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Human Nature and Behavior

by Alfred de Grazia



"First of all, the gods created fear in the world." So goes an old Latin saying. The expression can be reversed, for it was also said, as by Statius, "In the beginning, fear created the gods." Let us suggest the primordial condition: human fear and holy dread. The fear is the existential fear of which we speak in this book. It remains, when immediate causes of fear are absent. So it is incorrect to blame ravages of ordinary life, as did the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), for mankind's fearful state. Regarding primeval man, there occur several famous lines of his Leviathan:

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Hobbes, by our theory, is incorrect in two important regards. He explained "progress" as a result of "order" whereas, in Homo Schizo 1, order and progress are seen to have always and necessarily been mixed; man is by nature bent upon order. The twentieth century, and Hobbes' own times even more, provide "poor, nasty, brutish, and short" lives in large numbers. Hobbes also conceived of human life as originally solitary. From his birth, homo schizo was individuated, it is true, by his human character, but he still required the group, actually demanding a larger group to work out his insatiable appetite for controls.

Further, as we have been saying, man was very much more dependent upon psychological "income" in comparison with material subsistence. However, fear accompanied him on his widest and wildest searches. Contrary to the speculations of Hobbes and markedly against John Locke, writing in the same period, man's mind was no "blank tablet" (tabula rasa) upon which experience alone might write. By origin, ever since, and at present, man's mind is congenitally inscribed with an existential fear that inspires his most important human operations.

Closer to our concept of existential fear were the ancient philosophers Epicurus and Lucretius. They understood such fear, even in "good times." Lucretius (96?-55 B. C.), who sought a scientific account Of the Nature of Things in order to allay human fears of death and of the gods, presented the universe as an essentially neutral and natural order. Significantly, in view of Chapter Seven to come, ratio, whence "rational," is the synonym for order.

Time to Lucretius was an infinite succession of cycles of creation and destruction, fashioned out of eternal atoms. Mankind should come to see death and disintegration as the work of nature; "to be able to regard all that is with a mind at peace," wrote Lucian (V, 1203). To no avail. Philosophers and theologians can pile all of their wishes for mankind, Ossa upon Pelion, without his ever attaining the heights of the peaceful mind.


People will agree with the observation that life is spent largely on the problem of feeding themselves. The comparable idea that life is spent largely in coping with fear is met, by contrast, with disbelief. That fear should be central, dominant, and universal in humans is hard to believe, and harder to accept. Indeed one may propose, to begin with, that a cloak of denial is spread over the idea. We are afraid to admit what is forever present and all-determining because the admission, we fear, will simply worsen the condition.

No amount of testimony by heroes as to their frequent fears, no expositions of how humor erupts as a safety-valve to fears, nor all the case studies and historical treatises on fear and anxiety available for affirmation, can dispel the will to believe in a life without fear. How can fear be so all-pervasive, it is objected, when our lives are crowded with details of thought and behavior from which fear is usually absent, as when tying a shoelace, eating a dessert, digging a ditch, reciting prayers, or reading a romantic novel? Once more, to reply, the very fact of crowding our existence with details arouses suspicion that a mechanism of avoidance and adaptation is operative, avoidance of and adaption to fear.

To convince oneself of pandemic fearfulness, one ought to consider the total life-ways of all people in all cultures in all times. One checks off the major portions of life clearly beset by fear: infancy, childhood, dreams, religion, war service, competitive sports, risks of all kinds, old age. Then note the component of fear in all conscious mental illness and normal "neurotic" feelings. Then recall all the fear one seeks to impose upon others – intimidation, command, coercion, and so forth: is this not one's own fear projected (and milder) and is one not the victim, too, in one's own turn? Further, are not all those behaviors that are included in the paradigm of legendary creation, primeval stories and fairy tales emergent from fear? And, as Hobbes declared, does not man live in fear of violence when he is not engaged in it – just as foul weather affects not only the days when it happens but also the times when it might occur?

Still, where is the fear in apple pie à la mode? Dietary, to be sure, whether fear or defiance of overweight. But the lusty appetite of the twelve year old boy: where is the fear there? In the mother-figure looming over the culinary transaction? In showing fathers how mothers love their sons? The apple and Eve? In the haste to gobble the pie and get away from the table? Why must one explain? This is all trivia; but it is in explanation of the trivial that science shows its muscle. Here is an instinct to eat a sugary carbohydrate, a culturally defined concoction, with ramifications into the habitual cuisine, the family table, with "Mom" and the "sweet tooth."

If it were a cannibal feast – then none would doubt that terror is at the diner's elbows. Instead we have a most generalized, sublimated human activity, but still human, and hence suffused – even if remotely and joyfully – by fear. For the history of this particular feeding is incomprehensible (indeed there is no history to tell) without, like the Last Supper of Jesus, its carrying along the most ancient determinants of human species behavior. The trivium is generalized into a multitude.

This line of reasoning is no different than that so well employed in sociology and economics when we say casually that "Joe is one of the army of the unemployed." Whatever the special circumstances of Joe's case, he is part of a large statistical aggregate responsive to general causes. He is part of an army of fear. Or should we choose some stumbling, famished French soldier in the retreat of Napoleon's army from Moscow in 1812?


In terms of the psychology of conditioning, existential fear is to be regarded as continuous self-punition, whether it is called fear, anxiety, frustration, or depression. (Depression, writes J. Gray, is "a state induced by sudden loss of important sources of reward." [1] ) The punishment takes the form of inhibiting rewards, the most basic of which is probably the surcease from existential fear itself. According to Neal Miller and his associates, in a conflict between approach and avoidance the animal will come to rest at that point where the forces favoring the simultaneously feared and desired goal equal each other. The "decision" is to come to rest. Then the human, by our theory, cannot come to rest, nor does the wild animal completely, in the presence of the effective extinction of the stimulus. The human continues to live in a heavily displaced world where the avoidance-fear sensation will always find some home and sustenance.

