The Clare Spark Blog

March 28, 2013

“Power,” Foucault, and other aristocratic radicals

Foucaltcard03For those interested in how others interpret “power” in socio-political terms see

Several Facebook friends have expressed concern about “power,” seemingly equating it with illegitimate desires for malevolent control over other persons. Such notions of total control are usually implied in the notion of “totalitarianism” especially as the latter word equates communism and Nazism (a notion that I have challenged here:

This blog tries to sort out how one fashionable academic ideology abuses the notion of “power.”

Postmodernists/poststructuralists and Foucauldians. For these intellectuals, power is what the bourgeoisie, through total surveillance, wields over hapless Others, and one of the “pomo” villains is the bourgeois Enlightenment figure of “Freud”. For instance, take these sentences from Terry Eagleton’s chapter in “Self-Undoing Subjects” in Rewriting the Self, ed. Roy Porter (Routledge, 1997): p.264. “Isn’t Freud all about the unfathomable subject of the unconscious, about the production of some eternally elusive psyche folded upon its own inscrutable depths?” This is a wild misreading of Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis, as if he preached helplessness, not insight and potential cure in a collaborative relationship between psychoanalyst and analysand, wherein, through a variety of techniques, the patient would ultimately gain a measure of power over neurotic anxiety and psychogenic illnesses: “Where Id was, let Ego be!”*

Freud, even in his time, was a master in stepping outside the self to observe self-sabotaging subjectivity, but Eagleton has taken this power away from Freud and his followers, for like other contributors to this volume, there is no “self” except that which is constituted through dominant discourses in modern/bourgeois institutions intent on doing us in.

It is not irrelevant that Eagleton is writing from the Left, and that psychiatrists were incarcerated in the Soviet Union.

There is no doubt in my mind that numerous authoritarian forces push us around, diminishing political participation, or that language matters and can affect political and/or personal choices, not to speak of our emotional configurations, our loves and taboos, our sense of the possible and impossible. But to so drastically historicize “the self” to the point where we may not distinguish between sanity (having a relatively accurate grip on reality) and insanity (being ruled by delusions) is a romantic fantasy, and it is no accident that R. D. Laing’s name is mentioned in other articles in this volume, as if he were an accepted authority on mental illness, and not a marginal Romantic who saw schizophrenia as an adventure into the world made invisible by the uptight [bourgeois]. See


What is wrong with the Foucault/poststructuralist picture? Their panopticon makes no distinction between sectors of the bourgeoisie, for instance between classical liberals and social democrats, for the latter do favor “the watchbird state,” and their suspicious movements have been traced throughout this website, for instance here:

Many a “leftist” intellectual has more in common with displaced aristocrats than with the working class they claim to champion. (See While researching various social psychologists affiliated with the Roosevelt administration, I noted that some stigmatized the rising [crypto-Jewish] middle class as having a wicked yen for “power,” which they then “projected” upon minorities and women, even “business.” It was these potential quasi-fascist agitator-adoring usurpers who projected their illicit “will to power” upon favored authority figures, and knuckles were rapped accordingly. If you know your Nietzsche, you will recognize an aristocratic anti-plebeian ideology, one that spurned “history” as written by “the plebs.” Is it any accident that the sub-title of the anthology referenced above is “Histories from the Renaissance to the Present.” There is no one magisterial history dominating academia; there are only histories, or as is widely bruited about, only unreliable points of view. Granted that we all struggle with subjectivity, even seeking the power to see through ourselves and others, but to throw out a coherent self, able to make sense of her surroundings, to identify friends and enemies, is not only to kill off the author of literary texts (as some academics nail Foucauldians), but is a new peak (or low) in the annals of nihilism, one worthy of the Marquis de Sade himself.

*Another questionable reading of a classic text is found in Jonathan Sawday’s chapter “Self and Selfhood in the Seventeenth Century” (p.44), where he gets John Milton’s ambivalent reading of Satan all wrong: “Technology, invention, discovery, in Milton’s political poetics, are ideas associated with the absolutist, monarchical world of Hell.” I suppose Blake and Shelley were poor readers of Paradise Lost when they suggested that Milton was secretly of the Devil’s Party. A reminder that the regicide Milton was writing under censorship and could have been hanged for his role in the Interregnum.

Glenda Jackson, Marat/Sade

Glenda Jackson, Marat/Sade

March 26, 2012

Henry A. Murray and the Thematic Apperception Test

Christiana Morgan sculpted

Today, the History of Madness website publicized a Harvard exhibition celebrating Dr. Henry A. Murray’s invention of the Thematic Apperception Test. Murray is one of major characters in the so-called Melville Revival, and I found abundant material at Harvard demonstrating his low-profile but leading role in left-liberal propaganda. Below is the citation for his original article, and some lines on how the test was used by progressive psychologists and sociologists. For more, see the blog links below. You will not find the material I dug up over many years elsewhere in academic land. The only biography of Murray, by Forrest G. Robinson, is inaccurate and obsessed with Murray’s sexual habits, particularly those that involved his mistress Christiana Morgan. Claire Douglas wrote an even more scandalous one that Murray’s widow Nina Fish Murray loathed.

For the TAT citation, see Dr. Henry A. Murray and Christiana Morgan, “A Method For Investigating Fantasies: The Thematic Apperception Test,” Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 34, 1935. In the TAT, the subject is shown a drawing which he then interprets in written form. The Progressive Murray of course believed he was rescuing the patient from such neuroses as the Icarus complex (social radicalism, itself irrationally motivated). Murray’s OSS test for weeding out unstable spies was recommended by Harold Lasswell after WW2 as a test for potentially disloyal leaders, employers, and employees.  Lasswell went so far as to recommend a Loyalty Board. The TAT was recommended as a way of analyzing the content of mass media messages. Somehow, in the rage against HUAC and “McCarthyism” the adjurations of the Committee For Economic Development, have been lost to liberals, leftists, neocons, and conservatives alike. (includes three blogs on Murray and sadomasochism) (Alston Chase blames Murray for creating the monster Unabomber)

Murray biography cover art

January 2, 2011

The Watchbird State

I object to the term “nanny state” as sexist. Here is an argument for “Watchbird State” as alternative, taken from chapter 9 of my book Hunting Captain Ahab. The powerful social psychologists I cite here viewed themselves as “moderate conservatives”. Today, they occupy the “left,” having purified the republic of the dangerous extremists who once perched on our shoulders.  The watchbird was an invention of Munro Leaf, and during the 1950s, was a familiar cartoon figure.  (For a related blog, preparing the reader for this one, see

[book excerpt:]    Pragmatic Harvard social psychologists appropriated Madisonian pluralist politics, ignoring the libertarian, anti-corporative* aspect of their theoretical underpinnings. For the new moderates, social stability was achieved when triumphalist factions (instigated by religious enthusiasm or other forms of zealotry such as an inordinate love of gain), were replaced by amoral interest groups; relieved of (Hume’s) plundering or leveling extremists, bargains could be struck, reconciling private interest with public good: the moderates would have clambered onto solidly “mobile-middle ground.”[i]

Reading Madison in Federalist #10, they could infer that free speech was a safety valve, circumscribed spatially and irrelevant to political processes with realistic goals.[ii] Having banished irrationality from their own procedures, the Harvard clique could see themselves as resolutely antifascist, for it was the mob-driven Nazi movement (likened by Talcott Parsons to romantic puritans in other writing of 1942) that was pathological. Ritual rebellions could be safely confined within psychiatrists’ offices or the pages of Typee (or in the bed Ishmael shared with Queequeg). Parsons’ contribution appeared in Psychiatry along with a germinal article “Hitler’s Imagery and German Youth,” by Erik Homburger Erikson, another colleague of Murray’s at Harvard. Erikson presented Hitler as a “great adventurer” possessed of “borderline traits”; he was the perennial adolescent, a big brother to other unyielding gangsters. Erikson held that broken-spirited German fathers lacking inner integration and authority were responsible for the (hysterical) romantic revolt of the sons.[iii] Erikson’s identity politics owed more to Henry A. Murray and the romantic conservative Jung, a theorist of racial character, than to the cosmopolitan and bourgeois Freud. Soon the Jungian analyst Murray (who admired the Wandering Jew Freud’s eyes that penetrated walled-up areas of the psyche) would be advising President Roosevelt that Hitler, the autodidact Id-man, the Dionysiac Man of the Crowd who had overcome big Capital, was an “arch-Romantic,” a composite of Lord Byron and Al Capone, a paranoid schizophrenic, a homosexual, and probably a carrier of Jewish blood through his father; ergo Hitler’s “uncanny knowledge of the average man” should “be appropriated to good advantage.” Disillusion with the Führer was perilous; Murray argued for “a profound conversion of Germany’s attitude” after the Allied victory:

“Disorganization and confusion will be general, creating breeding ground for cults of extreme individualism. A considerable part of the population will be weighted down with a heavy sense of guilt, which should lead to a revival of religion. The soil will be laid [sic] for a spiritual regeneration; and perhaps the Germans, not we, will inherit the future.[iv]

Harold Lasswell and Murray, both progressives, thought as one. In his Power and Personality (1948), Lasswell contemplated the continuing plausibility of Marxist analysis, worried about “paranoids” with their fingers on nuclear buttons, and urged “genuine democrats to expose the dubious and dangerous expectation of democracy through mass revolution.” The world revolution of the twentieth century would probably culminate in mutually annihilating technocratic garrison states unless “the scientists of democracy” intervened to create the “sociocapitalist” “free man’s commonwealth.” Murray’s personality tests (developed in the mid-1930s and during his stint with the OSS during the war) fertilized Lasswell’s febrile, holistic imagination. While deploying the concepts of accountability and openness that for John Locke had been indispensable to the functioning of popular sovereignty, Lasswell, with Murray’s personnel assessment tests in tow, had turned Locke upside down:

One of the practical means by which tensions arising from provocativeness can be reduced is by the selection of leaders from among non-destructive, genuinely democratic characters…. This has already gone far in appointive jobs. Several businesses are accustomed to promote executives not only on the basis of the general administrative record but according to scientific methods of personality appraisal. The aim is to discern whether factors in the personality structure counterindicate the placing of heavier responsibilities on the person.

“To a limited extent selection procedures in army, navy and civil administration have been directed to the same end. But the procedure is not yet applied to elective office. What is needed is a National Personnel Assessment Board set up by citizens of unimpeachable integrity which will select and supervise the work of competent experts in the description of democratic and antidemocratic personality. The Assessment Board can maintain continuing inquiry into the most useful tests and provide direct services of certifications of testers. When this institution has been developed it will slowly gather prestige and acceptance. Sooner or later candidates for elective office will have enough sense of responsibility to submit voluntarily to an investigation by the board, which would say only that the candidate has, or has not, met certain defined minimum standards. Gradually, the practice of basic personality disclosure can spread throughout all spheres of life, including not only local, state, national or inter-nation government personnel, but political parties, trade unions, trade associations, churches and other volunteer associations.

“It is an axiom of democratic polity that rational opinion depends upon access to pertinent facts and interpretations. Surely no facts are more pertinent than those pertaining to character structure of candidates for leadership. Progressive democratization calls for the development of such new institutions as the Assessment Board for the purpose of modernizing our methods of self-government.[v]

The National Personnel Assessment Board set up by citizens of unimpeachable integrity,” “gradually” penetrating every institution, would control definitions of acceptable rational opinion. And yet Lasswell was no friend to totalitarian regimes; as member of the Research Advisory Board and spokesman for the Committee For Economic Development (CED), he condemned loyalty investigations. Instead of imitating sleazy witch-hunters on the Right or the “negative” tactics of the ACLU on the Left, he called for an overhaul of leaders and the led (the latter ultimately responsible for protecting First Amendment freedoms). A balance would be struck between national security and individual freedom through formation of community discussion groups, to be fed by appropriately cautious government experts supplying an interactive (but “expert”-controlled) free press and public broadcasting system. [vi] In the 1950s, Lasswell’s study of political symbols helped social scientists refine their tools in the surveillance of blooming political dissidents. Murray’s OSS recruitment test of 1943 could weed potentially disloyal government employees, while his Thematic Apperception Test (1935) could enhance content-analysis of mass communications. Lasswell frankly explained the purposes that infused the new discipline of communications studies, said to be relevant to literary scholars and historians; indeed he decoded authoritarian styles of discourse throughout. [vii]

Watchbird sights bad boy

Modern preventive politics did not begin with the machinations of Lasswell & Co. but with Humean or Burkean autopsies of the regicidal English and French Revolutions. According to the reform-or-ruin school of preventive hygiene, foul winds and cancers appear when aristocrats allow vices to ferment in the bowels; the social bond is broken, virtue and vice trade places.[viii] Through alert planning (like education and sports for the masses and psychoanalysis for their betters), elites would become more flexible while containing their passion for libertine excess and luxurious display; meanwhile the People would have healthy outlets for their discontent and desirousness–like libertine excess and luxurious display especially in the mass media. Thus Reason, Conscience, and the State would be brought into congruence. The reform-or-ruin strategy of social hygiene and preventive politics would dominate the political science and social psychology created by moderate conservatives. Understrapping their dreams of thoroughgoing surveillance, the watchbird watched everybody, leaders and the led.

