And What Science Can Do About It


 #31

 

 

 

“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 Entire, unredacted Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr

 

 

 

 

“The idea of looking inside oneself for important research problems was well put by C. Wright Mills who advocated in his book The Sociological Imagination that social scientists ‘translate private troubles into public issues.’  If you are going through a divorce, that’s a private trouble.  When half the marriages in America are failing, divorce is a public issue.”David A Karp, Speaking of Sadness, Depression, Disconnection, and the Meaning of Illness

 

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”—George Orwell

 

“[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

 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the three quotes on Enron’s series of inspirational notepads

 

Over the past 9 months there have been 5 major restructurings.  Management’s reason was that Enron is flexible and changes to meet the needs of the marketplace....  However, it became obvious that EES had been doing deals for 2 years and had been losing money on almost all the deals they had booked....  I believe I was Fraudulently recruited.”—by someone recruited into Enron though she had a great job, because she was told that Enron offered greater prospects

 

“Characterized by surreal distortion and a sense of impending danger”—definition of “Kafkaesque” on the WordWeb Online site

 

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

 

 

In a society that doesn’t have rampant depression, someone who accepted what causes it in the societies that do have it would seem grossly immature, oblivious of the horrendous consequences, but in a society that does have it, someone who didn’t accept what causes it would seem grossly immature—hopelessly unrealistic.

 

Go to Page 30

 

 

orking toward a goal of endurability:  Researchers in the social sciences would probably want to research something that greatly affects a great percentage of the population, and also shows problems that affect practically everyone else.  Our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., are so unnaturally high, that they’re obviously not among those diseases that are parts of the natural order.  The traumas that contribute to them obviously aren’t the inevitable imperfections of human nature and/or life.  Yet those around us are very quick to tell those in situations involving helplessness, that everyone knows that when people have problems like that, then they’ll just have to deal with their own realities, their own problems.  One needn’t worry about what’s wrong with victim-blaming, since if it works, the victims won’t be victims for much longer.  Those who don’t accept what seems to be their legitimate response-ability for their own welfare, are those who’d seem insidious, perfidious.  We can forgive the sinful, since their victims are motivated to solve the resulting problems, so they’d be temporary.  If they don’t, who will?  We can’t afford to forgive their inadequacies.  Those problems would then be permanent, so victims’ inadequacies are the real threat.   We must be realistic enough to remember what the threshold of human endurance is.

 

 

The public seems to be totally unaware of this as a social problem.  Ironically, where you’re most likely to see the magnitude of this, is in ads, guides, etc., that tell people how they could deal with their own or their family members’ depressions, as if, as William Ryan’s definitive Blaming the Victim put it, “But the stigma, the defect, the fatal difference… is… located within the victim, inside his skin.”  For example, as that Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, usually 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,” clearly the norms that cause this are no guide as to what really is reliable.  It seems that the magnitude of this social problem could just be brushed aside, and would be by those who are gutsy enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, as I write this, all the Zoloft URLs would give the new package insert for Zoloft, beginning with the warning, which begins, “Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs: Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders.”  Of course, for the longest time, plenty of the family members of adults who killed themselves after their personalities suddenly changed after taking SSRI antidepressants, were treated as if anyone who held that SSRI antidepressants had that effect on anyone was antiscientific.  Now, by some strange coincidence, it seems that this does happen to minors, but doesn’t happen to adults.  Eventually, chances are good that this would be recognized as happening to some adults, too.  On the website for Christopher Pittman is a Pfizer document from 1983 that concluded, “Pt. began to verbalize feelings of killing other people, and then himself,” but if those who have faith in science could find enough sophistry to make depressive disorders affecting 34,000,000 American adults seem to be among the diseases that sometimes just happen, then the faithful would have even less difficulty holding that that one bad report is just a happenstance.  Even if it’s someday proven that SSRI antidepressants increase the suicide risk in some people but decrease it in others, that would completely ignore the fact that the original suicide risk is so unnaturally high.  (Yet, it seems so natural to discuss this fact as if of course depression is just a deficiency of Vitamin P, so what needs to be done is that the victims’ inner defects are treated.)

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?  I mean, this social problem is catastrophic!  Now that I know what the American rate of depression is, all those American norms that insist that people endure certain things because ‘That’s life,’ etc., sure do look different to me!  Yet in all societies, one must fit in.  However a society remains productive, it simply must remain productive.  In a society with rampant depression, that would mean that either you adjust to whatever realities this causes for you, or you’re a maladjusted, counterproductive loser!  That’s the sort of bad character that Christian forgiveness doesn’t forgive!  We could afford to forgive the sort of bad character that it does forgive, since the victims of sinfulness could usually solve the problems.  They’re motivated to take response-ability for their own welfare.  But if they don’t do this adequately, who would be motivated to take care of their problems?  We can’t afford to forgive that!  “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

“Then one could add other factors to that, such as that moral responsibility seems subjective controlling and mollycoddle, but response-ability for one’s own problems, one’s own welfare, seems objective self-empowering and red-blooded.

 

“If one rationale for victim correction doesn’t work, it’s replaced by another.  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!”

    

To those who see such antidepressant ads, it seems only natural to see this obvious social problem, as if it consists of either 34,000,000 rather severe character flaws, or 34,000,000 rather severe medical disorders.  Everyone knows that what’s at fault, is inside the millions of victims. Obviously, a lot of the traumas that these very same people would minimize as normal imperfections of life, are actually beyond the threshold of human endurance, in that they contribute to an unnaturally high rate of depression. And, of course, if you can’t deal with the normal imperfections of life, then that’s a character flaw.  The more self-responsibility, the better.  The consensus of respectable opinion believes this, and that subjectivity means everything.

 

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.  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.

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 moralistic. Someone absolutely has to provide our society’s homeostasis, since things simply have to remain integrated and organized.

Yet if research proved what causes our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., to be so unnaturally high, chances are that few would say, “Oh well, we’re just going to have to accept what causes our rampant devastation; that’s life.”  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.  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.

