Friday, September 08, 2017

Psychopathology and Pneumopathology

An annoyingly rambling post that asks more questions than it has time to answer. In my defense, it's a Big Subject, perhaps the biggest.

No, it's the biggest: how a man ought to be.

As always, it's a little difficult to locate the thread after having let it go for a couple of days. Oh, there it is: instead of being wise as serpents and innocent as doves, the left recommends being cynical as a psychopath and credulous as a child.

This credo has always guided the left, but is especially vivid these days due to Trump Derangement. It is the difference between neurotic and borderline personality structure.

I don't like to get pedantic this early in the morning, but broadly speaking, there are four main categories of adult patients, and you generally know within seconds which one you're dealing with. First there are people with organic problems ranging from dementia to closed head injuries to hormonal disorders. They don't have any psycho-political relevance.

Speaking of which -- it's all coming back to me now -- yesterday on the way to work, Dennis Prager mentioned that leftism is... I forget the exact phrase, but essentially a spiritual sickness. That may sound polemic, but I've been listening to him for a couple of decades, and it is a considered opinion based upon years of examining the patient. He means it literally, not as an insult.

However, two things: first, spiritual illness presupposes spiritual health. Any normal person has the ability to intuitively diagnose spiritual illness, but he may not know how he is doing it, nor on what implicit criteria he is basing the diagnosis (nor on what basis he presumes himself to be normal!).

Second, this means that we must distinguish between psychopathology and something like pneumopathology.

Thus, the entire innerprise is based upon a distinction between mind (or psyche) and spirit. However, profane psychology either conflates the two or denies spirit altogether.

The problem is, the more intellectually rigorous the psychology, the more spiritually purblind it tends to be (for example, materialistic approaches that know -- so to speak -- everything about the brain but nothing about the person).

On the other side we have squishy and intellectually vapid new age approaches that make both psychology and religion appear stupid. And either approach can easily be mastered by morons with political agendas. I know this because when I was an agenda-driven liberal moron, I used psychology to bash conservatives.

Back to our other three categories of mental illness: they are 1) neurotic, 2) borderline, and 3) psychotic. The last one doesn't interest us per se, except insofar as the borderline individual is vulnerable to a "psychotic core" that he is always attempting to manage with various primitive defense mechanisms. The neurotic person is subject to various psychic conflicts, but not to the point of frank loss of contact with reality.

I've been out of the loop for awhile, but back when I was in grad school -- this would have been between 1982 and 1988 -- there was a lot of research and writing on borderline phenomena. There seemed to be a general consensus that we were seeing a lot more of it, because prior to the 1960s, most of the psychoanalytic literature dealt with neurotics.

But after the 1960s, we saw an influx of more seriously ill patients for whom the model of neurosis didn't fit. Which led to a great deal of research and theorizing on borderline psychic structure. Of course, it is difficult to know if we are seeing a new phenomenon, or just taking notice of an old one (as with autism or attention deficit disorder).

Another confounding variable is the general loosening of cultural controls. As a result, people are more "free" -- which includes the freedom to be as crazy as one wants to be. Prior to the 1960s, these various forms of madness, deviance, and perversion were suppressed and stigmatized, whereas afterwards they weren't only allowed open expression but even "normalized." Feminism, for example, offers a woman many novels ways to act out her mental illness that were unavailable in the past.

So in a generation or two we have gone from marginalizing mental illness to actually celebrating it. And if you are not on board with the celebration, then you are the deviant one!

Recent example plucked from the cultural pneumosphere: Twitter Bans Activist Mommy for Tweeting Her Dislike of Teen Vogue’s Anal Sex Guide.

Such a headline begs for a psychological interpretation, but that would be too easy. Besides, we're well beyond what psychology can explain, although, at the same time, I think we need both views -- the psychological and spiritual -- in order to comprehensively understand the phenomena. Although psyche and spirit permeate one another, there are also ways in which spirit is situated atop psyche, depending upon whether you look at it vertically or horizontally.

