There were a few excellent comments in sites around the net yesterday, a couple of which I’ll be copying here because they distinguish themselves by the strength of their keenness in analyzing current ideological, social, and political dynamics.
By saying psychology acts as a mechanism of social control, I am not trying to imply there is some kind of elite conspiracy to use psychology to control the unsuspecting masses. As Foucault pointed out, power is immanent within social networks rather than being — in the manner of crude Marxist analysis — simply something that is used by one group against another. What I am saying is that psychology has come to be the primary vehicle through which different interest groups in society try to achieve moral ascendancy for their ideas.
America (and one could extend this to other parts of the modern West) is a fragmented society that doesn’t share a coherent common morality, yet, of course, like every society, it needs to have moral conversations. It does, however, share a common faith in “objective science,” and so, over time, it has developed a discourse that masks its moral conversations in a scientific disguise.
Therefore, while individual groups within a society (Catholics, say, or Mormons, or whatever) might share a moral code and have explicitly moral discussions, as a society, we could not possibly any longer have a discussion about whether pornography was “good” or “bad,” or about whether its usage made citizens “virtuous” or “vicious” persons. Instead, we have a discussion about whether it leads to “healthy identity development.”
Your [that is,‘s previous] comments [in the thread] about how some psychologists are attempting a “political move” to have pedophilia declassified as a mental illness are an illustration of my point. I agree with you that the likely motives behind such a move are, of course, grotesque, but stop and ask yourself: why would these people even bother attempting such a move if it weren’t for the fact that the discourses of psychology have a tremendous amount of social and political *power* to either normalise or abnormalise certain behaviours? No zoologist, for example, would ever think they had scored a political victory by reclassifying a kangaroo from marsupial to mammal.
So perfectly keen.
By coincidence, I had a mini-feud on Twitter yesterday, and when I made some comments criticizing homosexuality, the first thing the stupid LGBT squabbling with me hilariously said is “You don’t believe in the scientific method”. Obviously, since this is just an LGBT idiot on the Net, he is too obnoxious to read my site and realize that my critique of the normalization of homosexuality is built using a secular framework, which constantly incorporates scientific approaches, methods, and findings, and scientific ways to conceptualize and understand reality as fundamental means to effect this critique. But the stupid LGBT must assume anything and everything I say is based not only on a religious framework, but a Christian one, because it is critical of his agenda. Not only that, in his tiny LGBT mind, anything Christian must be wrong, and anything he labels “scientific” must be right. Second, this LGBT, like most liberals, is too stupid to understand Taylor’s point above – it is extremely foolish to proclaim that science (i.e.,”the scientific method”) is appropriate to decide all questions in life.
It is exactly because I understand the scientific method and the history of the various sciences we have today (psychology, anthropology, medicine, etc.) that I understand just how profoundly problematic, corrupt, manipulated/manipulative, and just plain wrong Science has always been and will be, if not always, then for a very long time, regarding a very large number of its claims. It would be my guess that the majority of scientific claims made in the history of modern Science have been proven wrong some time later – a fact that liberals seem to forget when it comes to their claims that they have the Truth on homosexuality because the APA said so – oh, the inanity!
In science, it’s not only individual claims, but entire schools of “scientific” thought have been completely discarded as awful or wrong – see, as one of many examples, Kuhn for his excellent analysis of the power dynamics of wrong orthodoxy in science. Lastly, Science (or the scientific method, if you will) has been and it will largely always be partially inadequate and an incomplete tool to determine morality questions.
The funny thing is, it is the liberal LGBT guy on Twitter prattling about the “scientific method” who doesn’t believe in the scientific method, in the sense that he doesn’t even understand what the scientific method entails in the soft (and consequently political and ideological) sciences such as psychology. Nor does he understand how fraught with failures and uncertainties the method is. For the liberal riff-raff, the high priests of the APA have declared that homosexuality is normal, and given papal, I mean, APA infallibility regarding its “science,” this notion must now be fanatically believed in and heretics burnt at the stake.
Regarding the liberal discourse on homosexuality, as Taylor points out in his overall critique, once the APA started declaring homosexuality was “normal” – and how scientific is that claim? – the ignorant masses then started screaming this was “scientifically” proven, since the claim was made by what is in their view the authority of all things real and moral. (Claiming that the APA is the definer of what reality is for humanity for eternity is a joke all in itself, but let’s leave that aside).
Moreover, it’s not that this institutional body ever truly used the scientific method or science to establish any of its claims. It mostly utilized junk reason under the guise of “science,” and it simply ignored all criticisms and questionings to its reasonings, to proclaim its edicts on the morality of homosexuality. And so, by wrapping a secular/scientific body around their moral claim, liberals pretend that it’s not morality, plain and crude, that they are prescribing and arbitrating. However, as Aaron Taylor so finely articulated above, it’s exactly what they are doing.
On a tangential and closing note, regarding Taylor’s previous comments in the thread, I understand what he is trying to say here: “Psychology of the modern variety is a post-industrial revolution pseudoscience that tries to dominate people by planting a mechanism of social control inside their mind (unlike, say, the discourses of law, which attempt to restrain from without)“. However, it is poorly developed. Taylor is quite right in that this is how psychology is being wielded to control people, but there is much more to psychology and psychotherapy that is profoundly good and beneficial to people and society. Thus, psychology/psychotherapy can lead to profound healing, health, and well-being.
What we have with psychology is a “baby and bath water” problem. In his criticism, Taylor has reduced all psychology and related practices to the bath water, while ignoring the baby. I would say it is nevertheless refreshing to see such a well articulated analysis of the dynamics for implanting cultural hegemony used by liberals, since the problem we have in society is certainly that most people only see the baby (the touted wonders, supreme authority, and infallibility (!) of science/psychology/APA) and they lack any ability to see its glaring failures and the damage that ensues from those failures. Yes, the millions of failures and the inadequacy of the “scientific method” that liberals seem to forget is central to their “science” – which is in reality just liberal political ideology dressed up in the scientific method.
* Aaron Taylor is a Ph.D. student in Ethics at Boston College. He previously studied at the Universities of London and Oxford.