per page, with , order by , clip by
Results of 0 - 1 of about 0 (0.001 sec.)
THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION: II
@author: Manas Reprints
@digest: 7f943452f6080f799e8a86296215a05d
@id: 2450
@mdate: 2004-12-06T17:00:00Z
@size: 68686
@type: application/pdf
author: Manas Reprints
creator: Microsoft Word
producer: Acrobat PDFWriter 3.02 for Windows
#keywords: menninger (38087), monks (20736), psychiatric (11135), january (10487), executive (9264), courts (8495), psychiatry (8201), britain (6872), buddha (6236), 1953 (6045), foundation (5029), revolution (4634), reprint (4367), century (3996), volume (3965), communist (3809), the (3390), society (3071), progress (2987), religious (2911), psychological (2614), government (2544), manas (2509), importance (2501), which (2459), that (2429), world (2192), history (2192), through (2181), freedom (2126), almost (2073), people (2065)
VOLUME VI, NO. 2 JANUARY 14, 1953 THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION: II CASTING about for a title for this article, we hit upon "The Unfinished Revolution," only to recall that this was the title of the leading article in the first issue of MANAS—of Jan. 7, 1948. The title applies to what we wish to say, however, so we use it again. Perhaps an informal series under this heading may be attempted, with an installment added whenever we have the feeling—or presumption—that something worth saying on this subject can be written down. The ideals of the eighteenth century are accounted great for the reason that in that epoch certain men, thinking profoundly, declared that human destiny is made by human beings. This is the revolutionary idea which thrilled throughout Europe and the New World during the eighteenth century. From this idea, kings lost their thrones, empires their colonies. From this idea, gods were forced to abdicate and priests were stripped of their authority. From this idea, Nature regained her glory and wonder, and man his dignity. There were other results, also, but these are unmistakable. A humble Italian scholar was among the first to sound the note of this discovery. Giovanni Battista Vico, son of a Neapolitan bookseller, in 1795 published a work called Principles of a New Science Dealing with the Nature of Nations, Through Which Are Shown Also New Principles of the Natural Law of Peoples. Vico's thought is well described by Edmund Wilson in To the Finland Station (a brilliant study of human selfconsciousness of history, from Vico to the Russian Revolution): Human history had hitherto always been written as a series of biographies of great men or as a chronicle of remarkable happenings or as a pageant directed by God. But now we can see that the developments of societies have been affected by their sources, their environments; and that like individual human beings they have passed through regular phases of growth. "The facts of known history," Vico writes, are to be "referred to their primitive origins, divorced from which they have seemed hitherto to possess neither a common basis, nor continuity nor coherence." And: "The nature of things is nothing other than that they came into being at certain times and in certain ways. Wherever the same circumstances are present, the same phenomena arise and no others." And: "In that dark night which shrouds from our eyes the most remote antiquity, a light appears which cannot lead us astray; I speak of this incontestable truth: the social world is certainly the work of men; and it follows that one can and should find its principles in the modifications of the human intelligence itself." And: "Governments must be conformable to the nature of the governed; governments are even a result of that nature." Thus, by Vico and by others of the same revolutionary cast of mind, the imposing structure of the medieval order was razed to the ground. The world was no longer a vale of tears, a static setting and stage whereon was played out the drama of redemption or damnation. No longer was the "social world" an earthly reflection of the hierarchies of heaven, incontestably final, irrevocably fixed. The social world was made by men, and could be re-made by men. So, in the course of the century, were reborn in the West certain essentially Buddhist conceptions of man and nature. From sinful creature, man became a perfectible creator. Hallowed social institutions lost their sanctity, turning into targets for revolutionary attack. Men set about the work of designing and creating a new society. Godwin, at the end of the century, could say: There is no characteristic of man, which seems at present so eminently to distinguish him, or to be of so much importance in every branch of moral science, as his perfectibility. MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 wise reform. Rightly understanding these terms, who would not be a conservative? Who would not be a reformer? A conservative of all that is good—a reformer of all that is evil. . . . All history, in the eyes of men like Godwin, was the testament of human progress. This articulate thinker wrote in An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793): Is it possible for us to contemplate what he [man] has already done, without being impressed with a strong presentiment of the improvements he has yet to accomplish? There is no science that is not capable of additions; there is no art that may not be carried to a still higher perfection. . . . If this be true of all other sciences, why not of morals: If this be true of all other arts, why not of social institutions? . . . The very conception of this as possible, is in the highest degree encouraging. If we can still farther demonstrate it to be a part of the natural and regular progress of mind, our confidence and our hopes will then be complete. What an atmosphere this was for daring and accomplishment! The steady wind of the rediscovery of man as free, as capable of forging his own salvation, blew westward to the New World, where it made the sparks of political freedom burst into flame. The continent of North America gave a physical environment where only free men could survive in the struggle with the wilderness, while the philosophers of the Old World prepared the patents and wrote the guarantees of human