Recently I was chatting online about my Psych and Sociology classes this year with Carrie and I said that the net effect of these classes is that they re-wire your thinking, and that I rather resent this. She chirped "I love being rewired!" and it really got me thinking about my resentment. This may be a 10 line post, or 100. I'll just go until I'm done, okay?
Carrie is right to see excitement in the adjustment of one's thought processes. When I look at my life, do I think everything is ideal or the best of all possible worlds? Obviously I'm pursuing this education/career change because something needs realignment. After all, I'm not being brainwashed, but merely challenged to consider how and why we function as we do individually and collectively. I also subscribe to the à la carte concept, sort of an idea buffet in which I get to pick and choose to which ideas I adhere. The cherry-picking route seems sensible anyway, since this is an evolving field of study.
In our narcissistic way, it's inevitable that some deeply reflective of our kind would try to boil us down to our discrete parts and organize little groupings, tidy little ways to categorize us, define some order to things. That I understand. The condescension baffles me, though. The texts all have some point in which they mention the biases of researchers, but I find biased language here and there in the texts, but most particuarly in the sociology book. I would be reading along, taking it in and trying to jprocess the concepts when a phrase of bias popped out at me like a toenail snagging on a carpet, and suddenly I'd be hung up on how the author meant to be purely observational but was, in fact, being a little patronizing.
I do not balk at reading challenging things. Indeed, I think they do tend to help you to organize your view in a better way, and to help cement what you do believe, and hopefully inspire an evolution or reinforcement of thought and belief. I'm complaining here, but not all was bad in these books, and I have learned and perhaps being more reflective was something I genuinely needed.
I must admit, though, I did come across one psychiatrist who makes worlds and worlds of sense to me in the form of Thomas Szasz. Szasz theorizes that social experiences and not necessarily illness of the mind underlie bizarre behaviours. I've always been struck by the fact that the default explanation people go to for rude, deviant or antisocial behaviour has tended to be "clearly she/he is crazy." I think that gives a pass on responsibility to people who have actively (and sanely) chosen to commit outrageous cruelties/crimes against other people. Someone is vicious and witheringly evil to all her inner circle and people shrug it off as "she's just crazy?" No, she is an asshole, sweetheart. Someone has a an entire ethnic group rounded up and shipped off to be slaughtered? That person is an asshole. Someone calmly goes into a crowded place that is not a warzone and blows away a bunch of people for no reason? That guy is not crazy, he is an asshole. These people may be in varying states of mental healthfulness, but I don't give them a pass as though they were not in a state of choice before they committed their offenses.
No, these studies are not all bad, and I suppose the ultimate good I'll see from it won't be evident for a long while to come. I can say I'd prefer these contemplative courses stretched out in a 16 week semester, rather than 5, because this is so much to process in a short span of time.