Podcasts Psyche



Rankism Knol article Robert Fuller


Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies

New Dimensions Interview

Reading & listening to Robert Fuller got me thinking how he connects to the Marshall Rosenberg NVC, and all the dialogue material. I want to integrate!

Fear of banishment, need to be included, primal, we need to belong to the trib or we die.

Fuller is an expert on this major human need. Understanding needs is vital, and he seems to get this one. Needs are the missing link in psychotherapy – Maslows contribution is major – but it seemed the last word, and was not integrated into any modality that I know of.

3 replies on “Rankism”

Hi Walter,

How often words become tools of undignifying humiliating discounting and then are replaced or sometimes reclaimed as badge of pride by an alienated minimally identity owned group to own their commonality generate community and produce group power. They are in a very powerful position as a minority of difference as Moskovitchy (hope memory and spelling are correct) asserted when he found evidence that major changes are mostly initiated in groups by minorities – as GH Mead noticed with fashion change.

Rankism is a useful notion to attend to failures in inclusion. The process of power aggregation or power-pressuring by applying force on another is not always the person reinforcing power they have but often exacted at points of weaknesses or in the pressence of fear of losing power. Hannah Arendt has argued tha power is always a collective and communally organised force (i.e.relying on position hierarchy legitimacy taken for granted authority and the like) and not a matter of peronal qualities -except as a person’s strengths contribute to their moving into gaining power in sytems. Their degree of ruthlessness probably contributes, as does their ability to be a collective identity carrier, to their capacity to hold on to power. That links to Fuller and predation and the limitations of self agrandisement, bullying and humiliating as tools of power.

Rank is what most interests me in your consideration of these matters. The word “rankism” may signal be another example of a healthy factor in a system being noticed most when it is a deficit or pathology rather than the regular healthy functioning that is a pattern of value.

Process psychology (now taking the name “process work”) alerts to rank as it does flirting as healthy sytemic processes in human relating and colaborating. Rank is preferred as a word to consider power relationships and is used to note that rank and defference – given to contribution and to the capacity to bring particular gifts to communities benefit – simply operate on a collective mindedness in recognition of what it is can be contributed and the benefit that brings. Rank as an ordinary benign factor hardly noticed is highlighted and spoken of in terms of power and control or pulling rank when ordinary processes are perverted. In the case of flirting “process workers notice that in all relating actions that bring attention to self and test strength of “positive tele”( they don’t use Moreno’s word “tele”) or mutual attraction to build connections in society and for the individual to have resonance recognition and sense of esteem and warmth of being attractive and not alone. Flirting is noticed when sexualised with attraction aimed at drawing someone out of the orbit they are in with another now competing attraction. predation and competition and ruthless reduction of another often not directly unkown is eaperienced by onlookers as a destabilising threat.

It also seems that

Hi Don! Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Looks like a bit got cut off, if you still have it you could add it in another comment.

Your comments come at the moment I was reading Psychodrama Vol III where there is a lot of discussion about the symmetric (or not) in the therapeutic relationship. Moreno of course is very democratic. In that volume the structure is very like a blog! Moreno gave a lecture and publishes comments from his peers. His peers laud his aspiration to the democratising, but have qualms as well, which make good sense. Moreno’s role in the encounter movement and his leveling of functional differences may well have played a part in the excesses we have seen post his death. Of course he was in his approach correcting an excess in the opposite direction. Finding clarity about this is quite a discipline.

It is in this context that I like the term “Functional Difference”. (see a later post on this blog ) However there are legitimate situations of rank, as you say. I now have a few more thoughts on legitimate hierarchy, i.e. legitimate rank. I will see if I can get it into another post. I doubt the value of Fuller’s term rankism, because he relates it to race & gender, which are not ranks at all, and to class, which is an illegitimate rank IMO and in the opinion of many others so it makes it a provocative term, that does not help with his main agenda: dignity.

How rank and power relate is another question. Brings us to an area that has been discussed in classic psychology in terms of instinct & drives, Adler’s drives for power for example.

I am interested in Rosenberg’s philosophy of needs. ( I have earlier posts about Rosenberg, here and here

Could the use & abuse of power be no more than an unhelpful expression of an unmet need (unmet currently and historically from childhood) for being loved, autonomy and the need to contribute to the world? I think so! Where are the parents in our culture who know how to meet these needs in their children? It is something that is be easy to teach & learn though.

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