Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Social-Depth Psychology

Originally posted on August 26, 2012

Fields become more complex as new developments and tools for examination emerge. Bacteriology evolved to include other microscopic and sub-microscopic agents, viruses, Rickettsiae, etc. So, too, 20th century psychology and sociology will be viewed in the next century, I predict, as  offering promising beginnings, but still coarse. Already the discovery of the mirror neuron system in neuro-science is generating waves of implications. Building on such books as Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence, scores of related articles and scholars have generated a new field, “Social Neuroscience.” There are many related forms of study.

For example, there are new forms of conceiving of the unconscious quite unrelated to Freud, although he is to be given respect for his probes in this direction, if not his way-too-premature conclusions. This “new unconscious” functioning has evolutionary, neuro-biological, and social elements, and it’s all far more complex than the ways we thought in the 20th century.

In earlier (January, 2011) blogs    on the amplifying unconscious, I also reaffirm the idea that much of human life is executed by non-rational (unconscious) forces. I continue to evolve in this direction.

Wanting Attention

More recently, I’ve been thinking about what it means to “want attention.” I always felt that not needing attention is the mark of maturity, but I’m coming to re-think this as a social norm foisted by an industrialized culture so that people would accept being treated as essentially similar and therefore replaceable cogs in a great machine—which for a time workers were. But on reflection, yes, I want attention, I think I need it, and I think that a goodly number of types of psycho-pathology spin off from not getting enough or the right kind.

At a certain point of malnutrition, small amounts of a nutrient—if ingested—are fully utilized. At a later point, the lack of nutrients can even set up types of pathology in which it’s hard to assimilate those vitamins or nutrients. For example, in Vitamin C deficiency, problems in the connective tissue are expressed as bad gums and loss of teeth which, in turn, make it harder to eat Vitamin-C containing fruit.

I use this analogy because psychology can set up similar negative feedback loops. Not getting attention can lead to a hardening and sub-routines about not needing or wanting attention and then when it’s given, resisting it! This ranges from mere coyness to an unconscious game of “If you loved me enough you’d overcome my resistance or hiding.” (I even wonder if this is one of the feed-in dynamics in the soft porn masochistic fantasies embedded in the Fifty Shades of Dark series of best-selling books.)

The point to open to is that the whole topic of wanting attention, needing it, denying the need, and ignoring the need in others can be very complex. I’ll talk about it more in other blogs.

Other Themes 

Can there be compassion fatigue? Can people “harden” themselves to the suffering of others, and even progress in proving how “tough” they are by becoming intimidating, “mean,” and cruel? I suspect this is one of the dynamics involved. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I fear no evil… why? Because I AM THE MEANEST SONOFABITCH HERE IN THE VALLEY! (Snarl!)” 

Other subjects that deal with social-depth psychology involve empathy, status, recognition, how in some folks, no amount of recognition deeply satisfies, etc. This is an invitation to readers to share anecdotes, references, and to open to this emerging field as (1) trans-disciplinary, involving many associated fields; and (2) as important this century as psychoanalysis was a century ago!

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