September 16, 2012

My eyes, M.E. and internet | Dr Thomas Szasz dies


This is a copy from the orginal to NOTEBOOK. I insert the copy here for ease of reference - the idea being that Nederlog 1012 continues after August with NOTEBOOK, which is easier to maintain for me, because of the problems with my eyes that started in May 2012.


   1. My eyes, M.E. and the internet
2. Dr. Thomas Szasz died

Appendix on the APA and  Edward Bernays
(very revealing and interesting)

1. My eyes, M.E. and the internet

About my eyes and M.E.:

My eyes are still bit better than they were for months and as I explained yesterday this enabled my redoing "The Black Book" and making it a continuation of Nederlog.

Since Nederlog since its beginning is explicitly about what concerns and interests me, I'll keep mentioning my eyes in it, for it was as follows most days for four months, the cause being probably Sjoegren's Syndrome with keratoconjunctivitis sicca (aka "dry eyes"):

Imagine that you got a lot of soap in your eyes, as happened to most anyone when washing one's hair, perhaps also with a bit of sand in it - except that this then goes on for 24 hours a day, and in my case for 4 months now.

This may explain to the more sensitive reader why I pay so much attention to it - and note that I also have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis aka M.E.  and indeed also Dupuyteren's Contracture, in the pinkie of my right hand, which is my dominant one.

Perhaps somewhat interesting for medical folks:

At least both Sjoegren's Syndrome and Dupuyteren's Contracture are autoimmune diseases, while the first of these is correlated with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - which may suggest to some a common cause. It does to me, but yes: It is a suggestion, not a proof.

About the internet, what with suich eyes as I have:

For months I have not been able to use it other than very minimalistically, also because I very soon get more pain when staring at white backgrounds, that are on most sites the background, if not in general, then at least for text.

But having a few days of less problems at least I now got the chance to tweak Firefox in GNU/Linux Ubuntu. The tweak is that at long last I have now automatically black backgrounds and green lettering with each file I load in Firefox, which is a great improvement for my eyes, and indeed what allowed me to read Wikipedia again.

Linux Ubuntu also enabled me to have a white text on black background instead of a black text on a white blackground most everywhere, which also is a great help.

The result is a bit odd, having been used to the normal set-up since 1996 for the internet in Windows and also in Linux that I started to use in May 2012, just before getting sore eyes: Thinks do look a bit different that way, not only because of the prevalence of black, but also because in Firefox I override the backgrounds others supply for a black one.

But as I indicated: It is a great improvement for my eyes, and the only way that I can use the internet and my computer at all - "through a glass, darkly".

It also is a bit reminiscent of the early days of computing, in 1981 with an Apple of a friend, and in 1986-7 with an Osborne with CP/M (a "laptop" the size of a sewing machine) and then a Philips with DOS: All had screens with a black background and green (or yellow) text.

So... some improvements for my eyes and me, and hence some improvements in Nederlog for my readers.

2. Dr. Thomas Szasz died

I read this first on 1boringoldman's site yesterday: I quote his quotation from the New York Times:

Dr. Thomas Szasz, Psychiatrist Who Led Movement Against His Field, Dies at 92
New York Times
September 11, 2012

Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist whose 1961 book “The Myth of Mental Illness” questioned the legitimacy of his field and provided the intellectual grounding for generations of critics, patient advocates and antipsychiatry activists, making enemies of many fellow doctors, died Saturday at his home in Manlius, N.Y. He was 92. He died after a fall, his daughter Dr. Margot Szasz Peters said.
Dr Thomas Szasz
Dr. Szasz published his critique at a particularly vulnerable moment for psychiatry. With Freudian theorizing just beginning to fall out of favor, the field was trying to become more medically oriented and empirically based. Fresh from Freudian training himself, Dr. Szasz saw psychiatry’s medical foundation as shaky at best, and his book hammered away, placing the discipline “in the company of alchemy and astrology.” The book became a sensation in mental health circles, as well as a bible for those who felt misused by the mental health system.

