Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Value of Mistrust (Part II in a series) (4.4.09)

Trust versus Mistrust.  That is the first of Erik Erikson's 8 stages of psychosocial development.  Most of us understand "trust" and how important it is to both personal development and interpersonal relationships in communities large and small.  And I have already contended in the first post that those who reach later stages develop the very qualities which foster (for others in their care) resolution of the early stages.  Plus, the stages are cumulative.  And thus, while we may resolve early issues, those issues remain as part of our psychosocial make-up.  If you have not read that prior post some of what I write here may be confusing.  But much of it stands on its own.  (Nevertheless, your reading here will be richer if you have read the prior post - and the comments as well - for this is a group endeavor and there is richness throughout that entire thread of comments.)

I have 3 points to make here.  And possibly more.  As I'm thinking partly on the fly.  But in brief I hope to discuss the Declaration of Independence, some important foundational concepts from the Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, and creativity/inventiveness - as they pertain to "mistrust" and to this "vision" quest for how to decide what to keep and what to discard.

Using Erikson's theory, I'd like to suggest that the Declaration of Independence arose out of both trust and mistrust.  Trust within the group of people who discussed and signed the declaration.  But "mistrust" as the fertile ground out of which the "rebellion" of the colonists sprang.  (Other stages, of course, enter in as well - particularly Generativity and Wisdom/Ego Integrity.) 

Mistrust is like a Basic BullShit Detector.  Too much of the quality is not good and a huge amount of it = paranoia.  People who stay in an abusive relationship don't have enough of it:  They stick around when others would have bailed long ago.  But enough of it (to help us notice when something or someone is "off kilter") is hugely important as we navigate life.  I'm going to suggest that the leaders who signed on to the Declaration of Independence had "just enough" of that BBSD  (or, if you prefer BBD - take your pick!) to conclude it was time to bail on British rule.  They'd taken enough abuse.  And weren't going to take it anymore!

And the question today is - how much more are we going to take?  And how far have we strayed from our "Dreamtime ideals"?  And for "dreamtime ideals" you can consider the founding and continuing ideals of America or the founding and continuing ideals of any spiritual tradition or whatever ethical or social ideals you'd like to hang your hat on.  But the question remains.  At least for me and clearly for others as well.  Example:  By the end of bush&cheneyco, approximately 80% of the population felt the nation was seriously off the track.  And apparently that has already turned around a bit - so that many Americans are now viewing us as starting to head in the right direction.  Even so, after having so seriously betrayed our ideals (having tortured, for example) and having so seriously undermined not only our economy but the economic situation around the world (yes, I know it wasn't just us... but still), how can we truly get back on track as a nation?  Are we already headed for a "fall of empire"  or can we right the flaws which the previous administration exposed (or seeded) in what we thought was a pretty well functioning Constitution?  This is the reason I'm doing these blogs - it is a multi-layered task.  

Declaration of Independence. Let's take a look at the preamble:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Right away, the document suggests a need to refer to "the opinions of mankind".  I take that to mean the "wisdom" referred to in my last post and in the comments.  And right away, without really saying where they're getting them, the declaration refers to certain truths, certain rights, and asserts that the purpose of government is "to secure these rights".

Next, the document goes on to a very important premise:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Now, since some (here) have questioned the very process of considering what to "hold" and what to "discard" and the search for what are the truths upon which we make such decisions, I refer back to the Declaration of Independence, the idea that there are certain "rights" or ideals that people can agree on and that the purpose of government is to secure them.   And I must admit, that along with many others (here and elsewhere) I have come to seriously question a society, a government, which instead of ensuring rights of persons has come to uphold (instead!) the rights of corporations,  as well as those of the rich and the powerful, in such a way that too many persons are suffering - not just economically, but under our judicial system, in detention centers outside the US, in terms of health care and the environment and education, etc.  I may have started out in the last blog by indicting the financial mess, but anyone who's read my posts for a long time knows that I have wider concerns than just an economic melt-down.  And also that I'm coming from a larger perspective than just what's good for America.

Back to the Declaration of Independence:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them [i.e.,the people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Mistrust underlies the declaration:  Due to "a long train of abuses and usurpations"-  "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations" - and then comes a list of them.  (It's worth following the link and reading the abuses, paying special mind to their similary with recent events.)  A long train of abuses.  Followed by an appeal to "the Supreme Judge of the world" ... "in the Name, and by Authority" of the people (it actually says "good People") and it ends with "a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence".  Now you may or may not have any belief or trust in a supreme judge of the world or the protection of divine providence.  (It matters not to me.)   But for me to consider the task of looking for "truths" - in terms of a "spiritual quest" -  is certainly in line with our forebears and is not a task to be mocked or taken lightly.  Seek these "truths" in whatever manner you choose.  I call that a spiritual undertaking.  (One which Erikson would term related to his 7th and 8th stages for sure - in addition to the 6th, which relates to our common endeavor in doing so).

So, a bunch of men got together - in an atmosphere of trust in each other - but with a common "mistrust" - after  "patient sufferance" of many abuses.  And they embarked on a rebellion, of which we are the heirs.

Now, how do people get to a point where the "political bands" have been so stretched that they are seen to be intolerable or impossible to hold any longer and that a revolution ensues?  This is an important question.  And for the answer I will go to Jean Piaget, whose studies of the development of cognition have been so valuable - to psychology, to education, to me personally during 8 years as a teacher of young children long ago.  Piaget posited two central processes for how children learn, how they adapt.  They learn by assimilating information, taking it in.  (They learn words, colors, letters, numbers.  They learn by looking and playing, manipulating objects.  They take in information.)  But they also behave like little scientists - testing the conclusions, the interpretations, the very information they are "fed" or take in on their own.  So do we.  And when concepts or understanding are stretched to the breaking point - beyond where a theory or framework makes sense any longer, children (and WE) either have to go along in a kind of alternate universe believing the unbelievable or they/we spontaneously find ourselves thinking differently.  Piaget called that process accommodation - a process where our minds "accomodate" to factual reality, to new ideas, to a new paradigm.  This process is very similar to how Kuhn described what happens in science, where there is a "revolution" in thought. 