*Corporative does not signify a state in cahoots with big business and Wall Street (as New Leftists and OWS folk would have it), but rather organizing representation by occupation, such as Mussolini’s “corporative state” where the state regulated relations between the sindicati, imposing harmony from above and erasing the conception of the dissenting individual.


[i]               21. Richard Chase, “New vs. Ordealist,” Kenyon Review, 11 (1949): 12-13, cited again below.

[ii]               22. See discussion of Madison and the Whigs, Daniel Walker Howe, Political Culture of the American Whigs, 90-91. As I interpret the Federalist Papers, the authors (Jay, Hamilton, and Madison) defined their republicanism against all feudal and corporatist entities– the sources of imbecility, war and anarchy. Liberty was a quality of the rational individual. Collectivities were fictions necessarily sustained by myth, not political science. Their interest groups corresponded to economic interest alone; there was no talk of national “identity.” The idea of using (irrationalist) propaganda to obtain consensus would or should have been anathema. Madison’s Federalist #10 does not discuss free speech directly. Addressing men of property alarmed by Shays Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and demands for several separate confederacies, the acutely class-conscious essay distinguished the benefits of a balanced republic controlling a large territory as compared with the vulnerabilities of small states and the confiscating propensities of small-scale popular democracies. The more interest groups the better, since no one group, unified by economic interest, could attain a legislative majority to oppress other citizens. Madison’s view of human nature does not include moral categories as such: individuals differ in their capacities to acquire property. Men of property, properly chosen (elected) to represent their constituencies for their inner  poise and sense of justice, would be fair to contending parties, abiding by the rule of law–rules that were the same for rich and poor alike. These may be the moderate men interrogated by Melville’s dark characters.

 [iii]             22. Erik Homburger Erikson, “Hitler’s Imagery and German Youth,” Psychiatry 5 (Nov. 1942): 475-493. On 30 Nov. 1952,  Murray sent Erikson a copy of his paper on Ahab, In Nomine Diaboli. On 4 Mar. 1952, Murray asked for a copy of Erikson’s paper “Growth and Crises of the Personality.” On 30 Nov. 1962, Talcott Parsons invited Erikson to present a study of Max Weber in the style of his Luther psychobiography for the 1964 meeting of the American Sociological Association, noting Weber’s “great creative contributions to our culture.” Erikson Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

[iv]              23. The register of the Murray Papers at Harvard state that his analysis of Hitler’s psyche was in process since 1938: it is possible that Murray influenced Erikson, not vice versa. See Henry A. Murray, “Analysis of the personality of Adolph [sic] Hitler with predictions of his future behavior and suggestions for dealing with him now and after Germany’s surrender,” October 1943, 5-7, 31, 46-53, 83, 143, 145, 211 and passim. Declassified confidential report, FDR Library, Hyde Park, quoted with permission. Cf. Anton T. Boisen, “The Form and Content of Schizophrenic Thinking,” Psychiatry 5 (Nov. 1942): 23-33 (the same issue contained the Parsons article on propaganda). Primitives, children, romantic explorers, materialists, individualists, modern artists, and persons undergoing “conversion” experiences are conflated and diagnosed as anxious, fragmenting (“hebephrenic”) schizophrenics. Also see Charles Kligerman’s diagnosis of Melville’s paranoid schizophrenia in “The Psychology of Herman Melville,” Psychoanalytic Review 40 (Apr. 1953): 125-143.

[v]               24. Harold D. Lasswell, Power and Personality (New York: Norton, 1948), 222, 211, 186-187.

[vi]              25. Harold D. Lasswell, National Security and Individual Freedom (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950). Howard B. Myers of CED wrote the brief forward which explained that “This report examines the problems that confront us in seeking national security without forfeit of the basic values and principles of American life.”

[vii]             26. Harold D. Lasswell, Daniel Lerner, Ithiel de Sola Pool, The Comparative Study of Symbols, 24-25. Murray may have gotten the term “apperception” from Goethe’s comments on the rigid moralist Dr. Stilling (aka Jung), an example of a God-intoxicated type, overly impressed by “experience,” that Goethe described in his Auto-biography: “The things sympathetic persons of this kind love most to talk of, are, the so-called awakenings and conversions, to which we will not deny a certain psychological value. They are properly what we call in scientific and poet matters, an “aperçu;” the perception of a great maxim, which is always a genius-like operation of the mind; we arrive at it by pure intuition, that is, by reflection, neither by learning or tradition. In the cases before us it is the perception of the moral power, which anchors in faith, and thus feels itself in proud security in the midst of the waves.” (Truth and Poetry, Vol. II, 75).

[viii]             27. See Richard A. Soloway, “Reform or Ruin: English Moral Thought During The First French Republic,” Review of Politics (Jan. 1963): 110-127.

October 21, 2010

Links to Pacifica memoirs (For an enlarged index see

Lewis K. Hill (Has material on liberals and psychological warfare and mental health “testing.”)

Matthew Lasar, quoted in my memoir

June 19, 2010

Committee For Economic Development and its sociologists


From Athena’s mouth to your ears

[excerpt chapter 9, Hunting Captain Ahab] The pursuit of Herman Melville in elite eastern universities during the late 1930s was coterminous with the excising of radical will through antifascist liberal surgery.

As world war loomed, Marxists and many others from Center to Left were predicting fascism in America. New Deal policies, they argued, could not avert or repair the periodic structural crises of capitalism; only a corporate state could suppress the class warfare that would flare anew in the depression that was expected to follow demobilization. Irrationalist moderate conservatives viewed moralistic self-righteousness (on the Left) and selfishness (on the Right) as the source of social violence.

In 1939 or 1940, three moderate men, Robert Hutchins, Paul Hoffman, and William Benton, invited University of Chicago faculty and “personal friends” from big business to join a study group, The American Policy Commission. Hutchins was President of the University of Chicago and defender of Great Books; he and his former partner Chester Bowles would be members of America First; Hoffman was President of Studebaker, later chief administrator for the Marshall Plan and first president of the Ford Foundation; Benton was Vice-President of the University of Chicago, promoter of modern radio advertising, Amos ‘n Andy, and Muzak, later publisher of Encyclopedia Britannica and other educational media, Assistant Secretary of State, then originator of “The Voice of America,” U.S. Senator from Connecticut, and backer of UNESCO enabling legislation. The American Policy Commission evolved into The Committee For Economic Development, institutionalized in 1942; its purpose to meet the anticipated postwar depression with Keynesian economics. The CED distinguished its “socially responsible” policies from those of the laissez-faire National Association of Manufacturers; it brought scholarly specialists together with liberal businessmen to steer America clear of the mad extremes of Fascism and Communism, later McCarthyism, inflated arms budgets, and commercial broadcasting.

The omnipresent political scientist Harold Lasswell[i] was central to their project of preventive politics: the Jung-inspired Lasswell discovered the psychopathology of communism and fascism. Benton’s biographer unambiguously placed Lasswell’s probe in the democratic tradition:

“[Lasswell] looked hard and long at these worldwide disorders of the political mind, hoping to find in them the terms for a program of preventive medicine and that could help maintain America as a free society with equal opportunity for human dignity open to all. [ii] 

With the examples of Plato and other classicists at hand, Lasswell and other psychopathologists could protect the old master narrative. Nazis sighted on the horizon (like the jingoistic followers of Father Coughlin and other American fascists) must be the People: sneaky, bloody, perverse, selfish and paranoid. Without good father navigation the hysterical People would be driven by shadows in Plato’s Cave, go berserk and drown “business.” Lasswell was worried about the possible transition from fascism to communism; while attempting to overcome Marxian socialism, (rational) European businessmen had been captured by the “romantic Fascists” of the squeezed “lower middle-class” who might go on to liquidate their former patrons.[iii] Interestingly, for Lasswell in 1936, the scenario in America seemed different. Here the middle class was so identified with “big business” and “big finance” that it was likely to fall for the propaganda against “reds” and smash labor. To avoid “piecemeal fascism” and to enhance “peaceful development,” Lasswell (and other ego psychologists) prescribed class-consciousness (but integration) through pluralist bargaining in “interest groups” to achieve emotional and intellectual independence from monopolistic big business. In 1941, Lasswell urged vigilant sighting and sympathetic treatment of bad seeds: [iv]

“Public opinion is profoundly distorted when there are deference crises in society; and these appear when the level of deference is suddenly interfered with, and when destructive personalities exercise a directive effect upon public opinion. Some persons are at odd with themselves, carrying heavy loads of anxiety, and from these anxiety types extremism may be expected. We need to become aware of which social practices in the home, school, factory, office–contribute to anxiety and which to security. We may be able to lower the level of the explosive reserves when human development is subject to gross distortion.”

Lasswell could have been describing Herman Melville’s anxious disillusion with paternal authority; perhaps explosions would be obviated by enhanced civilian morale with methods advocated by Harvard social psychologists Murray and Allport, also disseminated in 1941. By 1942, these social scientists were certain: the Head Self was sturdy guardian of “the public interest,” whereas overly egalitarian motions inside the Western Body levelled walls, erected barricades, then tossed up lonesome corpses.

In his article “Propaganda and Social Control,”[v] Talcott Parsons, Murray’s Harvard associate and mentor, addressed mental health practitioners, proposing that the government practice “social psychotherapy” to stabilize the national consensus. He advocated subliminal “reinforcement type” propaganda to calm the “revolutionary” and “disruptive” types that were inducing structural change or undermining “confidence in authority and leadership.” Maladjusted neurotics were fomenting conflict and fragmentation, not adaptation and interdependence. But froward rebels could be cured in the socially responsible psychiatrist’s office through  

“steady discipline to which the patient is subjected in the course of his treatment. While the fact that he is required and allowed to express himself freely may provide some immediate satisfactions, he is not really allowed to ‘get away’ with their implications for the permanent patterning of his life and social relations, but is made, on progressively deeper levels, conscious of the fact that he cannot ‘get away’ with them. The physician places him in a kind of ‘experimental situation’ where this is demonstrated over and over again (561).”

[i]               14. Lasswell was the son of a midwestern minister. Entering a project (1928) initiated by others in 1926, Lasswell had played “the primary role” in the shaping of methodology in interdisciplinary social sciences, against the methods of physical sciences. See Stuart A. Rice, ed., Methods in Social Science, A Case Book Compiled Under the Direction of the Committee on Scientific Method in the Social Sciences of the Social Science Research Council (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1931), vii, 732, 734, 737. Lasswell’s Appendix B, 740-742, limited scientific studies of social change to the methods of Sumner, Turner, and Spengler.

[ii]               15. Sidney Hyman, The Lives of William Benton (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1969), 232-233. In his preventive politics, Lasswell was emulating other conservatives, for instance the important English journalist Wickham Steed, editor of The Times, and before that, head of British war propaganda; see his Hitler, Whence and Whither? (London: Nisbet, 1934), 188-189: “German Nazism is the outcome of a morbid national mood, and of propagandistic suggestions working on mass neurasthenia…Great Britain and France have been and are relatively free from this morbid mood, though they are less free from perverse conceptions of democracy, which, by running wild in Italy and Germany, helped to produce a state of mind favourable to the rise of violent totalitarian dictatorship. We should have a care lest we too, by harbouring perverse and degenerate conceptions of democracy, betray its sound principles and smooth the path of the enslaver.”

[iii]              16. Harold D. Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1936), 239-242, 236. Commenting on the likely trajectory of romantic fascism, Lasswell warned, “At first private capitalism is preserved; but it seems probable that in the face of the necessity for a united nation, private capitalism will be liquidated in times of military stress. In a military state, the movement for equalization, governmentalization, and monopolization would no doubt proceed.”

[iv]              17. Harold D. Lasswell, Democracy Through Public Opinion (Menasha, Wisc.: George Banta Book Co. [Chi Omega Research Fund], 1941), 32-34.

[v]               18. Talcott Parsons, “Propaganda and Social Control,” Psychiatry 5 (Nov. 1942): 551-572.

From Athena’s mouth to your ears

February 17, 2010

Nazi sykewar, American style, part three

The Business Behind Art knows the Art of Good Business, Hans Haacke, 1985

[Here the authors of German Psychological Warfare, ed. Ladislas Farago, explain why Americans should not be alarmed by the appropriation/adaptation of Nazi sykewar techniques to American democratic traditions. I am copying the last two pages of their text, wherein you will discover that they continue to use scientific-sounding language, while never specifying how such adaptations would not threaten the democratic value of questioning authority. Could it be because they viewed themselves as Platonic Guardians protecting the [skeptical] masses from their insatiable curiosity? The remainder of this blog is typed verbatim from pages 58-59 of the text. This will be followed by Queens College professor Kimball Young’s closing remarks. Then there will be two bibliographic entries referring to Freud, as founder of the mass psychology they seek to implement, as well as a comparable entry on Clausewitz.]



   Our Survey of German Psychological Warfare is based upon the writings of German military theorists, psychologists, and Nazi “philosophers.” Their books and articles have been carefully coordinated into a composite picture of German theories. By its very nature, such a survey cannot anticipate a finished portrait of German war psychology in action. We shall have to wait to see how valid many of these theories proved in the acid test of their actual application.

    While. thus, it is appropriate to caution against accepting every single German theory at face value, many of the German suggestions are adaptable to specific American requirements of national defense.

    Americans should have no qualms about adopting some of the best features of German military psychology. The Nazis have, on their part, expropriated the findings of many American scholars whose contribution to military psychology (particularly those of the Division of Psychology, U.S. Army 1917-18) were of the greatest interest and value when psychology was introduced as an integral part of the German war machine.


