Sex or Gender - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

The Encyclopedia Britannica 2003 edition describesrepparttar formation of ovaries and testes thus:

"Inrepparttar 126206 young embryo a pair of gonads develop that are indifferent or neutral, showing no indication whether they are destined to develop into testes or ovaries. There are also two different duct systems, one of which can develop intorepparttar 126207 female system of oviducts and related apparatus andrepparttar 126208 other intorepparttar 126209 male sperm duct system. As development ofrepparttar 126210 embryo proceeds, eitherrepparttar 126211 male orrepparttar 126212 female reproductive tissue differentiates inrepparttar 126213 originally neutral gonad ofrepparttar 126214 mammal."

Yet, sexual preferences, genitalia and even secondary sex characteristics, such as facial and pubic hair are first order phenomena. Can genetics and biology account for male and female behavior patterns and social interactions ("gender identity")? Canrepparttar 126215 multi-tiered complexity and richness of human masculinity and femininity arise from simpler, deterministic, building blocks?

Sociobiologists would have us think so.

For instance:repparttar 126216 fact that we are mammals is astonishingly often overlooked. Most mammalian families are composed of mother and offspring. Males are peripatetic absentees. Arguably, high rates of divorce and birth out of wedlock coupled with rising promiscuity merely reinstate this natural "default mode", observes Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. That three quarters of all divorces are initiated by women tends to support this view.

Furthermore, gender identity is determined during gestation, claim some scholars.

Milton Diamond ofrepparttar 126217 University of Hawaii and Dr. Keith Sigmundson, a practicing psychiatrist, studiedrepparttar 126218 much-celebrated John/Joan case. An accidentally castrated normal male was surgically modified to look female, and raised as a girl but to no avail. He reverted to being a male at puberty.

His gender identity seems to have been inborn (assuming he was not subjected to conflicting cues from his human environment). The case is extensively described in John Colapinto's tome "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl".

HealthScoutNews cited a study published inrepparttar 126219 November 2002 issue of "Child Development". The researchers, from City University of London, found thatrepparttar 126220 level of maternal testosterone during pregnancy affectsrepparttar 126221 behavior of neonatal girls and renders it more masculine. "High testosterone" girls "enjoy activities typically considered male behavior, like playing with trucks or guns". Boys' behavior remains unaltered, according torepparttar 126222 study.

Yet, other scholars, like John Money, insist that newborns are a "blank slate" as far as their gender identity is concerned. This is alsorepparttar 126223 prevailing view. Gender and sex-role identities, we are taught, are fully formed in a process of socialization which ends byrepparttar 126224 third year of life. The Encyclopedia Britannica 2003 edition sums it up thus:

"Like an individual's concept of his or her sex role, gender identity develops by means of parental example, social reinforcement, and language. Parents teach sex-appropriate behavior to their children from an early age, and this behavior is reinforced asrepparttar 126225 child grows older and enters a wider social world. Asrepparttar 126226 child acquires language, he also learns very earlyrepparttar 126227 distinction between "he" and "she" and understands which pertains to him- or herself."

So, which is it - nature or nurture? There is no disputingrepparttar 126228 fact that our sexual physiology and, in all probability, our sexual preferences are determined inrepparttar 126229 womb. Men and women are different - physiologically and, as a result, also psychologically.

The Myth of Mental Illness - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

"You can knowrepparttar name of a bird in allrepparttar 126205 languages ofrepparttar 126206 world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever aboutrepparttar 126207 bird… So let's look atrepparttar 126208 bird and see what it's doing – that's what counts. I learned very earlyrepparttar 126209 difference between knowingrepparttar 126210 name of something and knowing something."

Richard Feynman, Physicist and 1965 Nobel Prize laureate (1918-1988)

"You have all I dare say heard ofrepparttar 126211 animal spirits and how they are transfused from father to son etcetera etcetera – well you may take my word that nine parts in ten of a man's sense or his nonsense, his successes and miscarriages in this world depend on their motions and activities, andrepparttar 126212 different tracks and trains you put them into, so that when they are once set a-going, whether right or wrong, away they go cluttering like hey-go-mad."

