Authority Part 3: Falseness and Authenticity

This is a series of posts which look at the impact of the misuse of all forms of authority in our society upon the freedom, power and authenticity, wellbeing and mental health of the individual and by extension our communities of fellow citizens.  It is not intended as an attack on benign or benevolent expressions of authority where they might exist in the world.


The Frivolous Worship of Social Status

Sadly, many of us have allowed ourselves to be so conditioned to accept and depend upon the direction of authorities that we willingly volunteer ourselves to be so governed and overseen.   This introjection of authority control into the individual psyche instills a deep sense of helplessness, passivity and incompleteness in those who maintain this form of co-dependence on authority figures of all kinds.  Teaching our children to subjugate themselves to the same dysfunctional norms of conformity ensures that we maintain the insecurities associated with co-dependent relational styles and the learned helplessness and disempowerment that go with it.  In many cases citizens go so far as to seek out regulatory bodies to whom they willingly pay money each year in order to have their lives monitored, controlled and limited in return for some sense of personal validation or professional stamp of approval that they can wear in public.  It is a means of maintaining an inauthentic child-parent dynamic via a system that cultivates our dependence upon it for the benefit of those pseudo-parent figures higher up the hierarchy.

If the latter example does not hold for all, then our adherence to brand names and the purchase and wearing of clothing that advertises the designer or corporation who manufactured it might, since much social worth is courted by the wearing of adornments advertising brand names and their associations with celebrity.  Our willingness to behave in ways that actively demonstrate our subservience to or alignment with some authority or other – by name-dropping, celebrity mimicking, the use of status symbols and corporate labelling, even personalised car registration plates – is now so integrated into the social conscience as to be a source of individual pride.  In reality, we have simply learned that the freedom we commonly exercise is merely the consumer freedom to choose between iron or gold-plated shackles.

“if an individual in a position of political power is a psychopath, he or she can create an epidemic of psychopathology in people who are not, essentially, psychopathic.”

Andrzej Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology

But of course, I realise that not all of us are ready to give up our Nike, Boss, or Gucci in sudden rebellion against our masters.  There are often more pressing concerns before us, particularly if we are sensitive or conscientious people trying to make our way in this world whilst struggling to make sense of the madness.  Depression and anxiety-related disorders are so prevalent in countries modelled on US and UK exploitation economics and the cut-throat greed that drives them as to have become one of many normalised truths of our national statistics. The greatest cause of death amongst British men under 50 is not cancer, nor heart disease, and not even car accidents.  It is suicide.  Such economies rely entirely upon a fundamental warping of human nature, exerting increasing survival pressures upon the vulnerable, by for example:

  • Increasing exploitation, monitoring and control of working people through low pay and dehumanising conditions
  • Broad acceptance that the exploitation and profiteering we perpetrate upon our fellow humans in the name of profit is ‘successful business practice’.  Some even go to college to learn to be better at it.
  • Endless economic ‘growth’ and the devastation of the environment, wildlife, indigenous people’s homes and lands, required to supply resources and raw materials for such growth (‘growth’ that predominantly serves the wealthy few rather than the labouring masses)
  • Marketing the illusions required to keep the middle income classes eternally pursuing and purchasing spurious notions of ‘happiness’ founded in purchased novelty, transient pleasures and material possessions
  • Management of the moral, spiritual, physical and mental consequences of an oligarchic system via ‘the professions’: a body of expert authorities who ensure that people disturbed or injured by the status quo are ‘adjusted’ back into it’s demands for their labour and taxes (orthodox psychiatry, psychology, medicine, social services and others used in the service of such adjustment).  This is done via narratives and instruments that shift the locus of causation of distress from the external environment to the internal individual psyche, assuming mental disturbance to be consequent upon personal failings, individual defects or deficits, personal choices and private thought processes.
  • Maintaining a super-wealthy elite in authority who by virtue of their wealth are permitted greater influence over our everyday lives at the expense of the wellbeing of the people and life on the planet
  • Fostering, through education and the media, an infantilised state in the average citizen who holds a largely subservient position in relation to authority as being symbolically parental.  The maintenance of a worshipful mindset in the masses to ensure that they continue to ‘look up’ in obedience to and strive to emulate a narcissistic wealth class at the expense of any genuine spiritual development, real democracy or political freedom in our culture (see John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt)
  • Educating children to believe in myths that maintain the status quo e.g. that hard work, talent, ability and intelligence are what make people wealthy, successful and famous


“Truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues, and lies have always been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings.”