    American psychologists like Yerkes, McDougall [a famous racist, CS], Thorndike, Terman, Allport, Yoakum, Strong, O’Connor, Ligon, Dodge, and others have had an unmistakable influence on German military psychology, although their theories and practical suggestions were more or less distorted after going through the Nazi mill.

   American political scientists like Harold D. Lasswell and Leonard Doob have attracted Nazi attention and imagination. Lasswell’s Propaganda Technique in the World War and Doob’s Propaganda,iIts Psychology and Technique were carefully read and digested in Germany.

  Nor were the Germans the first to discover “psychological campaigns.” General Sherman Miles, present chief of our own Military Intelligence, surveyed the nature of modern warfare almost fifteen years ago in an article published in the North American Review. It is known that his article received the most careful attention of German military circles (347). [They cite an entry describing a Swiss sociologist inspired by Miles’s article, 1928. CS] Long before Hitler wrote his Kampf, Banse and Ludendorff their blueprints of Total War, or Blau his secret propaganda text-book, an American Colonel (now General) Walter Campbell Sweeney, described the changed character of modern wars in a prophetic little book entitled Military Intelligence—A New Weapon of War (New York: Stokes, 1924.)

   Written almost eighteen years ago and now all but forgotten, it was, in fact, the first warning and outline of “psychological warfare.” Colonel Sweeney wrote:

    “While espionage is still one of the recognized agencies in the collection of military information, its field of action has been extended…as to make its military phase an unimportant one…It may be called War Propaganda…and it is not a military weapon but a national one. It is not operated by military personnel but by civilians.  Even in war the attack chiefly is directed against the civilian population in the homeland and only partially against the military forces. Its main object in war is to weaken the enemy by destroying the faith of his people in their government. Its main object in peace is to select and prepare agencies which will be of value to it for the purposes when the time for the use of military force arrives.”

   The Fifth Column was clearly foreseen by Colonel Sweeney:

   “A possible method of acquiring information of value under such conditions but one whose use would not even be considered by the United States [!]  lies in establishing within the enemy country a system whereby local inhabitants act as spies and agents and make their reports to representatives who pass through at regular intervals. Such a system to be effective must be one that has been built up years before the commencement of the war.”

   And the warning:

   “It appears to be evident that a new agency with a new method of attack has come into existence. It was born out of the modern industrial necessities of the armies and the need for having full support of the public in prosecuting a war.

    New methods of attack require new methods of defense. The new weapon, war propaganda, as described, has developed the new method of attack and has brought us to the point where we must create a new agency and method of defense.”  [end pages 58-59. So the U.S. disavows Fifth Columns in Occupied Europe? CS]


[Kimball Young’s reassuring interpretive essay (pp.60-62), closing remarks:]

 …   It is quite possible that a study of our survey of German psychological warfare may lead to a conviction that we are up against something which cannot be successfully combated. Those who come around to this thinking neglect the fact that American culture has nurtured a strength which is vastly superior to the Nazi totalitarian spirit. We have had 150 years experience with a democratic form of government and we should be loath to let it slip away from us.

    Our superiority is backed up by tremendous technical skill and industrial capacity which in themselves constitute a powerful support for our psychological strength. Further, our individual initiative and strong sense of independence of action, if tempered and developed, are essential components of stable leadership. Our sense of team-play, co-ordination of tasks and esprit de corps, witnessed all through our everyday living, are also virtues of high importance. Our consciousness of mass strength, although it tends to be over-boastful at times, provides us with self-assurance and self-appreciation. Although our democratic ideology cannot be said to match the “attack attitude” stressed by Nazi military psychologists, we have a sticking quality that can be aroused to a genuine “fighting spirit” if our basic values are threatened.

   Finally, the crucial American faith in the common man, in his integrity, in his capacity to join his fellows in policy-making and execution of plans, and in his ability to combine individual responsibility with personal rights and liberties constitutes the foundation upon which a strong national morale may be built and sustained. [end, Kimball Young excerpt. The last two paragraphs were the democratic part: ordinary individuals, merged with stable leaders and not asking too many (“boastful”?) questions, should be part of a single well-oiled machine, cf. Woodrow Wilson, The Clausewitz and Freud factors follow in the Bibliography:]

“254. Freud, S. Zeitgemaesses ueber Krieg und Tod. Wien: Internatl. Psychoanalyt. Verlag, 1924.

CONTEMPORARY THOUGHTS ON WAR AND DEATH: Freud’s book is still widely read and anonymously quoted among German army psychologists.

374. Freud, S. Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse. Wien: Internationl. Psychoanalyt. Verlag, 1923.

MASS PSYCHOLOGY AND THE ANALYSIS OF THE EGO: This fundamental work is the raw material upon which the Nazis base a major part of their psychological offensives.”

But see this earlier entry on Clausewitz:

“7. Clausewitz, K. v. Vom Kriege. Berlin: Behr’s 1916

WAR: A Prussian general of the early 19th Century and founder of the unique German “war philosophy”, Clausewitz believed that war is part and parcel of the state and society. His famous dictum, “war is the continuation of politics by other means”, has been resuscitated by the Nazis as the kernel of their whole political philosophy and has become the theoretical basis of their “political warfare”. Clausewitz was the first of modern military writers whose conception of the “strategy of inner defense” has been realized in total war. By “strategy of inner defense” he meant psychological preparedness and a proper estimation of morale as decisive factors in war. [end Clausewitz entry]

September 22, 2009

Managerial Psychoanalysis: Jung, Henry A. Murray, and sadomasochism (3)

   [In the following conclusion to the three part study of Murray’s managerial psychoanalysis/psychiatry, “Isabel” refers to the Dark Lady of Melville’s novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852). She was characterized by Philip Rahv (the editor of Partisan Review) as a “rebel and emancipator.” For a related blog to this one see

Eleven years before he lengthily denounced Melville’s Pierre, Dr. Henry A. Murray had unmasked the Red Decade’s “Radical Sentiments” as irrational and insincere:

    “[The radical]…favours modern art, the rejection of sex taboos, socialism, the freedom of the press, the elimination of religion, nudism, progressive schools, the humane treatment of criminals, etc.  Radicalism is usually opposed to authority, to any force that restrains liberty.  It favours the weak, the dissatisfied, the oppressed minority.  Thus [!], radicalism is often an indication of suprAggression (inhibited) and infraNurturance.  It may be an expression of the stern father and rebel son thema.” [But these people don’t act]…the most radical sentiments were expressed by succorant, abasive and infavoidant subjects. “[1]

In 1940, working on his Melville biography (which he would relinquish that year, ostensibly because of “the fall of France,” but perhaps he was also agitated by the subject of shifting and murky identities, revolution and counter-revolution in art and life), Murray sharply defined himself against experimental psychologists, behaviorists, and Freud’s rigidly contained following; arguing however for the partial incorporation and reform of psychoanalysis.  Ever the optimistic pragmatist and Progressive, Murray viewed psychoanalysis not only as an efficient and efficacious diagnostic tool in the treatment of physical and mental illness, but  indispensable to the prediction and control of the future through preventive politics: a regular lighthouse from which presidential brains could monitor the night-time antics of flooding limbic legislators [292, 298].  Murray, offering himself as a Lincoln-esque tower of rectitude and appropriately democratic fatherhood, explained that Freud’s (corset) is

“clearly limited to certain spheres of functioning and is more applicable to some types and some conditions of men than to others.  It is chiefly designed to interpret what a man says when he lies on a couch and his memories are canalized by his desire to appease an analyst’s consuming and insatiable interest in his sexual adventures.  It does not fit all of the people all of the time.  Consequently it will have to be expanded to encompass much that up to now has been neglected.”  [2]

   Murray was a primitivist rebel, whereas Freudian psychoanalysis would modernize the unconscious, renouncing childish things and replacing destructive ids with adaptive egos (in a never-ending contest for control).  Murray agreed that individuals would always be at war with social strictures [299], but Freud had wrongly compared sex with aggression.  The latter was not a positive appetite (like hunger and sex) that must be satisfied periodically” but was “probably due to some residual tension in the need engendered by a long series of frustrations, which tension can generally be dissolved by reciprocated love or recognized achievements.” [302]  Against Freud’s allegiance to “St. Augustine and the Calvinists,” Murray, ever the progressive optimist, sided with the better id forces which are the source of “romantic idealism,” prophecy, and pacifism, and suggested that the ego function is not so bad:

 [Freud has left out “two classes of phenomena”]: “those associated with the will and the satisfactions of self-mastery, and those associated with integration and the reasonable ordering of one’s drives–the Hellenic ideal of harmonious expression.  In practice I am inclined to assign moral responsibility to the ego, and I attempt to judge the work it has to do by estimating the strength of the insurgent tendencies (which vary from one individual to another) that must be managed.” [302-303]

Murray, like Melville, comes home to classicism where (he hopes) balance is pleasantly restored:  he understands (along with Greek rationalists and other ego psychologists) that the “insurgent tendencies” “must be managed.” Indeed, they can be managed, hardly the tragic vision of Freud or Melville [303].[3]  But lest Protestant psychoanalysts be accused of deviations from the American way, Murray distances his management style from fascism. As in the Walter Langer report of 1943 (which gave weight to the rumor that Hitler’s grandfather was the Baron Rothschild), Murray linked other autocratic Jews to Hitler. Freud, a Bad Jew, having been turned into “the Fuehrer” by the “cocksure inflexibility” of his “apostles” [307] could be Americanized (rescued and purified) by revision and selective appropriation. Only as Good Jew could Freud be recruited to surveillance in the guise of the Great Emancipator: (Jewish) negativity, pessimism, and passivity had to be detached from Freud’s critical method and banished from the Republic. Temporarily elevated (then fenced in and walled up?), perhaps Isabel’s brilliance could be exploited without the anxiety of a hostile takeover. “Genius is full of trash,” said the liberal Murray, quoting Mardi, urging his listeners to cast off dogmatists (“clinging slavishly to all of Freud,” in whose “psychoanalytic society free speech is as expensive as it is in Nazi Germany”), but to preserve the adventuresome, independent, creative, scientific side of the master by availing themselves of this “Alberich[‘s]” “ravished gold” which “has the power of casting long rays into the heretofore mysterious and appalling regions of the psyche….” [306]:

” What a man does and says in public is but a fraction of him. There is what he does in private, and the reasons he gives for doing it. But even this is not enough. Beyond what he says there is what he will not say but knows, and finally, what he does not know. Only a depth psychologist can reach the latter. “[298]

Murray thought that Freud had been too hard on the id and too much under its sway: Murray’s id (later identified not only with Hitler, but with Isabel and darkest Africa), properly directed, like Freud himself, could be transmuted into a treasure trove of mineral resources and higher intelligence: where id was, let a tactical alliance between man and nature, management and labor, be.

 Better Beaten Boundaries

Murray believed that academic psychologists should merge their discipline with rectified Freudian psychoanalysis, and reconceive the training of “personologists,” who would  study not only hard sciences but anthropology, sociology and the arts. (Murray does not mention history or politics). As for the contentious issue of psychology, Murray’s audience was invited to follow his and Jung’s rebellious path into holistic psychoanalysis and away from every type of philistinism. Murray confessed that he, like other unanalyzed, myopic academic psychologists, had once naively  reduced “a groomed American in a business suit, traveling to and from his office, like a rat in a maze [to] a predatory ambulating apparatus of reflexes, habits, stereotypes, and slogans, a bundle of consistencies, conformities, and allegiances to this or that institution….”[299].

   But really, the body (imagined as an explosive legislative branch of government), is full of surprises. Murray’s advice was to know thyself (and thy businessmen subjects or patients) through psychoanalysis:

“A personality is a full Congress of orators and pressure  groups, of children, demagogues, communists, isolationists, war-mongers, mugwumps, grafters, logrollers, lobbyists, Caesars and Christs, Machiavels and Judases, Tories and Promethean revolutionists. And a psychologist who does not know this in himself, whose mind is locked against the flux of images and feelings, should be encouraged to make friends, by being psychoanalyzed, with the various members of his household.” [299]

Repressed, impersonal, bureaucratizing psychologists and unreconstructed  Freudian psychoanalysts (Murray’s Margoths and Nazi slaves) are probably too far gone to respond to Murray’s (Rolfe’s) appeals. But perhaps more doctors might be returned to natural history  [unskeptical religion? 295] if they would look away from the blank-making, stony, sublunary wasteland of modernity, the rusty iron-colored soil of melancholy (that the Judases created, Murray/Melville tells us throughout his writing). Murray would prefer us to linger in  the densely informative, premonitory (and moist) museum somewhere inside us all (and which created, then evacuated, but still manipulates and sheds light on, Margoth, Ahab, Judas, Freud, you and me):

“…Hinting of the nature of id processes we have dreams and fantasies, and the mental life of children, savages and psychotics. Their thought, primitive and prelogical, is marked by more emotive and symbolic imagery (fewer abstract words) and exhibits a greater number of instinctive, lower-order tendencies than does that of normal adults.

