Psychological Self-Help

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Levine's (1992) My Enemy, My Love provides some interesting
theories about why males and females frequently get angry with each
other. An excellent analysis of gender stereotyping, including the
misjudgment of women and mythical gender differences, has been
done by Tavris (1992), a social psychologist and good writer. 
Chauvinism as a nation
Christopher Lasch (1979; 1984), a psychoanalytical historian, says
we Americans are narcissistic and self-centered. We seek immediate
happiness. Our society and even our therapies, he says, are designed
to help us forget others and deny our moral responsibilities. We have
little interest in the past or the future. We are trying to survive hard
times, as best as we can, by focusing on our wants. Our affluent world
is threatened; that makes us passive and defensive, it takes the fight
out of us. We are holed up; we are not out there striving to make the
world better--to feed the hungry, to treat the sick, to teach.... By
being self-absorbed we hardly notice the suffering of others. We
excuse our indifference to others. Lasch thinks we dream of success,
greatness, and being happy in order to deny our frailties, fears,
weaknesses, dependencies, and guilty consciences. We hope for easy
political solutions to huge social problems. 
According to Lasch, chauvinism and narcissism go together; they
are opposed by the logic of democracy and the Golden Rule.
Germany's insecurity before 1940 created an extreme chauvinism,
leading to wars of conquest and to gas chambers. In that same
Germany, the holocaust victims, feeling helpless, walked passively to
their death and Anne Frank's family died carrying on "business as
usual." Many Jews denied the dangers they faced. Many other people
did nothing to help the Jews. In a similar way, during the "Cold War"
the American people and the Soviet people (combining Hitler's
arrogance with the holocaust victim's helplessness) conformed to their
leaders' orders, namely, to prepare to destroy ourselves to "defend our
way of life." The Cold War is over but we are still driven by the same
pathological personality traits--the same willingness to let others think
for us. When the world is in trouble, we--the people--must think for
ourselves (not just unthinkingly follow a leader) and do something, we
can't withdraw inside ourselves, like Narcissus. Perhaps seeing our
motives more clearly, re-affirming our basic values, and gaining
greater self-control (not national pride and political control by a glib
leader) will reduce our hostile indifference to others (see chapters 3
and 7). 
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