Dr. Szasz argued against coercive treatments, like involuntary confinement, and the use of psychiatric diagnoses in the courts, calling both practices unscientific and unethical. He was soon placed in the company of other prominent critics of psychiatry, including the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman and the French philosopher Michel Foucault

Edward Shorter, the author of “A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac” [1997], called Dr. Szasz “the biggest of the antipsychiatry intellectuals.”  “Together,” he added, “they tried their hardest to keep people away from psychiatric treatment on the grounds that if patients did not have actual brain disease, their only real difficulties were ‘problems in living.’ ” This attack had some merit in the 1950s, Dr. Shorter said, but not later on, when the field began developing more scientific approaches. [Note MM]

To those skeptical of modern psychiatry, however, Dr. Szasz was a foundational figure…

I have repeatedly referred to 1boringoldman, who in fact is a psychiatrist in his seventies, who - a bit strangely, in my eyes - started out as an internist, and seems a sensible man who wrote very interestingly about the DSM-5 (my own 100 Nederlogs about it are listed and linked here and are summarized in DSM-5: Medicine is a very sicj business in the USA and as an explicit hypothesis with excellent support in DSM-5: Medicine is a very sicj business in the USA - 2) but this time I found his own reaction a bit disappointing.

First, here are my own views of Szasz, in the form of a long review of the Wikipedia item on him, as it was in March of this year, when I wrote it: DSM-5: DSM-5: Thomas Szasz's ideas about psychiatry and that still seems to me adequate and fair, as seen from my point of view as a philosopher of science and a psychologist with M.E.

Next, about 1boringoldman's comments on the above items, dated September 15 2012:

He writes 5 paragraphs, of which 4 are not about dr. Szasz but about dr. Mickey's (as 1boringoldman signs himself) own experiences with a colleague of him who was somewhat of a follower of Szasz.

That does not seem to me to be a fair review of the work or person of Szasz himself: You can't judge a man by his followers. Or you can, but not fairly.

Here is most of dr. Mickey's one paragraph about dr. Szasz, again minus his experiences with his colleague, indented, in several parts that follow, and with my comments not indented:

(..) I got curious and read some Szasz – the Myth of Mental Illness and something else. It seemed monotonous. I decided that Szasz was more ideologue than psychiatrist. Something of an Ayn Rand like figure. Someone to read and think about, but nothing more.

I have meanwhile found my own copy of the Myth of  Mental Illness, with my marginal notes and underlinings, and found that I disagreed with more than I had remembered, but that's an aside.

That it's "monotonous" is hardly clear - in which way? - but indeed Szasz is unrelentingly critical of psychiatry, and if one does want to make points about style, a fair point is that he wrote a much better and much clearer prose than almost all psychiatrists I have read, and that this seems to be so because he had a clearer mind than almost all psychiatrists that I read.

Next, "that Szasz was more ideologue than psychiatrist" is not quite fair for at least three reasons:

First, he had the degree; he had a practice, in his own way, for he was not against psychiatry as such, but only as practised in his time by most of his colleagues; and he was a professor in it.

Second, that he wrote to an extent like an "ideologue" may be true, but then that is so because many psychiatrists do, especially when addressing the general public.

Third, that dr. Mickey takes him to be "Something of an Ayn Rand like figure" also does not seem quite fair to me, but here I have the setback of being a European, who never has been in the U.S.

I'll explain, for I find this somewhat puzzling and somewhat interesting:

My being European enters because Szasz was a libertarian (<- Wkipedia), which to me is a rather quaint, typically American, if I may say so, type of political philosophy, that I find difficult to make sense of and judge, in part because it is a label that covers quite a few of quite diverse thinkers, of whom Ayn Rand indeed is one, while many so called libertarians  have quite diverse stances, backgrounds and also orientations, that seem to be specificially related to conditions that are specific to the U.S., that I do not know well.

