September 17, 2012

DSM-5 & psychiatry | Ubuntu | eye problems | Carlin and voting


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.

DSM-5 & psychiatry | Ubuntu | eye problems | Carlin and voting


1. DSM-5: Why psychiatry is mostly bullshit
3. My eyes and the computer
4. Nice bit of George Carlin

1. DSM-5: Why psychiatry is mostly bullshit

This is a small supplement to yesterday's piece about dr. Thomas Szasz, who died last week. I wrote yesterday:

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.

This means that most anyone can help others with - let's say - psychological problems: it  does not need a professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, priest, medical doctor) to help another human being.

The reasons - not necessarily good or fair - to appeal to professoionals are mostly four: (1) the problems are considerable or difficult to solve or (2) the person is or seems dangerous to others or (3) there is some need for medication or (4) there may be a fashion "to go into therapy", as there seems to have been in the 1970ies in the US, when therapists (of very many kinds) got part of the role priests or clergy had in earlier times: Someome who gave advice on how to deal with various problems of life, and was supposed to have some special qualification to do so.

Now while it seems to me that most psychiatry and psychology is pseudoscience, which many of its professional practitioners may not really know, just as many priests are true believers in a faith most men don't have and are prone to reject as nonsense or a matter of faith at best, or is bulllshit, which means they (more than not) know it but practice anyway for pay, this does not make psychotherapy necessarily a bad thing. Whatever its qualities and whatever the real motives of its practioners, those who partake of it may feel helped by it, and indeed also may be helped by it, if only because they can discuss their problems with someone who seems to care, and who gives them advice, social assistance, guidance or perhaps medicines that they find helpful, and that indeed also may be helpful.

All that is quite consistent wihat I said above: While many psychotherapists - to settle for a term meant to cover psychiatrists, psychologists, priests, social workers and counsellors, who provide some kind of psychological or social help professionally, for pay - have some form of training, quite often, as indeed with psychiatrists and psychologists, for a long time and in a university, what they do could usually be done just as well by persons who are not trained.

The point I want to make in the present section is that especially psychiatrists and psychologists, who are, in terms of years and level of education the highest trained a,ong the psychotherapists, and who tend to pretend that they have a level of expertise, knowledge and insight that ordinary people - "layman" - lack, are almost all of them bulllshitting if not deluded (or indeed both).

Here are some of my reasons - and as it happens my academic degrees are in philosophy and psychology, so indeed I am not speaking in ignorance:

NONE of the psychotherapeutical professionals, and NONE of the psychiatrists is able to give anything like rational, empirically supported, scientific answers to the following questions (and there are quite a few more that are relevant that they rarely can answer, about epistemology, statistics, probability, logic and science, for example, but these are too technical to consider here and now):

(1) What is a human personality, a human self, a human character?
(2) What is consciousness, and why do we have it?
(3) How does the brain generate commonsense experiences?
(4) Do we all experience similar things in similar circumstances?
(5) What is meaning and why and how can we communicate with language?

ALL of the psychotherapeutical professionals, and ALL of the psychiatrists presuppose SOME sort of answers to ALL of these questions, indeed like anyone else who can function in a human society without creating major problems for others - but ALL of the professionals mentioned bullshit you or delude themselves if they pretend to be able to answer these questions, other than by what is mostly faith or illusion, if indeed not intentional bullshit meant to make you pay.

And if indeed any of the psychotherapeutical professionals or psychiatrists do help their clients or patients, as indeed does happen, this is emphatically not because of the great amounts of rational knowledge they have, for this is not the case, but because they have some intuitive gift, possibly developed through a lot of experience, of helping others with psychological problems.

In sum: All of psychiatry, as a claimed body of rational science, is mostly pseudoscientific bulllshit, and cannot be anything else until there is much more knowledge of how the human brain generates human experience, personalities, selfs or the delusion thereof, predictable characters, consciousness, common sense experience that allows one to function socially, and the abilities to communicate with language and to perceive meanings in many kinds of things and situations.

Finally, as to dr. Thomas Szasz: I found a book yesterday that - from a first glance - seems quite interesting. It is by a Dutchman I don't know anything about, and you can download the whole book in a good pdf or word file from his sise in the link:

The Politics of Mental Illness:

Myth and Power in the Work of Thomas S. Szasz


Jan Pols, M.D., Ph.D.

As I said, I have only read a little in it, but it seems an interesting and well written study  by a Dutch psychiatrist who also met Szasz personally and who seriously discusses his views and seems to do so sensibly.

I provide the link because it may be of help, and because I am not a dogmatist.

