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Ideological Analyses and Strategies from Laing and Nietzsche

Barbara Goodrich, Ph.D.

Copyright Barbara Goodrich, Ph.D., 1997-2009


1. Some Methods of Ideological Distorting

2. Some Methods of Freeing Self and Others

1. Some Methods of Ideological Distorting: of directing attention to some things at the expense of others - obscuring data that may be harmful to one's position.

  1. ) The Gestalt: how to bring certain things into focus & push others to the background. "Maps," metaphors, perspectives.
    So, ask yourself:
    What's being omitted?
    What's being presupposed?
    What are the questions, explicit or implicit, being asked, do they presuppose anything they shouldn't, & do they direct attention at all the factors they should?
  2. ) Messing with others' sense of self, of identification.
    So ask: are people being manipulated by their fears, etc. about who they are?
    E.g. Laing's description of the group: destroy someone's direct (even "animal") experience, by refusing to acknowledge it, and then offer to replace it with a false sense of self based on projection and introjection, based on getting him/her to confuse self and group. "To change the way people act, change their experience." Once you have elicited the same experience in people, the same wants, fears, hates, "you have acquired your consumers or your cannon fodder."
    ) Erroneous categorizations and definitions: E.g.: "You men just don't get it," just don't understand sexual harassment. "It's probably because you men think in linear terms, and are more aggressive, and less empathetic." But this is unfair to those men who do understand it, and to those who aren't particularly aggressive or less empathetic; they are being told implicitly that they aren't masculine! This attitude also allows male executives to get away with acting unethically with less condemnation. "He's just obeying his testosterone."
  3. ) Negative categorizations and definitions: E.g.: "I am not male," or "I am not white."
  4. ) Insufficient, e.g. parasitical, categorizations and definitions:
    E.g. "Who am I? I'm the person someone else obeys, admires, desires, etc.."

What are some other methods?

2. Some Methods of Freeing Self and Others from Harmful Ideologies:

  1. ) More perspectives, a la Nietzsche: the more perspectives we have on something -- even if they aren't compatible with each other -- the better we "know" it -- the more powerful we are. This is the antidote to getting stuck in a single perspective, & then feeling forced to defend it, forced to identify with it.
  2. ) Accurate reporting and thinking is necessary but not in itself sufficient.
    We also need self-honesty, as Nietzsche points out
    E.g. no hiding behind excuses for revenge or for inaction such as "justice," or "human nature is just bad, so let's give up,"
    or the "I'm a worm and thus can't be held responsible" position,
    or the "Science will tell us what to do, we don't have to worry about taking responsibility for our values."
  3. ) Learning to value oneself for oneself, as the unique universe of experiences and initiative that one is, and as the future self that one can become. I had a student once who suggested the following karma myth: "Imagine that whatever you have done that is unfair to yourself you will have to experience ten times worse at some point in the future."

What are some other ways of freeing ourselves?

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