|Phil:The best way that occurs to me to show what psychohistory is to cut and paste some excerpts of ‘Talk:Early infanticidal childrearing’, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Below you can read a flaming debate between seven orthodox academics and a single psychohistorian:Does this "model" [psychohistory] reflect actual facts? Increased mortality after weaning is common in non-Neolithic cultures as well; it's a consequence of inadequate nutrition, not of parental desire. -- Academic You're wrong there. "Inadequate nutrition" isn't some random fact of reality. It's a consequence of feeding pap to children, and not having the empathy necessary to understand that crying means the baby is hungry. These are both psychological problems of the parents (since feeding pap is a response to the fear of breastfeeding). --PsychohistorianSo PNG [Papua New Guinea] children were better off in the more "primitive" culture, and exposure to an "advanced" society has increased sexual abuse of children. --Academic Yeah right. The myth of the "noble savage" rears its ugly head again. The reproductive rate is inversely proportional to the ignorance and poverty of the population. So the more ignorant and poor the population, the more they will fuck. What's generally the case is that birthrate is inversely proportional to female education. The PNG have a VERY HIGH reproductive rate. The PNG have a VERY HIGH rate of infanticide, child suicide. So now you know why I think those "noble savage" and "increasing child mortality, oh the horror!" is just complete bullshit.
Neolithic childrearing refers to childrearing practices in Neolithic societies. The Neolithic, or "new stone age," was a period in human history dating from about 10,000 years ago to, in some places, 5,000 years ago and in other places until one to five hundred years ago. There are no longer any Neolithic societies. What deMause really wrote was: ‘‘the impassive mother who can handle her infanticidal wishes only by either merging with the child or by complete emotional withdrawal [...] is able to massively project [her] unconscious into the child’’.
There are a bunch of known facts which everyone agrees on. 99% of modern people will put a very specific interpretation on those facts. That interpretation is that primitives are pedophilic, incestuous child molesters. This isn't something which is cooked up by deMause's model. --PsychohistorianI am unimpressed by your hysterical claim that 99% of our society would agree with this. My claim is that people in different cultures describe things differently. --Academic If you want to find out what evidence deMause has amassed on the matter then read his fucking books. And the interpretation of child abuse in the case of infants is acultural. Infants do not have culture so are incapable of "interpreting" anything through a cultural filter. And yet again, you persist in ignoring the child's point of view, as if the rationalization of the child abuser mattered to them. Only anthropologists care about how the members of the primitive culture rationalize their behaviors. Anthropologists are just very bizarre people, and about as relevant to most people's view of what constitutes child molestation as experts in the paranormal. The relevant experts in the area are developmental psychologists.
There is a substantial faction that regards any kind of sexual activity with children to be inherently abusive. At the center of this faction are the likes of Alice Miller. There is another faction that traces its lineage all the way to Freud. When possible, it denies that child abuse exists. When it can't do that it denies that it is traumatic. And when it can't do that, it denies that it is inherently traumatic. --PsychohistorianThe purpose of anthropology is to describe culture, not judge it. If an anthropologist judges a culture under study, the ability to describe a culture objectively and explain how it is perceived by its members is lost. --Academic Anthropologists widely report that primitives do not see their practices as abusive or sexual. I have no hesitation agreeing with that. But then, neither do typical pedophiles see their practices as abusive either. --PsychohistorianThat's like implying that a Papuan is dumber than a European just because his culture doesn't use electricity. --Academic But Papuans are dumber than Europeans because they don't use electricity. You just have to ask "why do we use electricity"? We use it because we have a high population density and a high technological level. Why is that? Because we are culturally evolved. Why is that? Because at some point a couple of millennia ago, our ancestors decided to stop murdering their children and start evolving culturally. --PsychohistorianWhat you are proposing is a form of genocide: systematically destroying a culture [what I call Neanderthal extermination - Cesar Tort], simply because you consider that culture to be primitive and immoral. You are a ‘moral absolutist’. --Academic Just because I'm a moral absolutist doesn't mean I think I have a perfect access to moral truth. It does mean, based on my provisional judgment, that I have a far, far better understanding of basic moral truths than people who beat or sexually abuse kids. It's not moral assumptions which differ between societies. It's the capacity for empathy and rationality. --PsychohistorianThe anthropologist in me, OTOH [on the other hand], still bemoans yet another drop added to the overflowing bucket of human cultures forever lost. --Academic The primitive cultures are a failure. We should let them die. --PsychohistorianGood --as long as we all understand that psychohistory has nothing to do with history and is not even accepted by all schools of psychology. I think that there's a real problem here in that the entire concept as titled ["Early infanticidal childrearing", the title of the Wikipedia article] makes no sense. Primitive cultures tend to be those most concerned with long-term survival on a basic level. The title implies that these cultures intentionally endanger and kill their children (not to mention that it's plain oxymoronic): something that makes no sense for peoples who want to survive and which, if these cultures still exist after thousands of years, is clearly is misleading. --Academic I've chosen to take extreme offense at what you've said, e.g. "psychohistory has nothing to do with history", and to treat you like a hostile.
