Symbiophrenic Incursion: Life for Living (essay on Cultural Psychosis) by Brenden MacDonald    
 Life for Living (essay on Cultural Psychosis) by Brenden MacDonald2 comments
Tuesday, August 26th 2008, by Brenden Macdonald

For what do the world and its life exist? I hope to live for my life, and therefore for the life around me that supports my every breath and need to express. What do we seek by name of freedom? I seek freedom to communicate and enjoy my ability to perceive meaning. I detest the “freedom” to be paid wages for bills to pay. What are we to make as our social objective, or in other words, what form of balance between desires should we value as the basis for peaceful relation? A prevalently lived out response to these questions is destroying diversity in our ecosystems and societies.

There are many inadvertent murderers that lack awareness as to resist behaving inappropriately; indeed they lack awareness of behaving with deadly results. They do not understand they are hurting themselves and others. This last statement indicates mental illness is present clouding their minds. Just as schizophrenics can be swayed by deluded confusion and inadvertently strike out at their self and environment, so can “normal people.” My position in this essay is that something inadvertent has occurred in the general thinking of humanity, and that this is what has led us to striking out at a delicate web that simply cannot withstand the activity considered as desirable in our general thinking.

The primary difference between schizophrenia and what I name here as cultural psychosis is that in more ways symptoms in the first mainly comprise an internal syndrome, and thus schizophrenia is more related to our bodies and can be helped thru medicine. Cultural psychosis on the other hand comprises symptoms mainly acted out interpersonally. The context for this psychosis is not the context of biochemistry, but language itself, our bridge between persons and foundation for culture. To describe a whole society as culturally psychotic then means to say that that society at large identifies with the world thru language that is disconnected from appropriate interpretations of reality.

“To dissolve in the primordial matrix of life, this is sanity.” These words call out to the Western traditional and current global socioeconomic systems, words from Henryk Skolimowski in an essay entitled Forests as Sanctuaries. Such a social context exists in our world that we regularly condone such practices as depriving opportunity and health to our children and their children by means of environmental and social destruction for profit, if not indeed rape and pillage for profit. I refer to both our technological residues and our desperate condition of social relations. With wars of various kinds of genocide occurring worldwide, we must consider we have the wrong agendas!

Even though this idea is not defined by any widely accepted psychological, anthropological, or sociological theory, I think our society has become culturally psychotic. I have no widely accepted theory to mention, but I for one have come to see along with Riane Eisler that our “dominator style” of interaction is the primary source of warfare and oppression.

I also believe Terrence McKenna in what he said in Food of the Gods of conscious purpose in this unfolding life, that there will be more beauty and ecstasy possible when we embrace an “archaic revival” in relation to what Riane Eisler described as a “partnership” society, one which embraces compassion and sustainability in peaceful relations, those between ecosystem and humanity and between every human. We probably need that kind of society to be heartened enough for desiring and appreciating the profound art of life.

Ecologists, artists, scientists, and activists have by my standards adequately sought by various approaches to demonstrate a rhythm of peace that is basic and accessible compared to our world’s warring, so I need not here specify evidence such as centuries of peace and vast artistic, spiritual, and technological evolution in partnership societies and partnership activity within dominator societies. Riane Eisler did this brilliantly in The Chalice and the Blade. A position in this essay is that ancient dominator systems of thinking were flawed, or psychotic, in terms of their approaches to peaceful relation, and that is why we describe recorded history as the rise and militaristic fall of empire-civilizations. Otherwise, our world would not have seen so many urgent crises and disparities. Let us proceed to assess how this dominator social value is expressed to see if we can find ways to ‘dissolve in life’ and overcome insanity. We need to change in order to survive on Earth.

Personally, I am more philosophically scared of never overcoming differences than I would be of all out nuclear and bio-chemical/biological warfare (during which I would be more mortally scared for my life.) At least after that, we would not in heart, I believe, have a choice except to cooperate if any tattered beings survived at all. Never overcoming differences would make conscious experience depressed and suicidal, and indeed conflict between our thinking systems and social or ecological ways of health possibly led to the initial delusions surrounding the holocausts and near-nuclear-fallouts of past and present societies. What is it about our thinking systems that builds flaw into how our social systems interact with themselves and the world?