As it happens, I am myself a liberal, but not in any modern sense, nor indeed as that term is understood in the U.S., where it tends to be used rather differently than it is in Europe: What is called "liberal" in the U.S. tends to be left or far left off centre; what is said to be "liberal" in Europe tends to be centrist or right off centre.

Then again, the sense I use it in is mostly associated with political thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Alexis De Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, Jacob Burckhardt, Gaetano Mosca, James Burnham, George Orwell and Jacob Talmon - some of whom are often called "conservatives"

I do not know in what sense Szasz was "a libertarian", but I find it hard to believe he saw anything of value in Ayn Rand, whom I read in the early 1970ies because some American friends I had recommended her, and whom I found to be an awful writer, and a very boring, very trivial "philosopher", who seemed not a bit mad to me: A posturer, of the more fanatic kind, not even redeemed by a good literary style, for hers was wooden, bombastic, vaguely grandiose, and ugly, like "Dallas" in prose.

It is possible Szasz liked Rand (I don't know), but if he did, it must have been because he did not know better: Gaetano Mosca or James Burnham or Friedrich Hayek should have served his purpose much better.

To turn back to dr. Mickey:

The flagrantly psychotic people brought to the Grady Emergency Room should either be left alone to be free, or held responsible for their actions. If a crime were committed, Mental Illness was not a mitigating factor.

As it happens, I agree with this: One of my disagreements with dr. Szasz is that I do think some people really get mad, and that such people do merit help, and that society also does sometimes need protection. Then again, almost all psychiatry I read seems pretentious nonsense to me, though indeed this does not mean psychiatry is impossible to practice:

All that is necessary to help people who are mad, or are unhappy, afraid, nervous, in problems, are intelligence, common sense, benevolence, and a good grasp of what is possible in the situation in which they live, and perhaps also some medicines like tranquillizers or sleeping pills.

More by dr. Mickey:

I think Dr. Szasz made me think more deeply about the commitment laws, testamentary capacity, criminal responsibility, the arrogance of some psychiatrists,  but I found his view of human beings as living in a world of voluntary choices an untenable way of looking at the desperately ill people I was learning about in that period of my training, and later.

That again seems fair enough - though I also agree with dr. Szasz that many more people have been forcibly committed to asylums than is necessary or than is moral or is legally justifiable, and that quite often (see the last link, to a book by Ervin Goffman, who was one of the few great sociologists, like Gaetano Mosca, Max Weber, and C. Wright Mills) those who are in asylums have been sorely mistreated.

Also, there is another problem with what dr. Mickey writes, and indeed what psychiatrists practice:

If human beings do inhabit what is effectively "a world of voluntary choices", as I think they do, for I am not a determinist, the fact of the matter is that people who are committed against their will to an asylum - and see also the Rosenhan experiment - are divested from a human right by the will of a psychiatrist, at least often, and indeed also legally by some judge acting on their advice.

What Szasz, and Goffman and Rosenhan (resp. a psychiatrist, a sociologist and a psychologist) argued is that this is, at the very least, very questionable, and open to much abuse, especially since, as Szasz argued in many books, I think mostly correctly, much of psychiatry is pseudoscience and/or bullshit, even if the psychiatrists may mean well - which I myself tend to doubt, e.g. in view of the Rosenhan experiment and also in view of the fact that history provides little evidence of a prevalence of honest, moral and intelligent men:

If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work reprobate."
--  William Hazlitt

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that this is not true of most psychiatrists, and much evidence it is - which is a  major problem for anyone dealing with them or dependent on them as a patient.

To be fair: I do not deny there are psychiatrists who mean well and do well, but if they do it is not because of such psychiatric texts as I have read (with the - partial - exception of Silvano Arieti, ca. 1970 dean of the American Psychiatric Association, but not one who had a large following or who founded a school of thought).

Here is the last quotation of dr. Mickey on dr. Szasz:

As time passed, I saw some videos of him speaking. He filled any room he entered. He was an impish, quick-witted, charismatic contrarian. I bet he never lost an argument. He took on psychoanalysts, behaviorists, psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists, legal scholars, and sometimes mental patients with equal relish. We were all off the mark.

Again this does not seem quite fair to me, though I also can understand why a psychiatrist - after all, one of a group of professional persons much opposed by this "impish, quick-witted, charismatic contrarian" - would write this.

But then again, in all fairness and agreeing omnis comparatio claudicat:

Isn't it true that most reactions of - the class of more intelligent - church men to Voltaire or Russell were similar? As was Malcolm Muggeridge's reaction to Monty Python's Life of Brian?

Besides, while I do myself disagree with some of Szasz's ideas, he clearly was a very courageous and very smart man, who had by far the best side of most of the arguments he got into, and who also found himself, probably against his wishes, forced into the position of a "contrarian" - a position that people  like him soon risk being put in an asylum for, namely by dr. Mickey's professional brothers and sisters, on the DSM-5 diagnosis of suffering from
something these postmodern priests of the medical inquisition called  "Oppositional Defiant Disorder" in their manual to be.

I quote Reuters from February 9, 2012, from Suzy Chapman's excellent site on the DSM-5 (my bolding):

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Millions of healthy people - including shy or defiant children, grieving relatives and people with fetishes - may be wrongly labelled mentally ill by a new international diagnostic manual, specialists said on Thursday.

In a damning analysis of an upcoming revision of the influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health experts said its new categories and "tick-box" diagnosis systems were at best "silly" and at worst "worrying and dangerous".

Some diagnoses - for conditions like "oppositional defiant disorder" and "apathy syndrome" - risk devaluing the seriousness of mental illness and medicalising behaviours most people would consider normal or just mildly eccentric, the experts said.

Note also how cleverly the designers of the postmodern Malleus Maleficarum have taken care they can damn you if you do ("oppositional defiant disorde") and also damn you if you don't ("apathy syndrome").

Indeed that item seems par for the course of the whole DSM-5 manual, that also is designed, on purpose  (by the subterfuge of so called "multidimensional analysis") to allow the psychiatric postmodern inquisitioner to decide personally just how much is "too much" and how much is "too little", also if you are caring for a sick child: Your kind shrink shall decide whether you care too much or care too little, in the name of a science that in fact is pseudoscience.

The summary of my own writings about that horrific DSM-5 manual is here, and that ends thus:

I think I have made a very good case that something very sick is happening with US medicine and US psychiatry:

I think it very likely that the folks behind GlaxoSmithhKline and other big pharmaceutical corporations, working in tandem with such conscientious do-gooders as Drs Regier, Creed and Sharpe of the DSM-5, have redesigned the DSM-5 to get as much good out of it as they possibly can, namely by selling the US and world population each year billions of dollars worth of dangerous drugs the patients don't need, but the doctors have prescribed because doing so profits the doctors a lot, while the DSM-5 has been designed to allow psychiatrists to diagnose anything as psychiatric, and get away with, because only they pretend to be capable of understanding the intentionally fraudulent rot that is the DSM-5.

In the US, medicine has been redesigned, by corrupt and dishonest medical doctors themselves, from a moral practice intended to help ill people, to a fraudulent practice with the end of enriching medical doctors and pharmaceutical managers by medical fraud on a scale the world has never seen before.

And in the case of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 the whole diagnostic manual has been intentionally designed so as to make the fraudulent sales of useless, expensive and dangerous drugs as extensive and profitable as possible, and so as to cover this up by carefully crafted pseudoscience, designed to defraud patients or their insurances while not being found out.

It is morally disgusting, it is fraudulent, it is bullshit, it is pseudoscience, but it pays really well, and therefore it exists and will continue to exist so long as medical doctors are allowed to profit from the drugs or therapies they prescribe to patients, and as long as pharmaceutical companies are allowed to massage doctors with "deep massages", "pheasant hunting", and what not, so as to corrupt them.