~Hannah Arendt

Authenticity: Autonomy, Self-reliance and Mental Health

From the point of view of mental health and psychotherapy, it is of crucial importance that individuals begin to reclaim their inner wisdom, their inner intuitive, moral intelligence and sense of agency.   In short, their innate power.  In doing so we begin to shift from infantilised dependence and passivity, and the insecurities that dependence maintains, to a position of independence and greater self-reliance.  This starts by simultaneously building our self-reliance skills whilst using our aggressive energies to consciously resist and refuse those external injunctions and demands that would motivate us by fear to ignore the self-regulatory wisdom of our inner compass.  In this regard it is a step into mental health when we can clearly see that we, as individuals have freedom to create better health and stability that is both innate within us as human beings and intrinsic to the spiritual-existential field from which we emerge: what we once called ‘God’.  That freedom exists regardless of the actions of authorities around us to compel us to act and think against the power of our better nature.  It exists as a necessary feature of our mental health and our moral strength to make choices based upon what we know to be right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, good or evil, rather than being herded by the fears emerging from the consequences of our disobedience.

The problem exists where, in a culture that has been declining for decades, the individual’s development and access to his or her inner faculties and sense of power become increasingly atrophied, with each generation more cut off from its soul than the former, to the degree that the individual can no longer refer to a richer life beyond the bars of the cage into which he or she is born.   Indeed, in its short history, psychology – in its efforts to be taken seriously as a ‘science’ – has long since dismissed the soul as a fiction (Wundt).  And so the necessity of being able to access trustworthy help of a different order to that of social normalisation, that is instead built – not simply helping people re-adjust to insane circumstances – but on actively assisting them on a journey back home to themselves, is crucial if people are to have a chance of escaping the pathology of a dysfunctional system that has evolved to serve the narcissistic interests of the few.


Developing and embracing the spiritual-existential journey back to our inner faculties of intution, morality and autonomy, and encouraging others to do so is the one sure way that personal authenticity can re-emerge in society; where common sense can truly become common again.  Making decisions to step out of the fear-based system of authoritarian control by, for example, examining all of the ways we voluntarily relinquish our self-determination to the illusion of ‘no choice’, is a first step in rekindling self-reliance and individual power.  These steps on their own are the beginnings of a return to genuine individual liberty and the possibility of community, cooperation and common values and aims.  Without this return we travel inexorably, as competing Egos, down an Orwellian road that spells ruin, not only for common sense, but for the essence of what makes us human in the first place, and our collective and individual sanity.


  • Native American Mental Health [a culture and peoples destroyed by genocide, ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism]
  • Native Australian Aboriginal mental Health [a culture and peoples destroyed by racism and settler colonialism]

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. LovingSummer says:

    “Educating children to believe in myths that maintain the status quo e.g. that hard work, talent, ability and intelligence are what make people wealthy, successful and famous”

    I’m interested to know, if hard work, talent, ability and intelligence are NOT what make people wealthy, successful or famous, what actually does? (Maybe talking more about wealth and success rather than being famous, which most every day people don’t seriously aspire to).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephen says:

      Hi LS. It’s a big topic to discuss. I would suggest that the talents, skills etc that we’re educated to believe may make us wealthy etc are a fairly minor part of the reality. There are plenty of very talented, intelligent, skilled people in the world and few of them gain what we’re told such qualities bring. Luck, your face fitting, conformity, and a host of other attributes – some of which are considered socially unacceptable or even immoral – seem to play a role in wealth, fame etc. Inauthenticity does seem to play a large part in this type of ‘success’ because the world’s systems appear to be founded on the individual’s willingness to keep their truth to themselves.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. LovingSummer says:

        You really do dig deep don’t you! I can see why you’re saying. I’ve been teaching my kids that if they want to do well for themselves they need to develop their skills, apply themselves and work hard, but perhaps I’ll modify it a little and add a third dimension, well, maybe when they’re a bit older and it makes sense to them, at any rate.
        Right now I don’t think they even know what famous means! Thanks for taking time to give such a thorough reply.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Stephen says:

        You’re welcome LS. It’s an interesting area to explore as it is fundamental to our ‘existential’ truths as human beings born into a context not of our making. We grow up taking it as a given and it’s easy to forget to question the validity of the hierarchy, social systems, ‘authority’s’ claim to power etc. All themes explored by existential philosophers and key to the notion of freedom.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. LovingSummer says:

        Yes I see how it links to another article you wrote – the one about the worth of a newborn compared to a millionaire – though I wouldn’t say I forget to question hierarchy/social systems/ authority /power etc, I’ve spent all my life getting into a lot of trouble for doing that! Which is why I feel like a sponge soaking it up (only the legit stuff though) whenever I get reinforcement or new, balances material. So thanks for this!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never heard these issues addressed from this perspective. I do not endorse anarchy. But I do agree that those who submit to authority w/o examining its source and goals are at great risk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephen says:

      Thanks for commenting Anna. An-archy meaning ‘no authority’ as a political philosophy (rather than the pejorative use of the word to indicate chaos, looting, mayhem) is an interesting subject with great social, moral and existential implications for the individual. We live in times where the misuse of authority is commonplace and the individual must make a choice as to which compass to follow: the one he has in relation to ‘God’ or the one that points in the direction governments, experts and institutions tell us is ‘true north’.


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