A red flag usually comes up when I see stories like this. True, most of us enjoy being social and human beings are, so the sociologists tell us, social by definition. But to reduce love to a hormone and happiness to social interaction is, in my view, inadequate. This isn’t just an American thing, although the article does refer to the APA and the APA does exert a strange kind of hegemonic power throughout many countries. Instead, I think it reflects a bias to overlook the spiritual in favor of the social and the material.
Back in graduate school I wrote a short paper about the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung. I critiqued his view of the so-called “normal” self. For Jung, the ideal was to integrate four functions of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition, along with two orientations of introversion and extraversion.
While writing my critique, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche came to mind. If Nietzsche was perfectly “integrated,” would he have given such tremendous insights to humanity? I personally doubt it. But really, it’s a moot point. Nietzsche was who he was. And that’s what made him write the often brilliant and, yes, skewed and unfortunately sexist stuff that he wrote.
Jung’s psychology is more open-minded and nuanced than the current state of psychiatry. But even so, I find it lacking. So again, when I see stories like this, I feel that I have to say something to help prevent this kind of lame thinking from becoming further legitimized and reproduced as “truth” in society.
They say that sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you. But that’s not true. Ideas influence how people act toward one another. And when ideas become institutionalized, they gain even more power to help or harm.—MC