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Admirable Invasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality

Monday April 2015


Theodore Dalrymple Senior Fellow | Contributing Editor, City Journal

“Most people do not really want freedom,” wrote Sigmund Freud in his 1930 classic Civilization and Its Discontents, “because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” While the father of psychoanalysis may not command the same stature he once enjoyed, Freud’s progressive views on personal responsibility are now mainstream in Western societies.

In Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality, renowned social commentator and MI scholar Theodore Dalrymple explains why humanity has not been bettered by the false promises of the different schools of psychological thought. Most psychological explanations of human behavior are not only ludicrously inadequate oversimplifications, argues Dalrymple, a retired physician and psychiatrist, they are socially harmful in that they allow those who believe in them to evade responsibility for their actions and place blame on a multitude of scapegoats: childhood, genes, neurochemistry, even on evolutionary pressures.

Admirable Evasions lucidly reveals how the fashionable schools of psychoanalysis, behaviorism, modern neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology all prevent the kind of honest self-examination necessary to the formation of human character. Instead, they promote self-obsession without self-examination, and the gross overuse of medicines that affect the mind.