The physiology of existential fear, apart from the brainwork of cerebral conflict, is not structurally or electro-chemically much different from that of mechanical fear (in the presence of accident, blows, threats of punishment, aggression of divine wrath). Nor is it distinguishable from the long-term fear of death. It is clear that it does not constitute a major structural leap in evolution, though its actual effects are quantavolutionary. Hence it operates much like the animal mechanisms.

Especially apropos is the "fight or flight" system, about which we can say, with Tepperman [2] :

Although people who are disturbed by teleologically 'impure' thinking in biology are sometimes made uncomfortable by Cannon's 'fight-flight characterization of the sympathoadrenomedullary discharge, the fact is that the over-all effect of such a discharge is to mobilize the individual to meet an emergency.

Hans Selye elaborated a model of the fight/ flight mechanism, as well as Cannon, generalizing it into a "General-Adaptation-Syndrome" or G-A-S [3] . So much of total human activity implicates the G-A-S, that one is compelled to view it as the dominating action determinant, which by the theory of homo schizo, means that once the G-A-S comes into play, once the Central Nervous System is operative, the essence of the response to stress is also functioning. One does not flick off the G-A-S when one is thinking about the rings of Saturn or washing dishes. And Jeffrey Gray employs in his own theory of fear essentially the Cannon-Selye model, "a single fight-flight mechanism which receives information about all punishment, and then issues commands either to fight or for flight depending on the total stimulus context in which punishment is received." [4]

The enhanced release of the adrenomedullary hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, denotes that a fight-flight signal has been passed to the central nervous system. In humans, the signal (l would argue) is incessant, or at least intermittent and rapid, and comes from a high level of excitation of the cerebral cortex, which is continually dealing with conflicts – past, present, and future. For a precise description of the body's response, we may best refer to Tepperman:

The over-all response to the effects of simultaneous sympathetic discharge and adrenomedullary secretion involves cardiocirculatory responses which are qualitatively similar to those seen at the beginning of exercise – an increase in cardiac output, increase in pulse rate, rise in blood pressure. In addition, after a brief initial period of apnea, there is an increased minute volume of respiration. Splanchnic vascular constriction (including a reduction in renal blood flow) and dilation of the skeletal muscle vessels produce a redistribution of the enlarged cardiac output which anticipates muscle work. The central nervous system arousal effect of the catecholamine substances results in alertness and quick responsiveness. Hepatic glycogenolysis, its attendant hyperglycemia, and the mobilization from the fat depots of a large supply of free fatty acids (FFA), all collaborate to provide a quick charge of readily available energy to muscles that may be called on. Chemical changes in the muscles themselves increase their capacity for work and possibly diminish the generation of a fatigue signal by the muscle. The central nervous system effects of the substances may, at the same time, diminish central perception of fatigue. As if in anticipation of blood loss, the spleen contracts while the coagulability of the blood increases. If a committee of expert physiologists were appointed to draw up specifications for a set of physiological responses that would meet emergency needs it would be difficult for them to devise a more interesting effective set than that described here [5] .

Notable is the cyclical effect - for the brain, arousing itself to signal a fancied or real threat, is immersed in the products of the responses to the signal, and hence can be forced to continue the signaling. Fight and flight tend never to end, save out of exhaustion. And human thresholds of exhaustion – of will and of muscle – tend to be forced to farther limits than those of animals. Horses and dogs reach their limits because men drive them. Whether in sex, sports, eating, warfare, prayer, business, or art, humans frequently test their limits.

Anxiety is moderate and continual fear and, were we dissatisfied with the mechanisms of fear in producing human nature, we should seek the mechanisms of anxiety. But they are the same as those described already. The dozens of physical and mental symptoms of anxiety [6] , if they are not subsumable under the fear/ flight system in operation, are by-products or effects of the system.

The explanations of anxiety are significantly related to the theory of homo schizo. M. Gray mentions five types of hypothesis. That anxiety is a catastrophic response of the organism to stress is advanced by Goldstein. That anxiety is a threat to one's concept of the self is advocated by Rogers. That anxiety arises out of unassimilated percepts is put forward by McReynolds. That it is related to commitment and awareness is Kirkegaard's notion. And that it signifies perceived threat to existence as a personality is conceived by May [7] . All can be related to the poly-self problem. Going beyond Gray to the sources, one can synthesize from them a concept of anxiety as an unending (because not quite exhausting) flight from oneself occasioned by defeat in containing emotional stress and by inability to face up to the everyday world. These opponents would be never a sufficient cause, however, were there not the ever-present existential fear that the self is not itself, but rather a dissociated confederacy.

And the outer world per se is a source of fear because with this discordant confederacy, who can be sure that the world is real and fixed? One need not be a philosopher to sense this fear, but it helps in expressing it. As Schopenhauer wrote, "The uneasiness which keeps the never-resting clock of metaphysics in motion, is the consciousness that the non-existence of this world is just as possible as its existence."

Is anxiety normal? Yes, endemic. Is anxiety part of the fear-flight syndrome? Yes. But for the "flight" part of the syndrome, we must investigate other behavior, beginning with punishment.


A taboo forbids some relationship of a group's members to an object or being. It functions as an obsessive phobia. It can also be regarded as an unconscious plan by a social group to proscribe an activity in general but to grant that the prohibition will be violated by "sinners." Despite the score of theories as to the nature of taboos, there seems to be no significant difference between a taboo and the process of law in rationalized societies except in the degree of analytic awareness accorded to the two types of phenomena.

Both condemn a transaction, elicit guilt for its performance; excite reliably the "satanic" impulse of individuals to violate the proscription; thereby exciting impulses in the satanist and, by identification, the society, to feel guilty; punish the guilty and give thereby a sado-masochistic bonus to the group members; and then conclude with the expectation that the cycle will repeat itself. So the taboo, and the law, are techniques of varying awareness for producing routine behaviors, with exceptional cases providing a leavening of guilt and punition.

