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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My loony forum (continued)

For Doctor John.
Shop talk. (JP, mea culpa, but you're not here, and it looks like dink is on vacation too...)

Three years ago when I got sucked into the maelstrom of a major spiritual crisis, I was wallowing in self pity and surfing from Internet site to Internet site, reading about the newest in treatment of schizophrenia, and psychosis, and the whole bit. And I hooked up with a big French public forum on health care that I promptly proceeded to get tossed out of (wonder why, right, Dinky ??), but fortunately there was a handful of people who appreciated my.. cantakerousness, my honesty, my ability to call a spade a spade, to disturb the peace, and they invited me onto a private forum where I have been writing and working ever since.

This is a democratic forum. I don't pull rank (very often, at any case...). I participate alongside of the others. I offer my advice. I encourage. I hold hands. I even occasionally tell off. (Yes, that can happen...) I offer these people my rather unique point of view.. that of someone who willingly hangs out with them, and takes great pleasure in their company (most of them). And... I reveal to them what is going on in the heads of the couch crowd.
I am a firm believer in democracy (I can already hear Thai's disbelief...). Even if I sometimes get nostalgic for the Ancien Regime (the ideal of the Ancien Regime, not the reality of it...).
I tell them that what is going on in their heads is not too far away from what is going on in the heads of their shrinks, and the people who are taking care of them.
I remind them that it is proverbial to say... "it takes one to know one".
That there are good reasons why we say "it takes one to know one".
That the people who hang out with people who are labeled "mentally ill" have their own personal, private agenda for "taking care of", for "protecting" the vulnerable "mentally ill".
I tell them that we live in a society that is obsessed with autonomy when we come into the world naked, mewing, and our dependancy just shifts places, moves around with time.
I tell them that we live in an incredibly punitive society where, as more and more people can't make ends meet by working, and are whiling away their existences in hand to mouth fashion, the more and more privileged few who have jobs take out their incredible agressivity, and unhappiness by pointing fingers at those who are more vulnerable, and cannot keep up the inhuman pace of all of this.
I tell them that they are not worthless louts because they are not working, or because they are vulnerable.
I bolster their opinions of themselves, WHILE ENCOURAGING THEM SOMETIMES to do something about their situations IF THEY ARE UNHAPPY IN THEM.
I tell them that in a society where we have accepted as a religion that full employment is not possible, WHY SHOULD THEY NECESSARILY FEEL GUILTY ABOUT NOT HAVING A JOB ?
When the machines have destroyed work, when people with literary, artistic bents are laughed at, and scorned.. WHY SHOULD THEY FEEL GUILTY ABOUT DROPPING OUT ?
So I tell them... WHY NOT take your allocation, for example, and PRODUCE in an immaterial way ?
You can be "productive" without producing something for the numbers charts...
You can "produce"... tenderness. Joy. You can "produce".. a smile.
And I have learned that beating people around the head while telling them that they SHOULD be doing this and that is really counterproductive. Playing on guilt produces more guilt which produces more guilt.
And... they stay in the same ruts...
This is NOT WHAT WE WANT, right ???
That's all for now...
Everybody is doing MUCH MUCH better.
And... at least they feel better. The first step, I say.
AND... they are taking fewer drugs. They are looking for competent therapists, and not pill pushers, or chart readers.
Good... JOB, right ?
I almost forgot... my goal. My priority... To teach them how to think critically.
To question their prejudices. To question.. MY prejudices too.
Pretty much the same.. goal I have here.
While having fun, of course...


Dr John said...

What's the goal of psychotherapy?

Debra said...

All that for... THAT ??

Dink said...

Dink is still here (we cancelled our RV trip because it was going to snow in Oregon-How rude!). I didn't participate in the last comment flurry when things started heading to communion. I've never had much luck discussing trinity, communion, arks, etc. with the religious. I think it boils down to "I want to believe this therefore stop annoying me with critical thinking" vs. "I'm forced to believe this because of critical thinking". There is no middle ground.

"What's the goal of psychotherapy?"

There are a couple directions you could go with.
1) Make the submarine crew happy (i.e. self experience).
2) Have the submarine be a integrated part of the armada on the surface (i.e. society)
3) Some compromise between the two.

I think Deb is dedicated to option #1 with her loonies (hatred of rules, spitting at the need for work, etc.)

I'm sure we've all seen people completely self-alienated due to option #2.

Option #3 is hard, but we have to find a way. Because our bodies exist in the physical world and our minds don't exist without our bodies. So we have to have laws to keep our bodies alive. But due to some outrageous fluke we are also conscious and this experience is overwhelming; to ignore will destroy us. So compromise.

