Victim-centered society – my answer in Quora

Why are psychology and so many self-help ideologies perceived merely as blame-shifting gimmicks that are guilty of creating a “victim-centered society?”


I am not sure that psychology and self-help ideologies – and self-help books – are or ought to be guilty of creating such a society, but the basic premise of all of them is the belief that the ego – that impostor or ‘mask’- is the centre of the person. The ego is, by definition, a net of desires, frustrations, hopes, and the like – a kaleidoscope of self-created and contrasting images. A happy ego is almost a contradiction in terms, given that such a dubious character is never *quite* satisfied (look up the basic tenet of Buddhist psychology: ‘craving’).

Greek tragedy embodies and exemplifies all those human passions in the extreme. No wonder that what is pervasive in ALL Western novels is frustrated desire, unrequited love – restlessness, in a word – given the fragility of the ego and its perceived failings. Hence the widespread interest in psychology and the multiple therapies aimed at assuaging all the pain, suffering, and frustration, which are extensive to the whole of society.

Something that is of an altogether different nature – to the point of transcending individuality – is aspiration or yearning, be it spiritual or moral. Even so, the point can be made that (any) desire, and its fulfillment, could in principle be a step in the direction of that aspiration, which is one towards completion or real self-fulfillment.

In Eastern psychology, for example Advaita Vedanta, the ego-or-mind does not have the ‘distinction’ of being the centre of the person. Rather, the ego is closer to being that ‘mask’ referred to above. If you ask me what then the center of the person is, the answer is: Spirit (or Atman) in its pure state. Any lack of purity is equivalent to ignorance or a degree thereof. — Where then is suffering?



About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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