Bastard Sociology...Pimp Psychology

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Posted by farid from ( on Thursday, September 11, 2003 at 4:28PM :

Bastard Sociology/Pimp Psychology

In our house in Kuwait my father had a consulting room with books on psychiatry, psychology, abnormal this and weird that. That was in the 50's when the only English language things of interest we could find were comic books to read. I used to thumb through his medical books looking for juicy personal histories and the odd bit about the odd deviant. My father wanted to specialize in surgery after the War, where he'd been sort of forced to do it anyway. But coming to Kuwait and seeing the primitive ways in which they dealt with the insane, he opted instead for psychiatry. He said later that had been a mistake, why I was never sure.

I always had an interest in the ways the mind works and personality develops...especially in social contexts...all psychology is really social psychology anyway since we don't raise people in islotaion wards. I think Freud got it terribly wrong but he did focus attention on childhood development and that can't ever be bad...unless of course you have perverse notions of just what human beans are for...what uses they can be put to.

The years I was of college age there was a lot of interest in psychology, alternate lifestyles, alternate religions, alternate relationships, alternate stimulants if a whole lot of people all of sudden developed a gnawing, inner sense that something was dreadfully wrong with being "normal"...and even "healthy" became an abstract in just what does being healthy mean and how do you get that way, who measures it and what does it look like so you'll know it if you ever see it. The whole idea that what we saw around us was the things had to be came into question..after the 50's spawned the Beatniks whose children, the Hippies, we were. These days it's the 50's all over again and that means another reaction is around the corner...let's hope so.

I never majored in psychology, one or two classes were enough. Something was profoundly wrong with Education as a whole and the people they mostly had for teachers as well as the books and the whole slant of the subjects left a lot to be desired...didn't seem honest somehow or connected to anything but the dots you were supposed draw your outline with. You had the feeling you were learning how to fit in...or fit others back in...not quite the same as learning it a capital L.

I'm convinced now more than ever that Western societies can't afford healthy minds and the study of psychology as well as sociology, which at least focused on the individual in society, has been perverted, transformed into the dreaming up of ways to force square pegs back into the round holes they keep popping out of. It's only recently that it's become obvious that even the study of medicine and its application, and of Science even has more to do with market forces and the old bottom line than it has with public health and welfare. Psychology and Sociology have been co-opted and made to serve society, not examine it, serving moslty those running the show, not what prompted its creation in the first place. Most of the people breaking ground in these subjects were decidedly misfits themselves. They went off discovering things about behavior and social institutions thinking, like the people who developed atomic energy, that it would be put to better uses than the Man had in mind all along.

In primitive societies the shaaman or dream-interpreter took the place of the analyst and I think Western Industrialized Societies, all of them demanding increasing amounts of conformity so the big engine can run smoothly and have plenty of spare parts at hand...are terrified of the deeper currents in us that these witch doctors, artists and poets knew how to to plumb. By making them a part of their colleges and universities, nothing more than citizen-making factories and masking them as "sciences"...they stripped and boiled them down until the promise they carried of understanding oneself in relation to one's surroundings and the surroundings as they impact on the self, was transformed into merely the finding of ways and means to enforce even more and more smoothly operating gobs of conformity. And that has degenerated by now into this dreaming up of "syndromes" that's so funny if it weren't so sad...not to mention the proliferation of drugs and more drugs. The best they can do is call whatever ails you a "disease" and give you a pill for it. It's those market forces at work again...a lot of money in pills...a lot of danger in enlightenment.

It's funny too, considering that both disciplines involve a good deal of looking inward, either into oneself or one's social setting, that there happens to be a strong strain in American Puritanical society of poking fun at people who sit around and gaze into their own navels. That's how comfortable Western Presurized Societies are with introspection and personal knowledge and growth. Increasingly the individual has been steered away from understanding outside forces and how they play on one's personal psychology. Instead we're encouraged to see everything as a matter of bad adjustment...nothing wrong with the's YOU that's the problem.