Oh, I was watching the Science channel last night. It started with Stephen Hawking's ideas, but went on to his Cambridge colleague Michael Green. The Super Symmetrical String Theory. He was such a pleasant and calm man. And clearly a maniac so his theory must be true ;)

Debra said...

Why do you refer to me in the third person, Dinky ??
I'm hear. You CAN talk to me instead of talking.. about me...

Dr John said...

Debra it was a nice long post about you talking to people although I am not sure how it related to what I thought was the people who contribute to this blog getting better....but after reading it I wanted to know what your goal is for those disenfranchised unemployed sad sacks. Who is paying. Dink sounds like he gets the menu.I have read Elegant Universe by Green. If that is the same Green? Maybe not. It's funny as I am not really smart enough to get physics but the last part of my paper where I talk of psychiatry being "not even wrong" was a total rip off of a critique of string theory. Elegant math but not useful for anything.Psychiatry does not even have the good marh.

Dr John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debra said...

Geez, Doctor John, you sound like an incredibly arrogant, EMPLOYED, TOTALLY FRANCHISED (sad ? or cynical ?) sack.
My thoughts were very clear at the end of the post.
If they are going to, at some point PERHAPS be FULLY PAYING "RESPONSIBLE" (yuck..) members of society, the way that you seem to think that YOU are, punishing them is not going to do the trick.
Or making them feel guilty.
You know, when Freud was on that ship coming to America, he said "they don't know yet that we're bringing them the pest".
Poor Sigmund. He TOTALLY underestimated the capacity of the materialistic, Protestant American culture to swallow anything and everything up.
Denature it by making self help books out of it before spitting it out and going on to the next new fad. Which happens to be prescription drugs...
My goal is to help those people find some self respect and some joy out of living.
Who's paying ?
Not YOU at any rate. Don't worry...

Dr John said...

My lord... I am going back to Carlat or maybe the Popular Mechanics blog. Car and Driver has a nice one too....

JP said...

Dr. John says:

What's the goal of psychotherapy?


To eliminate "mind parasites"? Or whatever it is you want to call the bad thought patterns housed within the software of the mind that causes problems with respect to the development of human personality and associated interactions with actual reality?

Note: I'm a chemical engineer/attorney.

I only use the DSV-IV-TR. I don't claim to understand it.

JP said...

Dr. John says:

"My lord... I am going back to Carlat or maybe the Popular Mechanics blog. Car and Driver has a nice one too...."

It's not called Street Rat Crazy Saloon for nothing.

JP said...

Debra says:

"Geez, Doctor John, you sound like an incredibly arrogant, EMPLOYED, TOTALLY FRANCHISED (sad ? or cynical ?) sack."

That would be a good blog name.

Employed Totally Franchised Sad and Cynical Sack.

I bet no one has taken it.

It needs an incomprehensible acronym to go with it.


Ok, so now I know that both Dr. John and I are ETFSCS. I'll bet Thai is, too. Dink, are you ETFSCS?

JP said...

Oh, and just so you know how to pronounce it.


Just think ET-FEX.

Debra said...

Come back, Doctor John.
Popular consensus seems to dictate that I am the odd one out.
Have fun, y'all...

Dink said...

"My lord... I am going back to Carlat or maybe the Popular Mechanics blog"

You are a prodigy at infuriating Deb. The fates have decided your place in the blogosphere ;)

The argument that the rich/boring are ethically obligated to support the poor/artistic has been a frequent war zone. Thai's nihilism is nice with this subject because it doesn't take sides. He just notes that the conservation of energy means that the energy spent in one area of a system takes away energy from another area. So cash spent on supporting loonies could be spent on research to cure cancer or what-have-you. The term "zero-sum" gets used a lot, but such are the laws of thermodynamics. In summary, everything we try to do is going to suck in some way to some one.

"the bad thought patterns housed within the software of the mind that causes problems with respect to the development of human personality and associated interactions with actual reality"

Nice! Of course, we could go down the rabbit hole of software v. hardware. The brain/mind thingee is so friggin complicated.

"It needs an incomprehensible acronym to go with it."

Clearly! The sign of any decent scientific endeavor.

Shoot. I still haven't talked about the Stroke of Insight. So the stroke temporarily knocked out her language centers. But she still experienced non-verbal thought (we're so used to verbal thought its hard to imagine). It was slow and very pleasant per her account. Anyhoo, its an interesting theory that the "right" mind is the older proto-mind while the "left" mind with its words and logic is the newcomer. And perhaps emotional problems are discrepancies between the two. Anyway, its interesting mind candy and in some way would marry the "experiential" to the physical.

Dr John said...