freedom in terms of the new discovery of the mind. Meanwhile, in Europe, another sort of determination to change the course of history was emerging. The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was first published in England in 1848. This profoundly bitter and incendiary document combined the vision of revolutionary possibility with a terrible denunciation of western bourgeois society. The denunciation was terrible because it was so largely true. Pursuing the historical method, Marx endeavored to show how the historical changes introduced by the bourgeoisie had paved the way for Communist revolution: The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part. The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of Philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. There was no stopping this tide of enthusiasm for making all things new. In 1848, just before the great rush across the plains and mountains of the West, to take from nature the gold of California, Charles Sumner described to a meeting of the Phi Beta Kappa Society what he called "The Law of Human Progress": Man, as an individual, is capable of indefinite improvement. Societies and nations which are but aggregates of men, and, finally, the Human Race, or collective Humanity, are capable of indefinite improvement. And this is the Destiny of man, of societies, of nations, and of the Human Race. This was his counsel to his youthful, scholarly audience: Learn to reconcile order with change, stability with Progress. This is a wise conservatism; this is a Volume VI, No. 2 The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers. In short, the bourgeoisie accomplished the commercialization of life in practically all its aspects. Who, having just passed through the most sacred holiday of Christendom, will deny that this is the case? The great ethical proposition of Karl Marx is this: MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 3 To be a capitalist is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion. Capital is therefore not a personal, it is a social power. Regardless of whether or not the conclusions Marx drew from it are justified, this proposition is obviously true. And whether or not it is possible, at the present time, to found a social system upon this proposition, it is certainly true that this is what Marx set out to do. The point, here, is that Marx self-consciously took a position in the stream of history—history as conceived by Vico and by all those who held it possible for men to create their own forms of society—and proposed how men should use their newfound power. His ideal, as expressed in The Communist Manifesto, could not help but impress and inspire countless dissatisfied members of Western society: In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. Why did Communism fail to fulfill its revolutionary mission? This question has answers at many levels, the most important level, doubtless, being that of the inherent weaknesses and contradictions in historical materialism and historical determinism. Here, we should like to quote some passages from Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station, from which the tragic impasses of modern Communism may perhaps be better understood. The passages all have to do with Marx himself: In spite of all Marx's enthusiasm for the "human," he is either inhumanly dark or almost superhumanly brilliant. He always is either contracted inside his own ego until he is actually unable to summon enough fellow-feeling to get on with other human beings at all or he has expanded to a comprehensive world-view which, skipping over individuals altogether, as his former attitude was unable to reach them, takes in continents, classes, long ages. . . . Volume VI, No. 2 His own opinions seem always to have been arrived at through a close criticism of the opinions of others, as if the sharpness and force of his mind could only really exert themselves in attacks on the minds of others, as if he could only find out what he thought by making distinctions that excluded the thoughts of others. . . . He was not among those working-class leaders who have merged themselves with working-class life. ... And if he exposes the dark depths of the industrial system, it is less to move us to fellowfeeling with the workers than to destroy the human aspect of their masters. The bourgeoisie, in Karl Marx's writings, are created mainly in caricature; and the proletariat figure mainly as their crimes. There is in Marx an irreducible discrepancy between the good which he proposes for humanity and the ruthlessness and hatred he inculcates as a means of arriving at this—a discrepancy which, in the history of Marxism, has given rise to much moral confusion. . . . The Armageddon that Karl Marx tended to expect presupposed a situation in which the employer and the employee were unable to make any contact whatever. The former would not only be unable to sit down at the same table with the latter on the occasion of an industrial dispute; he would be inhibited from socking him in the jaw until the last lines had been definitely drawn and the proletarian army fully regimented. In other words, Marx was incapable of understanding democracy at all. He had been bred in an authoritarian country; and he had had some disappointing experiences with what were supposed to be popular institutions. . . . Furthermore, he was himself, with his sharp consciousness of superiority, instinctively undemocratic in his actual relations with his fellows. . . . Finally—what is doubtless fundamental—it is exceedingly difficult for one whose deepest internal existence is all a wounding and being wounded, a crushing and being crushed, to conceive, however much he may long for, a world ruled by peace and fraternity, external relations between men based upon friendliness, confidence and reason. Today, a widespread horror of the ruthlessness of Marxist or Communist institutions has persuaded some men that nothing short of a return of the responsibility for human destiny to God can save the world from the evils which seem to be released when men attempt to recreate MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 4 society for themselves. The idea, according to The Communist Manifesto, was