As the great doctor Rudolf Virchow used to say “politics is medicine on a large scale”.
Contents of such volume and the two book covers of the hardback 1965 and paperback 1966 editions are presented. The importance and “rediscovery” of such book in PsyPolitics is motivated by the extraordinary concordance with some of the themes present in today’s transforming global politics, currently in mass and digital media, as well as in formulations independently developed over the past three years.
Psychiatrization of politics and Globalist Revolution
For Dr. Frances, who was claiming that we should discuss politics instead of psychiatry, language was moving from political to psychological metaphorical, while for Dr. Lee language was moving directly from political to literal technical psychological language and concepts, used to discuss a political theme. Both psychiatrists were moving, despite specific content discussed, language to the psychological sphere, metaphorically for Dr. Frances, literally for Dr. Lee.
While opposing each other on a political theme, the net movement of the two debating psychiatrists is from political to psychological language.
“Parallel with these events is the perfecting of conditioning procedures, with or without the aid of drugs and hypnosis. The abolition of privacy – already well along in our day – is placing potent instruments of control in the hands of elites who may see an opportunity to consolidate their position by policing the population medically” – Harold Lasswell
Horton, while clearly and unmistakably espousing a globalist and technocratic view, at the same time introduces themes from an author such as Foucault – who worked largely on topics related to psychology and psychiatry – and even appears to criticize the dangers of technocracy at the end of his book. The risk of recuperation – of Foucauldian themes and tools radically challenging the rising ‘biomedical’ as well as ‘psy’ global power – into mainstream globalist and technocratic discourse is definitely present, in my view, in Horton’s latest book.
“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.”
“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 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.”
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.
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.