Before we can diminish our sufferings from the ill-controlled aggressive assaults of fellow citizens, we must renounce the philosophy of punishment, the obsolete, vengeful penal attitude. In its place we would seek a comprehensive, constructive social attitude – therapeutic in some instances, restraining in some instances, but preventive in its total social impact.
In the last analysis this becomes a question of personal morals and values. No matter how glorified or how piously disguised, vengeance as a human motive must be personally repudiated by each and every one of us. This is the message of old religions and new psychiatries. Unless this message is heard, unless we … can give up our delicious satisfactions in opportunities for vengeful retaliation on scapegoats, we cannot expect to preserve our peace, our public safety, or our mental health.
…But the punitive attitude persists. And just so long as the spirit of vengeance has the slightest vestige of respectability, so long as it pervades the public mind and infuses its evil upon the statute books of the law, we will make no headway toward the control of crime. We cannot assess the most appropriate and effective penalties so long as we seek to inflict retaliatory pain.
Unrest of the spirit is a mark of life; one problem after another presents itself and in the solving of them we can find our greatest pleasure.
Unrest of spirit is a mark of life.
Clinical experience has indicated that where a child has been exposed early in his live to episodes of physical violence, whether he himself is the victim or … the witness, he will often later demonstrate similar outbursts of uncontrollable rage and violence of his own. Aggression becomes an easy outlet through which the child’s frustrations and tensions flow, not just because of a simple matter of learning that can be just as simply unlearned, not just because he is imitating a bad behavior model and can be taught to imitate something more constructive, but because these traumatic experiences have overwhelmed him. His own emotional development is too immature to withstand the crippling inner effects of outer violence. Something happens to the child’s character, to his sense of reality, to the development of his controls against impulses that may not later be changed easily but which may lead to reactions that in turn provoke more reactions – one or more of which may be criminal. Then society reacts against him for what he did, but more for what all of us have done – unpleasantly – to one another. Upon him is laid the iniquity of us all…
Self-love is not opposed to the love of other people. You cannot really love yourself and do yourself a favor without doing other people a favor, and vice versa.
Topics: Acceptance, Realization, Awareness
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
People repeat in adult life emotions they experience in childhood. Many of the people whom I spent the last 30 or 40 years treating at so much per minute wouldn’t have needed any treatment at all if they had had the right care as children.
It was his optimism that Freud bequeathed to America and it was the optimism of our youthfulness, our freedom from the sterner, sadder tradition of Europe which enabled us to seize his gift.
The voice of intelligence … is drowned out by the roar of fear. It is ignored by the voice of desire. It is contradicted by the voice of shame. It is biased by hate and extinguished by anger. Most of all it is silenced by ignorance.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- William Glasser American Psychiatrist
- David Viscott American Psychiatrist
- M. Scott Peck American Psychiatrist
- Thomas Szasz Hungarian Psychiatrist
- Theodore Isaac Rubin American Psychiatrist
- R. D. Laing Scottish Psychiatrist
- Charles Krauthammer American Political Columnist
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. American Physician, Essayist
- William James American Philosopher
- Michael Crichton American Novelist