Ah.... now you're following me.  Revolution in thought.  And that, my friends, is what I think happened around the time of the Declaration of Independence.  And it's happening now.  

You put up with or assimilate till you (or your categories) can't take it any longer.  And then, you accommodate to the new reality - as you now see it.  Your mind changes.

And that, I'd like to suggest is what happens in creativity, in inventiveness as well.  And  it happens in human development too, thus the stages.  People, looking at a situation, see it has problems or possibilities.  And they come up with novel solutions, new inventions, new ways of thinking and feeling, including music, art, dance, poetry and so on.  Dickens' story of Little Dorrit is currently being presented on PBS Masterpiece Theater.   A story of a family in a debter's prison.  A story of the wealthy preying upon the poor.  A story which came out of Dickens' own history but which, sadly, is mirrored to some extent in our own society.  Art anticipating life.

We must face it all.

There is so much more to say.... to be continued...

There seems to be some confusion in the first comment below about "rights" as discussed in the Declaration of Independence.  The document never says there are only 3 rights.  It merely "enumerates" three, after declaring "that all men are created equal" and "endowed" with  "certain unalienable Rights, that among these are" - followed by the familiar three we all know so well.  That "among these' indicates that there are many rights they never bothered to enumerate.  Apparently for the document it was far more important to enumerate all of the abuses suffered and to indicate that the government's duty is to secure our "rights" - without naming all of them.  Thus these blogs - in an effort to understand what are the important truths and rights, which WE the People expect our government to protect.  We have a right, and perhaps in these dark days, even a duty,  to enumerate them for ourselves.

Also, apparently some would read into the Declaration of Independence a desire to be freed of government altogether or to limit the size of government.  Please help us with a quote from the document itself... if that is your reading.  For I cannot find it there.  Indeed, the document seems to say that laws and government should be designed for the public good, whatever that might be.  That we have many rights - not enumerated there.  And laws can be made to ensure those rights.  (Think health care.)



What a pile of elephant crap!!!
First of all, Erikson accepted Freudian ideas on personality development as final and correct.
Secondly, his crisis of trust/mistrust applies to INFANTS as first stage in development.
Thirdly, it is followed by the Anal-Muscular Stage (I'm sure it's coming up in Part III of your series).
With regard to your creative and free reading of the declaration of independence, here are the rights it enumerates (and you skip):
- Life
- Liberty
- Pursuit of Happiness
And it's the job of the Government to secure (i.e. protect) these rights as well as to "effect people's Safety and Happiness".
The biggest problem with your ridiculous argument is that that bunch of men was rebelling against a government that was interfering with all aspects of life in the colonies, without providing much in return.
It was about the right to be left alone from government control, more than the rebellion against "rights of corporations" and certainly not for more government.
On the other hand, you are writing an essay on class struggle, built on a patchwork of cherry-picked and distorted thoughts from incompatible sources.
So I understand why you need such convoluted comparisons - they provide cover for lack of logic, accuracy of fact or even plausibility of desired outcome. Perhaps you could be more effective if you just openly parroted Michele Bachmann.
If you think corporations are too influential - get elected and change the rules. Or vote for someone who will more than hypnotize with words.
P.S. Can't wait till we get to The Genital-Locomotor Stage.
This is your challenge:
Try to make publish your point/position utilizing only facts instead of derision and disrespect.
For those who have a valid point to make and are secure in their stance, there is no need or desire to enter into this type of diatribe.
If you are truly interested in communicating facts or standpoints relevant to the post - please rephrase your comments in a factual basis without the snideness and unwarranted personal attacks.