Depression, anxiety disorders, etc., couldn’t be that common unless our cultural norms fostered this, by insisting that what causes them is just the inevitable imperfections of life and/or human nature, and, therefore, if you don’t just adjust to, adapt to, function with, fit in with, and feel content with what causes them, you’re just a maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional, misfit and malcontent.  People tend to take their own cultural norms as absolute truths, even when they’re luridly destructive.  And some of what comes from American leaders could be pretty extreme.  John Kennedy’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said that General Curtis LeMay, the chief of the Air Force, on whom the character General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove was based, wanted a preemptive nuclear war with the Soviet Union, “LeMay clearly had a different view of the Soviet problem than most of the rest of us did  LeMay’s view was very simple.  He thought the West, and the U.S. in particular, was going to have to fight a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and he was absolutely certain of that.  Therefore, he believed that we should fight it sooner rather than later, when we had a greater advantage in nuclear power, and it would result in fewer casualties in the United States.”

In case that sounds like the beliefs of just one unelected deviant, let’s not forget that when the Bushmen were trying to convince the American public that the military should invade Iraq, they made public the fact that the Reagan Administration arranged for many varieties of deadly germs, as well as other military help, to be exported to Saddam, our ally against Iran.  At that time, everyone knew that he was stockpiling plenty of weapons of mass destruction, and that he was crazy enough to use them.  Yet those who first told the American public about the Reagan Administration doing this, obviously realized that the public wouldn’t find Reagan’s legacy any less inspiring, just as those who tell the American public of our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., realize that the public would see this as millions of problems inside of the millions of victims, rather than as social problems.  (If Saddam had used these WMD against any innocent civilians, even Israelis, Reagan’s fans would have been very likely to figure that what he did was only a mistake, and that real Americans don’t get resentful judgmental & guilt-tripping about mistakes.  A character based on his dealings with Saddam would have to be called merely “Will B. Wilde,” which would inspire a lot less fear and loathing than did “Jack D. Ripper,” and may even sound excitingly pro-freedom.)  That’s just the way that we automatically think, though if the public had proven to them what causes these social problems, they’d be aware of something that’s pretty hard to ignore.

The Missing Question is, “But what about the fact that these social norms accept helplessness that provably leads to an unnaturally gargantuan rate of depression?”  We’re always running across situations where one person causes a problem for another, and the victim is treated as if he’s simply supposed to buck up and deal with reality.  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.  If you brought up the fact that these expectations come from a culture that assumes that the victims should buck up and endure what leads to the rampant depression, it would be as if you responded to someone’s head game by stating explicitly the hidden machinations of the headgame.  The same would go for any other discussion regarding people’s rights and responsibilities.

Since “Satyagraha” means truth-strength, the proof that research could give that some of what “everyone knows” is endurable, really isn’t, would be the ultimate Satyagraha.  And though those who insist that “everyone knows” that the normalized helplessness is endurable, would also likely insist that if you disagree you’re just pulling a manipulative stunt, such proof would be a lot less manipulative than with the civil disobedience that Gandhi called “Satyagraha.”  The fact that this problem couldn’t happen without some considerable social problems, is simply a fact of nature.

Not only that, this Satyagraha could have an all-American quality to it, if we define common sense as taking seriously the dangers of rampant depression as a sign that what’s going on is disastrously unnatural.  Free thought would have to mean no Doctrine Over Person, no washing one’s own brain of his own natural interpretations of what happens to him and replacing it with what he’s supposed to believe, even if he’d do this in order to “think positively,” “be well-adjusted,” “fit in,” etc.  All that we’re after is what’s natural, what suits a human nature that wouldn’t be re-engineered through medication.  Considering our rate of depression, that’s a manifestation of human nature, rather than an aberration.  The only difference between this Satyagraha and all-American strength, is that it has the gutsy excitement of fighting and action, whereas Satyagraha doesn’t.  One can’t say, “You don’t have to accept that victim correction!”

in the same gutsy tone of voice in which one would say, “You don’t have to accept those taxes!”  Yet considering the magnitude of rampant depression and what causes it, we’d simply have to take into consideration that in this situation, we can’t afford “If it feels good, believe it.”  This would have no outlaw appeal, other than maybe if we figure that all sorts of assertiveness could be condemned as manipulative words, then we’d be violating that sacred norm.

Sure, it might look as if, since the whole world is moving toward both Globalism and modern Western social norms, if you had awareness of the dangers of the nihilistic aspects of both, you might seem to be up against the entire world.

Yet Carl Sagan wrote in Pale Blue Dot, “The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.  Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.  Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot,” and went on from there.  It’s pretty easy to convince even most of the world to accept what causes our rampant depression and anxiety disorders.  Since helplessness isn’t tyranny, it’s very easy to see even devastating helplessness as just some of the imperfection that’s inherent to life.  Yet it’s also very easy to prove how dangerous are the causes of the rampant depression, despite the fact that the world’s current lack of awareness of this might seem horribly intimidating.  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.

Some years ago, I read, in Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, by John H. Greist, MD and Thomas H. Greist, MD, a book on how general practitioners could give their depressed clients better medical treatment, “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.  Anything that happens this often is routine, so squandering this much is routine.

 

 

 

Someone simply has to stand up against this!  I figured that research that would focus on finding just what is the threshold of human endurance, would have a great deal of truth strength.  After all, those who minimize what contributes to our rampant depression, must think that the threshold of human endurance is high enough to accommodate to what those with “strong characters” are supposed to accommodate to.

 

 

That rate of depression indicates that it isn’t an aberration.  In order to treat it as if it’s simply to be gotten under control as if it’s a pathology, would mean treating a good fraction of humanity as having radically pathological tendencies.

Despite what tendencies really are natural, every society must have its homeostasis.  Modern Western societies, and just about everyone in them, must be productive.  That means that they must remain productive despite what causes such an unnaturally high rate of depression.  Also, all want to have hope.  What causes the helplessness must be minimized, and each person’s personal response-ability to deal with his own problem must be magnified.

 

It must seem that everyone knows that if you’re not adequate to: adjust to, adapt to, function with, take responsibility for dealing with, compensate for, fit in with, or feel content with, whatever your realities are, without your: getting disturbed by them, needing to vindicate yourself, caring much about moral standards, using your own judgment concerning moral wrongness, fail, or lose the battle, that means that you’re an: inadequate, maladjusted, maladaptive, dysfunctional, irresponsible, unforgiving, decompensated, disturbed, vindictive, moralistic, or judgmental misfit, malcontent, failure, or loser.  When you consider the rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., that this normalcy causes, such judgments made of the victims are very unfounded. 

If, instead, those who made such assumptions (including those who cause the problems assuming that they’re no big deal since all must accept such imperfection), knew the findings of research that proved how such normalcy leads to such depression and anxiety disorders, then such situations would look radically different.  In fact, accepting helplessness that contributes to rampant depression, could look dangerously ridiculous.

