Not guilty by reason of life is hard

April 6, 2016 § 12 Comments

One of the interesting things about the intramural dynamic between left and right liberals is that it is sometimes the ‘conservatives’ or right-liberals who craft the newest, latest, most progressive innovations in the ways in which liberalism attacks and destroys the natural moral order. In order to stay respectable conservatives sometimes have to out-progress the progressives.

Back in the day the insanity defense provided a kind of compromise or unprincipled exception as a way of saving liberalism from itself.  Liberalism requires public-square neutrality, so the liberal ruling class must prescind from making moral judgments. Disease is unlike moral failure inasmuch as moral agents are culpable for their moral failures but are not (necessarily) morally culpable for contracting a disease or having some sort of defect.  Under the insanity defense heinous criminals could be defined as ‘sick’, thus avoiding making substantive moral judgments while at the same time still asserting a form of politically correct authority.

However, even this vestigial politically correct pseudoauthority is intolerable to mainstream pro-life conservatives or right-liberals when it comes to women who choose a particular kind of murder. Female emancipation means that when a woman chooses abortion she must face no consequences whatsoever.

Teetotalitarianism

January 28, 2016 § 3 Comments

A number of cranky-pants folks got rather wound up when I pointed out that alcohol is safer than psychotropic drugs, specifically because we have solid believable objective public knowledge about alcohol. Everyone knows that alcohol is a dangerous, mood altering and physically impairing drug which can destroy your life and the lives of your victims, and that it can be horrifically addictive. Nobody is going to believably pressure you to keep drinking alcohol if the benefits of drinking are outweighed by its detriments. We’ve got thousands of years of experience with the stuff. No industry or corporation or marketing campaign or question-begging monomanical theory backed by billions of pharma dollars can make us forget what we already know about alcohol.

That is what makes responsible drinking possible.

It is also what makes prescription drugs so much more lucrative.

Prescription drugs are much more dangerous than alcohol, perhaps innately but without question because of social context. You have to count on your dealer and his supplier to watch out for your best interests, as you doff your cap to the medical aristocracy.

That doesn’t always work out so well.

The prescription pad as politically correct authority

August 22, 2014 § 10 Comments

When it comes to mental illness and mood, we have to acknowledge that a small percentage of people are not fit to look after themselves.  They need constant adult supervision or else they will become a danger to themselves and/or others.

But modernity values freedom – personal autonomy – above all else, which is actually why our politics becomes so tyrannical; and the idea of grown human beings placed under the authority of other flawed human beings is anathema.

Enter the prescription pad. Even though a drug like alcohol objectively has a similar profile of risks and benefits for improving mood to other drugs, it is unsuitable because it cannot be an instrument of social control. So the use of alcohol to improve mood must be frowned upon, even though going on a bender with the boys to get over a bad breakup might be a healthy thing to do, within limits.  A war must be waged on strong psychotropics on one front; while on another front psychotropics must be brought under the supervision of experts, and heaven help you if you ‘go off your meds’ even when they make you feel awful and destroy your health.

So the sociological purpose of the prescription pad is twofold. One of its key functions is to place you under authority while pretending not to place you under authority. The other key function is to control the information flow and narrative around the use of psychotropic drugs. Naturally the ‘experts’ who wield this chemical power on behalf of the State would rather you didn’t see it that way.

The genie is already out of the bottle when it comes to alcohol, so it cannot be used as a means of social control. With alcohol you are free to wake up from the bender, drink lots of water, take a few asprin, and get on with your life without carrying the subordinate label ‘mental patient’ into your future.  And we can’t have that.

I’ll drink to that

August 15, 2014 § 47 Comments

For someone who is depressed but doesn’t need immediate hospitalization, alcohol is a more effective and safer pharmacological treatment than antidepressants, if a drug is really necessary. It is better to avoid psychotropic remedies entirely; but if you are going to go there, at least do something that is a known quantity with a track record and a properly balanced social infrastructure.

