Friday, 29 April 2016

Insanity is not subtle - if you need to explain it, there is no point in explaining it

I spent a year in the 1980s working as a psychiatrist participating in the admissions rota where I would cover all the medical work necessary in a large hospital overnight or at weekends.

Quite a few of the patients were brought in by the police, by ordinary police officers - who had been called to some incident and recognized that the person involved was 'mad not bad', and so brought them in for psychiatric evaluation instead of putting them into the cells.

The police were never wrong, in my experience. The people they brought in were always crazy - it was just a matter of sorting out what kind of crazy. In other words, an ordinary policeman was able to tell when somebody was insane - it was a matter of common sense (plus relevant experience).

But now? Craziness is built-in, high status, a marker of 'goodness' - increasingly compulsory.

It is hopeless to try and explain why crazy things are crazy - if they really are crazy, then everyone knows. But apparently everyone does not know - there is a bland acceptance of the insanities of political correctness which means that we are in the position of trying to explain, argue, prove that something obviously crazy really is insane...

Of course, this is characteristic of dealing with insane people - they have no insight. That is the nature of insanity - akin to nightmares in which we accept whatever extreme craziness and illogic the dream brings, after a the merest brief twinge of puzzlement. 

Indeed, such is the extremity of the situation, that the insane people label normality as crazy. And here is a clue....

The situation has arisen and continues because in the modern West normal people are impaired. They are indeed so impaired that they cannot do what every policeman used to be able to do - which is to recognize crazy.

What is the cause of modern impairment? Well, I have argued two main causes on this blog: genetic damage - population wide mutation accumulation over the past several generations (i.e. the posts labelled 'mouse utopia'). That means that nearly everybody is ill, and lacks spontaneous instincts which used to be taken for granted. People accept insanity because they are too sick to notice or be bothered.

On top of this is secularism: the atheist assumptions of all significant public discourse in the West: the assumption that there is no God, no soul, no afterlife, no supersensible realm - no transcendental purpose, no objective universal meaning to life... and the rest of it.

The developed world is itself insane because it has deleted religion; and Man without religion is insane.

Religion (of some kind) is natural, spontaneous, built-in. All societies everywhere have always been religious (a tiny minority of atheists make no difference) - life without religion is new, uncharted territory for humans. But now a whole public world and discourse of religious understandings, interpretations, explanations - religiously framed laws - religious reasons for significant actions of the state and of individuals etc... utterly gone.

The insanity of Man without religion was not immediately obvious, because the generations overlapped, and for many decades people were brought-up on a religious basis, and only abandoned religion in adulthood. But there was a tipping point evident in the mid-1960s, and now for fifty years (two generations) the West has been ever-more-completely functionally atheist (especially considering that most mainstream self-identified Christians have such a feeble faith that it makes zero observable difference in any way; not even to the litmus test issues of sexuality).

My overall impression is that although Modern Man is genetically impaired such that his instincts are weakened and deranged; even this is not sufficient to make him lose his basic orientation and discernment when religion is strong.

A strong religious society is, substantially, antidote to the behavioural impairments of mouse utopia.

This can be seen in the most profound marker of modern decline: the sub-replacement fertility universal in the entire developed world (less than two children per average women, usually much less when new immigrants are excluded) - this is (obviously!) a short path to irreversible decline and extinction.

Yet serious religion is indeed an effective antidote to sub-fertility - even among the very craziest sub-populations (i.e. the intellectual elites).

So - when confronted by the normal everyday experience of trying to explain to insane people why something insane really is insane... take a step back. Remember that it is the basic metaphysical framework which is wrong - it is the deletion of religion from life which is crucial.

Man must have religion and there is no arguing with 'must'.

Legitimate and constructive discussion is merely concerned with the choice of which religion.


AdamW said...

