The social sciences, sociology and psychology, are relatively new fields of study. In the past, the soul was considered the basis of emotion and reason, but in the absence of traditional faith and spirituality, post-Enlightenment man has sought to find the reasons why man and society work as they do. Of course, in our age, this is always done from a secular, sterile, and individualistic mindset that ignores all higher, nobler and spiritual explanations and focuses on the lowest, materialist explanations for our behavior. Noble behavior, ambition, and greatness now are explained away and undercut as always having ulterior motives and base, subconscious reasons. This flawed approach has penetrated our thinking to such an extent we cannot for the most part fathom any other way to study the human mind or human behaviors without the psychologist and his couch therapy session.
In the past, the notion of “therapy” sessions where one would pay to talk to a stranger about their problems would be seen as absurd. One’s personal problems were discussed among family and close friends, or at most, a trusted member of the clergy. And make no mistake: the world of even a few generations ago our ancestors lived in a world which was far more uncertain than ours, where a bad harvest could mean starvation; where a broken limb or deep enough cut could lead to a deadly infection and where childbirth was a far more dangerous proposition for the mother. Our ancestors lived with death, hardship, and tragedy in a way very few in the Western technological world can even begin to fathom. Today death during child birth is a rare occurrence, starvation is a problem mostly seen in the Third World, and all but the most serious of illnesses can be treated effectively. Yet we live in a world where the demand for psychological treatment, where depression and mental disorders, seem all too common!
There is no doubt that the modern condition has can be hectic and nerve-wracking. Modernity has destabilized society, made life unfulfilling, subjected human beings to indignities, and has led to widespread psychological suffering. There are, of course, cases of deeply disturbed people in the world and people with mental and spiritual conditions that are abnormal and beyond the pale. Treating these people and studying their conditions is a perfectly valid endeavor.
The, however danger of psychology lies in how it can be used as a social control, rather than an objective and scientific measure of the workings of the mind. True science is objective and incorruptible; it is not bound to a particular political way of thinking. The LA times points out that modern psychology is hardly scientific, since it rarely meets the five basic requirements that define scientific experimentation: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability.
Indeed, at times, psychology and psychiatry seem more political than scientific. For instance, “homosexuality” was once treated as a mental illness and was classified as such by the American Psychiatric Association until the 1970′s. In 1974, due to pressure from homosexual activists, the APA dropped homosexuality as a disorder. This was undoubtedly a political move. As one former psychologist points out:
What’s noteworthy about this is that the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses was not triggered by some scientific breakthrough. There was no new fact or set of facts that stimulated this major change. Rather, it was the simple reality that gay people started to kick up a fuss.
Nowadays, the paradigm has been pushed far in the other direction, to the point where there has been a push to list “homophobia” a mental illness. While undoubtedly there are people who may take a dislike of homosexuals too far, this undoubtedly shows that what is “sane” or “insane” is subject to change depending on the social climate. Recently an article appeared in the American media which listed more mental disordered which may be removed from the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the handbook which all psychologists use as a guideline for diagnosing mental disorders. Groups representing crossdressers and transsexuals have been pressuring the removal of “Gender Identity Disorder” from the list. One doesn’t have to be a professional “psychiatrist” to know that a man who believes he is a woman has a psychological illness. Perhaps in every other way he may function in society, he may be able to hold jobs or contribute to society in a positive way, but in this particular area, he clearly would be considered abnormal. “Internet and Sex addiction,” another one, could be stricken from the list despite the fact that there are countless cases of people spending 10+ hours on the internet, who simply cannot function without their social networking and internet pornography, or have a fantasy life they maintain online far removed from the world outside. These people as well, may not be harming anyone outside themselves, but in this regard they certainly have a problem.
A psychological evaluation determines the mental state of a patient, or their personality type, but he does so through the lens of a psychologist’s opinions, biases, and personality. A psychologist will interpret the comments and behavior of a patient in a way that he or she desires, even if the same exact words and behavior could be construed differently by another source. Indeed, the exact same words evaluated by the same psychologist, but spoken by two different people, might yield two very different diagnoses!
While a person with truly disturbing psychological traits should be obvious, the person whose personality and traits are completely within a normal range could be diagnosed as having psychological issues based merely on misinterpreted comments or the state of mind of the interviewing psychologist. In this sense, someone with a mental condition or fetishism which is clearly outside the normal bounds of behavior can be considered perfectly sound of mind while another person with a controversial political position would be subject to more intense scrutiny. The notion of “compensating for personal weaknesses” or “grandiose delusions” come from this, as one who truly doesn’t tow the line could easily be accused of these things. The danger here is that once one is branded to have some form of psychological illness, all their behavior and thinking becomes part of their psychosis. Being defensive for example, can be interpreted as a personality deficiency. This is a dangerous precedent and the accusation has often been made against Marxist states of diagnosing political opponents with mental illnesses and putting them in sanitariums. One can see this in articles put out by the media regarding the “health benefits of bondage” and fetishistic sexual activity all the while putting out similar articles on the psychological makeup of an “extremist”. Elsewhere, Kathleen Taylor, a researcher with Oxford University has suggested outright that “religious fundamentalism” and “cult ideology”, along with “extremist” beliefs are “curable mental illnesses”. But where is the line to be drawn? Frighteningly enough, anyone can become politically “extremist” according to these articles, although the vast majority of those labeled “extremists” are those with politically incorrect opinions; we would be hard-pressed to find any psychologist who would regard radical feminists, for instance, as extremists. According to modern psychology, such people are merely insane, thus turning any debate on his or her actual positions into a judgment on their character.
Aside from the dangerous implications of social control one finds in psychological studies, it is a measure of the degree of the spiritual crisis facing us today. From the standpoint of Tradition, psychology represents everything wrong with the modern mindset; it approaches the mind, in all its intricacies in a way that is entirely separated from body and soul. The mind and thoughts are not measurable quantities to be weighed and standardized. However since the modern mindset is anti hierarchical and only seems capable of leveling and standardizing persons into “human resources”, the notion of a complete person or taking one in their entirety is utterly lost on it; a person is reduced to a collection of fetishes, impulses and disorders. As Otto Weininger wrote regarding their memory tests;
“The uselessness of the experimental school of psychology(notwithstanding their marvelous arsenal of instruments of experimental precision) is shown by their expectation of getting results as to memory from tests with letters, unconnected words, long rows of figures. These experiments have so little bearing on the true memory of man, on the memory by which he recalls the experiences of his life, that one wonders if such psychologists have realized that such a thing as the mind exists.”
All of this is done with the ultimate goal of turning man into a material to fill this or that position in the system. It is quite telling that most companies refer to issues with workers to their “human resource” departments. Psychology as it exists today does not aim to make a healthier society but rather make people conform more comfortably to society, no matter how unnatural and alienating it becomes. It is no surprise that one sees so much need for psychiatric medication and so many serious cases of mental illness, as society functions in a way that utterly stifles the soul and man’s inner life for the sake of worker productivity. As Krishnamurti said, it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society and ours is certainly quite ill.