First, edit out your first sentence. I think a fair guide to comments is to decide if you would talk tha way you write if you were actually sitting in a group across from that person in a coffee house and having a thoughtful converstion about issues that you felt important to yourself and also felt that it was important that people in general came to reasonably well informed onclusions about those issues. Face to face, you are probably not a jerk.
Then you go on to make some good points.
Then you propose a stupidly preposterous solution. [Yes, I do think I would say that to your face, but then I have never seen your face so I may be violating my own rule]
Do you really believe that a person who is concerned about rectifying some of the problems and faults of our country and thinks that corporations should not enjoy "personhood" should necessarily run for elected office in order to be considered serious? Do you reaaly believe that TheraP, or you, or me, or anyone you know, could just decide that they needed to get elected, accomplish that feat, and then actually turn around both our government/corporate policy as well as well as our cultural problems that let these things continue to problematic? Are you stupid? I don't think so but if I had only that one comment to go by I might call your opinion a load of elephant crap.
Lalo, I think Thera is being deliberately subtle. Michele Bachmann is talking about a revolution of the System. Thera is talking about a revolution of the Lifeworld. Bachmann is talking about turning power back to the financial system and away from the legal system. Thera is talking about re-prioritizing the values of a people. Bachmann is talking about overthrowing a government from above. Thera is talking about re-organizing what matters in the people below.
I admit, I thought the post was strange in the first half. But it was done so deliberately. A revolution in thought does not even necessarily entail a changed System. It only entails a new vision, new values, and a new reality. It's likely that the System will adjust to the new reality. It's likely that the System will accommodate the new reality. If it doesn't then the System becomes irrelevant.
I think the point here is that we're looking at it backwards. The System ought to accommodate the Lifeworld--not the other way around. If the Lifeworld accommodates the System, the we end up with dehumanization. Either way, System and Lifeworld assimilate each other. So why not insist that the Lifeworld not accommodate the System? I think that's all Thera is saying...
OK... re-reading my post, I see that I have a logical inconsistency. At one point, I say that a revolution of thought does not necessarily entail a revolution in the System. Then I say, "Either way, System and Lifeworld assimilate each other."
Let me be more clear. If System does not assimilate Lifeworld, then it becomes irrelevant. So it's not necessary, but if the System becomes irrelevant, then it ceases to be the System.
Try to think of what Thera is saying in terms of economics. Demand ought to come from the Lifeworld, not the System. If the people of the Lifeworld create the supply, then the supply should meet their own demands.
Oftentimes, the System is navigating the demands of the Lifeworld. In some sense that's positive. Every society has loose cannons and we want them to act within a certain standard code of behavior. But when it comes to things like love, caring, and kindness, we don't want a System that channels those qualities into a Mercedes Benz or the new plasma 60" flat screen. Those qualities are supposed to be channeled into each other. That's what keeps us human. Otherwise we become things--we become the product, not the producer. It's when we are trapped into that mindset that really bad things happen--like Iraq.
Thera is calling for us to change our mindset. That's all. Unstick it from the paradigm in which it is held today. Let it move a bit, and let's see where it ends up.
thank you
(points whizzing above chickens head)
Ha! Sorry, I'm being impatient. Let me say that again but in English.
This is how I interpret Thera's post. It's not about armed revolt or even protesting--as some are interpreting it. It's a call to change the way we think about our world. It uses revolutionary language because thinking differently is more revolutionary than any war could ever hope to be.
Legally, a corporation is a single person. Thera is asking that we remember that. If we believe that corporations are huge scary monsters, then we will encourage the System to give them the rights of huge scary monsters. But if we re-frame our understanding of corporations, then the System will treat them as we understand them.
It almost sounds absurd to say that Coca-Cola is as legally powerful as you chicken. But that's the truth! All things being equal, legally, chicken = Coca-Cola.
Sometimes we view corporations as gods. As long as we do, then they will have the power to act like gods. All I hear Thera saying is that we need to see our world a bit differently.
The use of the Declaration of Independence is also because there is a logic to the document. And I was laying out that logic. Also, the Declaration makes it clear that power derives from the people. And the document is a testament to how men tried to act peacefully after they'd gone through a revolution of thought.
Amazing how some jump to conclusions, isn't it?
Also, it's amazing how fearful some people can be of our freedom of speech. To think that referring to the Declaration of Independence would sound (to some) like a call for class struggle. Then again, I suppose lalo would view Jesus as calling for that too!

Absolutely! When I was first reading through it, I was thinking about the concept of security--which it mentions often. Securing rights. And really, that is our responsibility as a people--a self-governing people. Which means that our vision has to be sensitive to violations of those rights.
Then, I just looked back at it and I saw another key strand: dissolution. They weren't saying, "let's kill these guys and get them off our back." They were saying, "we have to make them irrelevant." That was the revolutionary act! Everything else that followed was the by-product of that paradigm shift.
That's really cool Thera. I never thought of it like that.
The value of cooperation! We learn a lot together!
I have never been able to figure out why we attribute to corporations the rights of citizens. Corporations have nothing in common with citizens. The goals of the two are more often than not in clear opposition.
Especially today where many corporations are global their claim to citizenship is further diminished because their true fidelity isn't to a country but solely to profit.
This is a philosophical argument that sorely needs to be examined and hashed over in congress. I'm uncertain of what that argument might produce though because I have little trust in the crooks in congress anymore.
I agree.
I've wondered the same myself. Here is a wiki discussion of corporate personhood.
Oh I like reading you!!!!DITTO DITTO DITTO
HAHAHAHAH!!! Towards the end of the last post I was thinking about what you said about Cheney last night!
How you could misinterpret what Thera is saying is beyond me.
Bachmann is carelessly nudging a physical revolution by tickling the lunatic fringe that operate in a lawless field. TheraP is putting forth a theory of a collective thought revolution within the confines of the Constitution.
I don't know from Freud. I don't know from elephants. I don't know from Hindu.
But, I do know when my BBSD goes off and it went ding! ding! ding! when I read your comment.

"..a theory of a collective thought revolution within the confines of the Constitution..."
What model is your BBSD, as we seem to have different brands.
Mine is home built from parts found here and there.
Oh ok. Mine reacts rather loudly to attempts to find thought confines in the Constitution, among other things.
Well, I gather my blogs are pretty important - if they are defined as "elephant crap." I hasten to add that for the Hindus elephants are sacred!
I might add that I have deliberately avoided the Freudian aspect of this - which Lalo seems to be so focused on. The theory stands and works very well, absent the Freudian aspects - which, as I say, I have avoided. If anyone is waiting for them, they will wait in vain....
Hindus use elephants as beasts of burden. Cows are sacred animals in India.
As far as Freudian aspect of this - it doesn't need to obscure the point that you and Michele Bachman are both advocating for the same thing, except that her lunacy is a little more obvious.
That you see "the same thing" says that your views are locked in phenomena and missing both reality and ideality, lalo. That is, you are chasing shadows most likely of your own creation.
I see part of your criticism of the blog post as fair enough, btw.
" much more are we going to take..."
Speaking of obscuring the point . . .
You haven't clarified your own.
Would you, or would you not agree that ideologies are just words and that they are abstractions used for a particular political, or in this case social purposes? If you do agree, would you not take actions proposed to sustain the point(s) of your own ideology?
I say that because that is what I see you attempting to do through derision, but without justifying your position nor suggesting any alternatives of your own to what has been discussed in this thread so far, nor the previous thread.
So far, you've accomplished little more than display an attitude of mocking what is being discussed.
Although, I will say that your type of responses have proven valuable to the need for these types of discussions ...
Thanks for the warning ...
Sacred elephants:
Elephants are sacred creatures in two of Asia’s largest religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism, the god Ganesha takes the form of an elephant. Ganesha is the Hindu god who takes time to care about people’s everyday needs and worries. According to Hindu legend, he is also the scribe who wrote down the sacred text of the Mahabharata.
Just the top two on a google!

