Organised squirmings

Psychologist John B. Watson, father of behaviourism, considered humans mindless, plastic things. Dalrymple says his views were sectarian and dogmatic – and ultimately inhuman (subscription required):

There was something sinister about Watson and his acolytes. Watson himself believed that baby farms might be desirable, and regarded babies and children as infinitely plastic. He thought he could turn them into anything he wanted. For him human beings were but the sum total of their conditioning, and he ends The Ways of Behaviorism by answering the question of whether an adult can change his personality. The answer is maybe, though it would be onerous:

Possibly if we had absolute control over food, sex, shelter, if we had some great reconditioning laboratory where the individual could be brought for a year for rigorous study and experimentation, we might be able to undo for him in a year what home nurture had done for him in thirty years.

Among the evils of “home nurture” is mother love, every reference to which in this book is negative, being equated with smothering, stifling, and infantilising. Much better for babies to be in nice hygienic laboratories, where psychologists can blow air at their corneas and make sure that they develop no irrational fear of snakes.

Consciousness held no mystery for Watson, in part because he denied that it existed. All that mattered was behaviour, not what went on in minds (whose existence he also denied), though he does not explain why anything at all should matter if there is no consciousness and there are no minds.

One thought on “Organised squirmings

  1. TMay

    Read what Dr Ewen Cameron did for the CIA in Canada and the US where he brainwashed people by wiping out their memory and creating a blank slate by giving them 40 times the voltage of electro shock therapy and he did not limit himself to people suffering from schizophrenia but worked on people with low levels of depression, who had voluntarily requested treatment, and he did not get their consent nor the consent of their families, and left them debilitated for life, and sometimes dead. My father said that Graham Marks who owned a business on Peel Street in Montreal died as a result of these activities. Read up on MKUltra. Wiki did not mention the death of Mr. Marks. It is said that this approach could get people to do things they opposed and would not remember. His work is discussed in relationship to assassinations. It is shocking, not to make a pun.It is a similar approach to how voodoo practitioners make Zombies, and how baby elephants are trained in Asian countries (I don’t know about America).

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