Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

Psychotherapy and the Pursuit of Happiness by Ronald W. Dworkin

In academia, history, psychiatry, psychology on August 4, 2015 at 20:50

From: Psychotherapy and the Pursuit of Happiness by Ronald W. Dworkin

Freudianism sits alongside Marxism and Darwinism in the pantheon of modern theories held to be so revelatory that they not only gained the adherence of Western intelligentsia but shaped the broader culture. During the first half of the twentieth century, an air of intrigue and mystery hovered around Freud’s newly anointed practitioners. Psychotherapists occupied a strange universe, speaking in a language so incomprehensible but seemingly authoritative that it alternately awed and scared the average man on the street.

Psychotherapy is no longer an intellectual movement today as it once was. But in the form of modern professional “caring,” it has assumed a new role, which is to provide a peculiar sort of substitute friendship — what we might call “artificial friendship” — for lonely people in a lonely age.

To understand why this occurred and what it means for American culture, we must study the fractious history of the mental health field over the last six decades. It is a complicated story, with a staggering variety of terms, schools, leaders, and techniques, so any overview must necessarily leave out many important details. But from even just a synopsis of the conflicts that gave rise to today’s culture of psychotherapy — battles over who would hold the truest title to physician of the mind, tensions between scientists and clinicians, academics and professionals, elites and the public — we can see more clearly how psychotherapy has profoundly shaped the American conception of what happiness is and how we can achieve it.

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Reposted with permission from: The New Atlantis


The Gift of Death by George Monbiot

In politics, society, sociology on August 4, 2015 at 20:26

From: The Gift of Death by George Monbiot,

Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale(1). Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable).

But many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first place. An electronic drum-machine t-shirt; a Darth Vader talking piggy bank; an ear-shaped i-phone case; an individual beer can chiller; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a dancing dog: no one is expected to use them, or even look at them, after Christmas Day. They are designed to elicit thanks, perhaps a snigger or two, and then be thrown away.

The fatuity of the products is matched by the profundity of the impacts. Rare materials, complex electronics, the energy needed for manufacture and transport are extracted and refined and combined into compounds of utter pointlessness. When you take account of the fossil fuels whose use we commission in other countries, manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of our carbon dioxide production(2). We are screwing the planet to make solar-powered bath thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.

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Reposted with permission from: George Monbiot

Tolerance by Richard Rowe

In history, philosophy on August 4, 2015 at 20:19

From: Tolerance by Richard Rowe, The Philosopher,

It is always difficult to analyse the intellectual and moral tendencies of oneís own time. What seems all important at the moment of its happening may prove, when viewed in the truer perspective of history, to have been an ephemeral incident: while on the other hand the beginnings of some movement, destined to revolutionize the world of thought, may have been so slight or subtle as to have escaped contemporary attention altogether.

Probably no period has been without its idealists who beheld visions of a Golden Age yet to be attained. Probably no period has been without its mournful forth-tellers of doom who could see in impending change nothing but catastrophe. Probably no period has been entirely bereft of the ‘sanctified common sense’ which avoids extremes and tries ‘to see life steadily and see it whole.’

We need to be reminded that if the past is indeed strewn with the wreckage wrought by man’s selfishness and lack of imagination, we have no guarantee that the children’s children of the wreckers will be capable of any greater appreciation of values. By the same token we should take heart of grace and refrain from the sprinkling of ashes and the putting on of sackcloth when some cherished phase of ‘the old order changeth giving place to new.’ Cosmos has been evolved from chaos. But there were doubtless periods in the transition so picturesque that any change in the kaleidoscope seemed as if it must inevitably be a change for the worse. Yet changes came, and unsuspected beauties were revealed.

Such is the gospel of the idealists. But it is also true that cosmos has sometimes degenerated into chaos. It is futile to rush with a fire brand through the priceless architecture of an ancient civilization chanting ‘Excelsior’ as each tower topples and each temple is destroy The mere efflux of time is not synonymous with progress: alteration is not necessarily repair; change may as easily connote decay as its opposite.

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Reposted according to copyright notice from: The Philosopher

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