Category Archive 'Psychoanalysis'

29 Dec 2006

Rightwing Shrinks, Who Would Have Imagined Such a Thing?

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Before the blogosphere came along, I would never even have suspected that such a thing as a skeptical, rational, freedom-loving, Republican-voting alienist existed.

But I read Dr. Sanity and Shrinkwrapped regularly, who certainly thoroughly discredit my former naive assumptions that anyone associated with, or trained in, any form or species of the social sciences simply has to be some kind of leftist.

Dr. Joy Bliss, over at Maggie’s Farm, has a larger list than my own of the non-collectivist psychologically-inclined to which she has added a meditation on freedom and the psyche.

It has been a wonder to me that so many folks in the mind and soul-treating professions are so non-freedom-minded, when these professions are designed to free people from their inner demons which restrict their taking on life freely, cheerfully, and energetically, in the way they see fit, and taking their own chances and making their own choices – in free societies. Freedom is what they are all about, and why psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are never permitted in totalitarian states.

I need to keep an eye on this lady’s postings, and I believe I am going to arrange a new Psychology link category.

26 Sep 2006

From My College Class List, 2

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One of my liberal classmates cited that reptile John Dean’s new book Conservatives Without a Conscience. Dean repeats the ancient liberal wheeze of supposedly identifying conservatives as dangerous paranoids, in this case citing Robert Altemeyer:

“No question hovered at the front of my mind more, reading through Altemeyer’s studies of authoritarian behavior, that, why are right-wingers often malicious, mean-spirited, and disrespectful of even the basic codes of civility? While the radical left has had its episodes of boorishness, the right has taken these tactics to an
unprecedented level. Social science has discovered these forms of behavior can be rather easily explained as a form of aggression.

Altemeyer discovered that the aggression of right-wingers seems to be not merely instrumental-that is, expressed for some political purpose-but engaged in for the pure pleasure of it.. Torture is an extreme example, yet apparently authoritarians can find even that enjoyable, as the Abu Ghraib photos tragically illustrate. But on a more pedestrian level, he found it difficult for most right-wingers to talk about any subject about which they felt strongly without attacking others. Right-wing authoritarians, as we have seen, are motivated by their fear of a dangerous world, whereas social dominators have an ever-present desire to dominate. The factor that makes Right-wingers faster than most people to attack others, and that seems to keep them living in an ‘attack mode,’ is their remarkable self-righteousness. They are so sure they are not only right, but holy and pure, that they are bursting with indignation and a desire to smite down their enemies, Altemeyer explained.

To which, I replied:

Authoritarian, baloney. More idiotic left-wing self-abuse consisting of the application of paranoid moonbat fantasy to domestic political opponents. If George W. Bush had a turban and beard, lived overseas, and was actively conspiring to blow you to Kingdom Come, you’d be telling us how he has legitimate grievances, is too commonly misunderstood, amd must above all be conciliated.

The current conflict is between responsible adults who believe in taking steps to protect the population of the United States from terrorist attacks on mass population centers, and a pathetic collection of opportunistic pols, old lady do-gooders, head-in-the-clouds moralizers, Utopian pacifists, sissies, and the perennially in-protest.

Torture? The list of alleged coercive techniques runs from keeping bad guys awake and making them stand in the corner to a few slaps. If those things are torture, just about all of us have been tortured. Circumstances have more than once caused me to stay awake for days. Children were commonly punished in my day by being forced to stand for uncomfortably long intervals. And even I have been slapped around a few times. More than once, in my boyhood, older and stronger and more numerous villains pinioned my arms, and slapped my face back and forth, attempting to persuade me to submit formally. It wasn’t so terrible being slapped in the face as all that, and I found it entirely possible to continue to resist.

The only technique actually provoking alarm is waterboarding, which seems alarming only in terms of its “rosy-fingered dawn” invariably-quoted description: “The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.”

I was thinking about this recently, and I began to wonder. It certainly sounds disagreeable to be tied to a board with one’s head lower than one’s feet. Obviously no one wants cellophane wrapped around one’s face. But if it is wrapped around one’s face, why does water poured over your head, which you don’t feel on your skin anyway, make you gag? What if you resolve not to gag? What if you do yoga breath-control? How do you breathe with the cellophane anyway? I don’t know how accurate that description really is. Perhaps water-boarding is not entirely everything it’s cracked up to be.

But supposing it is really awful, just like drowning, to be water-boarded? They waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who sawed off the American journalist Daniel Pearl’s head with a knife. I saw the video. Pearl screamed as the sawing commenced. I’m not easily perturbed, but that video gave me bad dreams. Frankly, I think waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammad would only represent at best a good start.


Do not dowload and watch this video, unless you feel you must know the worst about the crimes of our adversaries. It is unspeakably ugly and horrifying. Avoid this, if you possibly can. This is absolutely not something women or young people should see.

The video of the murder of Daniel Pearl can be found here.

21 Sep 2006

Psychoanalysis Diagnoses Defensive Denial

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ShrinkWrapped puts Slick Willie and the AP on the couch.

One particular, and very clever, defensive maneuver is the veiled negation of the minor error. Often enough, a correct interpretation is undone by a minor factual error, which the patient then can us to negate the entire interpretation, even while appearing to give it careful consideration…

We see this tendency to change the subject to avoid unacceptable thoughts and feelings in much of our public discourse.

For example, the current dispute over the treatment of detainees is a classic example of such misdirection. Bill Clinton was interviewed by NPR this morning. He said that we should not codify the use of torture and that we need to agree that it isn’t right to smack around and torture detainees, some of whom are innocent. In fact, Bill Clinton, often recognized as one of the smartest men to inhabit the White House in recent years, knows quite well that no one in the current Administration is suggesting we routinely torture detainees. The question is how we define torture, not whether we should torture. Is loud music torture? Cold temperatures? A Belly slap? Our interrogators have the right to know what behavior puts them at risk for being sued by the ACLU.

Another example, perhaps more problematic, is currently playing itself out in the blogosphere. Michelle Malkin, among many others, has been following the story of an AP photographer who has been held by coalition forces in Iraq since May, when he was picked up at breakfast with an “al Qaeda in Iraq” leader and another “Insurgent” leader (as per the report by Judy Swallow at the BBC this morning.) Michelle received a note from the AP today disputing her characterization of Bilal Hussein…

..the use of a minor factual error to deny and avoid the implications of Michelle’s column suggests a need for the AP to remain unaware of the effects of their inadvertent complicity.

Three things that can be brought from Psychoanalysis to the situation:

1) When there is a denied, unconscious motivation for behavior, the hidden impulse will continue to press for expression. If the AP (or any MSM outlet) has a need to facilitate enemy propaganda, this will be more and more apparent as time goes on and as attention is paid to those occasions when the impulse breaks through in unmistakable ways. Rathergate and Pallywood are the rules, not the exceptions.

2) When patients use such transparent maneuvers, it is because more effective defenses are no longer working… Once brought into the open, it becomes available for therapeutic work and is a precondition for him changing his behavior. The AP’s transparent and ineffective defense suggests they are having difficulty maintaining their denial and minimization.

3) If Michelle, et al, can avoid polemics, and avoid engaging in arguments over the minor error, it will allow the facts to speak for themselves. This will deny the AP the opportunity to use an argument over minutia to deflect attention away from the most important questions. In this specific case, maintaining the focus on Bilal Hussein and the AP’s overt behavior is the best approach to getting at the facts.

Hat tip to Seneca the Younger.

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