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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 12:16 pm 
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Are we all “dittoheads” to some ideology?

Wikipedia informs me that “dittoheads” are “faithful listeners to The Rush Limbaugh Show. Limbaugh explains that these adoring fans are not necessarily those who agree with his views; “they are people who love the show and what he's doing, and hope he never stops doing it.” Dittohead is a term that came into use because one caller said “ditto” to a string of former callers who praised Limbaugh’s rants; he recognized that time was important on the show and just wanted everyone to know that he wanted to “OK” all the glories previously announced by others.”

The “art of reasoning consists in…getting hold of the big ideas and hanging on to them like grim death”--William James

I think that the ‘big idea’ is the ‘big question’ that we must answer if we desire to comprehend “why do we do the things we do?”

Wo/man worships and fears power; we enthusiastically give our loyalty to our leader. Sapiens are at heart slavish. Therein lay the rub, as Shakespeare might say.

Freud was the first to focus upon the phenomenon of a patient’s inclination to transfer the feelings s/he had toward her parents as a child to the physician. The patient distorts the perception of the physician; s/he enlarges the figure up far out of reason and becomes dependent upon him. In this transference of feeling, which the patient had for his parents, to the physician the grown person displays all the characteristics of the child at heart, a child who distorts reality in order to relieve his helplessness and fears.

Freud saw these transference phenomena as the form of human suggestibility that makes the control over another, as displayed by hypnosis, as being possible. Hypnosis seems mysterious and mystifying to us only because we hide our slavish need for authority from our self. We live the big lie, which lay within this need to submit our self slavishly to another, because we want to think of our self as self-determined and independent in judgment and choice.

The predisposition to hypnosis is identical to that which gives rise to transference and it is characteristic of all sapiens. We could not function as adults if we retained this submissive attitude to our parents, however, this attitude of submissiveness, as noted by Ferenczi, is “The need to be subject to someone remains; only the part of the father is transferred to teachers, superiors, impressive personalities; the submissive loyalty to rulers that is so widespread is also a transference of this sort.”

Freud saw immediately that when caught up in groups wo/man became dependent children once again. They abandoned their individual egos for that of the leader; they identified with their leader and proceeded to function with him as their ideal. Freud identified man, not as a herd animal but as a horde (teeming crowd) animal that is led by a chief. Wo/man has an insatiable need for authority.

People have an insatiable need to be hypnotized by authority; they seek a magical protection as when they were infants protected by their mother. This is the force that acts to hold groups together, intertwined within a mutually constructed but often mindless interdependence. This mindless group think also builds a feeling of potency. The members feel a sense of unity within the grasp of their leadership.

‘Why are groups so blind and stupid?’ Freud asked; and he replied that mankind lived by self delusion. They “constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real.” The real world is too frightening to behold; delusion changes this by making sapiens seem important. This explains the terrible sadism we see in group activity.

Sapiens display a need to be hypnotized by leaders.

Psychology is a domain of knowledge that is complex and filled with concepts that are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of our population. But Psychology provides us with an insight into why humans do what they do that no other domain of knowledge can provide.

Sapiens are at heart slavish. Therein lay the rub, as Shakespeare might say.

Humans seek to be more than animals. We seek to be gods or at least propagate that level above animal and just below God.

That which promotes life is good that which promotes death is evil. “Evil lies not in the hearts of men but in the social arrangements that men take for granted.”

Wo/man lives a debased life under tyranny and self delusion because s/he does not comprehend the conditions of natural freedom. Sapiens need hope and belief in themselves; thus illusion is necessary if it is creative for life, but is evil if it promotes death.

A psychodynamic analysis of history displays saga of death, destruction, and coercion from the outside while inside we see self-delusion and self enslavement. We seek mystification. We seek transference; we seek hypnotists as our chosen leaders.

We seek the power to ward off big evil by reflexively embracing small terrors and small fascinations in the place of overwhelming ones.

I concluded that we are all dittoheads to one degree or another. Intellectual sophistication is a means to extract our self from our self imposed dittoheadhood.

Do you have any interest in comprehending why humans do what they do?

Can you think of any subject matter that might provided this insight better than does psychology?

Have you ever tried to study psychology?


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 4:12 pm 
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What is missing here is the fact that people make choices, and those choices are made within the structures to which we all live. ie family, community, external pressures such as religion, the workplace, etc.

