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Mass psychosis: an additional consideration April 25, 2013

Posted by larry in economics.
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As a number of people are familiar with the concept of psychosis, they invariably think it is caused by some sort of neurological or drug induced condition. When it comes in individuals per se, this is generally true. But when it comes to a large mass of people, possibly an entire social group, this causation link fails as a general explanation. While such explanations can work under particular circumstances, in the case at hand, that of austerity beliefs, it fails because the mechanism is implausible. Indeed, it is not necessary, and indeed otiose, to resort to such individual-centric explanations of such socio-cultural phenomena.

There are other ways of inducing functioning psychotic belief systems, particularly where the social system is organized in such a way that they do not interfere with daily life, indeed, sometimes they may be considered to enhance such life. Inculcating what is effectively a psychotic belief system, that is, one completely detached from reality, can be accomplished by means of social and cultural programming — that is, the programming of social behavior and conceptual (or mental) constructs such as values, beliefs, norms, and the like. (I have dealt with these conceptions in earlier posts, but I did elaborate on them possibly in rough form some time ago in the 1995 issue of the journal, Social Epistemology , in “A Reappraisal of the Concept of ‘Culture'”).

I doubt it can be plausibly argued that beliefs surrounding austerity can be considered in any sense to be life enhancing. If such an argument soundly showing that austerity is indeed life-affirming, contrary to what appears to be the case on the ground, as it were, I would be grateful to know what it is. (I am going to be a stickler and insist that a sound argument is one that is both valid and its premises true.)

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