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Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?


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Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?

AlterNet / By Bruce E. Levine October 11, 2012

The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.

 

What a fascinating thing! Total control of a living organism! — psychologist B.F. Skinner

 

The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.

 

In psychologist B.F. Skinner’s best-selling book Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), he argued that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.

 

During the height of Skinner’s fame in the 1970s, it was obvious to anti-authoritarians such as Noam Chomsky (“The Case Against B.F. Skinner”) and Lewis Mumford that Skinner’s worldview—a society ruled by benevolent control freaks—was antithetical to democracy. In Skinner’s novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously”; to which Lewis Mumford retorted, “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.”

 

As a psychology student during that era, I remember being embarrassed by the silence of most psychologists about the political ramifications of Skinner and behavior modification.

 

In the mid-1970s, as an intern on a locked ward in a state psychiatric hospital, I first experienced one of behavior modification’s staple techniques, the “token economy.” And that’s where I also discovered that anti-authoritarians try their best to resist behavior modification. George was a severely depressed anti-authoritarian who refused to talk to staff but, for some reason, chose me to shoot pool with. My boss, a clinical psychologist, spotted my interaction with George, and told me that I should give him a token—a cigarette—to reward his “prosocial behavior.” I fought it, trying to explain that I was 20 and George was 50, and this would be humiliating. But my boss subtly threatened to kick me off the ward. So, I asked George what I should do.

 

George, fighting the zombifying effects of his heavy medication, grinned and said, “We'll win. Let me have the cigarette.” In full view of staff, George took the cigarette and then placed it into the shirt pocket of another patient, and then looked at the staff shaking his head in contempt.

 

Unlike Skinner, George was not “beyond freedom and dignity.” Anti-authoritarians such as George—who don’t take seriously the rewards and punishments of control-freak authorities—deprive authoritarian ideologies such as behavior modification from total domination.

 

Behavior Modification Techniques Excite Authoritarians

 

If you have taken introductory psychology, you probably have heard of Ivan Pavlov’s “classical conditioning” and B.F. Skinner's “operant conditioning.”

 

An example of Pavlov's classical conditioning? A dog hears a bell at the same time he receives food; then the bell is sounded without the food and still elicits a salivating dog. Pair a scantily-clad attractive woman with some crappy beer, and condition men to sexually salivate to the sight of the crappy beer and buy it. The advertising industry has been utilizing classical conditioning for quite some time.

 

Skinner's operant conditioning? Rewards, like money, are “positive reinforcements”; the removal of rewards are “negative reinforcements”; and punishments, such as electric shocks, are labeled in fact as “punishments.” Operant conditioning pervades the classroom, the workplace, and mental health treatment.

 

Skinner was heavily influenced by the book Behaviorism (1924) by John B. Watson. Watson achieved some fame in the early 1900s by advocating a mechanical, rigid, affectionless manner in child rearing. He confidently asserted that he could take any healthy infant and, given complete control of the infant’s world, train him for any profession. When Watson was in his early forties, he quit university life and began a new career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson.

 

Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies which achieved tremendous power in the twentieth century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.

 

Who are Easiest to Manipulate?

 

Those who rise to power in the corporatocracy are control freaks, addicted to the buzz of power over other human beings, and so it is natural for such authorities to have become excited by behavior modification.

 

Alfie Kohn, in Punished by Rewards (1993), documents with copious research how behavior modification works best on dependent, powerless, infantilized, bored, and institutionalized people. And so for authorities who get a buzz from controlling others, this creates a terrifying incentive to construct a society that creates dependent, powerless, infantilized, bored, and institutionalized people.

 

Many of the most successful applications of behavior modification have involved laboratory animals, children, or institutionalized adults. According to management theorists Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham in Work Redesign (1980), “Individuals in each of these groups are necessarily dependent on powerful others for many of the things they most want and need, and their behavior usually can be shaped with relative ease.”

 

Similarly, researcher Paul Thorne reports in the journal International Management (“Fitting Rewards,” 1990) that in order to get people to behave in a particular way, they must be “needy enough so that rewards reinforce the desired behavior.”