Lawrence Sterne (1713-1758), "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" (1759)

I. Overview

II. Personality Disorders

III. The Biochemistry and Genetics of Mental Health

IV. The Variance of Mental Disease

V. Mental Disorders andrepparttar 126213 Social Order

VI. Mental Ailment as a Useful Metaphor

VII. The Insanity Defense

I. Overview

Someone is considered mentally "ill" if:

His conduct rigidly and consistently deviates fromrepparttar 126214 typical, average behaviour of all other people in his culture and society that fit his profile (whether this conventional behaviour is moral or rational is immaterial), or

His judgment and grasp of objective, physical reality is impaired, and

His conduct is not a matter of choice but is innate and irresistible, and

His behavior causes him or others discomfort, and is

Dysfunctional, self-defeating, and self-destructive even by his own yardsticks.

Descriptive criteria aside, what isrepparttar 126215 essence of mental disorders? Are they merely physiological disorders ofrepparttar 126216 brain, or, more precisely of its chemistry? If so, can they be cured by restoringrepparttar 126217 balance of substances and secretions in that mysterious organ? And, once equilibrium is reinstated – isrepparttar 126218 illness "gone" or is it still lurking there, "under wraps", waiting to erupt? Are psychiatric problems inherited, rooted in faulty genes (though amplified by environmental factors) – or brought on by abusive or wrong nurturance?

These questions arerepparttar 126219 domain ofrepparttar 126220 "medical" school of mental health.

Others cling torepparttar 126221 spiritual view ofrepparttar 126222 human psyche. They believe that mental ailments amount torepparttar 126223 metaphysical discomposure of an unknown medium –repparttar 126224 soul. Theirs is a holistic approach, taking inrepparttar 126225 patient in his or her entirety, as well as his milieu.

The members ofrepparttar 126226 functional school regard mental health disorders as perturbations inrepparttar 126227 proper, statistically "normal", behaviours and manifestations of "healthy" individuals, or as dysfunctions. The "sick" individual – ill at ease with himself (ego-dystonic) or making others unhappy (deviant) – is "mended" when rendered functional again byrepparttar 126228 prevailing standards of his social and cultural frame of reference.

In a way,repparttar 126229 three schools are akin torepparttar 126230 trio of blind men who render disparate descriptions ofrepparttar 126231 very same elephant. Still, they share not only their subject matter – but, to a counter intuitively large degree, a faulty methodology.

Asrepparttar 126232 renowned anti-psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz, ofrepparttar 126233 State University of New York, notes in his article "The Lying Truths of Psychiatry", mental health scholars, regardless of academic predilection, inferrepparttar 126234 etiology of mental disorders fromrepparttar 126235 success or failure of treatment modalities.

This form of "reverse engineering" of scientific models is not unknown in other fields of science, nor is it unacceptable ifrepparttar 126236 experiments meetrepparttar 126237 criteria ofrepparttar 126238 scientific method. The theory must be all-inclusive (anamnetic), consistent, falsifiable, logically compatible, monovalent, and parsimonious. Psychological "theories" – evenrepparttar 126239 "medical" ones (the role of serotonin and dopamine in mood disorders, for instance) – are usually none of these things.

The outcome is a bewildering array of ever-shifting mental health "diagnoses" expressly centred around Western civilisation and its standards (example:repparttar 126240 ethical objection to suicide). Neurosis, a historically fundamental "condition" vanished after 1980. Homosexuality, according torepparttar 126241 American Psychiatric Association, was a pathology prior to 1973. Seven years later, narcissism was declared a "personality disorder", almost seven decades after it was first described by Freud.

Cont'd on page 2 ==> © 2005
Terms of Use