a) The Central European region of Czecho-Slovakia recently underwent more changes than countries that are embodied in their West-European integrity. This has also affected many areas of various subjects, where we can see “transformation earthquakes”.
If we are one day exposed to extreme temperature and another day to extreme frost, we differently react to our environment than other people – we unusually create and condition our social organism. We are conditioning others and being conditioned by continuous interactions. Society behaves like a physical body when, for example, a lost eye may cause a car accident and hence the subsequent death. We must keep our eyes open.
The velvet revolution in 1989 brought a lot of positive and negative facets. As a poet says – “In decay lies the highest beauty and the devil is God’s highest goodness. Wonderful is the swift work of destruction in autumn.” (Edith Södergran, Finnish poet, 1892-1923.) The “swift work of destruction” gave birth to things that we only heard of from the Western world – market economy; unemployment; drugs; uncertainty; boom of spiritualism; overhanging rock faces between the rich and the poor; terrorism. All these domains have their subdomains.
Here I will clearly and briefly describe the above-mentioned impacts on East-Europeans: MARKET ECONOMY – it makes a lot of people busy, parents have not time for their children, which may result in social pathological activities. Poorer economic situation demands to have more jobs. UNEMPLOYMENT – we have to study a lot of western literature to know how to cope with this burden. It is connected with drugs, gambling, crimes, suicides, family splits and quakes. DRUGS – we have a lot of drugs. Only recently did the legislative bodies start to fight against them. There is a little mentioned about the negatives of drugs in mass media. Some parents or children are completely uninformed about this issue. UNCERTAINTY – the psychological impact of it is more visible here than in the West due to the fact that we have not yet been accustomed to it contrary to people in the West. BOOM OF SPIRITUALISM – many youngsters are caught in the claws of sects and do not realize that it is only “ideological Coca Cola” that brings money and high standard of life to “Coca Cola gurus”. THE RICH AND THE POOR – more visible differences make the poorer people more distressful. However, the rich think that money buys anything and these people are actually invincible. This also includes political parties. TERRORISM – we do not have terrorism but with borders open there is a possible risk. However, the rise of social pathological phenomena gives birth to various conflicts of violence between some social groups (entrepreneurs, gypsies, etc.) due to the fact that some socially pathological persons explain democracy as a possibility to do everything.
Prague was the capital of Czechoslovakia and some Slovak psychologists did not like the idea of group directive thinking that had always been woven in Prague. Psychologists separated, as other social groups, in two camps – one for independent Slovakia, another for Czechoslovakia. (Now this can be seen in a progovernment and antigovernment thinking.) I did not belong to any group. I had always been against groups. Part of colleagues started to work at politics and also top politics. The major part of psychological community consists of psychologists working in counseling centers, hospitals, schools, and other state institutions. They strive for better times without having accepted the fruit of all-possibility world (i.e. they do not work as counselors for business activities or politics).
One colleague called the years of Czechoslovak psychological community as the years of asymmetrical model. In the 1990’s, psychology was accepted as an independent professional subject. Till then psychologists had only been workers assigned to various expert subjects, e.g., school and culture resorts, health resort, etc.
The most significant thing was that we were able to achieve final parliamentary proposal of the bill concerning psychological activities. We must say that the works for the preparation of innumerable versions of the law and its repeated submissions to the Slovak Parliament were often inhibited by some our colleagues rather than by people from other professions. Finally, the law No. 199/1994 from 13th July 1994 on psychological activity slithered to light.
There is a significant limitation of bilateral cooperation with Czech psychological community. Even though we could find objective reasons for this condition, I still think that we could have done more in this direction.
The positive thing brought by 1989 is the fact that psychology got out of political supervision and that there was a possibility of mutual competition in providing psychological services.
Moreover, we have the law that will start to gradually control private psychological practice so as to avoid it to be incompetently abused by wrong hands. This law is not in all East-European countries.
