“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.”
“In 1912 the Association, jointly with Cambridge University Eugenics Society, held a meeting in the Guildhall, where Ellen Pinsent read a paper on ‘Mental Defect and its Social Dangers’.”
“Since its formation in 1914 the Central Association for Mental Welfare has on numerous occasion drawn public attention to the social problem presented by mental deficiency and to the grave consequences and serious cost entailed by the presence of mental defectives in the community.”
“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?
“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.”
“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 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.