In this article, two covers are presented from conferences proceedings sponsored by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, about Cybernetics – 1953 Macy Conferences – and Neuropharmacology – 1955 Neuropharmacological Conferences, in which U.S. neurophysiologist and behavioural scientist Ralph Waldo Gerard proposed the term ‘psychotomimetic’.
“There is one golden rule that should be applied in working with model psychoses. One should start with oneself.”
“Our psychotomimetics resemble the hypothetical endotoxin that Carl Jung called toxin-X and that we have called M (mescalinelike) substance.”
Osmond views raise an interesting paradox of experience over logos: if in order to discuss rationally about such substances one has to use them and if using them disorganizes the psyche, would it ever be in fact possible to discuss rationally about them? Or the move to use them implies – a priori – an abandonment of human rationality?
“In her book The Secret Ring: Freud’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis, Phyllis Grosskurth explains that around 1912, Freud’s primary disciple and intellectual heir, Carl Jung, split with his mentor and began outlining his own theories which deviated from Freud’s work.
Freud, hoping to keep a grip on the emerging field of study, brought together six prominent students and created a “Secret Committee” to propagate and defend his work against Jungian psychoanalysis. To seal the deal, Freud gifted each committee member a signet ring with a Greek or Roman god from antiquity taken from his collection.
He later gifted other rings to friends and students, in total handing out about 20 of the signets during his life.”
“C.G. had a difficult relationship with his father but felt a strong rapport with his grandfather Karl Gustav Jung, even though he died before C.G.’s birth.”
“No account of model psychoses would be complete that did not relate those that are induced chemically to those induced by other means, such as the reduced or specialized environments described by Heron, Bexton, and Hebb and by Lilly. These specialized environments have been used since antiquity.”
“The substances in question can be used to develop very high degrees of that mysterious yet vital quality – empathy.”
“I believe that these agents have a part to play in our survival as a species.”
The broader political meaning of these substances was stated by Osmond from the very birth of the word ‘psychedelic’.
‘Psychelytic’ would appear to be in line with a Gnostic worldview – as presented by Eric Voegelin – requiring the dissolution or disintegration of the psyche. However, instead of psychedelic, for the pneuma to be revealed or manifested a more appropriate term could be ‘pneumadelic’.
“For most of their history, they have been mysterious, dangerous substances and must be treated respectfully.”
The word ‘psychiatry’ was coined in 1808 by a German Doctor, Christian Reil, and the word ‘antipsychiatry’ was coined a century later in 1908 by another German Doctor, Bernhard Beyer.
For the first time here – and by way of two portraits – the inventors of the two words are presented together.
Federico Soldani: intervista TV su politica, linguaggio medico-psicologico e tecnocrazia [trascrizione] (2020)
“Volevo evidenziare che a mio avviso noi siamo di fronte – anche soltanto guardando al linguaggio, e non solo – a una trasformazione equivalente, se non più radicale, perché le tecnologie di oggi sono molto più invasive e pervasive, di quella che c’è stata 250, 200 anni fa, con la nascita degli stati nazione basati sulle costituzioni alla Montesquieu. E gia’ lo storico, il grande storico Hobsbawm, quello del Secolo Breve per intenderci, nel suo libro che si chiama L’Età della Rivoluzione, che parla proprio di quel periodo, evidenziava come gli intellettuali, o i politici, a quei tempi, quando il potere stava passando da un potere di tipo sovrano, di tipo anche sempre legato all’ambito religioso, a un potere sempre più secolarizzato, questi intellettuali – fondamentalmente gli intellettuali protagonisti dell’illuminismo – prima hanno iniziato a parlare un linguaggio secolarizzato, a dispetto delle loro credenze religiose private, dopodiché è avvenuta la secolarizzazione anche del potere. Adesso noi secondo me stiamo assistendo al linguaggio che in modo assolutamente, ecco come dire, evidente sta diventando un linguaggio tecnico, medico, psicologico, epidemiologico. E allora prima cambia il linguaggio – se seguiamo il ragionamento di Hobsbawm – e questo ci indica in che direzione cambieranno le istituzioni.”
