dilemmanade
Monday, January 23, 2006
 
Psychoanalysis...Posted by C

Digby, and a number of commenters, mentioned how they can't stand to hear Bush speak. And I so relate, but it reminds me...

When Reagan was our President, I couldn’t stand to listen to him, either. And I couldn’t understand why anyone else could stand to listen to him. Then I came across a book called Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, by Alice Miller.

Miller, a psychoanalyst, was asking-- and answering-- the same question about Adolph Hitler. Her conclusion: the ordinary people who bought Hitler’s snake oil were responding to the voice of their fathers. Their fathers were despots. Their fathers were the undisputed masters of the household; their word was law, and they were brutal in the application of corporal punishment. (Those were the social conditions in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.) It was comforting on a deep unconscious level, in a time of national distress and economic uncertainty, to hear a voice that contained no uncertainty, that claimed absolute authority, and that vowed punishment.

Now many of us in the Reagan era, and most of us now, were raised as much or more by TV than by our dads. To a great extent, we’ve been socialized by actors. As a people we are comforted on a deep unconscious level by a leader's voice which has an air of confidence, whether or not the words have any relationship to the "truth." We don’t want earnestness; we want someone who can work a crowd; we want someone who can spin an exciting yarn about "terror;" we want someone who projects the image of authority-- with a swagger, with cowboy gear, with a derisive smirk for his opponents or detractors.

And members of the media are not immuned. Instead of fact-checking, they are cheerleading. They loved Bush landing on that aircraft carrier in his flight suit (staging, costuming). They don’t mind if he lies, as long as he looks "presidential."

This would all be funny, if it weren’t so dangerous. It looks like we’ll continue to allow a group of thugs to plunder the economy, steal from the poor and middle class to give to the rich, send other people’s children to fight illegal and immoral wars, and stomp on the constitution-- as long as they look and sound good doing it.
 
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