what you’re doing right now is situational, is a reaction to or interaction with a serious problem that isn’t your fault, but you still chose to react or interact like this, so this is still your choice,” and, “You could have solved your own problem self-reliantly, but instead you chose to assert your opinion that you were treated unfairly, so that you could guilt-trip people into giving you what you want.  Therefore, you’re a manipulator.”  All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational.

 

 

A great response to such claims would be, “Probably the most overlooked point in self-help arguments about the intent of those who need the help, is that what you see from them really reflects their own self-wills.  One example of this is, ‘[Codependents’] personal histories revealed their need for both the superiority and the suffering they experienced in their “savior” role, and helped me make sense of their addiction to a man who was in turn addicted to a substance.’  So are they sadistic, or masochistic?  Also, this is from Women Who Love too Much, the subtitle of which is, When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change, though if you needed to play the “savior” role, you’d need him not to change.  Whether women or other untermenschen seem masochistic or demanding, they’d still seem just as ignominious.  The Publisher’s Notes end, ‘It means measuring the degree of your “love” by the depth of your torment,’ so deep torment is what all those women seem to perceive as good and preferable to other ways of life.

‘And then there’s, ‘Psychology of Victimhood: Reflections on a Culture of Victims & How Psychotherapy Fuels the Victim Industry.’  Then there’s also the claims that someone seems to have let his problems happen continue or bother him, so he must want to play the victim role.  Therefore, the attributes of what happened to him, are attributed to him as his “choices.”  For example, as that “Victimhood” webpage says, “It has yet to be widely understood that by alleviating all women, minorities, inmates, or any victim, of any and all responsibility to predict, prevent or even, unconsciously, invite abuse, is to reduce them to helpless, incapable creatures, and in-fact, re-victimizes them,” the implications being both that disagreeing with this constitutes ignominious (and possibly mercenary) claims of “victimhood,” and that if any victim doesn’t seem to have done enough to predict or prevent what happened to him, he’d seem to have let it happen.

But what evidence do you have that I deliberately chose the weaknesses that you say I want?  That would mean that I perceive this way of life as good and preferable to that of other ways of life, just as codependents would perceive the ‘savior’ way of life as good and preferable to that of other ways of life (but also keep wishing and hoping that the martyrdom would stop), and that the ‘culture of the victim’ would choose to operate through manipulation and blame.  The supposed ‘culture of victims’ seems even less logical than does the supposed ‘culture of poverty,’ since it’s at least possible for poor people to want to share a pessimistic realism about their limited opportunities.  If you do say that we really did choose such things as being preferable to all the other choices available to us, that would be talking pure nonsense.  If you avoid making that assertion, then that at least implicitly admits that these aren’t really our choices.  Yet I’m sure that you don’t care that ‘the culture of victims’ isn’t anything more than a catch phrase that’s even less respectable intellectually than the concept of The Pepsi Generation, since you probably have more respect for the unconditionally self-responsible AA slogans and catch phrases, than you have for intellectualism.  Chances are that many of those who you’d treat as followers of a ‘culture of victims,’ don’t really tend to play the victim role, but rather, seem “passive” because they failed to do enough to deal with serious realities, maybe by not trying to be stolid and resilient across the board.”

The webpage Psychology of Victimhood: Reflections on a Culture of Victims & How Psychotherapy Fuels the Victim Industry, says in its first paragraph, “While some victims are truly innocent (i.e., the child who is being molested, a victim in the other car in a drunk driving accident), most violence involves some knowledge, familiarity or intimacy between victims and victimizers.” so while the victims of most violence don’t seem innocent since they somehow knew their attackers, molested children do.

The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines impugn as, “to attack by words or arguments : oppose or attack as false or as lacking integrity.”  Doing that to the weak would motivate them to buck up, especially in situations where what’s true or false is ambiguous.  All-American self-reliance along the lines of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, would say that if one person causes a problem for another, impugning the person with the problem would be objective, pragmatic, red-blooded and forgiving, while impugning the person who caused it would be subjective, idealistic, mollycoddle, and judgmental.  (After all, moral responsibility includes so many mitigating factors!)  It’s astoundingly easy to make weak people seem to lack integrity, since their weakness could be blamed on their own desires to slack, manipulate, seek dramatic thrills, etc., deceptively and cunningly, which is why this can’t be proved or disproved.  Criticism of victims’ inadequacies in dealing with their own problems, constitutes self-help advice.  Just look at any self-help book for women in trouble, such as alkies’ wives, and you could see that just about anything could be excused along the lines of, “Oh, well, life isn’t fair, so if you don’t accept this, you’re too screwed-up to accept what life is.”

This is one of Al-Anon’s books, In All Our Affairs: Making Crises Work For You,  That webpage selling this says, “Al-Anon members’ personal stories reveal how applying specific Al-Anon principles helped them through life’s difficult situations.  It includes stories dealing with abuse, death, divorce, violence, infidelity, and more,” dealing with these spiritually.

Reinhold Niebuhr, who inspires millions, thought that people should pray for accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, and taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as they would have it.  If you’re strong then naturally you’d courageously change reality, and if you’re weak then naturally you’d serenely accept reality.  And, since so many Americans are so insistent that The Serenity Prayer is the ideal model of maturity, this is a vital part of our social contract.  As Rousseau wrote in The Social Contract, “Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and the cravings of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations.”  If, when faced with hardship, sinfulness, etc. we lived up to our duty to take personal responsibility for our own problems, instead of listening to our desires that the world be as we’d have it, we’d fit in perfectly.  Sure this is morally bankrupt, but if hardship and/or others’ sinfulness is your unchangeable reality, then if you don’t accept it, shame on you for your dysfunctionally unrealistic expectations.  Some things are so banal, that they’re very profound.

But even if the only part of The Serenity Prayer that one follows is the famous first sentence, that still says that the person who’s responsible for a problem is the person who must change it or his feelings about it, and that this has no limits.  The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines amoral as, “neither moral nor immoral; esp : being outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply,” and, “lacking moral sensibility.”  If when you’re facing a problem, the only question that you can legitimately take seriously is, “Can I change this?” that’s outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply, and lacking moral sensibility.  If your problem involves hardship and/or others’ sinfulness, expecting you to abide by the innocuous-sounding first sentence of The Serenity Prayer, would be the same as expecting you to abide by, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  It would be very difficult to get a rate of depression of 20,000,000/year, without that level of amoralism.  The Serenity Prayer is supposed to be the ultimate self-empowering guide on how to deal confidently and effectively with personal problems, which tells us to become preternaturally calm.