” The theory of the unconscious (of the alter ego or shadow-self) helps to explain contrasting phases of behavior, ambivalence, sudden explosions, regressions, conversions (“He was not himself”; “I would not have known him.”) It throws light on fixed and refractory frames of reference, settled sentiments and beliefs. It is essential to an understanding of illusions, delusions, morbid anxiety, compulsions and insanity. It is invaluable in interpreting neurotic accidents and illness. The unconscious is an historical museum of the breed and of the individual, exhibiting tableaux of development. But also, in a sense, it is the womb of fate, the procreating source of new directions, of art, and of religion. It is here that one must seek for novelty, for the incubating complex that will govern the next move. No creator can afford to disrespect the twilight stirrings of the mind, since out of these arise the quickening ideas that are his life. [italics added, 298].

Jung and Murray understand that there is more, much more than sex and aggression down there: Freud’s unconscious was too narrowly conceived:  In contrast to the mediocre, spell-binding “Nibelungs” (Freudian Bad Fathers like Hitler, inflated and egotistical [306]), Murray presented Jung and himself as judenrein Good Fathers, scientifically objective and universalist, hard-bitten undeceived materialists, but kind, and thus the bearer of values firmly opposed to gold-abuse, self-delusion, the Seven Deadly Sins and moral relativism:

“[By limiting his theory of instincts to sex and aggression] It is evident that Freud was attempting to bring order out of chaos by pure thought; for at no time did he review the simple facts, subjective and objective. It seems he never asked himself, What motives and actions are universally distinguished? or what behavioral trends can be objectively discerned in animals and men? He was guided, without doubt, by some obscure unconscious frame of reference. Otherwise he never would have omitted thirst, excretion, repulsion, acquisition, the lust for power and approval….

” A number of drives might well be added to the list; to begin with–since the analysts are interested in vice–two or three of the five remaining deadly sins: Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, Pride and Envy. Is there any significance in the fact that fancy-priced practitioners have never acknowledged the profit motive, the immorality of greed, robbery and exploitation? May their superegos work on this!” [301].

     Alberich and the dwarfs are not only perverts and the blinkered agents of Mammon, decimating concepts of Mind and Soul, but seducers, declining to exercise their paternal responsibilities by picking up the pieces and applying the expertise of “mental hygiene,” the “knowledge” which Murray hopes “will lead eventually to power, to a more sagacious management of infant life, to fruitfulness and the self-development of finer men and women, to happier societies.”[291].

 “…Freud’s theory, I submit, is an utterly analytic instrument which reduces a complex individual to a few primitive ingredients and leaves him so. It has names–and the most unsavory–for parts, but none for wholes. It dissects but does not bind up the wounds that it has made. Unconcerned with psychosynthesis and its results, it is of little use either in formulating progress in personality development or in helping a patient–after the transference neurosis and the levelling [!] that an analysis produces–to gather up his forces and launch out on a better way of life. This is the flaw which Jung was quickest to detect and remedy, by directing his therapeutic efforts to an understanding of the forward, rather than to the backward, movements of the psyche. The unconscious, in his opinion, is more than an asylum of but half-relinquished infantile desires; it is the breeding ground of enterprise….

” This is not the place to examine the probing, disintegrating, and deflating tendency in psychoanalytic practice. Well might someone write a treatise on the subject, fixing his eye on the intention that designed it, that decided what data should be chosen for consideration, what aspects exhibited in concepts, how the whole dissection should proceed [Murray’s mother]. It would be noted first of all that the patient, who in the end almost invariably seeks, and needs, advice–since it is as hard for him to synthesize as to analyze himself–gets none; gets none from the only man–his analyst–who knows him well enough to judge his powers, the man who has reasons to be much concerned, selfishly and unselfishly, in his future welfare, the man whose business it is to know not only what makes for illness but what makes for health. An inquirer into such matters would listen skeptically to the analyst’s rationalizations of his refusal to give positive suggestions. He would note his lack of interest and talent for just this, and his sharply contrasting eagerness to impose the dogma of analysis–more and more analysis, reversing the life process. The direction of the will that underlies all this, the theory and therapy is fairly obvious. One might have thought that the Freudians, so quick to see perverted streaks in other men, would have been polite enough to tell us frankly what sublimated promptings were back of their sublimated labors. It would then have been unnecessary for some rude unmasker like myself to speak of voyeurism, depreciating sadism, and the id’s revenge on culture, the superego and the ego. Why not expose and prove the value of these motives? Being sociable with the id myself, I cannot but sympathize with its efforts to get on to a new Declaration of Independence. But the question is, have the Freudians allowed the id enough creativeness and the ego enough will to make any elevating declaration? What is Mind today? Nothing but the butler and procurer of the body. The fallen angel theory of the soul has been put to rout by the starker theory of the soulless fallen man, as result–as Adam, the father of philosophy, demonstrated for all time–of experiencing and viewing love as a mere cluster of sensations. Little man, what now? Freud’s pessimism, his conviction that happiness was impossible, his melancholy patronage of the death instinct, should put us on our guard….”[305,306].

Murray thought that  his type of managerial psychoanalysis could effectively unmask and oppose “the mechanical advance of mediocracy.” This type however was curiously both tolerant and controlling: “…I am inclined to assign moral responsibility to the ego,” but the ego is instructed by the psychoanalyst.  He recommended full disclosure (such as the one he had just made) and an ongoing commitment to truth (“with the theories of all schools democratically assembled in my head” [295], Freud worked); there is even a word of comfort:

“To be psychoanalyzed is, in my opinion, not a requisite for all, but highly desirable for most. If you can afford it, pick a trained analyst whom you respect, and enter into the experience humbly and without reserve, prepared to render up the whole confused welter of your being. You need not be ashamed or proud.  You are only a little bit responsible for what you are. And when you come to weave what you have learnt into the structure of psychologic theory and deliver lectures, do not water down the facts, palliate, and equivocate.  Science cannot grow by subterfuges.” [310]

In this and other publications, Murray has told us that “depth psychology” is the most valuable (golden) way to extract hidden fantasies from the men whose personalities and behavior élites may wish to assess, predict and control; men who, having toured “the womb of fate,” will inform on themselves before the fact! But etiquette requires that the matter be put less plainly. So the Progressive antifascist psychoanalyst dispenses fatherly advice: Trust me. The managed impulses are potential members of one harmonious family (like the Harvard clinicians who created Explorations in Personality (1938), including democrats, fascists, communists, anarchists, etc.).

However, in other writings, Murray lamented the superficiality of intercourse in a pluralistic society, the lack of a common belief system in English-speaking countries, their pragmatism and materialism, and the disparate objectives of soldiers in World War II. [OSS, 26, 27]. Murray was  comfortable neither with polite evasions nor unmanageable impulses: he admired Michael Rogin’s psychoanalytic study of Melville but angrily criticized its “Marxism;” he was a fervent anticommunist (but not a Reagan supporter); and (apparently) he was quicker to gather the secrets of other Melvilleans (a trait bitterly resented by the other scholars), than to disclose his own (however shadowy), even to himself [author interview, 11/4/87; Leyda Papers].

Much as he raged against Freudian dualisms [301], Murray refused to be emancipated into the world of acceptable mixed feelings: he tells us that he abandoned his own nearly-forgotten psychoanalysis with Franz Alexander after a “nine month’s voyage,” a journey during which Murray (perhaps revising an earlier attachment) was “too busy, other-wise attached and happy to be transferable.” [295] In other words, Murray avoided the crucial relationship with the analyst which could have brought out repressed anger at the sins of the fathers, illuminating the paradoxical question he posed for himself but never answered: “My own father was a mild, good-natured, unreproachful man, and yet I am peculiarly quick to jump at the throat of tyranny and dogmatism.”[295] By refusing grey, by wandering off from the negative and divisive feelings (anger, rage, guilt, shame) that accompany disillusion with “the lovely family” (in this case, surely the weak father who failed to protect the nine-year old son from the authoritarian, intolerant, fascinating mother), Murray consigned himself to the darkness of unattainable neo-Tory perfectionism (the goal of the S-M ritual). “Give me a present to take along to the Underworld,” he ordered in his Ahab-ish, charming and self-deprecating way during our interview, pumping a ruthless Isabel seven months before he died, and wondering what she had on his hero and bête noir, Herman Melville.[4]

In the Fall of 1943, Murray psychoanalyzed Hitler for President Roosevelt (a project begun in 1938). Hans Gatzke insists that the OSS-sponsored Langer report on Hitler’s mind (also produced in 1943) leaned heavily on Murray’s production, a point hotly, but unpersuasively refuted by Walter Langer in 1973. But there are distressing resemblances between Murray’s and Langer’s historical imaginations in ways not mentioned by Gatzke: the Langer team  suggested that Hitler had been sexually indulged by his mother, was accordingly effeminate, and also possibly Jewish. Four years later (while fretting about “our shocking crime record,” “scientific criticism, skepticism” and “cynicism” in the colleges, and the glorification of Huckleberry Finn), Murray portrayed an adolescent, feminized [Jew] as the source of American decline: Pierre was the impediment to Manifest Destiny.

Murray’s article in Survey Graphic, March, 1947, “Time for a Positive Morality,” is illustrated with a 5”x6” photo of a pensive and grave young man with likely Jewish  features (and posed as a thinker, like Murray and Melencolia in the frontispiece to Shneidman’s edition of collected Murray essays). The photo caption reads “What positive ideal do we set before today’s insecure youth?” [196] Murray had warned on the page preceding:

” A good boy often means a namby-pamby sort of fellow, tied to his mother’s apron strings. There is no exhilaration, no adventure in the picture. Or our ideal is that of mere respectability, too low an aim to offer a challenge to the child.” [195]  Murray then challenged the legatees of negative Puritanism and of “vague and unreal” notions of “moral excellence” inherited from the Victorian middle-class: ” We have demonstrated that as a nation we are capable of mobilizing all our powers to destroy something, but we have not shown that we can mobilize on a comparable scale to create something–good world citizens and a good world order [196].” [5]

The October 1948 issue of Survey Graphic carried Murray’s article “America’s Mission,” reporting that Murray’s article of 1947 had been “widely quoted and reprinted.” Now Murray was joining Benjamin Rush (who viewed the passion for pluralism as having destroyed “the Grecian Union”; 415) in mobilizing the Progressive élite: delegating certain powers  to an unequivocal  global government  was the only hope in averting a catastrophic nuclear war: “…the survival of our society hangs by a thread and one member’s action or inaction might make the minute difference that will save or wreck the whole.” Murray held up the federalism of American Founding Fathers as the  model for an international order that would “settle disagreements among nations in an orderly and peaceful manner”; that would end the sacrifices demanded by wars without reducing freedom. Rather, One World, like “the city police force,” would permit us to “gain the privilege of pursuing our different paths without having to devote time and energy to the defense of our lives and our possessions.” But there were cowardly congressmen and diplomats, either reluctant to meet the responsibilities of world leadership or irrationally attached to nineteenth-century diplomatic theories of balance of power and compromise.  Worse, there was the stubborn trickiness of Soviet Mothers who might not see the advantages to joining up, and the irresistible attraction they will exert on the credulous and weak “smaller nations”:

“If Russia proves adamant it will mean she is determined to carry out her present plan to convert by infiltration one country after another (if possible by not committing any action that would justify the declaration of a shooting war) and thus to build step by step a world order of her own, ruled dictatorially from Moscow. What can check the advance of this endeavor except an equally competent and sustained endeavor to organize a more mature, just, and humane form of world order?

“It is not likely that many of the smaller nations can for long resist independently the relentless terror tactics of Russian-trained Communists in their midst. They must go to one side or the other. [cf. Jung] Food may lure them to our side for a hungry season, but their affections can not be won and bound with dollars.

“Nor can we make a strong impression by preaching the virtues of democracy to peoples who are not inclined by temper [!] or fitted by training to make democracy work–at least in a chaotic environment with the storm cloud of Russian Communism looming over their horizon. Nations must be offered the assurance of mutual friendship and security within a dependable world order. This world order can not be another totalitarian dictatorship with Washington as its capital. It must be a democratic world order with a superordinate government in which all nations are properly represented.” [413].

Murray does not really expect Russian leaders to abandon “Lenin’s assumption that war with the non-Communist nations is inevitable.” If Russia is unrelentingly opposed to world federation, it indicates that she does not want to abolish war, but to wage it when her time for it has come.” We must act quickly before Russia massively re-arms with atomic weapons; with the rest of the federated world perhaps we could fight her and win:

“Thus [cf. Lasswell’s “hence”: Murray implies that his speculations have already been proven], if we fail, through lack of sagacity or courage, to form a partial world government to checkmate her at her own game, we shall lose our sole chance to create the one institution which could eventually eliminate war, or could, if war is thrust upon us, unify all the rest of the world in subduing the aggressor.” [414].

Murray’s readers would understand that the democratic world order will not be designed  by nervous nellies who flunked the OSS recuitment test (that selected leaders who were unseduceable, cool and inspiring team players, able to meet the unforeseen and to solve problems); the heroic task falls to moderate conservative élites:

” One thing we must all concede [certainly not our property, C.S.]: the advance to world government will be impeded by countless obstacles and pitfalls, foreseeable and unforeseeable. It is perhaps the most difficult enterprise that fate [Jung’s id!] has ever required of mankind. But what of that? Is the genius of the human race played out? If our physical and biological scientists [elsewhere referred to as Judases] have proved capable of inventing the perfect means of exterminating societies, our political scientists, jurists, and statesmen should prove capable of inventing the perfect means of conserving them.” [414]

Murray’s conclusion, formulated in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, should give pause to New Leftist critics who believe Melville and his critic share a common conception of Manifest Destiny and the Protestant mission to renovate mankind:

“To take the initiative in the creation of a democratic world government–this is our mission, our manifest destiny, because it is in our power to achieve this thing and in no other nation’s power; and mankind expects it from us. [cf. “no bloody hands will be lifted” by the “political pagans” to stop us, WJ.]   A hundred and sixty years ago our ancestors successfully performed a comparable experiment; they conceived a federal government and made it work, and all breeds of men and women who  have since migrated to this land and learned to live here side by side in peace and confidence have found it good. The United States is the abstract of the One World which now awaits creation. It seems fitting then, that leadership in executing this last and most difficult experiment should have fallen to our lot.”