I already explained that rape wasn't just about sex. I also explained exactly why it was still sexual. If you accuse me of reductionism, when I have explicitly warned against that, then it's only because you're deliberately being stupid.
I really wish I didn't have to deal with people who say stupid things. For example, things that amount to "every human being is rational and since it's not rational to kill children, this negates the overwhelming evidence that infanticide occurs". Never mind such truly stupid statements like "preliterate hunter-gatherer tribes are those most concerned with basic survival". Oh really, I guess that explains why they never developed any technology in order to guarantee their survival. --PsychohistorianArk, play nice. JHK is many things, can even be abrasive sometimes but acting "stupid" (I see you modified the "idiot" statement - thanks). That's over the top. She is one of the smartest people contributing to Wikipedia. Sorry, but regurgitation of the canon of human knowledge is what we do here. -- Academic
I disagree, Maveric. One of the things that makes Wikipedia different from a standard encyclopedia is our ability to reflect new thinking.
Now, the whole that deMause put together and Ark is advertising here is striking, but I think that you will find most of the individual points are not nearly as radical or contrary to current understanding as you seem to present. To begin with, there are many people who would reject cultural relativism. The first example that comes to mind are the women's historians which have become increasingly common, but a proper search shouldn't have trouble coming up with others. Further, the idea of the noble savage is very controversial, and one should hardly consider it some sort of canon.
With regards to infanticide per se, I personally have very little knowledge about the Paleolithic, but that deliberate murder or abandonment of infants was common among ancient civilizations like Carthage, Greece, and Rome is well-known, and I can remember a mainstream text mentioning Mohammed's prohibitions against the then-widespread killing of children without any implication that might be controversial. In absence of further data, a backwards trendline would be all it takes to suggest that Paleolithic infanticide was very common indeed. And I can recall articles suggesting that tribal cannibalism, to take the most headline-grabbing example, was far more common than previously thought.
In short, I think this position is not nearly outlandish enough to deserve such curt rejection. An informative and lasting page [i.e., the Wikipedia article] on this would be valuable enough. --Another Academic
Note that the definition of rape and molestation vary among cultures. --Still another AcademicRape and molestation do vary among cultures. This is bad. Cultural relativism is crap, believed only by idiots, ignoramuses, anthropologists and historians. The Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly rejects cultural relativism. Cultural relativists are merely denying human rights. (On a moral level, they are still violating human rights.) Anthropology and history have achieved nothing, or close to nothing. The reason anthropology and history are fucked is because they reject psychology and that is the only possible explanation for both culture and history. This theory [psychohistory] is sound since it does explain a lot of things (e.g., why warfare occurs, probably the number 1 unresolved question in both history and anthropology). In fact, warfare is a very indicative example and one where deMause crucifies historians. For psychological reasons, anthropologists have been butchering psych-heavy data; on the whole, the data is irretrievably corrupt and needs to be junked. Psychohistory is a new field of academia which grew up around the methods deMause pioneered. It is independent of both history and psychology. It is at war with both for their turf and so extreme animosity is predictable. As the new kid on the bloc, it's going to get attacked as "simply not recognized by most historians / psychologists". There is no rational argument against psychohistory's methods. Conservatism is not a rational argument. Like cartography or natural history, anthropology and history (A&H) aren't sciences per se. Cartography was never anything more than an engineering enterprise (though it did give rise to plate tectonics) and when the time came, natural history gave way to evolutionary biology. Similarly, A&H should give way to psychohistory wherever the latter is interested in taking over. --PsychohistorianTo those who promote the myth of the brutal savage, I point out that Westerners have often characterized non-Western practices as stupid, unhealthy, or wrong in part out of their own ignorance, and in part to justify colonial oppression. --Academic The savage savage isn't a myth. What do I mean by the "savage savage"? I do not mean by it that we aren't savages. That is a notion you rightly reject and which is indeed the flip side of the noble savage myth. However, since that's not a notion I've ever defended and the only reason I don't attack it is because it would be futile (any article attacking modern people as savages will be destroyed), belief in the savage savage myth isn't something you can level on me.