A taboo and a law that are never violated are not only unnecessary, but undesirable, and a contradiction in terms. It is for the group consensus that the law or taboo is needed, for "reasons" and "consequences" that are more or less clear but in any event affirmed, if only in order to exercise the ritual guilt and punishment that the human uses to assure that his psyche is under governance and can control its aberrations, both internal and external.

Punishment of the self and of others has the same etiology. Humans who could punish others but not themselves, or vice versa, are structurally impossible. That observers have been misled to believe that people exist who are capable of one but not the other attests to the deluding permutations that are possible in the essential need to deal with the punitive aspects of the gods.

Guilt is an obsession with the conceived need to punish some part of oneself.

I am the wound and the knife! I am the slap and the cheek! I am the limbs and the wrack, And the victim and the torturer.

Thus Baudelaire [8] . Guilt and punishment are both "moral" activities, meaning by moral that their processing in the central nervous system is associated with compulsive identifications with symbols or beings of authority. The wish for, or condoning of, such authority is a wish to control oneself and others, thence ultimately existential fear. The origin of morality is frequently the perceived behavior of the gods, whether based on some reality or hallucinatory. The behavior of the gods is an effective instrument for inculcating fear because of their actual behavior as perceived by the delusory and projective apparatus of the primeval human mind.

The gods, as perceived, commit wanton injury, cease to commit injury, and commit benefits more infrequently. They do so ostensibly in all the combinations and permutations of the high–energy natural forces – lightning, seismism, volcanoes, hurricanes, meteoritic phenomena. They also do so by facile penetrations of the minds of people – demanding, exhorting, frightening, and promising.

The individual split-self, comparing itself with others, works to discover a pattern of actions that distinguishes his behavior from that of others, and one category of others from another category. Driven by extreme anxiety, his hypotheses become obsessions. He discovers what he thinks to be such patterns and the relation of such patterns to the response of the gods.

He proposes and follows with obsessive subjectivity and paranoid zeal the line of conduct that appears to promise the greatest benefits and the lightest treatment from the gods (and their representatives – men, animals, plants). He projects his own correlations into the motives of the gods. Depending upon his charisma and the degree to which the god's behavior actually has a consistent appearance to others as well as himself, he makes a consensus of believers, a religious sect.

To strengthen his own self-restrictive behavior and to bargain for control over others, he transfers his authority to the sect. He finds thereby an accommodation that far exceeds, in the security and satisfactions that it brings, even the great benefits being experienced by group cooperation in hunting, farming, and manufacturing. Indeed, this basic security is so beneficial, that it causes the great development of these latter activities, and of art, sex and procreativity. All of these activities, affecting all life, became then suffused with and dependent upon the origination of guilt and punishment.

Punishment takes many forms – of the self and of others, of the world and of the thought, of the body and of the mind, of deliberate action and of subconsciously driven behavior, of mildness and extremeness. All emanate from self–awareness and the reservoir of primeval fear filled by it.

The need to punish is always independent of the demonstrable effects of the punishment. Fear finds its nexus whenever it encounters the obstacle of its own illogic. To sacrifice one's own child to a demanding god is by its own extremity of pain and sorrow the proof that the punishment must be effective. Moreover, the persistent and universal presence of human sacrifice is the mere outcropping of self-destructive and destructive activity, both deliberately and subconsciously conducted, which masses itself beneath the innumerable different cultures that have evolved since mankind originated.

The kind of punition that asks first for the logical connection between offense and punishment, and seeks to follow the crime with correction in the future, has only occasionally and especially in recent times had some impact upon deliberate punishment. Even then, though faced with psychiatric theories attacking primeval guilt and punishment, the urge to punish has tended to go underground into the subconscious, there to expand upwards once again in destructive behaviors that are handled in a context of fear in which punishment occurs as an ever-present instrument of relief and discharge.

Basic patterns of behavior are infused with appropriate modes of punition – catatonism with paralysis for having moved, and by moving, moved the world order to destruction; obsession with numerous rules to proceed in fixed ways on pain of a variety of punishments ranging from mild social disapproval to the most horrifying extirpation that can be devised; sublimation with the torturing of thought, art, and institutional behavior, generally playing out the eternal drama of the sin of being human; orgasm with displays of violence, sacrifice and ecstasy.

The common need for authority, especially one who can punish and forgive, is plain, for punition tends to unite the self, whether it be by the self or by the authority, and a god is therefore much needed. So is the god needed in external relations, interpersonal affairs where, as Martin Buber, the theologian, says, God, the Great Thou, enables human I-Thou relations between one person and another to subsist [9] .

It is plain what an important role the gods play in holding the self together, and why gods are assigned the tasks of punishment. The tenuous self, striving for integrity, for self-rule or selves-government, invites a third party, the god, to intervene, who, by definition rather then logico-empirical proof, restores order in the self by punishing one or more of its components; it matters not which, and matters not why. What matters is that the punished being feels whole, feels "better" afterwards. Such is probably the essential dynamic of masochism.

The transfer of godlike qualities to the rulers of the state– kings, judges, and generals – and of institutions (presidents) and families (parents) lends these real beings authority, which hoi polloi can disregard only at the risk of punishment, whether self-inflicted or imposed by the rulers.

Witness today, for instance, a typical sequence of problems and behavior in the "educated" family, pictured through the mind of the father: 'My children have no conscience... They discovered that I was not obeying a third party... they don't obey me... they feel free to attack me... they should have been given a party [abstract and delusional] to which both I and hence they would refer judgements... I could have dominated them [paradoxically] much more if I showed them that I was submissive to a third party... then they would join me in relation to the third party and I would not be the target of their hostility..."

Every life activity displays guilt and punishment – sexuality, food production, tool-making, war and justice, death. The peculiarly human aura of sexuality, like that of other human life areas, is owing to the architectonics of fear, with its archinstruments of guilt and punitiveness, working its way through the continuous mind-exploding mechanisms of the split self (selective memory, symbolization, control-seeking).