 

It is also easiest to condition people who dislike what they are doing. Rewards work best for those who are alienated from their work, according to researcher Morton Deutsch (Distributive Justice, 1985). This helps explain why attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-labeled kids perform as well as so-called “normals” on boring schoolwork when paid for it (see Thomas Armstrong’s The Myth of the A.D.D. Child, 1995). Correlatively, Kohn offers research showing that rewards are least effective when people are doing something that isn’t boring.

 

In a review of the literature on the harmful effects of rewards, researcher Kenneth McGraw concluded that rewards will have a detrimental effect on performance under two conditions: “first, when the task is interesting enough for the subjects that the offer of incentives is a superfluous source of motivation; second, when the solution to the task is open-ended enough that the steps leading to a solution are not immediately obvious.”

 

Kohn also reports that at least ten studies show rewards work best on simplistic and predictable tasks. How about more demanding ones? In research on preschoolers (working for toys), older children (working for grades) and adults (working for money), all avoided challenging tasks. The bigger the reward, the easier the task that is chosen; while without rewards, human beings are more likely to accept a challenge.

 

So, there is an insidious incentive for control-freaks in society—be they psychologists, teachers, advertisers, managers, or other authorities who use behavior modification. Specifically, for controllers to experience the most control and gain a “power buzz,” their subjects need to be infantilized, dependent, alienated, and bored.

 

The Anti-Democratic Nature of Behavior Modification

 

Behavior modification is fundamentally a means of controlling people and thus for Kohn, “by its nature inimical to democracy, critical questioning, and the free exchange of ideas among equal participants.”

 

For Skinner, all behavior is externally controlled, and we don’t truly have freedom and choice. Behaviorists see freedom, choice, and intrinsic motivations as illusory, or what Skinner called “phantoms.” Back in the 1970s, Noam Chomsky exposed Skinner’s unscientific view of science, specifically Skinner’s view that science should be prohibited from examining internal states and intrinsic forces.

 

In democracy, citizens are free to think for themselves and explore, and are motivated by very real—not phantom—intrinsic forces, including curiosity and a desire for justice, community, and solidarity.

 

What is also scary about behaviorists is that their external controls can destroy intrinsic forces of our humanity that are necessary for a democratic society.

 

....

 

Today, the mental health profession has gone beyond behavioral technologies of control. It now diagnoses noncompliant toddlers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and pediatric bipolar disorder and attempts to control them with heavily sedating drugs. While Big Pharma directly profits from drug prescribing, the entire corporatocracy benefits from the mental health profession’s legitimization of conditioning and controlling. link

Edited by Altostrata
edited to conform to fair use

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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Very interesting.

 

To conform to fair use, please post only a selection of an article. Indicate the part deleted with ellipses ....

 

Thanks.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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Very interesting.

 

To conform to fair use, please post only a selection of an article. Indicate the part deleted with ellipses ....

 

Thanks.

 

So that's how one it's done. I was taking some out, but then noone seemed to realize the link was for the rest of the article!

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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A somewhat related article regarding Carol Dweck's work with how such a simple thing as complimenting a child's success in completing a task by saying he/she is "smart" as opposed to complimenting their "effort" can have a significant effect on their view of and resulting performance on tasks immediately following said praise.

Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone

1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.

b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]

2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax

November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b

Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax

My mantra " go slow & with the flow "

3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.

10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.

1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.

1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

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I wonder where the author would set the boundaries. I am only familiar with Skinner through his famous quote about being able to nurture a random dozen babies into successes in any vocation. But some things seem largely beyond the the ability to manipulate. For instance, could a group be manipulated into choosing rocks for dinner over a happy meal? I suspect not.

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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For instance, could a group be manipulated into choosing rocks for dinner over a happy meal? I suspect not.

 

Oh. I beg to differ. Anyone could accomplish this with my first period class of 15 students. OOPS. Did I say that OUT LOUD????? Sorry. :o

Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone

1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.

b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]

2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax

November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b

Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax

My mantra " go slow & with the flow "

3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.

10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.

1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.

1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

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A somewhat related article regarding Carol Dweck's work with how such a simple thing as complimenting a child's success in completing a task by saying he/she is "smart" as opposed to complimenting their "effort" can have a significant effect on their view of and resulting performance on tasks immediately following said praise.