Even regarding problems involving hardship and/or sinfulness ad infinitum, the only strength of character that would be insisted on would be STRENGTH of character.  We can’t care much about others’ sinfulness or anything else we can’t change, but, since all resulting problems must be completely prevented fixed and/or tolerated, we must care about any inadequacies in how stolidly one deals with his own problems.  The stronger you are, the more likely you are to have what’s exciting, pro-freedom, übermensch, red-blooded, self-reliant, etc., on your side.

The “seven propaganda devices” that the Institute for Propaganda Analysis observed in the 1930s being used by those such as fascist Father Charles Coughlin, which were then described in The Fine Art of Propaganda in 1939, were: Name Calling, Glittering Generality, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, Card Stacking, and Band Wagon.  That’s exactly what you’d expect to hear from both attack-politician-style pundits, and the untermensch-phobic victim correction as a panacea.

The Fine Art of Propaganda clearly suggests that the best antidote to propaganda is to ask questions concerning what would be the real, practical effects of what the propaganda is trying to cast in a good light.  For example, telling people that “personal responsibility for one’s own welfare” means courageously changing what one can and serenely accepting whatever one can’t, even when this means, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” could be painted as a failsafe formula for unconditional coping skills.  Yet all you’ve got to do is ask about the effects of that sort of moral bankruptcy, and this could set you free.  Questions are the ultimate form of thinking for yourself.  (However, those who have a stolid definition of manipulation, such as Schopenhauer’s “The concept of good is divided into two subspecies, that of the directly present satisfaction of the will in each case, and that of its merely indirect satisfaction concerning the future, in other words, the agreeable and the useful.  The concept of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case,” would have to believe that for the untermenschen to think for themselves sincerely, is manipulative!)

Even for those familiar with only the first sentence of The Serenity Prayer, where does it allow people to take seriously any moral issues regarding what happens to them?  Abstractions can’t change anything, so they’d only distract you, and seem subjective and possibly manipulative.  Some telling Bible verses are, Matthew: 5:22, 5:39, 5:43-48, 6:9-15, 7:1-3, 18:21-35, and 25:31-36, Mark 11:25, 26, and Luke: 6:27-29, 6:35-38, 15:1-10, 17:3-4, and 23:34, keeping in mind that this isn’t a discriminating judicious toleration of imperfections, but an undiscriminating anti-judgmental intolerance of objections to possibly very objectionable behaviors, where you could be sent to hell for not forgiving “seventy times seven” times (Matthew 18:21-35).

If you want to make sure that you’d want to have faith in ideas about psychology, that were inspired by A.A’s ex cathedra writings, THE ORANGE PAPERS, One Man’s Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous, An Online Book, is a good place to look.  One webpage to look at, especially, is The Funny Spirituality of Bill Wilson and A.A.  You really do have to ask, “Is this really what we want to be in lockstep with?”  Victim correction as a panacea really does have to be that absolutist, since either you’re handling your own problem as pragmatically as you can, or you’re not.  For example, it wouldn’t work to say, “Since I’m not the Fundamentalist type, I’m not going to take your transcendent spirituality literally.  I’m going to use a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ approach to it.”

Barry Minkow, head of the ZZZZ Best Carpet Cleaning company, who admittedly pulled a Ponzi scheme that he now regrets, wrote the chapter “The Psychology of Fraud,” in Stephen G. Austin’s book Rise of the New Ethics Class.  Minkow wrote, “The word character once meant ‘someone with moral or ethical standards.’...  However, a starling new philosophy has emerged from the business (and academic) sector....  This new ethic is called ‘right equals forward motion.’  Best summarized in one word, right equals forward motion is about achievement.”

John Haynes Holmes, who’d been friends with Niebuhr, wrote to him describing his “recent writings... as a tragic instance of intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy.”  The Words Universe webpage on the word “bankruptcy” defines it in the sense of “moral bankruptcy,” as, “a state of complete lack of some abstract property; ‘spiritual bankruptcy’; ‘moral bankruptcy’; ‘intellectual bankruptcy’.”  Where is any morality whatsoever, in “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it”?  Niebuhr broke off from Holmes after he wrote this, yet Niebuhr described the ideology of the Oxford Group/Moral Re-Armament with, “In other words, a Nazi social philosophy has been a covert presumption of the whole Oxford group enterprise from the very beginning.  We may be grateful to the leader for revealing so clearly what has been slightly hidden.  Now we can see how unbelievably naïve this movement is in its efforts to save the world,” “The increasingly obvious fascist philosophy which informs the group movement is in other words not only socially vicious but religiously vapid,” along with, “Its religion manages to combine bourgeois complacency with Christian contrition in a manner which makes the former dominant,” as versus, say, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”

Yet if someone being judged by Niebuhr’s standards called them “a tragic instance of spiritual bankruptcy,” this defiance would be labeled a “pity party.”  (And real men love intellectual bankruptcy.)  The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines syndrome as “a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality,” and in this regard one could call the sort of unconditional self-responsibility that one sees in the self-blame that accompanies modern Western depression, “The Niebuhr Sin-drome.”  Everybody needs a moral compass, and this is our favorite.

