Friday, June 30, 2006

Freud, Antismokers and the Removal of Children

Having been a perceptive psychologist there are times in this day and age of drier analysis when Freud still remains useful.

With regard to the antismoker movement Freud enables us to gain some invaluable insights into the condition of a group of people who for the most part are suffering from a profound neurosis if not a psychosis.

The reaction of the fervent antismoker to the smoker is one that Freud would have described as being typically neurotic, in that, confronted by the smoker, the antismoker will no longer consider or contemplate that person as a human being with many facets and a personality but simply as something vile to be avoided or eliminated without further regard.

Key to the personality of the antismoker is the reaction to the phallic symbolism imparted by a cigarette. Cigarette smoking, in addition to its erotic connotations, represents a supremely adult activity, namely, the ability and willingness to take a calculated personal risk for the sake of pleasure, life enhancement or reinforcement of the libido. Therefore, in vain will the antismokers manage to destroy the sexual connotations and allure connected with smoking, for these occur naturally and were not initially the product of the film industry although the latter probably highlighted these attributes and made them unambiguous in the mind of the public.

In terms of personality, many fervent antismokers come across as being repressed or essentially prissy and hence give the impression of lacking something. Freud would probably have considered them to suffer from a castration complex and thus, when confronted by the cigarette's phallic and pleasurable significance, their angst is stimulated twice over: firstly by the strong phallic aspect of the cigarette and secondly, by their sense of personal inadequacy when confronted by immediate personal risk.

The fervent antismoker has more bad news in store for if we look at the evidence Freud would have unquestionably dubbed them as also being "anally retentive".

Let us consider then the manner in which despite the frequent criticisms of and the real holes to be found in the arguments and evidence that purports to show that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), in the quantities in which we normally experience it, is a deadly toxic substance, the antismoker movement just cannot let this idea go and subsequently can never enjoy the pleasure of relief and creativity.

Instead, this movement simply repeats time and time again the same flawed arguments and studies rather like a constipated person who, unable to obtain the necessary toiletry relief, nevertheless insists in pushing and pushing in the erroneous belief that he or she will produce a "genuine" faecal pellet. This breeds an intense frustration and stymies the eventual development of new and free flowing ideas.

The resulting frustration generates an even greater hate of the substance that the antismoker is fixated with.

The attack on tobacco smoke - both primary and secondary - should be seen as an obvious one. The antismoker hates and fears the phallic and risk taking significance of the cigarette and smoking and, by inevitable natural extension, those who use them. Therefore, not satisfied with the fact that smokers may pay painfully for their pleasure and satisfaction, the antismoker is driven to declare that the projected "offspring" of the cigarette - the secondary smoke - is a vile and dangerous offspring. By so doing the antismoker is able to diminish the potency of the phallus.

If you think I am joking I am not and now the picture becomes truly interesting.

Let us then consider that emphasis that has been placed by the antismokers on the diminution of potency and fertility caused by smoking. We know that after a period of very heavy smoking during the Second World War there was a baby boom. In addition, subsequent heavy smoking generations produced millions of children. Under the circumstances, if there is the risk of infertility caused by smoking it cannot be a very great one any more than can be the risk to the children of parents who smoke for we search in vain for all the damaged and dead babies and toddlers. Moreover, if we used irresponsible causal reasoning, as does the antismoker movement, then tobacco is a blessing for it has assisted us to be fertile. Consider the huge increases in population that took place in Europe since Sir Walter Raleigh first brought tobacco back from America.

Things become sinister however, when we further examine the current trend of the antismoker movement to advocate the removal of children from parents who smoke on the grounds that those parents are child abusers.

Such removal, to the anti mind, indicates the perfect proof of their position.: "see, we have taken your children away so you have no children for everyone knows that smokers are impotent and infertile."

By the same token, they can point to the couple who don't smoke and who, subsequently, are permitted to keep their children and say: "see these are fertile because they do not smoke".

This is probably the pinnacle of satisfaction for the anally retentive antismokers for it enables them to reorder the world in line with their dreams: it is like the constipated person who manufactures turds out of papier maché and who then asserts: "you see, I am not unnatural for I too am a creator!"

Such thinking would seem to go hand in glove with the idea that the antismoking movement can also play God for the inadequate always have great dreams. Furthermore, it has already been well noted that as time has gone by and the criticism of the antismoker penchant for exaggerating small levels of risk has become louder, they should make the ultimate claim that there are no safe levels of ETS.

This now elevates their claim to the status of a law of nature and formally presented the proposition has the nature of: For all A then B.

Whereas one may see how such a propositional format may be suited to the fact that all metals are good thermal conductors, where ETS is concerned it is difficult to see how such a tenet could hold as the elements contained in tobacco smoke are not unique to it but shared by many other substances. Hence, I contend confidently that if this claim were subjected to rigorous and honest hard-nosed scrutiny by physicists and chemists it would not pass muster as a newly discovered law of nature. Rather it is the case that what we have here is the supreme conceit of a strangely twisted movement that thinks it can play God - a role for which is creatively unsuited and at which it is failing miserably.

Blad Tolstoy.