Psychology as Abuse

Feminism, in its present, barely conscious state, isn’t going to work out, and further to that, psychology, in the same state, is fuckin’ bullshit.

I’ll break a case down, someone I know – well, half the people I know, as you’ll perhaps agree: a woman, neglected, with or without corporal punishment to boot, by her father, father is detached, unavailable, woman discovers a pattern, later in life of blindness to this sort of treatment, choosing the same sorts of men, always suffering the neglect, with or without ‘corporal punishment’ until, with psychology she sees the early unmet need, becomes more conscious of the issue and is safer from making the same choice next time. A classic psychology success story, I think, not to mention a near ubiquitous one. To be clear, none of that was the ‘bullshit’ part, I’m with all of that, within that conversation. I think many women and many feminists are familiar with this meme, and it’s an example that defines the popular idea of psychology quite well.

I’m sorry! This ‘meme’ idea, it seems to me to be a definition of consciousness, isn’t it, to recognize, name, and classify thoughts, and then further to address their viability, and guess their functions in the world, as an exercise in a sort of biology? Psychology, in this sort of equation, is the dominant meme in my western world about how to solve many of our personal problems.

Of course, if the conversation is a feminist one, or just an old-fashioned man-hating session, then we might see it a little more simply: a woman, neglected and/or beaten by her cold and/or violent father (and/or surrogates) finds every man she ever gets to know intimately to be the same sort of dickhead, until with the help of someone who will talk to her, she realizes that the first one was lying, she never deserved any of it and she starts to make a serious, more informed try at escaping from this sort of abuse.

Now, despite that the Venn diagram of fucked-over women and ‘women’ are the same circle and that even feminism and psychology have massive overlaps in their demographics, I’m sorry, I see a conflict, and I’m going with the second story, because I hear a simple victim’s truth in the second one. What I hear in the psychology story is a lecture from a parent, a teacher, a priest. In the second story, again, a simple, painful truth, and in the first, the finger of blame: it’s not a series of awful men, it’s the woman’s choices – you know “psychology” like this was concocted by men, don’t you? Worse, it’s an evil, misogynist bait and switch, because if one man in a thousand won’t beat you, then we’re talking about you, about your bad choices. This should make you sick to your stomach if you’re a man who can hear it, it does me. Of course, for the ladies, this is what do you call it, Friday.

I know, ‘Tuesday’ is the joke – but it’s Friday. I know the positive story too.

In the first story, it’s her life, and this puts the power to change it in her hands, it’s not her fault, but her opportunity, it’s not of her creation, but it is her problem and no-one would benefit so much from its solution more than her, and no single person has as much power or chance to solve it, I know, and I have an answer prepared for that.

If it were any sort of level playing field, if the woman or the woman child in question had a chance, if all those other associations of mine were not already in place, the parent, the priest, if pretty much everything else in the woman’s life didn’t also tell her everything is her fault and her responsibility to fix, then maybe the “positive” side of that story wouldn’t be a lot of evil, misogynist bullshit, just like the “psychology” it supports.

As it is, it’s one more bait and switch from the warrior society.

So, again, I’m with the second story. We can try to apply psychology to explain all those dickhead men, that sounds a little more useful and a lot more moral. There’s a point to be remembered about psychology: as things stand today, it’s only practiced on victims. This is a massive weakness of psychology as well: there is no test for truth, so psychological “health” is whatever seems to be average; it’s an automatic status quo conformity machine. Again, when all men beat their wives, psychology will treat the victims. I think it’s a matter of piling on; one suffers trauma, and then one must repair the damage oneself, someone else’s way, and almost on someone else’s schedule too. It’s our “opportunity” and “we have the power” and we had bloody well better show we’re “trying,” or else.

Women and feminism figure huge for me, but psychology pulls that shit on all of us. I’m a man, but it’s all my “opportunity” too. If I didn’t before, there’s nothing like a man finding himself in the subordinate position to help him understand something about feminism, and the sympathy I maybe once had for writers and practitioners of psychology I have now shifted to their subjects – or objects, as the case may be – people, victims. Like me, sigh. Again, if you hear a hundred words, it’s the inclined playing field I would ask that keep your attention on. Psychology has great insights, lots of good stuff, and I know it’s trying, it’s one of the ideas that would benefit all of humanity for all of humanity to absorb it.