 

Only a sociopath would engage in moral bankruptcy for its own sake.  Other moral bankruptcy is supposed to serve a greater purpose, such as, “Catholic theology says that one shouldn’t create scandal regarding Catholic leaders, and influential people who try to hold the Catholic hierarchy morally responsible are bigoted against Catholics,” “Those who are trying to restrain us are anti-freedom manipulators!” and, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as you’d have it, would give you inner peace, and in your situation, serenity courage and tactical wisdom aren’t just luxuries that you could safely choose to live without.”  Though Enron is now a fallen idol, the average American originally associated it with America’s tough-and-tumble, true-grit ideals.  The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall Of Enron, by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, says about Jeff Skilling, “The markets, he believed, were the ultimate judge of right and wrong.  Social policies designed to temper the market’s Darwinian judgments were wrongheaded and counterproductive,” and that he said about one of Enron’s trading programs, “The concept was pure intellectually.  It made all the sense in the world.”  The ideas and realizations that Social Darwinism would treat as impurities of thought, since they seem disruptive, manipulative, counterproductive, defeatist, passive, resentful, blaming, etc., are the same as those that The Niebuhr Sin-drome would disallow for the same reasons.  It also must be intellectually pure, in absolutist terms, since its ideas on who has to solve what problems, can’t be half-hearted.

Christopher Lasch wrote in his article in the New Republic of August 10, 1992, For Shame, that our culture has,

a cult of the victim in which entitlements are based on the display of accumulated injuries inflicted by an uncaring society.   The politics of “compassion” degrades both the victims, by reducing them to objects of pity, and their would-be benefactors, who find it easier to pity their fellow citizens than to hold them up to impersonal standards, the attainment of which would make them respected.  Compassion has become the human face of contempt.

One needn’t be a sociologist to see in this, the crux of Reaganomics, that if only those who keep talking about victimology and victimhood, or sue businesses because their pain and losses (rather than objective achievement) entitle them, or evade their personal response-ability for their own problems, etc., thought like Lee Greenwood instead, that would solve our problems.

Sure, that’s impersonal, but it would make people more respectable, if we consider those who seem to be übermenschen/redbloods to be respectable, and those who seem to be untermenschen/mollycoddles to be contemptible.  Just as in old Wagnerian Germany it was the weak who seemed ignominious, in modern America it’s the weak who get the “contempt.”

If instead we tried to have a balanced approach that differentiated the real victims from the fakes, showed contempt for the victimizers, etc., that would seem too: unpragmatic, abstractly analytical, idealistic, equivocal, iconoclastic (Just look at the unequivocal personality types that were icons during the Reagan/Thatcher era, and that still inspire profound admiration, which would include the pro-freedom and red-blooded, “hold them up to impersonal standards, the attainment of which would make them respected.”), moralistic, opinionated, unrealistic about how much real victims must deal with their own problems, restrictive, unforgiving, potentially manipulative, etc.  Even if all that someone did was set limits as to how much victim-correction or surrealism he’s willing to accept, that could seem to be choosing not to impersonally become adequately correct, and, therefore, respectable.

A society with rampant depression will have plenty of real victims.  In order for it to keep functioning, it must pressure them into simply dealing with their own problems objectively and self-reliantly.  In all societies including those with rampant depression, no one could seem self-reliant enough unless he’s self-reliant enough to succeed with whatever realities and risks he must deal with.  (Of course, if he showed some self-reliant responsibility, but not enough, that loser would get contempt rather than respect.)  Before the Reagan era, these social pressures and cultural conditioning were usually done more subtly than anything that implied, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  Reaganomics couldn’t exist without these unequivocal conceptions of: personal rights, personal responsibilities, supposedly manipulative, mollycoddle victims, why responsibility should (predictably) be projected onto victims, which entitlements seem respectable, which “defects of character” we take seriously, etc.

A webpage about Hitler, A Born Soldier, says, “Hitler’s favorite writer during the war was the early 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer....  Hitler, like Thomas Mann, was greatly impressed by Schopenhauer’s book: The World as Will and Idea.  Hitler read the book over and over again during the war and was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer’s teaching.”

(Nazi posters about the WILL, saying “Through military will to military strength,” “One battle, one will, one goal: Victory at any cost!,” and “National Socialism—the organized will of the nation,” along with a poster for the classic Nazi film Triumph of the Will)

That book was Schopenhauer’s magnum opus, the title of which has also been translated as The World as Will and Representation.  The Serenity Prayer could just as easily have been titled The World as Will and Representation.  Another way of saying “The World as Will and Representation,” is, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  The sinful WILL seems ineradicable, so holding it contempt would be counterproductive and/or manipulative, which are also main themes of psychoanalysis.  To deal with this and other strife in the material world, we’re to represent the world to ourselves Stoically, as Buddhist self-discipline does, which is also what cognitive therapy does, mainly to those who have the problems, though it should be just as effective in re-engineering people’s aggressive tendencies.  Schopenhauer wrote that he defined the word translated as “Representation” or “Idea,” Vorstellung, as an “exceedingly complicated physiological process in the brain of an animal, the result of which is the consciousness of a picture there,” what cognitive therapy would call an “outlook.”  The whole idea was to choose to put positive pictures into one’s own mind even in the face of hardship and/or sinfulness.  If the person who has a problem isn’t Stoic about it, then that would seem to be his craven cunning and contemptible SELF-WILL expecting the world to be as he’d have it.  This sort of character defect involves mollycoddle ignominious cunning, which might be harder to defend oneself against than would be open and honest aggression, and is insidious rather than explicitly WILLFUL, so an untermensch-phobia could become popular.  According to the self-help zeitgeist, a powerless person wouldn’t have to be cunning or exploitive, in order to be labeled “manipulative,” and, therefore, seem cunning and exploitive.  And while sinfulness is forgiven, supposed manipulativeness isn’t.  Will and representation would seem to be all that there is to the world, since he can’t care about anything besides whether or not he has the power to change each aspect of his problem.  No problem could seem to be a social problem if it seems to result from the ineradicably aggressive WILLS of those who cause it, and/or the (possibly masochistic) ignominiously cunning WILLS of those who have it.  One could call this global, all-inclusive, approach to problem-solving, “a panacea that consists of acceptance of the aggressive WILL, and rejection of weakness, ineffectiveness, and unhappy representations of the material world.”

The Wikipedia webpage on Nazism says about this era, “Many see strong connections to the values of Nazism and the irrationalist tradition of the romantic movement of the early 19th century.”  Actually, what has more of a connection to Nazism’s values is regarding, as Van Wyck Brooks wrote in Days of the Phoenix, “Wagner as a symbol of his epoch,” a love of strength and fear of manipulative weakness, rather than irrationality (though that love of strength and fear of weakness could easily become irrational, look like The Big Lie, etc.).