As M. Gray has mentioned, fright in man is more complex than in animals because "the new dimension that is reached in man can be viewed as symbolic fear." [10] Sex and fear systems are tied together in endocrinal secretions, so that there is little need in psychology to devise a logico-rational explanation of how, beginning with fear, the human mind runs to sex, or vice versa. The fight-flight system is basically the fear system, and is "ubiquitous," using Tepperman's word.

Bleuler discovered early that "the idea of intercourse is often expressed by that of murder," that "wars and duels are symbols of cohabitation," and that the idea of being burned is tied up with murder and sex [11] . Often we observe that peacetime anxieties or fear produce sexual impotency, whereas wartime fears, where violence is pervasive, produce lust and rape. Men going about looking for jobs develop impotence; men infiltrating an enemy town or abandoning it seek sexual outlets. Unleashed violence uses sex as a screen for and release of fear. However, regarding murder, say, sex is not the originator. The life areas are intertwined, as are all others.

The human does not compartmentalize, especially when under stressed fear, nor do many animals, but the human has a lower threshold of compartmentalization than the animal and must endure, indeed often enjoys, the confusion and mingling of life activities. Strange, because the human is the greatest analyst of mixtures, and can separate, in his mind and by scientific tests, the life areas so that pure categories of sex and aggression and work, etc. are educed.

A wide range of "normal" and abnormal" behaviors are developed in man, reflecting every known special sex behavior of every species, even at least up to the point of zoological impossibility as in divine and mythical hermaphroditism. (In rare cases, as today, and in perhaps a flurry of mutational cases in primordial natural disaster, hermaphrodites may have provided the grain of truth to the common myths of divine hermaphroditism.) Man's mind certainly dwells upon hermaphroditism. Resistance, obsession, sublimation and orgiasm, in turn and in combination, emit a host of various sex behaviors, in the individual and group.

What the mental strategies do to characterize the sex instincts of humans is also done in the other areas of life. Consequently, if one were to eliminate, in each successive area of life, the generic holistic mechanism working upon continuously renewed and stored fear, one would discover at the end of each process of elimination a root element, the sexual, the grower, the maker, the fighter, the dying person. Although no more complex than the fullness in toto of animal behavior, these areas are elaborated in an exceedingly rich manner within humans by the basic mechanism operating out of fear in unending supply.


A common element in schizophrenic symptomology is an aversiveness to humans. This includes social distrust, desire for privacy, fear and dislike of others, expectation of being rejected, and the conviction that one is unlovable – all on an intense level. A strong rejection to being helped is common. It is a mutual rejection of the bodyselves and a separation from the world and others of the poly-self. It is self–conscious – not animal awareness, but a delusory standing off from oneself, with the whole world (inner and outer) thus revealed, expanded by the sense of time – of recall, memory, and forgetting – and of space.

The "paranoia" comes from the Greek where, anciently, to be "out of one's mind," that is para (beside) and nous (mind), denoted insanity in general; in American vernacular one would say "I was beside myself with worry." Now, narrowly, paranoia is restricted to projections of threat. The paranoic aspects of primordial and existential fear are well known. Fear fathers destructiveness. Whenever the skies darkened, or certain stars approached, or the Earth trembled, paranoia was stirred up. Legends often openly assert that "because" the gods were destroying the world, men took up arms against each other. Even voices out of highly civilized cultures, such as Alsatian peasant culture, will assure one that wars follow upon great meteoritic showers, as in 1914.

What the gods are intending, as projected, is retrojected back to oneself, to one's group members, and to outside humans. In extenso, it often happens that the gods instruct men to destroy each other. Official psychiatric reports of the great Alaskan earthquake of 1964 describe how blame for the disaster, often couched in terms of an Act of God, was expressed in guilt-feelings and in accusations against others, such as "I changed my church," or "He changed his church."

The inventive aspects of paranoia are considerable. The paranoid is highly energized. He stresses symbolism. He acutely discerns remote analogies as he searches for conspiracies. He prospers upon the unknown and unintelligible. He is obsessive, confident where others falter; he has answers, and insists that others adopt his answers. The dominating role of the paranoid in the origins and history of civilization becomes understandable. His "sickness" was no sickness in primordial times.

Nor, properly rationalized in the language and procedures of existing culture, is the paranoid "sick" in the world of today. For every provable connection of effect with cause, humans resort to hundreds of paranoic assertions. The reason, when experts are asked why, is usually given as "ignorance." But is it not as easy to apply a simple logic on what is known, or to confess ignorance, as it is to learn or invent false accusations continually? The primary ego is compelled to assert its omniscience and, since the function of "knowing" is really to reduce internal fears, accusatory explanations are in heavy demand.

A paranoid is usually beset by ambivalence, the love-hate double face and double mind of the schizophrenic, the abrupt turn from one to the other make relations between schizophrenics and others often more terrifying than consistent hostility.


But ambivalence, we should argue, if we are set to follow homo schizo theory, must be universal in man and culture. And so it is. It is the good and the bad of everything. It is "the two sides to every question" that underlies the judicial systems and many cultures. It is manifest in the fact that people and cultures "choose" to differ in every way that they can, from one another and within themselves. The alter egos must emerge. Cannibals can be divided into those who eat their enemies and those who eat their friends.

Levi-Strauss says that the incest prohibition is the only universal culture trait, a bold and learned claim. But a moment's consideration will put the claim into a revealing context. The scope of incest rules differs: some stop with parents, other with nuclear families, others with uncles and aunts, other with clans and so on in various combinations. By their existence and limitations, the rules implicate contrary wishes, hence ambivalence.

Furthermore, societies have rules about everything that can be the subject of rules; incest is no more specific a concept than murder, and all societies have rules about murder; further, all societies "by right" are totalitarian implicitly if not explicitly endorsing the old army saying that "there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything in this Army." (There is an alternative rendering which is, "There is the right way, and there is the Army way; you do it the Army way!") Finally "rules are made to be broken;" without infractions there would be no rules which means, more subtly, that it is desirable to have infractions, if only to gratify the punishers, but, more than that, in order to let what is right be known.

