Monday, 19 January 2015

Hacking My Brain Off

I'm still on shaky grounds with this book, but couldn't Rewriting the Soul's main themes of

1. Many supposed 'facts' only being being contingently true and

2. 'making up' people through descriptions

be also representative of some of the key elements of prejudice? If humans are all about erroneously categorising and compartmentalising and generalising (like with the child abuse = MPD connection) then we couldn't we just as easily be talking about prejudiced stereotypes that are perpetuated through acting under descriptions? Just as 'child abuse' was not a recognised thing, so too, was racism (hence Heart of Darkness being a totally normal thing for its time. Also, accidentally racist old people).

Then the descriptions attributed to events in the past that are a formative influence on a person's being could quite easily be talking about the symptoms of internalised racism!

There, now where's my Nobel Peace Prize medal?

On a different note, this book's mentioning of semantic contagion of something improbable and (when seen from a completely neutral perspective) quite ridiculous reminded me of the hysteria around the Salem witch trials, and all the arrests in the US in the 80's over satanistic day-care centres. While these seem crazy now, I'm sure someone who was being told about multiple personality disorder for the first time would have many issues with it as well.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting connection here to prejudice and stereotypes. The discussion in lecture about how we make up people through not only medical personnel telling us what we are like but also through larger social, cultural and political practices, seems to fit your point well. The only thing I'd add is that what Hacking is talking about is also that people who are so "made up" also can internalize these descriptions themselves and start to act in those ways. That may, though, still fit with prejudice and stereotypes--when we read Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks we'll see how he talks about internalizing the racist stereotypes that others use to denigrate people, such that some people denigrate themselves thereby.