              

Intercultural studies have consistently found that depressed people who’ve lived in developed areas outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but modern Westerners, whether depressed or not, tend to figure that even if someone did “get you,” that would mean only that you lost the battle so you’re a loser.  David D. Burns, MD wrote in his book Feeling Good, that the “Cognitive Distortions” of modern Western depression are: All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filter, Disqualifying the Positive, Jumping to Conclusions, Magnification [of what’s wrong with the depressed or right with others] or Minimization [of what’s right with the depressed or wrong with others], Emotional Reasoning, Should Statements [Dr. Burns says, “ ‘Musts’ and ‘oughts’ are also offenders.”], Labeling and Mislabeling, and Personalization [which Dr. Burns defines as, “You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.”].

Rather than “the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression,” these could just as easily be called “our distorted conception of personal responsibility.”  We define “personal responsibility” as response-ability for one’s own welfare, one’s own problems, since that’s more reliable red-blooded and non-judgmental, than is defining it as moral responsibility.  The self-blame of the devastated defines “good” and “bad” as Social Darwinism and market discipline would, in terms of success vs. failure, adequacy vs. inadequacy, stolid vs. gutless, winning vs. losing, adapted vs. maladaptive.  Since the only thing that really matters is how effectively one is dealing with whatever his realities are, you’d be amazed by the degree to which how powerless he is, determines how his actions or inactions are labeled, as successful or failing, etc.

Sacrilege, Sexual Abuse In the Catholic Church says that ravenous pedo-priest James Janssen was able to manipulate his psychologist since Janssen “knew the categories in which the psychologist thought and told his story in such a way that the psychologist concluded that Janssen wanted to be celibate, but needed help, especially the help of a good psychologist,” obviously the sort of skepticism that social conservatives would have toward intellectual social scientists, a skepticism that seems perfectly acceptable.  The category in which typical psychologists would have predictably classified Janssen, would have been, “someone who looks like an aggressor (so if you’re greatly offended that’s whiny resentment), but is actually the helpless one,” helpless since he’s under the sway of his own human nature, and/or at present he’s completely helpless to undo what he did whereas the victim isn’t helpless to solve his own problems, etc., a very German-sounding conception of aggressors’ and weak people’s responsibilities.  Since our usual conceptions of mental health, survival skills, self-responsibility, etc, must be in line with psychologists’, a good way to know that you could get away with something is to know that it fits favorably into psychologists’ categories of forgivable, red-blooded, anti-repression, etc., which have the same categorical, black-and-white qualities that you could see in the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression (of which no realists could be skeptical, since reality’s demands tend to be this absolute).  Of course, that’s also the category in which the bishops who enabled pedo-priests put them, based on the same unconditional, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” traditions.

The gist of these cognitive distortions, is the same as the gist of “Personal responsibility means, ‘Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,’ and dealing with their physical consequences.”  Just imagine the response you’d get if you responded to the zeitgeist of The Serenity Prayer, by saying, “But I’m not primarily responsible for all these things that I may or may not be able to change, so when we discuss this situation, let’s logically discuss the whole story, including the specifics and relativities, the long-term consequences of moral bankruptcy being that socially-sanctioned, etc.”

Those cognitive distortions figure that there’s no room for error, and there’s always room for improvement.  If you’ve dealt with a problem only 90%, that wouldn’t mean that you deserve an A grade, but that you’ve dealt with it intolerably inadequately.

Might makes right, since the weak can’t change whatever the strong do so the weak must accept it.  Strength also seems honorable and, when necessary, forgiven.  Since a society’s homeostasis requires that someone take responsibility for everything, it must also seem that weakness makes wrongness.  It seems that aggressive tendencies are ineradicable, so we must eradicate the hurt feelings and other weaknesses that result from aggressive behavior.  An untermensch-phobia seems to make sense.  Attempts to solve problems by correcting the victims, could be proven to be more effective than attempts to solve them by correcting those who are morally responsible.  Correcting them could seem unreliable, naïve, idealistic, whiny, manipulative, opinionated, blame-finding, and unforgiving.  Correcting victims is a tried-and-true approach that reliably works, produces results.  Just look at any self-help book for codependents, who are largely the family members of addicts and their functional equivalents, and you’ll see such principles given unapologetically, as the basic principles of coping skills, self-empowerment, self-reliance, maturity, etc.  No matter what caused your problems, they’re to be solved through the most expedient self-help.  The courage and self-empowerment of, “Buck up and deal with your own problems like a real American!” would make you most likely to succeed, in exactly those situations where you’d most have to succeed.

Our chronically anxious people, adult children of alcoholics, blameless survivors of accidents which killed others, those who were sexually abused, etc., are also very likely to feel absolutist self-blame.  Taming the Tyrant, Treating Depressed Adults, by Dr. Dean Schuyler, says, “In the 1970s, Roth, et al. found ‘inappropriate guilt’ associated as often with anxiety syndromes as with depression, raising questions about its specificity.”  As I’m OK—You’re OK says, “I’M NOT OK—YOU’RE OK came first and persists for most people throughout life....  Unfortunately, the most common position, shared by ‘successful’ and ‘unsuccessful’ people alike, is the I’M NOT OK—YOU’RE OK position.”

The webpage for survivors, of the Stations of Support group that gives psychological support to the families and survivors of the Station Nightclub Fire (and we all know who are morally responsible for this), is headed, “Understanding and Coping With Survivor Guilt,” as if that’s the main thing on the mind of those who’ve been through such a horror, and may have large burn scars.  This webpage says, “Feeling guilty that you survived when others dies is a common experience after traumatic events.... Self-blame is a normal emotional response in the aftermath to feeling powerlessness and helplessness.... Illogically, survivors sometimes feel that by punishing themselves, they can somehow undo the damage that has happened to others, and keep bad things from happening again.”  And heavy metal fans tend to be male and devil-may-care.

Our Fathers by David France, says about a lawyer who represents the male victims of a pedo-priest, “He couldn’t remember how many times he had to say to them, ‘It’s not your fault, what are you feeling so guilty about?’.”