Interesting this would come up as I was reading the philosophy of Diogenes today at the bookstore. He too believed the only authentic life was to cast off the yoke of responsibility in all matters. No family no job no belongings. He begged and lived off donations he felt others were obligated to give him. The obvious critique of this philosophy is that to live so authentically one must demand someone else you disdain support it. I suppose in some respects to one degree or another we can all be accused of this hypocrisy. Some more so than others...I think psychotherapy has an idealized goal. In practice the goals are hardly ever clear I think either to those getting or giving it.I have seen a lot of stroke victims. Those with both expressive and receptive speech loss. I have never seen anyone lose receptive ability and recover to be able to describe the experience. That would be something.

Dink said...

"The obvious critique of this philosophy is that to live so authentically one must demand someone else you disdain support it."

I believe Buddhist monks do something similar, but without the disdain. Not sustainable on a large scale.

We've discussed game theory and how perception of fairness seems necessary for a group to operate. And how that perception can easily be manipulated and altered. Humanity will probably figure out a unified string theory before we figure out a sustainable economic system.

"I have never seen anyone lose receptive ability and recover to be able to describe the experience. That would be something."

I read the book and found it interesting. But then Thai found a TED presentation by the author; she was really passionate about people getting back in touch with their "right" side and maintaining a balance. She described her struggle, a few months after her stroke, of trying to sort a deck of cards into the four suits. It took hours. Yet she wasn't frustrated or self-critical like someone with an intact "left" mind would be trying to learn a new task. Truly fascinating and thought provoking.

Debra said...

I am sorry for losing my temper last night.
I felt... threatened.
Things are easier when Thai is around.
NOT having him here is like missing the oxygen atom between two hydrogen atoms.
Things tend to.. blow up.
I need somebody to translate Dink's world for me.
Dink needs somebody to translate... MY world, or at least to say : zero sums.
I am still a little worried...
Do we have multiple hydrogen atoms here ?
Am I a hydrogen atom ??
Who is a hydrogen atom, who ISN'T one ?
Is there an oxygen atom in sight ??
Questions, questions...
On the deck of cards issue.
I distinctly remember the not so long ago day when I could spend twenty minutes hand copying out a library card with somebody's name, the title of a book, and the date on it.
It was a very very humbling experience.
I am glad you are not gone, Doctor John...
You really scared me for a moment there.
And we hadn't even properly finished our sniffing act yet, either, had we ? Mea culpa...
If you want me to exit the saloon, I will.

Debra said...

Jesus was supported by women.
The wives of important, rich Roman women, and wives of some Jewish notables, I suppose. No "work".
I find this way of doing things very very elegant.
It shines another light on "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's...
I don't think that he demanded that anybody support him though.
Because I don't think he HAD to demand anything.
I think that people were FALLING ALL OVER HIM/themselves in their desire to do things for/with him.
Because HE seemed so RICH to them...
And one of the reasons they WANTED to do so much for/with him was because he wasn't demanding anything. Or feeling entitled to anything either.

Debra said...

I sincerely appreciate your patience with me, Dink.

Dr John said...

One of the problems with the internet is we rely on language but loose a critical aspect of it which is tone. I ask a question of Debra in an admittedly rhetorical manner and she interprets it as elitist sarcasm as she can not really hear me ask them. Maybe valid on some level but I think it is a good example of the need for clarification of ones positions before sweeping conclusions are made. I don't think human process is in general ever well served when asking someone involved to leave unless their interactions are clearly abusive in nature. Certainly anger does not qualify but I do not think we should descend to pejorative descriptions of one another either. Going back to the issue that set this off. Debra brings up Jesus. We have no first hand accounts of anything Jesus did or said but if we take the stories at face value I am not sure I agree with Debra's conclusions of the validity of such a life. The same thing could be said of lots of TV preachers or cult leaders. Just because someone who has wealth will pay to take care of you is that the way you should approach life? I am open to the legality of it but if it is so great everyone should be able to do it and everyone cannot or the system would cave in. We can all envision an idealized world where everyone would have the opportunity to have a "job" and take care of themselves.Maybe if we all worked in a factory it would be a gray world indeed but as a mental exercise it could work. Maybe being "Jesus" is a legitimate job or maybe so is being a guru. A system where everyone is Jesus does not work and we all starve.I guess we have to decide that on our own.It is not part of my value system. I do not want to be forced to pay to take care of someone who wants to live in that manor and be a "Jesus" but I support everyone else and their right to do so with their own money. I am not so easily scared off Debra although I do love Car and Driver.

Debra said...