     But Murray wonders: ambiguity and materialism have made dangerous inroads; we may simply wander off, but he insists there are untapped resources (in Jung’s revised Unconscious?) that will bring us to transcendence, which means accepting the leadership of the WASP élite which has brought so much peace and confidence to “Indians,” Latinos, African-Americans, “Manilla-men,” Jews, workers, women, &c. Herman Melville agrees with him:

  ” Perhaps fate has summoned us at a time when we are not capable of acquitting ourselves with honor. On all sides one sees the classical symptoms of moral breakdown, manifestations, to quote Lewis Mumford, of the “cult which denies the fundamental discriminations between good and bad, between higher and lower, which are the very bases of human development.” But despite these discouraging evidences, I hold that there is still some unspoiled latent stuff in us which, quickened by this emergency, can carry us beyond our common selves to become once more “the pioneers of the world,” as Melville described us, “the advance guard, sent on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path.” [6]

Finally, the good Fathers (“at the top level, a few constructive statesmen of the caliber of Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Mason, Morris, James Wilson, and at least one man whose charity is as inexhaustible as Lincoln’s”) or, he says (protecting his left flank from populist criticism by quoting The Texas Spectator), even the people, (atypically) rising to greatness “without a leader” will bring us to “the only prospect of security that can counteract the lures of every form of totalitarianism.”[415].

In 1962, Murray’s colleagues in social psychology were still undetached from the “immaculate Scientism” he had criticized throughout his career, ever since the Melville rescue in the mid-1920s. In his presidential address to the American Psychological Association (1962), Murray reviewed “The Personality and Career of Satan,” linking the destructive Satanic spirit to Ahab and Hitler. He was still concerned about do-nothing (pseudo) radicals:  “In this day of non-authoritarian parents, of independence training, of the precocious emancipation of youth, and of teenage killers, Satan’s ascensionist hopes (perfect illustrations of the Adlerian craving for superiority) are not likely to be regarded as ample cause for everlasting ostracism and damnation. But of course this judgment of our time may be nothing but a consequence of the Devil’s having pretty nearly realized his unswerving ambition to subvert our natures.” [527]

Certain creeds: Judaism, Catholicism, Mohammedanism, Communism [sic], Murray argued, continue to embody the Satanic spirit, and are propagating views of human nature that impair self-transformation and social reconstruction (unlike the conservatively enlightened Protestant élite which does not suffer from narcissistic self-inflation), promoting only nihilism and despair.

There is an etiquette of victimization; strenuous acrobatics are required to fulfill its requirements. The tight-lacer who accommodates to permanent dubiety by saying this is sanity, this is integration, is held to be the mature, blissful, whole person.[7] And yet these “mavericks,” (Joseph Campbell) these “conscious primitives” (Cabanne on Picasso) scour the earth for masks. At one point in a friendly four hour interview, a short time after I had observed that he was skillful at strewing misleading clues to conceal his true identity, Murray suddenly turned his face away, covered his eyes and exclaimed, “Don’t look at me; I’m afraid you can see into all my secrets.”

[1] Written by staff at the Harvard Psychological Clinic, Explorations in Personality (New York: Science Editions, 1938), 226-27. “Infavoidant” means the need to avoid criticism and humiliation. Murray wrote most of the book, including this passage. The group that formulated the theory of personality included “democrats, fascists, communists, anarchists,”[xi]. Walter Langer was in the group that produced the study.

[2]”What Should Psychologists Do About Psychoanalysis? reprinted in Shneidman, p.300. Paper given to American Psychological Association symposium, printed in Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 35, 1940, 150-175.

[3]Exemplified in Murray’s well-known menage a trois. Shneidman felt Murray’s Introduction to Pierre was a roman a clef; that he felt guilty about his long-standing affair with Christiana Morgan, co-originator of the Thematic Apperception Test. Murray gave me “a present” during our  interview, Nov. 4, 1987: “I’ll give you a symbol, a tower,” he said.  Shneidman told me Murray had built a tower for Christiana in which mystic symbols were displayed.

[4] I told him about the recently discovered letter from Maria to Augusta commanding her to pressure Lizzie into marrying Herman.

[5] Several months later, Survey Graphic printed a cartoon in which another tousle-headed thinking adolescent is explicitly reading Marx and worrying mothers.

[6] Rigid classifications, e.g.,“obdurate Persian dualism” in the tyrant, Freud, were denounced by Murray in 1940 (300-301), applauded in Mumford in 1948.

[7] Joseph Campbell’s claim in his interview with Bill Moyers, broadcast May 23, 1988, KCET, part of a popular series praised for its profundity and challenge to the public television audience.

September 21, 2009

Managerial Psychoanalysis: Jung, Murray and sadomasochism (2)


image by Steadman Thompson, UCLA Sadomasochism Collection

In Henry A. Murray’s articles and speeches, personal history, class interest, and the images and fears of an orphaned WASP élite besieged by “Marxian” realists, united to shape a life-project: to identify the enemies of democratic capitalism, repair and restore the world shattered by the Judases of modern science, and to bring world peace without massification.  From the mid-1920s until his death in 1988, Herman Melville was Murray’s inspiration, guide, and alter ego; Murray’s “Melville,” however, resembled Hawthorne, not the author I have resuscitated in Hunting Captain Ahab.  Murray was not shy about declaring the source of atomization and dissolution: there are good Jews like the physician Alvin Barach who have helped emancipate Murray from his upper-class family; but there are bad Jews, such as ancient Hebrews who brought dogmatism and infallibility into the world, and whom Murray associates with the stubborn mechanistic thinkers who are hampering the next step in our creative evolution toward a planetary lovely family, wherein cultural opposites appreciatively quiver in fruitful Jungian tension. (Fabian Socialist H.G. Wells would show the same proclivity for social democracy/moderation.)

      As idealist thinkers, both Melville/Hawthorne and Murray try to mobilize “the heart” (psychic depths which are the repository of real fact), to counter a world which is delusive and lethal because it is, or may be, massified, leveled, and internationalized by materialism; i.e., made enjuive.  The emotional response to this fantasy of miscegenation and pollution is the fear, revulsion, and hostility of the purity reformer.[1]  Murray’s personal anxieties (partly shaped by an upper-class perspective) brought him into confrontation with the democratizing tendencies of the last two centuries: like other nativist radicals (including Irving Babbitt and other “New Humanists”), he may have found relief in the notions of social type, archetype, national character, and race (summarized in his phrase “varieties of human nature,” with race accepted as a category in his Explorations) with their clean distinctions and relative stability over time.

     In his Poe-Henry Adams style autobiographical sketch, “The Case of Murr,” Murray declared his allegiance to William James and sympathized with William McDougall (the hereditarian racist Chairman of Harvard’s Psychology Department, who followed James in 1920, said by Murray to have been vanquished by Harvard behaviorists in 1927, and whose social ideas are nearly identical to those of Lothrop Stoddard, a Harvard Ph.D., like McDougall, a supporter of Nazi eugenics in the 1930s). Here, as elsewhere, Murray (whose stereoscopic vision had been needlessly impaired by his mother’s rage for conformity and the slip of a physician’s scalpel) defends the only source of “fact” which allows him to excel, aligning himself with other victims of the ruthlessly boundary-blurring and therefore miscegenating modern world:

    [Murray:]  “William James (who was said by a later member of the Harvard department to have done unparalleled harm to psychology) had become one of Murr’s major exemplars by that time, and the young man found himself agreeing with almost everything his hero had to say–completely, for example, with the heretical statement that ‘Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making, and directly perceive how events happen and how work is actually done.’

     “This idea that the ‘real facts’ are to be found not on the surface of the body or in the full light of consciousness but in the darker, blinder recesses of the psyche was of course anathema to the majority of academic psychologists, who were militantly engaged in a competitive endeavor to mold psychology in the image of physics, a competition in which positive reinforcements would be reserved for those who could bring forth experimental findings with the highest degree of face-validity, statistical significance, and verifiability in all cases, obtained by the most reliable and precise methods. To be among the leaders in this race [note the pun] it was necessary to legislate against the ‘blinder strata,’ to keep away from those events which intellectuals at large assumed to be the subject matter of psychology, to disregard individual and typological differences, and to approximate universality and certainty by measuring the lawful relationships of narrowly restricted forms of animal behavior, of physiological processes in general, and of the simplest sensory and sensorimotor processes of human beings in particular. In short, methodological excellence was dictating (more than it did in any other science) the phenomena to be investigated, with the result that in those days psychologists were not the experts to be consulted about problems involving varieties of human nature, as biochemists, botanists, and ornithologists, for example, are consulted about problems involving varieties of chemicals, plants and birds. [Does he mean some of us are crows, some are eagles, or some of us are flowers, some are weeds? McDougall did.] On this general issue, Murr, at variance with his contemporaries, was facing in the opposite direction with the hope of devising the best possible methods for the investigation of obscure phenomena, realizing that it is the part of an educated man, as Aristotle said, to know what degree of precision is appropriate at each stage in the development of each discipline. Although, for various reasons, Murr did not attempt any direct exposures of the blinder strata of feelings, he would in due course find ways of eliciting meaningful imagery and fantasies from which one could infer the nature of some of the components of the blinder strata.” [Italics mine. “The Case of Murr,” 60, 61].

      Self-control, social control, and the moderating of radical ambition, not enlightenment, were the objectives of Murray’s dive for real fact. These “ways of eliciting meaningful imagery and fantasies” would take the form of the Thematic Apperception Test (devised in 1935 with Christiana Morgan) or the OSS operative recruitment test.

       Murray’s publications openly profess the objectives of these scientific procedures.  The tests were designed to uncover the subject’s latent redness (resistance to authority); to prove his freedom from neurotic symptoms, his proficiency at switching identities without cracking, in leading men in hierarchical “teams,” and his manliness–in part, predefined as stamina in resisting the appeals of radical movements (or, freedom from the “Icarus” complex), and the capacities of OSS operatives to endure humiliation and arbitrary discipline.  But Murray was undismayed that the disclosing subjects did not necessarily know the objective of the test, nor how the subject’s responses were to be used.  Murray, who denounced the Marxian and Freudian strait-jacket, ignored the human rights of his clients, perhaps because the testing procedures he promoted (and which Harold Lasswell admired) were to serve worthy goals and programs of “efficient” psychotherapy, “antifascism,” development, stability, and inspirational and humanistic leadership; goals and programs which were however defined and administered by the sophisticated  élite possessing, like the successful OSS operative, a “sound, moderately conservative political philosophy,”  and with whom Murray had been connected, at least since his conversion to Barach and Melville in the 1920s (rather like the conversion of the “socially responsible,” “liberal” capitalists who created the Committee for Economic Development in the 1940s).The OSS “assessment of men” test designed to recruit spies and practitioners of sabotage and psychological warfare (268),would be applied to personnel screening for other (unspecified) leadership positions.[2]

       And yet, like the helpful, protective and power-sharing modern businessmen of the Committee For Economic Development, Murray was not driven to dominate those he controlled or to seek self-aggrandizement at the expense of others.  For instance, Murr “had come to psychology with the hope of advancing current knowledge about human beings, not to raise his status on the totem pole [!] of scientists.” Murr is no grubby ambitious Head person, alienated and bookish, but a practical patrician: independent, inwardly harmonious, integrated and in touch with his nature and all of suffering humanity:

 [Murray:] “Murr’s varied intimate relations with hospital patients, ranging from a notorious gangster and dope addict to a champion world politician with infantile paralysis, together with privately experienced emotional revolutions, upsurges from below consciousness, had given him a sense of functional fitness, the feeling that all parts of his self were in unison with his professional identity as he defined it, and that he was more advantaged in these ways than were many of the book-made academics who talked as if they had lost contact with the springs of their own natures.”  [Murr, Shneidman,61]

   Murray’s social theory all-too-insistently demanded that we adjust to his facts; unsurprisingly, Murray told me that he, like Melville, had at times yielded to the irrational, and, like his “integrated” hero, had lived in the most painful ambivalence.[3]  Yet in print, Murray presented himself and his organicist fantasies of the future with images of harmony in difference (Jungian pluralism). Such escapes from social reality, from the painful disillusionments of contemporary existence in which a deceptive economic oligarchy (not peacefully competing interest groups) determines our future, must be common in readers who “love” Melville, yet cannot (publicly) face his pain and indignation at being (covertly) dominated, or his self-identification with defiant seekers like Ahab and Margoth, Pierre and Isabel: versions of the romantic Wandering Jew. More bluntly put, the “Melville” revival may be rooted in a fantasy, by no means confined to Hitler, that  the heartless, shattered and decadent modern world can be restored  to its “normal” condition of class harmony and cooperation by stigmatizing and expelling bad Jews with their coldly analytical Jewish spirit: the lethal perpetrators of the Unpardonable Sin and agitators of the twentieth-century labor movement.[4] Thus, in a wondrous Melvillean paradox, the Melville revivers would have expelled the historic figure Herman Melville/Ahab (by Martin Dies’ definition, unambiguously un-American and a commie-Jew), from twentieth-century literary criticism, a removal which had its precedents in Melville’s own praxis.  

