Fear, object of infantilization! – Part 1
Reading time: 3 min
Translator: Régine Paradis
“Fear is the child in us that panics.”– Tahar Ben Jelloun
In our societies where authority in the sense of authoritarianism is valued, people1 exercising this type of authority seek to submit the other through obedience to the means of propaganda, control, repression, and rewards. Even if their speech is filled with reassuring words such as “it’s for your own good”, it’s only a lure.
So why, if it is only a lure, does it continue?
This type of relationship, which is established from our childhood, has stakes. For the person exercising authoritarianism, two motives are present to maintain ascendancy over the other: 1) to reinforce his ego, i.e., his/her feeling of being “good” in the exercise of his/her authority; 2) the perpetuation of his/her power. For the other who submits, there are also two reasons for obeying: 1) to feel protected; 2) to feel loved.
These needs to be protected and loved are natural to childhood. The child needs protection and to feel that he/she is a lovable being in order to develop. At this time of his/her life, it is a question of survival.
It is often through their fears that children learn ways to manage these challenges. Thus the fear of the dark is the fear of what we might find, of the unknown; the fear of heights is the fear of falling; the fear of the other is the fear of being rejected; the fear of love is the fear of not being loved; the fear of starting over is the fear of getting hurt or being hurt again; the fear of illness is the fear for one’s health; etc.
As children grow, they gain confidence in their ability to manage their fears and thereby gain autonomy. This reality is perceived as threatening to a person who exercises authoritarianism. In fact, over time, the child’s ability to self-manage has a consequence for this person in terms of the ascendancy he/she exercises over the other. In order to maintain his/her yoke, he uses language that confuses the mind that makes the child/adolescent feel guilty, and even that threatens his integrity. Obedience will be demanded… or else… thus becoming a power struggle.
What becomes perverse is the permanent use of this game. This game creates in the child/adolescent, even with the adult,2 tensions between what is good for oneself (what is instinctively felt) and the required submission. This leads the individual to choose between conforming or rebelling.
The choice to conform/obey meets the needs to feel protected and loved. The conformist individual attributes to the other the power to fulfill his/her needs. He/she nurtures a lack of confidence in himself/herself. Being dependent leads him to believe that it is the only way to manage his/her fear in himself/herself, i.e. in his/her ability to assert himself/herself to free himself/herself.
The choice to rebel3 responds to the need for autonomy and freedom. The rebellious individual refuses obedience. He/she nourishes a distrust of authority. Being against authority leads him/her to believe that it is the only way to deal with his/her fear of being submissive and therefore of being subjugated.
In either case, the consequences are detrimental to the individual’s development. The individual only develops a functional autonomy. Dependence or rebellion will not have allowed him/her to acquire the psychological capacities to invest in self-fulfilment. Why? Because for both positions, the dynamic created by the duality feeds the power relationship. The choice to conform/obey reinforces the relationship that the other has power over oneself by denying oneself as an individual. The choice to rebel reinforces the relationship that both (authority/rebel) want the other to do what neither wants to do.
“‘Normalization’ is the worst kind of social mental conditioning, conformity and denial of individual freedom. Be yourself, no matter what they say.” – Rael4
How can you be yourself when you act like a “child” as soon as you perceive that you are threatened by authority? We have the choice to feed our fear or love ourselves.
Let’s see in part 2, “Fear, object of responsibilization“, how we can better deal with our fears in order to gradually fade them or possibly eliminate them.
“Don’t become a fossil… be new always…” – Rael5
Columnist for the Canadian Raelian Movement
1 Also refers to a culture of companies, organizations.
2 https://actualite.housseniawriting.com/sante/psychologie/2018/08/03/linfantilisation-de-la-culture-occidentale/27513/ (link in French)
3 Etymology: Borrowed from the Latin rebellis (“who starts the war again, rebel, who revolts, rises”). https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/rebelle
4 Words of Maitreya, A to Z. Oneself https://raelcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Maitraya_paroles-70-a.H.-FR.pdf p. 75
5 Changement, https://raelcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Maitreyas-words-70-a.H.-EN.pdf
To be published in a few days, part 2