Monday, 12 August 2013

The Retreat from Public Life

When a man is confronted with a stress that he can no longer bear he is likely to respond in the classic response to any threat:
Fight,
Flight,
or Apathy.

These responses can happen as a result of any particular stress, be it in weight lifting (e.g. too much weight causes the muscles to 'give up'), strobe lights (e.g. strobe lights can cause peoples muscles to 'seize up' during epileptic fits), or emotional stress (e.g. an emotional burden can cause people to 'run away' from home). Any situation that a man finds 'overwhelming', that overwhelms his logical faculties to the point that he can't think clearly, provokes a fight, flight or apathy situation.

In the West, at present, there is a tendency in society to encourage men to 'take it like a man', which generally means that men are encouraged to receive physical or emotional blows and crucially not strike back. Remember the phrase 'never hit a woman', yeah, well that's just one aspect of it. It's sayings like these, and social norms like these that encourage men to 'react' in a particular way when they are attacked in some way. These phrases become social norms and then modify the 'Fight, Flight or Apathy' process. They modify the response to such an extent that they actively encourage men NOT to fight back. In addition to this social norms also encourage men not to 'run away' from a stressful situation because running away is considered 'cowardly', it's considered 'pathetic', it shows that the man 'has no spine' or is 'gutless'. So the man is thus put in a Double Bind whereby he is not allowed to fight back nor is he allowed to flee, so he is left with only one choice: Apathy.
Our culture, according to Christopher Lasch, teaches us to withdraw inwards when confronted with stressful situations. It is a vicious circle. One of the main stressors of modern society is alienation and a pervasive sense of isolation. The solution our culture offers – to further withdraw – only exacerbates the problem.
Richard Sennett expounded on this theme in "The Fall of Public Man: On the Social Psychology of Capitalism" [Vintage Books, 1978]. One of the chapters in Devereux's aforementioned tome is entitled "Schizophrenia: An Ethnic Psychosis, or Schizophrenia without Tears". To him, the United States is afflicted by what came later to be called a "schizoid disorder".
C. Fred Alford [in Narcissism: Socrates, the Frankfurt School and Psychoanalytic Theory, Yale University Press, 1988] enumerates the symptoms:
"…withdrawal, emotional aloofness, hyporeactivity (emotional flatness), sex without emotional involvement, segmentation and partial involvement (lack of interest and commitment to things outside oneself), fixation on oral-stage issues, regression, infantilism and depersonalisation. These, of course, are many of the same designations that Lasch employs to describe the culture of narcissism. Thus, it appears, that it is not misleading to equate narcissism with schizoid disorder." [Page 19] (Source: http://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/narcissists-inverted-narcissists-and-schizoids/narcissists-and-schizoids/)
(Note the term 'Fixation of oral-stage issues', this is a phenomenon that Firepower has identified and called (very very bluntly) Echo Chamber of Faggots (while it is a derogatory term, it is also descripite in that it indicates the impotency, ie lack of creativity, of the people who inhabit the ECoF).)

These social norms that encourage men to retreat from a stressful situation are not limited to America or the West, in the East Hikikomori are men who have retreated from a life that is too stressful for them to endure:
1- The Hikikomori The term ‘Hikikomori’ is a term originally used to describe young Japanese boys who lock themselves in their rooms for months and years, and refuse to come out. The term refers to the person’s inability to adapt to society (Source: http://www.schizoids.info/the-hikikomori.html)
Althougn the 'symptoms' of the condition may be the same for both West and East, the 'causes' of the two conditions is slightly different:
- Hikikomori is about retreating from public life because society demands too much of the man;
- 'Societal Schizoidism' is about retreating from public life because society demands that men retreat from threats.

All of this negative, retreating, apathetic attitude could be turned on it's head in a matter of years if social norms changed and encouraged men to express themselves in a healthy pro-active forthright manner as is their nature, rather than encouraging them to retreat all the time. A society filled with men on the retreat into 'Societal Schizoidism' and apathy is going to be unable to deal with any stressful situations or problems that it encounters, because the culture will be conditioned to 'retreat from the problem' (turn the other cheek in Christian parlance) rather than 'combat it' (slay the evil frost giant in Odinic parlance).

For a successful society that wants to live for more than a few generations, men must be free to exert themselves and fight when they need to. If society kills that fight response then it's dead in the water.

[End.]

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