Today the gods are less frankly present in the operations of the "normal" mind and institutions; but the schizoid meaning of the primordial gods is clear. It is not enough to say that the first human mind could imagine the gods and imitate their imaginings (projection and retrojection). It actually did so on the basis of more reality than is fashionable to admit nowadays. The human mind was born with the gods, that is, with those terrible entities of the sky that are said to have wrecked the world, and that were hovering above and swooping down over a period of thousands of years, ever refreshing the reservoir of fear in the human mind.

The animation was imagined, or so our modern logic insists. No matter, for every symbol stood for a memorable sign, every myth represented an event, then came imitation – prompt, unquestioning, and illogical. Above all other relationships in the world was the identification with bodies that both hated and loved humans on a massive scale; these were the gods who turned upon another, castrating (Saturn-Uranus, Jupiter-Typhon, etc.), maiming, tearing off heads and limbs, hurling mountains and cosmic discharges at each other and at men.

"Black magic" sees a hand in everything that happens. The paranoid often sees the same. Comets and meteors readily simulate the hand. The prehistoric caves contain the hand in great numbers. The "Hand of God" is frequently reported stretching out from the heavens to the agonized populace. At one and the same time, it is the image of terror, of inevitability (the hand finally grasps), of help and of punishment. He also "Holds the Whole World in His Hands."

But the hand is only a part of the rich assemblage of forms that natural bodies can assume, all of which contributes to the original and continued reification and anthropomorphizing of the gods. Schizophrenics, more commonly than controlled normal schizoids, reify the outer world. insofar as the schizotypical human has been in the forefront of human development, the gods as "humans writ large on the skies" are unending.

What they did to men was beyond modern belief and was deeply suppressed. But it was never truly forgotten. The myths of old, the dreams of the normal, and the autistic reveries of the schizophrene are basically alike in structure and purpose: to manage the unmanageable. Whoever survived had to believe that they were the chosen people of the gods. Further, all the new aspects of their environment (like the manna and the ambrosia from heaven) that helped them to survive, kill enemies, give birth, and carry on creatively (arts and crafts) made them believe in the love of god. It is the famous "double bind," which social environmentalists attribute often to a mother who works out a hate-love relationship with her child, and which makes the child schizophrenic. But going back generation-to-generation to the earliest times the mother, and her mother, and so on, can only deal in hate-love ambivalence, because they were so dealt with by the primeval divinities.


After ambivalence comes the pleasure-phobia, the symptom of anhedonia, which Meehl has called "one of the most consistent and dramatic behavioral signs of the disease" of schizophrenia. It is a "marked, widespread and refractory defect in pleasure capacity." Man has been mistakenly called a hedonistic or pleasure-seeking animal. The psychiatrist would say that this is correct only if self-destructive and other anhedonistic behaviors can be termed pleasurable. If whatever the organism seeks becomes, by definition, pleasurable, then it is hedonistic.

The hedonistic theory is inherited from the Benthamite school of early nineteenth century England. The psychology of hedonism had taken over a commanding position in Western societies in the guise of democracy and socialism. Certain philosophers – ancient Epicurus for instance – certain societies, not many – the United States for example – take up the idea enthusiastically. Or, at least, so imply the advertisers. But, say the critics of American civilization, the attempt at hedonism fails miserably.

In reality, the pursuit of hedonism is always a secondary social aim. No society has ever been founded upon the pleasure principle. All societies are ideologically committed to the principles of anhedonia: pleasure is evil; pleasure is impossible; pleasure brings punishment, suffering is good; pleasure is a release from disciplined suffering; pleasure is to be tolerated only upon the celebration of a disastrous anniversary, as an orgy inviting repentance. The orgy is a complex of smile and snarl – as in dogs we have known, and in humans we should wish to investigate. It is from the human person that society is constructed, and where anhedonia is born. To prove this, one may begin with deduction. Pleasure-phobia is logically implied in the theory of the fearful polyego. The mental construction of the human is fundamentally unsettled. The frustrations of existence – to satisfy needs and evade the blows of nature – write an undulating pattern over the basic unsettlement.

Now if one is permitted the irony, is it not strange that pleasure should be regarded as natural and in this day people who are anhedonic should be regarded as mad, when it is the hedonist who perhaps should more naturally be taken to be mad? It is significant therefore that the definition of pleasure itself is the greatest weakness of hedonism as a philosophy. The hedonist begins by thinking of pleasure as a commonplace idea: "eat, drink, and be merry," "a car for every family," "peace and plenty," "a chicken in every pot," "free love," etc. That is, the hedonist turns out to be a superficial psychologist who has a rationalist uni-dimensional view of people.

However, most people seem intent upon rejecting this kind of pleasure in part or whole. As soon as one asks of the hedonist, "What gives people pleasure?" he must reply: "People get pleasure from whatever they wish to do or have done to them." Pleasure, then, in a word, is "Voluntarism," as in the old-fashioned expression, found in several European languages as a mode of address to superiors, e. g. "What is the gentleman's pleasure?" Under the Ancien Régime in France, the King signed all of his promulgations with the phrase, "Car tel est notre bon plaisir," which phrase would be related upon every reading of a law or judgement, as when a man was condemned to death, "For such is our good pleasure." But of what does Voluntarism consist in primeval humanity? Assuredly it is in fulfilling those devices that are animal in kind: feeding, fornication, fighting and fleeing danger. More than that? Yes, hanging around where one can feed and fornicate and feel free from danger the next time on each cycle.

What else, that is typically human? To refuse food, to refuse sex, to fight instead of flee. Even more, to do all that can possibly be imagined to use these elemental desires in ways that will establish and secure the most wanted triple-control of the self, others and the gods.

Let us look at the earliest legends of mankind. What do they have him doing in these regards? A great many unpleasurable things. He sets up a host of taboos against the most plausible kinds of enjoyment.

