17 July 2010

The human psychosis

Extract from Advice to Clever Children

The human psychosis is extremely simple. Hatred of reality (originally caused, it is to be supposed, by a traumatic experience or experiences of objective impotence) has become displaced onto other human beings. This state of affairs is expressed by attitudes of indifference to reality and of interest in human society. The latter interest is usually rationalised as altruism.

The other day I was talking to a human being. I said: 'No one is interested in reality.' He said, 'Well, reality, what's that? Nothing exciting. That chair, this carpet.' 'There is the uni­verse out there,' I said. 'Well, what's the universe?' he said. 'Some stars. Some of them we know about, some of them we don't. Well, what about it?'

It is instructive to observe that this particularly overt case of the human psychosis was in full agreement with John Robinson* that God was something you found deep down in human relationships.

He (the human being) could also be made to assert that any reality human beings did not know about was unimportant, in fact unreal, because human beings did not know about it.

To complete this cameo of the human psychosis it is only necessary to observe that a study of this person's human relationships would undoubtedly have revealed a continuous indulgence in concealed sadism.

(I use the word 'sadism' for convenience, because there is no other – unless perhaps Schadenfreude – to express a psychological tendency to derive pleasure or gratification from damage done to other people, or suffering experienced by them. I do not, however, mean to imply that I suppose the pleasure or gratification involved to be sexual in origin.)

* author of Honest to God