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Is Dehumanization the New Normal?

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Shock Doctrine Now on Display Worldwide
Shock Doctrine Now on Display Worldwide
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Let me begin by encouraging pattern recognition, a cognitive skill provided us by nature with obvious survival value. But cognition is easily trumped by emotion, and fear is the most compelling emotion in nature's survival toolkit. Consequently, nothing so empowers rulers over their subjects than its artificial production, amplification and broad transmission into contagion. When one herd member starts running, all others quickly follow. As Germany's WWII military chief, Field Marshall Hermann Goering observed,

"Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood.

But... it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

In this way have citizens inhabiting "the land of the free and home of the brave" long been kept in fear for which most have willingly conceded freedom - along with civil rights, conscience, empathy, the rule of law, and independent judgment - for appearances of protection by the state. Our most important psychological functions and interactive instincts provided us by nature for survival have been disabled.

It's been a long historic trajectory, sufficiently incremental to remain barely visible.

Following our gratuitous, demonstration use of atomic bombs, WWII immediately morphed into the Cold War nuclear arms "race" with the ever-present image of "a mushroom cloud" looming over us as we sheltered under school desks and in homemade back yard bunkers upon emergency test alarms.

Dread of "international communism" justified McCarthy-era civil rights violations of suspected communists and suppression of the civil rights movement including key leadership assassinations. Its imagined political contagion through a "domino effect" was used to justify mass-murdering three million Vietnamese, Operation Condor atrocities throughout South America, Iran-Contra atrocities in Central America, economic strangulation of Cuba, and overthrow of numerous elected governments worldwide that were moving toward socialism. All of these aggressions - invariably euphemized as "foreign policy" rescues of benighted peoples - have been flagrant violations of international law disregarding the 1945 UN Charter and 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

No sooner had the Soviet Union collapsed than we were promptly faced with the declared existential threat of "Islamic terrorism" personified in Saddam Hussein and his presumed terror weapons for which we terrorized the people of Iraq in the Gulf War and lionized the heroic command of General Norman Schwarzkopf while concealing our war crimes from public view. To presumably contain Saddam's monstrous impulses, a monstrous decade of crippling sanctions followed that killed at least a half-million Iraqi children.

Lest we be allowed to relax our guard, 9/11 and the ominous figure of Osama bin Laden soon emerged to remind us to keep our weapons industry well-fed with taxpayer dollars and to remain ever-alert to terrorists among us, watching for unattended briefcases and submitting to X-rays and other intimate intrusions by government authorities as conditions of air travel. The mushroom cloud image was even resurrected to resume overt annihilation of Iraq.

Bin Laden could be officially eliminated when Isis became the proximal threat, but with control of Syria returned to its legally constituted government and Isis largely out of business, can we finally relax? Afraid not. We now have a dread virus loose in the land that can strike any of us down at any time, transmitted to us by our fellow citizens of whom we must again remain diligently watchful.

Do citizens notice a pattern here?

And this may be the worst state-imposed phobia yet. Women used to smile at me passing on the street - a pleasant, anonymous exchange. Now I see only nervous eyes peering over a mask, taking care to pass quickly with a wide berth. Encountering friends, the natural impulse to reach for a hand, an arm, a shoulder, a hug is prohibited by "social distancing" and state-imposed touch phobia.

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As psychopathology, touch phobia has a name - haphephobia. It reaches deeply. We begin managing our emotional homeostasis pre-verbally during the second six months of life in response to emotional signals from our primary caretaker(s) through facial expression, voice intonations, and physical touch. These forms of contact remain fundamental to anxiety management throughout life. With lockdown directives, simultaneous with relentless inflammation of public anxiety by the media, facial expression is hidden and vocal expression muffled by masks, and touching is reduced to primary relationships where this may or may not be warm, safe or dependable. Moreover, masks have been proven ineffective to prevent viral transmission.

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JACK DRESSER Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

BA, Pomona College. Ph.D., clinical psychology. Army psychologist during VN War. Private practice 15 years, specializing in transactional analysis and family systems. Developed ego state psychodrama method. Developed numerous school-based (more...)

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