He eats only certain food, and at only certain times. He eats what is bad to eat when good foods are available. He eats in a certain way, giving a portion of the best of his food to the gods, as hungry and insecure as he may be. He fasts. He eats his gods and his enemies. He builds a great oral literature on what to avoid eating and subsidizes priests to tell him what not to eat, when, and how to prepare what he does eat, ulcer or not. Would it be permissible to suggest that two out of every ten humans who have ever lived have died prematurely from pursuing irrational eating habits? (Meaning by irrational: ingesting or avoiding because of non-dietary reasons what is severely prescribed or proscribed.)

Sexual behavior, too, is thoroughly permeated by restrictions and impositions. Name an animal that lingers in coition. Other than man, of course. That exults in creating a female orgasm. Whose orgasms are compared with death itself? Not "I am born," but "I am dying" is the sometimes climactic ejaculation by the sexual partner, with subsequent relief and relaxation from having met with death and survived. And again creates a philosophy, as the Hindu, for one instance, that explains how you weaken yourself unto death by sexuality. So, too, conflict. To defend is "natural," to flee is natural; but not to attack deliberately with one's guts roiling, in row upon row with bayonets fixed, with death ahead, yet death from behind upon whoever falters. Whence the awards go to those who have suffered most joyously, doggedly, "without questioning why, but to do or die." Verily who seeks pleasure seeks its own reward; who seeks pain and suffering is exalted before oneself, before man, and before god.

The earliest glyphs and scripts of mankind are pleasure-phobic to the degree to which they are sacred. Coming from the Egyptians, Hebrews, Sumerians, Mayans, Chinese, Icelanders, Myceneans and Greeks, these coherent patches of history and morality stress without exception that the pains of existence must be and should be, hardly ever do they set up mammalian or sublimated pleasures as a human ideal.

The anhedonism of primordial and schizophrenic humans is understandable: existential fear demands not pleasure, but relief. And this relief results from a broad spectrum of activities that are hardly pleasurable: self-mutilation, sacrifice, cannibalism and exhausting ritual. The ambivalence of the gods and of the self, too, warn against pleasure.

T. Reik has argued that the original sin was not sexual but rather of hubris, the imitation of the god's power, such as the seizing of the God's fire [12] . It was alright for the Homeric heroes to address the gods as "blessed and happy;" but calling themselves happy was an invitation to disaster.

Far more institutions have been created in ancient and modern times for the suppression of pleasure than for its enjoyment. But as Freud intimated in his Civilization and Its Discontents, without suppression of the instincts there would be no civilization. Herbert Marcuse has more recently elaborated upon the thesis in Eros and Civilization. Even these trenchant criticisms for culture now seem superficial. They have but carried forward another version of "the noble savage" of eighteenth century philosophy. One cannot discover, nor properly induce from pre-history, a human culture that sought to provide pleasure except as it might be incidental to relief and escape. Anhedonism is imprinted upon human nature, the individual schizoid psyche, which is pleasure-phobic more than pleasure-prone, abets and invents the anhedonistic institutions. And institutions "hate pleasure," whereas they cultivate suffering.

Usually, pleasure-phobia is an aversion to interpersonal and "animal" pleasure rather than to cognitive and aesthetic pleasure. The schizo-type can evince aesthetic and intellectual hypercathexis without the fears and guilt of interpersonal pleasures (i. e., human pleasures). Anhedonia is not apathy, but is pseudoapathy, a tense and anxious state; its final form is catatonism, which is really "playing possum" with the gods.


Manu, the Noah of the Hindus, "practiced severe and great self-mortification." Wearing a bark shirt, his hair matted, "while he stood on one foot with his arms raised, with bent head and eyes unblinking, he performed awesome austerities for 10,000 years." He was chosen by order of the gods to recreate all creatures after the Deluge. "By virtue of his very severe self-mortifications the manner shall be manifest to him." [13] So the model of man is taught the greatest knowledge by the greatest suffering.

Freud in one place quotes Kaempfer on the taboos governing the Japanese Emperor of old:

In ancient times he was obliged to sit on the throne for some hours every morning, with the imperial crown on his head, but to sit altogether like a statue, without stirring either hands or feet, head or eyes, nor indeed any part of his body, because, by this means, it was thought that he could preserve peace and tranquility in his empire; for if, unfortunately, he turned himself on one side or the other, or if he looked a good while towards any part of his dominions, it was apprehended that war, famine, fire, or some other great misfortune was near at hand to desolate the country [14] .

Gurdjieff reports an experience from Central Asia. There in a village a religious sect was playing games of magic circles. A girl was frozen in the circle that other children had drawn around her. She could not move out nor could adults from the sect drag her out. Persons who entered and left the circle remained in a catatonic state for many hours. It seems that one entering the circle grants her vital force over to an outside being as a bribe to prevent harm to oneself. Thus emptied of vitality, one cannot move.

There is more than an analogy with some psychological problems in a rigid bureaucracy. The incubant at his desk gives over his life forces to an outside being – in this case the inanimate collective representation that is the agency or bureau. Whereupon the employee becomes inert, immobile, and cannot direct the very forces he is employed to manage.

Workers concerned with disaster assistance comment frequently upon the fatalism and denial of the victims; often the outsiders are baffled and become angry. In one of the few honest reports ever written on this question, a transport expert working intimately with the truck drivers bringing food in the recent Sahelian drought and having substantial contact with the rural population, reported that at first none of the local population seemed ever to have heard of the drought; later he concluded that they felt it deeply and were taking rational steps to minimize the hurt in ways they had known all their lives. In much of the Savannah and desert of Africa, people take drought to be a necessary divine warning that religions and moral standards are slipping and that a revival is due. The harm done to them must actually be received in a sacred mood. It is notable that this report is of rare honesty. Ordinarily the nervous givers of charities must be reassured that the recipients are responding "logically" and "rationally," and reporters generally supply such news upon demand.

What is the fear of change of habits, customs, society and human relationships, even of aging? Is it based upon some pragmatic calculus of cause-consequence; that is, is it based upon the experience of change, discovering that change is always for the worse? And why does the feeling vary so greatly, then, among individuals, so that, for example, a social psychologist such as Lowell could divide politicians and public opinion into two categories: the optimistic and the pessimistic?