Recall the other day, when we suggested that traditional religion is a way for the average person to be wise. Conversely, leftist ideology provides a way for the intelligent man to be an idiot. But it also provides an excellent way for the crazy person to appear sane, and for the spiritually disordered person to appear "elevated" and "evolved" -- e.g., Deepak Chopra or Jeremiah Wright.

In the normal course of development, psyche comes first. However, we know from our Aquinas that what comes first ontologically is last existentially; in other words, the final cause is the last to appear. For example, the adult toward which the child is developing is present as telos before actualizing in time.

No one ever put it this way in graduate school, but clearly, the entire category of psychopathology presumes a proper developmental telos. In other words, if there is no right way to be, then there can be no wrong way.

Now, over the past 50 years, the left has been preaching that there is by definition no right way to be. Indeed, pretending otherwise is just a way to legitimize power over the oppressed and marginalized (as if, for example, heterosexuality is a conspiracy against homosexuals!). Therefore, a leftist should be the last person in the world to call someone crazy -- or evil -- for supporting Trump.

The left has systematically destroyed all standards and hierarchies, and here they are appealing to a standard of some kind. If they were sane, we would call them hypocrites. But what is hypocritical for the neurotic is standard operating procedure for the borderline person who lacks the psychic integration to maintain intellectual or emotional consistency.

To what timeless and universal standard does the left appeal? Just leftism. This is what the left has always done -- for example, in the Soviet Union you were either a Marxist or mentally ill.

No one ever thought this would happen in the U.S., but here we are.

"The liberal-democratic man, especially if he is an intellectual or an artist, is very reluctant to learn, but, at the same time, all too eager to teach.... he assumes and never has the slightest doubt that he is in possession of the entirety of the human experience" (Legutko).

This leads to the ideological flatulence that surrounds us, from fake news to fakademia, an awareness that we are "always surrounded by non reality, i.e., artifacts fabricated by the propaganda machine, whose aim [is] to prevent us from seeing reality as it [is]." We are "living among phantoms in the world of illusion," or rather, in a cloud of projected mind parasites (a "cloud of witlessness") known as the Narrative, AKA Ideology for Dummies.

These dummies never suspect that there is more to realty than what their ideology permits them to see -- and less than what it compels them to imagine.

Eh. We'll try to pick up the thread next week...

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Innocent as Ted Kennedy, Wise as Maxine Waters

Let's begin with some metaphysically sound bites from Thomas that have a bearing on the Demon in Democracy.

For example, Man cannot possibly be good unless he stands in the right relation to the common good. And Just as the right use of power in ruling over many people is a good in the highest degree, so is its misuse in the highest degree evil.

This implies that the hottest precincts of hell are reserved for rulers who misuse power. Note that Thomas understood this long prior to the appearance of 20th century monsters such as Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, et al.

Now, this is weird, but extremely telling. I just did a quick search of the most evil rulers in history, and this was the first that popped up: on it, George Bush is #2, Ariel Sharon #4. It proves Dennis Prager's adage that "Those who don't fight the greatest evils will fight lesser evils or make-believe evils."

For example, this is why leftists get far more worked up over innocuous statues than genuine evils such as inner city black-on-black violence; or the make-believe science of AGW than third world poverty that can't be overcome without a larger carbon footprint.

The purpose of the intellect is to know truth. Obviously. But "the purpose of ideology," writes Legutko, "is not to disclose intricacies and ambiguities but to make a clear statement." The MSM Narrative (which is again Ideology for Dummies) is rarely in accord with reality, but always loud and clear.

This reminds me of the distinction between, say, the metaphysics of Thomas and Bible stories -- but with a big difference. Few people have the time or aptitude to study metaphysics. Which is one of the principle reasons for revelation, in that it provides a way to implicitly understand the same truths, only available to one and all. You might say that it is a way to make the average person wise.

