“As Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General, points out, I think one of the significant things we are going to find ten years from now is a phenomenal negative psychological impact that CoViD has had on the public psyche.
And so you have an awful lot of people who are, notwithstanding the fact that things have gotten so much better for them economically, that they are thinking, but how do you get up in the morning feeling happy – happy that everything is alright?
Even though your job is better, even though you have more income.”
“The theory of Dr. Sankey – the President concluded – as to the manner in which these injuries to the chest occurred in asylums deserved our careful attention. It was at least more plausible that the conspiracy theory of Mr. Charles Reade, and the precautionary measure suggested by Dr. Sankey of using a padded waistcoat in recent cases of mania with general paralysis – in which mental condition nearly all these cases under discussion were – seemed to him of practical value.”
“The only wonder is that in public asylums – Dr. Tuke added – considering the savage nature of some of the half-educated victims of mental disease, and the liberty which the non-restraint system allows them, accidents do not more frequently happen; that within the last few years several superintendents, and many attendants, have been seriously hurt, would show there are two sides to this question. The fact is that in the refractory wards of our public asylums the attendants, too few in number, carry their lives in their hands. The remedy is to increase their number, and add to the surveillance over them.”
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.
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.
“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!”
“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.”
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.
“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)
“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.”
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.