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Social Breakdown and the Social Distress Syndrome

  • Robert W. Rieber
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)

Abstract

Jacob Bronowski once remarked about Joseph Priestley that if you ask an impertinent question you may open the doors to a pertinent answer. To search for the impertinent question is itself impertinent; it is a tricky, even hard, road to follow. But this is the road we intend to follow as we inquire into the processes of how we institutionalize stress within our culture.

Keywords

Social Institution Social Character Overt Aggression Objective Culture Psychological Dysfunction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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    It is of some importance to recognize that even such a prominent scholar as Griesinger, who was a leading force in the transition from the early nineteenth-century school of romantic psychiatric thought to the late nineteenth-century medical/biological paradigm, was cognizant of what we have defined as social distress, despite the fact that this concept was largely underdeveloped during his era. Furthermore, it should be also be noted that the period during which Griesinger was writing of was one of rapid social change. The middle part of the nineteenth century spawned the Industrial Revolution, which with its emphasis on manufacturing and big business produced big changes in people’s lifestyles throughout the world. Although these developments of the past are not comparable to the high information-processing technologies of today, the parallels with regard to the manifestation of social distress are still quite strong. For example, Griesinger says, I would rather coincide with the opinion of most medical psychologists, that the increase of insanity in recent times is real, and quite in accordance with the relations of modern society, in which certain causes, according to experience, exerting a great influence, which cannot however be quite expressed in figures, have become stronger and more extended. The progress of industry, art and science necessitates a general increase of the cerebral functions; the constantly increasing departure from simple modes of life, and extension of the more refined mental and physical enjoyments, bring with them desires and emotions formerly unknown. The general possession of a liberal education awakens in the minds of many a feeling of ambition which few only can gratify, and which brings to the majority but bitter deception. Industrial, political and social agitations work destructively on individuals, as they do on the masses; all live faster—a feverish pursuit of gain and pleasure, and great discussions upon political and social questions, keep the world in constant commotion. We may say, with Guislain, that the present state of society in Europe and America keeps up a general half-intoxicating state of cerebral irritation which is far removed from a natural and healthy condition, and must predispose to mental disorder: thus many become insane. The demoralising influence of large towns—in Paris it is estimated that there are 63,000 individuals who maintain themselves by dishonest means and at the cost of society, in London there are thousands of children already devoted to crime and prostitution—the greater frequency of celibacy, the altered relations of religion, may be considered as co-operating circumstances...Google Scholar
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    The facts about Milken are as follows: He’s a yuppie, middle-class Jew from Brooklyn who went through the countercultural revolution of the sixties and then goes to work on Wall Street. Being a clever, ambitious entrepreneur, he observes that Wall Street and its leaders are all WASPS, excluding the hyphenated Americans and all members of the club. He decides to make the leaders of Wall Street his primary target. He builds up a network of allies consisting of successful business people including all the hyphenated Americans such as the most successful black, Jewish, and Italian businessman who were capable of rising to the top at Wall Street and Madison Avenue. He convinces them—as a successful and profitable and knowledgeable Wall Street broker and entrepreneur—that he can make them a lot of money, and shake up the Wall Street establishment’s discrimination against outsiders. In order to achieve this he successfully markets junk bonds, which yield high interest rates but have little substantive value behind them. He has the charisma and salesmanship to convince everyone to back him and he will make them a pile of money. The game plan is to challenge the ruling class. He uses inside trading and price fixing and forced takeovers as a technique to break the Wall Street establishment’s leadership. He investigates and finds out which CEO’s are in financial difficulty and guilty of mismanaging their own firms. Their security is ensured by picking their own boards of directors, who approve anything they wish. The stockholders are losing money and the firms are in financial difficulty. Enough people (including charities) made money so that his reputation as a reliable businessman was ensured.Google Scholar
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  29. Al Capone and the Mafia did the same thing in the thirties. The only difference was that Milken didn’t murder anyone. He kept it strictly within the realm of financial killing. He used the same methods—namely public relations and charity—as a means of gaining the trust and confidence of many prominent people. He established what amounted to a hyphenated-American mafia to destroy the WASP leadership in big business. Trump and Robert Maxwell were both variations on the same theme but were not a part of Milken’s operation and had different objectives.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Rieber
    • 1
  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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