. . . ;^)
"Mistrust is like a Basic BullShit Detector"
I see that function as simply a form of conscience.
But mistrust is an inversion of trust, and trust is a confident expectation usually based in experience* (but allowing for faith too). So mistrust could be a confident negative expectation, or a non-confident expectation, etc. The line between trust and mistrust is the freedom of the mind, related to skepticism (wavering of belief, neither stable belief nor disbelief). It's a kind of mental emotional openness in the face of the unknown.
* Trust also involves recourse.

Mistrust is different than conscience. Conscience relates to your transgressing your own behavior; standards you are taught or choose for yourself. Mistrust relates to your reaction to the outside world and people.
No, my usage is broader than that. Conscience is how you know what you believe. It's the output function of your BBSD. It's role is often ignored or given moral blinders.

Hi eds, how about the distinction between conscience and self-knowledge? It seems Thera's using the word 'conscience' in the usual sense, while you're stretching it a bit.
"trust is a confident expectation usually based in experience* (but allowing for faith too). So mistrust could be a confident negative expectation, or a non-confident expectation, etc. The line between trust and mistrust is the freedom of the mind, related to skepticism (wavering of belief, neither stable belief nor disbelief)."
Trust is also more specific than just a confident expectation. Unless you want to include uses such as 'I trust it will rain today'. (i) it can be based on experience, ideology, religious experience of some sort, rational grasp of self-evident truths, etc. I.e. WHO CARES about the base. (ii) It is essentially moral in nature; I can have pretty confident expectations about the behavior of Bush or Cheney, but I wouldn't call my attitude one of 'trust'. The latter involves a confidence in the other's respect for my dignity, respect, interest, values or some such recognition of ME, and a consequent expectation that his actions will reflect this respect.
(p.s. hope you're not still ignoring me...)
You're quibbling pointlessly, what TheraP called "caviling" if I recall correctly re 'trust'.
"how about the distinction between conscience and self-knowledge? It seems Thera's using the word 'conscience' in the usual sense, while you're stretching it a bit."
What about it? I'm not stretching the truth, I might be stretching your previously limited understanding.
There are several 'self-knowledge' notions around. Conscience which functions to tell you what you believe is a kind of self-knowledge, but not all self-knowledge is conscience 'per se'. There is a question of the self here as subject vs. as object, in your cryptic brevity. Are you thinking of the self and sub. or ob. of knowledge relative to conscience. Or of both or of neither?
con-science, with knowing, is feedback from "mind" into sense perception, an intrinsic part of human knowledge.
I think I'm going to put you on spatially permanent ignore, Obey, at least until you stop this current trend of yours.
I'm pointing out the simple point that 'conscience' and 'trust' have a broader epistemic use and a narrower moral use, and for present purposes it is the latter that is the focus. It's not caviling whatever that means (i'm assuming it is not good). It is not that I have 'no point', I was trying to sharpen yours. You're outlining the conceptual territory with a paint roller, while I, my friend, tend to use a rigger brush. If you so prefer, just keep rolling...
Did my above reply answer your question about self-knowledge vs. conscience?
There is a reason to use the "broad brush" here, it's not a fallacy in this case. The reason is clear enuf in the first post of the subthread where I introduced the term.
'cavil' is in many online dictionaries. Try one.

I never intended to call it a fallacy. I think trust and conscience are interesting concepts, and you choose a broader usage of these terms which I find uninteresting, where trust just is confident expectation - i.e. a subset of belief-attitudes, and where conscience just is knowing what one believes. Sure, maybe some people use conscience in this way, and trust can often be used in this broader way. But they aren't the interesting conceptual cores of trust and conscience.
As for self-knowledge, I didn't mean to be cryptic. I meant for it to cover a lot of conceptual territory, co-extensive with 'conscience' as you seemed to understand it. But you now seem to want to use it for a sub-set of self-knowing attitudes, but for something more generic than those limited to the moral sphere.
I don't think this particular conversation is going anywhere. Forget my suggestion...
"But they aren't the interesting conceptual cores of trust and conscience. "
I don't know what you find interesting, but you've got it exactly backwards re "conceptual cores". My definitions get at the essential nature/ideas behind everyday usage of both terms. The broadest brush, in this sense, IS the universal core. What I suppose you call the conceptual core is to me only a phenomenal particular, such as "Is your conscience bothering you?" which might refer to knowing you believe you're guilty of some crime or transgression.
This is more philosophy than politics, but I don't want to leave the quibbling unrequited because these are essential ideas, since TheraP raised what I consider philosophical aspects ...
eds, I don't want to get into an argument about what is or is not interesting, nor a meta-discussion of what constitutes a conceptual core. If you're interested in the notions of conscience and trust as pertaining to the moral fabric of society, interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, there is no point poking around the generic concepts of belief and knowledge of one's beliefs. you need to look at how these concepts relate to traits such as integrity, sincerity, authenticity, autonomy, how they relate to internalization of norms, to reactive attitudes such as anger, resentment, remorse, guilt, to the cognitive role of empathy, simulation, mental time travel, various situationist factors, and how all these different notions relate to moral reasoning. If you're not interested in these questions, then fine. Let us talk about something else...
Thanks for the suggestions but I'd rather it be a dialog and you keep going meta- here.
Hey there. Love these posts - thanks.
I mistrust the government which (for me) equates to distrusting the people to stand up and speak out en masse. The government, as set forth in these hallowed documents, is only as worthy as those who we elect to serve to 'run' the machine that is government.
If 'We, the People' continue to utilize negative reaction instead of positive action, we will only get worse, not better.
Most only enter into the former, ever spewing negatives and critiques; seldom spending time and energy on solutions/resolutions - much less assuming personal responsibility and putting forth informed actions.
Resolution/Revolution. Better/Worse? Trust/Mistrust? The bottom line is it's not 'the government' that causes the damage, it's the society that supports, enables and sustains the current form of government actions/inactions.
I do believe that Obama's methodology is the best - I just don't trust that the needed 'people' will change. But, Hope does spring eternal.

