Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

“Subversive” Books

Originally posted on November 4, 2012

My friend Jackie Woolley, with whom I square dance and we work out in the same exercise class in our community gym, is a thinker and writer, and wrote recently about how she has enjoyed reading books, noting that they are subversive. Indeed, I too have enjoyed my quiet rebellion against what I intuitively sensed were the unthinking masses and the demagogues who manipulated them. From early adolescence I read about propaganda analysis, which led to readings about logical fallacies, semantics, rhetoric—nowadays called spin-doctoring.

As I advanced in my education (as a psychiatrist), I became more aware that in many cases, severe mental illness was not caused by families or psycho-social stress—as the reigning psychoanalytic school held—but rather these conditions were mainly biological in nature. On the other hand, many of the milder problems were more psycho-social than biological, and while some stresses arose from early and mid-childhood experiences with disturbances in the interpersonal field, there were also many—and many more—stresses and influences that arose from the general ignorance, un-thinking-ness, pervasive superstitious-ness, and outright lies sold to us by corporate-financed advertisers— lies about the harmlessness of tobacco and concentrated sugar, for example. I won’t even mention the subject of politics except to say there are innumerable examples of rhetorical excess that match up with a lack of critical thinking. (They say they are teaching critical thinking, but they aren’t, really.)

So I too have been subversive, and I hope the culture may swing gently through the young-adult rebellion to develop more intellectual rigor to back up this trend up. As it is, young people can be as gullible to peers as they used to be to their elders. In summary, I support subversive-ness backed up by some thoughtfulness.

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