I love AMC’s Mad Men and if you don’t, you can’t be in my cult. Sorry.
But how is this related to Stefan Molyneux, you ask?
Well, I don’t think people realize how often Molyneux makes up for his lack of originality by being one of the best advertisers/self-promoters in the philosophy racket.
And, apparently, the thing he does best of all is co-opt the ideas of others and then “re-brand” them as his own:
- The first and most obvious is Molyneux’s DRO concept, a rebranded/re-named version of the PDA (combined with a whole lot of Rothbard’s thinking). He may have offered some unique variations to the original idea but Molyneux treats the DRO as if were an entirely new concept that sprang solely from his head (“I realized, when I got the DRO thing, I knew that was some pretty good shit.”) Did Molyneux make sure his followers knew he was standing on the shoulders of giants as he “borrowed” their ideas? I don’t think so.
- Next up is True Self/False Self. Molyneux has spoken with great authority on this concept but to my knowledge hasn’t mentioned Donald Winnicott, the originator. This is one of the few ideas that Molyneux hasn’t rebranded/re-named. However, I would bet that many of his followers believe it is a Molyneux original. Molyneux does seem to have a peculiar version of the concept.
As far as I can tell, in Molyneux’s theory, one’s True Self is the curious, empathetic, leader you were born to be and the False Self is the person you created to cope with your abusive parents. Or something like that. I don’t think that’s exactly what Winnicott meant.
- And then we have the Mecosystem. Molyneux’s Mecosystem concept is based on the notion that we are all comprised of sub-personalities, each of which can be individually addressed and managed. It is also a direct theft and rebranding of the Internal Family Systems model created by Richard C. Schwartz. In this case, some FDR members did begin to notice and point out the similarities between the Mecosystem and IFS. (They are actually identical.) Since then, Molyneux has referred less and less to the Mecosystem.
- Which brings us to our old pal, defoo. My belief is that a large majority of Molyneux’s psychology ideas are co-opted from “recovery movement” pop psychologist John Bradshaw. Bradshaw, too, has had to defend himself against charges that he believes nearly all families are dysfunctional. (Still, to me it seems that there is a great degree of difference between nearly all families are dysfunctional [Bradshaw] and nearly all parents are ethically challenged, abusive bullies [Molyneux]).
Bradshaw’s notion is that if you live in a “toxic family,” you must leave that Family Of Origin to create your own Family Of Choice. From FOO to FOC. Interestingly, Molyneux concentrates only on the first part—discarding the FOO—which he has co-opted and rebranded as defoo. But why has he said so little about the FOC, I wonder?
Is it because (as his own narrative goes) he was independent from age 15 and simply expects his defooed True Believers to pick up the slack and strike out on their own to live a similarly isolated life? Or did he intend FDR to be the FOC? Certainly, for some members FDR is the only family they have. Is Molyneux too canny to publicly refer to the FDR community as a FOC because he knows it will generate the accusation of cult leader?
I don’t have an idea on that, I only feel reasonably sure at this point that “defoo” had its origins in Bradshaw’s FOO->FOC concept.
So if you have chosen FDR as your new Family of Choice, you can be proud to know that you’re no longer FOO’ed, you’re FOC’ed.