that the communists would establish the conditions of freedom; then, we are told, the dictatorship of the proletariat would dissolve and the State "wither away." But, unlike the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution solidified at the stage of the Terror, and has remained at this stage ever since, to the bewilderment and finally the revulsion of the rest of the world. Today, the "liberals" or "progressives" are reexamining alternative theories of completing the revolution. A few, fearing the growing power of the State, have gone back to Herbert Spencer's version of laissez faire. Others find an almost religious inspiration in the doctrines of the French economist, Bastiat. Still others have rejected altogether the struggle for power and become anarchists. The frustrated revolutionists of the world are spreading out in all directions, working in various ways to discover lines of development which will complete the promise of the eighteenth century. than a political goal. And a more-than-political goal can never be described in political terms, as the Founding Fathers of the United States well knew. It is this, perhaps, that has made so difficult the formulation of aims for the twentieth century. Those aims can never be stated in organizational terms without becoming totalitarian in character. As a result, well-intentioned men who try to speak to or for the nation in behalf of freedom sound like echoes of the eighteenth century, while those who would address us with national and international programs designed for "progress" in the twentieth century speak with accents unpleasantly resembling the totalisms of recent history. Politically, then, there seems to be no escape. There may, however, be non-political ways of resolving the dilemma. It was possible, in the Middle Ages, for society to stand still, or nearly still. The principle of social organization then accepted by all was static. But since the eighteenth century, the western world, and now the eastern world, too, has accepted the principle of progress in social organization, and when a progressive society stands still, it retrogrades and loses its meaning. This seems to be what is happening today, so that even the rights and principles of the eighteenth century no longer seem possible to maintain. In short, the world cries out for a new inspiration. After nearly two hundred years of realizing freedom, we are beginning to lose it again, this time for lack of knowing what to do with the freedom we have gained. What must we do to recapture the vision of the perfectibility of man, and the dream of unending progress? An unfree society can survive with the inspiration of and struggle toward a political goal. But a free society must have something greater to reach for Volume VI, No. 2 MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 5 Letter from ENGLAND LONDON.—Less than half a century ago the functions of government were seen as threefold: the defence of the realm against foreign enemies; the preservation of peace within it; the enforcement by independent courts of contract. Since then there has been a revolution in the philosophy of government in Britain, and it is now taken as axiomatic that no activity of the citizen lies beyond the purview of the law-making body, Parliament. Now, the unwritten British Constitution is based upon the doctrine of the separation of powers. The State is envisaged as a triangular structure, the respective sides of which are the law-making, the judicial and the administrative. The separation of these three powers was long regarded as the best safeguard against tyranny in the State. Blackstone, whose Commentaries, I believe, are still in use in American Law Schools, laid it down that "Where the right of making and enforcing law is vested in the same man and the same body of men there can be no public liberty." What then has happened in Britain, that many people are now beginning to suspect that the allembracing power of government to enter into and regulate all sorts of activity has shifted this balance and vested a large and increasing proportion of power in officials who conform to the type spoken of by Blackstone? The simple truth is that in the vast and sweeping changes that have been made in Britain since the latest Labour government, we have a good example of the danger inherent in sewing patches of new material on to an old garment. Our Parliament, our Courts, and our Executive, were never designed to function under any but the old definitions of government, and hence the revolution has discovered them to be inadequate for the transformed legislative, executive and judicial setups. Volume VI, No. 2 Let me explain, briefly, what has happened. Many Bills that have become law during the last two decades have been the instruments of revolution. The Town and Country Planning Act, for example. These Bills tended to become more and more complex and unwieldy and thus most of them contain clauses which pass to the Executive the actual work of interpretation and administration. The central fact of the revolution in England is the rise of the power of the Executive, and the usurpation by it (through sheer necessity) of functions formerly the close preserve of the Courts. Now, the vast body of public law which has been passed in recent years has made inevitable the institution of new courts; for the normal law courts could not handle so vast an amount of business arising out of public law. These new courts, hitherto unknown in Britain, though normal in France, have been, in some cases, given jurisdiction to adjudicate without reference to, or appeal to, the royal Courts. They are administered without accepted procedures, presided over by officials without legal training or knowledge, are part of the machinery of the swollen and all-powerful Executive. In many cases Acts expressly exclude the Courts, so that we now have in Britain (a) the constitutional law courts, ousted by rival Tribunals, (b) pseudo droit administratif courts, but without the regulations and safeguards of that system, as in France. Thus today in England the only appeal the individual has against the findings of a so-called Tribunal is to the Minister of the department of State concerned. This, in practice, is