The connection to human beings needing some sort of lifeline to identify their existence, and sustain their life, is true to some extent. Some cannot survive without the structure from others dictating what they must believe and how they must behave, with that instruction.

But choice is a big part of this. I believe that human nature will take control only in as much as they are comfortable living it. While being a dittohead seemingly appears to mean that people mainly mirror or parrot anothers' expression of acceptance of what is said, that does not mean that all acceptance of the information should be assumed, no more than the dittoheadnodding in agreement implies explicit agreement.

While we may seem like sheep, and unable to rise above these perceived influences, we actually do, probably far more than the baseline suggests based on just a cursory assessment.

In other words, you can listen to Limbaugh's followers call in and do the dittohead thing, and in observing that, assume that somehow dittoheads are all alike because they all happen to agree with one part of the show, or one statement that has been said. It does not accurately depict the individuality of each of those callers, who may in fact, disagree with 99% of what he says otherwise.

As to transferring feelings and needs to others, that too is a human characteristic. But, why is it a negative thing. We transfer our human needs to be loved, to have companionship, to have contact with other human beings, just all to different degrees depending upon what a person needs. Where one might get their spirituality fix at church on Sunday, does not necessarily mean that that person is satisfied with the love shown to him within his family.

To understand why we do the things we do, is to not reduce people to dittoheads perhaps.

Tim

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 9:31 pm 
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Kool-Aid didn’t kill those people.

Transference and suggestibility killed those people.

In October of 1978, surrounded by hundreds of his followers, cult leader Jim Jones was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head; this event took place in Jonestown, Guyana, where the followers of Jones drank the Kool-Aid of group psychology, killing them self by drinking a soft drink laced with cyanide at the cult's sprawling compound.

The images of bodies found at the compound were seared into the consciousness of a generation. The phrase "drank the Kool-Aid" came to describe any blind devotion to a cause or person. It was not the Kool-Aid that killed all of these people but it was a human propensity called transference.

Freud informs us the reason for this form of behavior is the tendency for humans to be suggestible and influenced by a psychic form of transference.

What do the following entities have in common: fascism, capitalism, communism, political parties, and religions? They all have a common characteristic that can be called “group mind”.

What is striking is that members of these entities often undergo a major change in behavior just by being members of such entities. Under certain conditions individuals who become members of these groups behave differently than they would as individuals. These individuals acquire the characteristics of a ‘psychological group’.

What is the nature of the ‘group mind’, i.e. the mental changes such individuals undergo as a result of becoming a group?


A bond develops much like cells which constitute a living body—group mind is more of an unconscious than a conscious force—there are motives for action that elude conscious attention—distinctiveness and individuality become group behavior based upon unconscious motives—there develops a sentiment of invincible power, anonymous and irresponsible attitudes--repressions of unconscious forces under normal situations are ignored—conscience which results from social anxiety disappear.

Contagion sets in—hypnotic order becomes prevalent—individuals sacrifice personal interest for the group interest.

Suggestibility, of which contagion is a symptom, leads to the lose of conscious personality—the individual follows suggestions for actions totally contradictory to person conscience—hypnotic like fascination sets in—will and discernment vanishes—direction is taken from the leader in an hypnotic like manner—the conscious personality disappears.

“Moreover, by the mere fact that he forms part of an organized group, a man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.” Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian—a creature acting by instinct. “He possesses the spontaneity, the violence, the ferocity, and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive beings.”

There is a lowering of intellectual ability “pointing to its similarity with the mental life of primitive people and of children…A group is credulous and easily influenced”—the improbable seldom exists—they think in images—feelings are very simple and exaggerated—the group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty—extremes are prevalent, antipathy becomes hate and suspicion becomes certainty.

Force is king—force is respected and obeyed without question—kindness is weakness—tradition is triumphant—words have a magical power—supernatural powers are easily accepted—groups never thirst for truth, they demand illusions—the unreal receives precedence over the real—the group is an obedient herd—prestige is a source for domination, however it “is also dependent upon success, and is lost in the event of failure”.


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell Eugenics, but what do I know I'm one of the 4%.

But who or how does one define reality, as opposed to fantasy?

I understand what Freud was saying, but let's not get all crazy about his self importance.

Psychology like everything else has its limitations, it has a purpose and in many instances can be very helpful to many people, but it is not the end all or the final answer.

Considering that psychiatry is still in it's infancy and psychology is not far behind, I would be a bit cautious about putting all my eggs in that one basket.


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