The world is made up of sets of systems and all of them had been designed as subconscious responses to all the other existing systems. Not a single physical object made by human beings is a random piece of invention. Whether their designers had been aware of the source of their inspirations and anxieties at the time of their creation is not important. The fact is that such anxieties and inspiration have had to exist and they had been responsible for every creative process.
Anything you see around you, every single thing (except the natural world), has had its start as a fragment of a human being’s imagination. The consequences of this are so massive we are lost within them. The consequence, I think, is that we are being carried along, on and on, throughout our lives, by the currents of the river that could be defined as ‘civilization’. Its most defining features being the eastern and western schools of thought, as well as the different religions.
What troubles me is the extent to which our creative responses arise out of the need to perpetuate some aspect of the world that surrounds us by creating a new component of it, or by maintaining it, or by contributing to some of the existing components of that system, without being aware that we are doing it. Without being aware that we are not attempting to examine a unique property of our own individual psyche (by unique I do not mean unseen or unimagined before, by unique I mean our own interpretation of an element of our own psyche, rather than an accepted notion).
For example: should, can, or do paintings and photographs start as ideas that are expressed through their corresponding media or are they expressed through that particular media because artists know they can be hanged in various buildings and spaces. Or, because the need to express one’s feelings through that particular media is in fact a genuine need to express oneself in that particular way.
Or, psychologically speaking, how many artists are aware of: if it is a genuine need to communicate their feelings through that particular media that compels them to use it; how many are willing to admit it to themselves (that it is or that it isn’t); and are they aware of the extent to which their subconscious drives their ambitions and habits and how and when and where and why it interacts with the conscious and what exactly are the effects of the interaction on their definition of ambition, on their definition of the self. Especially the self as projected in their work. To me, any artist that chooses to ignore such crucial aspects of the self and more importantly the self’s conscious and subconscious interpretation of its driving force (that is the ego or more generally the psyche) is no more than a thoughtless commercial designer churning out products, a la Henry Ford. Long live Henry Ford and the industrial complex and all, but then, we are not talking about art.
The artificial/human made portion of the world (as opposed to the natural world) consists of a specific number of elements. It’s a large number, however it is a finite number. While we can agree that its represented through a finite number of languages, geometric shapes, formulas, numbers, etc. our experience of it is unique. More importantly, I think, it is our unique interpretations of the natural world that enable us to create new discoveries. If every artist and every scientist had been seeing every shape and every number, etc. only for what they had been told those concepts could be there would not be any inventions of interpretative disagreements.
Anyway, we must exist within a world that is a combination of concepts and physical objects. It’s inevitable. However, our psychological definitions and perceptions of the need for their balance (imagined vs. physical) as well as their relationship to each other has been changing. We continue to favor the physical world and physical objects. What is not discussed and publicized is how their balance and relationship shape us and then how we reshape it.
Like stated earlier, not a single item made by human beings is a random piece of invention. Every building, every car and every line and every nut and bolt contained within it, street, chair, park, pen, glass, shoe, table, toothbrush, curtain, sock, shoe, shirt, airplane, poster, billboard, weapon, anything and everything you see (past, present or future) has had its start as an act of imagination designed to oppose or support (consciously or subconsciously) some other physical object or idea.
Most individuals would ask what use is it knowing everything has had to have its origins deep within some crazy designer’s mind when it doesn’t help me change the world and its structures.
But the point is we can change the world with our responses.
IT IS OUR RESPONSES (OUR IMAGINATION AND OUR ACTIONS) AND ONLY OUR RESPONSES THAT ARE MAKING THE WORLD WHAT IT IS RIGHT NOW.