merely a rehearing by another official who is without legal training. Thus the liberty of the subject is exposed in Britain to curtailments that arise from a revolution in the philosophy of government, every extension of government activity necessarily limiting the freedom of the subject. These sweeping changes, only now, and even at that, slowly being felt, mean that the former freedom of the individual in Britain is a thing of the past and that henceforth he becomes the MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 6 creature of a new class, the executive official who both makes and administers the law. An important parenthesis is necessary here. Under the vast Acts which have gone on the Statute Book of recent years, provisions are made for interpretation by the bureaucracy. This is implemented by Statutory Orders. These have the force of law and are issued in many thousands each year. In other words, an official in Whitehall can make law and his law-making is covered by the Act concerned. Now, public confidence in the administration of justice is essential in a free society. It can not exist when the judicial function passes from Courts to improvised tribunals who administer public law. "Herein consists the true excellency of the English government," wrote Blackstone, "that all the parts of it form a mutual check upon each other." This is no longer the case in Britain. These are, maybe, the growing pains of the infancy of a new form of Society. Time will tell. ENGLISH CORRESPONDENT Volume VI, No. 2 MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 7 REVIEW A WORTHY INSTITUTION THE 1952 Annual Report of the Menninger Foundation suggests the devotion of some time and space to the accomplishments of the Menninger Clinic and its publications. The period ending June 30, 1952, brought the eleventh comprehensive summary of yearly progress for the Foundation, and the report provides inspiring perspective on the "psychiatric community of Topeka," which has grown organically through the Menninger influence. Of the many worthy causes to which money may be donated, psychiatric clinics seem the least doubtful. In the first place, every informed person realizes that the present quarter-century marks a tremendous increase in the incidence of mental illness and, in the second place, psychiatrists themselves, in facing multiplying burdens, have little time to indulge either arrogance or dogmatism. In the third place, we are all, sad to say, a bit "mentally ill" ourselves and live in a society beset by cultural delusions which make psychiatry "our subject" whether we will it or not. We suggest that MANAS readers interested in psychiatric developments become members of the Menninger Foundation by way of supplying whatever contribution fits their means, since the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, the Annual Report, and the Menninger Quarterly are all sent regularly to those who subscribe even so small a sum as $5. The practice of making the results of Menninger work generally available in published form is in accord with the whole attitude and purpose of the Foundation, which is to advance the cause of psychological understanding to the limit of financial capacity. Among the thought-provoking material frequently offered in articles written for the Menninger publications is "Our Fears and What They do to Us," by Robert R. Holt, Director of the Psychological Staff of the Menninger Foundation. This particular piece is admirable in its avoidance of excessive technical jargon. Dr. Holt begins his analysis of our peculiar times by reference to Orson Welles' famous "Martian invasion" hoax, and while nearly all readers have heard some of these facts Volume VI, No. 2 cited to prove the emotional instability of the American public, Dr. Holt widens their significance by connecting them with the psychology of Communist witch hunts, loyalty oaths, etc. Further, how many of us are aware that people actually "fled into basements" or "dropped on their knees to pray" when Mr. Welles did his stuff: On the evening of October 30, 1938, over six million Americans heard a cleverly realistic radio program which convinced them that this country was being invaded by horrible monsters from Mars. Stricken with terror, huge numbers took to the roads in cars, fled into basements, or dropped on their knees to pray; all night long telephone lines were choked with frantic calls to radio stations and newspapers. This was the famous Orson Welles broadcast of the War of the Worlds. It was one of the biggest— and best studied—examples of mass hysteria, or panic, in modern times. Today, people are deeply disturbed about their predicament in a troublesome world. But they are not rushing into the streets screaming, nor trembling with agonizing fear. No, we have today a much more insidious state of affairs, something that might be called a "chronic state of jitters," in this country. It shows itself in indirect ways. In the large cities, many who can afford it are building bomb shelters or buying remote country retreats. In many universities, as a recent series of articles in the New York Times made clear, . there is an ominous new atmosphere of cautious silence, of reluctance to express new or original ideas. Government workers too—any one whose job may be threatened if he is thought "disloyal"—all are loath to say what they really think on many issues. And plain ordinary people are confused and baffled as they try to force world problems into simple formulas which make sense in terms of their everyday experience— but which just don't apply on a world scale too much of the time. Worst of all, there is apathetic acceptance of encroachments on traditional American freedoms of opinion and of speech which surely would not have been tolerated if people generally were not afraid—afraid in a dull, gnawing sort of way that we call anxiety. The anxious man doesn't know what he's afraid of; often he doesn't even know that he is afraid. He may feel tense, jumpy, nervous, edgy. There isn't anything real out there to justify the feeling, and he can't see any way to run that will get him away MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 8 from—whatever it is. This is an extremely uncomfortable state