Thanks, Aunt Sam! Thanks for your support and your comments.
Eight years of continuous lies. How to develop trust there has been none?
There is a relationship between predictability and trust. If this person says he or she is going to do such and such, can I rely on that promise.
I will be back. Why this lalo guys gives a damn or comes over here is beyond me.
I must agree with Lalo35adm on his main points, and carry my argument forth from earlier: this is trying to apply an analogue or model that simply does not fit the problem space.
As for factual accuracy (insofar as the term can be used in matters of psychology), I will initially merely point out that an abusive relationship has absolutely nothing to do with trust and mistrust--in fact, it could be argued that an abusive relationship has facets of all of the other "stages" but that one.
But, more fundamentally, one cannot just apply a developmental psychology model on an arbitrary situation, and it is especially abusive, if you permit, to try to apply an individual developmental model at a social level (as a special case of trying to use individual psychology on groups.)
Not to be a naysayer: this direction does not seem worthwhile. Even if you are able to build some type of a group consensus of a mental model, I find it unlikely that it is something that is easily accepted by others (aside from, in my opinion, being dangerously incorrect).
I wonder what problem space you think we are in right now?
I think this space is one in which we're examining basic assumptions and fundamental beliefs. I'm not sure what is a better model than one on development. Maybe there are better development models (I don't know of any), but I'm not sure what you're looking for.
Would you suggest this space is epistemic? I might buy that. But even if the space ought to be epistemic, we still have to deal with the origin of the knowledge.
I don't quite see your problem, Karl. I don't know much about Erikson nor Freudian psychology in general, but so far I quite like the analogies between the developmental applications of the origins and consequences of mistrust for adaptive or maladaptive psychological tendencies, and the related social phenomena. Depends perhaps on how far one wants to take the analogies.
However, your second bit is odd:
"one cannot just apply a developmental psychology model on an arbitrary situation, and it is especially abusive, if you permit, to try to apply an individual developmental model at a social level (as a special case of trying to use individual psychology on groups.)"
The broad field of study on collective intentionality is pretty uncontroversially 'trying
use individual psychology on groups'. That is, we apply the same psychological 'models' and concepts and use them as heuristic tools to explain and predict behavior of social groups. There are of course interesting differences and dependency-relations between individual and collective intentional (mental) states which could be enumerated: (i) the apparent absence of phenomenology in the latter, (ii) the involvement of an essentially 'we' directed attitude in the latter, etc. But you're really making an extraordinary claim in rejecting outright the legitimacy of this field of study (and field of common-sense understanding). It's an interesting question, if you have something beyond naive individualism to back up what you say. (why not a post?).
As for your last charge - that this is 'dangerous'... as Dr. Dick would say, WHAT!!!
Wow, I watch a movie about a man who saved 1200+ people in a Kigali hotel in Rwanda during the terrible massacre of nearly 1 million people - and I come back and all heck has broken out on this thread!
Peace. Please let us have peace here at TPM.
It is a terrible shame that a few people persist in trying to misunderstand things. What a terrible shame.
There are good people - here and everywhere. And there is no need to have such tribulation here at TPM. It's really heart-breaking.
You don't have to agree with the theory. But I'm not mocking anyone. I'm calling for wisdom and cooperation and peace.
Blessings and peace. We need a peaceful world.

I always assume that the presence of nay-sayers is proof positive that we are making progress. Else why would they bother to show up?
I was thinking the same thing....and relating this to the time of the writing of the Constitution and other documents of revolution. Only one third of the population was in favor of breaking ties with England. The majority, the Loyalists, preferred the status quo.
Just sayin'.
What a great reminder! I woke up this morning to an interview on NPR with Tict Nhat Hahn. He inspires such peacefulness. Your comments just now, reminded me of that space. It must be our center!
By the way, major props for the link to Kuhn. He really grounds science on the foundation it must stand to be properly considered "science."
I think we really need some epistemic humility--especially now. Rigidity is an awkward quality. To answer another question from the first post. I think we need to prune--what Taleb in The Black Swan calls--"epistemic arrogance." And hold very tightly to epistemic humility.
Look at the quote in my profile from TS Eliot. Yes, I'm all for epistemic humility.
Thich Nhat Hahn, for those who are unfamiliar, is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Here's the website for his community:
When he came to a place nearby to give some lectures, the phone number to make reservations was completely busy from the moment I read about it in the NY Times. Never got to see him. But he's a man of peace.

Yes! Great quote! Humility is wisdom!
Yeah, Hahn is amazing. I think his book on Anger should be required high-school reading. And our country would be much better off if every Evangelical read and understood Living Buddha, Living Christ.
Being Peace was the first of his I read. I think that may be another "hold onto" for the Vision-Quest: the value of being peace.
As noted in my comment Thera:
If 'We, the People' continue to utilize negative reaction instead of positive action, we will only get worse, not better.
Most only enter into the former, ever spewing negatives and critiques; seldom spending time and energy on solutions/resolutions - much less assuming personal responsibility and putting forth informed actions.
That seems to be especially true with some here.
But Thera, to be honest, to get them to comprehend, I truly believe you'd have to 'dumb it down' and that would be defeating the whole intent.
Most here do so appreciate the peace, understanding and warm embrace of your posts. (Of course, we also can comprehend them.)
Many thanks. And keep goin' on.....
Ignore them. (Too bad the report abuse doesn't equate to 'just being a dumb ass'.)