Quanto è stato importante il ruolo che casi sensazionali di guarigione, riportati su un giornale medico supportato in maniera non trasparente dalla casa produttrice Parke-Davis, esercitarono sulla convinzione che Freud si formò circa i molteplici usi “terapeutici” della cocaina?
E quale può essere stato l’impatto degli effetti di questa sostanza stimolante sull’ideazione di alcuni dei temi, tra cui alcuni fortemente legati alla sfera sessuale, che sono centrali nello sviluppo della psicoanalisi?
In una audizione parlamentare, davanti alla commissione per la riforma del diritto tributario – ‘Riforma dell’IRPEF e altri aspetti del sistema tributario’ – il direttore della Agenzia delle Entrate italiana ha affermato: “appare utile evidenziare come sia necessario prestare attenzione agli inevitabili profili di “psicologia fiscale”.
“La classificazione del comportamento scorretto come malattia” – sosteneva lo psichiatra Szasz – “fornisce una giustificazione ideologica per un controllo sociale sponsorizzato dallo stato come trattamento medico”.
La psicologizzazione del discorso pubblico e’ una delle strategie principali di lungo periodo che servono a de-politicizzare e de-sovranizzare il cittadino elettore.
“Probably the one event capable of instigating so fundamental a change would be a major collapse. Only if the present producing and distributing apparatus should definitely break down, only if hunger and cold should spur the minds of a majority of the nation into unaccustomed activity, could a revolution conflicting with nearly every current belief gain momentum.”
“Since revolution should neither be desired nor expected now, and since the transformation from capitalism to technocracy is so drastic that certain of its stages will certainly be considered to be of a revolutionary nature, it may be asked what preliminary steps should be taken in order to prepare for the crucial moments.”
“Revolution, as Trotsky puts it, can only occur when the class in power has outlived its usefulness and thereby become rotten.”
“As a result, capital has been shorn of its function though the realization of this may not immediately percolate through the group consciousness.”
“There is no a priori reason why a sustained, even intelligent, study of the phenomena which induce these visions cannot eventually permit us to attain them at will.” “And when a being is in possession of them, he knows or thinks he knows the meaning of life and thus, as a secondary benefit, reduces, by the aid of memory, to their proper unimportance, the sorrow, the tragedy, even the ostensible evil which is woven of necessity into the texture of our temporal days.”
“Society since the beginning has discouraged by means of church, school, and statutory restrictions all experimentation in the domain of spiritual living. The consequence has been a stultification of the intellect, a frustration of the emotions, and a damming up of nervous energy which is bringing many people to the verge of a nervous breakdown. A technocracy would attempt to set free that great surplus of vital energy now burning itself out, uselessly, in the business game, and redirect it into unexplored channels.”
“Research work, directed toward discovering the causes of psychic maladjustments, may prove more difficult than devising a machine to pick cotton; and successful achievement in this field will surely be harder to measure.”
In the summer of 2019, I proposed the use of the terms “psyspeak” or “ideopathological lexicon” to mean psychologized as well as medicalized lexicon used outside of the clinical context especially when applied to the wider societal and political world, during a talk at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London.
On the 26th of March this year, just a few days ago, The New Yorker online published the following article, under Cultural Comment: “The rise of therapy-speak. How a language got off the couch and into the world” by Katy Waldman, a magazine staff writer.
“As a last measure the energy certificate” – a measure reminding of today’s Chinese ‘social credit’ – “could be cancelled. This punishment should prove efficacious in most cases. When an individual proved obstinately recalcitrant for obscure reasons, the psychiatrists would attempt to unravel the trouble. In no case should real punishment, such as solitary confinement or labor forced by physical threats, be necessary.” “On first thought, tyranny, due to the human tendency to get drunk with power, would seem to be a grave menace to the technocracy. Our present constitution is so preoccupied with guarding against this menace that executive action is greatly hampered. In fact, action would be nearly impossible if every legal requirement were conscientiously fulfilled. In a technocracy there would be no statutory checks on tyranny.”
