Part 4: Doublethink
© by Frances T. Shure, 2014
Editor’s Note: Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: “Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11?” The resulting essay, presented here as a series, is composed of a synthesis of reports on academic research as well as clinical observations.
In answering the question in the title of this essay, last month’s segment, Part 3, addressed the topic “Obeying and Believing Authority,” which reported on the experiments by Stanley Milgram, Jane Elliott, and Philip Zimbardo, all of which demonstrate our human proclivity to trust and obey authority, even in violation of cherished moral values, leading to the development of faulty identities and beliefs as well as resulting in flawed decisions which often negatively affect others.
We continue Ms. Shure’s analysis this month in Part 4 with the concept “doublethink,” developed by George Orwell.
We shall begin on the lighter side with George Orwell’s brilliant concept of “doublethink.” In Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, doublethink means the capacity to hold two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accept both of them.
In Orwell’s not-so-fictional novel, the term “doublethink” is a Newspeak word that is replacing the Oldspeak term, “reality control.” Newspeak is a new politically correct language with a very limited vocabulary, developed by the controlling powers (the High) for the purposes of controlling the public’s worldview and limiting the possibility of independent thought. In other words, controlling words permitted in the language would result in controlling the thoughts people would be able to have.