ALIENATION OF YOUTH AS REFLECTED IN THE HIPPIE MOVEMENT Frank S. Williams) M.D. This paper offers some clinical impressions of a Hippie commune in t...

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Frank S. Williams) M.D.

This paper offers some clinical impressions of a Hippie commune in the Los Angeles area bearing upon intrapsychic as well as broader familial, social, and cultural dynamics involved in the alienation of adolescents and young adults. As part of our interests in the study of families and individuals during major transitions, at the Cedars-Sinai Department of Child Psychiatry, a group of us undertook an informal series of meetings with approximately 30 Hippies living in communal fashion in a home in Los Angeles. OVERALL IMPRESSIONS OF THE GROUP

I should like to stress that the nature of our acceptance into this Hippie home required informality on the part of our staff members and would not permit any attempt at controlled scientific gathering of data, such as psychological testing. Therefore, what I present are primarily impressions gleaned from some 35 hours of observation at a frequency of two to three hours, once weekly, during a four-month period of time, in late 1967. The members of the group were largely from middle-class or upwardly mobile upper-lower-class family backgrounds. The ages ranged from 14 to 40, with most 18 to 25, and approximately twoDr. Williams is Senior Staff Psychiatrist and Director of the Julia Ann Singer Preschool Psychiatric Center, Department of Child Psychiatry, Division of Psychiatry, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.



Frank S. Williams

thirds were males. Our impressions of subcultural clusters generally paralleled the findings of Smith (1967) and Allen and West (1968), in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. We were able to note three general groupings: (1) a small number of thrill-seeking adolescents and adults, some with sociopathic tendencies, referred to by "true" Hippies as "plastic" Hippies; (2) borderline and schizophrenic youngsters who seemed to be more desperately in need of drugs; and (3) a group of "true" Hippies who used LSD and marihuana a great deal, but primarily as part of the organizational element and ritualistic cohesiveness for the group way of life. The group way of life for the "true" Hippie was based on the following philosophical tenets and strivings: (1) There is no need for feelings of anger. (2) Do your own thing; be yourself. (3) Intimacy-on sexual, emotional, and communication levels-is a vital, major goal. (4) The welfare of the group and the group spirit are essential. (5) Drop out of the society of which our hypocritical parents remain a part. (6) We are against the educational system in our country which has stifled creativity. (7) We are against the religious system in our country which has stifled our rational minds. Generally, in our particular group, the true Hippie comprised approximately 20 of the 30 people observed; three members belonged to the borderline and schizophrenic group, the remainder were of the teeny-bopper, thrill-seeking, sociopathic type. It was difficult to assess the degree of psychopathology, both preand post-drug usage and pre- and post-the Hippie way of life. However, our first impressions, obtained from the group meetings as well as from protracted discussions with individuals, suggested that the degree of severe psychopathology in the large true Hippie cluster was what one might expect in a random sampling of 20 adolescents: one obvious schizophrenic; two to three youngsters with borderline states. The group seemed to serve, for the borderline members, as a working defense against psychosis. It was of note that among those who appeared healthier, the spiritual force stressed was based primarily on philosophical tenets of brotherhood, whereas, in the sicker, borderline, and schizophrenic members of the group, there was much ideation and preoccupation with mystical types of religious experiences, when on, as well as when off, LSD. Close scrutiny of the group led us to feel that there was a more extensive degree of

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chronic depression in the true Hippie than we had initially noted. The depression was, in part, masked by the expected isolation and withdrawal due to the marihuana and LSD "stoned" states. MAJOR PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL ADAPTATIONS

The adolescents and young adults in this group seemed to be struggling with conflicts characteristic of most adolescents, but were attempting to master them through the use of drugs and the Hippie way of life. The following are some of the major tasks of adolescence which, in this group, seemed postponed and only temporarily handled: integration of rage into the concept of one's self as a loving person, the achievement of a capacity for intimacy, the attainment of a sense of identity, the resolution of independence-dependence struggles, the mastery of sexual conflicts, acceptance by peers, the realignment of one's position in the family structure and in relation to its leadership. Integration of rage There was a striking need among these youngsters to repress all feelings of anger and to resist recognizing verbal or nonverbal evidence of their anger. There was a fantastic mass denial of any type of angry feelings. Their emphasis on "love," their very "cult of love," was in the service of keeping their anger repressed. One had the impression in relation to their interactions with authority in the outside "establishment," that as long as they could project their feelings of hate onto the outside non-Hippie world, they could continue to repress their own inner rage. One of the songs a 21-year-old young man frequently sang was, "I don't want to walk the roads of angerl" We wondered if the LSD experience unleashed such poten-

tial for id expression in these youngsters that a mass group denial was necessary to buffer any potential for such id expression. As an alternative, one might speculate, however, that these youngsters had a greater problem with rage, even prior to the utilization of LSD, than those in a more normal adolescent group. This remains an open question for further exploration. As we know in individual psychology, with every repression there is also expression of the id impulse. So, too, with these Hippies, one


