Monday, October 12, 2009

In my continual effort to cause trouble,

I thought I'd present you all with a little more Lloyd deMause, from The Emotional Life of Nations:

War, then, is a sacrificial ritual designed to defend against fears of individuation and maternal engulfment by restaging our early traumas upon scapegoats. This theory is the exact opposite of the "social stress" theories of all other social scientists, since it is usually successes, freedom and new challenges that are experienced as triggers for wars, not economic distress or political stresses. The war ritual is the final chapter of the rehearsing of early traumas that we all experience as we grow up, from the 18,000 murders the average child sees on TV to the bullying of scapegoats [that] children practice on school playgrounds and the sports we play in which we rehearse the mental mechanisms necessary to dominate other groups and turn them into "enemies" (the truth reflected in the saying that "British wars are won on the Rugby fields").

That war is sacrifical, not utilitarian, and aims at reducing progress and prosperity is shown by the finding that major wars almost always occur after a sustained economic upswing. Not only are there many more wars after periods of prosperity, but they are much longer and bigger, "six to twenty times bigger as indicated by battle fatalities."178 Wars sacrifice youth-symbols of our potency and hopefulness because it is our striving, youthful, independent selves that we blame for getting us into trouble in the first place. Wars are always preemptive attacks on enemies we create-enemies we must find "out there" to relieve the paranoia of having enemies "inside our heads" who resent our good fortunes. Most wars start "for the sake of peace" because we really believe we can have inner peace if we stop our progress and individuation, if we sacrifice our striving self. Only if we can stop growing can we protect ourselves from our most horrible fear-the repetition of our earliest tragedies.

I gotta tell ya, though, getting to those two paragraphs in that book - all of which is online, btw - is like reliving the birth experience.

Next day: let me tack this, from chapter five, on here:
Massive denial of the origin of humanity's problems in the traumatic abuse of children is, then, one and the same as the massive denial of the psychological origins of social behavior. They are two sides of the same historical coin. Both are rooted in the fact that our deepest fears are stored in a separate brain system that remains largely unexplored by science and that is the source of the restaging of these early traumas in social events. Only when the contents and psychodynamics of these dissociated traumatic memories are made fully conscious can we understand the waking nightmare that we call history.

While I'm editing, let me put in the commas that I think are missing from the previous quote. Actually one comma and one '[that]'.

One more thing (which also needs punctuation help):
Revictimization is actually the central cause of anti-social behavior, and addiction to trauma is at its core.104 It is not surprising that prison psychiatrists find violent criminals invariably repeat in their crime the emotional traumas, abuse and humiliation of their childhood,105 or that women who have been sexually abused in childhood are more than twice as likely as others to be raped when they become adults.106 As one prostitute who had been sexually victimized as a child said, "When I do it, I'm in control. I can control them through sex."107 What Freud was puzzled by108 when he coined the term "the repetition compulsion" - puzzled because it violated the pleasure principle - is actually a self-protective device, protective against being helpless against the overwhelming anxiety of unexpected trauma. Traumas are therefore restaged as a defense, with the persecutory self as the stage director.109 Restaging as a defense against dissociated trauma is the crucial flaw in the evolution of the human mind, understandable from the viewpoint of the individual as a way of maintaining sanity, but tragic in its effects upon society, since it means that early traumas will be magnified onto the historical stage into war, domination and self-destructive social behavior. And because we also restage by inflicting our childhood terrors upon our children, generation after generation, our addiction to the slaughterbench of history has been relentless.


T. F. Stern said...

Sorry, too much for my simple brain to enjoy. I like the reactionary approach to war, you take a poke at me and I return the favor until you are on the ground begging me to stop.

Al said...

There are a couple of commas missing in the quote that would help understanding. Most of chapter 4 is deMause proving that pre- and postnatal experiences - traumas - set our patterns for dealing with difficult situations throughout life, hence my comment at the end.

Basically, deMause's point is, if the majority of mothers don't want kids, the shit's gonna hit the fan. Just as it always has all through history.

Oh, and all power hungry people were abused as children.

The probligo said...

So the "makers of war", the leaders of groups such as IRA, Tamil Tigers, alQaeda, Taleban, Zanu PF, Germany, Japan, Britain, USA, were all abused as children.


And here was me thinking that wars were the result of more fundamental human emotions; such as Greed, Wrath, Lust, (particularly the lust for power), and Pride.

Al said...

Those aren't more fundamental. They come from somewhere.

Al said...

Molyneux interviews deMause here: