The Myth of Mental Illness - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

That psychoactive medication alters behaviour and mood is indisputable. So do illicit and legal drugs, certain foods, and all interpersonal interactions. Thatrepparttar changes brought about by prescription are desirable – is debatable and involves tautological thinking. If a certain pattern of behaviour is described as (socially) "dysfunctional" or (psychologically) "sick" – clearly, every change would be welcomed as "healing" and every agent of transformation would be called a "cure".

The same applies torepparttar 126194 alleged heredity of mental illness. Single genes or gene complexes are frequently "associated" with mental health diagnoses, personality traits, or behaviour patterns. But too little is known to establish irrefutable sequences of causes-and-effects. Even less is proven aboutrepparttar 126195 interaction of nature and nurture, genotype and phenotype,repparttar 126196 plasticity ofrepparttar 126197 brain andrepparttar 126198 psychological impact of trauma, abuse, upbringing, role models, peers, and other environmental elements.

Nor isrepparttar 126199 distinction between psychotropic substances and talk therapy that clear-cut. Words andrepparttar 126200 interaction withrepparttar 126201 therapist also affectrepparttar 126202 brain, its processes and chemistry - albeit more slowly and, perhaps, more profoundly and irreversibly. Medicines – as David Kaiser reminds us in "Against Biologic Psychiatry" (Psychiatric Times, Volume XIII, Issue 12, December 1996) – treat symptoms, notrepparttar 126203 underlying processes that yield them.

IV. The Variance of Mental Disease

If mental illnesses are bodily and empirical, they should be invariant both temporally and spatially, across cultures and societies. This, to some degree, is, indeed,repparttar 126204 case. Psychological diseases are not context dependent – butrepparttar 126205 pathologizing of certain behaviours is. Suicide, substance abuse, narcissism, eating disorders, antisocial ways, schizotypal symptoms, depression, even psychosis are considered sick by some cultures – and utterly normative or advantageous in others.

This was to be expected. The human mind and its dysfunctions are alike aroundrepparttar 126206 world. But values differ from time to time and from one place to another. Hence, disagreements aboutrepparttar 126207 propriety and desirability of human actions and inaction are bound to arise in a symptom-based diagnostic system.

As long asrepparttar 126208 pseudo-medical definitions of mental health disorders continue to rely exclusively on signs and symptoms – i.e., mostly on observed or reported behaviours – they remain vulnerable to such discord and devoid of much-sought universality and rigor.

V. Mental Disorders andrepparttar 126209 Social Order

The mentally sick receiverepparttar 126210 same treatment as carriers of AIDS or SARS orrepparttar 126211 Ebola virus or smallpox. They are sometimes quarantined against their will and coerced into involuntary treatment by medication, psychosurgery, or electroconvulsive therapy. This is done inrepparttar 126212 name ofrepparttar 126213 greater good, largely as a preventive policy.

Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, it is impossible to ignorerepparttar 126214 enormous interests vested in psychiatry and psychopharmacology. The multibillion dollar industries involving drug companies, hospitals, managed healthcare, private clinics, academic departments, and law enforcement agencies rely, for their continued and exponential growth, onrepparttar 126215 propagation ofrepparttar 126216 concept of "mental illness" and its corollaries: treatment and research.

VI. Mental Ailment as a Useful Metaphor

Abstract concepts formrepparttar 126217 core of all branches of human knowledge. No one has ever seen a quark, or untangled a chemical bond, or surfed an electromagnetic wave, or visitedrepparttar 126218 unconscious. These are useful metaphors, theoretical entities with explanatory or descriptive power.

"Mental health disorders" are no different. They are shorthand for capturingrepparttar 126219 unsettling quiddity of "the Other". Useful as taxonomies, they are also tools of social coercion and conformity, as Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser observed. Relegating bothrepparttar 126220 dangerous andrepparttar 126221 idiosyncratic torepparttar 126222 collective fringes is a vital technique of social engineering.

The aim is progress through social cohesion andrepparttar 126223 regulation of innovation and creative destruction. Psychiatry, therefore, is reifies society's preference of evolution to revolution, or, worse still, to mayhem. As is oftenrepparttar 126224 case with human endeavour, it is a noble cause, unscrupulously and dogmatically pursued.

VII. The Insanity Defense

"It is an ill thing to knock against a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor. He that wounds them is culpable, but if they wound him they are not culpable." (Mishna, Babylonian Talmud)

If mental illness is culture-dependent and mostly serves as an organizing social principle - what should we make ofrepparttar 126225 insanity defense (NGRI- Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity)?

A person is held not responsible for his criminal actions if s/he cannot tell right from wrong ("lacks substantial capacity either to appreciaterepparttar 126226 criminality (wrongfulness) of his conduct" - diminished capacity), did not intend to actrepparttar 126227 way he did (absent "mens rea") and/or could not control his behavior ("irresistible impulse"). These handicaps are often associated with "mental disease or defect" or "mental retardation".

Intuition - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

I. The Three Intuitions

IA. Eidetic Intuitions

Intuition is supposed to be a form of direct access. Yet, direct access to what? Does it access directly "intuitions" (abstract objects, akin to numbers or properties - see "Bestowed Existence")? Are intuitionsrepparttar objects ofrepparttar 126193 mental act of Intuition? Perhaps intuition isrepparttar 126194 mind's way of interacting directly with Platonic ideals or Phenomenological "essences"? By "directly" I mean withoutrepparttar 126195 intellectual mediation of a manipulated symbol system, and withoutrepparttar 126196 benefits of inference, observation, experience, or reason.

Kant thought that both (Euclidean) space and time are intuited. In other words, he thought thatrepparttar 126197 senses interact with our (transcendental) intuitions to produce synthetic a-priori knowledge. The raw data obtained by our senses -our sensa or sensory experience - presuppose intuition. One could argue that intuition is independent of our senses. Thus, these intuitions (call them "eidetic intuitions") would not berepparttar 126198 result of sensory data, or of calculation, or ofrepparttar 126199 processing and manipulation of same. Kant's "Erscheiung" ("phenomenon", or "appearance" of an object torepparttar 126200 senses) is actually a kind of sense-intuition later processed byrepparttar 126201 categories of substance and cause. As opposed torepparttar 126202 phenomenon,repparttar 126203 "nuomenon" (thing in itself) is not subject to these categories.

Descartes' "I (think therefore I) am" is an immediate and indubitable innate intuition from which his metaphysical system is derived. Descartes' work in this respect is reminiscent of Gnosticism in whichrepparttar 126204 intuition ofrepparttar 126205 mystery ofrepparttar 126206 self leads to revelation.

Bergson described a kind of instinctual empathic intuition which penetrates objects and persons, identifies with them and, in this way, derives knowledge aboutrepparttar 126207 absolutes - "duration" (the essence of all living things) and "ιlan vital" (the creative life force). He wrote: "(Intuition is an) instinct that has become disinterested, self-conscious, capable of reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it indefinitely." Thus, to him, science (the use of symbols by our intelligence to describe reality) isrepparttar 126208 falsification of reality. Only art, based on intuition, unhindered by mediating thought, not warped by symbols - provides one with access to reality.

Spinoza's and Bergson's intuited knowledge ofrepparttar 126209 world as an interconnected whole is also an "eidetic intuition".

Spinoza thought that intuitive knowledge is superior to both empirical (sense) knowledge and scientific (reasoning) knowledge. It unitesrepparttar 126210 mind withrepparttar 126211 Infinite Being and reveals to it an orderly, holistic, Universe.

Friedrich Schleiermacher and Rudolf Otto discussedrepparttar 126212 religious experience ofrepparttar 126213 "numinous" (God, orrepparttar 126214 spiritual power) as a kind of intuitive, pre-lingual, and immediate feeling.

Croce distinguished "concept" (representation or classification) from "intuition" (expression ofrepparttar 126215 individuality of an objet d'art). Aesthetic interest is intuitive. Art, according to Croce and Collingwood, should be mainly concerned with expression (i.e., with intuition) as an end unto itself, unconcerned with other ends (e.g., expressing certain states of mind).

Eidetic intuitions are also similar to "paramartha satya" (the "ultimate truth") inrepparttar 126216 Madhyamika school of Buddhist thought. The ultimate truth cannot be expressed verbally and is beyond empirical (and illusory) phenomena. Eastern thought (e.g. Zen Buddhism) uses intuition (or experience) to study reality in a non-dualistic manner.

IB. Emergent Intuitions

A second type of intuition isrepparttar 126217 "emergent intuition". Subjectively,repparttar 126218 intuiting person hasrepparttar 126219 impression of a "shortcut" or even a "short circuiting" of his usually linear thought processes often based on trial and error. This type of intuition feels "magical", a quantum leap from premise to conclusion,repparttar 126220 parsimonious selection ofrepparttar 126221 useful andrepparttar 126222 workable from a myriad possibilities. Intuition, in other words, is rather like a dreamlike truncated thought process,repparttar 126223 subjective equivalent of a wormhole in Cosmology. It is often preceded by periods of frustration, dead ends, failures, and blind alleys in one's work.

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