Now, if at the widest and most horrendous levels of human interaction our thinking systems allow entire organized nations, transnational corporations, and religions to condone war, ecological death, and oppression in the name of “freedom, growth, and truth”—we ought to expect aberration and pathology in the narrower levels of human interaction. We ought to expect to see the large scale decay of whole social institutions as contextually defined by the small scale creators and maintainers of those institutions.

We ought to expect that things are really farg’d up in all sorts of human relationships at the level of interpersonal contexts. That our society at large behaves by accepted convention in a culturally psychotic manner, as evidenced by injustice and strife, suggests that many “normal” individuals behave pathologically due to dogmatically learned and excessively expressed dominator values. The primary symptom of cultural psychosis is the expression of systemic disorganization in thinking that entails a drastic misinterpretation of the needs of the world, as illustrated in behaviours exemplified by our socio-ecological tyrannies. I am guessing a large majority of individuals hearing this now were born in such a context that they were routinely taught to communicate and understand in culturally psychotic ways or, in other words, excessively dominator-style influenced ways.

Let us test that premise: you likely agree with me that freedom, growth, and truth are amiable. Well, working with that, growth on Earth occurs to life in the truth of freedom with many options for symbiosis! Let us proceed with the way I’ve used these terms into an abstract view of Earth and human life. I wonder how this ‘truth’ about Earthly life’s natural ‘growth,’ by means of ‘freedom’ in living, equates to commonly held aphorisms, such as “there is no free lunch,” “no pain, no gain,” “another day, another dollar,” “just bill me,” and don’t forget ‘another rat race to the daily grinder’ if you kindly let me add to two familiar phrases. The relationship between these aphorisms and the words freedom, growth, and truth is not beautiful enough to even be deemed paradoxical; they are simply expressive of an unreasonable and delusional interpretation occurring in an individual’s linguistic relationship with the world and others. Do you agree that the true nature of life is to grow in an awesome freedom, even if not understanding my diagnosis of contemporary global culture?

You see, in the long term the sunlight hits Earth and then the plants need to give us food or they will not survive in many cases and we will not survive having not eaten. Symbiosis seems to be a predominant order of Earth’s healthy life. Instead of “working for the result of pay as a means of living,” “cooperate for life as a means of experience.” Reducing your life to affairs of cost-based contexts shows an example of culturally psychotic thought at the interpersonal level, and paying to live and knowing only costs and low wages does not dissolve one into life.

Interpersonally, our social value as beings has become a crude matter of economic worth, a matter of hours we must with fear of starvation give to others, and a matter of things in nature we find and withhold from others who need them, until a time being when (essentially) imaginary numbers have rolled our bank account’s way. In the conventional scenario of “needing money for living,” I am reminded of psychological ideas about communication recognizing that language as naturally expressed often denotes a perception of context and of dynamic processes of communication. An example to make this familiar with you is a person who says “they make me angry and sad.”

In this language the person denotes his or her perception of the process of emotion and action generation, namely that others are to be held accountable for one’s internally generated response to what’s happening. This is in effect a proposal of a very specific Newton-like cause-effect psychological mechanism of an instinctual kind. Avoiding the severe philosophic argument of mind-body duality and nurture-nature duality for a paper concerning social values, I will here proceed from a notion of this living universe as a free will zone, so the claim ending the preceding paragraph does not convince me.

Rather, “I respond to them with anger and sadness” when for example confronted by communication that denies my freedom. Those responses are warranted by the communicative purpose of sending a message to others so they can know, understand, and help me with carrying actions forth. We have not so benign and fatal a situation as “they simply control the responsibility for my actions and feelings.”

We can draw formal analogy to the ideas surrounding “needing money for living” as we have indication of interpersonal communications disconnected from the relevant reality. Just as we do not literally have mechanical “buttons to push” that let other people control our every emotion and response, the results of life do not rely upon a cosmically-ordained-as-necessary financial transaction, life for money instead of life from sunlight, blooming naturally. Life is not “paid for” by anything to grow; that would be a malapropism uttered by the ignorant.

