R. Bryant said:
Indeed, the goal of producing political propaganda by using the methods of social science was self-consciously articulated by Horkheimer. Thus Hork- heimer reacted with enthusiasm to the idea of including criminals in the study: “Research would be able here to transform itself directly into propaganda, i.e., if it could be reliably established that a particularly high percentage of crimi- nals were extreme anti-Semites, the result would as such already be propagan- da. I would also like to try to examine psychopaths in mental hospitals” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 375; italics in text). Both groups were eventually included in the study.
This tendency to interpret anti-Semitism as fundamentally deriving from suppressing nature is central to Studies in Prejudice, and particularly The Authoritarian Personality. Suppression of nature results in projection of qualities of self onto the environment and particularly onto the Jews. “Impuls- es which the subject will not admit as his own even though they are most assuredly so, are attributed to the object—the prospective victim” (p. 187). Particularly important for this projection process are sexual impulses: “The same sexual impulses which the human species suppressed have survived and prevailed—in individuals and in nations—by way of the mental conversion of the ambient world into a diabolical system” (p. 187). Christian self-denial and, in particular, the suppression of sex result in evil and anti-Semitism via projection.
A good example of such a reader is Christopher Lasch (1991, 445ff), who noted “The purpose and design of Studies in Prejudice dictated the conclusion that prejudice, a psychological disorder rooted in ‘authoritarian’ personality structure, could be eradicated only by subjecting the American people to what amounted to collective psychotherapy—by treating them as inmates of an insane asylum.” From the beginning, this was social science with a political agenda: “By identifying the ‘liberal personality’ as the antithesis of the author- itarian personality, they equated mental health with an approved political position. They defended liberalism . . . on the grounds that other positions had their roots in personal pathology” (Lasch 1991, 453).
Further, Levinson notes “The ethnocentric ‘need for an outgroup’ prevents that identification with humanity as a whole which is found in anti- ethnocentrism” (p. 148). Levinson clearly believes that ethnocentrism is a sign of psychiatric disorder and that identification with humanity is the epitome of mental health, but he never draws the obvious inference that Jews themselves are unlikely to identify with humanity, given the importance of ingroup- outgroup distinctions so central to Judaism. Moreover, Levinson describes the anti-Semite Mack’s demand that Jews assimilate as a demand that Jews “liquidate themselves, that they lose entirely their cultural identity and adhere instead to the prevailing cultural ways” (p. 97). Levinson sees the demand that Jews assimilate, and thus abandon rigid ingroup-outgroup social categoriza- tion processes, as an aspect Mack’s anti-Semitic psychopathology; at the same time Levinson is perfectly willing to advocate that the anti-Semite identify with humanity and abandon ingroup-outgroup social categorization processes. Clearly ethnocentrism and its concomitant salience of ingroup-outgroup social categorization is to be reserved for Jews and pathologized as an aspect of gentile behavior.
One wonders if these social scientists would similarly advocate that Jewish children should reject their families as the prototypical ingroup. The transmis- sion of Judaism over the generations has required that children accept parental values. In Chapter 3 it was noted that during the 1960s radical Jewish stu- dents, but not radical gentile students, identified strongly with their parents and with Judaism. I have also discussed extensive socialization practices whereby Jewish children were socialized to accept community interests over individual interests. These practices function to produce strong ingroup loyalty among Jews (see PTSDA, Chs. 7, 8). Again, there is an implicit double stand- ard: Rebellion against parents and the complete abandonment of all ingroup designations is the epitome of mental health for gentiles, whereas Jews are implicitly allowed to continue with a strong sense of ingroup identity and follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Whereas the negative feelings high scorers had toward their parents tend to derive from parental efforts to discipline the child or get the child to do household chores, the negative feelings of the low scorers are the result of feelings of desertion and loss of affection (p. 349). However, in the case of the low scorers, Frenkel-Brunswik emphasizes that the desertions and loss of love are frankly accepted, and this acceptance, in her view, precludes psycho- pathology. I have already discussed F63, whose father abandoned her; another low scoring subject, M55, states, “For example, he would take a delicacy like candy, pretend to offer us some and then eat it himself and laugh uproariously. . . . Makes him seem sort of a monster, though he’s not really” (p. 350). It is not surprising that such egregious examples of parental insensitivity are vividly recalled by the subject. However, in the upside-down world of The Authoritarian Personality, their being recalled is viewed as a sign of mental health in the subjects, whereas the overtly positive relationships of the high scorers are a sign of deep, unconscious layers of psychopathology.
This style of high-investment parenting in which high levels of solicitude are combined with powerful controls over children’s behavior is effective in getting children to identify with parental values in traditional Jewish societies. Supreme among these values is accepting parents’ religion and the necessity of choosing a marriage partner suitable to the parents and especially to avoid marrying a gentile. To have a child marry a gentile is a horrifying, catastrophic event that indicates that “something must be wrong with the parents” (Zbor- owski & Herzog 1952, 231). For Frenkel-Brunswik, however, parental solici- tude, accepting parental values, and parental influence on marriage decisions are a sign of pathology—a forerunner of fascism. For gentiles, but apparently not for Jews, rebellion against parental values is the epitome of mental health.