of affairs; in its acute form, it can be the most hideous of experiences. As a result, people find it easier to find some plausible, definite threat out there to justify their feelings. A man taking a walk near a graveyard suddenly thinks he sees a ghost: his vague anxiety that has been stirred up by the idea of death now has a definite focus, out away from himself, and he can run away from it. Another man may think he sees a Communist in a neighbor who wants to make some minor change in the established order of things: his anxiety is now given a definite external object which he can hate and fear, and try to escape or destroy. This is one form of the mechanism of projection, which we know so well from our work with emotionally disturbed people. We have learned two important things about anxious people: they are often much more suggestible than usual, will accept ideas, explanations and programs more readily and uncritically; and, second, they have a tendency to fall back on the most familiar, easy habitual ways of thinking and acting. Dr. Holt is not saying anything particularly new—all of these perspectives are either implicit or explicit in works like Karen Horney's The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, in articles by Brock Chisholm, and in Erich Fromm's books. The point here is simply that Dr. Holt will keep on saying these things via Menninger publications, and that they need to be said over and over again. In other words, the educational mechanisms of the Menninger Foundation make such valuable repetitions possible. As the people of the Menninger Foundation probably know better than anyone else, clinics and hospitals are woefully understaffed, unable to keep pace with the spread of mental illness. The neurotic stimuli of our frenetic age snowball faster than Menninger funds. But there is an obverse side to this picture. The men and women who are becoming concerned about or even interested in the phenomena of psychological dislocation have the opportunity of achieving a new sort of education, one that may eventually become deeply philosophical. Further, service to the cause of Psychiatry is always a challenge, because so many interlacing problems remain to be comprehended before fully satisfactory solutions can ever be guaranteed. Volume VI, No. 2 We have lately been impressed by the number of ordinary citizens who are acquiring some knowledge of mental illness and who are developing their own comprehension in regard to it. Many registered nurses have voluntarily undertaken the difficult work of qualifying for psychiatric nursing. Meanwhile the husbands, wives, and families of those engaged in clinical rehabilitation are becoming better informed; in fact, the unusual "family" thus developed at the Menninger Foundation itself seems wonderfully organic, and appears to be achieving the most in the way of results with the least in the way of financial support. Recent comments on the subject of the present "challenge to psychiatry" by William C. Menninger help to explain why psychology is one of the most "alive" fields of inquiry and pioneering available today—more challenging, perhaps, than any other. Dr. Menninger summarizes: Psychiatry has been forced into a position of unwished-for importance. Persons everywhere are looking to it for answers to problems of human relationships in almost every area. There is increasing awareness of the importance of mental health (and ill health) to all of us as individuals, in our family life, in our schools, in business and in industry, in our national—and God help us— international affairs. Part of the burden of responsibility that has been thrust on psychiatry has fallen on The Menninger Foundation. Through a series of circumstances, our organization has long since become, not merely a Topeka or Kansas institution, but one of far too few beacons of psychiatry in this troubled world in which we live. MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 9 mine to understand and to accept without personal insult nor judgment. I shall befriend the patient against his illness. COMMENTARY LITTLE GLORY, MUCH GOOD A PHASE of the work of the Menninger Foundation not mentioned in Review is the training of mental hospital attendants in the school for Psychiatric Aides, established at Topeka in 1948. Those unaware of the importance of the attendants in mental hospitals will find it helpful to read Harold Maine's If a Man Be Mad and Albert Deutsch's The Shame of the States, for both these books disclose that the quality of the attendants may determine whether mental patients are restored to health or are rendered almost incapable of recovery. In public hospitals, where case loads are heavy and doctors few, this is particularly true. My weapon is myself; my sword—my smile, my voice—needed strength. Where there is fear I shall be assurance, where there is despair I shall be hope. Kindness will be my talisman and I shall not tolerate brutality nor neglect. My respected fellow workers will be my pilots. Faithful to my trust, may my reward be an ever greater appreciation of the blessedness of giving. The quality of this commitment is almost unique in the twentieth century. Young men and women between 25 and 35 are especially needed as candidates for training as psychiatric aides. The opportunities afforded are well described in the Aide School catalog: The demands laid upon him [the attendant] to return good for evil, kindness for hostility, reassurance for suspicion, patience and cheerfulness for apathy are heavy. But the rewards in seeing the patients in his care progress from the depths of illness to health are great also. The friendships he forms, the touching gratitude he receives, and above all the feeling that his life has tremendous value in restoring life to others, give the psychiatric aide the feeling that his chosen work has a value and a fascination that very few people experience in other occupations. Training in this field lasts one year, during which students are paid at a rate somewhat above the government subsistence allowance for veterans in educational programs. A letter to the Menninger Foundation at Topeka, Kans., will bring full details. The general reader, as well as those who may consider the career of