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Spruiell, V. (1988). Crowd Psychology and Ideology: A Psychoanalytic View of the Reciprocal Effects of Folk Philosophies and Personal Actions. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:171-178.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:171-178

Crowd Psychology and Ideology: A Psychoanalytic View of the Reciprocal Effects of Folk Philosophies and Personal Actions

Vann Spruiell


Folk philosophies are constituted by shared, mostly unconscious systems of rules —in the formal sense of rule theory. In the West, there has been a breakdown in the folk philosophies which define reality for most people. Disruption creates disorganization and regression of fragmented groups to more primitive forms, ruled by magic and authoritarian leaders. Psychoanalysis is a sub-group which can serve as an exemplar for both small and large groups. Freedom from the magical and value-ridden 'realities' of the past poses the danger of licence but the opportunity that more rational systems may emerge. If managed successfully, such systems may help replace an older and no longer viable folk philosophy with forms which are more rational and humane. The essay also considers the new technical means to store and make data accessible. The danger is accumulation of mountains of undigested data, unevaluated and out of context—often misunderstood as 'information'. But the opportunities lie in the possibilities to develop new epistemologies.

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