The self-blame for being sexually abused, could have more than one reason why the victim feels at fault.  As Keeping Kids Safe: A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Manual, by Pnina Tobin and Sue Levinson Kessner, says about the incest victim, “She may feel she causes the problem by her ‘bad’ behavior and may blame herself or worry about being punished.  (Often, the offender takes advantage of this by telling the child that she ‘makes’ him behave this way.)...  Many victims blame themselves for not stopping the abuse, especially when it takes place over a long period of time.”  And, of course, if she does turn him in, she’d feel guilty about tearing the family apart.

And we all know how guilty adult children of alcoholics tend to feel since they failed to make their parents want to sober up.

In practical terms, victim correction as a panacea is victim-blaming followed by, “and the more that you improved your tactics, the more that you’d benefit.”  Unless the person who has the problem also happens to be the one who’s morally responsible for it, self-help would at best ignore even the most worldly moral responsibility, since if the one who’s morally responsible, helped, that wouldn’t be self-help.  It’s arguments about the pragmatism of reliable motivation, the honorable self-reliance, and the Christian forgiveness, though, that make victim correction look like it’s the only real option.  Which means that if his tactic aren’t expedient enough to succeed, he’d naturally want them corrected until they are.  As a Quaker activist pointed out to me, the etymology of the word “correct” is basically co-rectify, to make right together, but victim correction as a panacea tends to be as confrontational and based on the deterrence of bad consequences, as is does a prison system, i.e. a “corrections” system.

For example, Susan Faludi’s feminist classic Backlash says about the thinking on codependency, “First published in 1985, Norwood’s book on female ‘relationship addiction’ became the guiding light to more than 20 million readers....  There plainly were great numbers of women who were locked in destructive relationships and in desperate need of help....  Like so many therapists in the decade, Norwood had an opportunity to observe up close the increasing toll of emotional and sexual violence against women.  She puzzled over the evidence of millions of women suffering verbal and physical abuse from husbands and lovers.  Yet, in the end, she proposed an explanation that entirely ignored the social dimensions of these developments and turned the problem inward.  Women today, she writes, are literally ‘addicted’ to men who hurt them.”  This must be outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply, since the women’s moral sensibilities about what the men do, would seem to be self-defeating attempts to: play the martyr role, create melodramas, be the righteous ones, express resentment, fix and control the men, etc.

 

 

 

                                             

 

Or, as Blaming the Victim put it, “As we might expect, the logical outcome of analyzing social problems in terms of the deficiencies of the victim is the development of programs aimed at correcting those deficiencies.  The formula for action becomes extraordinarily simple: change the victim.”  Except that nowadays, this isn’t done through programs, but by independently telling each victim that if she empowered herself by correcting herself, she’d benefit.

The victim-blaming that William Ryan described, blamed poverty on supposed weaknesses of character (using the old-fashioned definition of this term) that the poor supposedly learned from their underclass status.  The modern version blames the continued existence of just about any problem on supposed weaknesses of character (using the new definition of this term, of being weak-kneed), of those who seem inadequate to solve their problems, since if they were adequate, they’d have solved them adequately.  The old-fashioned, morals-based, approach of achieving homeostasis might seem more intimidating than the modern one.  Yet it’s virtually guaranteed that the old approach will judge each person’s volitional actions rather than reactions, won’t require any wisdom to hopefully figure out what not to do in a given situation, is limited to reasonable expectations, and will forgive shortcomings.

              

Certain dire facts could prove that your suspicions about our culture’s normalcy and frame of reference, the current zeitgeist, are true.  As the ArcaEx logo says,

The rate of depression described in Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, certainly isn’t only natural.  Most of these people try to look “normal” and not express negativity, so in our day-to-day lives, this problem doesn’t seem nearly this negative.  If this simply is a genetically-based condition that’s inherent to this percentage of the population, then this condition would constitute a sizable part of what’s inherent to the human condition.

The April, 2001 issue of Psychology Today magazine says, “More than 100 million Americans have a close family member who suffers from a major mental illness.  Of the 10 leading causes of disability, half are psychiatric.  By the year 2020, the major cause of disability in the world may be major depression.”

The Secret Life of the Brain, by neurologist Richard Restak, who obviously has no problem with “the medical model” of psychiatry, says, “Over the next century, depression will be the number one cause of disability in the developing world and the number four cause of death worldwide. Currently it afflicts 17 percent of people in the United States—12 to 13 percent of men and over twice as many women (about 25 percent). That breaks down into somewhere between 15 and 25 million Americans with a depressive episode in a given year.”

Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression, by Lewis Wolpert, says, “A recent report, Global Burden of Disease, published by the World Health Organisation, states that depression was the fourth most important health problem in the developing world in 1990 (accounting for about 3 per cent of the total burden of illness) and predicts that it will be the number one health problem in the developing world in 2020 (accounting for about 6 per cent of the total burden).  Over the same period the annual number of suicides will increase from 593,000 to 995,000 in the developing world.”

Victoria Secunda’s book When Madness Comes Home, says that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV says that affective disorders affect 20% of the American population, anxiety disorders affect 25%, substance abuse disorders affect 27%, schizophrenia affects 0.7%, and sociopathy affects 3.5%.  (Both When Madness Comes Home, and that article, are guides to the family members of those who are the most severely affected, so one could paraphrase Faludi about these, “All of these Americans, with the rest of the world soon following, are hurt this bad.  Yet, in the end, these writings propose an approach that entirely ignores the social dimensions of these developments and turns the problem inward.  It seems that family members simply must take care of the illnesses in their own families.”)

The webpage Depression Common in Single Mothers Receiving Welfare, on the Johns Hopkins website, says, “Forty percent of the women reported symptom levels that would likely indicate a diagnosis of clinical depression...”  (This study was done to find ways in which these women could get jobs so they could be taken off welfare, so Faludi could be paraphrased, “Such a huge percentage of these obviously greatly disadvantaged, and probably greatly exploited, women are devastated.  Yet, in the end, this research went after an approach that entirely ignores the social dimensions of these developments and turns the problem inward.  If only they got fixed, the problem would get fixed.”)  As W. R. Bett wrote in the late 1940s, when amphetamines were used to treat depression, “a large number of clinical observations both from general practitioners and from specialists testify to [amphetamine’s] immediate, and often dramatic, value in breaking the stranglehold of depression, restoring ‘energy feeling,’ and renewing optimism, self-assurance, increased initiative, appetite for work, and zest for living,” and that’s still the basic idea.

The Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, says, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression....  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.

Another webpage on that same website says, “Social anxiety disorder is a real medical condition.  It affects over 16 million Americans.”

Plenty of similar data are on page 3-17 of this summary,

as well as a webpage from nostigma.org.

Because of the terrifying similarity of all victim correction, one form can be interchanged with another, so one could describe such statements by paraphrasing Faludi, “The scientists who put this together think that 34 million Americans, either some or all of the time, need this medication, to make them complete so they could function properly.  There plainly are plenty of Americans who will feel and function properly if they get such medication, and won’t if they don’t, so they’re in desperate need of chemical help.  Like any mental health professionals, the scientists could see how calamitous this is.  Like any scientists, they could see that, therefore, such rates of such impairments can’t be inherent to life, can’t be parts of the natural order.  They certainly should be puzzling over far more than whether or not this is a sign of the victims’ weaknesses or character flaws.  Yet, in the end, the scientists proposed an explanation that entirely ignored the social dimensions of these developments and turned the problem inward.  These sufferers, those scientists write, are literally chemically dependent on one type of modern medication, so they’d better just go take their daily doses of Vitamin P.”  This must be outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply, since the depressed people’s moral sensibilities about what caused the depressions, would seem subjective and futile.  On the other hand, no matter what caused each of their depressions, if they empowered themselves by correcting their own brain chemistry, that actually would accomplish something.

What is Social Psychology? says, “The Fundamental Attribution Error states that in perceiving other people’s behavior, people tend to focus on personal causes and underestimate situational causes.  Such thinking can lead people to hold on to bad first impressions as well as stereotypes.”  Maybe this is because this is the fundamental way in which modern Western society gets its homeostasis, our fundamental social contract.  Whatever are one’s realities he’s response-able for dealing with them, and if he isn’t adequate to do this, loses the battle, fails, and comes up short with big consequences, he’d seem to be an irresponsible and inadequate, loser and failure with very consequential shortcomings.  If he doesn’t adjust to, adapt to, function with, fit in with, and feel content with, this, he’s a maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional, misfit and malcontent.  In our society this is the form of personal responsibility that doesn’t seem forgivable.  Our society can count on this to get its homeostasis, since this is self-motivated, honorably self-reliant, and profoundly forgiving.  Even the most worldly ethical responsibility would be nice, but response-ability for one’s own welfare is the form of personal responsibility that must be socially sanctioned as a social contract.

For example, as Calvin Coolidge wrote, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men of talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  But persist over what?  To say that talent, genius, education, etc., don’t make you good enough but persistence does, really does require that one answer the question, “Exactly what must you persist over?”

Cognitive therapy tends to follow this pattern, too.  The webpage EMOTIONAL THOUGHT STOPPING (A Mood Enhancing Exercise) says, “Each year over 17 million people in the United States are depressed.  Of those fewer than 30% get help!  Each year over 30,000 people in the United States commit suicide,” and tells all those millions of depressed Americans to deal with their problems pragmatically by stopping any thoughts that could make them feel depressed.  One could paraphrase Faludi by saying, “Such thought reform is supposed to be the guiding light to, potentially, more than 17 million Americans.  There plainly are great numbers of people who have experiences eliciting those painful thoughts, and in desperate need of help.  Like so many therapists, cognitive therapists have an opportunity to observe up close the increasing toll of the devastation.  They puzzle over the evidence that these thoughts don’t just happen through spontaneous combustion.  Yet, in the end, they propose an explanation that entirely ignores the social dimensions of these developments and turns the problem inward.  These millions of people seem simply in need of thought reform, where, as long as all of them have their brains washed of these thoughts, that would solve the problems, and it’s better to find solutions than to find blame.  These therapists must figure that each year over 30,000 people in the United States die because they didn’t do enough thought-stopping or similar contrived thinking, and that this is why they really need to get help!”. This must be outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply, since the depressed people’s moral sensibilities about what caused the depressions, would seem to be the passivity defeatism and pessimism that must be thought-stopped.

              

Though this de rigueur amoralism has the appeal of pragmatism self-reliance and anti-judgmentalism, this doesn’t allow for free-thinking for those who are helpless to change anything that’s morally wrong enough to deserve anger.  If they don’t adjust to, adapt to, function with, fit in with, and feel content with, whatever major realities they can’t change, they’d have the problems that come with being maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional, misfits and malcontents.  Self-help authorities could admonish them that these consequences should really deter themselves from the maladjustment.  Since absolutely every problem must be dealt with absolutely, an amoral assignment of personal responsibility to whoever’s welfare is at stake, must be absolutely dogmatic and de rigueur.

Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism.  The old amoral relativism, “But that’s just your cultural bias!” is pretty reasonable compared to the new amoral absolutism, “But your claim that what was done to you was unforgivably morally wrong, is your bias toward wanting to believe that you’re entitled to better than what you’ve got!  O-o-o-o-o, you’re entitled!”  This could look terrifyingly like dogmatic medieval religion.  Both: are simplistic and cold, treat an unnatural mindset as if it’s The Right Beliefs, paternalistically stigmatize disagreement, don’t take the specifics of each situation into account, treat docility as all-important, have patriarchal rationales for who is or isn’t accountable for what, re-engineer only parts of human nature but they mustn’t deviate from what’s required, etc.  While moral relativism is based on sincere principles, moral-relativism-becomes-amoral-absolutism is a means to an end, to get rid of objections to genuinely destructive behavior since objections can be very pesky.  Even the most worldly moral responsibility doesn’t feel good or inspire dynamic action.