Frank S. Williams

cou ld note their expression of the very underlying rage they denied as it broke through in passive-aggre ssive modalities. Their hostility was definitely, though surreptitiously, expressed in their laughter at the stra igh t world; in their sm ug aloo fn ess toward the straight world; in the joke s they played on au thority figures, particularly the police and political figures; in th eir refusal to pay cer tain pe ople who sold th em things, utilizing elaborate rationalizations to justify the shabby tre atment they gav e their credi tors. A stri king, dramati c exam ple of the type of rage expressed in passive-aggressive ways by the Hippies, was the famous "banan a" episode of two years ago, in the H aight-Ashbury area, described by David Smith (1967), When the police of San Francisco were becomin g concerned about the Hippies' use of various drugs an d marihu ana substitutes for "turning on ," the Hippies spread the rumor th roughout the Haight-Ashbury district that banana peels were being burnt and subsequently smoked, for "turning on ," Within a few weeks th e police of San Fran cisco we re roun d ing up hoards of ban an as and banana peels, which were being purchased in large quan tities. The last laugh was on the police-a su b tle but definitely aggressive attack upon au tho r ity.

Int ima cy Althou gh the Hippie gro u p proclaimed a gre at desire for group intimacy and for intimacy between individuals, I was impressed with the lack of any sustained intimacy over any length of time. I observe d man y quick, fleet in g, intense, intimate situa tions when th ese youngs ters were under the influ enc e of marihuan a or LSD . H owev er, onc e off th e drug they seem ed to return to isolation; there was a return to the vacant stare; a return to withdrawal and apparent lack of perception of the other human being's communication. They seemed to want to avoid the slow evolution of intimacy with all its ambivalen ce and pain-the am b ivalence and pain over possessiveness; the ambivalence and pain over identity loss in an intimate rel ationship; the ambivalence and pain over rejection or potential rejection . There was a tenden cy to experiment with sexual intimacy with many people, apparently to avo id overin vol vement and loss of self in an y on e relationship.

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Identity Uniqueness, individuation, and identity were stressed. "I am me! No one can own me!" was often stated, right along with the wish for intimacy. Herein lies the age-old conflict with which all adolescents struggle. Why in today's adolescent group-particularly those who become alienated Hippies-is the struggle so great between the wish to get close and the need to develop one's unique sense of individuation? In their fluctuation between quick, turned-on, extremely heightened intimate closeness and then quick separateness, again these people seem to be saying, "How can I be intimate without becoming possessed, or without becoming overly-possessive? How can I be intimate and still hold on to my own identity, which is so threatened to begin with?" Generally there is, I feel, an attempt on their part to master this conflict between intimacy and identity and all its ramifications with the use of LSD and marihuana. There is an attempt to master separation and loss after love and a heightened sense of intimate closeness with another by the quick return to the self and the group. There is no one to remain involved with long enough to feel any pain of potential rejection. The mastery of this universal critical conflict of adolescence is postponed by the Hippie, via his use of "instant intimacy" followed by the return to isolation. Independence-dependence conflicts In past decades, the struggle that adolescents normally have with alienation was greatly influenced in a positive direction by the fact that society did not provide too many retreats to which the adolescent could run. In previous generations, when a l G-year-old wanted to leave home, the fear of the loss of security, the lack of

a place to obtain food and shelter, certainly influenced his need to stay at home. I believe this very sort of need allowed the adolescent a chance to master the conflict between the wish to alienate himself from the parent figures and the wish to hold on to them. However, now that he can go to the Hippie world-to the Haight-Ashbury retreat-there is no longer the need to stay at home and fight out, with eventual mastery and integration, the conflict between independent strivings and dependency desires. An adolescent can no