La tendenza generalizzata contemporanea che, riutilizzando un termine di Michel Foucault, chiamo “grande internamento” e’ ravvisabile in tre tendenze in corso: il mentalismo, il neuro-centrismo, e la rivoluzione digitale e virtuale.
“Human energy, applied to finding ways of life that satisfy, to creating values which uplift the spirit, may improve the lot of man on earth as emphatically in the inner psychic sphere as man’s genius, directed toward conquering the outer material world, has ameliorated the conditions of his physical existence.”
“Man and his environment act upon each other. Both are altered in the process.” “Some men work upon the external world. The remolding of the earth’s crust in order to make it more congenial to human life, and the use of natural materials to satisfy physical needs are functions of men of action.” “Other men remold human nature. Their attempt is to adapt man to his environment rather than vice versa. The transmuting of the nature of man, the developing of his perceptions so that he is able to attune himself to those inner harmonies which give value to life, the digesting of phenomena so that instead of fear and disgust they give pleasure, and the interpreting of nature’s phases are the province of the artist.”
“To avoid an enormous increase in discontent and misery of the psychological variety, the consequence of multiplying the individual’s leisure, provision must be made for pleasure stimulation. The intermediate period would be particularly difficult.” “The control of anything the appeal of which is subjective, such as the theater, or painting, should not be entrusted to the state. A state may be entrusted with engineering projects, with the production of goods, to a lesser extent, with the preservation of health. Values in these fields are objective and can be tested by trial and error experimentation. Consequently skillful work is easily recognized and successful accomplishment allows of no debate. This is not so with the more subtle longings of the human soul.”
“Il popolo è minorenne, la città è malata, ad altri spetta il compito di curare e di educare.
A noi il dovere di reprimere! La repressione è il nostro vaccino! Repressione è civiltà!”
“One cannot maintain an ethic on a transient certificate of service entitling the possessor to a certain quantity of energy. Ethics requires at least the illusion of eternality. Ethics deprived of the immortal dollar might again interest itself primarily in spiritual values.” “During the period in which the nature of man was adjusting itself to economic security and a superabundance of leisure, emotional needs would doubtless be rampant.” “If technocracy should be successful, and when its success had become accepted even by the individual’s subconscious mind, religion might undergo a metamorphosis.”
“Some individuals consider periodical health examination an invasion of their private rights; but such invasions are not resented long.” “It is only the suspiciousness of the poor, whom experience teaches to expect no good of the unknown, which makes them recalcitrant to medical advice.” “With doctors assuming the intimate role of family adviser, mental defectives would inevitably be recognized. When suspected of dangerous tendencies, their habits would be watched; when necessary their actions restrained.”
“In a technocracy, the separation of private and public function is clearly defined.” “The alterations in structure are radical but simple. First the present tendency to merge the competing units in each industry must be carried to completion.”
“Corporate monopolies would be the government.” “A most undemocratic system!”
“Man automatically attaches to his ego extraneous elements and calls them his”
“Six thousand years have been required to harness the forces of nature. Will another six thousand years be necessary to check the forces which have impelled society to found its faith in greed? Economic competition, the free-for-all, called capitalism, is now breeding a condition which is imperiling the complicated structure and the very civilization of the Western society. Is the alternative to capitalism so dreadful that it may not even be envisaged?”
“The sole function of conventional politics would be “showmanship” to keep the public amused: “receiving distinguished guests, laying corner stones, making speeches about the rights of man, American initiative, justice. Its offices would be elective, thereby titillating the egos of those who like to think they are running things. Prominent clowns will, doubtless, be frequently elected.”
We the Crazy?
“To attribute the behavior of generals or of the imperialists to a sort of monstrous irrationality commonly accepted as normal means not allowing oneself to consider that the logic of war, or of the bomb, or of hunger, is not the result of particular psychological processes, but of a social system which is neither mad nor irrational and simply defends with maximum coherence some vested interests.”
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