Modern Western culture, especially American, requires both self-reliance and forgiveness.  William James wrote that Americans tend to classify people as either redbloods or mollycoddles.  This tends to mean that the strong get the rights (since redbloods have rights) and the weak get the response-abilities (since if they don’t take care of their own problems they’d seem to be manipulative mollycoddles).  This is along the lines of Schopenhauer, since the redbloods powerfully impress the human race in all circumstances, while those who are weak seem ignominiously cunning to get coddled, manipulative.  The subtitle of the book The Manipulative Child, by Drs. E. W. Swihart, E. W. Swihart Jr., and Patrick Cotter, is, “How to Regain Control and Raise Resilient, Resourceful, and Independent Kids.”  When one looks at how readily this sort of mentality sees manipulation in what some weaker people do, one might remember that the root word of “manipulate” means hand or to handle, and psychologists have observed that paranoid people often include in their art, images that look like grasping hands, since grasping hands are out to get you.  Yet it doesn’t seem paranoid to see untermenschen as grasping manipulators who are out to get you.  Since these people don’t act mercenary, you’d think that talking about them as manipulators would ring hollow, but what constitutes “manipulation,” is in the eye of the beholder.

              

At the top of page 8 of my Victim Correction as a Panacea webpage series, is a statement by an unemployed female administrator, aged 27, quoted in Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meaning of Illness, by David A. Karp, “Depression is an insidious vacuum that crawls into your brain and pushes your mind out of the way.  It is the complete absence of rational thought.  It is freezing cold, with a dangerous, horrifying, terrifying fog wafting throughout whatever is left of your mind.”

An Unquiet Mind by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, says, “Profound melancholia is a day-in, day-out, night-in, night-out, almost arterial level of agony.  It is a pitiless, unrelenting pain that affords no window of hope, no alternative to a grim and brackish existence, and no respite from the cold undercurrents of thought and feeling that dominate the horribly restless nights of despair.”

William Styron, in Darkness Visible, described the word depression as, “a noun with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferently to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness,” though in fact we take our economic depressions more seriously than our emotional depressions.

If we were in economic depression at some time during 15% of our years, we’d treat prevention as a major goal.  The cover letter of the final report from The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, dated July 22, 2003, “recommends a fundamental transformation” that “must ensure that the mental health services and supports actively facilitate recovery, and build resiliency to face life’s challenges.”

              

A devastated person who thinks in a self-reliant achievement-oriented fashion, would have to focus his attention on finding and fixing everything that might be wrong with his own tactics, since only that would reliably achieve what’s necessary.  Only this culturally-conditioned depression could seem to be “aggression turned inward.”  The webpage Surprising Risk Factor of Suicide, by Dr. Dean Edell, says about suicide, “It’s the eighth leading cause of death in this country, and in 1997 claimed about 30,000 lives - by comparison, only 19,000 people died as a result of homicide.”  That webpage also says, “the most surprising was that low anxiety levels in childhood were associated with suicide,” though that really isn’t surprising since anxiety externalizes responsibility, sees your problems as caused by things outside of yourself.

The Bible Handbook by atheists W. P. Ball and G. W. Foote, says, “Christ’s absurd reversals of true morality would place the good at the mercy of the bad, and would make an end of civilized society.”

Such cultural norms become so naturally unnatural.  Cross Christian forgiveness with pragmatism, and you’d end up with the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression.  These say that your reality is your reality whether good or evil, and each of us must unconditionally accept all reality that he can’t change.  Also, you must surmount your bad realities with perfect success, or you’re going to accumulate a lot of almost-solved and partially-solved problems, and weaknesses.  If you don’t mentally transcend and physically prevail, you’re the hellion, the unforgivable problem.  In a special framed box, the report of the New Freedom Commission gives its definitions of “recovery” as a control over all dysfunctions, and “resilience” as “the personal and community qualities that enable us to rebound from adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or other stresses—and to go on with life with a sense of mastery, competence, and hope,” the basic ideas of James 1:1-4.

If it’s your problem, it’s your challenge.  Moral responsibility is immaterial.  That’s as mandatorily limitless as “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,” but offers pathways to more advantages.  Of course, this level of moral bankruptcy could leave someone feeling helpless incompetent and hopeless.

 

Moral bankruptcy seems as understandable, understanding, merciful, realistic, necessary, and meaningless, as does financial bankruptcy, and in the event of any bankruptcy, others must be responsible for doing something about it.  In terms of the real, material world, all that’s being defaulted on are are mundane material things; this, too shall pass.  Moral, intellectual, and spiritual principles are also being defaulted on, but realists shy away from doing anything on principle.  One can only wonder what Jung’s spiritual psychology would think of that; what archetype would it fit, the person who’d be the most likely to succeed in Götterdaemmerung?

               

(Nazi poster saying “EUROPAS FREIHEIT,” or “EUROPE’S FREEDOM”)

Which means, of course, that those who have problems and act contrary to self-help expectations, would seem to be the troublemaking parasites.  This is a natural part of the Niebuhr Sin-drome, that if it seems that each is to deal with his own problems stolidly, then if he doesn’t, he’s shirking an important personal responsibility.  Those who blame the victims of racism, or anything else, could say that correcting them aims to make them stronger and more self-reliant.  Attempts to correct the sinners, on the other hand, would be labeled as impractical unforgiving and mollycoddle “attempts to re-engineer human nature,” treading on sacred ground.  It seems that “personal responsibility” must mean response-ability for one’s own problems. 

According to the Doctrine of Original Sin, just about any destructive behavior could seem not to be really the choice of the person who committed it, so all addicts, all impossible people, and everyone on a bad day, seem very interchangeable.  If moral responsibility is minimized, even if this is done in the name of realism, then response-ability for one’s own welfare would have to be magnified, these would have to occur together, and would characterize a particular abnormality. Quite literally, we might as well be letting sociopaths or addictive personalities (who, in this regard, are very similar) determine how we see both sinners’, and their victims’, practical responsibilities.  “If only that victim would..., he’d have no meaningful strife, so don’t blame me if he doesn’t.  That’s all that there is to it.”

 

 

One could define someone with an addictive personality, as someone who, as he’s going through his pre-addiction booze/dope problem and his friends and family members try to talk him out of it, figures that it’s their resentment anger and fear that constitute the character defects, so he goes right on into addiction.  What really seems to matter is the sufferers’ outlooks.