Some observations from personal experience:
- I find many 'atheists' have a religion of sorts, which essentially revolves around the idolisation of money - though they don't realise it. The religious impulse is innate, but has been subverted. 'The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands... they that make them are like unto them'.
- Many self-identified 'humanists' have an approach to life which aligns well with Gospel teaching.
- The money-insanity often comes with a position of 'authority' in business. Employees can then be torn between rationalising the insanity, or persecution. I think it's fairly obvious what Christ teaches here - though this is the narrow Way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AdamW - Nearly everybody in The West is an atheist nowadays - functionally - including almost all self-identified Christians.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AM - I don't publish crude language, I won't publish your comment. But anyway, your comment makes no logical sense - if you believed what you claim, you would not be commenting. Indeed, you would not be alive.

Think about it: I mean *really* think about it.

William Wildblood said...

This is very interesting to me because over the course of my life (60 years) I have noticed how ordinary people, who used to have sound instincts based on common sense, no longer do. They have become, as you say, in some sense mad. Not so that they can’t function but so that they can’t see straight. And the reason is, fairly obviously, because a sense of the transcendent, in other words religion, has been lost. It used to be that even non-religious people still thought in terms influenced by a religious worldview but that has not been the case for 40 years or more. We have spent the interest gained from the religious capital of our forefathers and are now spiritually bankrupt. Result - the insanity that necessarily follows from living in a world without meaning.

PassingCommenter said...

Bruce I'm a practicing psychotherapist and I have been having problems helping my patients since I became a reactionary. Most of my education has been revealed to me as ideological propaganda and I honestly cannot continue using it in good conscience knowing how ineffective it truly is. My question to you is what do I do? How do I actually help my patients? Is there a manual out there that isn't based on leftist lies?

Bruce Charlton said...

@PC - Peraps commenter David might chip-in - since he has been grappling with similar problems?

David Balfour said...

@ passing commentator - As someone who is also a practicing 'psychotherapist' this is something that I can also really relate to very deeply. The modern discourse is one of 'ideological propaganda' as you say, ironically it is not even welcomed to have a genuine open discussion about exactly this within the psychotherapy field, despite the shared cultural assumption that free speech is a highly valued freedom and even a moral obligation by democratic societies. My feeling is that it is a good sign that you have noticed what you have noticed and that is valid and should be acknowledged and used as leverage for further progress.

I am also now of the opinion (despite internal resistance to this - after all who would want to acknowledge that what they do professionally is fraught with false assumptions or is incorrect in major respects?! A painful admission perhaps) that what actually works in psychotherapy are the 'common factors' or pure bedside manners that worked equally well (actually that's not true, it worked even better because it was often underpinned by a religious faith in the practicing person) for Florence Nightingale or Mother Theresa or any good practising nurse or doctor. It is empathy, compassion and a genuine connection with another human being who is suffering with an illness of any sort that *can* make a subjective difference to them and make them feel understood and valued. Even then it might not work depending on the person 'treated' (I don't actually like this archaic medicalization in this context because it's not treatment it's just love). I am no longer impressed by CBT research journals and getting lost in heady intellectualism about psychotherapy. It has some role to play, perhaps, but to place an emphasis on the quantitative at the expense of the qualitative is to deny the full reality of the 'patients' spiritual situation subtly or overtly. Interestingly, in my admittedly limited experience of being a therapist (5 years) I have observed that patients are typically atheists or secular. Presumably the other religious folk, correctly, seek and gain support from a religious pastor, priest, guru or other source of overtly *spiritual* support. In a way the modern psychotherapist seems like a professional clergy administering to the needs of a secular congregation. In times past we had medicine men or witch doctors to meet the needs of the tribe or clan or community and now we have psychotherapy to fill that *need.* Nothing wrong with that per se but when the ideology on which the psychotherapist practices is incorrect it can be more harmful to the patient than good in many instances. Just my opinion of course.

