Cover photo Vivian Haddad/ Interview Susanne Gold
Professor Gerald Hüther is a neurobiologist and one of the best-known brain researchers in the German-speaking world. He is the author of numerous (popular) scientific publications and chairman of the Academy for the Development of Potential.
Your demand for dignity, which is also the title of one of your books, resonates in all our conversations. In it, you call for a collective return to dignity in order to be strong as a (digital) society and to find orientation in complex times.
Dignity is the inner compass that all people need in order to survive as a society. In the sense of Adorno and Horkheimer and their studies on the authoritarian character, I understand their approach at the same time as a demand for autonomy and the rejection of authoritarian stuctures.
How can we become worthy and autonomous characters? Can our school system do that?
The schools of our time are currently unable to teach students the model of an autonomous social character. That is why it would be good not to assign them these tasks in the first place.
The question remains, who can do that? It is quite possible that an adult who, for example, runs the fire brigade association for the children and young people can do this well. And of course it would be nice if parents could do it too. Parents must realize that every child has a great longing to be recognized by others and wants to be right the way they are. That they don’t have to bend and suppress their needs in order to get the recognition of others.
It is actually about unconditional love!
If I have had the experience as a child that I am valuable for my own sake, not because of my performance, then I have an idea about my worth. That has a lot to do with dignity. Then I am and may be a subject and no longer make myself available to others as an object.
So also not on Amazon, Google and Facebook, but make sure that my dignity is always preserved. Such a person does not make himself an object and does not make anyone else one either. Then the most interesting and perhaps the most urgent thing that should happen in our time happens, namely that we are no longer seducible.
We must help our growing children and young people to get into a position from which they are no longer seducible.
To stay with Adorno, all systems of domination have so far worked with oppression. The new systems of domination have long since recognized that oppression is an unsuitable means. That is why they now work with seduction. Those who are oppressed at least remain creative subjects and can defend themselves. The oppressed can unite, form a party or start an uprising. Seduced people can no longer do all that. Seduced people have in a way lost the sense of their own subjectivity. If you tell the seduced that they have been seduced, they will deny it vehemently. They do not even realize what has happened to them and that they are making themselves available as objects for their seducers.
The most popular seduction strategy is to stir up fear.
If I believe what I am told, then I am in a state of fear and do whatever my seducer tells me. Lest we make this drastic and it is now interpreted for the Corona discussion, let’s take as an example parents who tell their children “if you don’t try hard in school, you won’t amount to anything”.
This is seducing the child through fear. Or, for example, a mother who tells her child, “you have to brush your teeth, otherwise you will get cavities and black teeth”. As a result, the child will not brush his teeth because it is good for him, but will become a “fear cleaner”. The new world into which we are releasing our children must be different.
I am very happy that there are more and more young parents who are beginning to understand this. If we don’t stop doing things just because we have to, have been intimidated or because we are afraid, then we will not arrive in the 21st century and we will collectively perish on this planet.
You can read more in the newly published books by Professor Gerald Hüther “Wege aus der Angst” and “Lieblosigkeit macht krank”. Everyone is called upon to participate in the recently launched initiative “loving now“.