 

I never got either type of kudos. :o

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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  • Moderator Emeritus

 

A somewhat related article regarding Carol Dweck's work with how such a simple thing as complimenting a child's success in completing a task by saying he/she is "smart" as opposed to complimenting their "effort" can have a significant effect on their view of and resulting performance on tasks immediately following said praise.

 

I never got either type of kudos. :o

 

Sorry about that Barb, but you didn't kinda think you were smart anyhow? :D

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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A somewhat related article regarding Carol Dweck's work with how such a simple thing as complimenting a child's success in completing a task by saying he/she is "smart" as opposed to complimenting their "effort" can have a significant effect on their view of and resulting performance on tasks immediately following said praise.

 

I never got either type of kudos. :o

 

Sorry about that Barb, but you didn't kinda think you were smart anyhow? :D

 

By school/grades/teachers and then career. Likely why I cling to that identity..? (Ah, yes, every thread IS about ME :D )

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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A somewhat related article regarding Carol Dweck's work with how such a simple thing as complimenting a child's success in completing a task by saying he/she is "smart" as opposed to complimenting their "effort" can have a significant effect on their view of and resulting performance on tasks immediately following said praise.

 

I never got either type of kudos. :o

 

Sorry about that Barb, but you didn't kinda think you were smart anyhow? :D

 

By school/grades/teachers and then career. Likely why I cling to that identity..? (Ah, yes, every thread IS about ME :D )

 

I'm just adding on here to see if a quote in a quote in a quote... keeps making new background colors. I've not seen quotes so thoroughly nested before.

 

EDIT: I guess it's a three color maximum. Like my college buddy Pat who couldn't handle his beer.

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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I'm just adding on here to see if a quote in a quote in a quote... keeps making new background colors. I've not seen quotes so thoroughly nested before.

 

EDIT: I guess it's a three color maximum. Like my college buddy Pat who couldn't handle his beer.

 

Alex, methinks you are bored. Posted Image

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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Great LOL image...

 

LOL!

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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  • 2 years later...

I was looking for a good topic to place this 2012 article-- featured in an MIA sidebar today. I searched IT! for. "Authority." Here we are, in a thread that started with a another Levine article.

 

 

 

"I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments."

2009: Cancer hospital said I had adjustment disorder because I thought they were doing it wrong. Their headshrinker prescribed Effexor, and my life set on a new course. I didn't know what was ahead, like a passenger on Disneyland's Matterhorn, smiling and waving as it climbs...clink, clink, clink.

2010: Post surgical accidental Effexor discontinuation by nurses, masked by intravenous Dilaudid. (The car is balanced at the top of the track.) I get home, pop a Vicodin, and ...

Whooosh...down, down, down, down, down...goes the trajectory of my life, up goes my mood and tendency to think everything is a good idea.
2012: After the bipolar jig was up, now a walking bag of unrelated symptoms, I went crazy on Daytrana (the Ritalin skin patch by Noven), because ADHD was a perfect fit for a bag of unrelated symptoms. I was prescribed Effexor for the nervousness of it, and things got neurological. An EEG showed enough activity to warrant an epilepsy diagnosis rather than non-epileptic ("psychogenic") seizures.

:o 2013-2014: Quit everything and got worse. I probably went through DAWS: dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome. I drank to not feel, but I felt a lot: dread, fear, regret, grief: an utter sense of total loss of everything worth breathing about, for almost two years.

I was not suicidal but I wanted to be dead, at least dead to the experience of my own brain and body.

2015: I  began to recover after adding virgin coconut oil and organic grass-fed fed butter to a cup of instant coffee in the morning.

I did it hoping for mental acuity and better memory. After ten days of that, I was much better, mood-wise. Approximately neutral.

And, I experienced drowsiness. I could sleep. Not exactly happy, I did 30 days on Wellbutrin, because it had done me no harm in the past. 

I don't have the DAWS mood or state of mind. It never feel like doing anything if it means standing up.

In fact, I don't especially like moving. I'm a brain with a beanbag body.   :unsure:

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