The Drama Workshop

First I will make the disclaimer that I have not been taken part in a real drama workshop or a gender studies class. I have 3rd party knowledge of these. I can however appreciate what a drama workshop is like because I have attended a good analogue in the form of therapeutic workshops. When I was younger I was shy and anxious. I was an introverted deep thinker where most others my age were just content to live life working and playing. My prime reading material were self help books and spiritual matters. I was not a Christian but I was greatly interested in Buddhism and other eastern religions. Authors included Anthony Storr, Eric Berne, Tom Harris, Claude Steiner, Anne Faraday and some Freud among others on areas like transactional analysis, psychoanalysis and dream interpretation. I was more of a thinker than a doer and lived somewhat in a dream world of my own thoughts.

It happened that eventually I would get on to the therapeutic  roundabout. I did not have an enormous amount of money so I only engaged an actual therapist for a short time. A more economical way doing therapy was workshops of up to 20 people which would last a whole day, weekend or a few hours a week spread over a number of weeks.  Workshops such as shyness, anxiety, dream workshops, transactional analysis, Jungian analysis and hybrid strains in between. Some were useful and interesting and the facilitators always engaging. The most enjoyable were the dream workshops because I found it easy to remember dreams, six or seven a night.

Somewhere in the back of my mind were some doubts that scientific method was not rigorously employed in the “soft sciences” and this was especially so in clinical psychology. Coming to light were cases of “multiple personality disorder” where suggestible patients were probably accidentally primed to bring forward symptoms of the therapist’s pet syndrome. There were MPD therapists. The cases of Dr. Judith Peterson and Roberta Sachs were good examples. There was also “satanic ritual abuse” which was championed by such feminists as Catherine McKinnon and Gloria steinem. I had had the occasional question of falsifiability flick through my mind in some of these workshops but had not paid too much attention bringing my focus back on to the subject of the workshop.

It was one day in such a weekend workshop that I had this almost “out of body” experience of realisation. I don’t believe in actual out of body experiences but it was as if I was seeing the workshop at an objective distance. Several volunteers had brought forth “material” of their childhood hurts and tears were shed. Did it look like a charismatic church gathering? A bit. These workshoppers were not really ill in the sense of symptoms as may be described in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by the psychology profession. They had normal problems or were at major crossroads in their lives. Some may have been anxious or frustrated, or had minor neurosis but most would not be presenting with deep pathologies. Yet these people in the workshop were becoming upset on the suggestion of the facilitator. I didn’t know if this “material” was real, exaggerated or fabricated. It occurred to me that fabricated material could be produced sincerely and honestly by suggestible people.

That was a flash light moment. No, this was a drama workshop where the participants were getting into character and discovering they could fill a role suggested by the facilitator. This was a drama workshop except that the actors didn’t know they were acting and the drama teacher didn’t know she was teaching drama.

I took a passive role for the remainder of the day not contributing much. I didn’t voice my concerns in the workshop but I curtailed my workshopping thereafter.  I did attend a couple of transactional analysis workshops thereafter believing they seemed more scientific in their approach but I still found I was stumbling on the same doubts as before. The stumbling block was falsifiability. If a diagnostic opinion was wrong how would this by known since resistance by the patient can itself be a sign of confirmation of the diagnosis of some sort. Eventually I was over all workshops. Once the light is on you can’t turn it off.

These workshops were attended mostly by women and just a few men. I was sometimes the only man. It was just as well this was the 90s when therapy was not as feminised as it is now and not as heavily informed by feminist doctrine or real damage may have occurred. Today any men in such workshops would have to confess for being a man and would have to atone and find salvation. These were things which once plagued and sometimes greatly damaged church goers with unnecessary guilt and shame, especially in the Catholic Church. Today feminism is now once more rolling out for men what has failed in the past for the Catholic Church.