The problem is: OUR RESPONSES HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED TO MAINTAIN THE WORLD AND NOT TO CHANGE IT. WE REMAIN UNAWARE OF THIS FACT BECAUSE WE ARE SO AUTOMATED IN WHAT WE DO THAT WE NEVER STOP TO EXAMINE THE NATURE OF OUR IMAGINATIONS AND ACTIONS. FURTHERMORE, IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN PROFITS, THE TIME ALLOWED FOR THINKING AND REFLECTION CONTINUES TO DECREASE. THEREFORE WE FEEL LIKE THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD, YET EVERY SINGLE ACTION WE PERFORM ENSURES IT STAYS THE SAME. WE CAN CHANGE IT, ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS CHANGE AND COORDINATE THE NATURE OF OUR DAILY RESPONSES.
All of it very obvious. Unfortunately, the true purpose of our actions remains concealed by the nature of the reality created by our actions.
It seems that the above problem is impossible to solve on a global scale. Many individuals realize the nature of their responses to the world that surrounds them. However, it seems impossible to create any kind of serious global change.
This will be a grand, arrogant, ego driven statement but I think that the fields we know as ‘social sciences’, ‘social psychology’ and ‘philosophy have failed to enable our civilization to accept its potential for self destruction (especially as expressed by Freud and Fromm, in terms of sadism and masochism and destructiveness, and as revised by more recent works) and therefore have failed to reduce its need for self destruction.
To put it simply, the modern global village remains completely unaware of its tendency for self destruction. Unfortunately, this means the global digital media is permitted to continue to rationalize violence, hate and weapons use. Indeed, the global media continues to succeed in rationalizing them because so many individuals remain unaware of the basic socio psychological concepts that drive their personalities, such as destructiveness and sadomasochism.
The irony is, university and government departments that should be publicizing latest social psychology findings to the masses (and demonstrating how to apply them), especially the under and working class, are unable to do so because the economic interest factor defines their agendas. It defines their existence.
So the economic interest factor has invaded all areas of all institutions whose primary aim used to be to: investigate the nature of what it means to be a human being and then record, create and disseminate any materials that would further an individual’s understanding of its humanity. The economic factor has changed their purpose. It is no longer appropriate for such institutions to invest in such matters and distribute such materials for they contradict the notion of profit. HELLO. Such institutions were never meant to create any profit, in any sense of the word, for anybody. Their primary concern was HUMANITY. Needless to say, humanity is not a profitable term to begin with.
Why do we derive a sense of security (I suppose coupled with a sense of pleasure which might be invoked by the sensation of security) from any act that requires us to acquire physical objects? Precisely because we refuse to address the underlying psychological anxieties. The need to acquire and maintain physical objects will continue to exist until the majority learns how to acknowledge and address their anxieties.
Needless to say, we require some basic objects in order to survive, and our existence is becoming increasingly complicated, however our existence has turned into a ritualistic wealth acquisition and wealth management quests where everything else is less important.
The psychological explanation is ignored precisely because it deters us from acquiring more wealth. It is why it is so difficult TO BEGIN to solve the above mentioned problem on A GLOBAL scale.
The solutions that would eradicate our social problems (violence, poverty, hate, etc.) are not advertised by the global media because the global media moguls (owners) know that their target audiences’ behaviors would change and the companies they run would lose money. Therefore, in their own eyes, they would become insignificant and poor. They never stop to examine how they could transform their current positions. They never considering new possibilities because new possibilities are considered a waste of time precisely because the economic system is seen as the only valid way to self actualize and make their meaning.
So the global media establishment continues its self destructive sadomasochistic game play. It claims it wants to save ‘the people’ and relate to them, yet its true nature, concealed within the apathetic sadomasochistic psyches of its owners, is to perpetuate the existing socio economic order in order to extract money from the working class, which it sees as inferior.
So the trap remains, even in psychology and psychoanalysis: we exist within a physical world therefore our responses must be entirely physical in nature.
I believe that is not an entirely accurate understanding of the problem.
