The new authoritarians

From Aeon magazine, an interesting assessment of the 21st century’s new authoritarians.

The new authoritarian does not pretend to make you better, only to make you feel better about not wanting to change.

This goes straight to a catch-22 at the heartĀ of psychotherapy. Almost by definition you’re there to change; yet most of the work involves self-acceptance, warts and all. Real acceptance will bring transformation, but if you accept in order to transform, it won’t be real.

There’s a subtle but immense difference between actually accepting yourself and just letting your demons run amok. The new authoritarians — if compared to therapists — seem to be abusive figures who encourage their patients’ neuroses, and channel them to bolster their own power agendas. No doubt Adam Curtis would make much of the parallels with the excesses of ’60s gurus.