2. GNU/Linux-Ubuntu

I am still on GNU/Linux-Ubuntu - as I think the best name is, if one wants to give fair credits - and stiil like it a lot, and indeed it also helped me with my present eye problems in at least three major ways:

(1) Ubuntu as an option in the System Settings, called "High Contrast Inverse", that allows me to have black backgrounds with white lettering, instead of the other way around: Very pleasant for my eyes, such as they presently are.
(2) Firefox in Ubuntu has an option in the Edit - Preferences - Content section to set the backgrounds and texts to various colours, and also to override the backgrounds if these are images. Also, there is another nice option I wasn't aware of: You probably know, as I did - and this is very helpful anyway, unless youi are blind - that with a mouse with a scroll wheel Ctrl+scrollwheel increases or decreases the size of what is shown  in the browser. Well, in Firefox (in Ubuntu) there is an option View - Zoom - Zoom Text Only, which is usually what I want, while also it can be all done with just the keyboard: Ctrl++, Ctrl+- for larger and smaller and Ctrl+0 for reset to the original size. VERY handy!
(3) The pdf-reader in Ubuntu aka Document Viewer has the option - in View or simply by Ctrl-i to invert the colours.

All of this is very helpful for me in my present condition.

Incidentally: It makes some things on the internet more difficult or indeed impossible to view, and the "High Contrast Inverse" is not without glitches (the Unity icons don't all display, for example, e.g. those for the file explorer - Nautilus - and indeed for System Settings and Trash don't).

But I couldn't use the computer for more than a few minutes at the time without these options, so I am quite pleased and relieved that I  could tweak all this.

And indeed GNU/Linux Ubuntu is a lot nicer, more pleasant, easier to use than MS Windows, besides being a lot safer, and having very much better help.

While I am at it: Here are four programs I like a lot that you should  check out if  you can  - and the first two also are available for MS Windows:

  • Libre Office: This is a great totally free extremely well-designed competitor of the totally unfree quite ill-designed MS Office misery. It also a lot better designed that Open Office. I think Libre Office alone should make it financially and productively worthwile for almost any business to switch to GNU/Linux Ubuntu: It saves heaps of money, being totally free and it is far easier and more pleasant to use than amything else I have seen of this kind, which is quite a lot, over the last 18 years.
  • Qt Creator: This is an amazing programming suite, developed in Finland by the programmers of Nokia, but completely free and open source. It is based on C++ but a lot more pleasant to use than that. If you like programming you really should look into this!
  • Backup:  This the backup program that comes with Ubuntu, and I found it very helpful indeed. It has saved me a lot of bother: It works well, it restores properly, and all you need is an extra external hard disk (to have your own setup and  data and work available also if the computer crashes, which happened several times to me, and has cost me a lot of data and work before I had the present setup).
  • Recoll: This is a fine Indexing & Search program, that I found better and more pleasant than what's available on Windows (that anyway didn't work on my Windows XP Pro computer, and couldn't be restored either).

3. My eyes and the computer

I had 2 1/2 better days, but today is  a bit worse again: I don't have much pain in my eyes, but I do get an itchiness in my head or on my scalp, that I also have had for months, in conjunction with sore eyes, that may have positively responded to Duratears: I definitely have less sore eyes.

That is a great step forward, but the itchiness, while not really painful - it is like the feeling one has when one's hand is asleep - is unpleasant, and indeed my vision also gets shimmering and more faint when I continue looking at a screen.

So...two steps forward, one step back. Cogent rational explanations I have not, but I have meanwhile been able to read the Wikipidia on my afflictions, and it is quite possible, it has been found, that symptoms increase or decrease, indeed without known cause, for the Sjoegren's Syndrome again is a mad psychiatrist's dream: No known etiology, hence fit to be appropriated under the aegis of the DSM-5, to enrich psychiatrists.

Then again, I don't know whether this has happened yet, and in my case it does seem that so far Duratears have contributed to considerably less pain in my eyes, which is a great relief.

4. Nice bit of George Carlin

Having written a nice bit about the Dutch elections in Dutch - a language I have mostly avoided since January 2010 - I just remembered a nice bit of George Carlin on the same topic, briefly before he died:

There will be elections soon in the United states, and I admit that personally I think Romney will very probably be considerably worse than Obama, but then I found Obama very disappointing as well.

I won't counsel you what to do with your vote if you are American. Being Dutch, the last time I voted was in 1971, because I legally was forced to do so, and for the sort reasons Carlin explained in 2008:

There was no one to vote for with any real intelligence, indiviidual courage, honesty or proven morality - all were obviously careerists of very minor talents and little civilization, who evidently were in it for personal advancement and not for what they publicly pretended.