Frank S. Williams

longer contend with his father emotionally and fight with him symbolically to test his own strength, his own destructiveness, his father's strength, and his father's destructiveness. Unfortunately, the independence-dependence conflict gets worked on, but not worked through, in the Hippie community. With the use of drugs, the Hippie takes turns playing out the role of the child who is passive and is taken care of, and the parent who is active and takes care of others. As they describe their "good" and "bad" trips, and as one watches them having good and bad trips, it is quite striking to see how, when one is having a bad trip, his friend helps him in a very maternal way, nursing him back to health. That same nurse, when on his own subsequent bad trip, can then be nursed and mothered to health by his former "child-patient." This is an exquisite alternation of role that one can observe among these youngsters. What is striking, however, is that here too, just as in the heightened unsustained intimacy of relationship under LSD and marihuana, the drug-state blocks the observing ego from integrating the conflictual elements in these experiences with parenting. These very short-cuts preclude and interfere with the working through of the conflicts. Sexual conflicts Sexual differences are minimized. The group attitude of casualness about sexual expression and nakedness, in my opinion, seemed to facilitate individual intrapsychic denial of castration anxiety. As with nakedness in the nudist camp, so much sexuality goes on all around in the Hippie community that there is nothing to be afraid of. There seems to be a great deal of promiscuity, again without any sustained intimate relationships between people. There is, instead, a making of the rounds. There was an overall surprising quantitative lack of overt homosexual activity among the true Hippies. One speculation we offer is that, as with unleashed rage impulse under LSD, the potential for polymorphous perverse sexual expression under LSD or marihuana climbs so close to the surface that a rather massive denial, with group support, helps keep homosexual acting out in check. The conscious philosophical attitude that the Hippie seems to have rationalized about homosexuality, in the group we studied, is something to the effect that, "I do not enjoy or believe

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in homosexuality in any romantic or love way. However, if a friend wants me to please him, I would do it for him as a friend, in spite of my not enjoying the sexual part of it."

Peer acceptance Group togetherness is stressed. Their use of language idioms helps bind them together. For example, "turned on," "groovy," "up-tight," "the establishment," are phrases which, for them, quicken communication. As one observes them striving for group belongingness and group togetherness, however, one notes also the unrelinquished narcissism which keeps striving for recognition. The very language they use in conformity as a group does not permit real acceptance and a real getting to know the other person with his own unique, individual language. The striving for narcissistic gratification will show up in group discussion as one person talks for hours and monopolizes the attention of a visitor. One young man who stressed the need for giving up the "self" stressed this need for three hours, while paying no attention whatsoever to his "girl friend" lying on the bed behind him, desperately attempting to say something, to get a word in edgewise, to get his attention. The generally noted lack of eye contact-the lack of direct looking at the person to whom one is talking-led a nonprofessional observer to conclude: "They're all up-tight with each other!" The search for family structure and leadership One cannot help but notice how these youngsters, in their wish for group togetherness, seem to be searching for a family structure with cohesiveness and leadership, as if they had missed it in their own lives. There seems to be a wish for the type of group activity no longer present in many middle-class homes-the kind of group activity which is based upon intimacy, sharing, and communication between family members. This quest is strikingly seen as one watches them at work together. You walk into a room and see a whole group of young men and women making beads, sorting fabrics, ceramic materials, and leather goods. They quietly and cooperatively, with occasional humor, go about making purses to be sold in Hippie stores. As I observed them at this work, I was reminded of the oldtime "living behind the store," in which the middle-class merchant


Frank S. Williams

family worked together to produce the wares which were then sold "out front." Therein I saw the greatest successful attempt at a working-togetherness spirit, a group identity. Many of these youngsters came from families without paternal leadership. Although, in theory, they stressed the wish not to have a leader, one began to emerge after several hours of observation. People were heard referring to Rick"Wait, I have to go upstairs and ask Rickl" Rick turned out to be the real leader, although not the declared leader. He was a vague and hard-to-hold-on-to leader but, nonetheless, the one they turned to for final permission. I think it is very reflective of their middleclass rearing that the leader was the member of the group who happened to have the most money; Rick was the one who bore the burden of the rental payments when the other Hippies "didn't come across," or did not have the money in any particular month. This vague and unacknowledged leader did not provide a firm model for identification, thereby resembling the passive fathers in many of the original families of these youngsters. THEORETICAL FORMULATIONS

A lienation and identity The adolescents seen in this Hippie group-and I suggest that they reflect what is occurring among adolescents in general, today -evidenced what appeared to be a very complex identity struggle. The alienation we see in adolescence can be viewed as an extreme form of the separation-individuation continuum which, in Mahler's conceptualization, is first revealed in painful, exquisite, dynamic equilibrium with the earlier intimate, trusting symbiotic phase of infancy (1952). Later, during the oedipal and latency periods, as one gives up the tie to the parents of the opposite sex, individuation serves, not only as an attempt toward ego growth and development and expansion of object relationships, but also a defense against the dangerous, forbidden incestuous ties. In the adolescent form of alienation, seclusion and isolation from family ties, in the service of achieving separateness, alternate with extreme states of dependency. The fact that today Hippies have a place to go to escape from the family does not allow for the time and experiences necessary for the resolution of such independence-dependence conflicts.