psychiatric aide as a lifework, may find inspiration in the oath taken by psychiatric aides: I dedicate my life to the companionship of the men and women of broken spirit. With humility, I accept the patient as my sacred trust. His behavior is Volume VI, No. 2 MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 10 CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves SOME BOOKS IT may seem a trifle odd to recommend a psychiatrist's life-history to parents, but A Few Buttons Missing, by James T. Fisher, is an odd sort of book, anyway, and does not fit into established patterns. Dr. Fisher, too, is unusual, since one of the most important phases of his psychological study was taken up, with youthful enthusiasm, after he had passed seventy. Perhaps it is his surprising youthfulness which enables him to discuss the basic premises of psychiatry in terms that any child can understand; in any case it is for this reason that the book is mentioned here. Many parents, we are sure, have wished their children to gain the rudiments of psychological understanding, and A Few Buttons Missing is loaded with simple analogies. Dr. Fisher "talked" his observations to a collaborator, Lowell Hawley, and we are not sure which one of the two inclines to the Bob Hope joke-book sort of style, but the approach has its uses. In defense of his consistent levity on serious subjects, Dr. Fisher observes that, on the evidence of psychology textbooks, neither Freud nor James can be said to have made the greatest single contribution to our understanding of psychic phenomena; this honor, he says, really belongs to Alexander Graham Bell, for in nearly every beginner's volume the author has recourse to the analogy of the system of telephone communications to explain neural patterns. Dr. Fisher applies the "telephone analogy" to aspects of the "subconscious mind," and thus sets the stage for the psychiatrist. A sample: Imagine yourself, now, as the General Manager of a local telephone company with thousands of subscribers. In planning the layout of the building it would be quite apparent that you couldn't have your desk in the same room with all the operators. And so it is that the conscious mind is separated from the subconscious mind. Volume VI, No. 2 Somewhere in the back room, but easily accessible from the executive offices, must be the file cabinets of memory. Here, for future reference, are filed thousands of dates, names, incidents, and telephone numbers. If they are filed carefully and painstakingly, many can be found when needed. If they are tossed helter-skelter into any drawer that happens to be open, there is less chance that they'll be found promptly when required. And as in any filing system, the more recent additions are generally the easiest to locate. But did you ever notice how comparatively helpless is the typical executive trying to find a certain letter on his secretary's day off? Because he does not daily attend these routine details, he is not entirely proficient at the task. And similarly, the subconscious mind may have access to memory factors which elude the conscious mind. There are, of course, bad days in every line of business. When things start going wrong at the telephone company, the Manager gets out his manual or handbook and attempts to find an immediate solution to the problem, possibly working overtime and instituting new measures of company policy. If these things fail to work and if the situation grows worse, he must eventually call in a trained troubleshooter. This type of exposition is used throughout, and applied also to the field of psychosomatic medicine. The basic tenet of psychoanalysis—that hidden conflicts of the subconscious need to emerge into the ken of the conscious mind, where rational resolution can take place is clearly presented. With all his effervescence and reminiscence, moreover, Dr. Fisher is apparently neither an arrogant nor a self-satisfied man, but continually seeks new avenues to psychological enlightenment. He belongs to no particular "school." He rejects many of the extremes of Freudian theory, but also—unfortunately, we think—airily by-passes Freud's objections to hypnotherapy and hypnotic assistance to analysis. Yet, however one evaluates Fisher's own "position," he is clearly a man of broad perspectives. Humor flows easily in his words of self-analysis and he is determined, as a nonFreudian, to furnish a good example of impartiality. He remarks that even psychologists MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 11 who fail to see eye to eye with Freud are all "men fishing through the hole in the ice chopped by Sigmund." Of psychiatrists who hoped that psychic phenomena would be easily explainable in mechanical terms—and that the diagnosing of psychiatric ailments would be the same as localizing electrical trouble in the ignition circuit of a motor car—Dr. Fisher observes: Belatedly, and with a rare burst of insight, it suddenly occurred to somebody that men and automobiles, after all, are not identical. There came the suggestion that possibly man had been wasting his time through the years, attempting to trace the dividing line between pathological and psychogenic maladies. 3 3 3 Though we have no particular fondness for the author's short introductory chapter, Joseph Gaer's How the Great Religions Began (Dodd, Mead) is an interesting restatement of the fundamental tenets of the world's great faiths— again in terms which the very young can fathom. First issued in 1929, this book has been through nine printings, indicating its popularity. As has been the case with so many Western students of comparative religions, Gaer seems particularly appreciative of Buddhist precepts. His flair for dialogue, perhaps, makes it easy to conceive of youthful readers being intrigued by his version of formidable religious doctrines. From Gaer's chapter on Buddhism, we take a passage which seems to encompass some of the central concepts and much of the underlying spirit of the Buddhist reform. Buddha, writes Gaer, first expounded his teachings to five rather doctrinaire monks—erstwhile companions with whom he had sojourned prior to his final enlightenment. Buddha encounters these monks again at Benares. Though the holy men disapprove his unseemly