There's something the Sufis firmly believe in. And that is that you need people who are prepared to learn and you need the right moment and the right means - for teaching. Yes, some people have no interest in learning. But if we can each affect one or two or maybe more and those can affect one or two or more, then little by little there will be a "revolution of thought" - where people's minds change. After all, it must be very frustrating for those who contend against us to see how quickly the public has turned away from repub propaganda. That must really be a downer for those who are invested in it.
I'm doing my best to remain centered. Maybe we need a post related to that.
Actually, I kinda liked the idea of elephant dung, given the sacredness to Hindus and the fact that the elephant is considered a protector of everyday needs and worries.

hahahahaha!!!! A Big Steaming Pile of Elephant Dung (Part III of a series)
LOL. Thanks for the chuckle! :-)
You have more things to worry about besides silly criticism. I hope you are doing better this weekend.
TRUST; On my walk tonight I had some predictability in my loathesome life for eight years. I mean, If the VP or w or condi told me there were WMD's, I knew there were none. I knew it from the beginning. I mean in 2002 I thought, if sadaam has em, he bought them from the VP's firm in the first place.
But other than that, I was sure there were no weapons of mass destruction because everybody in the administration said there were some, in fact a lot. The more they escalated the fear, the more I KNEW they were lying.
I knew that the tax 'rebates' refunds were a scam to get more money into the hands of the rich.
Oh no, w said, EVERYBODY WILL BENEFIT. I could predict that that was not what was going to happen. The rich would get BILLIONS and the masses would get enough for a new toaster and a foreman grill. The more w spoke about how much the masses would get, the more I KNEW that the opposite would be the truth.
When w said the new Medicare drug package would help all of America, I knew it would only benefit the drug companies.
I will not continue with another fifty five paragraphs here, although I could.
This NEW GUY says:
We will get rid of Gitmo.
We will change the healthcare system.
We will undo the tax structure and put more of a burden on the richest of the rich, relieving the burden on the masses.
We will begin to speak with our enemies. Formally, informally, we are going to speak with them.
We are going to cut our dependency on foreign oil.
I could do fifty paragraphs on this.
I mean, are we really stuck with an Administration that will at least attempt to do what it said it would do BEFORE THE ELECTION.
I am asea.
Oh we lefties have arguments.
I do not like the MANNER in which we close down GITMO, redo the tax system, redo the issues on torture, on secrecy in gov.....
That is enough.
I am just talking about trust. One small part of your discussion here and yet the main element.
DO OR AT LEAST SHOW YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO DO what you promise. That is the first step in trust.
Oh and trust, TheraP, as you always do, that naysayers will attack anything that would help the situation.
Thanks for all these thoughts, dd. As ever. :-)
We are confronted with the words and reality of what Obama says and what he does. That they are in conflict is very disturbing.
I agree.
I, for one, am all for analyzing parallels between the concepts of individual and social development. For example, in all fairness, Michelle Bachman and her ilk, in their childish conception of the world, are still stuck in Piaget's pre-operational stage of development. Their tribal worldview and anthropomorphic or animistic cosmology, vestiges of earlier historical stages of cultural development, contrast with the cultural/scientific contributions of minds performing formal operations necessary for modern adult, scientific thinking, which is the level at which this discussion is taking place. It is obvious that these two contrasting levels of discourse do involve cognitive development differences at the psychological level which cannot be dissociated from cultural advancement, and by culture I do include scientific thinking.
The Enlightenment not only brought along the beginning of the stage of formal operations at a collective societal level, but it also brought about via Locke and Rousseau, although there were earlier formulators, an articulation of the Social Contract. The well "enlightened" Thomas Jefferson inserted these ideas into the Declaration of Independence, a document which expressed a breach of the social contract by the existing government, which having thus forfeited its legitimacy, forced its subjects to establish a new legitimate government, one which would respect that contract. This brings us to today, over two centuries later, to your delving into the issue of trust and to Josh's mention of the breach of the social contract by executives pillaging the public's largesse, and I do believe the two of you are onto much that is true here.
I am not a fellow pitchforker for many reasons, but I do find that the ideas and references you weave together as a basis for your argument do come together coherently. I am a fool for such synthesis.
Wonderful, helpful addition to moving this project along, AdAbsurdum. While some may "see" pitchforks in the post, they are reading things into it that I never intended. But I take comfort in the fact that Obama himself used the term "pitchfork" in recent days. I am a pacifist. I am seeking non-violent ways for things to change.
Your mention of cognitive dissonance fits perfectly with this endeavor we're engaged in. It also explains, as Piaget's theory does, how someone can stay stuck in a concept or a behavior long after all the evidence indicates there is a big problem with that way of viewing the world or behaving. Cognitive dissonance. Until finally, hopefully, the mind kicks into the gear of accommodating to reality.
Your comment is very much appreciated. As always. :)
TheraP, there is so much in this post to respond to that I feel a bit scattered. First, you are more hopeful than I, but I am not without hope.
The "change of mind" or revolution in thought, can certainly result in a change in physical action or direction. There is certainly, on a national and global level, some indications that such a shift may indeed be in the offing. I might go so far as saying that a change of heart might follow.
On the other hand, we also have clear evidence that if people change (or are forced to change) their actions, that the mind is likely to come into alignment. On the positive side, smiling (even if one doesn't feel like it) can lift one's mood). On the negative side we have the Stockholm Syndrome, where captives come to love / support their captors. (I personally think this is a component of why people may stay in abusive relationships - since it was brought up). To drop into psychology, it is in a way, a mechanism for resolving cognitive dissonance. People have been living in a web of lies and now hold dearly to them.
However, I think the current environment in the U.S. is ... complicated. It is easy to point to the egregious activities of the Bush-Cheney administration as a breach of trust. While many have ultimately come to the conclusion that a lot of "lying" went on, I think many more feel that Bush made a bunch of bad calls and decisions. I believe that there is a problem of locating "breach of trust" with that administration however.
The U.S. public has been lied to and deceived for a very long period of time. That lying has gone on through the presidencies of both parties. There has been an ongoing collusion of the media in maintaining the lies. The quest for empire and control is deeply embedded in US policy. BushCo was just much more blatant than most others have been. The US government has long conflated the "interests" of the United States with the "interests" of corporations. I know only a handful of people who even have a whiff of a question when they here that something is important to our "national interests." What President or administration or politician has ever been asked to explain exactly what "interests" are being protected or advanced? How many citizens even bat an eye at the term?
What happens when a people (or a majority of a people) believe a lie to be true? The current financial and economic debacle is a case in point. Most, seem to believe that there were a few bad actors. They do not seem that the system failed, and that getting it "back on course" will change nothing. We hear the term "toxic assets" over and over. Those toxic assets were not the homes that were purchased by people. The toxic assets are the investment shenanigans and "exotic instruments" that sucked the "real" economy into a vortex, and now aims to suck the marrow from our bones. I still repeatedly hear from people around me, as well as "pundits" that those "bad" homeseekers are the reason for our problems. Overwhelmingly, they do not see that the system was nudged, restructured, and refooted to maximize wealth and power in the hands of the few.
When information (reality vs lie) is put before folks, people all too frequently react in anger to the truth teller. Why? Because the lie has been buttressed in all directions. I don't know how even a change of mind breaks through this.
Trust and mistrust. Where is it placed, and at what is it directed? The lies have been spun to be the framework, and distrusting even part challenges deeply held beliefs which many inherently know would crumble their personal foundations in ways that are seemingly terrifying.
On the other hand, there may be a "critical mass" of thought that triggers a revolution of creativity and wholeness. Or there may be the "hundredth monkey" where after a certain number of people change their actions that it becomes a revolutionary leap of life.
I'm sorry to have gone on so long. TheraP, your work is thought provoking and touches many threads in my fabric of life.
This is fine writing Rown. Really nice.
Rowan, how right you are. Basically I am hopeful. It's a painful place to position oneself at times. But the only one from which solutions are possible. Otherwise, according the theory, you may in you old age fall into despair. (Since I'm getting pretty close, I'm trying to hang onto hope and do my best to make the world a better place.)
Stockholm Syndrome. Excellent case you bring up. And I think that fits with cognitive dissonance, as AdAbsurdum brought up in the comment just above you.
Please, dear Rowan, never ever apologize for length of comments. TPM allows for that. And yours are well worth every inch of my screen! You could fill it up on a daily basis and I would be most happy. :)
Thank you so much for the historical background. I am realistic enough to know that likely we, who are truth-tellers and thus mocked or despised for it - may gain little traction except among a few like-minded folk. But the web at the very least allows us like-minded folk to associate, cooperate and keep up our spirits, while trying to learn and understand and seek wisdom.
Our nation may be headed for the dung heap of history as so many empires before it. Whether or when that will occur I have no idea. But if it does, we can certainly imagine how that decline will be described and explained.
You've also added a hugely helpful dimension in pointing out how the personal foundations of those who've undermined the social foundations must feel so powerfully threatened at this moment. When so much is being divulged and the populace, even if pointing fingers in the wrong direction, is outraged and no longer complacent.
All of the great wisdom traditions have come out of turbulent times and provide methods for remaining calm and centered. We need these truths now, more than ever. Especially as the task of truth-teller can be so messy at times. ;)
Peace be with you, my friend. I love your avatar. It always gives me such a peaceful, soothing feeling.
AH TheraP, despair. Throughout my life I have periodically fallen into what I call my "global depressions." They are not generally driven by personal issues, but by global ones - the commodification of life for example. They truly are depressions, and I have felt like giving up. Yet I never have. The reason is that once one gives up all is lost (a series of lessons from my personal experiences). No matter whether there is a chance of change or not, once you quit, any chance is gone. The consequences of the challenges we face are just too large to give up. So despairing or depressed or not, one must trudge on. One must keep trying because too much hangs in the balance.
So true, Rowan. So true. Believe me, I have never forgotten what you shared with us of your own personal history. In my work I have been struck by the persons, who dealt painful cards in life, were able to learn from them how not to behave as well as how to help others instead of harming them.
I too at times am deathly sickened and pained by what goes on in the world. What has happened to one. Or to many.
Like you, I cannot turn away. I must do what I can. There are many here at TPM of like mind. I bless them and pray for them. And for all.