 Kinky history:    Symbolists such as Jung and Murray are people ruled by fear; they walk a tightrope, manfully trying to maintain their vanguard position while suppressing the evidence of their senses to please an upper-class clientele.  One way to achieve “balance” is to eschew history with its allegedly “reductive” and “simplistic” materialist explanations for change.  The Symbolist establishes his sophistication, superior taste, and heroism by painfully accepting the unfathomable mystery and complexity of “archetypes” which teasingly surface, slither and sink, finally rendering “reality” and “truth” ineffable, mischaracterizing materialism as an arrogant Margothian reliance upon appearances, i.e., vulgar positivism.

      It is no accident that so many of the “modern” artists, critics, and political scientists who rose to prominence after 1917 have been attracted to the theories of Carl Jung, an adherent of Jacob Hauer’s racial symbolism.[5]  In 1930, Jung praised Moby-Dick as the greatest American novel; four years later, he wrote that Picasso (Ahab-ish in his analytic cubist phase) was suffering from a “schizoid syndrome” (“schizophrenia” a term he clarified in Jung, 1934, fn137). In 1936, Jung explained Nazi violence as the disruption of the German communal psyche by the Wotan archetype [Webb, 401].  Jung’s reactionary influence upon artists, alternative therapists, educators, and social theorists, is probably underestimated.

     The conservative wing of Melville criticism has stigmatized its “liberal” rivals as “subjectivist” and “Freudian”: overly romantic, myth-making, and preposterous in their treatments of Melville’s life and art.  In the next section, I will show that Henry A. Murray (one target, along with Weaver, Mumford, Arvin, and Miller) has identified himself with the Jungian tradition, but has co-opted the technique of Freudian psychoanalysis for the purpose of preventive politics and mind-management in the service of counter-revolution.  I suggest that my elegant Symbolists are possessed by Tory images of the People, that they attack these Doppelgängers which, not surprisingly, are representations of their class enemies (a process shared with the humble Martin Dies and his “populist” successors such as Joe McCarthy).  Yet the Symbolists continue to have credibility in high places as radical and rational analysts of society and of the human situation.


     Madame De Farge: “Why? Why? Why?Why?” [“Why” gets bigger until it produces BLOOD, in A Tale of Two Cities, 1935, William Van Dyke, director.]

      [illustrated drawing by Steadman Thompson] “She asked for it.

       “Hesitantly, uncertainly, she asked for it. The guardsmen, used to such requests from well-dressed young girls like her smirked knowingly.  The idea was not new to them as it obviously was to her.

       “When they stripped her to hang her to the flogging cross she asked them to stop short of removing her [red] panties.  They did, to her great disappointment.  She need not be so disappointed, however, for they plan to take them off, rip them off, indeed, later when they do to her certain other things she did not have the nerve to ask for but which will not disappoint her, however much she may struggle or cry out.” [Text to drawing by Steadman Thompson, dated June 19, 1946. Sadomasochism Collection, UCLA]

      [Michael J. Schaack, Captain of Police, Anarchy and Anarchists (Chicago: Schulte, 1889), 683, 686.]  The London celebration of the anniversary of the Paris Commune on the night of March 18, 1889, consisted of a small crowd of boozy, beery, pot-valiant, squalid, frowsy, sodden Whitechapel outcasts who shrieked and fought in a small hall in their district under the eye of a single policeman.

     “Better not go in sir,” the policeman said to a correspondent who entered the door of the small hall at 87 Commonwealth Road.  “There ain’t no danger, but it’s very unpleasant.”

     It was the fumes of scores of dirty pipes and a thousand other causes that made the air almost unbearable.  About two hundred people, a fourth of whom were lushed, soggy Whitechapel women, were in the low-ceilinged hall, while a long-haired Pole was screaming an address from the platform.  He cursed and swore with frantic blasphemy, and called upon his hearers to arm themselves and wade to liberty through blood.  Whenever he uttered the word “blood,” the muddled and maudlin crowd set up a shriek of “Blood, blood, blood!” that was deafening.  All of the women and most of the men had soiled red flags and handkerchiefs, which they waved in the air as they shrieked, “Blood!” in chorus.  Then they would sink back into drunken indifference till the word “blood” was mentioned again.

    Two women and a man, says the correspondent, lay in senseless stupor, with the crowd treading on them.  One woman’s rags did not half cover her.  An illiterate Englishman pushed the Pole aside and began to harangue the people from the platform.  It was the most shameless, ribald, and obscene harangue imaginable.  In the midst of it one woman struck another with a piece of a broken beer glass, and the two females began to fight like cats.  Faces were cut and bleeding.  No one paid the slightest attention except the policeman, who looked indifferently on.  Presently one of the women ran sobbing from the hall with her face streaming blood.  Another woman started after her, when a man made a sign to a policeman and she was restrained.  Then a neighbor plucked the correspondent’s sleeve:

      “Don’t let that nasty scene deceive you,” he said shortly, “it doesn’t mean that Socialism is dead in London.  It means that it is more intelligent.  They’ve left off shouting in public and begun to work under cover.  This thing tonight proves it.”


     Are we prepared, or are we even preparing for the shock?

     Let none mistake either the purpose or the devotion of these fanatics, nor their growing strength.  This is methodic–not a haphazard conspiracy.  The ferment in Russia is controlled by the same heads and the same hands as the activity in Chicago.  There is a cold-blooded, calculating purpose behind this revolt, manipulating every part of it, the world over, to a common and ruinous end.  Whether the next demonstration of the Red Terror will occur where its disciples are goaded to desperation under despotic measures, as in the land of the Czar, or in our own country, where they are allowed to preach their bloody doctrines under a broad construction of the American constitutional right of free speech, time alone can tell.  [end, Schaack excerpt] 

     “The rightful place for women…is the home, and not the world of commerce or industry. Marriage is her true career and one for which she is trained from infancy. Needless to say a society which is of this nature is totally unlike our proletarian, mass-minded society of the year 1953 which is concerned with social security in the form of government handouts and has no conception of beauty or appreciation for anything worthwhile….

     “We instinctively prefer a restrictive, aristocratic sort of life in which all of the essentials of a true aristocratic society are present. We love privacy and by nature are esthetes and hedonists who seek beauty and pleasure from the restrictive environment  in which we live. Our pleasures are those of the refined, cultured, sensuous lady or gentleman. In our choice of bizarre costumes and unconventional, prohibited dress, we are not only unconsciously protesting against the proletarian manners and dress of contemporary society, but we are likewise exhibiting a preference for all that is unproletarian, hence at heart we thoroughly hate and abhor all that is contrary to our conception of an ideal society. The real truth of the matter is that we, the majority of the readers of “Bizarre,” are patricians or aristocrats by nature who would be happier living in Victorian days than in the present atomic age.

     “As a student of sociology, I can proudly and thoughtfully say that the proletarian society of 1953 has not supplanted the aristocratic, genteel society of 1893.  The spirit of Victorian days not only still lives but many of the customs, dress and manners yet flourish among a selective few, who wisely refuse to yield to that proletarianization of society which people of the masses mistakenly refer to as progress….” [Fred S. Mac, defending tight-lacing and hobble-skirts in “Bizarre.” Box 54, Sadomasochism Collection, UCLA]

 “Young, professional man, interesting but submissive personality, seeks dominant lady of any age, race, or nationality.  I am 30 years old, tall, have excellent position and income. Have many varied interests such as psychology, collection of rare and unusual books and pictures, female wrestling and judo.  Never married, free to travel anywhere….” [Justice Weekly, April 23, 1960, p.8, Sado-Masochism Collection, UCLA]

 “…I have long wanted to draw but apparently my drawing, like my writing needed a strong compelling urge and conviction that nobody would ever see it except me [,] to make it come.  Only because I have absolute assurance that my drawing and writing will never see the light of day do I lack the fear that they should be found unworthy.  Writing that is for myself alone can be vile if it merely suggests its content to me.  Drawing that is terrible is adequate if it brings to mind the perfect picture I copied when I drew it.

     “My writings and drawings are partly memory keys, a glance at a page, not even reading the words, brings whole stories into my mind, stories which, because they are expressed to the full extent of my mind at the time, are uncriticizable, my mind not being greater than they to look down on their wording and grammar and style.  The pictures I draw in air are perfect, colored, balanced, harmonized, more perfect than anything ever done in oils by Titian.  If my pencil sketches can return these to the forefront of my mind instead of letting them slide off into oblivion, they have served their purpose, no matter how contemptible they may be as art.

     “I told Blanche that the pictures and the stories are mood-builders.  That is all they are.  I seek a thousand channels to the same pleasure.  I build a thousand carved entrance gates to a single court of joy.  My pleasure, much as the pleasure of music, is single and unvarying but the outward forms are myriad.

     “I have beat the boundaries of my soul to find the extents and limits of my desire and pleasure, forcing myself to accept nothing, merely asking, “Does this please you?”  “Does that?”  Without ever limiting myself in the future I have found the present bounds and set out forthwith, having fenced the woods to examine all its shady pathways and ultimately to know and catalog every tree.

     “I can only say that I have no regrets.  I do feel slightly soiled and tired when I arise and I hasten to clean up myself and the room but throughout all my regular life I am not ashamed and I take a great positive joy in it when I throw myself into my private life.  [Steadman Thompson, ms. ,June 5, 1946.Sado-masochism Collection, UCLA]


      What do Jungian psychologists and other romantic conservatives mean by “individuation”?  Surely not that you, the once conflicted Pierre, but now the rectified and integrated patient, having dredged up the “shadow” are entitled to reject your parents’ values and to think for yourself (a process that could challenge the legitimacy of ruling élites and the versions of social reality they propagate).  Au contraire, the cured Pierres, having eyed the dragon, retreat to ever more firmly drawn boundaries and hole up in towers: their erect postures, military and correct, signify victory over temptation: they have resisted the merger with  Mammon: “the least erected Spirit that fell/ From heav’n.”  We will never see them bent over (like Melville’s “invalid Titan”), rifling “the bowels of their mother Earth/ For Treasures better hid”: treasures connoting enlightenment and the illicit power to pursue “perfection” in this world: the outcome of labor, creativity, self-direction, the rejection of “servile pomp” and the demystification of God and Heaven. [Paradise Lost, I,675-690; II, 229-283]  Perhaps Murray was dismayed by Ahab, Pierre and Isabel, because such characters have merged with nature (the digging “lower orders”) to meet the insatiably curious, joyfully seeking, constantly reformulating self (“Pierre just emerging from his teens”).  For Pierre, incestuously bound to Isabel and not yet a disenchanted Mortmain, is seeing grey, a color so deranging to  his class and family, he will retrogress to flashy conservative black and white: Look not to exploitative institutions to find the source of Evil, but beneath the skin; evil originates within our bodies (or matter) and its deceptive and self-deceptive imagination: “…when there is no author, they fear those evils that they themselves have feigned,” wrote Filmer of the People and its natural disposition to believe its self-serving fantasies.

      Perhaps Melvilleans who follow Murray’s critique of Pierre are interested in projective identification, not because they want  more rational social organization,  but to rationalize the escape from political commitment: by “checking our projections” (accepting the dragon within ourselves, living with the eternal bipolar opposites in “unity”), we “free” ourselves from the heavy tasks of structural transformation, positive social action and social responsibility; like Murray’s mother (a babe in arms in his unanalyzed dream), we cough up history and swallow Jung’s reified, static “opposites” as real: “light/dark, above/below, white/black, male/female, etc.” [140]. With Melville, we successfully defend our chimneys; inwardly we are crushed and wasted.  Symbolist-style conservatism (which defines itself against Jewification: Red Terror, anarchy and dissolution) depends upon pervasive social and psychological constrictions which, as we have seen, only undermined the stability of every social relationship through the fear of “pain” and the pursuit of impassibility.

     For Jung as for other organic conservatives since the Greeks, the Delphic oracle’s adjuration to “know thyself” was a warning against the narcissism of democratic egos: with “self-knowledge” one accepted personal limitations and the descriptive accuracy of received categories.  The “beaten boundaries” of rural England (where officials ritualistically struck the earth with a switch to trace the borders of the local parish’s domain) may be seen as expressing the self-abuse inflicted through tight-lacing: modeling one’s body and soul to fit the property relations of rigid class societies and their bizarre formulations of reality.[6]

    Jung had warned of the dangers to the questing, probing, dissecting, boundary-blurring Picasso: “this inner adventure is a hazardous affair and can lead at any moment to a standstill or to a catastrophic bursting asunder of the conjoined opposites” [140].  In his Picasso prognosis, Jung sounds like Ishmael or Henry Murray contemplating the dangers posed to Ahab and Pierre by their shadows: Fedallah, his tiger-yellow Filipino crew, and dark Isabel:

 “The strident, uncompromising, even brutal colours of the latest period reflect the tendency of the unconscious to master the conflict by violence (colour=feeling).” [Jung,140]

     Here is Filmer’s image of the People again: Jungians seem to find their lost equilibrium in Mumford’s golden, sedate and well-regulated patriarchal families; not in flapping constitutional democracies, with their “narcissistic” players filled with sinful self-regard, hence (as Lasswell would say) concocting “grandiose” and “chimerical” visions of Utopia.  These unhinged Ahabs and Claggarts are dangerously free to “rise,” to take advantage of the emancipatory possibilities in a new world where “the masses” have (or want) political rights and accountability, have limited the rights of property, and where they have fought for, and (to some degree) attained freedom of expression.  And like Ishmael in the crow’s nest, flooded with pantheistic longing to unite with  nature, the narcissist will slip and fall: the “factions” produced by the unchecked ardor of the legislative branch were as dangerous to the Federalist Ship of State as “the syren song of equality” was to foolishly self-scrutinizing Pierre, or “romantic” Rousseau to New Humanists following Irving Babbitt in the 1920s.

