Genius envy

April 5, 2012

In her piece about the way in which academics allow their creativity to be controlled by unimaginative "bean counters" ("Creative vs accounting", 22 March), Amanda Goodall wonders how this hijack happened.

In 1954, J.A.C. Brown, the Freudian scholar, wrote in The Social Psychology of Industry: Human Relations in the Factory (in my opinion one of the best books written on occupational psychology): "We have seen that childhood conflicts and resentments against the father often show in later life as a hatred of all authority, or a hatred of what the father has supported." He goes on to say " that doctors with chronic skin diseases [are motivated] to become skin specialists...chronic neurotics to become psychiatrists, and those with some physical or mental trait which makes them feel inferior to become 'big bosses' ". When the inferiority has been deeply felt, "the individual is likely to overcompensate"; the neurotic psychologist is more likely "to project his own mental peculiarities on to his patients, and the leader who seeks power because he has a basic sense of inferiority to victimise those whom he has to lead".

May we therefore assume that the managerialists whom Goodall suggests are controlling academics are motivated by a desire to compensate for their own lack of intellectual credibility?

Mary Brown, Freelance education consultant, Banchory, Scotland

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