So I wonder if the nature of the solutions offered by psychoanalysis could be deepened. Inevitably this would require one to discuss many different aspects of psychoanalysis. For example the nature of one of the greatest battles in the field of psychology, and it exists to this day: Personality psychology vs. environmental psychology (is a person determined by its genes and is its psyche unalterable, etc.; or, do environments determine and transform the psyche, etc., etc., etc.). A complex, inconclusive battle. So could we say that while psychoanalysis offers a number of methods that can be used to deal with many different problems, overall it does not attempt to shift the psyche to a different state of being? (Although, some scientists have tried to do that. So my statement that it does not could take another ten pages to explain. Jung and many others have attempted to shift their subjects perceptions of themselves, etc., etc., etc., and they had been successful with some of them, but I must limit myself here.)
What troubles me is: shouldn’t the nature of our response (to life; that is to live, to create, to communicate etc.) be such that majority of it is to do with changing our mental capacities (psyche, emotions, etc.). Shouldn’t the physical world be seen as a tool with which to change our mental abilities, (imagination, desire, drives, ambitions, etc.,) and our sense of empathy. Especially our sense of empathy because without we cannot begin to change how we relate to people and environments.
Currently all we do is create objects that will satisfy the mind’s desires, without considering the true underlying nature of our desires. For example: we continue to create products which promote nationalism without knowing anything about the nature of the desire to do so (for example if it’s really necessary). Hence most of our actions contradict one another and thus creating further conflicts. We invest billions in nationalism (weapons, borders, logos, flags, propaganda, intelligence grids, promoting governments, etc.). Then, we invest billions in negotiations and ‘peace tactics’ (peace talks, peace forces, ‘humanitarian aid’, free technology for the disadvantaged, etc.) none of which would be required had we decided not to alienate, oppress, enslave and exterminate our fellow human beings. Laughable, yet sad.
Should we not use the physical world and its resources to change our psyche so we can reduce our attachment to the physical world itself. Unfortunately, we use our psyche to design objects that takes further are away from our psyche?
Shouldn’t the ultimate objective of psychology be to connect the individual not simply to his or her family, race or culture but to the universal human being, the universal family, to his or her true source of humanity?
This is not a critique, however it seems to me that quite a few of Freud, Fromm and Jung’s (as well as others’) including present day strategies deal with physical substitutions. For example Fromm will talk about an unhappy 22 year old medical student who is not sure why he is unhappy with his wealthy life and even though he wants to be a doctor he thinks he would not be a ‘good’ doctor. After many lengthy sessions, Fromm learns that the student wants to be an architect. He has been dreaming about buildings and as a child had expressed interest in architecture but which had had to have been suppressed, by the father, etc. Furthermore, he dreams of leaping out of tall buildings then being approached by a doctor that doesn’t carry his equipment thus is unable to save him, and on so on. The solution is pretty radical. The young man is controlled by the father who wants him to be a doctor and maintain the family fortune etc. So the answer is to be an architect and to communicate his desires, etc. Other examples include Freud and Jung discussing young women and their relationships, etc. and the need to assert themselves, etc. to replace one kind of thing with another, one kind of person with another, etc. All good solutions, especially considering the era.
But why not expand. Again, of course, I am aware that one behavior cannot be removed, it needs to replaced with a different behavior, or changed over an extended period of time, yet another area of discussion.
But why not go deeper. The point of psychoanalysis is: to reveal any repressed thoughts or driving forces; to force the subject to face his or her true motivations. Once determined that the subject wants to be an architect. Why not ask why be anything? Why work? Why maintain the family empire? Not in order to destabilize the subject but to get him closer to the core of what it means to be a human being. Needless to say, we could say it could be too dangerous, too confusing (yet another area of deeper discussion, treatment, etc.). But isn’t telling somebody that their father had been manipulating them their entire life, that they should change their career and their life, and that they should tell their father how they feel about him a pretty disturbing set of actions anyway?
I think we should try to get as close as we can to what it means to be a (the) universal human being. Rather than a being that is a product of a particular class, group, and nationality.
Why not try to help one express oneself through his or her work in a way that would assist other human beings and not in a way that would perpetuate their personal family empire.
My true motivation here, psychoanalytically speaking, is why not get to the core of the patient’s ego? Why not force the patient to rationalize himself or herself as the most basic unit of motivation, that is to see himself or herself, as a human being that exists in order to relate to and assist and all other human being. Rather than leave the patient at the level of his particular class, national identity, etc. This could be yet another debate, of course. But I have to wonder about it.
