Ktismatics

30 November 2007

The New Deviance

Filed under: Culture, Ktismata, Psychology — ktismatics @ 1:36 am

According to Berger and Luckmann:

Therapy entails the application of conceptual machinery to ensure that actual or potential deviants stay within the institutionalized definitions of reality, or, in other words, to prevent the “inhabitants” of a given universe from “emigrating.” It does this by applying the legitimating apparatus to individual “cases.” Since every society faces the danger of individual deviance, we may assume that therapy in one form or another is a global social phenomenon. Its specific institutional arrangements, from exorcism to psychoanalysis, from pastoral care to personnel counseling programs, belong, of course, under the category of social control.

The older therapies of our culture define deviance as immorality, imbalance, illness, irrationality, lack of self-control. More recent therapies address a different set of issues: failure, unhappiness, inauthenticity, lack of passion, excessive self-control. Do these new therapeutic regimens signal an opening-up of an overly restrictive culture, a sort of anti-therapy that does away with the very idea of deviance, a portal for those who wish to emigrate to a different universe? Or has the everyday universe redefined itself in such a way that what used to be characterized as deviant now constitutes the norm? If it’s the latter, are there any alternative universes left? Are they to be discovered by disregarding success and happiness, by cultivating artifice and dispassionate interest, by being less concerned with expressing one’s self?

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