I fear for the future mental health of today’s boys as they grow up saddled and burdened by feminist doctrine. Things are really no better for girls growing up with unrealistic entitlements and a universal fear of sex and men. Oh I am glad I do not have children. The Soshoku danshi (herbivore men) of Japan are ever so wise. The future feminist utopia is a very dark place where light is interpreted as an aggressive invasion of patriarchy and is quickly snuffed out. This brings me to feminism in universities and colleges. I had only a 1 year experience of university in the days before total feminist contamination and the now ubiquitous gender studies classes. I do not speak from experience of a gender studies class but I can see the after effects just as a geologist who did not see an ice age but can see the effects of that ice age. I have third party hearsay of such classes. Katie Roiphe described a class experience as an “Alice in Wonderland” experience. Katie Roiphe wrote in her book The Morning After, Sex Fear and Feminism at the beginning of the chapter The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party she penned the following 5 paragraphs.

I am listening to a lecture given by an eminent scholar with a feminist-Marxist-poststructuralists bent. In his cashmere suit, with his soft cashmere voice, he talks about  “hybridization of the postcolonial female discourse.” Sitting on a wooden chair, I am going to focus on his words. His lecture is deliberately opaque: he talks about “the inside of outsiders’ insideness.” As I lose my concentration the words break down into syllables that don’t make sense. I hear the rise and fall of the speaker’s cadences without the meaning. And then I remember a voice from childhood, “Beware the Jabberwock, my son”.

Sometimes I do feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole, tumbling through the tunnel into another world, “curiouser and curiouser,” wondering what on earth the White Rabbit is talking about. In classes and lectures, at Take Back the Night marches, I sometimes lose my bearings, like Alice, and everything seems upside down and backward.

In a conversation about how terrible it is that a professor made a dirty joke in class, I offer my opinion. Someone tells me that I don’t understand the humiliation, the violence, of these comments. We look at each other, nothing more to say, our argument backed against a wall.

In a class on American Literature a fierce controversy rises up about Edith Wharton. Someone argues that her novels are elitist and bourgeois. Another person adds that Wharton is antifeminist, because some of her female characters are insufficiently developed. Someone claims that Edith Wharton doesn’t do justice to May Welland, the shallow blond character in the Age of Innocence. I say May Welland is not a flesh and blood person with an existence independent of how Edith Wharton thinks of her, she is a character in a book. I begin to argue against looking at literature for well rounded characters, and one of the men in the class interrupts me with the statement, You are wrong, Edith Wharton’s characters are necessarily antifeminist because within the hegemonic male discourse, it is impossible for the female voice to be empowered.

Sitting around the seminar table in my classes, I sometimes feel like I am at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Either I’m crazy or they are. I feel like I am Alice listening to the Mad Hatter tell riddles without answers, my head spinning. This is a game I don’t want to learn, this is a tea party without tea, and I have gone through the looking glass.

Katie Roiphe

The Morning After
Sex, Fear, and feminism
p 113-5

 

MorningAfterGender studies classes are less about study and more about drama; about getting into the character of a victim, forever and always, world without end.  The female students are disempowered by feminist tutors, convinced to feel terrible and slighted by the minor slights and to project their realised character on to the “patriarchy”. Just as in a real drama workshop or a therapeutic workshop so the students in a gender studies classes learn a script written by others and internalised as their own as reality.

Just as in a real drama workshop or a therapeutic workshop so the students in a gender studies studies classes eschew scientific technique and logic even going as far as to suggest that logic is a “patriarchal device” for control. At this point we could well be talking about Christian Creationism. There is virtually no difference.

How much damage? Recovering feminists talk about feeling traumatised by their gender studies classes and the struggle to come to grips with the aftermath. All the elements of false memories, false feelings and experiences which are unfalsifiable in therapeutic workshops are present in gender studies classes in the form of false victimhood and false or exaggerated injustices undergirded by the great unfalsifiable patriarchy “theory”.

Finally if the above is depressing you may like some light relief by viewing some videos on the Youtube channel of Goodfella on his parody of a gender studies class (

).  In the case of mental illness the moral of the story is to choose your therapist carefully and don’t leave your brains outside the consulting room.