Instead of learning to distinguish between what really "has to be"...such as pain and death...things you'd just beat your head against to no avail...and things like market manipulation and financial scams that leave people feeling helpless and then hopeless...we're increasingly forced to accept the fact that ALL of it is divinely ordained and aren't we the silly little fools to think something ought to and could and should be done about it..."here's a pill". Whereas Education/socialization was enough of a pill no longer does the job and now we have tons of the real stuff...mind-altering chemicals because we're raised to believe you can't alter "reality" we have to go to war periodically, we just HAVE to. During the Great Depression, the first really big one, ordinary Americans were deeply conflicted because they knew there wasn't anything wrong with them...they were as capable and willing to work as the day before the Crash...yet it wasn't only a job they lost through no fault of their own or even of the company itself, but self-esteem, the respect of family and eventually I'm sure even the love of people they counted on.

Theorhetically, according to the official version of "healthy", people are supposed to be able to adjust to anything...and I do mean anything. The more bizarre society gets...the harder you work for less pay...the less of a family life you have, the greater your insecurity as you age, even while your leaders tell you people are attacking your country out of sheer envy...the more you're stressed out trying to convince yourself...or be convinced, it's really a fault in you that's causing you to lose sleep and feel depressed.

Things were really coming to a head and so the government decided it was time to flood the market with feel-good drugs and then hard-on drugs so you'd have something to do with all that abundant good every white person understands why heroin and cocaine were such a hit in the Black that whites are living in economic White ghettos that are only bearable because of the cheap goods they're able to import...even as they lose more jobs because of it and of course that ever handy needle in the arm, only it's made legal where White's are concerned since they have the bucks to justify whole laboratories and scientists in the pursuit of designer drugs where the poor had to make do with old fashioned street drugs. And besides...what else are you supposed to do with yourself? Wasn't the whole point of that excellent schooling you got...and it get you used to performing silly tasks either in fear of failure or in a desire to win approval....which trasnlates when you're an adult into getting "fired" or getting a "raise"...or even a paycheck at all.

But while any personal crisis is always supposed to be a matter of your own maladjustment to this "enviable lifestyle"...a question of you just having gotten it wrong...never of "IT" being wrong...when it comes to the problems of the rich and those of them who run the attack against America such as 9/11 has NOTHING to do with US...with America and it's horrendous policies...but with something OUT THERE...something completely outside of our control or beyond our we get to fight back immediately and bash whomever we feel like it. I'd say "going postal" was just a domestic version of America's foreign policy for the last few decades.

To modern psychology and sociology, the "dissident", the one unwilling-to-join is a "problem" that must be solved...and solutions can now mean anything, including jail time. No matter what they say, they aren't about to prescribe a Revolution for what ails you...or give you leave to smack that boss because he really is asking for it. These people need funding too and they like big schools and crowded libraries and the hum of thousands of students memorizing their lines as if they were auditioning for a play in hell.

I had the impression working with jubilent deliquents that socialization is an industrialized process with a certain percentage of "waste" worked into the budget. Each batch of raw materials entering at one end was going to contain a certain number who would either fall off the conveyor belt or get smashed in the machinery whenever there was a breakdown...and of course some "product" just doesn't fit...was delivered to the factory by mistake or damaged en route. These rejects are shipped off to "re-grooving" where various tools, including drugs increasingly, are applied to try to get them into some semblance of working order so at the least they can sweep the factory floor or be put on sale at the end of the year...besides which their numbers might increase to the point where there could be "contamination" of the base product.

Every kid I met who'd punched dear old dad...kicked mother, broke the furniture, was behaving in a totally healthy and rational manner. It would have been sick indeed for them to just take the kinds of abuse they were subjected to. The problem wasn't with their "acting out" was with what was being done to them to make them act out, just like the problem isn't Palestinian suicide bombers but Israeli aggression prompted by and driven by the United States...but no one can afford to work on they bend their efforts to warping and perverting the he or she won't cry when hurt and won't fight back when they demand the Palestinians take whatever shit they're handed, if they want to prove to the Israeilis that they're good boys and girls. Everyone in power knows this is absurd and can't possibly work, just like they know there is no threat in the world except what they incite...but money gets made this way faster and easier than any other...and they're running out of ways to make money...which is one of the reasons they've enlisted he can get the people in office they need to gut environmental protection, consumer protection and all the things that stand between your welfare and their profits.

I left school with no clear idea of what to do, except that I needed an education badly and that place was only going to make me stupid and then give me a piece of paper to prove I could show it around and reassure others who'd gone through the same process that I'd been through the Funny Farm too and was "OK". But after a few years working with healthy kids, in a delinquent society, I thought just maybe there was some book larnin' I could use, so I returned to college, motivated for the first time ever and innoculated against their more egregious nonsense.

Got a job at nights and challenged the intro course in Sociology, a subject I'd never had interest in before. To challenge a course means you get a reading list from the department of all the regular books plus others that will make up for all the lectures you miss. It's a lot of reading and they do pour it on because they'd prefer word didn't get out. I passed it and enrolled in nothing but sociology classes. First college I went to was San Jose State...which hadn't yet tacked "University" onto its name. I can't remember all the sociology classes but there were a lot of them. Most of my teachers didn't care for me because I'd been "out there" working in the field in ways none of them ever had. Most of them simply turned right around and re-entered college when they they take a step out with their diploma in hand, get a panic attack and run back in and apply for a teacher's job.

Things happened that made me suspicious...made me wonder about the sociology of colleges and education and the psychology of college THERE'S a neglected field of study. One professor, a smarmy little guy very pleased with an article he'd gotten published once, gave me an "F" on a rather longish paper. I thought that was a bit much and went to the department head to challenge the grade. Their policy was that if you disagreed with a grade, the head of the department would pick another prof at random and you'd have to abide by whatever grade came next. If the paper had gone from an "F" to a "C", I might not have thought about it further...but it came back marked "A+". That set me to wondering. Not only that but the comments the second prof made led me to believe it was a very good paper indeed and something else must have been operating the first time.

The second alarm went off when one day before class another prof took me aside and said I wouldn't need to attend either of the two classes I was taking from him, one of which was the "Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency" I really looked forward to and had been enjoying immensely. During one lecture this prof had asked me how it was that I knew some of the Latin terminology...such as " En Parens Patrie", for instance, which he'd chalked on the board the first day and asked, rhetorically I am sure, if anyone could tell him what it meant. Yoors trooli could...and we never got along after that. But he asked that day so I told him a little about my group home and the island adventure. A week later one of the students in the class handed me a letter from his psychology prof asking if I'd consider making a presentation to their class about my work. That didn't sit well either with this fellow either.

Anyway, he said I didn't need to attend any more class sessions in either subject, write any papers, take any tests, final included but he'd give me an "A" in each class. Was something wrong here? I was hurt and bitter too. What kind of a way was this to get educated? Obviously I had valuable experience that the students in the class as well as in other classes thought was of benefit and I was super-motivated. Did this guy not want the outside world or any other take on reality, let alone the application of Sociological theory...intruding into his sanctified and bled-dry verson of the subject? Was he like those art teachers who no sooner graduate than they turn around and "teach art"...never venturing out there to see if their art means anything to anyone.

After a year I transfered to San Francisco State and within the first quarter one prof is circulating a petition among the faculty to have me kicked out of the department...while one or two others are sharing their life's experiences and generally behaving like decent fellows. I can understand not being liked...understand and cherish it well...but a petition? The guy even took to recording me whenever I visited his office. Mind you all this time my grades are no problem whatsoever, I still work nights and I'm carrying a double load of classes at least. What was it? Was I making it look all too simple? It's just that I was motivated and your basic college or school isn't set up for that kind of animal...they're in the dragging-you-along business and it is a business with a bottom-line and the rest of it...waking you up early and making an expensive fuss out of preparing and dressing you and getting you there on time... so they can put you to sleep.

Another year of that and six credits from a degree and I finally got the hint...that education was another socializing the hands of government...and these schools are all government run, funded or acredited. I was being "trained"...I wasn't getting, nor was I being allowed to eek out, an education. I walked out of class and school one glorious Spring day...kidnapped my son and moved to New York to be a THAT was psychologically healthy and sociologically sound...but of course it was illegal...natch.

-- farid
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