Sorry folks. I accidentally rec'd this - trying to click on the comments. My bad. :(
I'll put up Part III before long. Title, thanks to satyagraha. Topic will be related to how some in society, even here at TPM, prefer disruption rather than cooperation. I know the theory could explain that from the very first. Now you'll have the perfect way to remember it when you see it. (coming soon)
Grammar correction: I "knew" the theory could explain...."
I finally got some 'puter time alone to try and enuciate my thoughts on post one a bit and I read post two and some of the intial comments and think WOW did I miss something ?
Thinking of the two posts as stages to a larger thought.
If writing of our freedom documents was the culmination of a vision quest (or the conjunction of several "quests") we must also acknowledge they were also a series of compromises (hence the civil war years later). From my perpsective here in our time I am struck by the opposing views of those documents which have evolved over the years.
On one side the strict "constitutionalist" (If it doesn't spell it out specifically then it ain't a law). On the other side the living breathing document crowd (Those that beleive that those documents were merely meant as an outline to proper interactions of a govenment and its people).
How do we reconcile these quite disparate view points? I have often wondered how our founding father's would react to the notion that the Constitution that they wrote by committee and with numerious compromises on specific language became an "omnipotent document" and that their collective thoughts were the "final word" on These United States of America.
I have foolishly believed that "justice" was the adjucation of a disput between parties to ensure that one side didn't abuse or take unfair advantage of another.
I know this is rather simplistic but I think most of you understand my point.
I'll try and post quickly my thoughts on trust/mistrust next