Wouldn’t it be healthier to go deeper?
How many people would want to see a psychologist who is ready to tell them that they need to become a more humane human being by finding a more humane way to utilize their potential? Rather than how to be a more efficient at perpetuating the existing socio economic environment.
They are very uncomfortable suggestions yet, I believe, they are exactly what our civilizations requires if it is to survive.
I suppose all responses have to be materialistic, at least to some extent, but shouldn’t we try to continue to reduce the extent to which the solutions need to manifest themselves as physical constructs?
I think, the necessary question, which goes much deeper, is: what does it mean to be a human being?
In order to be a human being do I have to work? What kind of work does it have to be? Can my existence valid only if I work towards my own well being? Do I have to acquire material wealth in order to be perceived as a valid human being? Could my existence be expressed in terms of what I do for other people? Gandhi would say that as we get older we should acquire fewer things and give more and more, of ourselves and of what we have acquired and prepare for departure. We seem to have developed policies that contradict his proposal because we refuse to acknowledge our mortality. As we get older we get greedier, more cynical, more skeptical, more cut off from the word we don’t understand. For we have never had the time to learn how to understand it, thus we have never had the time to learn how to see its true shape and its true potential.
It is my belief that it should be psychology’s, especially social psychology’s, primary task to try to go beyond any cultural and social constraints imposed on it by the economic/material system. It should seek solutions that reside at the core of the universal human being and then promote them rather than culture specific, nation specific, class specific solutions.
Psychology must grow and evolve in order to go beyond trying to fix the individual to fit into the existing economic system.
Psychology must rise to the challenge. The person is disturbed precisely because the entire system is unhealthy is disturbing its process. Therefore, as unlikely as it seems, the entire system needs to be adjusted, by ‘retuning’ each and every individual, one person at a time. Yes, by making them more aware of their sense of empathy and by teaching them how to relate to other people so that together they can create a more stable and more empathic world. It’s a demanding task, but anything less is not going to be good enough. I am talking about saving humanity from itself, from the side of itself it fails to acknowledge.
Psychology, if it is to try to save humanity from itself, must rise itself (for there is no other area of human endeavor willing to assist it, that I can see) above its current constraints that define its levels of acceptable empathic solutions. What I mean is ‘empathy’ is ‘total’, without any qualifiers. You are an empathic person thus nothing else in the world could be more valuable than another person’s life and wellbeing. Endless debates of moral and ethical principles have not solved any of our problems. Not now, not at any other point in history. Human beings have been waging wars since the dawn of humanity. There has not been a single day, in the entire human history, without a conflict. If that not a clear indicator that our definitions of ethics, morality and empathy are not working, I don’t know what is. Every single day, since our earliest recorded history, there had been large segments of population which had been, are now, and if we continue on the same path, will, no doubt, be able to justify hatred, violence, wars, and ultimately murder, and worse, massacres and genocide.
The point of all this, I suppose, is: as long as the agenda is to preserve the existing socio psychological materialistic economic structure humanity and human development cannot be our primary concern.
In other words, the physical structure of the world must be shaped around any new revelations about the universal human psyche (as exposed by psychology, sociology, etc.).
It is very hard to do this because it seems that our notion of what it means to be a civilized human being derives from our definitions of our interactions with the material world and not from our definitions of the way in which we exercise our sense of empathy for the living world.
Unfortunately, like stated earlier, the message is lost because universities and health and welfare institutions are becoming funded by the corporate elite whose only aim is to oppose any ideologies or forces that threaten to free the universal human spirit and reveal the power of love and peace.
Any educational institution that reviews new theories, technologies or any new proposals of any kind based on their ability to earn incomes and become an ongoing source of profit for its funding bodies, rather than their ability to interpret humanity and contribute to its many dimensions, does not deserve to be called an educational institution. It’s just another investment tool.