Therefore I am sad Dr. Thomas Szasz died, though he reached what occasionally is called "a blessed age", namely of 92, also till the last mentally sharp (unlike my mother, who was born the day before he was born, but died at 76 from Alzheimer's, in which condition old age is far from blessed).


Note MM: Let me contradict Dr Shorter, also with reference to my DSM-5: Medicine is a very sick business in the USA - 2.

What he says

This attack had some merit in the 1950s, Dr. Shorter said, but not later on, when the field began developing more scientific approaches.

is just not so:

What happened in fact was even less scientific, because from the DSM-III onwards all foundation on any kind of theory was intentionally given up, and replaced by a system of ad hoc diagnostic labeling, that then post hoc got "supported" with any kind of "evidence" that might seem to support it, while pooh-poohing all the rest, or simply not mentioining it at all.

It was as if first the myth and the diagnoses were developed, indeed in committees, with votes, and after that the "evidence" was found and tailored to make it appear as if it were respectable medical science, of course all served to the reader in a sauce of medicalese terminology hardly any layman can see through.

It was intentionally designed to be irrefutable in principle, or only by committees of psychiatrists themselves, namely on the ground that only they were able to judge their own subject.

In fact, it was the replacement of refuted s pseudoscience by a system of bullshit intentionally designed to be unfalsifiable and very hard to see through, which was sold by the practice of public relations, indeed as the American Psychiatric Association is doing right now with the DSM-5.

When dr Shorter says

"the field began developing more scientific approaches"

what he should have said is

"since then we have found far more effective public relations and weasel words  and impressively worded  bullshit to sell expensive, dangerous or ineffective drugs to the public: We prosper like never before, thank you kindly. How come? We have taken counsel from that great nephew of our great fraudulent founder Fraud - pardon the lapsus - Freud, namely the even greater genius Edward Bernays. What we now are doing is this, and I quote from our new Bible:"

THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the
organized habits and opinions of the masses is an
important element in democratic society. Those who
manipulate this unseen mechanism of society consti-
tute an invisible government which is the true ruling
power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our
tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men
we have never heard of. This is a logical result of
the way in which our democratic society is organized.
Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in
this manner if they are to live together as a smooth-
ly functioning society.

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, un-
aware of the identity of their fellow members in the
inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leader-
ship, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their
key position in the social structure. Whatever atti-
tude one chooses to take toward this condition, it
remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily
lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business,
in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are
dominated by the relatively small number of per-
sons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty
million—who understand the mental processes and
social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the
wires which control the public mind, who harness old
social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide
the world.

Edward Bernays, opening paragraphs of
"Propaganda" (1st published in 1928) since
renamed "Publish Relations

That is what modern psychiatry has become in the hands of the American Psychiatric Association: A propaganda tool to sell drugs to the public in the name of science.

Here is a link to Edward Bernays' book Propaganda on my site



Appendix Added later in the day of September 16, 2012:

All very revealing, and very interesting:

Edward Bernays on Propaganda and Public Relations

Glenn Beck revealing both Bernays and himself:

Don't miss it and don't underestimate Beck nor Bernays: He knows what he is doing and he learned it from Bernays, and Bernays approach works, and will work until the average IQ is 150 rather than 100:

Glenn Beck 1: Youtube
Glenn Beck 2: Youtube

Probably the best summary:

And finally here is The Man who made women smoke; people breakfast on bacon and eggs; politicians behave as if they were ordinary men; whose book Propaganda is the probable secret weapon of the leaders American Psychiatric Association and the DSM-5, and who himself had Sigmund Freud as his uncle and partner/adviser:

Bernays andd indeed Freud were very intelligent men, and while Bernays is making ironical fun, he and his uncle were fundamenally abusing their intelligence to defraud anyone they could manipulate - and Bernays was not at all above cynically admitting it, as if in jest, because - I think, like his uncle - he despised those he could con.

( CheekySmile Enjoy! It's just the thing for YOU! Yes YOU! ( CheekySmile )


Maarten Maartensz

P.S. My eye problems

                  PS: Any necessary corrections have to be made later.