Wrt to manuals my feeling is that they are a trap and that life cannot be lived by a manual except as a guide to decision making or deepening an understanding to broad brush approaches to apply principles such as using empathy, intuition, etc. as tools. The problem with modern psychotherapy over counselling, say, is exactly that there is an insistence on standardisation of manualised empirical approaches (do this now, say this then, smile and use *empathy* when they say the other cue, etc. It sounds mad and it is but that is the modern training I experienced) that kills spontaneous human interaction and the aliveness of human communication and renders it a cold dead machination. If I imagine Mother Theresa using CBT I don't get very far and cannot treat the idea very seriously. If she didn't need it why should we?

David Balfour said...

"My question to you is what do I do? How do I actually help my patients? Is there a manual out there that isn't based on leftist lies?"

I forgot to reply to this bit. I would say don't get too hung up on method instead focus on being kind, humble, a genuine listener, use humour appropriately and tactfully and try and imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes and respond with empathy and warmth but also be guarded at allowing this to become soft, wishy washy or pandering to the ego of the person who has come to discuss their problems. I would also say that if you are secular you are cut off from the source of the love you are trying to share with your patients and would encourage you to begin earnestly exploring religious and spiritual paths. We personally don't do anything for patients as psychotherapists except by being vessels for 'the great love' that comes from the divine. If we want to own the glory of helping others we lose it. Of course you may already be doing all of this anyway but this is my current perspective.

PassingCommenter said...

Thank you very much for your elaborate response, I agree on most points. My main objection the modern psychotherapy is how we, the therapists, are forced to find ways to help people cope with their dysfunctional lives/situations instead of helping them find ways out of them. A single mother comes to me with her “troubled son” who is on four different types of medication for non-existent diseases and It's no longer possible for me to tell her “he needs a father, and there is no way around that”, a gay man comes in with the usual issues, and I'm not allowed to help him get out of that life of misery, a couple come in and the woman has lost all respect and love for the man, but I can't get him to achieve the slightest bit of emotional independence without causing all his or his wife's mental alarms to go off.

I agree with you on CBT, as a matter of fact I have given up on all behaviorism because they concentrate only on relieving the symptoms and after seeing many failed cases I've come to believe that root causes are at least as important as the apparent symptoms in effective treatment.

I'm surprised to see you write so fondly about a friendly relationship with your patients, to be honest I have come to realize that it is best for the therapist to remain detached and keep his air of authority to get the best results, or maybe I'm justifying my personal preference for emotional detachment as a cold person.

I too have seen the trend you're talking about among the irreligious, they are more prone to mental disorders and are harder to treat, they seem to lack a reason to give their all to win the fight and to cure a troublesome soul you need everything you have.

But in the end we need a framework, and modern psychotherapy cannot agree on what's healthy and what's not, so we must find one of our own. Risking the chance of losing all credibility, what do you think of psychoanalysis? I have been studying the writings of Lacan, and I believe he was a "redpilled" man who chose the most obnoxious language imaginable to in a way hide the truth form the leftist reader of his works, if you are initiated, you can easily decipher most of the meaningless junk, but again I don't know how much clinical value does it have, I assume probably none, but at least it was invented by people who didn't believe gender is no real.

Bruce Charlton said...

@PC - I am on record here and there as saying that (as a generalization) professional psychotherapy is a 'phony profession' and overall does more harm than good. I think that applies more strongly to psychoanalysis than most psychotherapies - and Lacan in particular seems to have mean a manipulative psychopath and charlatan - so I would stay clear of him (that was also the eventual view, I believe, of a colleague - the author Dylan Evans - who trained in the Lacan school).

If you want to stay in therapy, your best bet might well be Jung, whose main idea was to discover a to make his patients lives unalienated and worth living - eg through creative activities. He had a broadly positive attitude to religions.

Perhaps Jung's greatest legacy is Alchoholics Anonymous and the 12 step programs - these really so seem to help some people change for the better; and of course they are explicitly religious.

But this may not solve the problem of making a living. You would have to succeed in elite private practice - a small and competitive market.

David Balfour said...

@PC - "I'm surprised to see you write so fondly about a friendly relationship with your patients, to be honest I have come to realize that it is best for the therapist to remain detached and keep his air of authority to get the best results, or maybe I'm justifying my personal preference for emotional detachment as a cold person." 