It may do more harm than good when it puts its thumb on that balance, when it takes the higher end of that sloping moral pitch of responsibility and blame, is all I’m saying, and it’s a tendency to do just that, that’s sort of the human game. I think if we can use some of those great insights looking upstream, towards the abusers and the abuse, we’ll see a lot less collateral damage, and maybe change the world for the victims instead of trying to change the victims’ minds to match the world created by the un-diagnosed abusers.

Just sayin’, as the kids say.



Feb. 23rd., 2018

12 thoughts on “Psychology as Abuse

      • Jeff/neighsayer February 23, 2018 / 4:28 pm

        thanks! I hate to say stuff a bunch of other folks are already saying. There’s a “reform psychiatry” movement out there, though, some real abuse in the psych wards.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pamela Spiro Wagner February 23, 2018 / 6:57 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the last line, “change the world for the victims instead of trying to change the victims’ minds to match the world created by the un-diagnosed abusers.” I will address it more later, but insofar as you agree the world should be changed and not “our minds”, I am with you.

    Not sure I understand why you generalise about feminism, though, since as far as I am acquainted with the word, there is a whole universe of different interpretations of “feminism” and whatever it means today is not what it meant “in my day.”

    Moreover, the word “feminism” was invented by a man. I will quote from the blog, Stuff MomNever Told You: “In 1837, radical French philosopher Charles Fourier invented feminisme in writing about the indelible link between women’s status and social progress (“Liberty, unless enjoyed by all, is unreal and illusory. . .” he wrote). But a true feminist Fourier was not. Though he thought 19th-century women were treated like chattel, he stopped short of rallying for complete gender equality since it didn’t jive with sex differences he observed (NB: gender equality and sex differences can — and should — coexist beautifully).”

    The blog goes on to point out that later, at the end of the nineteenth century, a woman claimed to have invented the term as well, and i suspect that she may not have known of Fourier’s use of it, or used it in a different way, so that “feminism,” the word, represents a kind of independent evolution, so to speak.

    Stuff mom never told you writes: “*In September 1896, Eugenie Potonie-Pierre also claimed to have coined feminisme. It was during the 1890s that “feminism” in the sense of women-led activism for equality became a common term, migrating from France and entering the English language as early as October 1894.”

    Feminism means so much more than “women-led activism for equality.” It encapsulates — and has at times been mocked and denigrated for this — a way of life and thinking, which before the twentieth century was almost unthinkable. But some women did think in that way and certainly when it was re-invigorated in the 60s with Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan (when critics dubbed it women’s lib) feminism described a way of approaching the world, yes, the men’s world with all its abuses, that was in fact for many of us, absolutely liberating.

    Not sure I completely understand your point about psychology either. I consider psychology and its medicalised handmaiden Psychiatry an equal opportunity torturer, of men-as abusers as well as women-as-victim. And in some sense, when it comes to psych, there are only victims, (aside from the practitioners, naturally who believe they are above it, even as they wield it to subdue everyone else.)

    Anyhow, an interesting discussion, as usual. Though I confess I reacted strongly to the generalisation. Like most words and concepts, “feminism” has changed over the years, but that does not mean “it” is barely conscious…in fact, the most important aspect of feminism of the sort I came of age thinking about is being conscious in every way. Why else would we have needed and valued the notion of “consciousness raising”?

    (Tired as hell tonight, so forgive my rather peripatetic critique…)

    Take care,

    Pam w.


    • Jeff/neighsayer February 23, 2018 / 7:43 pm

      First – you can comment on this one, that’s good. I never figured out why not before.

