Desmond Morris - Hannibal 2000 - Stuart Ewen - Robert Wallerstein - Quentin Skinner - Carl Jung - R D Laing - Michael Mosley TV - B F Skinner - Stanley Milgram TV - Martin Luther King - Eric Berne - Great Thinkers: In Their Own Words TV - Steven Pinker - Morris R Cohen - Theodore Roszak - Simone Weil - Neil Smelser - Thomas Jefferson - Andrzej Lobaczewski - Horizon TV - Simon Schama TV - Norman Mailer - Adam Curtis TV -
Despite mankind’s great advances with abstract ideas and manufactured objects we remain nonetheless creatures of vigorous animal action. Desmond Morris, author The Naked Ape
I don’t consider Psychology a science and neither did Dr Lecter. Hannibal 2000 starring Anthony Hopkins & Julianne Moore & Gary Oldman & Ray Liotta & Frankie Faison & Giancarlo Giannini & Francesca Neri & David Andrews & Francis Guianan et al, director Ridley Scott, opening scene
Bernays really is the guy within the United States more than anybody else who brings to the table psychological theory as something that is an essential part of how from the corporate side we are going to appeal to the masses effectively. Stuart Ewen, Public Relations historian
They said psychoanalytical thinking could make for the betterment of society. Because you could change the way the mind functioned. And you take the ways in which people did hurtful things to themselves and others and alter them by enlarging their understanding. And this was the vision psychoanalysis brought. That you could really change people. And that you change them in almost limitless ways. Dr Robert Wallerstein, psychoanalyst Menninger Clinic
It’s a very powerful route into trying to understand human psychology. Professor Quentin Skinner, Renowned Academics Speaking About God
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul 1933
The only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger ... We are the origin of all coming evil. Carl Jung, interview 1959
The divided self. R D Laing, title of book on schizophrenia 1960
We are all murderers and prostitutes – no matter to what culture, society, class, nation one belongs, no matter how normal, moral, or mature, one takes oneself to be. R D Laing
United States: the land of the free. Personal rights and liberties. This was the prefect home for the thriving discipline focused on ourselves as individuals: psychology. Michael Mosley, The Story of Science: Power, Proof and Passion, BBC 2010
[B F] Skinner applied his ideas to human behaviour. What Skinner was saying is that we are in many ways like pigeons. That we are the product of the numerous interactions we have with our environment ... We can no more exercise free-will than this pigeon decides to peck or indeed turn in a circle. We could change people’s behaviour for the better by changing their environment ... To Skinner free-will was a delusion. ibid.
I think that today we have reached the point where we can not only dream about a better way of life but we can make specific proposals. B F Skinner
There were real people who carried the gasoline to the church. A real person ignited it. What is there in human nature that allows an individual to act without any restraints whatsoever, so he can act inhumanly, harshly, severely and in no way limited by feelings of compassion or conscience? These are questions which concern me. Stanley Milgram, interview Horizon, BBC 2011
The main thing of course is that the person does not see himself as responsible for his own actions. He sees himself rather as an agent executing the wishes of another person. ibid.
What have I learned from my investigations? It doesn’t take an evil person to serve an evil system. Ordinary people are easily integrated into malevolent systems. ibid.
Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word used in psychology – it is the word maladjusted. It is the ringing cry of modern child-psychology – maladjusted. Of course we all want to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But as I move to my conclusion I would like to say to you today in a very honest manner that there are some things in our society and some things in our world for which I am proud to be maladjusted. And I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted to these things. Martin Luther King, televised address
Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships. Eric Berne 1910-1970
The twentieth century, according to Sigmund Freud, would see man’s capacity for both destruction and technology bring us closer to extinction. As his prophecy came close to reality a new breed of thinker emerged who would try to steer humanity away from disaster. Great Thinkers: In Their Own Words 1/3 Human: All Too Human, BBC 2011
1938: A refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria arrived in the leafy suburbs of Hampstead. Already viewed as one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century he had spent decades looking into the secrets of the human mind. His name was Sigmund Freud. ibid.
Freud saw an irrational side to humanity which he was determined to put on the couch. ibid.
Jung had formulated his own ideas: he believed that each of us has an individual destiny which was achieve through a process of individuation. ibid.
Jung believed each of us must face up to our own dark side. ibid.
Another thinker would go on to find wickedness not in the individual but in the very structure of society. Stanley Milgram was born in New York to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Eastern Europe in the ’20s. ... He began to ask unprecedented questions about the human capacity for cruelty. ibid.
[Stanley] Milgram’s results would stun the scientific community. ibid.
‘Ordinary people are easily integrated into malevolent systems.’ ibid. Milgrim
The idea that most of us are capable of performing acts of cruelty simply because someone tells us to forces us to ask key questions about how we structure society. ibid.
In Britain a radical Glaswegian psychoanalyst R D Laing was using television to speak out about his views on the sickness in society. ibid.
Laing was a popular and a persuasive lecturer who insisted doctors should listen to their patients instead of abusing them. He believed much of what we call insane behaviour could be explained by family circumstances and life experiences. ibid.
Across the Atlantic admid the turmoil of the 1960s a group of thinkers came on to the scene who believed that society could be cured and that human behaviour could be improved. One of these was anthropologist Margaret Mead. ibid.
Like Laing, Mead suspected that Western anxieties and problems were caused by the values of our society. ibid.
[Margaret] Mead had been roundly debunked, though some still think her theories have merit. ibid.
Later Spock wrote a book – Baby and Child Care – which changed for ever the way we relate to our children. ibid.
B F Skinner believed he had found an all-embracing antidote to the ills in society. ibid.
Skinner was the most radical practitioner of behaviourism. He believed that each person starts out as a blank slate and is moulded purely by their environment. ibid.
Skinner’s successes were seen as momentous achievements, and his work lives on in every child and employee reward system around the world. ibid.
What Skinner seems to have missed was that humans are not simply blank slates. Each of us is born with innate qualities which affect our behaviour. ibid.
In the latter part of the twentieth century a group of British thinkers emerged who would offer radical new ideas about what makes humans tick. These thinkers would take their cues not from humans but from animals. Enter Desmond Morris who started his career as a zoologist. ibid.
The book that made Morris’s name was The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, and it had a shocking new claim at its heart: much of our normal human behaviour is derived from our animal ancestry. ibid.
Goodall did publish, and some did draw the conclusion that violence in humans and chimps is impossible to avoid. ibid.
Are we slaves to our natural instincts or can we master our behaviour? ibid.
In 1976 Dawkins published one of the most successful science books of all time. The Selfish Gene was a radical updating of evolutionary theory. ibid.
Genes often stand the best chance of survival if rather than fighting it out individuals cooperate and look after each other. ibid.
For Dawkins then humans are not simply selfish individuals who will do whatever it takes to reproduce our genes. ibid.
This is where a century of enquiry into human behaviour fought out on the airwaves has brought us. We are undoubtedly products of our biology, and the potential for human failing will always be there. But that doesn’t mean we’re slaves to our nature. The sophistication of the human brain and the ways in which we live together have given us the power to recognise and master our worst impulses. This after all is what being human is all about. ibid.