It has been said that all criminality is rooted in a repudiation of society. An antisocial mindset-- such as “pride” (defined as the belief that one is of higher value than other human beings) or excessive egoism (focusing on one’s own wants and needs to the exclusion of the wants, need and rights of others)-- is often a prerequisite to trespassing against other people’s rights.
Solipsism, then, the belief that the universe does not exist outside of one’s own mind, can perhaps be seen as the ultimate antisocial worldview as it reduces one’s fellow human beings to mere figments of the mind. Denying the independent existence and personality of others means that one need not be concerned about how one treats them. This is why our city’s government treats solipsism as a punishable offense. Indeed, a recent government pamphlet singled it out as “a dangerous and contagious philosophy which must be eradicated.”
Psychologists have identified two distinct classes of solipsism. In the first, dubbed “dualist solipsism,” the person believes that the entire world apparently external to him and beyond his control is an illusion created and orchestrated by the Demiurge. Thus, to quote the pamphlet, “the solipsist imagines he is engaged in a two-player game where he is the sole independent ego playing against the omnipresent Other.” Perhaps a more apt comparison might be to a video game where the solipsist is playing solo against the computer which generates and controls all the non-player characters and everything else in the game’s environment.
The second class of solipsism is called “monist solipsism.” Some psychologists actually believe that the two classes are progressive stages in the same syndrome; while not all dualists move on to embrace monism, they argue that many monists passed through an intermediate dualist stage on the way to their ultimate destination. Here the solipsist has reached the conclusion that he is the Demiurge. The existence of things that are ostensibly external to him and beyond his control can be explained away as creations of the subconscious-- that part of his mind which is mostly hidden and independent from his consciousness and will. Thus, the monist solipsist is forever engaged in a game of solitaire where any struggle is only against himself. He believes that he is literally responsible for everything that happens in his life (or indeed in the universe), and overcoming obstacles and changing undesirable circumstances becomes a question of self-mastery.
In addition to the aforementioned government pamphlet and other bureaucratic papers calling for a hard line against solipsism, some non-governmental organizations, doctors and social workers have addressed the subject online and in journals. These sources often argue against the solipsism-as-crime mindset and claim that it should instead be thought of as a degenerative thought disorder whose sufferers are in need of rehabilitation. They state that solipsists are likely to experience feelings of isolation, dissociation from reality, depression and even delusions. Many of these advocates have outreach websites and literature targeted at solipsists. The typical example asks the reader whether solipsism is negatively impacting his quality of life; it promises that recovery and return to a normal life is possible and it urges the solipsist to seek help-- perhaps pointing him in the direction of a help group or offering tips for changing one’s point of view.
Underground pro-solipsist literature is much rarer, but some examples have been found. Its existence presents a conundrum: a solipsist cannot believe that any audience exists to receive his writing other than himself, or perhaps an omniscient Demiurge, so what could be gained from publishing it? The one pro-solipsist document this researcher could find was a leaflet adopting (or mimicking) the youth, counterculture aesthetic. It looks like the sort of flier one might find by the door in a music shop or a coffeehouse. The text speaks of the moment one arrives at a solipsistic worldview as a sort of epiphany or awakening. Meanwhile, the non-solipsist soul (note the use of the singular), who accepts the external world at face value, is “asleep” or “intoxicated.” In this state, the soul sleepwalks through life and is easily controlled by “the powers that be” (a phrase suggesting the author may be a dualist). This, the author claims, is why the authorities seek to crack down on the solipsist-- imprisoning the enlightened soul and suppressing literature that might awaken the reader. The authorities want the soul to conform and they do their best to keep him intoxicated and ignorant.
In the morning, the Masses walk down the street to work and they All tend to fall into the same pace-- They move with the Rhythm of the City, betraying the Fact that they are all Cogs in its Machinery. So too the Soul not yet Awakened from its Stupor follows the Rhythm and gets in line-- Ignorant of the True Nature of the World-- Unaware that he is an Individual, that he is different!Image from photo taken by Meeg on June 30, 2007