This research, if enough people knew the results, would play a part in every situation like this in which those who are passing judgment on the victims, including victims passing judgment on themselves, would know about the results.  Intercultural studies have consistently found that depressed people living 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.  Dr. David Burns’ self-help book on cognitive therapy for depression Feeling Good,

lists the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, as: All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filter, Disqualifying the Positive, Jumping to Conclusions, Magnification [of what’s right with others or wrong with yourself] or Minimization [of what’s right with yourself or wrong with others], Emotional Reasoning, Should Statements, 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.”  Naturally, since if people are personally response-able for their own problems, they must focus their attention on correcting their own weaknesses, and away from others’ wrongs.  If it’s your problem, it’s your problem.

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, a German-American, had a stereotypically German belief in 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.”

Feeling Good includes something along those lines, in its chapter on anger:

Now we come to a truth you may see either as a bitter pill or an enlightening revelation.  There is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice.  There is an undeniable relativity of fairness, just as Einstein showed the relativity of time and space....

Here’s proof: When a lion devours a sheep, is this unfair?  From the point of view of the sheep, it is unfair, he’s being viciously and intentionally murdered with no provocation.  From the point of view of the lion, it is fair.  He’s hungry, and this is the daily bread he feels entitled to.  Who is “right”?  There is no ultimate or universal answer to this question because there’s no “absolute fairness” floating around to resolve the issue.  In fact, fairness is simply a perceptual interpretation, an abstraction, a self-created concept.  How about when you eat a hamburger?  Is this “unfair”?  To you, it’s not.  From the point of view of the cow, it certainly is (or was)!  Who’s “right”?  There is no ultimate “true” answer.

Since the ladies’ auxiliaries of Twelve Step groups, those for addicts’ friends and loved ones, were set up for the purpose of using Twelve Step groups’ transcendent spirituality to deal with the problems the addicts cause them, they must preach this same neo-Buddhist ethos:

~~

 

~~

~~

~~

And let’s not forget about:

 

 

 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,
Click Here

 

         

 

 

 

“Sussman told the reporters to write a story on the deception surrounding the [Nixon Administration’s campaign to make it look as if the public supported the decision to mine Haiphong in Vietnam].  ‘This hits home,’ he said.  ‘People understand attempts to tamper with public opinion.’”—Woodward and Bernstein, All the President’s Men

 

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.  There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”—Dick Cheney, speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, August 26, 2002

 

“With those attacks [of September 11], the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States.  And war is what they got.”—George Bush, just after the Iraqi invasion

 

 

(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:

No doubt, if an Al-Anon member told of considerable problems that someone who isn’t addicted is causing her, her group wouldn’t tell her that since he isn’t addicted, his problem doesn’t come from a disease and, therefore, she needn’t serenely accept that he does things like that.  The only thing that would matter would be that she absolutely can’t change his actions, and absolutely can’t change her own reactions.  Sure, the idea of codependency originally meant supposed tendencies of the partners of those who are dependent, addicted, but codependency soon had to include relationships with all of those who tend to do things that would hurt their partners.

Sure, as Lewis Wolpert’s Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression says, “Social causes have been the focus of so much research and are often grouped together under the general term ‘distressing life events’.”  At the same time, this is hardly sociological research.  Both “social causes” and “distressing life events” could just as easily mean the vicissitudes of life.  What happened to both Jane and “Archie” would qualify as both of these, even though they’re simply supposed to deal self-reliantly with their own problems.  Of course, if researchers did meta-analyses of the research on distressing life events, then this would show the results of social norms that treat devastatingly distressing life events as if they’re just realities for people to deal with.

An example of this focus on correcting the victims, is the concept of a “victim culture,” in Dr. Ofer Zur’s webpage that gives the opportunity for continuing-education credits, Psychology of Victimhood: Reflections on a Culture of Victims & How Psychotherapy Fuels the Victim Industry, which begins, “We have become a nation of victims, where everyone is leapfrogging over each other, competing for the status of victim, where most people define themselves as some sort of survivor.  We live in a culture where more and more people are claiming their own holocaust.  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.”

In other words, except for the “truly innocent” victims who couldn’t possibly be said to have “let themselves in for trouble,” those who say that they’re victims are getting some perverse Munchausen-type thrills by participating in a “victim culture.”  Soon after, this gives the basic idea of victim correction as a panacea, “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.”

Violence in America, by Arnold P. Goldstein, says that “Attribution of blame to victims,” including, “Victims, it is held, bring it on themselves,” is a handy way for sociopaths to minimize their own moral responsibility.  This also says that among the thinking that those being trained to be torturers are taught to have, is, “an emphasis on what psychologists call ‘just-world thinking’ in which people are believed to get what they deserve (so, those being tortured must deserve what they’re getting).”

Sure, there are some differences between this and the sort of personal response-ability that Reaganism tells us to take.  The thinking of the violent would blame the victims for actively bringing on the violence, whereas the personal response-ability would hold people responsible for anything to which they could seem to have made themselves vulnerable.  Dr. Fredrick Goodwin of the previous Bush administration, in his speech about young men in the ghettoes running around like monkeys in the jungle, said, “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.)   Likewise, correcting victims and potential victims would have more leverage than would correcting the victimizers, whether or not the victims actively brought the victimization on.  The post-Reagan/Thatcher conception of personal responsibility is like an economic bubble, in that, using too much leverage, people’s excited, sardonic, “optimistic” emotions will keep pushing this to get bigger and bigger, since it seems necessary for freedom, realism, etc., and it will finally get so big that the bubble pops.

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 aren’t the ones who make the real decisions, which is where the dangers come from.

 

 

Also, when victims minimize the victimizers’ moral responsibility and magnify their own responsibility for supposedly letting it happen, they do this out of a need to courageously change what they can and serenely accept whatever they can’t, but when victimizers minimize their own moral responsibility and magnify the victims’ responsibility for letting it happen, this is very cynical.  When victims engage in just-world thinking, it’s because they’re trying to be optimistic, well-adjusted, self-responsible, and resiliently and resourcefully self-reliant.  In the end though, both will lead to cognitive distortions that look like the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, emphasizing how the weak had better get rid of their own ignominious immature and manipulative weaknesses, through self-empowerment.