For example, as we've said before, even the person with a literal understanding of Genesis has superior wisdom to the credentialed atheist who imagines the world came about by accident. The latter is "learned stupidity," while the former is more akin to "naive wisdom."

It is the other way around with ideology, which has two functions: on the one hand, it makes the idiot feel superior to the wise, while turning the most intelligent man into an idiot. Regarding the former, even the dimmest college student can assimilate enough cliches and insults to render him a Democrat for life. It is the whole basis for the appeal of Bernie Sanders, and of the leftward lurch of Democrats more generally:

The race to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 will be a race to the left. The Bernie Sanders agenda has taken root. By the time the Democrats’ nominating process was complete in 2016, Hillary Clinton had become Bernie Sanders-lite... the next Democratic nominee as likely to be Sanders on steroids.

Economic polices will consist of government giveaways and anti-business crusades. Social causes will give no quarter to moderate positions, and LGBT special interests, labor unions, global warming fanatics and factions such as Black Lives Matter, along with other grievance industry groups, will face no moderating counterforce.

In other words, thanks to college, people are increasingly dis-oriented: the stupid ones imagine they are superior, while the intelligent ones are the most readily indoctrinated into the stupidity. Similar to how all you need is a little menstrual blood and a lot of bitterness in order to call yourself an "artist."

Of course, if you criticize college they will call you "anti-intellectual," which is itself part of the indoctrination. In short, they will call you a name. The left never argues. It accuses.

But the purpose of philosophy is not to accuse. Rather, it is to lead persons to the Light, one assoul at a time. It is to help him exit the cave of contingency (and of historicism) and into the wide open space of truth, AKA O. If you don't know that O is far vaster than your puny ideology, then you don't even know nothing, because what you think you know is all wrong.

"No wonder that those contaminated by ideology" have such "a deep suspicion toward ideas" (Legutko). The irony is that there is no one as anti-intellectual as the leftist who fancies himself an intellectual. Let's take the example of Bill Maher. Everything about him cries out that he wants you to know that he's a Smart Guy.

If that is the case, why does he only pick on such easy targets? I'd like to see him go toe to toe with a Thomas Aquinas or Frithjof Schuon. But an insult is not an argument, and smugness is not actual superiority.

Speaking of which, "In a certain sense humility is man's readiness to approach spiritual and divine things." Indeed,"Humility prepares the way for wisdom" and "makes a man capable of knowing God" (Thomas).

Those qualify as the most important things one can know, being that they are a prerequisite for knowing the most important things. But how many people learn this at a liberal university? Any? If so, it is only in reaction to the pestilent nonsense that pervades the atmosphere. Experiencing a place that has been sanitized of God can be a very effective source of conversion. When the cave fills with toxic gas, get out!

Jesus counsels us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, a combination of discernment and humility. The left has a twisted version of this -- something like "cynical as a psychopath but credulous as a child."

Monday, September 04, 2017

Why You Oughta

Just finished a book called The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. I skimmed a lot of it, so I'm not sure if the author came right out and identified this demon. But the demon is obviously man.

Or, if the temptation is totalitarianism, the temptee is us. (We won't delve into the identity of the tempter behind the temptation today.)

Not all are equally vulnerable to the temptation, for "conservative totalitarian" is a contradiction in terms, being that we believe in the freedom of individual over and above the state, while the left believes in the power of the state over and above the individual (because the individual is likely to abuse his freedom and not want what the left wants him to want). It's a question of the locus of power. In the words of the Aphorist, As the State grows, the individual shrinks.

Speaking of aphorisms, let's begin with a quip from St. Thomas that could generate reams of commentary:

Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do.

Now, there is no man -- or no humanness -- in the absence of the Ought. The worst man nevertheless feels there are things he ought to do. It's just that, in reality, he oughtn't do them.

