The Darker Side of Psychology

Social IssuesCulture

  • Author Arthur Gevarnick
  • Published October 19, 2022
  • Word count 1,099

The Darker Side of Psychology

When you think about psychology what first comes to mind may be that 101 class you took in college to satisfy a requirement, or perhaps an article you have recently read or a snip-it you saw on Youtube. Which usually characterizes a group of psychologists, somewhere, who have done a statistical analysis of humans doing whatever. Predictably, you would have found that most of their subjects fell within the fat lump of the bell curve. While a few individuals, are probably out there right now, doing anything and everything you can imagine. It has most likely always been that way. Primates are curious, if nothing else. It’s been a hallmark of our species, and may stem from our perennial desire to transcend the limits of our experience. Moreover, a shrinking number of people subscribe to the spiritualism of the dark ages. While ideologies are ever present and lots of people go head-over-heels for them, there are just as many people who balk at surrendering their free will to some group mind-set. In the long term, fierce Darwinism will prevail, discouraging those behaviors which do not promote survival, and more importantly, reproduction.

It is worth remembering that over 95% of all psychological studies which have been done, were done in countries representing only 12% of the world’s population , ie. the rich, mostly white, industrialized nations. (1) Yet the profession seems to speak for all humanity, assuming that all cultures are, or should be pretty much like ours; a heroic assumption. While these efforts may seem relatively benign, there is another side to psychology which is not. It is pervasive, affecting our lives to an extent underappreciated. In contrast with the other social sciences, whose contributions are largely academic, psychology is right up there with economics in terms of how it affects and manipulates our lives.

While you may have learned about such prominent figures as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and B.F. Skinner, I doubt you would be as familiar with Edward Bernays, psychology’s favorite son. (2) Edward Bernays was the American nephew of Sigmund Freud. He was born in 1891 , and while his uncle had been busy probing the inner-workings of the mind, Edward, during his career, went on to adapt his uncle’s work to the lucrative field of “retail therapy.” Linking psychology with advertising, he developed and perfected the techniques whereby a product was no longer marketed based on its merits alone, but instead based upon how it would make the buyer “feel,” either directly or indirectly conferring feelings of self-worth while promising some type of reward, operant conditioning per se. Since then, psychology has been busily assisting slick marketers in the design of their carefully crafted distortions. We know these as the advertisements which relentlessly exploit our wants and needs 24/7. Incidentally, in addition to investing psychology in advertising, Mr. Bernays almost singlehandedly developed the disciplines of: “Propaganda,” “Spin,” and everyone’s favorite, “Public Relations,” where the public is told “just what it needs to know and nothing more.”

More than any other, Edward Bernays is owed the credit for it taking thirty years to get a warning label on a pack of cigarettes- after it had already been discovered that smoking caused cancer. Such is the power of public relations. Psychology is never far removed from distortion. “The words of psychology seem more designed to express the users dreams that to express any precise meaning.” (3) Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I now salivate whenever I hear terms like: cognitive restructuring, emotional dysregulation, behavioral modification, cognitive dissonance, confirmational bias, conflict resolution- and then there’s “treatment,” that catch-all for which virtually anything can command a fee- congruence, and my personal favorite, psychobabble, a word not commonly in use, but for which frequent examples are given.

The neat thing about science is that it is true whether you believe in it or not. You can write-off any testimonials because their very existence indicates a lack of underlying science. The other place psychology for-profit finds employ is in working for their respective state punishment and revenge departments, where they are usually tasked with reeducating some type of offender and/or rooting out some heresy. With the power of the expert concentrated in their title, they will head groups, where they expunge forbidden words while teaching acceptable phrases. The attendees pay to come to these group sessions for their weekly dose of shame. The program is “neat, learnable, not terribly difficult , but just technical enough to feel like science.” (4) It’s aim is to further substantiate the participant’s already depreciated self-worth. They operate on the theory that you can take an individual who likes chocolate, and with enough conditioning, convince her to affirm that not only does she no longer like chocolate, but believes that she no longer likes it. Psychologists are so confident in their assertions that these have long since become unquestioned beliefs. Should you question one of those beliefs, you will first be met with dismay, then soon be either ignored, rejected, or attacked, as would be expected from an ideology. If you find yourself visiting one of these groups, be prepared to be regularly attacked with religious-based morality, then watch as the psychologist quickly raises the shield of psychological jargon, to fend off any discussion or debate. They, like a self-styled evangelist, seamlessly shift from guilt-assigning moralist to spokesman for mankind.

Supposedly, psychology teaches one how to observe behavior and try to be objectively critical of people. Not on the darker side… There you will be considered only as a state-certified piece of human garbage. On that side they use their training to spew toxic venom, then like a spider, prey upon the the weaknesses of others. When confronted, their response will be akin to the spider saying that, “It does what it does for the benefit of ecology.” Have you ever wondered who did all that “brainwashing” we heard about during the cold war, that was going on behind the iron curtain? It was psychologists, doing what they do best, that is the bidding of whatever authority happens to be in power. It’s not too big a stretch to postulate that in many parts of the world today, they’re at it again.

Arthur Gevarnick

1.University of British Columbia: “Psychological research conducted in ‘WEIRD’ nations may not apply to global populations.” ScienceDaily; 30 June 2010

http://www.p/watch.org/prwissues /1999 2. Q2/bernays.html. The Father of Spin

  1. Despite due diligence, I could not find the author of this fine, insightful quote, that I gratefully use.

  2. Quotation, Dr. Kate Raworth, “Doughnut Economics”

New Author, retired professional. Enjoys reading eclectically, and then reading some more. Likes to fly fish. Has two amazing daughters.

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