I’m a suspicious sort. It’s taken me a long time to develop these complaints, so while I try to write conversationally, this little rebellion has been building for decades. I feel it’s going to be my way back to move forward, like I gotta be me more, not less. I need to stop telling myself I’m paranoid and wrong and say this stuff, if it’s wrong, hopefully it’s harmless, but really, erroneous conclusions aren’t the kind you avoid for decades and are still there waiting for you when you’re finished running. The fact that psychology is just one discipline of many all crammed into the patriarchy and the warrior society isn’t all that’s wrong with it.
There is something wrong with it that I want to explore here with you in real time, and I haven’t nailed it down yet – in fact, I forgot all about it yesterday, that’s why we’re here again – but it’s something I want to answer with “yes, damnit, we are our brother’s keeper.”
We are social animals. We know that we are, that it is fundamental to us, so much so that we know if we raised a person alone, in an even less human version of the Truman Show or something, that if this person never saw another human in their whole life, that humans were the biggest factors in their life still, and that human society did to them whatever that does to a person. Alone in a rocket ship to Mars, we are social creatures and that one interaction – helping us into the rocket – is the interaction that is our life. We are our brother’s keeper, even if we don’t know him, even across the void of space. We are literally keeping millions of our brothers in prison, an odd circumstance if we aren’t supposed to be keeping our brothers at all.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, of course they know this, of course they know it is our interactions that are life and that have the power to make or break us, it’s their business all day long to sort through it, but they don’t have society to work with, often as not they don’t even get our parents or our spouse to work with, all they got is us. I’m sure the task looks like trying to put a cow back together after its interactions with the cattle industry sometimes, except it would be closer to say that it looks like coaching the cow to put itself back together.
When we start to focus on the individual and their part in the interactions that have harmed them, because again, they are the ones we’re talking to, and we start to think about it in terms of choices, as per yesterday’s example –
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. 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.
– there’s some dehumanization going on there that I’ve never been comfortable with, and I’m getting less so. If the people in our lives are our “choices,” we are not accounting for their agency, their humanity, or their potential to learn or change. I’m liking this idea less these days, because for me to place my life in this template, I must decide my wife of twenty-five years is nothing but a poor choice of mine, some unconscious animal one can’t talk to and has to work around like any inanimate hazard. This, while simultaneously believing the opposite about my own self, or I’m not in some psych’s office having this conversation at all.
I’m seeking help with my mental health, and I can’t get in the door without taking on this self deception. I suspect one needs a counsellor that’s smarter than oneself. Of course, they know this too, but what are they going to do? We are all they have left to work with. I went to counselling at the very same community health office that my ex and my kids were going to, with the idea that they might be able to see both sides and help us all, but no, privacy laws, I am probably a dangerous stalker. So, we’re all in the same building, our counsellors share a manager – but my ex is just a prop in my own little psychodrama and I in hers, and we each need to figure out for what self-destructive reason we either are coming apart or whatever self-destructive reason we chose each other in the first place. We’re not here to talk about other people, we’re here to talk about you.
They have access to the actual people we are both there to talk about, but no. Psychology deals with our internalized versions of one another, apparently that is more to the point. Real people only complicate things; our stories are irreconcilable, so I guess our counsellors’ stories would be too.
So, yesterday was all about power and the patriarchy using psych sciences as a weapon for conformity, about turning our own experience of abuse into some bad choice we’ve made, about guilt, that many other aspects of life mean this guilt is there, whether we intend it or not. Today, it’s about what framing things as a choice that way does not to our self-worth, but to our sense of other-worth. We are guilty, we have made poor choices, but the ‘others’ in this model are objectified, they aren’t apparently making choices, aren’t apparently able to. Acceptance becomes the goal, because while we are charged to change and grow, the people around us are posited as natural forces or something, exempted.
Everything takes me back to the warrior society, OMG, I didn’t want to think this! That objectification, that dehumanization that we must do in these therapies, this is antisocialization, and the counsellors are cleaning up after the parents, trying to get these sensitive, hurting people to start thinking of other people as things at last, because they never learned it from their childhood beatings, and I’m back to Bluebeard again: you’ll never get any killin’ done, you go around thinking of people as interactive, changeable things all the time. Or any healing either, I guess.
I know, it’s all we can do, that sort of troubleshooting where you have to take these sorts of perspectives, run scenarios, ‘what if you knew, for sure, that your dad was never going to change, never going to hear you,’ and work with that, I know it. I’m not sure you can do that sort of black box exercise with human beings when you are one, it seems like a conundrum – which of course is just what I was looking for when my head went on the fritz, more conundrums.
Thanks for nuthin.’
One year today. One year since the last vestige of mania imploded on me and I couldn’t work anymore. Two years, I may as well make this my anniversary, since it was obvious I was in trouble, I can’t believe it, feels like twenty. I can barely remember them, my girls, my ex, my cats, my life.
Feb. 24th., 2018