Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose To Live Inside

February 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

from ‘Switching Off to See Dallas’:

…”I have just been reading an account of how soldiers destined for the front line are desensitized by deliberately exposing them to brutality in such a way that they slowly lose their capacity for seeing the people they have to attack, or interrogate, as human. This is a controlled and skilled process where the trainers know exactly what they are doing, and how to take their charges slowly, stage by stage, until they can torture or kill without any emotion whatsoever.

There have been protests about this in various countries, recently, but while I am sure no fewer soldiers are processed in this way, there is less noise about it. But what strikes me is this: technology–television, cinema, to be precise–in this case is doing exactly the same process, exposing us to brutality of every kind so that we lose our sensitivity too. We lose our sensitivity in a random and unpredictable way.”


from ‘Group Minds’:

“People living in the West, in societies that we describe as Western, or as the free world, may be educated in many different ways, but they will all emerge with an idea about themselves that goes something like this: I am a citizen of a free society, and that means I am an individual, making individual choices. My mind is my own, my opinions are chosen by me, I am free to do what I will, and at the worst the pressures on me are economic, that is to say I may be too poor to do what I want.

This set of ideas may sound something like a caricature, but it is not so far off how we see ourselves. It is a portrait that may not have been acquired consciously, but is part of a general atmosphere or set of assumptions that influence our ideas about ourselves.

People in the West therefore may go through their entire lives never thinking to analyze this very flattering picture, and as a result are helpless against all kinds of pressures on them to conform in all kinds of ways.”


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