      I love that, you are beautiful – “Well, more later, but in 1837 . . . ” LOL

      It was the 60s I grew up in, it was women’s lib when I learned about it. The de Beauvoir version sounds like mine. The version I’m complaining about is whatever the twenty-year-olds like my daughters are saying and the ones that attack me on twitter, assuming I’m some – what did they say, back then – chauvinist. Some of the kids nowadays are coming in backwards from what used to be the feminist POV. For example:

      A few days ago, former lady Canadian Prime Minister (never elected, a Gerry Ford sort of thing) Kim Campbell retweeted an article where someone showed a study that said people respect and believe the lady newscasters less when their clothes cover them less, that sexy and trust appeared in inverse relationship. Now, as an OG girl, I know that the patriarchy makes women trade on their sexiness, and only give them a job when they show some skin and let them go as they age – but Campbell got attacked to an insane degree by young girls womansplaining to a lady PM how a woman should be able to dress however the Hell she wants and who needs to hear from old people like HER?

      I took this as a little more than an example, Campbell is a comic, the funniest world leader there ever was and I was in love with her, still am.

      (It’s true, the women in my life in my childhood were no Simone de Beauvoirs, so to speak. They weren’t liberated, not by any means, just abused and very invested in the old, pre-women’s lib, battle of the sexes. But they liked women’s lib, they wanted to be.)

      By “unconscious,” I mean the most vocal don’t have any interest in science, in understanding how humans really work, and they seem to think just making sure we all agree men are assholes is going to somehow change things. I don’t see realism or a plan, I mostly just hear the cries of abused women screaming “I hate you,” same as the liberated women wannabes in my childhood.

      Psychology: what I was attempting to say was, even in the safest of circumstances, psychology generally is geared to blame the victim, change the victim, cure the victim, it doesn’t have to be your experience to be toxic, the basic idea sort of is, again, status quo, treat the weirdest victims, only jail or treat the abusers that don’t even leave victims . . . it felt so unfair to me, just last year, and all I was doing was getting someone to talk to for an hour once a week, Canada, I didn’t even have to pay. I even liked the guy, but I wasn’t getting better, worse even, and it was because I knew I was there because of a fixation with passivity and non-violence that basically let me get pushed out of my own house and life, and he’s waiting for me to cop to some rage, some anger that “must be there” or something.

      nice to see you about, I love the meerkat



    • Jeff/neighsayer February 24, 2018 / 9:33 am

      Pam, I must be a terrible writer, or you write a hell of a lot better than you read. That last line you liked, that was the point of the whole thing, not some scrap for you at the end.


      • Pamela Spiro Wagner February 24, 2018 / 9:37 am

        Hey Jeff, were you offended by what I wrote? I got your point of course. I mostly wrote a r3sponse because your writing makes me think! But no offense intended. I love your blog and the high quality thinking it both evinces and evokes!



        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff/neighsayer February 24, 2018 / 9:43 am

          no, it just sounded like you thought I was saying the opposite until the end or something. No biggie.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Pamela Spiro Wagner February 24, 2018 / 9:55 am

            It is true that I sometimes have trouble following your train of thought. And that my eyes do not, definitely do not, want me to read. So I tend to skim…or my eyes just jump around a page a lot, which is a problem we are working on. But I like to know what you think as it develops. But maybe you do not write as I do, in order to figure out what you really think? Some people already know what they think and are going to say in an essay, but for me all writing, including poetry is a process of discovery. Reading, as you suggested, is a lot harder, not sure why except that my eyes have problems. That is not to say I do not read. Because I do, but given what I see as your own peripatetic style sometimes, for me, and I can speak only for me, it is not always easy to figure it where you are going. Worth the journey nevertheless! It is just that unless there is a strict progression of logical points to an essay, I have trouble…nevertheless, it is not always those logical essays I love most. I would not be a poet if I did not really prefer the peripatetic meanderings to the cold logic of writing that knows absoluteky where it wants to go and proceeds that way.

            Again no offense intended. You may see yourself writing with a step by step logic. And if so I fully confess that reading may not be my strong point.

            Interesting how we see ourselves compared to how the world does in any event.

            Yes, be more you always.




            • Jeff/neighsayer February 24, 2018 / 10:44 am

              I absolutely ” . . . write as (you) do, in order to figure out what (I) really think” – I totally need to write it down, to see what I’m thinking and work through it. And yes, that means it’s messy, I guess, disorganized. I’m a bit sad, I kinda thought I’d done a little better with this one, thought I’d managed to stick to a point for a minute there.

              Oh well.

              did you not see, I’ve replied to your fist comment too . . .



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