            [1]Or, good fences make good neighbors. See Derrida, Critical Inquiry, Spring 1988 on Paul De Man’s view of decadent Europe as Jewified or enjuive.

            [2] The TAT subjects were told “this is a test of literary imagination….” Henry A. Murray, “A Method For Investigating Fantasies: The Thematic Apperception Test,” Shneidman,391; The OSS Assessment Staff, Assessment of Men: Selection of Personnel for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (New York: Rinehart, 1948), 20,60-61,440,462-466 and passim.

          [3] But he could have treated Melville’s mental illness. Personal interview, Nov.4, 1987. Cf. the harmonious and uxorious Murray presented by Salvatore R. Maddi and Paul T. Costa, Humanism in Personology: Allport, Maslow, and Murray (Chicago and New York: Aldine-Atherton,1972).

            [4]Burton Hendricks, The Jews in America (New York: Doubleday, 1923). Carey McWilliams is the only writer on anti-Semitism I know to have mentioned this important best-seller. Hendricks’ claim was that the Sephardic and German Jews were no threat to America; only the “Polish Jews” were the problem because they insisted, unlike American radicals, that there were irreconcilable antagonisms between labor and capital. Immigration must stop at once. Cf. the arguments of the Protocols. Hendricks explained that the German Jews were too individualistic to comprehend the team spirit that had built capitalism in America, the achievement of Protestants, not Jews, as some were claiming. Hendricks’ book was part of the campaign against immigration.

            [5]James Webb, The Occult Establishment, 1976. Cf. Henry A.Murray, Explorations, 738, “Jung’s…racially determined sequences of fantasy….” hypostatized “the collective unconscious.”

             [6]My account of “beaten boundaries”  is a gift from John Seeley, sociologist and psychoanalyst, May 1989, who commented on the materials I had gathered from the Sadomasochism Collection at UCLA. His insight about “the lesson of the beaten child” (the terminal weakness of the oppressed) was gleaned from his clinical experience in the treatment of former abused children.

Managerial Psychoanalysis: Jung, Henry A. Murray, and sadomasochism (1)


Image (86)

progressive psychiatry in SURVEY GRAPHIC, 1947

This is the first of a three part essay on Jung and some of his followers, whose influence in America is probably underestimated; for instance he thrives in “New Age” thinking. The criticisms I lodge against Jung and the Jungians apply to “adjustment”-oriented ego psychology  and describe the eroticism favored by middle-managers I have studied. Since Dr. Henry A. Murray was one of the chief Melville Revivers, and identified personally with Melville, I have added materials taken from Murray’s essays on personology, as edited and collected by the late Edwin S. Shneidman, but also poems and sketches by other practitioners of sadomasochism. (These will appear in the blogs that follow this one.) The picture that finally emerges is fiercely anti-Freudian, misogynistic, and antisemitic.  Teachers and mental health professionals are asked to read these disturbed and disturbing materials, especially as Murray’s sadomasochism has been described in books by Forrest Robinson and Claire Douglas.


     ” Marxism lies in ruins on the ground. It had to die in order that German labor might find its way to freedom, that our nation might again be a nation. Where formerly Marxist songs of hate resounded, there shall we proclaim brotherhood to the workers. Where once the machine guns of the Reds scattered bullets, there we will make a breach for class freedom; where once a spirit of materialism triumphed there we, resting on the eternal right of our nation to freedom, labor and bread, will proclaim the union of all classes, races and callings in a new glowing idealism before our own nation and before all the world.” [Goebbels, quoted Survey Graphic, Nov. 1933, 549, 550]

     “Another dimension of Lasswell’s achievement, and one largely missed by his readers and commentators, is its radical and even revolutionary commitment to democratic goals. Because Lasswell has always used a special vocabulary that most of his political science colleagues have never bothered to understand, and because, further, this vocabulary is notably free of emotive, polemical, and ideological expressions, Lasswell has been frequently misperceived to be an antidemocratic élitist and a reactionary who would do for and to society what B.F. Skinner has done for and to the pigeons….

     “The Lasswellian conception of democracy has always stressed the widest possible shaping and sharing of those values that promote or exemplify human dignity… To be sure, Lasswell has not identified the particular institutional transformations that would promote such values, but neither did Rousseau indicate the political system required for the operation of the “general will,” nor Marx produce a blueprint for the political economy that would follow the revolution. The fact is, we are so habituated by sloganizing about political and social change that we fail to recognize advocacy of such change unless it is accompanied by a certain barricade rhetoric. Hence the full import has been generally missed of what Lasswell means by political psychiatry and integrative politics. [Arnold A. Rogow, “A Psychiatry of Politics,” (University of Chicago Press: 1969), 141,142]

      “May Day came, with its processions of boys and girls, men and women, singing as they marched to Tempelhof, where they gathered, the largest single audience ever assembled in Germany, to hear the labor speech of the Leader. We listened to it over the radio with a little group of countrymen, all full of eagerness to know what the Nazi labor program would be, how they would deal with unemployment and with the great trades-unions. We got nothing but what we disrespectful Americans call ballyhoo. It was the sort of speech that would be made before a Civic Federation audience or a Manufacturer’s Association: flowery sentiments about the brotherhood of workers with brawn and workers with brain, about commonweal instead of individual profit, about a united country where employer and employe[e] march hand in hand for the Fatherland. There was nothing that could be called a program, a definite plan, and our little group of Americans marvelled that Hitler would dare to so disappoint his waiting followers.

     “But the next day his real plan was carried out without warning. The trades-unions were dissolved, a leader of labor was appointed (the Ley whom the labor representatives in Geneva refused to recognize), the “principle of leadership” was substituted for democratic majority rule, the funds and properties of the trades unions were taken over….

     ” I did my best to discover what the policy of the Nazis with regard to labor really was. The whole world has known for years that Hitler’s movement was financed by the great industrialists on his promise to drive out Communism and break up the trades-unions, but on the other hand we were told that many workers had been won to his cause by his promise to make Germany truly Socialistic, a country of equal opportunity, where there should be neither rich nor poor.” [Alice Hamilton, Survey Graphic, 1933, 550. Hamilton, a progressive, worked in industrial medicine. Her analysis of Nazism remains the view of Marxist-Leninists blaming monopoly capitalism, and ignores Hitler’s “Third Way” between communism and capitalism, resonant with American progressivism.]   

      “The era of campus violence seems to have passed. Students are no longer locking up administrators, burning buildings, or engaging in strikes. But the crisis in higher education is not over. Many colleges and universities are in financial trouble. Many students are still dissatisfied with some aspects of higher education. Professional pride is not keeping faculty members from joining unions.” [The Management and Financing of Colleges (The Committee for Economic Development: 1973) p.7]

      Throughout my study of the Melville Revival, I have dwelled upon postwar psychological warfare and preventive politics to suggest the relevant context for “the Melville boom” of the 1940s.  Although Ahab’s usefulness to Cold War ideologues has been noted,[1] the iconography of Ahab has not been linked to a particular Tory diagnosis of “romantic” fascism as an excrescence of democracy, of autodidacticism run amok, as the inevitable outcome of forces unleashed in the American and French Revolutions.  Nor has the Melville Revival been viewed as one episode in the perennial struggle within universities and the media to define and circumscribe radicalism in America, to set limits to the wandering Protestant imagination, to the mobility and penetration ascribed to the Romantic Wandering Jew.  Nativist radicals (Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Lewis Mumford, Henry A. Murray, all admirers of Carlyle and Jung) have rejected “Marx” and “Freud”[2] as alien, dogmatic, deterministic, and divisive; the “class hatred” jacobinical Marxism spawns is held to be the product of heartless ratiocination.  Murray, Lasswell, and their circle (Mumford, Walter Langer, et al) have reproduced Melville’s most antimodern attitudes while claiming a vanguard, emancipating identity for themselves.  Murray, for instance, was offended by Melville’s sympathy with Melville’s character Pierre, in my opinion, not because Melville so nakedly attacked his parents, but because he exposed the family double bind: the structural conflict between truth and order suggesting that pluralist remedies could not harmonize classes and other antagonistic groups; that “virtuous expediency” was not an acceptable option for moralists torn up by the contradiction between Christian theory and practice.

     Although “pluralism” was once our official ideology, an exclusionary organicism called “multiculturalism” is enforced by corporatists who define and enforce “mental health”: the repressed alternative is free-thinking liberalism made efficacious through self-knowledge and social knowledge, through the retrieval of an accurate history.  Therefore, in practice, “pluralism” is hegemonic: gender, ethnic, and “racial” (or other “interest-group”) politics are legitimate, while class politics are Jewish and toxic unless populist, in which case the enemy is the International Jewish Mother grinding the face of the poor.  Unmanageable conflicts (today called “stress”) originate within individuals (no longer “victims”), who then are the major locus of reform.  The mind-managers have exploited the findings of depth psychology, co-opting it to diagnose and control potential dissidents.  They replicate Melville’s consciousness at its most defended and paranoid, that is, where he projects forbidden rage onto class enemies who must then be controlled.  These alluring villains are 1. the insatiably demanding and perfectionistic moral mother (usually masked by the scientific Jew: together they represent the Market) and 2. the mob generated or aroused by the hot brain and cold body of the Jewish scientist/moral mother/demagogue.  But this defense (projective identification as termed by object-relations theorists) cannot be acknowledged as such; Melville, a “great American writer,” like American élites should be manly, i.e., finally rational and in control, even as he drowns.  His obvious problems (both artistic and personal) are either delimited and suppressed or attributed to the aggressions and deficiencies of irrational women (who control the family) and other philistines (who control the market).

     However, Melville’s achievement may have been limited and distorted by his class position; his confusing switches may express the sado-masochistic social relations of middle-managers, of the professionals and intellectuals whose (partial) freedom of expression is contingent upon their willingness to dominate “the lower orders” on behalf of their superiors in the caste/class system; who “excel” by switching off the connection between idea and emotion, art and life, theory and practice, diagnosing Icarus instead.  Such ethereality leads to promotions: the reformed over-reacher enters a higher class as a molten disembodiment, a skylark.  Rescuing the confusing Lover/ Mother/Jew of the Home he has angered and worried, another celebrated poet (Sir John Collings Squire) privately recounted the submission and impassibility that suggests metamorphosis:[3]

 “Beloved, do not fret or knit your brow,/  Never be feared for me,/  You have forced my heart to red eruption now: I am full of fire and free.

 It hurt me in that shaded room, you were/ So logical and blind,/  It hurt me in the autumn woods, you were/ So lovely and so kind.

 Whatever I see of you hurts me, visions come/ Of you, chameleon-wise,/ Surprising, expected, voluble and dumb-/ Oh, enigmatic eyes!

 Go on as you’ve begun/ With voice and form and face,/ Do what you will with me, for at their height,/ Great joy, great pain embrace.

 Hurt me, oh, hurt me, press the ichor out,/ Torture the thing that’s I,/ Let me but bear my destined fruit, I’ll shout/ With joy, and happy die.

 There was a time when you, with eyes averse,/ Said that I was a fool:/ I was hurt and glad: you’ll never hear me curse,/ Flogged in Apollo’s school!

 I cannot any longer separate/ One prompting from another,/ Or yet distinguish mate from inspiring mate,/ Joy sister, and pain brother.

 Everything pains, and everything exalts,/ The world’s ablaze with light,/ I do not think of merits or of faults,/ Even of wrong or right–

 Only I live for Poetry, only I long/ To fructify; only I cling/ To this conviction, now so sure and strong,/ That I was born to sing. ” [4]  

     For the ultra-conservative poet and critic, J.C. Squire (a British supporter of Italian Fascism), the incestuous intermingling of pain and pleasure produced numbness, then enlightenment: an object (“thing”) became subject (“I”) under “torture”; Squire was uplifted to a realm beyond good and evil, beyond pain, perhaps beyond the scrutiny of the hypercritical and constantly changing parent.  At the poem’s climax he is freed from competitors, blissfully confident of his identity as sole legitimate creator (or is he? there is more than a touch of irony in the strange ending).  Perhaps other fascist sympathizers have felt the same longing to “press the ichor out” to achieve a similar transcendence, but then are equally uneasy with their victories.