Alcohol is something about which we have plentiful independent information: it isn’t caught in the vortex of economically motivated disinformation that David Healy exposes in Pharmageddon. Because its long term heavy use carries enough social stigma there is still some incentive not to get trapped in a situation of physical dependency, or to get out of one if you find yourself there. Nobody is going to stage an intervention to help you kick the SSRIs, but alcohol comes with some built in social mechanisms to help. Alcohol is quite effective at helping a person feel better in the short term, probably more effective than SSRIs; and it doesn’t come pre-packaged with a credentialed doctor who will hold you hostage to the prescription pad on the one side, and lecture you to keep drinking and not ‘go off your meds’ when you get to the point where the benefits are outweighed by detriments on the other. And nothing prevents you from having a qualified physician monitor your alcohol use.

So my advice to most people is that it is far safer to take up drinking than it is to see a psychiatrist, if you simply have to have a pharmacological remedy.

Antidepressants cause suicide and other violent, impulsive behavior

August 14, 2014 § 27 Comments

They don’t prevent it.

See also here (HT Andrew E. in the comments).

How positivism can get you killed

February 24, 2014 § 5 Comments

Better that patients should die than that medical science cop to ignorance:

The dangers of assigning a psychosomatic diagnosis are shown in a March 2013 article by Alice Philipson in the Telegraph of London. The title is: Professor Dies of Lung Cancer After Doctors Dismiss Illness as ‘Purely Psychological.’ If the DSM-5 SSD category is widely used in its present form, this patient fatality could be joined by many more. Rare disorders and chronic pain patients are already frequently dismissed or marginalized as “head cases.”  DSM-5 will only make this problem worse.

At least when the Aztecs sacrificed you to their gods you got to visit a nice ziggurat.  Modernity’s gods are so much more clinical.

Casting out demons, or, the modern god of the gaps

February 17, 2014 § 24 Comments

I’ve spoken before about positivism: about how the enlightened modern insists that everything meaningful about a given part of reality can be formally codified into communicable knowledge; and the postmodern, suspecting (correctly) that the modern project of banishing all mystery and codifying all meaningful knowledge in any sufficiently interesting domain is impossible, leaps to the conclusion that he definitely knows that no definite knowledge is possible and people who say such things are tyrants.  The one thing moderns and postmoderns agree upon is that if we cannot in principle become omniscient like God, then a pox on reality.

To the modern knowledge is like a sphere, the acquisition and codification of knowledge fills in the empty spaces in the sphere, and the remaining “gaps” in knowledge are closing all the time.  Benighted superstitious Christians fill in those “gaps” in knowledge with their “God”, and because those gaps are now filled in with “God” the Christian is inherently against acquiring more knowledge and specifically against Science[tm].  Acquiring more knowledge would, to the positivist, squeeze out any epistemic “room” left for God.  Har har har you superstitious Christians, once the sphere of knowledge is complete your God will disappear.

I’ve also discussed before that God is God of both the gaps and the non-gaps, and that in any case this picture of the relationship between knowledge and mystery is incoherent and irrational.  I won’t explain why in detail, but if you don’t understand why positivism (and its reflection in the mirror, postmodernism) is crap you should keep on exploring reality until you do.

That is all just preliminary background to the subject of the post.

I recently visited one of the top medical facilities in the world and spoke to some of the smartest doctors on the planet.  What I found interesting is that whenever a particular discipline is forced to look at a particular case and say “I don’t know what is going on”, the immediate (and appropriate) response is to refer to other disciplines.  That’s great as far as it goes.  But what is pertinent here is that medical science as a whole is very, very reluctant to admit when it has run out of explanations.  The neurology clinic at this facility sees many patients who present with the physiologic symptoms of seizures, for example.  Of these, one doctor estimated that a third do not have epilepsy; that the cause is unknown to neurology.  These are classified as “pseudoseizures” and are referred to … drum roll please … psychiatrists/psychologists.  He explained that the mind is much more complex than the brain and that, here is the punch line, because we know it isn’t caused by the brain it must be in the mind.

Got that?  We don’t know what caused it, so the cause must not be physiological.

Evolution makes the contrary assertion: we don’t know what caused it, but the cause must be physiological.

Watch those “gaps” close between the scylla of evolution and the charybdis of psychology, ladies and gentlemen, and make sure you remember to take your antidepressants!

Is it any wonder that the great last stop on the modern explanatory railway, the telos of modernity-as-religion, is evolutionary psychology?

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