Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy II: The World of Spiritual Aberrations
We can push this notion about managed anxiety even further. In seeking to manage its anxiety, a system not only produces a strong culture it creates highly influential and enduring myths, stories, and norms to support this culture. While the myths and stories are widely verbalized and reinforced through shared language (aligned linguistic content and structure), the norms are not only deeply embedded and widespread like the myths and stories. They are usually not discussed nor debated. The norms are often invisible and self- fulfilling (as Argyris and Schon would suggest–see essay one).
The Management of Power
Closely aligned with anxiety are the dynamics of power in any system. While many psychoanalytically inclined observers of social systems, such as Isabel Lyth-Menzies (1988), have focused on the management of anxiety, others (often from either the long-standing field of social critical analysis or the emerging field of behavioral economics) have focused on the dynamics of economics and power. They ask: Who is sitting at the table when important decisions are being made in a particular system? Who do people at the table want to invite to the table or at least consider worthy of discussion? Who do people at the table want to isolate or discard?
There are several other, equally important questions to pose—especially as we turn to our specific analysis of the four assumptive worlds of psychopathy: where does privilege reside and does this privilege get reinforced or does it shift when the system is being threatened or when there are high levels of anxiety? Who is at the table when formal policy is being formulated?
The following questions are specific to this set of essays: what are the assumptions and values of those sitting at the table? What do they want to accomplish (stated or unstated) (conscious or unconscious) (individual or collective)? What about the enactment of policy: who are the players and what is their agenda? We can also turn to the “recipients” of actions taken (based on the formulated policies): which citizens are “caught” in the web of this policy and what role (if any) do they play in influencing the policy (its formational and enactment)?
It is time now to turn specifically to the first of our four assumptive worlds. As I have already noted, I will bring the perspectives and questions generated in my preliminary exploration (in essay one) of the role played by social constructions in the worlds of psychopathology—worlds that are saturated with the feeling of anxiety and engagement of power.