So all the images were of people slotting neatly into the socially-engineered structures and looking very happy. Same old story, same old story! Good clothes, good complexions, good positive attitude to life, all that kind of stuff. The message being of course that it is the social structures that are making the people in the pictures so very happy. The implicit message being that complete unquestioning compliance to the systems or institutions that exist in society – whatever they might be – will automatically bring about a state of great happiness. And also therefore, riding on the tail of this positive message, is the blaming or condemnatory message that says if you aren’t wonderfully happy then it must be your own fault, it must be because you are failing (through God knows what streak of perversity or bad-mindedness) to adapt yourself to the happiness-producing structures of society.
‘Aah the happiness inducing structures of society,’ I think fondly to myself, my heart swelling up with pride at the thought of them. Only not really, of course. Not really. ‘How joyful it makes me feel to contemplate the happiness-producing systems of organisation that exists within the within the social world’, I declare. Only not really, of course. Only not really. If there is one thing that is disillusioning for me it is the way my fellow human beings look fondly and approvingly at these sinister (one might almost say diabolical) systems in society. How can one gaze upon that which is sinister through and through, sinister without a doubt, and yet completely fail to see the darkness that is right there in front of one’s eyes? How can people do this? It’s like not recognising a rattlesnake as being a deadly threat, even it is if it is obviously preparing to strike. One of the most dramatically obvious threat displays in the whole of nature and yet we remind remain completely oblivious to it!
It’s such a diabolically clever double-bind – I suppose that’s what I’m trying to say here. In one way I must admit that I’m full of admiration for the trap that we have been put in. We are bombarded from birth with all these images of radiantly happy human beings with good hair and great teeth and fine complexions who are very obviously as happy and radiant and fulfilled as they are because they are perfectly adapted to the social machine, perfectly obedient to the unspoken rules of society, and yet – if we do obey the rules of society then this inevitably screws us up in a very big way. Nothing screws a person up as much as abject conformity to the rules of society, as we all know! But when we start to show signs of cracking up, or looking less-than-happy, as we inevitably will do, then we are implicitly (or explicitly) blamed for being the authors of our malaise – it’s evident to everybody and his uncle that we must be doing something wrong, that we must be failing in some way. If we were properly and wholeheartedly integrating ourselves into society then would be happy just like everyone else – obviously!
How’s that for a ‘double bind’, huh? And then the icing on the cake, so to speak, is therapy, which is the same thing all over again. Therapy is another of these happiness-inducing systems within society’! Nowhere else is the double-bind of which I speak less visible, more effective, and more ironic than in the domain of therapy. We are provided with a system to conform to, the explicit purpose of which is to improve our mental health. Conforming to some system is only going to make our mental health worse of course. Doesn’t it always? Let’s not be stupid here – how can conforming to a system be mentally healthy? What kind of utter lame-ass bullshit is that? But then, when this doesn’t work (as it won’t), the fault is inevitably our own because we’re stupid and we’re not doing it right, or because we’re lazy and we’re not really trying hard enough, or because we don’t really want to ‘get better’! This really is the most superb double-bind, don’t you think?