If I am to speak about the negatives, let me at least mention frequent endeavor of some specific group interests to be above the development of our endeavor and our psychological practice as a whole (group thinking). A good example of this is the last (and unfortunately valid) modification of the law about machine guns and ammunition where a compulsory psychological screening for applicants of machine guns was excluded. This happened mostly due to the fact that some groups of colleagues did not want to make mutual speech and more comprehensive analysis presumably under strong pressure of other groups.
b) Here I briefly introduce the evils and devils of us, the society: Market economy, unemployment, drugs, uncertainty, boom of spiritualism, the rich and the poor, terrorism. I do not want to make a comprehensive analysis. Let me repeat that this article is rather an essay. Now I will speak a little more about each above-mentioned facet.
Market economy. It is the only solution for our future, but it requires an understanding of all the INTERNET links of us, the devils (let me use a little humor). If someone wants to build a market economy and does not realize that we all are the part of this world with our mutual variability, co-responsibility and interactions, he may devastate other people. The consequence of this, as of any other behavior, shall breed transformations. This mostly concerns the people who have authority and decision-making power. Some economists shall probably never realize that greediness (and lack of ethos) in technological development is in interaction with social pathology, ecology, and other phenomena. If you imagine how much investment is going into the pits of darkness, you may have headaches. Let me give you just an example of American films of violence. Imagine how much money is invested in these films. Imagine children seeing them every day and trying to imitate them. I think that the priorities for us, the humankind, are peace, mutual understanding, tolerance of our variability, help, love, holistic approach, etc. We should invest money for doing and enhancing these values and I believe that this could be only done in the form of speakers for public opinion-making. The world would be then at least a little better. These speakers should be tolerant and educated men or women who should be more often seen on our TV screens. “Devils” from horror films make happy only the authors until their children are not murdered by someone who imitates their screenplays. Market economy requires a very skilled attitude of sophisticated supervision.
Unemployment. This phenomenon has a lot of to do with one’s attitudes. If you are educated and unsuccessful to find a job, you must learn to be resistant to avoid frustration and depression. Unemployment is linked with our evil society. This society stigmatized us with a feeling that when you are unemployed you do not mean anything, which is not truth. We should change our views in this sense to realize that we are maybe more fruitful for the world than people who are employed and who devastate nature and us. This view should be proposed to schools and educate children in this direction. The society stigmatized us with mechanism of “awards” – it is generally accepted that if you are not successful, you are inferior to others. This is not truth. (For example, responsible for this are lower establishments of education. They should use very subtle forms for marking pupils – colors, acceptable pictures of animals, etc, or no marking at all, but motivation must also be in consideration.) In Slovakia children are harmed by our school system but I do not believe that in the West the school system is much too better. Carl Rogers suggested that more money be given for developing our human environment (e.g., to impose a program on schools not to harm children by making one inferior and another one superior). The unemployed should be given a chance to be organized in social activities and public opinion-making.
Drugs. I believe that drugs are the problem only because there is not sufficient information, that there are not advocates who would have authority to speak against evil. I believe that it would be cheaper and more efficient than armies of armored policemen and soldiers who only try to stuff up the hole but do not realize why it is here. Currently a very bad incident happened in Australia (Tasmania) and many people were murdered by a crazy man. Let us look at this event in this light – the person was very unhappy (theoretical construction). Why? Society harmed him. How? Imagine that he was fired from his job only because he came late to work. What happened then? Then he had appendicitis and a doctor in a public hospital asked for a bribe. Did he give it to him? No. What happened then? The society made him feel inferior. He started hating all the people, took drugs and finally bought a gun and started killing. Most of us are not aware of co-responsibilities. Most of us are only stuffing up the holes.
I maintain that a lot of evil is done because of unfair treatment of our society. We must realize that there are weaker and stronger characters and that the weaker ones are more vulnerable. If there are no people who would “fly on drugs”, drugs would not be sold and used.
Uncertainty. This phenomenon is corresponding to unemployment in its nature. We need to develop positive attitudes for building a shield that would protect us against negative feelings. We should realize that human powers and weaknesses are relative. Uncertainty, in advanced countries, is mostly a result of wrong attitudes.