The fear of change derives from the anxiety over the potential loss of an ego stability, which is markedly worse the less the poly-ego is stabilized to begin with. May this not explain the phenomena of personal and social conservatism and stagnation? The process in society, as in the person, is self-aggravating. As a society destabilizes in revolution, whether social, industrial, or political, far from people becoming habituated to the change, they become more desperate. Even though the change may be rationalized as beneficial, any material improvement and a formal lift in dignity become inadequate consolations for the failures of individuals to compose new poly-selves for the new times. This should constitute a lesson for non-Marxian revolutionaries.

A catatonic patient, like Manu, is far from "despairing" of control of the world. He may hold a position for months, but if moved, flex and adjust so as to maintain the assumed position [15] . His ability is unconscious in that it far exceeds any normal ability. Other patients (Bleuler called them "waxy cataleptics") were without spontaneous movement but maintained any position in which they were placed. Another type went on repeating motions that were supposed to have begun and stopped. Often the cataleptic exercises himself in an "affirmation of negativism" that requires great muscular energy and coordination.

Here is what other mental patients say: "I can't move if I am distracted by too much noise. I can't help stopping to listen. That's what happens when I am lying in bed. If there is too much noise going on, I can't move." Another says, "I get stuck, almost as if I am paralyzed at times." They are driven sometimes to losing their subjectivity. They become objects and, as one patient said, "Objects don't have feelings. '' [16]

Catatonism tells the gods or other authorities: "I do not move, lest when I move I am noticed, and the world, too, will move." Catatonism is a common response to the shocks of primeval and historical disasters. It is seen in every accident ward and especially in military hospitals. In a great disaster, such as Hiroshima, catatonism is a major behavioral response.

Non-rationalized cultures (mistakenly termed "primitive")) simulate catatonism when reenacting the earliest days of creation. Members of a certain Jewish sect must remain throughout the Sabbath in the same posture that they were assuming when the Sabbath began. Children present during traditional religious ceremonies are warned to be particularly silent and immobile while the priest reenacts the primordial end of one world and beginning of the next. Wherever the authority of religion has descended upon secular institutions – be it a library or the mausoleum of Lenin – a "respectful" silence is maintained. Gestures become restrained. Clothing becomes "appropriately" somber, unobtrusive. All that is individually outward is suppressed, and it all "happens naturally."

Short of catatonism and beyond anhedonia exists the realm of apathy. Schizophrenics, the psychiatrists say, are so contradictory: sometimes excessively voluble, hyperactive, frenzied, and then again and for prolonged periods apathetic. Nothing interests or excites them. They may be occasionally aroused, and then retreat dramatically into torpor of manner, posture, and speech. They are impossible to arouse. No one knows what stimulus will once more perhaps excite them. Meanwhile no indignity inflicted upon themselves or others, no injustice, no deprivation seems to matter. Electric shock treatment is resorted to, a horrible experience, a repetition of primeval bolts of Jove. Occasionally, a cure of apathy results, but note that it is a worse pain, a greater fear of the lightning discharge, that arouses the patient, not a pleasure; no pleasure will ever do the job. Pain, not pleasure, is the route to resuscitation, a recovery of a status as a punished one, a way to please the self, others and the gods.

Self-deception of anhedonia and catatonics can be carried to the expected extreme of self-destruction by suicide, just as with the other delusions of man. Karl Meninger sees in all mental illness a core of self-destructiveness. Freud's last paradigm had "Thanatos," the death instinct, juxtaposed to "Eros," the life instinct. There is no use in trying to draw a line to include only the mentally ill. Self-destruction in its most obvious forms, leading to death, is an extreme anhedonism, by definition, which is to say that other self-destructive behaviors that are not so obviously leading out of anhedonia are tied into anhedonia for the simple reason that man seeks self-control holistically and hologramatically; the symptoms are interrelated. Oblivion in catatonism and death is the ultimate control of the self by surrender; the self is no longer divided or in disarray or scattered.


But a place must be made for orgiastic behavior. Whereas one kind of violence emerges from the discipline and sacrifices of "law and order" or obsessive social forms and institutions, a second kind of violence entails the tearing down of structures and institutions. Sometimes this occurs in Saturnalian orgies where deliberately, for the nonce, all social forms are turned upside down; masters serve slaves, equality reigns, contracts are broken, wealth is burned or otherwise wasted. Amidst the Assyrian terror, Isaiah cries out: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die." (Is 22; 13) Ecclesiastes does him one better: "Eat, drink, and be merry..." At other times, orgiastic violence becomes warfare and social purges, such as witch hunts and political reigns of terror.

"The conscience for which [Hitler] stands," wrote Lasswell in 1933, "is full of obsessional doubts, repetitive affirmations, resounding negations, and stern compulsions." [17] Mass death followed. The obsessional and the orgiastic work hand in glove. Human sacrifices, an ancient Pharoah inscribed, will purge you to the satisfaction of the gods. Warfare, for the Aztecs, was continuously needed to provide prisoners whose sacrifice was demanded to keep the world orderly and the sun regular.

Sizemore and Myers have connected schizophrenia, fear of world destruction, and ancient catastrophes [18] . Eissler calls Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of the end of the world by flood, fire, hurricane, and explosive seismism his last and greatest works [19] . The orgiastic event commemorates the end of the world or of one world. "Better a terrible end than an endless terror," said the Nazi slogan. Again, it is a replay of the primeval times of disaster, a carrying out of the will of the indignant or new god. Political force represents phylogenetically the force that overturns the earth; therefore, necessarily often, political force is adored, is not to be restrained, and when abused, remains still genealogically right. There are many analogies in the human mind between natural and political violence; Shakespeare, as Irving Wolfe demonstrates, interchanges social, personal and nature's language in a shower of metaphors. Holocausts are demanded. "The beast within us" is called forth. But, of course, it is not a beast; no beast acts so; it is the human within us that is called out. A common phrase in writings about repulsive practices is "Even as late as..," as if mankind had been on an upward track of moral conduct. "Even as late as the Roman Empire, infant sacrifices to Saturn occurred... etc." "Not until the Spaniard arrived, did the Aztecs cease their regular cannibal sacrifices of thousands of persons," or "the Jews of Czarist Russia and the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire were not freed from the dread of pogrom and massacre until 1920," or "As late as the 1880's the Shawnee Indians sacrificed a maiden upon the near approach of planet Venus."

