In my last post, I quoted Howard S. Schwartz on the change in atmospherics and intellectual debate in the university under the sway of PC. While his question referred to a specific debate (ostensibly about the Oedipal Complex), in reality, his question is germane to any subject which has been declared at odds with prevailing the tenets of Politically Correct thinking. His comments bear repeating:
"How did ideas representing such ignorance not only arise in a university setting,, but also come to be dominant within it, and to dominate it so powerfully that it has become acceptable to meet alternative ideas with rage and disdain?"
There are a number of factors at work in this formulation. When rage and disdain are activated in a setting where they are out of proportion to the situation, it is a tell-tale suggesting that the pressure of internal, unconscious forces are in play. If I am challenged by someone who suggests that Psychoanalysis is not truly a science because it can not generate testable or falsifiable hypotheses, I can react in several different ways. I could respond that while it is unethical to do the actual experiments, we can observe the "naturalistic" results of our work and can predict, within limits, the outcome of mutative interpretations, allowing that there may be multiple ways in which to understand the data thus generated. Alternatively, I could react with "rage and disdain" and wonder how such a fool as the questioner could challenge my authority. I think that any reasonable observer would be able to tell which reaction is the more appropriate and which suggests that I have an unacknowledged agenda that has been threatened by the challenge.
When a powerful emotional reaction is elicited where it is unwarranted, look to the unconscious determinants.
A long discussion of various Psychoanalytic theories would be interesting (but very long, book length in fact) and too easily burdened with extraneous issues. Suffice it to say that the feminists who developed the philosophy of Political Correctness were reacting to deep seated feelings of, to use Betty Friedan word, marginalization (which overlaps with low self-esteem, intolerable dependency, the sense of physical inadequacy poorly expressed as "penis envy", plus various other issues). I would also suggest that even if I am completely wrong about the underlying internal conflicts of the feminists (and each would likely have his or her own particular constellation of psychodynamic conflict and deficit to contribute to their character structure), the defensive maneuver which determines the shape of Political Correctness would be the same.
The infant enters the world with an inchoate sense of an undifferentiated world with no clear or recognizable boundaries between himself and the world. He slowly begins to recognize his separateness. The child begins to recognize the existence of an other. In fact, for the very young child, there are many "others". The child builds up an internal representation of the "(m)other" who comforts him and feeds him. This is different from the Mother who puts him down and frustrates him. Another Mother changes his diaper and administers to his body. One Mother smiles; another Mother frowns; another Mother makes soft, calming sounds; another makes harsh grating noises; yet another holds him but ignores him, hooding her eyes, the crucial link, away from him and frustrating him in a new way. By the age of 18-24 months, the child has tentatively fused all these images into a single, coherent, stable internal representation called "Mother". This is known as the development of "object constancy". Under stress, this stable object (the coalesced Internal Representation of "Mother") can fragment anew; when the two or three year old says, "I hate you" when frustrated, they really mean it, for the moment. They hate the "bad" mother and at the moment have lost the "good" mother. In most cases, the child is able to easily reintegrate the Internal Representation. In the unfortunate case of an abused child, this secondary splitting that occurs happens too often, too deeply, and is irreparable. The splitting allows the child to survive the horror of abuse and still maintain an image of the parent (and the self, since an important part of the character forms from identifications) as good. The "bad" parts are eventually pushed out of awareness, and by adulthood can be lost to the conscious mind altogether. In splitting, the child assigns all of the "bad" attributes of the Parent to a devalued, hidden (unconscious) Internal Representation. The "good" attributes are assigned to the conscious Internal Representation of the parent. It is not unusual to see horribly abused children who were neglected, overtly abused, not protected, ready to fight anyone who makes derogatory comments about their Mother; she is a saint!
The act of splitting preserves the integrity of the child's character so they can survive terrible ordeals.
Compare this to the reaction of the Politically Correct. In the framing of the description of the oppressive white male, there is no room for anything resembling positive attributes. The white male hierarchy is oppressive; it uses and mis-uses, and abuses its victims, be they women, people of color, or any other designated victim class. Some feminists have gone so far as to label any sexual relations between a consenting man and woman as rape. In the PC world, white men are the repository of all the evil that exists, while appropriate victims are idealized and exalted. (The process by which the "bad" attributes of internalized, unconscious representations are externalized and reprojected is a complex area; the Manichean world view of Political Correctness suggests that the splitting described in the individual is applicable to the larger mass psychology at work.)
The next question is: Why is the correspondence between splitting and Political Correctness important?
Continue with PC & Defects in Reality Testing: Part V