The November/December issue of Psychotherapy Networker refers to Dr. Zur as “an expert on ethics and boundaries in therapy.”  Ethic #2.04 of The Code of Ethics of the American Psychological Association says, “Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.”  This sums up several clauses in the 1992 Code of Ethics, such as 2.04b, “Psychologists recognize limits to the certainty with which diagnoses, judgments, or predictions can be made about individuals.”  The current ethic #3.06 says, “Psychologists refrain from taking on a professional role when personal, scientific, professional, legal, financial, or other interests or relationships could reasonably be expected to (1) impair their objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing their functions as psychologists....”

Pretty much the only way to firmly and decisively blame the victim, scientifically and objectively, would be through expedient pragmatism, “For your own good, make your own survival skills, serenity, and courage as effective as possible.  I can make that diagnosis judgment and prediction with absolute certainty about everybody in trouble.  Our society needs everyone to be motivated to try to win, and to deal with any losses.  Whatever constitutes realism in one’s own society, is inevitable.”  If a psychologist doesn’t give up on any other victim-blaming quickly enough, one could call that a violation of the boundaries of any clients who seem to be “letting themselves in for trouble” or acting too careless, but aren’t really.

Then one could add to this the current ethic #2.01(b), “Where scientific or professional knowledge in the discipline of psychology establishes that an understanding of factors associated with age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status is essential for effective implementation of their services or research, psychologists have or obtain the training, experience, consultation, or supervision necessary to ensure the competence of their services, or they make appropriate referrals...,” which pretty much bans any unproven victim-blaming.  Along with the expectations of science and unimpaired objectivity, this same code of ethics, in #1.07, “Psychologists do not file or encourage the filing of ethics complaints that are made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation,” and allegations that any victims are to blame for what happened to them shouldn’t be made with a reckless disregard or willful ignorance, either.

Another example of this is the homepage advertising the e-book set How to Spot a Dangerous Man, which quotes a typical man who’s dangerous to his partners as saying, She will think over and over again that I’m gonna do what I tell her I’m gonna do.  Hell NO!  Look, I know enough about myself that I know I-am-who-I-am.  She just doesn’t know it.  Good---so what.”  With this sort of man, “I’m gonna do what I tell her I’m gonna do,” has got to mean mainly that he tells her that he’s not going to be “sinful,” but women mustn’t trust that men won’t be.  Of course, “how to spot a dangerous man” could be as conjectural and based on intuition as are any other survival skills, and the question of whether the potential victims have adequate survival skills could be just as conjectural.  If a book has to teach women how to spot dangerous men, then chances are that both the men’s dangers, and the inadequacies in the women’s survival skills, aren’t objectively provable.

This tendency for him to “be who he is,” may be an addiction, or may be something that he habitually chooses to do.  In either case, the victims of such men absolutely can change themselves and absolutely can’t change the men, so self-help books for the women would have to focus on their choices.  For example, that homepage includes in the heading, “Famous Therapist Reveals to Women How to Spot and also How To Break Free of Abusive, Toxic, Cheating, and Unhealthy Relationships and NEVER Choose Them Again!” and in the body of the webpage, “You can’t change what you don’t see and until you understand what ‘dangerous is’ and what he’s like, you can’t stop the types of relationships you choose.”  Obviously these men could choose to stop their own problem behavior without any books teaching them how to understand the problems, but as long as they don’t want to, then the women must care only about their own choices, as if the men might as well be addicted.

This webpage includes a quote from another therapist, “Academics tend to focus on HOW THINGS SHOULD BE rather than HOW THINGS ARE.  This book tells you how things are!  I have never seen a book that covers all the bases of dysfunctional selection as this book does.”  This is your classic argument that intellectuals tend to be naïve.  This shows how morally bankrupt that sort of pragmatism can get.  In the case of these women, they’re victimized in some very unambiguous ways, including violence.  This website advertises a three-e-book set (The first is the main book and the second is the workbook that accompanies it.), the last of which is:

 

And In the E-How To Break Up With a Dangerous Man Book find out:

•All the LIFE SAVING important relationship information about how to set up your exit

Why dangerous men don’t break up like normal men do and what you need to know about the dangers involved

How to get the needed legal and other support you will need

What you must NEVER do

What you MUST ALWAYS do

 

So these guys could be very dangerous!  Yet what really seems to matter is a presumed “dysfunctional selection” on the part of the victims, choices that they don’t even realize that they’re making so they need a book to explain them to them.  One wouldn’t need a book to explain how the men’s choices are their own selections.  Yet with all self-help, the more opportunities that one could find to correct the victims, the more opportunities that one could find to strengthen those who have the most reliable motivations to solve the problems.  Caring about what constitutes blaming the victim, would seem too academic.  Obviously those academics who focus on HOW THINGS SHOULD BE realize that these dangers do exist, but they don’t care enough about being pragmatic about them.  Compared to this, treating the depressions of 34,000,000 Americans as if the problem is inside of them, would seem acceptable.  In a society with rampant depression, chances are that most of us have had or will have very significant problems in which, if we cared about who was primarily responsible for them, and about our not blaming ourselves, the victims, we wouldn’t solve our problems as well or as thoroughly as if we cared only about how we could succeed and correct our own failures.  That’s HOW THINGS ARE.

Of course, in order for these women to make better choices they’d have to learn to recognize the danger signals that a man is dangerous, avoid plenty of innocent men who still seem suspicious, not act weak since that attracts sadists, and use their own intuition, which is certainly not reliable.  For the men to make better choices, all that they’d have to do is choose to behave more responsibly.  Yet the women have to focus their attention on correcting themselves, and away from seeing how easily the men could solve the problems.  If the women don’t, then this would seem to constitute symptoms of codependency, that they’re naïve about the way that the men are, want to save and control them, etc.  Although “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” might sound like a satire of stereotypically German nihilism, if any woman diagnosed as codependent expects her men to stop their sinful behavior (completely irrespective of whether they could seem to be helpless victims of addictions), she would very much be treated as if she was expecting them to be as she’d have them.

This is the same sort of personal responsibility that Jane and “Archie” are supposed to show.  This sort of victim-blaming intended to correct and benefit the victims, was popularized in groups for addicts’ friends and loved ones.  Those who such self-help treats as “letting themselves in for trouble” by partnering themselves with problem lovers, are called “codependents,” so addicts’ partners are their prototypes.  If one’s role models are self-help and anti-intellectual grassroots groups of addicts’ friends and loved ones, then one’s role models would be people who simply must make the best of however these addicts affect them, self-reliantly and with a populist dogmatic self-responsibility.  “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 point in the same direction, and does have a grain of truth, since all opinions reflect the SELF-WILLS of those who have the opinions.