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In our American middle-class society today, I believe many adolescents falter in their quest for an identity in that they do not attain an integrated capacity for intimate reciprocity. This, in spite of a good degree of social reciprocity and intellectual know-how which have been stressed for them throughout their latency and early adolescent years. Many seem to have developed a heightened narcissistic state of individuation, without much in the way of a concomitant capacity for seeking mutually empathic and intimate interpersonal relationships. I should like to suggest that, for many of these youngsters, the lack of intimacy potential has not come from poor symbiotic experiences with their mothers, but rather as a result of good symbiotic relationships which are abruptly cut off, in line with our cultural stress on individuation. Our culture demands that children turn to group and formal educational experiences very early in life, in the form of nursery school and other group activities, outside the home. In these activities, individuation, as reflected in performance and achievement, is emphasized. Little attention is paid to the nurturing of dyadic one-to-one relationships among children. Aggrandizement of one's shining above others is encouraged by some, as if individuation in itself were equal to identity. Such narcissisticcompetitive-individuation, to the point of obliterating the healthy trust and mutuality which the child first learned in the symbiosis with his mother, is parentally and culturally reinforced, through praise and grades. Sacrificed therein are further building blocks and stepping stones which could capitalize on the earlier symbioses in the direction of promoting further experiences in intimacy. Josselyn (1968) has questioned this overemphasis on moving out of the symbiotic and intimate position too soon in our culture. Too, she has pointed out how in the latency years a child has the

opportunity, not only to sublimate his id drives and expand his ego via the process of education, but also to develop a sense of intimacy via close friendships. Unfortunately, our society has permitted a diversion, a detour, which directs in effect, "Don't be intimate with a friend! More important is social activity and competencel Spend time with piano lessons, Indian Guides, Little League, dance lessons, Sunday School, Hebrew School, the group!" The youngster today approaches adolescence with a great deal


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of social skill but without the skill of getting close to someone, particularly someone of the opposite sex. In effect, one might suggest that a reverse order of priorities would allow for a more wholesome outcome-that if latency-age children and young adolescents were encouraged to develop close friendships and to wait until a later time for their major group experiences, alienation problems might be better resolved. I think Erikson (1950) has not sufficiently stressed the need for continued dyadic intimacy experiences as part of identity development in those years between infancy and adolescence. He states that it is only after a reasonable sense of identity has been established that real intimacy with any person is possible. Yet that sense of identity should, I feel, include, more explicitly real intimacy experiences all along the way. Today, many adolescents and young adults reach their 17th, 18th, or 25th birthdays with a great deal of social maturity, a great deal of intellectual or work achievement; but, unfortunately, with very little knowledge of how to be intimate with another human being. In Erikson's discussion of the young adult, he says that the breakdown in intimacy and the resultant isolation come about when an unsuccessful attempt at sexual intimacy or fellowship intimacy reveals a latent weakness of identity. It seems to me that failures in achieving intimacy in young adulthood are often based upon that weakness of identity related to a deficit in further experiences with intimacy following the initial mother-child symbiosis. I should like to suggest that family life during the past 30 years has not encouraged intimacy in terms of personal sharing and communication between family members. The emphasis, instead, has been on the group experience-the total family experience in which father and son join something together, go someplace together, or watch television together, rather than directly having a personal impact upon one another. This is particularly true for siblings, fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters, as latency and adolescence is approached. In his search for intimacy in later adolescence, the youngster feels the need to move away from his family to avert forbidden incestuous impulses and the independence-dependency struggles. If he remains within the family, these impulses and struggles may become so threatening that a massive regression

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to an early symbiotic tie with the mother, or an anal autonomy struggle with the mother and/or the father can occur. If he leaves home, he is not equipped via experiences with intimacy to enter into successful intimate relationships with peers. He is, therefore, trapped and cannot resolve his normal alienation struggle. Is this the reason why many adolescents struggling with the normal alienation process seek resolution of the conflict in the pseudo-intimacy of Hippiedom and Drugdom? DEPRESSION

