September 25th, 2012

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The Politics of Psychosis: Advance in Treatment?‏

My first introduction to the concept of therapeutic communities for the treatment of extreme mental states was mention of a project in California called Soteria House. It was only open for a relatively brief time period before losing its funding. Thomas Szasz criticized the concept in a book called Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared in which he focuses on the work of R. D. Liang and the therapeutic community of Kingsley Hall. His objections concentrated more on specific abuses of Liang and colleagues than on the validity of the treatment model.

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In a discussion of the treatment method of therapeutic communities, one of our students described his personal experience with a variety of psychiatric facilities in California over a decade ago. He encountered therapeutic methods in one out of four facilities, three of which were private and one public. The public facility and two of the private facilities provided no therapeutic treatment. As far as he could tell, they relied solely on drugs. Although advances have been made in psychiatric treatment, the successes of those advancements have yet to be recognized by public health advocates. They are overwhelmed by proponents of a crude bio-chemical paradigm and the economic interests that depend on public acquiescence in that paradigm.

There seems to be a great deal of political opposition to discussing mental health treatment methods. It is as if there is only one politically correct way to view mental health issues. Anything that confronts that monolithic paradigm is considered outside the domain of public discussion. Failure to kowtow to the party line results in censorship.

What can be done to increase the pace of reform to improve the quality of care for people who suffer from extreme mental states?

Links: Thomas Szasz on R. D. Liang. John Gale, et al on Therapeutic Communities for Psychosis.
Godzilla, default

Consider this:

You are living in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Genetics has not yet come along, so you have no means of knowing that all humans across the world have more in common with each other than two chimpanzees living in the same troop do. You know only that every state needs a nation and every nation needs a state. Then there are these Jews, who live in all states but have no state of their own, and who say that they're loyal members of your state. Keep in mind that at this time you're raised in an environment where every single Mass celebrates victory over the Perfidious Jews and where people like that Lueger Fellow and Wilton Stewart Chamberlain are advocating the superiority of the White race over all inferior outgroups.

How are you to know this is false? Would someone who advocates against Jews and Judaism on this premise be a hateful bigot? It's a different time, so we can't judge the past on the merits of the future, and something happening 100/50 years ago is a magic absolution pill because bigotry always exists in a vacuum unhindered by the context of anything in its time, having a total and unchallenged monopoly on the imagination of its own time. How can we call anti-Semites bigots? They didn't know any better and it's not like there were anti-defamation leagues at the time or proudly assimilated Jewish people or anything. Indeed, Jews were even open, proud terrorists of the Bolshevik variety, so there was actually a *reason* to loathe them for those so inclined.

So, would you call these people hateful bigots?

The answer of course is that yes, they are hateful bigots and bigotry does not get a pass in the past simply because it was a different time and people did things differently there. A historian should strive for objectivity in covering historical events, but objectivity does not mean that evil should get a pass and be called good.
Godzilla, default

Speaking of the corporate takeover of America:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14004846

Whenever I see approaches to the power corporations are wielding now to command and control the economy and the US political/economic framework, I'm reminded of this incident. For the link-phobic in 1907-8 the US economy had a major panic caused by issues of credit going bust. Now, panic, for those not in the know, is a euphemism for the tendency of the
pre-constrained economy to have revolving doors between prosperity and sudden nosedives that wiped out entire families at rates much less predictable than they are now. This particular panic is unusual for one reason: it was solved by the efforts of only one man, J. Pierpont Morgan, who single-handedly bailed out the US government and with it the economy. This reflected that before the rise of the income tax and with the kind of ruthless business practices standard in the age of the Robber Barons it was extremely possible for one man to amass wealth, and with it power, all out of proportion to the influence any one man should wield.

This is a cautionary tale to me of what happens when business, or wealth, gain unlimited power and the means to wield it. They not only can wield it, but will do so in a manner that nobody who genuinely favors and approves of democracy, that all are created equal and that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people can or would approve of. There is a reason that the economy is regulated and that we have the Federal Reserve. This incident is very much the one that was on people's minds at the time. To consider abolishing the Federal Reserve or to limit the government's role in the economy as much as Romney or Ryan would wish is to consider leaving the US economy in the unpredictable hands of the J.P. Morgans of the world.
Groovy Kol

When religion meets politics

"Wow, good that I've just bombed some mosques and killed a few women and children, instead of making an anti-Muhammad video. THEN people would've surely risen against me!" This is a jape made in the fake Bashar Assad twitter account. Joke or not, it is spot on about some nuances in the whole avalanche of protests throughout the Middle East in the recent couple of weeks.

By now everyone has learned that the mass demonstrations spanning 20 countries from Tunisia to Pakistan and from Egypt to Afghanistan were inflamed by that Youtube video. And of course the comments of the "We told you so" type weren't late to follow. And comments about Muslims being a bunch of fanatics incapable of democracy. And conclusions like "We knew from the start that removing the dictatorial regimes would lead to nothing good".

But amidst all this storm of anger, violence and indignation at a video, some deeper cracks are to be seen that go beyond the mere cultural differences between the West and the Islamic world. The grotesque scenes on the Arab streets and the murder of the US ambassador in Libya are raising a number of questions about the US (and European) policies in the region as well, the question being "Why do they hate us so much". Meanwhile, the constantly moving sands of post-revolutionary Libya, Egypt and Tunisia are raising the question about the ability of their new leaders to secure normalcy and stability. But all of this doesn't mean the Arab spring has suddenly become an Arab autumn. Not yet. And it doesn't mean that the West's relations with the region are irreparably broken, and America and Europe should withdraw the hand they had stretched with such enthusiasm.

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