Here one could see virtually all of the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression that Dr. Burns listed.  In interactions where one person plays the role of the lion, and the other plays the role of the lamb, the “lamb” absolutely can’t change the “lion,” absolutely can change herself, and absolutely must take care of her own problems as well as possible.  That would have to mean All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filter, and Disqualifying the Positive, since she can’t give herself credit for partial solutions short of that.  She can’t make any distinctions except for what she can or can’t change.  She must focus her attention on correcting any inadequacies that she may have in doing this.  She can’t care about positive things that fall short of what it would take for her to succeed.

She probably doesn’t have adequate information, and is in a panicky state of mind where she’d jump to conclusions even when she didn’t have to.  She’d better not object to having to jump to conclusions, through guesswork and intuition.

She couldn’t change what’s wrong with his actions so she’d have to serenely accept this, and could change what’s wrong with her own reactions so she’d have to courageously change this.

It would seem that she should take care of herself better.

Everything would have to be labeled in this pragmatic fashion, as if caring about what’s morally right and wrong would be too idealistic, immaterial, philosophical, etc, whereas caring about the goodness or badness of her own reactions would be the only realistic option.  Whether something would seem GOOD or BAD would depend on the results, and that would depend on plenty of extraneous factors.

And if the only question that she could legitimately ask about her own problems is, “Can I change this, and, if so, how pragmatically could I change it?” then what she’d be scrutinizing in these problems would be how effective her own reactions were, never whether she was primarily responsible for the problems.  What good would caring about that, do in her dealing with her own problems, succeeding in life, freeing herself from dangerous men, depression, etc.?

The main goal of cognitive therapy for depression is that people choose to be optimistic, and she’d want to, since she’d realize how pragmatic optimism is.

This could seem pro-freedom, since:

 

 

Since helpless isn’t tyranny, expecting people to serenely accept whatever they can’t change, even in a society with rampant depression, could still seem very pro-freedom.  In fact, this could seem necessary for freedom, since the only other alternative would be not to take care of your own problems well enough, to try to control others (including those who’d qualify as “sinful”), etc.

Sure, Niebuhr wrote in The Nature and Destiny of Man,  “The negativism which Nietzsche falsely regards as the genius of Christianity is therefore really the Schopenhauerian Buddhistic variant of Christianity,” and, “There will be psychiatric techniques which pretend to overcome all the anxieties of human existence and therefore all its corruptions.”  Yet if you live in a society with rampant depression and anxiety disorders, you’d pretty much have to serenely accept everything that you’re helpless to change.  Yet that wouldn’t quite live up to the negative stereotypes of Buddhist transcendence, since that serenely accepts both tyranny and helplessness.

The Romantic Era of Central European culture, which produced the ideas of Schopenhauer Nietzsche Wagner and, later, Freud Niebuhr and Hitler, arose as a reaction to the intellectualism of the Enlightenment era, the 18th Century, which was very inspired by Classical thinking, that of ancient Greece and Rome.  In the Romantic Era, it seemed necessary to realize that the trust that the Enlightenment Era gave to testing ideas through intellectual means, was naïve about the fact that, due to human nature, all beliefs have to reflect the SELF-WILLS of those who propound them.  Those whiners naturally want the world to be as they’d have it.  Sure, George Washington said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force,” but if eloquence could win, then manipulative self-serving sophistry could win.  Yet Classical thinking went on and on without these sorts of objections, to this degree.

Yes, the original school of logic for persuading others, which began when democratic courts began in ancient Greece so it became necessary to argue like lawyers, was called... well... Sophistry.  The word sophistry gradually started to mean caring about looking right rather than being right, just as, currently, the word rhetoric originally meant the art of speaking or writing effectively, but has gotten to imply sophistry; artfully effective words could seem manipulative.  Even if arguments in court were sincere, they could still seem to be sophistry, since naturally everyone believes that they’re right.  Arguments that weak plaintiffs make against strong defendants would be especially likely to look manipulative and parasitical.  The word democracy was originally derived from the Greek for mob rule, and eloquent arguments winning could seem to be a manipulative version of mob ruleA certain amount of manipulation, and probably a far greater amount of fear of manipulation, may be inevitable, but logic should still tell us that without the abstractions that involve right and wrong, all that we’d have is a Wagnerian law of the jungle.

Sure, as Schopenhauer wrote in The World as Will and Representation, both Cynicism and Stoicism, which are also skeptical about human nature, arose in Classical thinking.  Also, someone must have realized the limits of what scientific thinking could recognize.  Yet at the same time, the value of intelligent thinking was always recognized.  Today those who do the real work tend to figure that they’ve got to think in whatever ways would make them the most productive and well-adjusted, but those who did the real work in ancient Greece and Rome would have found that just as necessary.  Both Classical and Enlightenment thinking saw the value of the virtues that, in practice, tend to pass judgment far more on the weak than the strong, such as resiliency and forgiveness.

Research on this, would have this much satyagraha.  Anyone who’d know what had been scientifically proven about what the threshold of human endurance really is, as well as the costs of minimizing moral responsibility and magnifying the personal response-ability for one’s own problems like this, would likely have a lot less blind faith in this ethos.

As Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”  Those around us would no doubt be very ready to ridicule and violently oppose the study of depressive disorders affecting about 34 million American adults, as a social problem, but sooner or later, that would have to be accepted as self-evident.  Research into this, would make the social problem more self-evident.  The rights and sanity of those around us, who are going through the sorts of traumas that contribute to our rampant depression, would be a lot more respected if we treated this as if the social problem is self-evident, than if we ridiculed or violently opposed an awareness of the social problem.

Here’s my answers to some questions of the S.C.L.-90-R test, which asks about mainly psychological, but also some neurological, problems:

Certainly women like these are likely to seem pathological in these ways, no matter how much resolve they might show in watching out for problem men.  The same would apply to those who are suffering from the depression that wouldn’t have happened without the helplessness that’s causing an extraordinary amount of it, except that their helplessness would tend to be ambiguous enough that if you took it seriously, that would seem to be only your opinion.