What I do claim is that modern societies are less savage than societies in the past. That's most certainly not a myth. And to argue otherwise is to promote the noble savage myth. If you have an absolute standard of morality, there is no choice other than the savage savage or the noble savage. Even if you use just "violence and inequality" as your absolute standard, that's sufficient to force a choice between either the savage savage or the noble savage (as long as you don't redefine rape and murder as non-violent behaviors, which by now I don't trust you not to do). Whether deliberately or unwittingly, you have been promoting the noble savage myth. Either that or complete cultural relativism.
To recap: Primitives, in relation to modern people can be either:
1. equally savage (obviously untrue)
2. differently savage (cultural relativism)
3. less savage (noble savage)
4. more savage (savage savage)
So rejecting options #2 and #3 leaves one only with #4. There is no maneuvering room for anyone to weasel around. --PsychohistorianAnd this is where you and I differ. I generally contend that all present-day cultures are essentially "differently savage". --Academic(Long response linked here)
Morality is a psychological phenomenon. It refers to a person's capacity for empathy. It's difficult to describe empathy since nobody has a good grip on what it means. But of course, that's the point: if a person has no morality then they don't have any of these emotions. Keep in mind that our very ability to accept social and technological progress at the rate we're going is something which primitives lack. And we've yet to annihilate a foreign nation (as the Assyrians did) to pay for that progress. This too is a genuine advance. --PsychohistorianYeah, but India and Pakistan came awfully close last month. --Academic India and Pakistan have societies that are at least 2 centuries behind the times in relation to the Northern European countries. The USA is behind maybe 50 years. We're talking about fairly primitive societies for the amount of technology and military power they have. --PsychohistorianArk: in the interests of fairness, I went ahead and looked at the deMause article. Basically, it can be digested into one Philip Larkin poem. Big Whoop. Parents fuck up their kids. We know that. There is absolutely NOTHING there besides that fact that is provable. It is a mass of huge generalizations predicated on two simple ideas: violence begets violence (duh) and everything that happens is down to psychology. Yes, there are references to acts of violence by parents (particularly mothers) against children, but we don't get to see the breadth of the studies to show what kind of population was used, etc. I stand by my statement that most historians reject psychohistory not because we feel threatened by it, but because most historians believe that human society is complex and filled with individuals who may act in particular ways for any number of reasons. Generally reductionism is not provable -- merely a simplistic way for the insecure to find meaning. --Academic You dismiss the article I cited because it doesn't provide concrete proof against history's "no explanations" stance. Well so fucking what? I never claimed it did. I merely claimed it crucified history as a scientific field and historians as scientists; by showing that the theories historians entertain are all unbelievably idiotic. --PsychohistorianWill someone please ban ARK? His non-stop slander, personal attacks, and foul language are damaging the Wikipedia community. --Academic
I would happily do so, but being a ranting troll who supports crank theories in an anti-social way isn't enough for a ban. He is correct in his assertion that deMause's theories deserve their own article --even if he's amazingly rude in the way he treats others. Although I can't imagine that any long-time wikipedian finds him anything but offensive, and his insults towards me.
To that end, Ark, You haven't convinced anyone that you're anything but a crank who thinks he's far more intelligent than he's demonstrated so far. --Another Academic I have a pretty good grasp on what history is and what it is not; more or less what you describe actually. As for psychology, you're wrong about its scientific basis. Overall, it's a fucked field but it's one that has always aspired to be scientific. Its current status is merely a temporary setback. As for psychohistory, it is not a fucked field. These two facts (history not being science and psychohistory being science) explain why I'm so eager to dismiss history. Why should scientists be subjected to the authority of non-scientists? The same arguments apply to anthropology, and doubly so when the psyches of primitives are concerned.
Convincing people was never my goal, I'm too lazy and people are too bigoted for that. As for people thinking I'm a crank. I'm a power unto myself and I haven't need for their approval nor favour. What people think of me can't change who and what I am. And even if I were craven enough to give that kind of power to others, I certainly wouldn't give it to some anonymous nobodies. As for your opinion, I've already maligned your intellect; did you seriously believe I'd care what you think of me? (Don't feel compelled to respond, I know you're just acting for the audience, as am I for that matter.) [...].
This is a fucking encyclopedia article. I'm not interested in proving a goddamned theory here. Like I said, only two people other than me are interested in cooperating, giving some leeway and credit to other contributors. Since there are masses of idiots and butchers intent on destroying the theory for every one person interested in helping, I'm just not interested in being the whipping boy on this subject. Fuck you all. -- Psychohistorian
This is only a fraction of the flaming debate.
Last edited by Cesar Tort on Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.