Ladies and Gentlemen Choose Your Hysteria

We live in an age of escalating hysterias. Beside “rape culture” and related feminist hysterias men and women can choose we can choose today from “stranger danger”, the “war on drugs”. the “war on terror”, the “crime and punishment hysteria”  and “helicopter parents” (because there’s a paedophile behind every pole and around every corner).  In the past we could choose “satanic ritual abuse”, “alien abduction” or “multiple personality disorder”. Further back in history we could choose the “the red scare”. “McCarthyism” or back far enough we could choose “witch hunts”. There’s a hysteria for every need and every age.

Where does it come from. It seems to be episodic. Society functions for a while without a major panic but a switch is thrown with the correct alignment of social and cultural factors. Once switched on these hysterias seem to take a collective animal life of their own. My untested hypothesis is that this behaviour touches on the deeply biological in the primeval regions of the brain.

In our brains are repertoires of reactions which are triggered by environmental stimuli and these mostly lay dormant until activated. These are like emergency fire drills which are enacted in the event of a fire. How to react and what to do is automatic. Most of the time the “red hat” hangs on a hook unused. These are adaptations with obvious survival advantages which predates humanity and possibly mammals. As humans separated from the other apes our cerebral cortex exploded in size but it did not replace the older lymbric systems in our brain. In fact the cerebral cortex rationalises our deeper instincts as they manifest in justifications. Racism is simply genetic competition but was once rationalised into race theories with agendas like eugenics as the result. Today these instincts can also be maladaptive in particular situations where our environment differs from the natural environment we evolved in. Reactions such as flight, fight or freeze in response to danger.  The advantages of the first 2 are obvious and analogues in today’s circumstances are easy to  to imagine. The last one is less obvious. Yet in nature this is a common reaction to danger. A deer freezes on the approach of a large cat and becomes less visible to predators who are attuned to movement, especially if camouflage is also part of the prey animal’s defences. An analogue in contemporary life would be ignoring bills which need to be paid as the human animal enacts this repertoire of behaviour from a deep biological past. It is irrational to think that the metaphorical wolf at the door will pass if we just ignore him and freeze.  Some may remain dormant for an entire life but it may be that at least some must be exercised at various times. Some of these repertoires will come to the fore of our consciences.  We know how to be frightened, panicked, joyful, depressed, confidant, vigilant, optimistic or pessimistic and so on.  We know how to feel and react when bullied, humiliated and “put in our place”.

You may wonder what possible evolutionary advantages can there be to being depressed or pessimistic. Back in the cave days of cold winters, little game prey and short days a claustrophobic environment of a cave for most of winter could be depressing. This means we would not be motivated to venture outside or do anything very much  which is  the best response in that environmental context. A reduced food supply and extreme weather are not the ideal circumstances in which to feel highly motivated and energetic. Time instead to tell stories, make music and paint on the cave walls. It is interesting that today creative people like artists and writers are frequently prone to depression. To be optimistic may be fruitful in one environmental context but delusional and dangerous in another context because optimism is really a special sort of delusion. The positive psychology writer Martin Seligman is the normalisation of a potentially dysfunctional delusion and something. It is a Procrustes straitjacket for all people in all circumstances as has been described by Barbara Ehrenreich in her book How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World. In fact it has been determined that the colour blue of the sky has a special effect on the brain, a claiming cheerful effect and a slight feeling of well being. A blue sky signals it’s time to get active and go outside and do things. Time to make it all happen. We all know this effect. In its exaggerated form in some people it gives rise to “seasonal affective disorder” and is known by the rather apt acronym of SAD. Nature doesn’t care that we feel happy all the time. Only that we reproduce and behave in a way to maximise our chances of reproducing.