 


 

 

 

One intellectual tendency that we could most certainly avoid, is the pretentious language in journal articles!  This exactly fits the stereotype of the inane intellectual elite!  Also, that would very much go against the impact that we could make.  If we used very direct language, saying straight out at the beginning of each article what we’re proving, this could sound very bone-chilling, without any effort to sound emotional!  We could describe 34,000,000 American adults suffering from serious depressive disorders, along the lines of, “The formation of our expectations and self-expectations is imposed on us by norms that have never been tested for endurability,” or, “Everyone knows that if 34,000,000 American suffer from serious depressive disorders, then that’s just the reality that you must deal with, which means that you’re personally responsible for doing whatever it takes to be a winner under these circumstances.”  While this elitism is gradually getting less extreme, arcane still looks respectable.  All that we’d have to do for what we’d tell of, to really come alive, would be not to stifle it with the pretentiousness.

 

 

We could treat this Satyagraha as the last frontier, and have towards it a frontier spirit.  When discussing the helplessness that causes our own excessive depression, anxiety disorders, etc., those who conform to our cultural norms would tend to figure, at the very least, that to serenely accept such things would foster freedom.  This acceptance would seem to have a frontier spirit, whereas realizing just what excessive depression really means would seem weak, passive, restrictive, manipulative, etc.  But is it really natural to accept that level of depression, anxiety, etc., and what causes them?  When those around us tell the victims of what causes them, that these people had better just suck it up and endure them, does that reflect the real selves of those saying this, or what they think is good to believe?

The only real difference between a frontier spirit with guns, and a frontier spirit with Satyagraha, is that the former is objective while the latter, to some degree, is subjective.  Whoever wins a gunfight simply is the winner, and if you don’t like it, too bad.  On the other hand, no matter how much science may prove that certain types of traumatic experiences lead to certain risks of contributing to depression to certain degrees, one could probably excuse away each individual traumatic experience.  In fact, some of the dodges used for this are pretty standard.  Certain specifics of the situation could make it seem entirely excusable, as if of course any well-adjusted person would accept that that’s just one of the vicissitudes of life.  If only the victims had reacted in the right ways, then they wouldn’t have suffered so much.  As the old saying goes, “What is done cannot be undone,” so once one has done anything, he could act as if he’s the helpless one, completely helpless to undo it.

           

This reality is no doubt the real reason for, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, 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, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:43-48, a part of the Sermon on the Mount)  Nothing can be undone, so all must be forgiven.  All, including Jane and “Archie,” must be however perfect that their realities require them to be.  In a society with rampant depression and anxiety disorders, it would have to seem that if you care about what causes them, you’re bad: deviant, maladjusted, insufficiently strong, etc.

 

 

If we tried to have a frontier spirit toward Satyagraha, we could seem to have the sort of untermensch manipulative self-will that Schopenhauer attributed to any awareness of bad or evil.  Yet if our rates of depression and anxiety disorders are high enough, then excusing away each trauma like this is a lot more manipulative than is assertively insisting that those who expect the victims to just endure, don’t know what they’re talking about.  Clearly, they don’t really have a sense of what the threshold of human endurance is.  What’s wrong with the causes of our rampant depression is very practical and provable, rather than philosophical.  (At the same time, one could say that this is so banal, that it’s very profound.)

 


 

 

 

Sure, the threshold of human endurance is a range, rather than just one threshold.  Yet knowing this range would let us get a realistic sense of just what we could assume that those around us could endure.  Right now, what we’d assume that others will adjust and adapt to (so if they don’t they’d seem maladjusted and maladaptive), is based on the norms of that very same culture that causes that rampant depression.  If, instead, we knew just what was the threshold of human endurance, our expectations of others (and, therefore, the expectations that others would make of us), would be different.

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.”  Certainly a good area of research, would be how much the rates of depression, anxiety, etc., relate to the level of aggressiveness in any society, including those that most would call “primitive.”

It would do a lot of good for those who now regard the minimization and magnification to be absolute truths, to see how other cultures deal with such issues, and what the rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., are in each.  For example, in Dobu society in Melanesia, poisoning each other, etc., are so normal that naturally everyone is anxious.  The chapter on the Dobu in Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture, copyright 1934, begins by saying that though societies on neighboring islands are good-natured since their islands have adequate arable soil, the island of the Dobu is so rocky that the people must be very feisty to survive.

The Dobuans amply deserve the character they are given by their neighbours.  They are lawless and treacherous.  Every man’s hand is against every other man.  They lack the smoothly working organization of the Trobriands, headed by honoured high chiefs and maintaining peaceful and continual reciprocal exchanges of goods and privileges.  Dobu has no chiefs.  It certainly has no political organization.  In a strict sense it has no legality.  And this is not because the Dobuan lives in a state of anarchy, Rousseau’s ‘natural man’ as yet unhampered by the social contract, but because the social forms which obtain in Dobu put a premium upon ill-will and treachery and make of them the recognized virtues of their society.

The Dobu must trade with those on neighboring islands, each of which specialize in making a different hand-made product.  They simply must be trustworthy there, in order for this trade to continue, though they certainly try to carry out these trades in a “sharp” fashion, in which they try to get away with as much as they could.

Since success is often attributed to magic, self-blame might not be much of a problem there, unless people blame themselves for not having enough mojo.  Yet at the same time, you could bet that those who assertively stand up for their own rights, and do so firmly, would be treated pretty much the same way as Reaganist culture would treat those who assertively stand up for their own rights and do so firmly: as if sure, everyone wants to believe that they’re entitled to more than what they have, and this is a reflection of their own SELF-WILLS, so everyone had better just stop their whining.  Sure, as Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind says,  “Freud was very dubious about the future of civilization and the role of reason in the life of man....  [Max Weber’s] science is was formulated as a doubtful dare against the chaos of things, and values certainly lay beyond its limits,” but every society, including the Dobu, have to keep functioning.  Dobu society would have to make sure that it keeps its homeostasis, by frequently treating its citizens who don’t show enough backbone, as if they have untermensch character flaws such as resentment, anger, fear, having “pity parties,” and manipulativeness.

As this book says, a realistic view of how close primitive societies come to utopias is that different societies do to different degrees, and that usually the more aggressive a society must be in order to wrest all the foods it needs from the land on which it lives, the more aggressive that society’s cultural norms would be.  And this leads to the fact that to whatever degree a society’s norms must overtly restrict aggressive desires, this doesn’t necessarily have all the unnatural connotations that a Wagnerian psychology would give it.  In those societies in which people are free to care what could cause rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., their human nature would actually be re-engineered less than would be the human nature of people in societies that have rampant depression and anxiety disorders, and those who care would seem maladjusted, manipulative, resentful, etc.

