Yes, Objectivism is Abusive
Yes, Objectivism is abusive. Abuse counselors say Abuse is in a Person’s Moral Paradigm. It’s not in their past trauma, it’s not in “unconsciousness.” It’s in their moral paradigm. They feel good about their abuse. They think it’s the right thing to do: that they are enacting something positive. And Objectivism is a moral paradigm.
There are some famous cases of Objectivist abuse. Or some of them are not-so-famous, because Objectivists are so good at putting its unsavory history down the memory hole.
Objectivist psychotherapy was a huge thing back in the day. Never heard of it? There’s a reason.
It ended when a prominent Objectivist psychoanalyst was found to be sexually exploiting patients. How did it happen? He claimed expert, rational status for himself, made her out to be crazy, and invalidated her feelings. A culture of hyper moral judgment didn’t help:
…there seemed to be rules for right and wrong for EVERYTHING in Objectivism. There was more than just a right kind of politics and a right kind of moral code. There was also a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, and right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we could not buy, and right ones which we should… There were plays we should not see, records we should not listen to… And on everything, absolutely everything, one was constantly being judged, just as one was expected to be judging everything that was around him… It was a perfect breeding ground for insecurity, fear, and paranoia. (Pg. 45)
Yes. Objectivism is the perfect breeding ground for insecurity (what I call “shame”), fear, and paranoia (what I call “anxiety”). It is the perfect hunting ground for abuse, too.
She describes how Leonard (Lonnie Leonard, the therapist) make “nude jaunts,” judged her as psychologically inferior, and as not meeting his expectations when she wouldn’t agree to “wrestle” with him. He ascribed her resistance to sexual activity with him as neurosis.
This is how abuse operates. A person claims moral authority and the upper hand and discredits the victim, making her doubt herself. As one review of the book describes, “Just lie down and do what the nice doctor tells you.” This is what abusers do: they make a victim doubt their own senses and feelings. As the psychopath Phantom of the Opera sings to Christine, “Silently the senses. Abandon their defenses.” It is the same pattern over and over. No, they don’t come out and say, “Hey! I’m here to abuse you!” That’s now how it ever works. In war, it’s known you have to confuse and demoralize the enemy. This is what abusers do and exactly what Objectivism does.
And yet still people can’t see it. Another review of this book on Amazon describes “Sad, but no fault of Ayn Rand or Objectivism.”
Here is the antidote to this abuse, from Plasil. I want you to read this slowly:
…there were two lessons learned well. Never, never again would I let anyone tell me they know me better than I know myself. I have learned to trust my emotions—and to act on them… And I have learned never to tolerate abuse that goes unapologized for or unacknowledged… I’ve also learned that I deserve better. (219)
Murray Rothbard describes in “The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult” how Objectivist Psychotherapy was used as a means of control:
But the most important sanction for the enforcement of loyalty and obedience, the most important instrument for psychological control of the members, was the development and practice of Objectivist Psychotherapy. In effect, this psychological theory held that since emotion always stems from incorrect ideas, that therefore all neurosis did so as well; and hence, the cure for that neurosis is to discover and purge oneself of those incorrect ideas and values. And since Randian ideas were all correct and all deviation therefore incorrect, Objectivist Psychotherapy consisted of (a) inculcating everyone with Randian theory – except now in a supposedly psycho-therapeutic setting; and (b) searching for the hidden deviation from Randian theory responsible for the neurosis and purging it by correcting the deviation.
This…right here…is what I’m trying to say.
There is little more powerful than claiming morality, truth, beauty, all things comradery and friendship, and expertise, while others are ignorant, immoral, and irrational, as a way to abuse large numbers of people. Why can’t we see it? At some point, we might surmise that those who can’t see it or make excuses themselves have a vested interested in excusing abuse.
Branden coined the very term “Objectivism.” He made Objectivism what it was through his lecture series. You might want to read his side of the story. He doesn’t write it, but it’s clear Rand had a severe case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Branden describes somewhat how her hyper rationality led to this, but he never really dismisses Objectivism wholly, i.e., all the ground work for abuse remains. But you’ll get further insight into what was actually happening when Rand wrote certain things she wrote. Spoiler: she was sadistic and malicious.
Prescott documents the notes from Rand’s journals in which she admired child murderer William Hickman. Yes, explicitly after he murdered twelve-year-old Marian Parker.
Now go take a look at how Kira’s, Rand’s most autobiographical characters, eyes were “dark with ecstasy” at watching a slave owner whip his slaves or how Roark smiled the “slow smile” of an executioner. Her characters have narcissistic if not psychopathic traits. I will document more in The Moral Bias of Objectivism, as there is a LOT of it and it’s a lot to fully document here.
Now take all this to Objectivists are pseudo-Objectivist admirers and see their reaction. They deny any link between this bad, abusive behavior and Objectivism itself.