independence, they offer him a seat, asking: "Have you found the wisdom you were seeking?": "I have," answered the Buddha. Volume VI, No. 2 "What is the Wisdom of the World?" the monks asked. "You all believe in Karma, in the Law of the Deed, don't you?" the Buddha asked. "We do!" the five monks answered. "That is the beginning of Wisdom: From Good must come Good, and from Evil must come Evil. That is the First Law of Life, and all things that live are ruled by that Law." "But that is nothing new," the monks protested. "But if that Law is true," said the Buddha, "then sacrifices and prayers to our many gods must be foolish." "Why so?" the monks asked. "Because," said the Buddha, "water always flows downhill. Fire is always hot. Ice is always cold. Praying to all the gods in India will not make water flow uphill, or fire cold, or ice hot. That is because there are Laws in Life that make these things as they are. So also that which is done cannot be undone again. Prayers and sacrifices to the gods must therefore be ageless." "That sounds true," said the monks. "If that is true," said the Buddha, "then all the idols worshipped by our people are useless. If these idols have no power to change anything in the world, they should not be prayed to and worshipped. If a man does good, the results will be good. And if he does evil, the results will be evil, and all the idols in India cannot change that. Idol-worship is wrong and foolish." "That, too, sounds true," said the monks. "Now if that is true," said the Buddha, "then the Vedas that tell people to pray and make sacrifices and worship idols, are not holy. Holy Books would not teach that which is not true and which is evil. Our priests say that the Vedas and every word in them are Holy. But I say the Vedas are not Sacred Books." The monks looked at the Buddha in great surprise. No one in India had ever dared to say that the Vedas were not holy. "Yes," the Buddha added, "the Vedas teach us to believe that Brahman created people in Castes. But that is not true to the First Law of Life. People are only divided into good people and bad people. They who are good, are good; and they who are bad, are MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 12 bad. And it does not make any difference in what family they are born." "Then you do not believe Brahman divided the people into Castes?" the monks asked in wonder. "I do not," the Buddha answered. "I do not believe Brahman created anything. The world was not created by Brahman." "Who then created the world?" the monks asked. "I believe that the world is going to exist forever and forever. It will never come to an end. And everything that has no end, has no beginning. The world was not created by anyone. The world always was." The monks were silent for a while, thinking of all the Buddha had said which was so different from the teachings they had studied and believed in all their lives. Suddenly the Buddha addressed the monks and said: "There are two extremes, O monks, to keep away from. One is a life of pleasure, that is selfish and ignoble. The other is a life of self-torture, and that, too, is unworthy. For these two roads do not lead to the Good Life." Volume VI, No. 2 MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 13 FRONTIERS Burtt, who wrote the following for the Autumn 1941 number of the Humanist: The Sources of Prejudice Confident of the ultimacy of his religion of universal love, the believer in the special revelation of Christianity unwittingly substitutes a local and historical doctrine about love for love itself. In the presence of a Buddhist who finds salvation in Amitabha, he cannot allow that such an experience is on a par with his meeting the divine in Christ, and be ready to pool in friendly mutuality the distinctive greatness in each of these exalting transactions; his impulse to love without qualification is rendered subordinate to his devotion to the particular religious tradition he has inherited. And because of this commitment the Jesus in whom Christ was historically revealed is idealized beyond all that the evidence of the gospels can possibly justify, with consequent injustice to other great religious founders. A LAUDABLE spirit of impartiality has prompted the Yale Divinity School to undertake a study of materials used for religious instruction in church schools to see if they contain anything which might feed "racial, social and religious bias." The printed matter to be reviewed, the Christian Century (Dec. 24) reports, was obtained from the larger Protestant denominations and from independent publishers of Sunday school quarterlies. While the CC editorial writer thinks well of this project, he is apparently a little sensitive with regard to Protestant selfcriticism: Few churches or catechetical classes, we are confident, would knowingly contribute to such warping of their young people's minds. But prejudice-forming or -confirming materials sometimes slip in, generally because of editorial carelessness. The Yale study can put the churches on guard against such carelessness. We trust, however, that this investigation will not be confined to Protestant instructional materials. If it is to be more than a prelude to another spasm of Protestant breastbeating it should also study Roman Catholic and Jewish religious education texts. And when it comes to passing on certain forms of prejudice, we wonder how much attention will be paid to the original sources. How much responsibility, for example, must the church fathers bear for Roman Catholic attitudes toward heretics? Or the Gospel according to John for Christian prejudices against Jews? Touchy or not about the conduct of the competition, this editorial is refreshingly candid in its questioning of "original sources." In fact, we wonder, ourselves, if the writer of this editorial asked himself how far investigation of the "original sources" may safely go, in an effort to expose prejudicial attitudes. There is the further question, also, as to why undesirable materials have a tendency to "slip" in, unless careful editing keeps them out. Could it possibly be that certain central ideas of the Christian religion, upon logical development, make expressions of prejudice almost inevitable? We have two witnesses to call