Much of what leads to our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., could be excused away as mistakes, inevitable imperfection, etc.  Yet we really do have to ask if and how a modernized version of an anti-Wagnerian tribe would have prevented such problems.  Would it be aware enough to the dangers of problems big enough to cause such devastation?  Or maybe such problems really are inevitable.

 


 

 

 

Sure, ever since the Reagan-Thatcher era, exploring social problems, especially in the context of other societies’ norms, has seemed manipulative.  And there are plenty of manipulators who proceed as if the more injustice they could prove, the more victim-power they’d therefore have.  These people are very likely to believe that primitive societies did follow the natural law, and that our problems started with the artificiality of our cultures.  Even the Maoists have recently said, at the very beginning of their newsletters, “[Maoist Internationalist Movement] Notes speaks to and from the viewpoint of the world’s oppressed majority, and against the imperialist-patriarchy.”  Yet, at the same time, when our norms are artificial enough that we accept what causes our rampant depression, as if anyone who doesn’t adjust to this is maladjusted, that artificiality truly is dangerous.

This skepticism of patriarchy tends to include skepticism of religion, which has gotten the same sort of distrust since the Reagan-Thatcher era.  Yet as one could see now in the Middle East, religion can cause real problems.  The norm of the entire mid-East is to serve religious beliefs, yet the people had internalized the beliefs so they also believe that if you don’t like these beliefs then you’re bigoted against the believers.  These beliefs go back centuries if not millennia, yet those who treat governments proudly base on them, as ancien régimes, would seem bigoted against them.  Ancien régimes say that if you don’t go along with their norms that cause the problems then you’re morally bad, whereas modern norms say that if you don’t go along with the norms that lead to our rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., then you’re an untermensch, unrealistic, whiny, passive, counterproductive, manipulative, controlling, judgmental, intellectualist, etc., loser, which sounds a lot less other-directed.  It would seem that necessarily, these realities will go on and on forever, so the phenomena that cause our rampant depression will go on and on forever.

Yet rampant depression isn’t only natural.  The norms that lead to it, really are just another bunch of dicta.  Religion really would be a good model for this sort of cultural conditioning.

 


 

 

 

In doing this research, we’ve got to remember to keep in mind some of the classic intellectual self-doubt.  One of the big themes in Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man is that naturally everyone would tend to believe what they want.  As one could see in, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” it’s usually untermensch ideas that seem intolerably WILLFUL, whereas the SELF-WILLS of the übermenschen, such as the sinful, seems as if we must tolerate it.  Any research on what causes our rampant depression, would be untermensch.  For this reason, our research would seem insidiously manipulative.  While this doesn’t mean that it actually is any more untrustworthy than would be übermensch research, it still means that the public would tend to distrust it more, so we’d better be able to prove it.  The fact of this such a massive tragedy should make us both more concerned about what is the truth than what we’d want to believe, and confident that an unbiased look at this would certainly be good enough.  (Even if one wasn’t this responsible, the fact would still remain that this social problem and what causes it are so huge that no matter how hard anyone tried to distort the knowledge of these causes, this distortion could last for only so long.)

Also, our own particular experiences and viewpoints might affect our own perceptions of our rampant depression and anxiety disorders, more than they should.  In my own case, the experiences that I’ve had due to my handicap, could distort my own perceptions of what the average Westerner is up against.  On one hand, you might think that since I have an objectively provable disadvantage, I’d be given less personal responsibility for my problems than would those whose obstacles aren’t so objectively provable.  On the other hand, this could have led to more problems, especially with those who’d want to believe that even handicaps don’t get in the way of efforts to find a job, etc.  You might think that for a book that inculcates optimism to say that “lambs” will just have to serenely accept “lions,” is just as out-of-bounds, but the fact would remain that as long as they don’t cause unsolvable problems for the “lambs,” serenely accepting that the “lions” are who they are, would benefit the lambs by making their approaches to life more pragmatic.

Sure, the nihilism that makes up most of Schopenhauer’s philosophy was the main inspiration of other German nihilism, such as that of Nietzsche Wagner and Hitler.  Yet there really is a grain of truth in the caution that he had of untermensch WILLFULNESS, as in what he wrote in The World as Will and Representation, “Wrong through violence is not so ignominious for the perpetrator as wrong through cunning, because the former is evidence of physical strength, which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race.  The latter, on the other hand, by using the crooked way, betrays weakness, and at the same time degrades the perpetrator as a physical and moral being,” and, “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.”  When anyone believes that he himself, or those like him, have been wronged, that will reflect his own SELF-WILL, to at least some degree.  It could even seem that even if what was done was unambiguously wrong, that’s just the way that life goes sometimes, and of course übermenschen deal with the way that life goes sometimes.  And, in the end, exactly what level of wrongness is to be accepted as “just the way that life goes sometimes,” is a matter of opinion.  Those who are willing to serenely accept and deal with the highest level of wrongness that they’re helpless to change, would be the most resilient, and, therefore, the most likely to succeed in life.

A great example of this is how the American and British public were inveigled into invading Iraq.  Dubya and the Bushmen played the victim role, saying that they only wanted to save us from Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.  After the invasion and we saw that no weapons of mass destruction were found, investigators found that the claims that Saddam still had them were based on the flimsiest of informants’ claims.  The Bushmen also ignored the fact that Iraq would obviously be unstable after the invasion.  Yet the whiners who got us to invade, could always say that they honestly believed that we were victims of Saddam.

On Glenn Beck’s show on November 16, 2007, he said, “And even when it comes to the war, you didn’t tell us that we are in the fight of our life.  You told us to go shopping,” eliciting a lot of whiny emotion, without saying that we wouldn’t be “in the fight of our life” if Dubya didn’t get us there for stupid reasons.  Before I read comments like that, I didn’t really appreciate what Niebuhr wrote about the Nazis in The Nature and Destiny of Man, “There is a peculiar irony in the fact that [Nietzsche’s] doctrine, which was meant as an exposure of the vindictive transvaluation of values engaged in by the inferior classes, should have itself become a vehicle of the pitiful resentments of the lower middle classes of Europe in their fury against more powerful aristocratic and proletarian classes.”  The more that one willfully but convincingly plays the victim role, the more that he could escape accountability.  The more righteous he’d sound, the more that he could get away with.  Yet if the self-righteousness is populist, that wouldn’t seem to be whiny self-serving vice in the name of virtue.  Those who’d hold populist endeavors accountable could legitimately seem to be manipulative victimizers, which leads to redblood-coddling.

