August 7th, 2012

My Update Portrait

The State of Murder


The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. – The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution

The Tenth Amendment appears to be the hue and cry of states’ rights advocates all across the country that would like to strip the federal government of its power and grant that power to the individual states. Why we would want to retreat to the chaos before the birth of our nation or the Civil War escapes me. It would seem that breaking up this country would be contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers to unite it into a “More Perfect Union”.

[So What's This Got to Do with Murder?]

I can only guess that this is a throwback to the beginning of our nation when tribal areas colonies would have some hesitation about uniting into one country and surrendering some of their power to a federal government.

One such obvious fragmentation is in our educational system. It appears our biggest competitor on the world stage in several areas is China. Considering we are the wealthiest country in the world, our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is horribly lacking compared to that of the rest of the world. This isn’t surprising considering that China has a nationally unified educational system while ours is fragmented 50 ways. The only influence the federal government can claim is through bribery using funding.

Another, more important, diffusion appears to be in the American approach to violence. Johan M.G. van der Dennen categorizes violence into spontaneous, pathological and organized violence. Professor van der Dennen goes into a heavy dissertation about the social implications of organized violence (war, civil disorder, organized crime, insurrection, gang violence, etc.) but for this post, I will be concentrating on spontaneous violence (murder, rape, assault, battery, etc.)

According to the Washington Post

Americans are slain at a much higher rate than citizens in other developed nations. The U.S. homicide rate of roughly five per 100,000 people is about three times that of Canada, about four times that of Australia, nearly five times Britain’s rate and about 12 times the rate in Japan. The U.S. rate is also roughly five times that of China.

I haven’t been able to verify this online, but I believe the United States is the only industrialized country that is ruled federally but laws against spontaneous violence are created and enforced at the tribal area provincial level. With some exceptions, such as military and federal employees, we don’t have criminal enforcement against spontaneous violence at the federal level. Even the Violence Against Women Act offers only civil restitution and not criminal enforcement. The ability for women to sue at the federal level was overturned by the courts.

The most basic freedom and human right is to feel protected from harm. I have no doubt that the neo-confederates are going to disagree with me, but I think this country could use a more uniform approach to laws and resources pertaining to violence as opposed to a system that just shuttles violent individuals to tribal regions locales that have more lenient laws pertaining to violence or have ineffective law enforcement. As far as I can conclude, the later reason is why people desperately cling to guns and religion in rural areas.

In light of the heinous mass violence that has been occurring over the last several years, it would seem reasonable, at the very least, to have a centralized policy at a federal level that may or may not include capital punishment for the most abhorrent violent crimes against the people of our country. It would seem to be the most effective rule of law for a civilized society.


The Politics of Psychosis: Psychiatry vs. Psychotherapy‏

One of our students likes to bring his personal experience into any discussion of the mental health profession. During a run-in with charlatan practice he noticed some distinct differences between psychiatrists and psychologists. The former seemed to consistently interpret information from a glass-half-empty perspective where the latter were typically more optimistic. Certain information was evidence of mental illness to a psychiatrist whereas a psychologist interpreted the same information as evidence of conscientiousness. Our student later realized that a psychiatrist has a greater personal interest in finding a reason to prescribe drugs than does a psychologist.

During a discussion of the differences between the two professions, one student brought up an analogy with computers. Psychiatrists consider mental degradation to be the result of physical processes in the way that the brain functions, or malfunctions. Psychologists concern themselves with thought processes rather than biomechanical interactions. It is analogous to the differences between computer technicians who look for failed hardware and computer engineers who look for system failures. Like technicians, psychiatrists are more likely to cause failures due to an insufficient understanding of the equipment. Good psychologists learn how to deal effectively with the faults introduced by psychiatrists the way that computer engineers learn to spot technician-induced failures.

In the psychiatric (mis)understanding of schizophrenia, the condition is caused by a genetically-induced biochemical deficiency that lasts a lifetime. It must be treated with heavy-duty sedatives for fear that the patient might harm someone. Rather than think of the sedatives as behavior management agents, the drugs are ascribed a magical identity as "anti-psychotic medications." Sedation is considered a mere side-effect of these toxic substances. Sedation reduces the manifestations of schizophrenia without affecting the underlying cause.

David Garfield and Daniel Mackler published a collection of articles on the use of psychotherapy in treating schizophrenia. They point out that, contrary to psychiatric myth, it is possible to recover from schizophrenia using psychotherapy. It may also be possible to recover without professional intervention. In cases such as those of Catherine Penney and Joanne Greenberg, recovery was possible outside of a drug regime. In the case of Eleanor Longden a drug regime and psychiatric treatment actually made the condition worse.

According to the "hard science" of psychiatry these must be cases of misdiagnosis. Since the patients recovered they did not really have schizophrenia. Only patients trapped in the maze of psychiatric degradation for life are truly schizophrenic. Techniques like those advocated by Garry Prouty to talk a patient out of catatonia cannot be recognized as valid treatments. After all, they can be performed by someone without a background in medicine. They also do not confirm the "truth" that catatonia is the manifestation of an organic brain disorder.

If you were ever to suffer from a catatonic condition, would you prefer to be talked out of it, or would you rather develop an addiction to detrimental sedatives?

Links: Garfield and Mackler on psychotheraputic treatments. Eleanor Longden on her personal experience recovering from psychiatric treatment. Garry Prouty on techniques for treating catatonia.
Idiots, Idiots Everywhere

Terrorists attacked both Israel *and* Egypt:

And as of now Egypt's reverted to an indefinite closure of the border with the Gaza Strip and there were even joint IDF-Egyptian military patrols after this. I think that may actually be a first in terms of official collaboration: Israel working with an Islamist-ruled Arab state to crack down on terrorists. Depending on how you see it this is either very, very good or the prelude to things getting even worse than they already are. So far there is no direct proof that Hamas was behind this one, though my personal opinion is that it's Islamic Jihad which may qualify for Biggest Dumbasses in the region at this point.

As of now the whole Israeli-Egyptian border issue just got very interesting indeed:

Israel, at least according to the Jerusalem Post, is also considering an enhanced Egyptian presence in the Sinai as justfiable. That may also be a first, especially when we remember just which party is controlling Egypt and authorizing both the crackdowns and the closing of the border. It seems the Muslim Brotherhood doesn't like Hamas and Islamic Jihad very much, though both in their usual Baghdad Bob fashion give Israel's government rather more credit than it deserves at this point:

This should be interesting........