     To the extent that middle management refuses to know itself and evolve, it perforce must be either protofascist or ineffectual when faced with authoritarian challenges from the Right.  Refusing painful and embarrassing (because delegitimating) self-explorations, the social thought of the Melville Revivers is situated among Terror-Gothic responses to mass politics; as political Symbolists they may not analyze fascism except as irrational: their anti-intellectualism, revealed in a root-and-branch rejection of “science” is defined as entirely rational.  For the remainder of this section, we will examine the failure of Murray and other authoritarian psychologists (either Jungians or “ego psychologists”) to assess the enemy, protect life, and advance cultural freedom.

     Like Picasso, Murray resorted to primitivist escape, apparently from “civilized” women, but more likely from the rationalism, perseverance, and indignation associated with the working class brain.  Such irrationalism in high places has had consequences for public policy today.  One example was spelled out in my exegesis of the Langer report psychoanalyzing Hitler for the OSS in 1943, and made public in its “original” form in 1972 as a response to the “hippie-fascists” of the 1960s and 1970s, and as a demonstration that psychohistory could prevent errors in managing relations with other recent and future dictators.  The mostly favorable newspaper reviews suggest that antifascist intellectuals will not read a code they should have mastered, for instance that Langer’s portrait of Hitler resembled that of the German agent, George Sylvester Viereck, who, in 1923, imagined the explosive Hitler as Pierrot: androgynous, decadent and a Jew; that is, a mask for the New Woman (or woman with book), breeder of the new Hun (Eve/Cain: Ahab/working class).  The treason of the intellectuals reflects an ideological imperative to explain Nazism as the revolt of the masses, invidiously contrasted to the American people’s community managed by corporatist liberals, for instance, in the Committee for Economic Development.  A comparative structural analysis would have taken the heat off psychopathic Germany, making fascism one common response to economic crisis, and not simply identical with “monopoly capitalism” (the latter a populist or Stalinist formulation). 

    As I have been using the word, fascism is a cultural revolution seeking to reinstate authoritarian social relations and predictable outcomes in open-ended liberal, rationalist, democratic societies moving forward by educating its populace in the ways of critical thought and universalist ethics.  New Leftist critiques of mass culture should be compared to the nativist radicalism of Murray and his circle; there is an intertwined anti-Semitism and misogyny in recent radical scholarship that has not been identified, and which cripples attempts to diagnose structural determinants of cultural pathology.  This study should be contrasted with other analyses of censorship that see cultural pluralism as the norm, repression as aberrant, and invariably produced by extremists of the right and left; extremists whose type is Melville the frontiersman, the desperado defined against impartial liberal élites.

     Bartleby’s mysticism, immobility, and self-exile may express the remorse that followed Melville’s wicked, contaminating identification with the atheistic, materialistic, revolutionary bourgeoisie and their incendiary offspring, the combination whose deadly ambition has caused the absolutist Good Father to disappear: “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions in life, and his relations with his kind,” observed Marx and Engels in a provocation of 1848.  “Where dat old man?” Melville asked in the voice of his infant son Malcolm, throughout his European travels of 1849.  But this parent never existed: he was always a phantom, perhaps what the child/apostate fears he demolished, the victim of his little (short Margothian) “gibes.”  Melville presented the type in his portrait of the Indian-hater, Colonel Moredock, an Ahab (or a Pierre, later a Nathan) of the backwoods: self-reliant, instructed by the unmediated contact with nature, and obsessed with avenging the massacre of his family, but unsated, finally killing Indians for the art and craft of it.  The frontiersman Moredock and his disease (monomania) were the predictable outcome of a world deprived of good kings: that is, patriarchs who obeyed God by fulfilling their paternal obligations toward their dependents, in this case enforcing an orderly western, i.e., Whiggish, expansion that would not arm and inflame the people.

      Only a mask can represent the non-existent “moderate man”; Picasso’s seated Pierrot, like Nietzsche’s wanderer, empty, a spectator and a nihilist, drops the mask to beg for “another mask.”  For Dr. Henry A. Murray (1893-1988), a “moderate conservative” strategically masked as a “left-wing democrat,” the longing for a tolerant father to protect him from the perfectionism of his mother represents a broader, equally hopeless, social yearning for a unifying myth to reconcile groups or forces that seem increasingly intent on annihilating one another; it is the imminent disaster that some of Melville’s characters thought they recognized in the class polarizations of the Civil War and the Gilded Age that followed.  For the merchant and proto-Christian Socialist Rolfe in Clarel (1876, and held by many Melvilleans to be Melville’s mouthpiece), the antagonists in one corner were all-too-liberal protestant pluralists who had abandoned the sane children of the vital center and who, like Derwent (a Matthew Arnold type), were fellow-travelling with the irreverent “Hegelised” German-Jewish geologist Margoth (“such a Jew!”); and in the other corner, their opposition: the deceptively reformist but ever tyrannical Catholic Church.  Where was the good father of the Center who would restrain the predatory side of capitalism that was driving workers into suicidal opposition?[5]

     [1] Donald Pease in Ideology in Classic American Literature, ed. Bercovich  and Jehlen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

    [2] The errors and weaknesses of either figure are pounced upon to discredit institutional analysis, historical memory, and introspection, while what is valuable and original may be annexed to projects at odds with their goals.

     [3] Here is a montage J. C. Squire preserved in his scrapbook: The headline reads “We Nominate for the Hall of Fame”:  Underneath the romantic photo of the black-haired, suited, pipe-smoking, calmly gazing young Squire, the caption reads: “Because his parodies have been as critical and amusing as any of our generation; because he is one of the best known of the Georgian poets; because as a critic he is the most able young man in England, devoted to upholding conservative standards; because he is the  editor of the London Mercury, which under his direction has become the most successful literary magazine in England: and finally because he is now, happily, on a lecture tour of the United States.” Below, Squire pasted two cartoons: one apparently of G. K. Chesterton heading toward the Statue of Liberty on a miniature ocean liner; the other purporting to be “a study by an American girl of eleven” entitled “Do You Recognize Her?” The woman is a frightening figure whose attributes are literally present: “Raven hair, star-like eyes, arched eyebrows, seashell ears, rosy cheeks, pearly teeth, cherry lips, swan-like neck, and lily-white hands go to make the picture.”  (The eyes are actually represented by stars of David: are they the eyes that detect frauds?) I am certain that Squire did not recognize himself in the laudatory remarks quoted above. His letters and notes, his alcoholism, reveal the same self-loathing and sense of inauthenticity that I have found in all the Symbolists under examination.

            [4] Ms. “They Learn in Suffering,” J.C. Squire.  The last four verses were crossed-out.

           [5] See George Mosse on nationalization of the masses, Lasswell’s technocratic military élites; Murray’s call for an eclectic sacred text to replace the Bible; Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1940s.

September 9, 2009

Preventive Medicine and Preventive Politics

Filed under: 1 — clarelspark @ 7:56 pm
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Tonight the President will say something about health care reform, hoping to rescue the Great Overhaul  from what he and his supporters take to be the lies and growls of selfish individualists– the militaristic menagerie of what is called “the Right” by right-on lefties and left-liberals. I don’t know how this fight will be ended, if ever, but today’s blog will comment on the dangers to health of 1. Excessive alienation ; and 2. Polarization and hatred of the other side.  Consider this brief statement to be a contribution to preventive medicine, specifically the reduction of cortisol excretions from the adrenal glands that, if secreted too often, lead to lowered immunity from infectious diseases and a multitude of dangerous inflammations.

As I showed in a prior blog, “Preventive Politics and Socially Responsible Capitalists, 1930s-1940s,” (READ IT: the social psychologists, sociologists, and cultural anthropologists centered at Harvard University, faced with the challenge of attractive and dynamic ideologies of either fascism or communism, were not concerned with optimum mental health, understood today to be the capacity for rational political participation, love, work, and empathy. No, they were chiropractors of the psyche, bent on achieving “social cohesion” or “equilibrium” by subtly disciplining bright students who might become radicalized, and then go on to become an internal Fifth Column as these best and brightest would undoubtedly rise to the top of every American institution. That such a discipline devoted to “adjustment” (not innovation) might curb the creative contributions of their students and of other Americans treated similarly was not their problem.

One of their colleagues, Harold Lasswell (of the U. of Chicago), political advisor to the newly formed Committee For Economic Development (founded in 1942 and adopting Keynesian economics; thank you spirit of Hyman Minsky for telling me about them), actually favored the formation of a national board that would assess would-be leaders, using Henry A. Murray’s Thematic  Apperception Test, a test that was presented deceptively to its client users. Lasswell’s biographer credited him with the invention of “preventive politics,” a concept meant to be attached to the beneficent strategy of “preventive medicine.”

Preventive medicine is extolled in HR 3200, but not defined, and the only Obama reference to it that I heard was a mention that diabetics should lose weight to avoid amputations of their feet (and he linked this point to a larger argument that doctors were avoiding such advice in order to enhance their income through profitable amputations). [In tonight’s speech, he gave the example of mammograms and colonoscopies, i.e., screening. C.S. 7:30pm PT.]  Neither he nor any other politican has dwelled upon a broader approach to preventive medicine as a cost-saving approach to health care, and I count on my friends and other readers to tell me whether or not the media punditry has explained what they take preventive medicine to mean. [Think of smoking, obesity, and alcohol as the three chief causes of preventible death: all linked to depression.]

The Over-alienated and under-educated.    It should be obvious that the intense polarization of the “culture wars” and the deterioration of civility as many opponents confront their “enemies” cannot be good for stress-reduction. As I have argued here before, there is a broad consensus regarding the need for both a private and a public sector: reasonable people can argue about the efficacy of tasks better undertaken by market competition or state regulation and investment. Those on the “progressive” or “communitarian” side who see “the Right” as a monolith of buccaneering laissez-faire capitalists, protofascist or fascist and irrational, are necessarily mobilized for combat 24/7. While those on the Right who see all programs of public health as proto-fascistic, statist infringement of personal liberty and local control, produced by the secret machinations of mad scientists in cahoots with Wall Street, are similarly over-agitated, to their own detriment. For this reason, I have emphasized here the study of history,* mathematics, political theory, economics, and all the sciences in the schools, for such subjects, properly taught (that is, without indoctrination), can enable citizens not only to read legislation and analyze specific policies with greater competence:  An informed electorate, truth-seekers all, should be able to empathize with those who in reality share many, if not every single social and personal goal. And empathy reduces hatred and keeps the fight-and-flight mechanism working to preserve a good life. Question for the Left: do you really want everybody to be poor, backward, and under the thumb of bureaucrats?

*History is not a science, but a set of competing theories about the past. Anyone who teaches it as uncontroversial and settled is miseducating the students and setting them up for a lifetime of distorted perceptions. One way to sublimate rage (for instance in response to Obama’s speech) is to identify his misrepresentations, convenient ambiguities, and downright errors, then publicize them. I suppose that is why I blog.

Added after Obama speech to joint session of Congress, 9-10-09. Upon reflection, it was an appalling performance, filled with switches. But the well-meaning liberal may not see what I did. Briefly, Obama, taking the tone of the impassioned black preacher in pure revivalist mode, placed himself on the side of the angels and the beloved community. That is, he would not be partisan but would embody the civility (i.e. Christian charity) I mentioned above, with utopia just around the corner. Not long after that he condemned his Republican opponents as liars irresponsibly disseminating erroneous claims about the legislation. First he took credit for rescuing Americans from economic disaster, then came on as a compassionate centrist, who would have to give up a single-payer plan (or anything else that the far left-wing of his party was demanding?).  With no tentativeness, he promised that his plan would be paid for through eliminating fraud and waste in Medicare, though the cost would be 900 billion dollars. On tort reform, he began by hinting that it would now be included in the next draft of legislation (gaining applause: would he be dissing the trial lawyers?), but then handed it off to a cabinet secretary for experimental study in selected states, as if the data were not already clear enough. Finally, after annexing the sentimental feelings about the death of Edward Kennedy, he ended with an apocalyptic view of failure should his legislation not pass. Throughout he took the tone of the good father who had been tested beyond all endurance by the evil cable and radio commentators, the town-hall meetings, and any other opposition. He was generally vehement and accusatory to my ears.  I find it personally very dispiriting that the authoritarian posture and rhetoric are not seen by my friends who are left-liberals and who will agree with Harry Reid that the speech was “a game-changer.”

Let me now merge yesterday’s blog on “taking responsibility” for one’s education and the implications of his speech and its silence on the prerequisites for good health (what I have been calling preventive medicine). The limited view he has displayed so far on this question is worrisome and even bizarre. How can we “take responsibility” for our health if we don’t have clean air, clean water, and clean food? How can we “take responsibility” for our health if children are not taught from early childhood on such basic questions as enhancing their body’s resistance to disease, eating correctly,  and avoiding unnecessary stress to bones and muscles (add your own preventive measures here), while strengthening  bodies and brains with appropriate activities, such as dance, low-impact athletics, and the arts in general? In other words, the study of human physiology and the preservation of the body (along with the enlargement of the imagination and of inter-personal skills) must begin as soon as the child can process the instruction. Whether the federal government or schools and parents (armed with good science) alone should be overseeing such enhanced education is a matter for public debate: my own preference lies with market competition, although I am also in favor of state investment in science, medical research, and education, for state sponsorship does not necessarily entail state control of laboratories or schoolrooms.  But then I may be among the last of the puritans, or maybe the Greeks: a sound mind in a sound body. Or, faced with the ambiguous  statism of this administration, are we hovering on the brink of a new majority? If that majority is anti-science, then our country will face stagnation and terminal decline.

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