There seems to be much depression among alienated youngsters. Initially, our observing group regarded this as part of the isolation and withdrawal effects of LSD and marihuana. However, as we came to know these people better, we recognized their feelings of emptiness, inner isolation, and loss. I would suggest that at the core, their depression is determined by the original loss of the symbiotic state. I would further speculate that the symbiotic intimacy with mother was disrupted too soon, and then not encouraged in other human relationships with either peers or adults. The very potential for intimacy, which in the past gave many adolescents a feeling of completeness, a sense of hope in their relationships with peers, therein is lost. Hence, I believe, the depression reflects an inner hopelessness and emptiness. The depression is characterized by one Hippie who said, while under the waning influence of LSD, "I am me; I am a person who is important because I'm smart; I perform; I am good; but I am empty and alone; I do not know how to love!" THE ISSUE OF HYPOCRISY

The Hippie movement stresses the hypocrisy of today's parent generation. Hippies feel that we as parents have let them down. They are disappointed in us and they are at the same time looking for flaws in us. Is the parent generation hypocritical? Do we make it too easy for the adolescent to find flaws in us, and therefore very easy for him to project onto the adult society his own sense of weakness; his own sense of irresponsibility; his own sense of uncertainty? I would say that society today does exactly that. We know that in every


Frank S. Williams

paranoid projection, there is usually a degree of reality perception. The greater the reality contribution, the easier it is for one to utilize the mechanism of projection. Just as when a parent is truly mean and cruel, it is easier for an adolescent to project his own rage onto that parent so, too, when a society is truly uncertain, irresponsible, ambivalent, and greatly conflicted, the adolescent has a greater opportunity to project out onto it his own sense of weakness and his own feelings of ambivalence. He then need not look into himself for insight and mastery and integration over his sense of uncertainty.. Too, our society makes it easy for the young adult and adolescent to project his castrated lack of identity. I think what is sensed as hypocrisy in the parent generation today is, in part, a result of a growing psychological sophistication in parental attitudes toward children, superimposed upon backgrounds which in these parents fostered much stricter superego development. Parents of today reflect the confusion in their own inner standards relating to social and religious values in the degree of permissiveness they offer their children. This parent-generation's ambivalence, however, with regard to religion, goals, occupation, and education is communicated, in spite of attempts at "enlightened" approaches, to the youngsters. As an example: when a parent today says to his threeyear-old boy, "Son, of course, if you want to be a truck driver, become one; you do what you want to do!", that is quite different from what his own parents probably would have said to him as a child. Without ambivalence, they would probably have told him that he could not and would not be a truck driver; that such an idea was ridiculous and did not meet with their approval. In contrast, however, his son now has permission to be what he wants. But, should he come to him at age 18 and say, "Pop, I'm a truck driver," I wonder whether that father's disappointment would show through on his face, in spite of his studied smile. Would that I8-year-old son consider that hypocrisy? I suspect that he would, although it would in reality be a reflection of a parent caught between the changing principles of preceding generations' Victorian morality versus present-day freedom of the individual to choose his own values.

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I have attempted to present some psychosexual and psychosocial developmental conflicts as they are reflected in the alienation of adolescents and young adults today, particularly in the Hippie movement. From one point of view, the Hippie's alienation from society, peers, and his own affects, represents a major deficit in familial values, as those values reflect the broader values of our society and culture. The deficit, I believe, is in the lack of emphasis on further one-to-one intimate relationships during the years of individuation, following the interruption of the close mother-child symbiosis. In its emphasis upon performance, achievement, and productivity, our culture's value system seems to have neglected the encouragement of empathic dyadic relationships between young children. This neglect is propagated in family systems where children receive much positive reinforcement for achievement, but, at most, only casual acceptance for experiences of empathic closeness and mutuality with other children. The adolescent suddenly finds himself confronted with social and inner expectations of developing a trusting love relationship with another human being, without having had enough "practice" in that direction during his growing-up years. We should further study family structure and its relationship to social forces in an effort to suggest means of achieving better integration between intimacy, dependency, and growing identity. Perhaps our depressed, alienated youngsters of today can then begin to find their "lost me" and share it meaningfully with others. REFERENCES ALLEN, J. R. & WEST, L. J. (1968), Flight from violence: Hippies and the green rebellion. Amer. ]. Psychiat., 125:364-370. ERIKSON, E. H. (1950), Childhood and Society. New York: Norton. (1956), The problem of ego identity. [, Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 4:56-121. JOSSELYN, I. M. (1968), Personal communication. MAHLER, M. S. (1952), On child psychosis and schizophrenia: autistic and symbiotic infantile psychoses. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 7:286-305. New York: International Universities Press. SMITH, D. E. (1967), The new community and its problems in the Haight-Ashbury. Paper presented at the Southern California Psychiatric Society Scientific Meeting, November.