Gosh, I love you more and more! Your perceptive comments are so helpful. And yes, the conflicts we see in the history of our nation seem to be so reflective of this "conflict-negotiating" theory of development we're pursuing here. Wow! Very helpful insight.
Reminds me of the bible wars too! Did those folks compiling documents which we now call the Bible have any idea their words would become dogma? It's even funnier when you think the words have to translated for most of us! But I digress....
...or as I think Thera is moving toward with this the hell did we get where we are as a nation.
Our Nation has historically been viewed globally based on the "American Sense of Fairness"..We, as a nation, did what was fair for whomever globally almost irregardless of the cost to us as a nation.
Rebuilding countires and econimies after world wars. constructing massive canals to connect two oceans and improve global commerce and 1000's more.
Even in recent times if you traveld abroad in some contries you were reviled but still people felt that America was too strong for her own good but she didn't, generally, take excessive advantage of it. (this is not to deny many specific examples when we, was a nation did abuse our postition in the world it is merely to point out we had many opportunities for far greater excesses and didn't).
We were the one super power but we generally only used that "biggest kid on the playground" postion when gross abuses were found and could be stopped.
Then came 911 and for a horrible, shining moment the entire world was behind us...America had been wronged and she was about to unleash all her might on the perptrators. Afganistan..and most specifically the Taliban and other small groups of radicaly fundamentalist were the target and we watched, almost with a sense of pride, as the attackers were throughly and precisely punished. I contend that at the point in time when BinLaden slipped into Pakistan to escape us that the world would have scolded the US for persuing him there militraily, but with knowing eyes they would have turned quietly away as we persued and destroyed him and his radical followers as American sense of Justice. I will always wonder why we didn't.
Our Govenment officals began banging the drum for Iraq..they said..."we KNOW he has these things...we KNOW where they are..." Yet we felt some discomfort as this new war was staged. But, our President ,we gave the benefit of the doubt becuase we assumed he had information we didn't. When it became apparent that this was not true we lost some trust.
As this war unfolded and the motives for it switched as the original premese had been proven untrue we lost some more trust.
The Presidnet got re-elected and then we learned about warrantless wiretapping and other unconstitutional acts that all apparently originated somewhere within our own administration. serious amounts of trust was lost.
Trust is the theme of this section of Thera's post...I don't think it is meamt entirely as a point about our nations pollitics but the facts that pollitics plays a part in the trust of us as a nation both here and abroad can be ignored.
We lived through an era of pollitcal control that was focused on staying in power at any era that in any other nation would ahve been enarly impossible to overthrow. But in one day we changed the course of this nation...and just perhaps the world... can anyone who posts here deny the readily apparent change in attitudes world wide toward our leadership between the last adminsitration adn this one?
For Native Amewrican's the "vision quest" was a part of life and was both a celebration and a trail. Justice was the rules of nature and culture for each tribe...Indeed many of the basic principals as laid out in our Constitution already existed here on this continent in the Iroquois Nation of 300 years ago where a vast interconected set of tribes controled all aspects of lfie and trade and justice...and women had a vote and a say...Savages? One has to wonder how it might ahve been differnet IF.
A masterful summary! A beautiful contribution to this process. I am really struck by all the wonderful thinking going on here. And I cannot but believe that the quality of the thinking and the import of the task are evident from the efforts to derail this discussion.
Please see Part III.
For some of us the discussion was derailed by the first mention of Freudian theories.
The treatment of Autism was tragically stymied for a generation by the Freudian theorists , e.g. Bettleheim, who not only were incapable of treating this treatable condition ( and deluded themselves about that failure) but also bitterly opposed the Behaviorists who could.
I grant that this may have been an exception. But so terrible a one that I'm unable to summon up the patience required to search for whatever validity Freudianism might otherwise have. If Freud were alive today he would not be a Freudian.
I think there is legitimacy in your critique of Freud. I think the most devastating critique was by Wittgenstein. He accused Freud of confusing relationship with causation. I think that's correct--a lot of cocaine can cause one to make that mistake!
But I think that Erikson's theory of development overcomes Freud's confusion. Like Thera points out, these stages of development are cumulative. Freud seemed to think that you had one shot at developing--if you missed it, then you missed it--you can cope with your issues, but you can't resolve them. Erikson's theory makes development much more flexible. Just think about it. We're discussing a lot of people developing as a country in its 243rd year.
I know your point is just that the mention of Freud caused the derailing. I'm not directing this at you flavius.
I never mentioned Freud, flavius. He was a strange man. Obsessed with becoming famous. Very dictatorial to his followers. I've refrained from dragging him into any discussions. That was done by someone else in the comments.
I'm not a Freudian at all. And Erikson's theories are easily accessible without the Freudian jargon. Much better to leave that part behind.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
I apologize for mischaracterizing your position.
Whatever one's judgement of Freud, the 20th century Freudians, many of them of course well meaning compassionate human beings,did harm at least to the extent I described.
Late seeing this comment. But I so agree with your assessment that the Freudians did harm. It wasn't all harm. But yes, harm was done.
Certainly not all harm.
And to repeat ,some of those who did harm were well meaning. Perhaps most. Not all.
Fabulous essay, Thera!
Sorry for responding to DCObserver above in the way I did; it impinges on the thrust of your theme.
But this idiot stepped over a line with me. He is a ghoul and a troll.
I apologize for hijacking your thread to voice my screed.
Justice P, have no fear. I saw what happened at your blog. You have my sympathy. I give you my blessing. :)
Uh . . . Justice
There is always someone in the crowd who just can't handle expressing their disagreement without labeling and denigrating other well meaning people. I'd let DCObserver be the one. That's because it's the only way that individuals like DCO understand how to act in public. It's all bluster. And you know, there are quite a few other wind bag's around the Cafe that do the same, although buried in more long-windedness.
Here's something I think that you can also relate to Justice... Folks like DCO most likely will never stop crapping where they eat. When they step away from the ether world here and if they're lucky enough they'll be able to bother their immediate 3D friends and family. That is, if they are lucky enough to have not run all of them off from their life.
Pretty grim ... Eh?
Good advice; until the goulish remark about Wellstone, I was happy to just parry or ignore the fool. But they stepped over the line with that one and I went off.
I'm moving on and this fool will remain so.

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