Boom of spiritualism. I believe that spiritual people have invisible horns. They spend hundreds of hours talking about Jesus but they do not realize that Jesus and Lord want this world to be a better place. Instead of speaking about Jesus or Vishnu they should rather speak to world economists and political leaders, speak against drugs, against intolerance. We all have mutual responsibility for one another. Imagine those people who do not go to church only because they do not like the priest and the priest is, hence, offended. If the priest showed real love and compassion, as Jesus showed to a prostitute whom the crowd wanted to stone, these people would go to church and would listen to the priest. I give you another example. Imagine I believe that the Lord created the devil as the opposition in the Congress (I am not a Republican). I think that devil is a friend of Lord who is vindicating the evil only to give Him criticism. If you are criticized, you are provoked and more creative. Yes people (almost all politicians have them) would hardly help the Lords and Gods and the devils. But if I go in any church and I tell this, all the “group-spirit” people will condemn me. They will tell me (this already happened to me) – “Devil is a big enemy. How can you say he is Lord’s friend? You must be a demon-possessed person.” Now, imagine other people than me, who, after being condemned, shall never contact believers because of possible rejection and feeling of inferiority in this group, and they start to look for other groups who, for example, will receive them but with ideas favoring terror and drugs; or imagine a theoretical person who, because of being condemned, refuses Catholics or Baptists and becomes a Witness of Jehovah. However, after a car accident his step child dies only because he refused the child to be given a blood transfusion. The real father of this child, who is a drunkard because his parents did not listen to priests in the same way as many other people do not listen to them because of the intuition of being rejected, will then possibly kill this step father and, as you can see it everywhere, the infinite chains of evil have continued in this form from the time the Lord created the first beast. Boom of spiritualism is more evil than it is good. We could avoid its negative effects by early psychological intervention that would develop understanding for harmony and our mutual variability. Only spiritual tolerance can be beneficial.
The rich and the poor. This is a very difficult issue but I think that we should see it, too, in the light of actions of chaining. The Australian gunman is now in prison and many people are dead. Yet, there may be many more people dead as we are still manufacturing the devils. We cannot tolerate. Why? Why it is difficult for Christians, who advocate love, to tolerate a man who thinks that Lucifer is God’s friend, or who speaks loud in church? These people will never like me and we can find the answer in history – we were taught to see everything as black and white, we were conditioned by wrong attitudes and wrong ideas that have been passed on from generation to generation (if you are not successful, you mean nothing; if you criticize me, you are my enemy; if you do not wear a tie, you must be a silly man; if you do not drive a car, you must be inferior, etc.) The poor and the rich. We cannot solve this problem entirely, but we can do a lot to contribute. If we invested less in films and less in not necessary technology and more in poor countries, we will also indirectly invest in the healthy existence that surrounds us. Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, had an exhaustive debate in German Parliament. He advocated Yeltsin, he said that Russia needed help, because he realizes that Russia and other countries are OUR responsibility, too. It is a pity that Helmut Kohl had to do this speech. The people around him should have known that investment in poorer countries shall bring a feed-back.
Terrorism. I will introduce a typical mistake of governments. British government refused to negotiate with IRA. Why? They said they had nothing to discuss with terrorists. But terrorists are here. They are reality. You must accept it as the sun. Then the British government changed their view and things got better. A similar mistake of US government in the past was done by rejecting Mr. Arafat a visa. There are people who have extreme demands, but if you are a politician, a leader, you must speak at least for the lives of those who live and who may be dead tomorrow. This is how it goes everywhere in the world. If politicians refuse, it may have a considerable impact. I do not want to favor IRA or Mr. Arafat or Hamas, but they are a reality. And the reality must be faced as it is whether we like it or not.
In this article I gave my opinions regarding social pathology in view that it is interconnected – both with history, presence and future – with all of us, and that the society is a factory that has a considerable participation in the manufacture of social pathology. I do not want to say that all the evil comes from society, it also comes from us – the individuals – but I believe that there is a lot that can be done for the sake of those who live and who may uselessly die tomorrow. We should develop social “Greenpeace” advocates for the benefit of our world, for those who live and who may yet be harmed. This would save our children, it would contribute to our benefit and to the benefit of state budgets of arms race.
Psychology, in former Czechoslovakia, is walking hand in hand with new trends, and even though there is a lot of to achieve, we have not to be ashamed of being in a position of telling that we know everything. Those who think they know everything hardly know a little, those who know they do know a little are more knowledgeable.