We all know how to feel as victims. This is in direct contradiction of the consensus narrative of victimhood by feminists and other theorists. That is one can not identify with the suffering of another in a less privileged circumstances or or a particular class of people. That without direct experience of racism or sexism no one can identify with the experience. I propose instead that the feelings stemming from these deprecating and humiliating experiences are not made by experiences but are already present and waiting to be activated as already pre-existing realities in the primal areas of our brains. This is not created simply because of the existence of power relationships but is a repertoire which is realised when activated. We can learn a second language, an occupational skill or a musical instrument but we do not learn how to feel bullied or feel discriminated against. For this reason victim cards are counterfeit licences to exclude other opinions.

An extreme behaviour triggered the environment is post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).  MRI scans show that people with PTSD have signatures of physical changes in the brain in common. PTSD is an extreme expression of a repertoire which is in effect etched into the brain a bit like an image burned on to a screen which has bot been refreshed. Nature doesn’t care for our personal comfort, only that we reproduce. The resulting dysfunctionality manifesting in society is useful for surviving for example an attack by a woolly rhino or a battle ground where a bullet may end your life any minute. The continuation of fear, the suspicion, the paranoia, heightened vigilance and the acting out aggressively in non threatening circumstances is maladaptive, automatic and difficult or impossible to turn off post the event.  A miserable survivor can still reproduce and that for evolution is the point.

Add to this the needs of humans and the exploded cerebral cortex. I believe humans have a biological need to solve problems, another repertoire which is often activated. The advantages are obvious as witnessed by improvements in our lives but just as all other repertoires can cause problems so this important repertoire can become a compulsive dysfunctional habit with societal consequences in macro. Once we start hunting for solutions we also go hunting for problems for those solutions. To a hammer everything looks like a nail. Thus in medicine we improved general health not only because we need to solve many health problems and because we have learned and applied much knowledge to that end but because we actually biologically need to solve problems as a species. The repertoire once activated wants to continue activating. Thus as we make our lives better we also simultaneously retire a problem to gnaw at, frustrating our will to solve problems and our hunger for drama. Think of a rodent who needs to gnaw with his teeth or else the teeth will become too long to function. Medical malpractice indemnity excesses and helicopter parents do not come down so much to opportunistic lawyers or government regulation gone overboard although there is a lot of that, but rather because our need for drama attaches itself to whatever can fill the vacuum. No longer afflicted with childhood diseases and childhood deaths this is a repertoire hammer in need of a nail. The result can be a society which feels quiet stifling, claustrophobic  and oppressive. We feel like animals in a zoo and in truth this is what humans have become. We can not ever leave the zoo of our own making because the habitat outside of it is no longer there.  We do not become happier in the absence of problems; we only become emptier. This human zoo is the stage on which our mind repertoires are played out and played out quiet inappropriately. This creates all sorts of anxieties on to which many panics can latch on to and which advertisers are well placed to exploit. Our present era is one of great improvements although it is possible this will not last. In summary humans were designed to build utopia but they were not designed to live there. The tragic ape indeed. A comedy of creation.

In the episodic waxing and waning of hysterias something similar happens. The age of witch hunts was not an age free from desperate problems although as always some few were very comfortable. It did still see cycles of manias in communities as if something very dark was periodically activated. We see this with religious fundamentalism, Marxism, Nazism and feminism with their potential for panic to escalate to include an ever widening circle of threats. Once the initial “enemies” being the convenient problem needing resolution have been exiled, imprisoned or killed ideologies need to invent an even more vaguely defined group of “enemies”.  During the witch trials of 17th century in Germany Frederick von Spee observed that those who called most loudly for the trials were eventually entangled themselves because they did not realise that their turn would come. See my blog  post on this very courageous 17th Jesuit priest.

What does this have to do with the subject of my blog. Perhaps an understanding of the irrationality of feminism and why it looks like religious fundamentalism. It looks like fundamentalism because that is what it is. If you have not yet had the accusing finger of feminism pointed at you yet, don’t worry your turn will come.

The process of idealogical escalation of paranoia is described by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) as per the Wiki entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_….

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

It is for this reason I am glad I would not be going to heaven if it existed. Just like earthly utopias it would be a disaster.