I know it's early in the morning for Godwin's Law, but Hitler obviously felt he ought to murder all Jews, just as the Soviet Union was under the imperative that it ought to liquidate all class enemies. Members of ISIS feel they ought to kill anyone who isn't, just as Antifa goons feel they ought to bring violence upon those with misgivings about liberal fascism. And so on.

The Ought is very much like any other drive or instinct. Just as, say, sexual desire has its proper object, so too does the Ought have its.

You will have no doubt noticed that a central feature of the left is the insistence that there is no such thing as on objective or disinterested Ought -- that there is no Ought built into the nature of things. Which is why they believe a man can be a woman, or marry a man, or even wear a man bun. You are not permitted to point out that these are things a proper man ought not do.

The irony, or course, is that the left is essentially saying that you ought not ought: or else! There is a word for this. I know there is, because I made it up: totolerantarianism. It ultimately reduces to absolute relativity enforced by absolute power; or in other words, the Lie backed by Force.

Which is why Thomas can say that "Moral virtue presupposes knowledge," because if you don't know what IS, then you will have no idea what to DO. If you really think that men and women are interchangeable, then you will literally have no idea that members of the same sex cannot "marry."

The name for truth-in-action is prudence. Which is why prudence is the pre-eminent virtue: "Without prudence," there can be no "discipline, or moderation, or any moral virtue." Which ultimately means that the Ought is again rooted in something prior: the IS. Thus, "All sins are opposed to prudence, just as all virtues are ruled by prudence."

Now, the left is the very essence of imprudence; which is another way of saying that it is always intemperate. Anyone can turn on their television and see images of leftists behaving intemperately. Why? Because they are out there on the street doing things they ought not do, because their Ought is completely screwed up, bearing no relationship to what IS.

With that little preface out of the way, let's return to the Demon in Democracy. The best chapter by far is called Ideology. Looks like I highlighted nearly every sentence. Let's find out why.

Wait. I think I know: if the Ought ought to be conformed to the IS, the left makes the fundamental error of conforming the Ought to Ideology. Deviation from the latter constitutes thought-crime, punishable by anything from banishment to job loss to murder. Marx is a jealous god!

Here is a timeless passage about the left:

Contrary to what most of us think, prevailing opinions, theories, and convictions that we consider timeless and self-evident are neither timeless nor self-evident, but are the product of economic and political arrangements peculiar to a specific phase of historical development. Whoever thinks otherwise and claims he speaks from a non-committed absolutist perspective is cheating himself, failing to notice that his supposedly disinterested consciousness has been fabricated by material conditions.

There it is, in all its vulgar glory: there is no truth, and we are its prophets!

Now, what conservatism wishes to conserve first and foremost are precisely those timeless and self-evident truths which the left insists don't exist. Rather, they say that these so-called truths are just pretexts for a naked power grab.

Which brings to mind Goebbels' advice to always accuse the other side of that which you are guilty. Certainly the fascists of Antifa have taken this to heart, but this is simply what the left does, every time.

As a matter of fact -- speaking of timeless truths -- the book begins with a comment by Dostoyevsky to the effect that

I have found from many observations that our liberals are incapable of allowing anyone to have his own convictions and immediately answer their opponent with abuse or something worse.

Something worse, like bottles of urine.

And again the crude trick: the left promulgates timeless truths about how there are no timeless truths to a human animal who is simply a product of history. Wha'?

There is no truth to the left's ideas. But they more than make up for this with their perverse power. The left's ideas "vaulted to unprecedented popularity," largely because they provide "a most convenient tool in political conflicts," allowing one to discredit "one's opponent without entering into substantive argument."

Quite simply, without slander there would be no left left. Think of the attempts thus far to slander President Trump: treason, misogyny, Islamophobe, racist, anti-Semite. Thus far nothing has stuck. Next up: tax cuts for the wealthy!

We'll leave off with another timeless truth about the left: "Ideology is always inherently simplistic and simplifying as its function is instrumental, not descriptive." With leftist ideology you always know what to do: identify and slander enemies. Physically assaulting them is just ideology by other means.