Incidentally... one of the more devious or clever careerists in the UvA.,  prof.dr. Han van der Maas, told me repeatedly that his father was "just like your father" a Man Of The Resistance, namely because his father was a leftist activist in the 1960ies - in Dutch: "Mijn vader zat ook in het verzet" - which I led pass at the tiime because I found it contemptible, and after that told me three times in succession when I tried to talk to him, quite politely, as I usually do, and indeed better than he ever could, about Dutch politics, that "you may not talk with us, because you do not vote" - "Jij mag niet meepraten, want jij stemt niet".

I haven't spoken to him since, some 12 years ago. It's this kind, not mine, that make careers in Dutch universities, namely - one may assume - ever since his heroic father helped destroy them, for this started in the 1960ies, indeed perhaps not directly by the heroic Van der Maas sr. (I never asked what heroic acts he is supposed to have done)  but by the generation of folks who where then between 20 and 50.

Then again, there is an excuse, in a way: My guess is that the difference in IQ between Carlin and Van der Maas - and indeed most professors I have spoken in the UvA - is 30-50 points. Also, Carlin was an original, a real individual and a man of real courage, and the vast majority is not, not out of choice, but out lack of abilities.

And let me explain that point - and what it facilitates - as well, with a nice bit of satire from a book that, alas, is not by far as well known as it should be, for which reason I have repeatedly quoted the following bit from it on my site:

"What are we, then, at present?"
"We find that at present the human race is divided politically into one wise man, nine knaves and ninety fools out of every hundred. That is, by an optimistic observer. The nine knaves assemble themselves under the banner of the most knavish among them, and become 'politicians': the wise man stands out, because he knows himself to be hopelessly outnumbered, and devotes himself to poetry, mathematics or philosophy; while the ninety fools plod off behind the banners of the nine villains, according to fancy, into the labyrinths of chicanery, malice and warfare. It is pleasant to have command, observed Sancho Panza, even over a flock of sheep, and that is why politicians raise their banners. It is, moreover, the same thing for the sheep, whatever the banner. If it is democracy, then the nine knaves will become members of parliament; if fascism will become party leaders; if communism, commissars. Nothing will be different, except the name. The fools will still be fools, the knaves still leaders, the result still exploitation. As for the wise man, his lot will be much the same under any ideology. Under democracy he will be encouraged to starve to death in a garret, under fascism he will be put in a concentration camp, under communism he will be liquidated. This is an optimistic but on the whole scientific statement(...)"

T.H. White, : "The Book of Merlyn", p. 50-1)

At least 99 out of a 100 Dutchmen will assure me that "you have No Resptect", "you must be something like a fascist", "you are elitarian!" - I only quote what I was regaled with, in the University of Amsterdam, indeed by folks all much less intelligent than I am - but then all of them believed that in Holland all geniuses are called Cruyff, and everybody else is of exactly the same value,  apart from soccer, which is where all Dutch geniuses work and play.

Here it is, kindly, clearly and in excellent Dutch, explained to Dutchies:  Over gelijkheid en gelijkwaardigheid which translates as "On equality and equivalence", the problem being that at least 99 out of a 100 Dutchmen systematically confuse the two concepts 'equal rights' and 'equality', while  the Dutch also ove to confuse "equality" again with "equivalence" aka "being of equal value".

Thus, from ca. 1970 till 2002 or so almost all Dutchmen pretended to anyone who would listen that "all human beings are equivalent". During the same years, almost all students I asked insisted - as they also had learned at school - that "intelligence is a choice": To say it was innate was "fascistic" (because "all human beings are equivalent") - in Holland one was supposed to choose to be intelligent, as one could choose to wear make-up or a red shirt, or choose soccer rather than hockey.

I have asked some 30 students - mostly of philosophy opr psychology - in the 1980ies in the University of Amsterdam why they or their parents had not done what Isaac Newton did. Answer: Because they found other things more interesting. (And then they often called me "arrogant", because I indeed do not suffer all fools equally gladly all of the time!)

At the time I asked, the average IQ of students in the University of Amsterdam was ... 115. Since then it must be even lower, but most Dutchmen believe this is not a problem but an advance, in democracy and equal rights.

Then again, the times they are a'changing, and these days many Dutchmen believe that if you don't have a proper Dutch famiiy name, with descendants from parents and grandparents with proper Dutch family names, you are hardly human, and may as well be stoned, in your own best interests of course.

And "so it goes..."



Maarten Maartensz

P.S. My eye problems

                  PS: Any necessary corrections have to be made later.