whose testimony seems pertinent on this question. The first is Dr. E. A. Volume VI, No. 2 Supposing this analysis to be correct, and we can find nothing wrong with it, would not the belief in a special Christian revelation be a serious source of prejudice? Prof. Burtt points out that intelligent Christians cannot help but be uneasily aware of such difficulties, leading them to assert that the final vindication of Christian belief lies beyond the reach of reason. He suggests, finally, that this "rejection of reason cannot be quite sincere; it is a protective device needed to cover the anxious sense that the claims involved in the theory of special revelation are intrinsically incapable of justification." The views of our second witness, the psychiatrist, Brock Chisholm, are formed from the experience of the doctor's office and the clinic. His testimony is taken from a paper, "The Reestablishment of Peacetime Society," first published in Psychiatry for February, 1946. Actually, the paper is mistitled, for it is plain that Dr. Chisholm in no way supposes "peace" to be something that has been lost, and must now be regained. He is after the kind of peace which has not yet existed on earth. The wars that harass mankind, he proposes, spring from "irrational behavior patterns resulting from unsuccessful development and failure to reach emotional maturity." He adds that it is evident that "this failure is usual in the whole human race and has been so throughout historical time." MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 14 What, then, is the cause of this failure? To find it, he says— we must seek some consistent thread running through the weave of all civilizations we have known and preventing the development of all or almost all the people to a state of true maturity. What basic psychological distortion can be found in every civilization of which we know anything? It must be a force which discourages the ability to see and acknowledge patent facts, which prevents the rational use of intelligence, which teaches or encourages the ability to dissociate and to believe contrary to and in spite of clear evidence, which produces inferiority, guilt and fear, which makes controlling other people's personal behavior emotionally necessary, which encourages prejudice and the inability to see, understand and sympathize with other people's points of view. Dr. Chisholm has no doubt, himself, about the cause: For many generations we have bowed our necks to the yoke of the conviction of sin. We have swallowed all manner of poisonous certainties fed us by our parents, our Sunday and day school teachers, our politicians, our priests, our newspapers and others with a vested interest in controlling us. "Thou shalt become as gods, knowing good and evil," good and evil with which to keep our children under control, with which to prevent free thinking, with which to impose local and familial and national loyalties and with which to blind children to their glorious intellectual heritage. Misguided by authoritarian dogma, bound by exclusive faith, stunted by inculcated loyalty, torn by frantic heresy, bedevilled by insistent schism, drugged by ecstatic experience, confused by conflicting certainty, bewildered by invented mystery, and loaded down by the weight of guilt and fear engendered by its own original promises, the unfortunate human race, deprived by these incubi of its only defences and its only reasons for striving, its reasoning power and its natural capacity to enjoy the satisfaction of its natural urges, struggles along under its ghastly self-imposed burden. ... The crippling of intelligence by these bandages of belief, in the name of virtue and security for the soul, is as recognizable as that of the feet of the Chinese girl who was sacrificed to the local concept of beauty. The result is, in both cases, not beauty of character or of feet, but distortion and crippling and loss of natural function. Volume VI, No. 2 In verification of this indictment, Dr. Chisholm turns to the experience of his own generation in home and school: . . . we were taught to be absolutely loyal and obedient to the local concept of virtue, whatever that happened to be. We were taught that Moslems or Hindus or Jews, or Democrats or Republicans (with us in Canada, Grits or Tories) or capitalists or trade unionists, or socialists or communists, or Roman Catholics or Methodists or any of all other human groups are wrong or even wicked. It almost always happened that among all the people in the world only our own parents, and perhaps a few people they selected, were right about everything. We could refuse to accept their rightness only at the price of a load of guilt and fear, and peril to our immortal souls. This training has been practically universal in the human race. Variations in content have had almost no importance. The fruit is poisonous no matter how it is prepared or disguised. It will not mar the almost heroic tone of this challenge to note, first, that there may be considerably more to arouse human energies than the use of reasoning power and the satisfaction of "natural urges"; and, second, that variations in the content of religious training and cultural background may have been of far greater importance than Dr. Chisholm admits (evidence for which he would probably welcome, as support for an optimism now desperately difficult to sustain). We have no wish to diminish the importance of the Yale attempt to eliminate prejudice from Christian instructional materials, nor of the Christian Century's acknowledgment of the need for further labors in this direction. But if we are really interested in a free and peaceful society, the Christians, along with all the rest of us, will have to undertake sterner measures than these. Men like Brock Chisholm call us to nothing less than complete revolution of our psychological lives. Perhaps, in the religious language which this psychiatrist may not appreciate, Jesus had such a radical transformation in mind when he spoke of the necessity of being "born again." MANAS Reprint January 14, 1953 ...
http://manasjournal.mrwconnected.info/pdf_library/VolumeVI_1953/VI-02.pdf - [detail] - [similar]
PREV NEXT
Powered by Hyper Estraier 1.4.13, with 2096 documents and 94562 words.