THE NEW FAMILIES: Youth, Communes, and the Politics of Drugs by Ross V. & Others Speck

THE NEW FAMILIES: Youth, Communes, and the Politics of Drugs

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The authors -- a research team of psychiatrists, social psychologists and anthropologists -- spent a year studying the ""social networks"" of youthful drug users under the auspices of the National Institute of Mental Health. For optimal research conditions the hippies were visited at regular intervals in their native habitats (the communal ""pads"" where they ""tripped"" family-style) and their ways of interacting with each other and with their environment were duly noted -- including furnishings, beads and miniskirts, brown-rice diets, cats, and hi-fi sets. The conclusions presented here are as benign as they are patronizing: ""the majority could not be considered sick""; on the contrary, ""the kids"" use their supportive environments to carry themselves through ""psychic stress,"" work out their hang-ups, and finally reemerge in society better equipped to pursue traditional goals. This process the authors designate as ""the Phoenix phenomenon,"" i.e., the drug trip is metaphorically and psychologically analogous to the wanderings of Ulysses and Gulliver: ""by losing yourself you find yourself"" (viz., R. D. Laing). Presumably this is heartening despite the fact that day-to-day observations revealed scenes of great drabness and vacuity, the ""chicks"" especially showing up as maladjusted parodies of their middle-class mothers. The authors suggest the need for ""making the shift from a medical model of trips to a social change model"" which makes sense though their depersonalized voyeurism of their long-haired subjects will be unpalatable to those whose interest in the new life-styles goes beyond the narrowly clinical.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1972
Publisher: Basic Books