Irene Claremont on "natural rebels"

From: “Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology”, Harper Colophon edition, 1974

I bought this book in 1974. 41 years ago. And the insights I am quoting here seemed so natural and healthy to me then, as they do now, that I was sure that psychotherapy would move in this direction.

Now, in 2013, when I look at what the mental health services have done and are still doing to people, I fear for the future.

page 28:

The psychologists’ method of making individuals deal with the shadow within themselves, is making many intelligent citizens turn their backs on the problems of the outside world.

Discouragement of natural rebels is no service to a democracy. But psychologists are so scared of allowing anyone to foster anything resembling a savior complex, that the dynamism that goes with a reforming zeal is being damped down and lost to the world. Great deeds can only be achieved when we are more than our little selves. When we are lent wings we should not reject them.

Today the normal appears to be the modern goal. The normal? Could anything be more uninspiring?If a man can be got back into the labour market, able to carry out some dull little job, be some insignificant cog in the great anonymous machine of industry or civil service, the psychiatrist considers he has ably done his job; though he plunges the man back into the very society and the very work which had made him ill.

We tend too much to level down. Christ would have fared badly had he lived today. He might so easily, in his agony, have found his way to a mental hospital and been rendered fit to keep a normal job. The Romans did better when they crucified his body. They did not diminish, they enhanced his spiritual power.

Psychologists have inadvertently side-slipped into this dreary passion for normality. But I am not so sure that to be balanced is necessarily a virtue.Some urgent inner problem or some imbalance may actually provide the impetus for dealing with outer wrongs. The rebel who is stirred to action by injustice or cruelty to others may well have himself suffered from an inner tyrant which bullies him.

Most geniuses in whatever field are, to ordinary eyes, more than a little mad. The heavy price some artists have to pay for their unusual insight may be lack of balance. The world would have been a poorer place without Van Gogh.

The trouble is that psychologists believe they can see and explain patterns of behaviour. On certain levels maybe they can, but let us never forget the unique unknowableness of every individual soul.

– Irene Claremont de Castillejo, Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology

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