Truthiness, Brands, Lies and Alternative ‘facts’
February 14, 2017 § 4 Comments
The core psyCommons proposal emerged from enquiries into how it was that three quarters of the UK population have no need for the professional services of the counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatric professions.
I became convinced that we survive, navigate, enjoy and struggle with life more or less successfully via three elements, rapport, chat and learning from experience, presented, together with the psy professions context, in psyCommons and Professionalised Wisdom.
Such perspectives are never complete and recent inquiries for another movie, currently in production, sharpened up my sense that in addition to the first three capacities in play in our daily lives, there might be another one, trance-induction, that can shed light on the truthiness, brands, lies and alternative ‘facts’ that presently seek to enthrall us.
Comments, enhancements and feedback are welcome.
Trance induction, aka hypnosis, is a well-understood psychological intervention in which we are invited to give intense attention to a single sensory input, so that the context of where we are is suppressed. While entranced we are likely to be highly suggestible.
This innate human capacity through words and gesture and presence, to entrance others and be ourselves entranced by a desire, a belief, of what counts as desirable or a necessity, has recently become weaponized by political interests.
Benefits of trance-induction
Humankind is primarily a wilderness of bodyminds in relationship, bodyminds that are made up of an internal wilderness of bone, muscle, nerves, neurons and grey matter. Trance induction helps us cohere psychically, interpersonally and socially..
Disadvantages of trance-induction
Our bodymind wildernesses have been vastly extended by the rapidly accelerating growth of technologies in recent decades. The scale of both our ability to communicate with others and the scale of how much we do communicate has been astonishing, the global village throbs with a 24/7 plethora of files, messages, images and video.
This TV, phone, text and image-based chat is great and it acts to create and sustain new forms of relationship between humankind wildernesses across frontiers and different languages.
However, the benefit we get from them is always accompanied by amputation, especially the loss of context. We see and hear a video or read a message but we don’t engage with the sender’s presence. The clues from feeling and intuition we would pick up if we met in person are missing. These clues are an essential element of trust.
To repeat: focusing narrowly, so as to concentrate on a sound or an image or a thought while its context is side-lined or absent, is the basis of hypnotic trance-induction.
Being entranced is commonplace, it’s a basic human capacity that, coupled with frequent reality-testing, means that we can navigate through life reasonably well.
A huge part of what minds do in our daily life is the generation and interplay of trance-inductions, opinions about people and products, for example where we work and where we play, and the trance-inductions of music. Alongside this, a key feature of getting on with other people, is fielding trance-inductions, checking out how far we can trust somebody and checking out what they are offering or what they are demanding.
Abundant messaging but missing context
In the global village all of us now inhabit, while messages are more than abundant, context in our communications tends to more and more scarce. This means that we can be way more susceptible to predatory trance-inductions, lies, manipulation, coercion, ‘alternative facts’, ‘spin’ and ‘brands’.
Examples would include claims that something is ‘inevitable’, ‘natural’, ‘evil’, ‘the truth’, and ‘essential’ as a means of focusing attention away from the wider context of what is being proposed.
Along with the local subtleties of our daily relationships, trance-induction has become a core part of political ‘spin’, and business, advertising and marketing and how they work. The Trump presidential and Brexit campaigns have provided signal examples, ‘lock her up’, ‘fake news’, ‘take back control’, ‘enemies of the people’.
The elimination or suppression of context from the signals, images and messages we receive mean that we become very susceptible to trance-inductions that intend to manipulate us, or to coerce, control or persuade us. When context is absent, messages in the form of appetising lies can be difficult to refute. What goes missing is trust.
Capitalism and trance-induction
Capitalism continues to be a potent source of trance-inductions and interrupting its trance-inductions and those of its families and friends is very tricky. It means interrupting its ethos – that wealth does not equal righteousness – that capital accumulation may not be just or essential – that they are mistaken about the need for unlimited growth and unlimited debt – that the planetary damage and dissolution of trust this entails does matter.
Becoming trance-savvy seems to mean becoming alert, even to begin with, hyper-alert, about recognising trance-inductions when they are pointed at us, so as to have more choice in whether we follow what they are suggesting, plus diligently reality-testing those trance-inductions (such as this blog) that we generate.
Perhaps most important, when someone tries to insist that something is ‘natural’ or ‘inevitable’, this is likely to be a trance-induction, if so, look for the missing context.
The psyCommons and the richness of everyday relationships
April 22, 2013 § 1 Comment
The psyCommons notion is a statement about the ordinary wisdom and shared power of our daily relations with others. it is about recognizing and valuing the myriad forms and instances of these relations as a commons resource in company with the air we breathe, the rivers, the oceans and the radio spectrum.
The psyCommons is alive and well. It is a wilderness reverberating with the ironies and contradictions, the delights and derelictions of the human condition. And, as throughout history, it is perpetually under threat due to distortion and exploitation from enclosures, the capture and sequestering for profit or advantage of various forms of our wealth.
The psyCommons blog aims to give attention to both of these dimensions of the psyCommons it provides a space for inquiry, for work in progress. Contributions are invited.
Recommended as a way of getting to know the psCommons, is a recent talk I gave, reprinted in the April 2013 issue of Therapy Today, entitled the ‘Richness of everyday relationships’, podcast
The psyCommons – further ferment
December 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
The psyCommons is work in progress, it is not a thing, or a settled perspective, it is more an intuition that might or might not settle as relevant or useful or accurate.
Since I posted the previous material, quite a few developments have occurred that have both shaken and consolidated the notion of a psyCommons.
The School of Commoning hosted several days of commons workshops and meetings in November. I showed up at the opening meeting in the House of Commons (a curious irony there, I felt) followed by a whole day on commons healthcare, and a half a day on commons economics. James Qilligan was a key feature of all of these events; he brought a presence and perspectives on the commons that nourished the psyCommons notion, though I had very little opportunity to speak about it. His take on healthcare commons is here.
Showing up is essential, and these occasions bore fruit right away. I realized that while there was a lot of talk about how this or that possibility of a commons might be worth pursuing, I was a participant in three actual commons. The Alliance for counseling and psychotherapy is a commons, the Independent Practitioners Network is a commons and I have lately been part of an intense family healthcare commons. Ring a ding! This was exciting.
While there was no space at these events (or I didn’t take space) for the psyCommmons notion) what did bite was what I had to offer about civic accountability – a virtual product of participation in the Independent Practitioner Network commons. I had written this up as a possible offering for a commons conference in Berlin in May 2013, you can find a copy of it in the pageshere.
This cluster of commons related events and awakenings was being fed by two other initiatives: one, publication of my book Therapy Futures: Obstacles and opportunities – introducing the psyCommons, and secondly, a conference hosted by the Alliance for counselling and psychotherapy that explored future trajectories and current concerns of psychological therapies. My talk for this event is the latest iteration of the psyCommons notion, you can read it in the pages here, or listen to the podcast (not yet).
The last in this autumn cluster of public commons related events was a book launch hosted by the ever-diligent School of Commoning. Advance copies of The Wealth of the Commons: a world beyond market and state edited by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, Levelers Press, were for sale and the evening featured David Bollier in person.
While the commons form of human relating is rooted in open grassroots participation and horizontal governance, this doesn’t mean that hierarchies of experience (and courage) are not also valuable and David Bollier, along with James Gilligan in the previous week, contributed essential international global perspectives. A necessary accompaniment to what I suspect will often necessarily be local commons initiatives.
When I finish it, I’ll try to post a review of The Wealth of the Commons, a collection of 90 contributions from a Berlin 2011 international commons conference.
How has the psyCommons notion been shaken by any of this? Principally discovering that some of the language lacked precision and I’ll end this post with a heads up call that I have picked up from David Bollier. In a chapter from the above Wealth of Commons book entitled Global enclosures in the service of empire pp. 212-3, and, see this commons definition, he makes a request for a clarification in how we talk (and think/approach) the commons. I began to understand that we must distinguish, as Eleanor Ostrom does, between ‘common pool resources’ such as air and oceans and forests, and reserve ‘commons’ for specific instances of the structuring of common pool resource usage.
I understand this now in the following way: The River Thames can be seen as a ‘common pool resource’ – suppose that users of the river – for recreation, sport, transport, fishing and education plus houseboat owners and mooring landlords – had collectively developed a mission/agreement such as ‘Love the Thames’ – this could lead to the formation of a group structured as a commons to pursue/sustain this agenda.
More on recipes for commons structures another day.
The psyCommons blog by Denis Postle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.