Likewise it is ludicrous to say there are “no funds” for a given human endeavour. This claim of “no funds” is a linguistic run-around, a psychological self-brainwashing that in reality implies not enough willingness and desire for an endeavour in upper levels of conscious networks to make action-executive decisions for a workforce to “carry it out” (they got billions to look for and carry rocks out of mines.) I am talking for example about political leaders and chief executive officers not caring enough about investing energy and resources into the environmentally sustainable technologies. They sputter “sorry, there are few too little funds to exist,” and maybe God foregoes salvation until the final payment for your soul has transacted. Whoops, that was supposed to be the devil, not the good guy charging you your life excessively! Yuck! Only an economic system based from a pervasive ethical egoism symbolized externally as money would have this world where children are not simply fed.

Maybe, if you do not agree and instead think it is a priori necessary that you must pay for lunch and you think our form of economy is legitimate, and if you disagree it is stipulated by conscious convention with terrifying consequences, you are likely also to be in steadfast denial of your possible cultural psychosis. I know I am yet recovering, and I even have a job to pay for university education! Talk about cognitive dissonance! (I urge you; talk about it! Communication about understanding helps us respond to the needs of our world!) I want to work for free at being a good human. Will I starve? If you do not understand this wording and argument to begin at all to consider it, then we are in a scarier predicament of language than I thought!

That was a test; remember? I was attempting to test a premise that you may have been born into cultural psychosis, and I illustrated this using a comparison between two situations where we are flawed in thinking, the situation where one thinks others are responsible for their feelings and the situation where one thinks money is more than a stipulation: a necessary component to achieving our needs. This situation of symbolic bondage exemplifies the primary symptom I have identified as belonging to cultural psychosis, and I’d like you to try to identify more: a disconnection from relevant reality concerning peaceful relation, how we abstractly “deal” with each other, to mutter another dirty word of our psychotic culture. You may be inclined to describe myself in these terms for seeming so pretentious, but remember the ecologists, activists, scientists, and artists who have sought to demonstrate the flaw in thinking I am speaking to. We embody a growing cultural murmur of cultural healing with very little resistance except for the philosophic/ideological variety, and we are consistently gaining support from more of Earth’s citizens.

Today, a very limited few openly resist the idea that a continually healthy ecosystem would be good for human life, even if we do not yet see the answer to the problems posed by the untied states of environmental decay and greedy individuals incorporated. We support the environment even if we do not agree there indeed is an inappropriate conscious purpose expressed by human choice that underlies the problems. I have argued that we were born into harmful misinterpretation about living reality, because I do not want to think of my social brethren just as cruel and intentionally hostile to others in their world. As our mentally ill were once considered just flawed or willingly insane, we now recognize such illness as representing more pressing forces than simply character defects.

We all know living and healthy eco- and social-systems are important although many do not understand or accept the problems that face them, and I foresee inevitable and ongoing changes until more endorse the idea that a peaceful relations based in saner concepts of freedom, growth, and truth will be good for us. That is, emerging is a system of thinking about others based in the ecological concepts and this is good for human life. Pursuit of the nonliving (like for stockpiles of gold, oil, and abstract impersonal wealth) are quite responsible for environmental and social disregard, and this deficit of sane activity is actually nurturing a butterfly of social ecological revolution. This is not a new idea, yet nonetheless urgently required at greater depths in our world.

It might sound strange to refer to greed as part of a cultural psychosis instead of as character defect, but I wonder how greed could not be wrapped in the symbols of a mind in its listening to its desires. Because we are so encultured and enlanguaged as we are as children, culturally psychotic individuals might not have a situation of aware command in their lives. (I know myself to have endured much confusion in remembering simply how to breathe fully while society taught me how to know many things to buy.) Eco-dissonant actions may emerge from latent preconceptions of our symbolic thoughts about the world.

Our strain of cultural psychosis holds inconsistent with the natural aims of symbiotic life yet those afflicted often retain exuberance and love for experience. They become overwhelmed and obsessed with thought patterns that are acted out as to appease reckless desires for sensory experience and this psychosis entails a misperception and dysfunction in our relationship with Earth. Such individuals see the world in a narrow light of “resources for making wanted stuff,” and they are limited by their refusal to acknowledge the urgency of achieving sustainable living and limited by refusal to acknowledge the nature and needs of intricate biological networks.

