Sunday, May 15, 2011

Of Aliens and Schizoids

Some proponents of alien visitation and alien abduction, such as the late Professor John E. Mack, M.D. of Harvard Medical School, believe that the aliens are motivated by a desire to prevent human beings from continuing on a course of degradation of the Earth's environment. According to Dr. Mack, aliens have a concern for the "desertification of the earth" by humans.  Humans have caused poverty, ignorance, and overpopulation, and they risk environmental catastrophe and atomic annihilation. The concerned aliens are "educating" abductees to warn us of what is to come if we do not change our behavior.

Is it possible that there is a psychological relationship between Dr. Mack's view of alien concern for desertification of the planet and schizoid fantasy?

In The English Patient, the novel by Canadian poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje, the Cave of Swimmers—the most important of Count László de Almásy’s discoveries—was a cave in the midst of the desert with prehistoric drawings of figures swimming. This proved to Almásy that in Tassali, 6000 years ago, there had been a lake where now there is dryness. The desert is turned by him, in his imagination, into a plentiful sea. This is what a schizoid child does in the midst of deprivation.

Salman Akhtar’s extensive review has shown that rejection, traumatic overstimulation, and neglect in the first two years of life are common in the history of schizoids. The schizoid condition was first described by the Scottish psychoanalyst Fairbairn (1940, 1952) in the 1940s- during the time in which The English Patient is set. Fairbairn found that his patients had withdrawn from parents who were overtly rejecting. They preferred to live in a rich, imaginary world.  Many fiction writers are schizoid because the ability to create a vivid inner world in one’s head gives one a head start at writing fiction. The downside is that the schizoid’s sense of other people is impoverished.

Is there a correspondence between the idea of an alien concern for desertification of the Earth's environment and the schizoid child's lived experience of emotionally cold and rejecting parents?  Is there a correspondence between  the idea of an alien concern for preserving the environment's lush greenery, on the one hand, and, on the other, the schizoid child's preoccupation with a rich and abundantly-gratifying imaginary world -- a world of fantasy?


Gary Freedman said...

Of Schizoids and the Jews?

No doubt, the taboo of a mother-representative goddess figure [in the Jewish religion] has several determining causes but the slow process of alienation was certainly due to the chief cause to which other factors later contributed. This primary cause was the relation to the soil, the land, and that early bitter disappointment produced by its aridity resulting in famine. . . .

The relation of a people to the soil is pattern forming in the same way that an individual is related to the mother. It is the mother who feeds the infant. . . .

The Hebrews daydreamed of Canaan, promised to them as a Lady Bountiful, as a country overflowing with milk and honey [which corresponds to the rich fantasy world of the schizoid child]. Here was the picture of a freely giving foster-Mother, of the "good earth" in contrast to the original land that had become parsimonious and mean. . . .

[T]he bitter experience of that earliest period, the drying up of the soil of their original homeland [which corresponds to the schizoid child's experience of emotionally cold, rejecting parents], did not prevent those tribes from forming and worshipping
the figure of a mother-goddess, but the repercussions of that primal experience led to an ambivalent attitude toward her, to an inherited vacillation between attraction and repulsion. This conflict of opposite forces resulted finally in the removal and
the taboo of a mother-goddess.
Theodor Reik, Curiosities of the Self.

Gary Freedman said...

"The concerned aliens are "educating" abductees to warn us of what is to come if we do not change our behavior."

Is Dr. Mack creating the following analogy?

Psychiatrist:patient =


Gary Freedman said...

DENNIS RACE: He's a very talented guy. Above-average intelligence.

DR. TICHO: Oh, I see.

DENNIS RACE: He said he's an environmentalist.

DR. TICHO: Now, that's interesting, hm?

Gary Freedman said...

Wagner conceived his vision of Klinsor's magic garden upon seeing the gardens at Ravello, Italy. The following site contains a reproduction of the stage backdrop of Act 2, Scene 2 in the 1882 premiere of the opera (sets painted by Paul von Joukowsky):

Gary Freedman said...

The psychoanalyst Norman Doidge has pointed out that even though a schizoid person’s affect is constricted, he is not without affective investments. One schizoid patient, who seemed Spock-like talking to people, had a passionate fascination with machines. His experience of emotions when dealing with people was almost digital: he was on or off, without the analogical crescendos and decrescendos of passion. The smallest surge of emotion is like a bomb going off.