Doctor John, I say...
It takes all kinds to make up a world.
It takes... people who work, and it takes people who do not work too.
People who do not work to remind the people who work that putting all your identity eggs in the basket of work is not such a good idea, BECAUSE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOUR IDENTITY WHEN YOU GET LAID OFF ? SPECIALLY IN OUR TIMES ?
I like to remind the people who are living in the States that European unemployment has been looking really nasty for a long time now, and that in the States, I think that most of you don't know what long term unemployment (for degreed people... ) looks like. You are lucky. Many of you have managed to avoid the reality that the machines, AT THE SAME TIME THAT THEY HAVE LIBERATED OUR TIME, have also destroyed a lot of work, and especially have encouraged us to look for more and more ways to destroy work. And make it much less meaningful for ourselves, while we're at it.
People who don't work to remind people who work that we are ALL dependant, that we came into this world with nothing (tangible) and we will leave this world with nothing (tangible) too. To remind the people who work that there is more to life than just working, and that working is NOT GOING TO GUARANTEE YOU ANYTHING (important, like... love, happiness, health).
People who work to remind the people who don't work that they are dependant, and that being grateful is a big deal. That it is a good thing to feel grateful. A.. nobling thing. Much better than being/feeling entitled in your own little corner.

To put it even more baldly, my daughter came up with this observation two years ago on our return trip to the States :
In one of the big Eastern cities, in the subway, there was a sign saying "don't deteriorate the seats, YOUR NICKEL IS PAYING FOR THEM.
Now... in France, at least we are STILL SAYING : don't deteriorate the seats, FOR THE NEXT PERSON WHO WILL BE SITTING THERE.

This is a different universe in my book.
Words are important.
It is EASIER to federate people around a project when there are signs that say number 2 than when there are lots of signs saying number 1.
And cooperation is REALLY important in a society.
In my opinion.

Dink said...

"Am I a hydrogen atom ??"

Acid is defined as a compound that releases hydrogen atoms. Anyhoo, we need an intervention for you (D) to get you to see the double standard (i.e. you get to spit acid and consider it fun, but if others so much as subtly disagree with you its considered an attack). You need to play nice.

Interesting note to JP & Dr John, Deb has the same birthday as Napolean!

"remind the people who work that putting all your identity eggs in the basket of work is not such a good idea"

Not every worker does this. Presumptive.

"remind the people who work that there is more to life than just working"

Presumptive again. Plus, the mind needs the body and the body needs calories.

And jeez, Stephen Hawking has ALS and he's contributing to humanity. Lance Armstrong had metastasized cancer.

And if your going to request other's energy without expectation of repayment then you have to expect to relinquish some of your free will (ie submit to urine screening for substance abuse, etc).

Debra said...

Geez, Dink, I wasn't aware that you were NOT riposting when YOU considered that you were under attack ?
Is it worse when I do it because I resort to dramatic, flamboyant language ?
Perhaps there are considerable differences between French and American societies.
After all, remember... when Americans get melancolic attacks and plunge into despair (on being down and out, unappreciated, losing their jobs, their self respect...) a significantly higher proportion of them take out those rifles, or machine guns or whatever and proceed to take themselves out in company.
The French ? They mostly commit suicide WITHOUT taking anybody else out for company.
(Don't presume that I consider the French more virtuous. Not at all... I consider them MORE DEPRESSED, and more conformist to be behaving this way...After all when you are being socially squelched to death, it is much more convenient for the social body if you curl up and die than if you go out and burn cars or start a revolution, for example.)
And the French are very very very identified with their jobs. When they lose them... it is often the end of the world for them.
So... it isn't the end of the world for an American if he gets laid off ? All those mortgage foreclosures that are quoted in the jungle, they aren't the end of the world for the people who are losing their homes ?
Cultural differences, then.
I have said on different times that I am sorry for saying things.
Nobody here has EVER said that THEY were sorry for saying something that upset me, I've noticed.
Don't worry. You don't HAVE to feel sorry for upsetting me. I'll get over it.
As far as playing nice...
I got the feeling that war was declared on me when it was said a while back that I "spit on the rules".
That was an attack, in my book.
Am I wrong ?
Is it NOT an attack ?
What IS it then ?
I already explained myself en long et en large on this subject.
Now, would it be preferable if I were politically correct and guessed all the time to figure out what CAN be said on this blog, and what CAN'T be said without offending somebody ?
Maybe I should just stick to my pieces like "April Fools', for example ?
But almost nobody EVER shows up to say, even a little "hey, that was nice" or something.
So, is this a Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus trip ?
Sometimes I'm from Mars, and sometimes I'm from Venus.
And you ?

Dink said...

"But almost nobody EVER shows up to say, even a little "hey, that was nice" or something."

Deb, we've got to stop fighting. Its wearing me out. The saloon is a place to play with ideas. If some of the other kids want to play ball with our idea, great. If they don't feel like playing with our idea, too bad. Move on to the next idea. The game has to be fun for everyone. If it isn't fun they will move on to new playgrounds.

Dr John said...

I agree with that. This has to stay fun. If not I will move on. Lets not be so serious and get hurt feelings.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits