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...


Anonymous said...

Your well-written post comes across as a complaint about the prevailing mores of our time, and a nostalgia for the more noble past.

And you blame the leftist for the changes.

This same type of grumpiness is always seen as time moves on, complaints about new-fangled motorcars, lawless juvenile delinquents, flappers, drinking, jazz, drive-in movie theaters where necking can occur, non-chaperoned teen parties, pot-smoking, etc, etc, etc.

Those damn jazz musicians, hippies, commies. Kids these days.

Surely you can see the timeless genre of discontent reflected in your post? Yes? No?

I only write this because I'm not sure you receive feedback on your work other than silence or comments from those of like mind. I know your book has been reviewed, but your blog deserve the attention of an honest critic, because it is, in fact, that good.

I get your peeve about the pathology of leftist idealogy, which you enjoy running into the ground repeatedly. I think your readers really like their daily dose of dirt, which refreshes their sense of being right with the Lord.

But what you never seem to write about is what you'd like to see happen, your vision for a proper civilization, how that would look, and how you see our future out to the next several hundred years. Obviously you care. What should the ultimate Bobsmos under God look like?

Thanks, a committed fan.

Rick said...

Excellent post.

"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.."

Wish we had a better term than "spiritual" here. Since many these days throw that term around in new age ways as an improved replacement for what we mean by religion proper, tradition, knowledge and serious seaker relationship with one's Creator. Not just mood music, aroma therapy, and drum circles. The term no longer conveys what it used to.

Btw, of the mental illness category we're interested in, which goes (falls) first, the spirit or the psyche? So many times we discuss leftism as a grand conspiracy, but really is it more like a grand vulnerability ... to the one who would love you to think he doesn't exist?

Gagdad Bob said...

Apropos of nothing, it just occurred to me that the majority of typos in my posts are due to an over-aggressive spellchecker that attacks words that don't need to be changed. As such, it's like a virtual autoimmune disorder. And I have it bad, being that words I make up are instantly attacked by this ruthless linguistic do-gooder.

As to "spirit," I know. Too saturated. Everyone thinks they know what it means, but it means something different to everyone. Therefore it is more a carrier of "noise" than stable and unambiguous meaning.

As to which goes first, that deserves a whole post, at least: when man falls, exactly where is the booboo? Agree about the vulnerability, which is clearly a function of freedom....

Gagdad Bob said...

In Vedanta there is a kind of descent that goes from Atman to various "sheaths" below, i.e., intellectual, psychological, bio-psychic, anatomical/material. It seems to flow in the direction of nonlocal --> local.

However, Christian metaphysics posits a unity of soul and body, or spirit and matter, which is why it is such a big deal that the word becomes flesh. I read the other day that the reason this was emphasized was because of the manichean objection that spirit and flesh are at antipodes, and that spirit would never lower itself to identifying with fallen matter.

In contemporary psychoanalysis there are the categories of self and ego, the self being more subjective and "whole," the ego being more a local function of family, culture, and contingency.

We probably need a complementary view that combines the emanationism of the east with the incarnationism of the west.... Like wave and particle.... vertical and horizontal....

Abdulmonem Othman said...

stirring without constructive result that guides to a source of water that quenches the thirst of the soul is useless. Wordless consciousness is very deliberate and considerate in selecting the spirit that carries the proper words to express the wordless meanings, the spirit that gives its flashes to those who possess pure hearts. The stories of all prophets and sages are indicative. Spirit is the carrier of the proper words for carrying the intended meaning. That is why there is revelation to save humanity from the mess of the horizontal language. Honesty and truth, beauty and goodness are the
divine criteria for life and not these humans fabricated labels that get us no where but to an increased distortions and confusion. Once the watching conscious god is denied and people are taught that there is only this life and let us enjoy it and let us not trust the books of old prophets and their fairy tales of divine reward and punishment. Let us compete, steal and exploit and say truth is only with us and all others are prevented by god to have truth like us. God is man and man is god and any other assertion is blasphemous. We are only the possessors of truth. Heart of darkness that has caused all these blunders and people are in heedless abode that Harvey and Irma are stupid natural outburst that have no warning messages. It is no use to argue with those who think the building has no foundation and the world has no creator. It is a time where the truth of the spirit will be revealed and teach a severe lesson for those who have excessded things and violated all limits. They say there in no good in their dialogues save those who call for good deed ,charity and reconciliation among people.

Rick said...

Thanks Bob.
The Christian ritual of communion is essentially the spirit lowering itself to flesh.
It's still a shocking description (to me at least) to hear "eat my flesh". That I must do it. It's so striking that it doesn't sound symbolic the way it's said and by Who says it. He says it as if He couldn't be more clear. You are "red pilled" as the youngsters say.
But without the Spirit becoming part of our very metabolism, down to every every Atom, we are lost.
How could it be otherwise?

Incidentally, all your posts are excellent. But some posts are more excellent than others.

Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you. Must also be why Paul speaks of the the whole creation groaning and suffering up to the present time... I suppose communion works both ways: just as the divine is materialized, matter is divinized.

Leslie Godwin said...

Good point, Rick! I imagine most of us struggle with this hard teaching of Jesus. I remember when I was fairly new to the Church, it dawned on me slowly that Holy Communion was the focal point of Mass. This was different than any religious service I'd ever been to. I have been praying to understand it better each time I go to Mass.

It's both clear as can be in the Scriptures, but as weird and uncomfortable, as well. But if God wants to strengthen us, if He wants us to be open to Him, and if we are to be in Communion together as a Church with Him, it begins to seem like it's so crazy, it just might work.

Leslie G

Rick said...

Leslie - it recalls this excellent little gem from Bishop Barron:

julie said...

Rick, that was a lovely link - thanks.

We missed Communion yesterday. On the way to church, a tire shredded. Funny - though we didn't make it in, even so we knew the Lord has been with us all this way. Had t blown the day before, who knows where we would have been stranded with our puny spare.

Hopefully, next Sunday we will be back home, celebrating the Eucharist in our own community instead.

Rick said...

Julie - good to hear you are ok.