One narrow light, merely in language and of no effective substance, the culturally psychotic use to illuminate the topic of worldly life is insistence that money holds the world together and makes things happen. Belief in money’s necessity is like belief in other’s supreme power over your well-being or actions because you might tend to respond in certain ways to specific messages and objects (think advertising and shopping).

These confusing social values imply a tacit agreement to put, in place of simply living, being confined without resistance to tenets of symbolic stipulation. We have habits of language battened to biological needs now shadowed by the malformations of language and self-concept. The biological needs are accurately substantial whereas our stipulation delusional of “you won’t eat until you pay me” or even worse, “you will die unless you meet my expectations of you to constantly and forever use my symbols to direct your life.” With cultural genocide, oppression, and slavery in nearly every region of “civilized” AND/OR “developing” planet Earth, I hope we recognize our global system as sick, culturally psychotic, and disconnected from workable peaceful relations. Insane are our symbols and language, shared experience, and global economic agendas. I don’t have enough money for life though I have enough life for living!

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26 Aug 2008 @ 06:01 by Deepwater @ : Agreed!
You have seen the situation clearly for what it is and Bravo for having the courage to come right out and say it. There has been an extensive amount of work done on this exact topic at,
there are discussions on the problem from a variety of viewpoints as well as attempts to address the situation.

Just wondering, what are your thoughts on potential solutions to this situation?  

2 Oct 2008 @ 05:50 by nednednerb : alternative grooves and ancient roots
Hmm, sorry for the long delay in response.

Thanks for the comment. I will be headed to that link shortly after a spontaneous response :)

The last phrase of my essay, "enough life for living" encapsulates and entails my solution. Life is rooted in life, within the growing cosmos. In terms of science, we (living beings of processes) are interconnected and interdependent (i won't say codependent, but it's closely entwined and internecessary, at least at the level of human species) with other living processes that connect to us.

Hence, learning about food cycles and natural physico-chemical systems and processes, from air that can go stale to geological rock formations, bring us to revere the power of nature to have powerful life forces and to revere the amazing structuro-organismal complexity of our world. Without connection to the sources of food, and without respect for the _needs_ of food, for one, our society is crippled in its thinking about social affairs. Life is to be lived for the needs of the food we eat, or else we perish. Over-hunting, over-populating, over-consuming, all arise in part from disconnection with our biological cohesiveness and role within the ecosphere. Hence, one solution is to teach kids more about food, about nutrition and health, about animal and plant forms and growth processes, and about economy will teach them about their essential partnership with each other and the world around them. None of this learn to multiply 12 by 12 BEFORE learning the words symbiosis and homeostasis.

We need real concepts in place in our adult minds before they are shocked by the deafening protests of activists on every front, wholesome or ideological, before they are turned away from being a part of the world that is sterile, beaurocratic, and hierarchical beyond belief.

Education is a big part of the solutions I imagine. However, Earth day in school is good, but kids hate school. They hate picking up garbage, they hate when adults tell them intellectual things about the way the world works or how important paying attention is. Of course not all kids, and hate is just the word those some that do would use, but we need real education. How could a far right government possibly argue to the people against a platform of reorganzing education and tv to output real knowledge instead of the skills to buy pork rinds and pay bills. I did interest equations in Math 12, and remembered dates and backward, outdated political theory in History 12. Sure there were good moments in both (I loved school and all learning), but it all felt unfocussed, fickle, futile, and faceless compared to what I had started reading in my own time what I could find on my own.

I'm sort of ranting! Anyway, I also think we need to ever recognize that work of art is preferable in every case to work of drudgery. It's better to have a passion for life than a distaste for the continuing details of life. That's a change that needs to happen on interpersonal and personal levels of emotion and basic attitude, but that's sort of where I am leading in the above essay in talking of the problem as one of language at the level of person.

Social Ecology and Ecological Philosophy has often gone down the route of implying cultural psychosis, if not outright saying in (but offhandly). Now, I will go to that link!  

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