This picture of conflict in the families of low scorers receives the following interpretation by Frenkel-Brunswik: “The foregoing records illustrate the frankness and the greater insight into the marital conflicts of the parents” (p. 369). The assumption seems to be that all families are characterized by alco- holism, desertion, physical abuse, quarreling, and narcissistic preoccupation with one’s own pleasures rather than family needs. Mental health in the low scorers is indicated by their being aware of familial psychopathology, whereas the pathological high scorers simply fail to recognize these phenomena in their families and persist in their delusions that their parents are self-sacrificing, loving disciplinarians.
This inversion of reality continues in the chapter entitled “Sex, People, and Self as Seen through Interviews.” High-scoring males appear as more sexually successful and as having high self-conceptions of masculinity; high-scoring females are described as popular with boys. Low-scoring males appear as sexually inadequate and low-scoring females as uninterested in men or unable to attract men. The low-scoring pattern is then interpreted as “open admission” of sexual inadequacy and therefore a sign of psychological health, and the high-scoring pattern is labeled as “concerned with social status” and therefore pathological. The assumption is that psychopathology is indicated by overt social adjustment and feelings of self-esteem; while mental health is indicated by feelings of inadequacy and admissions of “insufficiency” (p. 389).
Again, psychodynamic theory allows the author to ascribe surface admira- tion and affection to underlying hostility, whereas the surface problems of the low scorers are a sign of mental health: “Some of the records of low-scoring subjects refer rather frankly to their inadequacies, inhibitions, and failures in sex adjustment. There also is evidence of ambivalence toward one’s own sex role and toward the opposite sex although this ambivalence is of a different, more internalized kind from the combination of overt admiration and underly- ing disrespect characteristic of high scorers” (p. 405). We may not see this underlying disrespect and thus have no evidence for its existence. But psycho- dynamic theory allows Frenkel-Brunswik to infer its existence nonetheless.
The tendency to pathologize behaviors related to adaptive functioning can also be seen in the discussion of self-concept. High scorers are found to have a very positive self-image, whereas low scorers are filled with insecurity, self-condemnation, and even “morbid” self-accusations (p. 423ff)—results inter- preted as due to the repressions of the high-scorers and the objectivity of the low scorers.
As with political radicalism, only a rarified cultural elite could attain the extremely high level of mental health epitomized by the true liberal:
The replacement of moral and political argument by reckless psychologizing not only enabled Adorno and his collaborators to dismiss unacceptable political opinions on medical grounds; it led them to set up an impossible standard of political health—one that only members of a self-constituted cultural vanguard could consistently meet. In order to establish their emotional “autonomy,” the subjects of their research had to hold the right opinions and also to hold them deeply and spontaneously. (Lasch 1991, 453– 455)
In the post–World War II era The Authoritarian Personality became an ideological weapon against historical American populist movements, especial- ly McCarthyism (Gottfried 1998; Lasch 1991, 455ff). “[T]he people as a whole had little understanding of liberal democracy and . . . important questions of public policy would be decided by educated elites, not submitted to popular vote” (Lasch 1991, 455).
5. The theme that all modern ills, including National Socialism, collectivism, ado- lescent rebellion, mental illness, and criminality are due to the suppression of nature, including human nature, is also prominent in Horkheimer’s (1947, 92ff) Eclipse of Reason. In a passage that directly conforms to the psychoanalytic perspectives dis- cussed in Chapter 4, the suppression of nature characteristic of civilization is said to begin at birth:
Each human being experiences the domineering aspect of civilization from his birth. To the child, the father’s power seems overwhelming, supernatural in the literal sense of the word. The father’s command is reason exempt from nature, an inexorable spiritual force. The child suffers in submitting to this force. It is almost impossible for an adult to remember all the pangs he experi- enced as a child in heeding innumerable parental admonitions not to stick his tongue out, not to mimic others, not to be untidy or forget to wash behind his ears. In these demands, the child is confronted by the fundamental postulates of civilization. He is forced to resist the immediate pressure of his urges, to differentiate between himself and the environment, to be efficient—in short, to borrow Freud’s terminology, to adopt a superego embodying all the so-called principles that his father and other father-like figures hold up to him. (pp. 109–110)
16. This idea that rebellion against parental values and authority is a sign of mental health can also be seen in the theory of the psychoanalyst Erik Homberg Erikson (1968). Erikson proposed that the most important developmental issue of adolescence was the identity crisis and that going through an identity crisis was a necessary prereq- uisite for healthy adult psychological functioning. The evidence indicates, however, that adolescence is not normatively a time of rebellion against parents, but rebellion against parents is associated with hostile, rejecting family relationships.