Of course, consistently reproving and chastising victims, would make it seem that Americans’ neurobiologies, outlooks, timidity, survival skills, etc., are disastrously defective enough to lead to 15% of us having a serious depressive disorder in any given year, 25% of us suffering chronic anxiety, etc.  We sure tend to fail to face life’s challenges independently, choose to put our blues on parade, etc.  The wide diversity of reasons why women involved with problem men seem to have “let themselves in for it,” that they wanted to be nurturing or productive or vainglorious or melodramatic or poignant or pitiful or owed something or perseverant or ultimately triumphant or..., shows that we’d seem to have a wide diversity of self-destruction and mollycoddle manipulativeness.  The more people whom the victim-fixing mental health professionals say need to be under their purview because they choose to walk in the shade with their blues on parade, the more that we could show that all those people can’t be that defective.

 

                             

This is from the Age of Anxiety.  The time capsule buried in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1957 included a purse containing the typical contents of a woman’s purse of that era, and one of these was a bottle of tranquilizers.  Since this was in the Midwest in the 1950s, that rampant anxiety couldn’t have been caused by a good deal of the sort of destructive behavior that conventional morality would prohibit.  And the 1950s were simply the era of Miltown, when Milton Berle called himself “Miltown Berle.”  Valium came out in 1963.

                 

                             

This really does play a part in just about anything that any social scientist would want to research. As Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness says, “If you are going through a divorce, that’s a private trouble.  When half of the marriages in America are failing, that’s a public issue.”  One could also say, for example, that if you feel resentment anger and/or fear, that’s a private trouble, but if you lived during the Great Depression and felt resentment anger and/or fear in the context of it, that would have been a public issue, though it would have seemed all-important that you get your feelings under control in order to cope.  All of us would accept that those in a society, especially one that’s expected to be productive and dynamic, need homeostasis, serenity, confidence, motivation, etc.  The big question would have to be, who’s responsible for these: those who’d cause the problems that could go against them, or the victims?  In what ways would those who’d seem to be shirking this personal responsibility seem bad, scary?

Since these are so basic, social scientists could elucidate them in all sorts of ways.  This isn’t just a slippery slope that could possibly lead to, “...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good...  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  That’s where victim correction as a panacea begins.

Niebuhr objected to Protagoras, the first Greek Sophist, writing in the fifth century BC, “Man is the measure of all things,” but if we don’t treat humanity as the measure of all things, what’s to limit the perfectionist expectations that we respond humbly to sinfulness, in any area of our lives?

The absolutist frame of reference and cultural norms, that one could see in the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, might seem to be just too popular for anyone to reject them.  The pedo-priest scandal, also, was allowed to happen due to Christian forgiveness.  As J. Waters’ article about pedo-priests, “Past abuse evident to all with eyes to see,” in the Irish Times of May 18 1999, says, “By definition, power is accountable only to itself, and so it is the whistleblower rather than the abuser who tends to get punished.  This is why whistleblowers who report what happened to them as children can, in the 1980s, be dismissed, and ten years later, when the church is in decline, be met with gasps of horror on relating the same experiences.”  When you consider how absolutist and self-justifying is The Flip Game as is reflected in the cognitive distortions, and how extreme are our normalized depression, anxiety, etc., these could very easily elicit horror once the blind faith is overcome.

              

The Victim Correction As A Panacea series of webpages, goes on to Victim Correction As A Panacea, the Summary, Page 2, which gives the formula for how any problem could be looked at in terms of how pragmatic red-blooded and forgiving it would be for the victim to take response-ability for his own welfare.  Then is Victim Correction As A Panacea, the Summary, Page 3, which summarizes victim correction as a panacea in more detail.  Then is the Victim Correction as a Panacea series, which really explores this in detail.  This also has a Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression webpage, to mirror some websites telling of scientific research on the social causes of the rampant depression.  The Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea webpage gives exactly these rationales, which are as predictable as any panacea.  The Schopenhauer on Predators webpage has an excerpt from The World as Will and Representation which expresses his fatalism about pedophilia, which shows both that the recent “zero tolerance” about it isn’t a recent trend, and that this fatalistic acceptance has to be as extreme as reality is.  The Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming webpage gives a section of AA’s Big Book which anathematizes resentment anger and fear (and not just overreactions), which should give a good idea of just what self-help approaches based on AA’s paradigm, really are based on.  My Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips webpage gives exactly that, both the sales tips, and the Darwinist attitudes that went behind their sales.  Plus, my Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book gives the contents of this book, which seems to want to use exactly the sort of empathetic techniques that might optimize normal businesses, but not one where empathy would mean empathy for recklessness.  The Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008 webpage, tells of my two big experiences which really let me see people’s attitudes on how much those around us, value personal response-ability for our own welfare, and devalue even the most worldly moral responsibility.

The About Us webpage about this, has more details on these experiences.  The Message to Intellectuals in the Islamic World, concerns the parallels between expectations that Palestinians and other Arabs should work toward the millions of Palestinian refugees rebuilding their own lives pragmatically wherever they live, and the assumptions that self-help thinking would have that any refugees of anything, such as domestic violence, rebuild their own lives pragmatically wherever they live.  The Candace Newmaker’s Experience webpage, tells of how psychologists put ten-year-old Candace Newmaker into a jerry-rigged contraption that suffocated her, but when she screamed that she was being suffocated, they ignored her because, typical for Reagan-influenced psychologists, they felt absolutely certain that she was just trying to manipulate them.  The Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good webpage is about a lawsuit against one marriage counselor telling his clients their spouses’ secrets, which tells of another doing the same, both of whom didn’t benefit by doing this so, like Candace’s therapists, they must have thought that fostering their clients’ stolid strength and self-determination like this was for their own good.  A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction, gives both statements from Al-Anon’s book In Our Own Affairs: Making Crises Work for You (No, I’m not kidding.) which either expect victims to make crises work for them or address problems with victims’ self-blame, and victim-bashing slogans of Alcoholics Anonymous, along with other information along these lines.  The Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction, tells of how the only way that tobacco companies could have defended themselves all these years, is to act as if they’re red-blooded victims of mollycoddles.  Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man, and What It Indicates About What’s Shaping Modern Culture, gives plenty of specifics of the ideology that’s supposed to guide our lives.

              


 


 

 

 

 

 

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Cancer Victims Corrected Too

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 Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

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Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

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Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

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