Archive for the ‘ Psychology ’ Category

The Appeal of Destructive Behavior

The appeal of destructive behavior is built into the Human species – and manifests itself most readily in war.

Usually, this behavior is referred to, in the abstract – as violence.But I prefer the more general word – destructive. We can see this most readily during times in the past, when groups of people destroyed each other – and themselves. They were possessed by a destructive frenzy.

We have to ask ourselves “What precipitates this destructive frenzy?” In our times, it seems to be – unconscious dissatisfaction with the present situation, coupled with the inability to understand it.

People become unhappy with the way their world is treating them – but are not allowed to consciously experience this – so it gets shoved into their unconscious. Where it festers, until it explodes.

Our first learning experience is as small children – most of what we learn, we learn in the first three years of our lives – and probably even before we are born. The fetus knows very well, the attitude of its mother to it.

If a small child is treated badly, what can he (or she) do about it? This is a huge decision, and everything depends on it. He will try to adopt other people’s solutions.- which usually, is to deny the problem exists – and, as part of this solution, move it into their unconscious. The rest of his life, he will live with this time-bomb buried in his mind.

If we are rejected, we adopt different personalities, that will be accepted – but we never feel satisfied with them – and social instability builds up.

The only solution is a complete restructuring of society – which is going on right now, with a move towards a Software economy. Whether this will save us, or not – remains to be seen.

Out of Touch with Reality

I am sometimes this way myself – who isn’t? But I try to not get too far out of touch. I am a firm believer in Reality, and I worry about people who are not in touch with it.

I had a strong taste of this, when I was married for five years. Beth was out of touch, and could not be helped with her problem. She seemed to think her reality was better than the real one – that she was not interested in at all.

Since I insisted on staying real – she kicked me out of her life – no doubt thinking that this solved her problem. It did not, and four years later, she killed herself.

Her situation was typical, she was in deep pain – but not aware of this. When people are this way, their behavior is erratic – they will do anything to relieve their pain – trying one thing after another – but none of them work.

No one can tell them “You are crazy!”Even though they certainly are. All we can do is watch, while their condition worsens.

This also applies to groups of people. They can go crazy also – completely crazy, and self-destruct. This has happened many times in the past – and is happening now, in many places.

The Human Mind

This continues to fascinate and baffle me – as it should. I am alarmed by the many people who are not interested in it at all. How can they not be interested in themselves?

The answer seems to be, that they are interested in something derived from the mind – but is no longer human itself. Words fail me here, what on earth am I talking about?

We have no words for this – but can easily see it in action, in the way people treat each other. Perhaps a story would help.

I was married to a beautiful, intelligent – but crazy young woman, back in the Sixties. I was working for the Army, at the time – helping to develop its version of the Atomic Bomb. We decided that she should work also – so I got her a job working for the same place.

The first morning she went to work, I got an emergency call from her supervisor – asking me to came at once, because she was upsetting the office – with her strange behavior. She had freaked out – because the office atmosphere was more than she could handle, emotionally.

She could tell, instinctively, what an office was really like – a cruel, inhuman place, and she wanted no part of it.

Most people have no problem with this – and fit into an office easily. Their minds have been altered, so they are no longer human minds. But are the something else, I am trying to describe.

These people hate people – although the word people refers to something different in their minds. It may refer to a member of the opposite sex, a different religion, or a different race. Anyone who is perceived as different, in some way.

They become destructive – because they see the world around them as different from themselves.

Our Big Problem Now

Back when I was working in Silicon Valley, in the Nineties – I had many therapists. They have every kind imaginable there – the demand is so immense – with a new kind being invented every week.

But they all talked around the Big Problem – as if it didn’t exist! I was reduced to asking myself – if I was crazy, or they were?

I won’t keep you guessing, but lay it right on you:

Most people are not able to be themselves. To put this slightly differently – they have, and are continuing, to self-destruct.

They can be themselves in small ways, but not in big ways. When they get close to the boundary between the small and the big – their defense mechanism kicks in, and can produce some shocking results, that are sometimes fatal to themselves, or others.

And therapists, who should be helping them with this – will not. They think they will be squashed like a bug, or some other terrible thing, if they do. They won’t be, they will simply be ignored – and lose their social standing. But they fear that worse than death.

In short – people are scared, and scared to death.

How did this terrible fear develop? What made society more powerful than the individual?

First of all, when did this happen? That is a question we can answer with some certainty – in the middle of the 19th Century. When Industrialization matured. This produced both good and bad results – but made organizations, particularly the Railroads, very powerful. And individuals, by comparison, less powerful. The result was WWI – where Industrial Power made itself felt, for the first time.

People, at the time, knew nothing of Industrial Power – they just went to their deaths in massive numbers. And accomplished nothing by their dying. This set the pattern for the next Fifty years – WWI, the Depression, and WWII – all one continuous event. From which people learned little – but did learn that war was profitable. And continued it with the Cold War – from which, I profited personally, as an Electronic Engineer, specializing in Radar.

This is when the Organization Man was born. This type of person needed only one skill – the ability to climb the organizational ladder, using whatever means – fair or foul.

He was not afraid of being big – instead, he identified with it, and became bigness itself.

A Camera Cannot Give Meaning to a Photo

I should have known this – but I had to learn it for myself, the hard way.

I saw something that caught my attention, because it was so bizarre – a railroad rail being used for a electricity pole. It was bent out of shape so badly, it was leaning over the road, the top being shaded by Palm Trees on the other side of the road. But no one, including the Electricity Company, who drove by it every day – had noticed this.

I went to a huge amount of work to take pictures of it with my new digital camera – but then, to my amazement – could hardly see that bent up railroad track, and the wiring it was supposed to support, it in the finished photos. It just vanished!

We were not supposed to see it, so we didn’t. And this makes me wonder how big a problem this is for us overall. It made me think about thinking.

The Human Brain has trained itself to see certain kinds of images – and can see no other. In the same way, it has learned to hear some languages – and cannot hear any other.

We have filtered out most of our sensory inputs – we have to, to keep from having too many of them. But that means we are not aware of most of what our senses are telling us.

If our environment changes very much – we have to forget most of what we have learned, and start over. We don’t have to die out as a species – as most species have done. We just start our learning over – and this might take a thousand years, as it did in the Middle Ages.

We Must be Hard on Ourselves

Otherwise, we will not be good enough.

I’m sure I’m on solid ground here. Most Americans will agree this is part of their personality – not a part that they approve of. But somehow or other, it is necessary anyway. If they don’t have it (and use  it) they will somehow fall short.

If they are not this way, they do not feel virtuous, proper, or dignified.

This attitude goes back to the Reformation, and is responsible for the affluence (or developed economy) that it produced. And for the hypocrisy that went along with it.

What were we trying to do? To become superhuman – and with Industrialization, and its marvelous machines, we discovered how to do this. We became like machines – driving ourselves as hard as we could.

Looking back at my childhood, growing up in an Industrial town in the Midwest, that had the Santa Fe Railroad on the West End of town – and the Sheaffer Pen Company  on the East End. I am certain this is how we felt – and were proud of it.

But it did not last. My home town (Ft. Madison, Iowa) is now part of the American Rust Belt, that its young people (including me) have abandoned.

Have Americans become more easy-going, now that the Computer can do most of their work for them? No. Habits die hard – especially this one.

Making Better Things is Easy

Making better people is hard.

Things are easy to understand – and all you have to do with the complicated ones, is decompose them into their simpler parts.

But you cannot do that with people – who, when all is said and done, cannot be understood. They can be understood in this way, or that way, without number. But these concepts are always how we think about the interactions of huge numbers of huge molecules interacting in a huge number of ways.

Out of this, somehow, emerges a person and a people. And not in an orderly fashion – life is messy, very messy. And doesn’t always work.

This is what we are forced to say about our global society – it is not working. And no one knows how to patch it up.

What we have is lots of people (too many, really) doing lots of things – few of them conducive to their betterment.

It never occurs to them to make a better global society. They would consider such an idea ridiculous. They cannot even make their own society better.