However, relief is not in sight. Progress is a matter of a few years. Somewhere, at any given time, a massacre or deadly persecution is probably taking place. The human "holocausts" of the German Nazis, Russian communists, Chinese communists and nationalists and of the lesser Balinese military, Cambodia communists and other groups of the past half-century took perhaps one hundred million lives. Wars and starvation by neglect killed another hundred millions. And the world arms, while it talks in terms of killing more hundreds of millions of people.

It is not difficult to prove that homo schizo is nearly as far from "killing only to eat" as he ever was. Nor has any social invention appeared that might promise a definite end to such catastrophic behavior. This, more than anything else, ought to motivate the study of human nature. We know, do we not, that the historical modes and inventions of systems of social cooperation have failed all critical tests?

There is an automatic anhedonia about modern holocausts. The pleasure-phobia sacrifices others to reassure itself: "The only good Indian is a dead one." But the phobia then goes farther to hide the emotionality of the deed by bureaucratizing (routinizing) it. The self-suffering (which is not rationalizable to others) is translated into sublimated self-suffering that makes sense to others. In cultures where religion provides infinite legitimated anhedonia, this is an easy matter; every impulse to suffering can be indulged.


Nevertheless, older religions (theocracies, specifically) set up channels of suffering that lead to astonishing aesthetic and intellectual products. Especially in cultures deviating from heavy religious norms, self-suffering by sublimated activity is given an individual or scientific-bureaucratic base, and it is here that the schizophrenic is identified; since he is not incorporated into bureaucracy and rituals, his activity is exposed as psychopathic; then wonder is expressed at the great aesthetic and intellectual product that emerges from his suffering mental state as in the case of the composer Schuman, the sociologist Max Weber, the novelist Kafka, and so on.

Aesthetics and invention are displacements and trans-substantiations of interpersonal suffering, conveyed in ideas and symbols. Thus frequently the schizoid patient surprises his keepers by contrasting behaviors, on the one hand completely uncoordinated and erratic where people are concerned, but on the other hand competent, cool, logical in the pursuit of music, mathematics, and zoology.

In such pursuits, the schizoid leaps over his uncontrollable anxieties of the other self, the other person, the living nature and gods. Then he (or she) doubles back upon the percepts and cognitions left behind, purging them until they form a colorless fabric of abstractions which he drapes comfortably over himself.

In movies, novels, and journalism people (normal) express surprise and anger at how many institutions of love and priests of love behave contrarily; these are unfeeling, inhuman, interested mostly in abstracted aspects of people and things. Such frequent behavior of "welfare officials" is partly their anhedonism and partly their personal aversiveness, whether expressed by them characterologically or as typical representations of institutions.

A climactic case of a love institution built upon a great fear and hatred is afforded by the American Jonestown community of Guyana, South America, where several years ago some 900 people living in a community of love were suddenly transformed by their leadership into a community of suicides and killers, to the end that within a few hours almost no one was left alive. In the interviews and reports issuing upon the disaster, the phrases of terror and doom dominate.

Man cannot lift himself by his own bootstraps. The human has been and is always in some combined state, varying cyclically in intensity, of self-punition, aversiveness, anhedonia, ambivalence, paranoia, catatonism, and orgiasm, as well as obsession. The social structures are but an extension to help him control these embodiments of anxiety. It may be hopeless to seek exceptions via cultural anthropology or special religious sects.

Fear phenomena can be manipulated, handled, understood, balanced, but not erased. Otherwise we should have a vegetable or simple animal, for the animals closest to man have also a problem of eternal angst. A normal scientist (and to be a scientist implies an abnormality), admittedly a superman of rationalized controls, is ipso facto allowed and trained to mistrust his senses, to mistrust the word of others, to regard everything as important (that is, engage in the most remote displacements), to check and recheck anxiously, to be obsessive about his subject, to avoid personal identifications and emotions, and to suffer self-punition over extended periods of times. What is science, indeed, but a capitalization of instinct-delay and the heavy anxiety-alert to develop and exploit them as actual products?

Notes (Chapter 5: Coping With Fear)

1. Op. cit., 234-5.

2. Jay Tepperman, Metabolic and Endocrine Physiology, Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1962, 136.

3. The Physiology and Pathology of the Exposure to Stress, Montreal: Acta, 1950.

4. Op. cit., 195.

5. Op. cit., 136-7.

6. Cf. Melvin Gray. op. cit., 97ff for a list.

7. Ibid., 93.

8. Baudelaire, (Penguin ed., 1961), 160.

9. I and Thou, 1937.

10. M. Gray, op. cit., 131.

11. Op. cit., 415-6, 27.

12. Theodor Reik, Myth and Guilt.

13. J. A. B. van Buitenen, "Manu, Ut-Napischtim, and Noah," U Of Chicago mag. (Winter, 1975), 10-3.

14. Totem and Taboo, 1913, N. Y.: Norton, 1950, 45.

15. Bleuler, op. cit., 180.

16. Mc Ghee and Chapman, 63, Patients 12, also patients 3, 5, 20, 14,1.

17. Harold D. Lasswell, "Psychology of Hitlerism," in Political Behavior (studies), London.

18. Warner Sizemore and John V. Myers "Schizophrenia and The Fear of World Destruction," I Kronos, (Spring, 1975), 75; cf. W. A. Spring, "Observations on World Destruction Fantasies," 8 Psychanal. Q. (1939), 48-56.

19. K. R. Eissler, Leonardo da Vinci: Psychoanalytic Notes on an Enigma, London: Hogarth Press, 1962.

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