Of course, the Bushmen wanted to believe that this victimization existed, since this would give a license to do what they wanted to do.  All the money that Halliburton made off of this could seem to be just a coincidence.  That whining was very much an expression of their own SELF-WILLS, but it seems cruel to respond to whining as if it expresses the whiners’ SELF-WILLS.  That’s how victim-power works.  One can be treated as ignominious for believing what he wants to, but not as immoral.  Of course, one likely could get away with more immorality than ignominy, since an anti-judgmental forgiving outlook doesn’t require forgiving ignominy, but does require forgiving immorality, and would likely treat you as ignominious if you don’t forgive it.

 

This could also show the dangers of redblood-coddling.  During much of the time that Saddam actually did have weapons of mass destruction, he was an American ally.  Those who cared that he did, didn’t have the gutsy credibility of redbloods.  They actually did seem to be whiners.  Sure, the Reagan Administration actually arranged to have plenty of deadly germs and other military aid shipped to Saddam, but even if the public knew about this then, those who objected would have seemed to have been whining us into the hands of Iran.  It represented authoritarian power, which seems far more intimidating than does simple power, which could seem to be just one of those imperfections that are inherent to life and/or human nature.  Sure, these germs could have just as easily been used against Israel, but those who’d object to the Reagan administration enabling this, (other than just treating it as a dumb mistake), would have seemed too mollycoddle to understand realpolitik.  Sure, dumb mistakes seem ignominious, but not immoral....  (Probably most of what contributes to our excessive depression would qualify as ignominious but not undoubtedly immoral, though just as preventable was would have been whatever Saddam did with those germs.)  Sure, that section of the Congressional Record dated September 20, 2002 about this, as well as the Newsweek article included in this, was “How Saddam Happened,” but if Saddam had used these germs in the 1980s and we treated the Reagan Administration’s providing them as “how Saddam happened,” that would have seemed to have constituted subjective blaming.

An AP article appearing in the Washington Post in November, 2007, Former Aide Blames Bush for Leak Deceit, says that Scott McClellan said that when he had a press conference denying that those in the White House were responsible for outing Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff and the president himself.”  This article ends, “Then, after repeatedly declining to discuss the ongoing investigation, [Bush] said the case was closed and it was time to move on.”  “Let’s forget about this and move on,” is another of those classic dodges that could make any trauma that contributes to our rampant depression, seem as if something’s wrong with you if you care about it in more than a passing fashion.  If you cared only somewhat, then you’d seem somewhat whiny, manipulative, etc.  (Obviously the Bushmen figured that they’re immune from accountability since anyone who seriously held them accountable would seem to be “playing politics” along the lines of playing the victim role.)  Either any victim moves on or he doesn’t, and it seems that only defeatists don’t.  Such absolutist, tunnel-vision Should Statements are characteristic of the classic dodges.  “Oh, you poor thing,” etc.

 

 

 


 

 

 

The viewpoints that might get in our way might seem übermensch, and, therefore, as if we’d better defer to them.  For example, you might figure that sure, we should take seriously the causes of our rampant depression that come from the economy, but not the causes that come from broken and dysfunctional families.  The whole idea of committing oneself to a marriage and then really taking it seriously, might seem repressive.  Also, while we may not say that people should have a right to behave in ways that would disrupt their entire families on a chronic basis, we might give this a tacit acceptance, where really taking seriously the demands that he stop doing this would seem repressive, or, at the very least, unrealistic.  It would seem that we’d better defer to this, since repression seems plainly and simply bad.

For such concerns, we really do have to keep certain things in mind.  First off, the rates of depression, anxiety disorders in broken families should be pretty objectively measurable.  The rates of depression, anxiety disorders in families in which one person is making the entire family dysfunctional, though, might not be as objective.  Diagnoses of codependency seem to be very easy to make, and one can’t be in a codependent relationship unless the other person is the problem.  Yet if any analyses that don’t aim to blame the victim, say that one person is the problem, they could very easily seem to be simple-minded headgames of “It’s all you,” all your fault.  It should still be possible to define which relationships and marriages could make the helpless one seem codependent, and then measure how likely all the helpless family members are to suffer depression.  Such objective measures really would have to be more important than would ideas about the supposed badness of what seems to be psychological repression.

Also, genuine moralism regarding dysfunctional families and divorce, could be very distorted into patriarchal patterns.  Mike Echols’ Brother Tony’s Boys quotes Rev. James R. Carter,  a normal friend of pedophile Pentecostal preacher Tony Leyva, as saying that at first he had faith in Tony, “I think that maybe Tony wanted to be good to everybody and to all the people, but you can’t do that all the time.  So many of the kids [around Tony], their parents had married and remarried and you got your kids, my kids, and our kids.  [laughs]  And everybody else’s!”

As time went on, Rev. Carter became more and more skeptical that Tony really was as innocent as he (sometimes) claimed.  Carter was at first rather loyal to his fellow Pentecostal preacher.  This is exactly the sort of person you’d expect to be so cynical toward divorce, as if everyone involved were simply failures.  Yet in most if not all of the broken and dysfunctional families that this book tells of, the husband was the problem.  If instead Carter had said something against that sort of gutsy sinful behavior, that would have sounded very different!

Then added to this is the question of what causes such high rates of broken and dysfunctional families.  As David A. Karp wrote in Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness, “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.”  This is a social problem not only because it has the magnitude of a social problem, but also because it also must have social causes.  Sure, it’s very easy to figure that insistences that marriages not fail are repressive.  It’s also very easy to figure that since marriages commit people to others who they married without getting to know a great deal of others, and there’s probably someone else out there who they’d be more compatible with, marriages constitute “traps.”  At the same time, it really is necessary to compare our rates of divorce and dysfunctional families, to other societies’ rates.

The big question would have to be, “Are our current rates of divorce and dysfunctional families only natural, or aren’t they?”  If they are, then any expectations that people stop causing them, are unnaturally repressive, unrealistic, etc.  If they aren’t, then they’re social problems.  No matter how much our culture may insist that what seems red-blooded and übermensch is good and what seems mollycoddle and untermensch is bad, research into what the threshold of human endurance really is, would tell us what really is good, and what really is bad.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 


 

 

 Home Page

 About Us, Introduction

About Us, the Summary

 About Us, Index

My Story

  To The [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

Men Dying for Love

On Doping

Oh, Yeah?” Upbeat Echoes from the First Great Stock Market Crash

Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary (Page 1)

(Page 2)(Main Page 3)

Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main 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 Book

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

A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport

Hotlinks