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Origins of the cyber-psychedelic subculture (2021)

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’.

‘Pneumadelic’? Osmond, 1957: “my own preference being ‘psychelytic’, or ‘psychedelic’ ” /3 (2021)

“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?

‘Freud of the Rings’ (2021)

“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.”

‘Pneumadelic’? Osmond, 1957: “my own preference being ‘psychelytic’, or ‘psychedelic’ ” /2 (2021)

“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.”

‘Pneumadelic’? Osmond, 1957: “my own preference being ‘psychelytic’, or ‘psychedelic’ ” (2021)

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’.

‘Psychiatry’ and ‘antipsychiatry’ (2021)

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.

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /14 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /13 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /12 (2021)

“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.”

‘Psyspeak’ on PsyPolitics and ‘therapy-speak’ on The New Yorker (2021)

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.

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /11 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /10 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /9 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /8 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /7 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /6 (2021)

“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.”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /5 (2021)

“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!”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /3 (2021)

“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?”

‘Life in a Technocracy’, 1933: a soviet of technicians… in America? /2 (2021)

“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.”

Were the Vietnam war American generals mentally ill? Jervis on power and madness (2021)

“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.”

The ‘Code of Nature’, 1755: collective feelings vs. individual reason (2020)

Loin que la raison nous éclaire
Et conduise nos actions,
Nous avons trouvé l’art d’en faire
L’orateur de nos passions.
C’est un Sophiste qui nous joue,
Un vil complaisant qui se loue
A tous les fous de l’univers,
Qui s’habillant du nom de sages,
La tiennent sans cesse à leurs gages
Pour autoriser leurs travers.
– Rousseau

Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ epigraph and Bolshevik psychiatrist Bogdanov (2020)

The most famous novel by Aldous Leonard Huxley is opened with an epigraph by the man who described how psychiatrist Bogdanov – founder of Bolshevism with Lenin – was treating, surreptitiously, philosophical ideas he disagreed with as a form of mental illness.

Voegelin’s “Science, Politics and Gnosticism” (2020)

“Gnostic man must carry on the work of salvation himself…. Through his psyche (“soul”) he belongs to the order, the nomos, of the world; what impels him toward deliverance is the pneuma (“spirit”).

The labor of salvation, therefore, entails the dissolution of the worldly constitution of the psyche and at the same time the gathering and freeing of the powers of the pneuma.”

NASDAQ, Oregon, and Washington D.C.: three steps towards 21st century cyber-psychedelic global capitalism (2020)

The cyber turn of 21st century capitalism is becoming more explicitly cyber-psychedelic, digital as well as hallucinogenic, working to modify common sense and our shared sense of reality.

A new global psychiatric power? Intro (2020)

More than one year ago I presented the talk “Are we witnessing the emergence of a new global psychiatric power?” at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London, in the summer of 2019. The (anti)political, technocratic and revolutionary globalist agenda was clearly and unambiguously presented as the one that would have benefitted from phenomena and discourses of mass global psychiatrization. In 2019 such phenomena and prospects were most definitely not under the unprecedented level of attention we are witnessing today in 2020.

Paul Goodman, 1945: ‘The Political Meaning of Some Recent Revisions of Freud’ (2020)

“Is it possible to draw any other conclusion from this reasoning than that the goal of therapy is the smooth running of the social machine as it exists?” “And what familiar name shall we call a “therapy” that pretends to create harmony on a mass scale?” “The need does exist in its millions — and there are, for instance, 250 Freudian analysts in the United States!”

The economics of ‘ego death’ (2020)

According to Keynes “the essential characteristic of capitalism” is “the dependence upon an intense appeal to the money-making and money-loving instincts of individuals as the main motive force of the economic machine.” Keynes emphasized the role of the irrational in economic life and talked about “the Freudian theory of the love of money.”

‘CyPsy’ mind? Cyber super-ego and psychedelic id. Or digital surveillance, mass hallucinogens, and the new ‘black gold’ of the unconscious (2020)

In the CyPsy hypothesis on the mind, as the mind is currently transformed by cyber-psychedelic capitalism, the super-ego becomes largely externalized onto the surveillance digital system, the ego is dissolved, and the id becomes free of internal constraints only to be regulated by the external substitution of the super-ego, which is the digital panopticon of surveillance capitalism making profits.

Huxley on Proust and psychology (2020)

“The invention and development of the modern science of psychology has made us regard as important and interesting a multitude of small odds and ends of thought, emotion and sensation which seemed to our ancestors almost negligible. They did not insist on the phenomena because they were interested primarily in what they regarded as the reality behind them.”

Trump, mass hallucinogens, and the cyber-psychedelic transformation of capitalism (2020)

“It was not exactly the emancipation demanded by Karl Marx, who, moreover, did not have the fancy to imagine that the result following industrial capitalism were the states altered by LSD” – Geminello Alvi, ‘Capitalism. Towards the Chinese ideal’ (2011)

“Simply a symbol of national solidarity, the first step towards wearing a uniform.” Orwell on civilians and gas masks (2020)

“As soon as war started, the carrying or not carrying of a gas mask assumed social and political implications…. The extent to which masks are carried will probably be a pretty good index of the impression the war news is making on the public.”

Trump, spectacle and psyspeak (2020)

“Zimbardo sees reality TV as a logical format for teaching psychology. “The reason reality TV is so popular is because to observe human behavior is fascinating,” he observed. “I spend my whole life doing this.”

Psychiatry, constitutional law, and political power in a 60s TV debate (2020)

“Would you let such an individual, just because he has the advantage of the Constitution, free in society to infect women, to invoke this delusional system on other people?”

Cocaine and Morgan: the lesson of Freud (2010)

Morgan, an Italian pop musician, in an interview with Max magazine in 2010 revealed using cocaine and in particular crack as an antidepressant, claiming that Sigmund Freud also prescribed it for such purpose.

Are we witnessing the emergence of a new global psychiatric power? (2019)

The current public psychiatrization of “the most powerful man in the world,” as the media often describe the President of the United States of America, could be seen as a new paradigm shift in contemporary power.

In addition to the increasing use of a psychologized lexicon in everyday speech, a role might be played by such spectacle communicating symbolically, and contributing to, a global cultural shift towards a subjectivist worldview and a progressive de-politicization of citizenship.

The political career of Mao, Yale and the “reorientation of thought” (2020)

“Between 1919 and 1920, future Chairman Mao Zedong had several encounters with the school: he edited its student magazine, re-focusing it on “thought reorientation,” and operated a bookshop out of its medical college”.

Viktor Frankl: drugs, LSD and subjective vs. objective meaning (2020)

“One of Frankl’s main topics in the 1960s. When teaching at Harvard University in 1961, he was among few who opposed the experimental use of LSD proposed by Dr. Timothy Leary, stating that “freedom is only one side of a phenomenon whose other side is responsibility.”

In Pisa, professor Vaccà diagnosed Shelley’s drug habit (2020)

“At Eton, after an illness, the doctor who attended him took a liking of him, and Shelley borrowed his medical books and was deeply interested in chemistry from that time, and, unlike doctors, he experimented with some of the drugs on himself.”

From citizens to patients: a threat to resist (2020)

Pandemic Lectures at the International University College of Turin http://www.iuctorino.it/

Ugo Mattei & Federico Soldani, May 4, 2020

“The decline of law as a tool for social control and its supplanting by technological, mental, and medical management aimed at preventing deviant behavior, with nary a concern for such substitution’s deleterious effects.”

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