To clarify what I said in my earlier comment, I did not mean that it would be appropriate to treat patients as friends. Professional boundaries are of paramount in all health related fields but what I meant was that one can project the qualities of love that are important spiritually or perhaps more accurately if one is careful not to get in the way of love it can emanate from the person to the patient and bring a sincerity to an encounter with another human being that I find people respond to therapeutically but that could equally apply to an encounter with a stranger for a couple minutes at a bus stop or a simple smile to a passer - by. I do not mean romantic or certainly not eroticism love (another area where psychotherapy can fall afoul) but a non - attached love that is a recognition of the other person as a spirit child of God who is, even if they don't consciously know it, a cherished son or daughter of heavenly father and therefore a brother or sister to you and I. I find thinking of other people like this or by extension the intuitive connection I feel with other non - human sentient beings helps me frame an encounter with another person in a way that is most helpful for any conversation that might follow after that. Perhaps that sounds odd or slightly new age but I find now that this approach just wordlessly deepens my sense of connection with other souls, beings and nature without it being contrived. It is only when I am angry or being selfish or spiteful or fall into some other ego trap that I notice this connection is lost and sometimes when I allow my self to act through the wrong motivation then the mirror of life returns this error in kind with a negative outcome.

David Balfour said...

"I too have seen the trend you're talking about among the irreligious, they are more prone to mental disorders and are harder to treat, they seem to lack a reason to give their all to win the fight and to cure a troublesome soul you need everything you have."

It's actually worse than that because as you allude to in your examples the imposition of a secular schema on the practice of psychotherapy totally constrains the discourse and ties the helpers hands behind their backs.

If a promiscuous patient feels low self esteem after betraying what is a universal moral standard the psychotherapist can only really use Socratic questioning or non-judgemental approaches instead of telling the patient the actual truth ie that their behaviour is actually bad and harming their soul. Of course again does not exist for a secular world view.

Or if a patient sees life as meaningless and asks themselves "what's the point in it all?" (A valid question, logically following from a secular perspective) then a spiritual or religious psychotherapist cannot direct them to the truth without compromising the principle of non-judgementality, but the reality is, the answer to their question will never make sense from a secular perspective and would require a missionaries approach to inculcate and nurture a totally different explanatory schema. Again this would be considered a big no, no for a modern therapist to offer something actually therapeutic like this because modern psychotherapy sees religion as mad, bad or inappropriate or at best *just* a bolt - on of comforting thoughts and ideas to trick the Suicidal person into feeling better instead of it being an actual radical conversion or change in metaphysical assumptions that would enable the erroneous atheist or secular person to reconnect with the reality of God and the nourishing love that is attendant to such a conversion.

David Balfour said...

In conclusion, I only really realised all of this since becoming a Christian in about 2013 by which time the chain of cause and effect had firmly established me on the path of becoming a psychological therapist. Knowing what I know now this has compelled me to find another path and hopefully, God willing, retain as a nurse or doctor. But of course we still need to earn a living. Jesus loves us anyway even if we are tax collectors or prostitutes or whatever we do for a living BUT that doesn't mean that we should not respond to the insights we gain by seeking to align ourselves as well as our circumstances allow with a means of living that acknowledges the truth that we have perceived. So if that means psychotherapy is actually a dead end for the constraining ideological reasons you describe since becoming a reactionary, then perhaps the question 'how can I help my patients?' is best answered by a change in role (as I am finding) or a change in heart working around the inevitable constraints of practising psychotherapy in the conditions you are under. I suppose ultimately that must be a personal question of 'What level of compromise to your ideals are you prepared to live with in order to be true to yourself and practically make a living?'

Steve said...

Mr. Charlton, Thank you for a wonderful post and thank you David and PC for a wonderful exchange. It's not my bailiwick, but perhaps I need to adjust my rosy views on psychotherapy. Personally, I always rely on a trusted spiritual adviser. The truth of sin is painful but cathartic.