The Human Robot
Understanding the Emotional
Effects of Industrialism
By JULES SIEGEL
144 pages, 6.0 x 9.0 in., Perfect-bound, 60# cream interior paper,
black and white interior ink, 100# white exterior paper, full-color
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THIS EDITION of The
Human Robot began as a birthday gift for my mother, Evelyn
Saunders, who was eighty years old on March 20, 1991. She was
no longer able to read when she received itindeed, as I
write this she has passed awaybut perhaps before she died
she had a lucid moment in which she was able to hold it in her
hands and know that her faith in me was justified. I don't think
that she ever quite grasped the concept of the book. After some
conversations she and I had about environmental pollution in 1986,
she privately (and very dubiously) asked my wife, Anita Brown,
"Will there be a lot of smog in the book?"
The Human Robot
began in Mexico in 1973. I was then married to Virginia Christine
Jolly, mother of Faera, then two years old. Chrissie struck up
an acquaintance with Dr. James Clark Moloney, an elderly psychiatrist,
who was our neighbor at La Giralda apartments in Guadalajara.
Dr. Moloney introduced us to the concepts of the human robot.
Human robots are people who have become machines, as a result
of their conditioning from infancy on. Most of the horrors of
modern time can be traced to their roots in the ways in which
we abuse our children.
We read all his books,
some of them in manuscript and unpublished to this day, including
his final work, On Curves and Straight LinesThe Manufacture
of Human Robots. I can fairly say that the experience changed
my life. I promised Dr. Moloney that I would try my best to bring
his ideas to a greater audience. He warned us about the negative
consequences of stirring the bitter mess of the mass psyche, but
he ardently hoped that I would succeed where he had failed.
During the years
that followed, many of Dr. Moloney's ideas about bottle-feeding,
strict toilet training and sexual repression became quite commonplace
in the media. I myself used them whenever possible in my magazine
articles. I believe that the first serious discussion of children
ever to appear in Playboy was a brief review of Dr. Moloney's
discoveries I inserted into "The Female Ego," an examination
of NOW-style feminism, that appeared in 1978.
While many other
observers have since agreed on the essential facts, to the point
where these ideas are perhaps a little familiar, even boring,
Moloney was virtually alone in placing the blame for the introduction
of these practices on industrialism, describing in gruesome detail
the collaboration between early psychologists and businessmen.
Do the following
things to children, they said, and you will get obedient workers.
to be curtailed from years to months. Infants were not to be allowed
to sleep in the same beds with their parents, but were to be separated
from their mothers as early as possible and, if possible, raised
by strangers. In order to free their mothers to enter the factory,
children had to be pushed to talk, walk and to control their bowel
were translated into Victorian morality, first embraced by the
emerging middle class and later inflicted on whole populations.
It was believed that sexual repression would increase worker reliability.
In pre-industrial economies, most rural people worked three to
four days a week, at most, except during planting and harvest
times. They had plenty of time to make love and their basic ideas
about sex were positive and even orgiastic. Before the 17th Century,
for example, women were viewed as moved by torrents of uncontrollable
sexuality. As the factory system spread, their image changed to
cold and puritanical and ungiving. Country people were at first
unwilling to give the factory more time, even when they moved
into the cities.
In agricultural society,
to have many children was a sign of wealth and fertility. They
were not more mouths to feed, but more arms to help in the harvest.
In the emerging industrial society, population growth was at first
favored, but when child labor laws began to forbid the employment
of children, and employers were required by law, contract and
custom to be concerned about the welfare of their workers, children
became liabilities rather than assets. More than that, the burden
of responsibility had to be shifted to the parents. It was their
own fault that they had all these children. They should have controlled
themselves. Therefore the rich had no obligation to help the poor.
Enforcing this code,
meant suppressing all normal forms of erotic expression. Many
non-industrial societies frowned upon masturbation by adults,
homosexuality and anal and oral intercourse because they tended
to inhibit population growth. In industrial society, however,
these activities were forbidden because all energy was to be channeled
into productivity. All pleasures had to be earned and purchased.
The results have
been quite gruesome, but if you don't examine the social costs,
the outcome has been profitable beyond anyone's expectations at
Denying the breast
leads to oral fixations such as alcoholism, smoking and overeating.
Abusive toilet training is reflected in constipation, compulsive
neatness, miserliness. Keeping children in cribs and nurseries
increases anxiety. All these distortions increase consumption
as well as submissiveness to authority.
Almost all therapists
and emotional support group systems agree that forgiving your
parents is a crucial step in giving up neurotic patterns. This
becomes easier when you see them as ignorant and trusting victims
of social and economic forces beyond their ability to perceive
or comprehend. The Human Robot is a work in progress, not
a finished book, but even at its present stage of development
it is a document that may change your life for the better, as
Dr. Moloney and his books changed mine.