Monday 18 November 2019

Mental pathology - how to define it?

It seems useful to have some plausible definition of mental pathology - psychological pathology or psychopathology - to set against the pernicious inversions of mainstream culture.

Mental pathology is associated with a probable reduction in (proximately) survival and (ultimately) reproduction.

Reproduction is the key; because it is this which links medicine to biology, to the modern (post 1950s) understanding of biology as the science of entities that have been subject to natural selection.

So, in this objective sense, a mental pathology is not about what makes someone happier or more miserable; but about the effect of consequent behaviour on probable reproductive success. Does the phenomenon make that person more, or less, likely to conceive and successfully raise children?

This definition is particularly useful in clarifying the situation with human sexuality - where people get endlessly confused trying to predict what conceptualisation may optimise human happiness (in individuals or among groups); when the biological reality is crystal clear. 'Abnormal' is pathological when it reduces reproductive success.

The flip side is that a biologically valid treatment should restore or enhance probable reproductive success... Most obviouly by extending expected lifespan, but more fundamentally by making it more likely that a person will have children, and raise many biologically-viable children.

Interventions that - by contrast - reduce or obliterate reproduction (such as 'gender reassignment') are revealed as Not being treatments.

A softer, but useful, aspect of mental pathology is that it does not come as single isolated traits, but as clusters of several or many reproduction-damaging features.

There may well be some undiscovered unitary underlying 'lesion' that causes this variety of observable pathological symptoms and signs - such as a gene mutation, or a structural brain abnormality, or a chemical change somewhere - but such unitary causes nearly-always cause multiple adverse consequences; because organisms are made of linked and interdependent systems.

So, again with human sexuality as an example; when a sexual phenomenon is associated with increased rates of other pathologies e.g. other associated mental illnesses, increased rates of self-harm and suicide, increased annual death rates... then that behaviour is plausibly pathological, by normal medical and biological standards of evaluation.

Of course, modern Leftism operates by exclusion of normal medical/ biological criteria, by inducing and maintaining permanent confusion, and by imposing pseudo-solutions by massive propaganda and overwhelming coercive force.

Nonetheless, in this spiritual war we can know what's-really-what with mental disease, if we bear the above criteria in mind.


Lucinda said...

This is why the uni-sexualization of modern times (despite them calling it diversity) has been so disastrous. Healthy male reproductivity primarily consists of channeling sexual attention toward good potential mothers, which means women who are demanding for the sake of their children. They require paternal commitment above all. But the impetus for origination is primarily an aspect of male sexuality. When men sow wild oats, or abandon the mothers of their children, this psychologically damages their children and threatens their ability to survive and healthily reproduce. The iterative nature of the problem obscures the reality of the situation. Men have a harder time thinking generationally.

Meanwhile the generational aspects seem to be a primary concern for healthy female sexuality, biologically reflected in the occurance of menopause, a time biologically set aside for focusing on grandmothering. But just as male sexuality goes overboard in the direction of too much origination, availing themselves of cheap opportunities, female sexuality goes overboard in generational aspects, such as engaging in the kind of parenting sharing that aims to make for good pairings among the children because they have shared sub-conscious beliefs given to them by a domestic culture.

Healthily addressing these kinds of polar tensions has been completely overtaken by the desire to max out the two unhealthy extremes, maximizing origination in the least viable situations, while also parenting-sharing on a global scale so that mothers feel their child could successfully pair with any person on the planet.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

"So, in this objective sense, a mental pathology is not about what makes someone happier or more miserable; but about the effect of consequent behaviour on probable reproductive success. Does the phenomenon make that person more, or less, likely to conceive and successfully raise children?"

Wouldn't this definition make genius a mental pathology?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Yes it certainly would - by the 'selfish gene' type of natural selection, which is currently dominant.

But if a group selection framework were allowed - such as prevailed for Darwin, Wallace (the co-discoverer of natural selection) and everyone up to the middle 1970s (including WD Hamilton, the greatest evolutionary theorist since Darwin) - then (at least until the past century) genius can be seen as massively promoting group fitness.

However, there is no 'scientifically' satisfactory conceptualisation of how group selection works - because IMO it requires a divinity.

Lucinda said...

Theory about genius and group selection: What about a kind of genetic switch triggered by the social/emotional state of an intelligent expectant mother who subconsciously perceives a big problem that she doesn’t consciously acknowledge in order to stay socially normal, and therefore in a position to healthily reproduce?

Lucinda said...

I see geniuses as a kind of group auto-immune response. But it is ineffective now, primarily because of pediatric psychiatric drugs, which don’t appear to do anything to make the child pro-social, only to deter mental activity and curiosity.

(According to me) Male disagreeability is essential to basic group health. For various reasons, maternal intelligence became highly operative in Northern Europe. Patriarchal social structure is the natural selected grouping in the more northerly harsh climates, so the high maternal intelligence didn’t lead to the kind of matriarchal groupings more common in warmer climates. In normal patriarchy, intelligence in mothers is seen as a problem to the stability of the social structure. But in Europe, maternal intelligence was an asset because of Christianity. (That’s fairly broad, but I can’t narrow it right now.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda -

wrt maternal foresight - this kind of thing has no known mechanism at present - although the trend in current biology is in its favour; and may work at a more communal or interpersonal level.

I think you are using auto-immune wrongly, since that means the immune system working *against* the self (as when the immune system attacks the joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis). I think you mean an immune system protecting the group - or, more accurately, promoting the group's successful reproduction relative to other groups.

wrt to maternal intelligence, I once published a theory about the benefits of higher maternal intelligence for enhancing offspring survival:

Lucinda said...

Wrt auto-immune, I guess I meant that male disagreeability, in the extreme necessary for genius to occur, is indiscriminant between friend and foe, in-group or out-group, healthy self-cell and sick or foreign cell. But I suppose auto-immune doesn’t refer to anything with a healthy lateral effect?

I read your post about maternal intelligence. It made me think that maybe what I was referring to before is something more like grand-maternal intelligence, the direct effect of a grandmother’s intelligence in the success of her grandchildren.

Side question: how do evolutionists believe sex difference occurred? Escaped symbiant? Or damaged XX making XY?

Bruce Charlton said...

"Side question: how do evolutionists believe sex difference occurred?"

Short answer - no agreed theory, no really convicing theory. One of the big unanswered questions. It is, indeed, difficult to explain; because sexual reproduction is a big short-term disadvantage - how to get past that is the problem.

Lucinda said...

These ideas have me thinking about patriarchy again, of course. I think one of the things patriarchy did was to systematize a domain normally ruled by “old wives” (and their proverbial tales), that is the domain of wedding arrangements for the young, which seems to be an initial necessity for caring for the grandchildren.

Patriarchy is necessary to civilization, because of the male focus on economic capital gain. In “Mansfield Park”, the father gets concerned about signals his oldest daughter is not in love with her rich fiancĂ©, because of concern for ultimate failure of the marriage, rather than a concern for his daughter’s romantic feelings.

But ultimately, civilization is just a means to the end of greater reproductive success which compensates for the fact of mortality, that the wisest die off for no reason related to intelligence. In the presence of immortality, patriarchy and civilization are not necessary, since the most intelligent, or wise, need never systematize their wisdom to benefit rising generations.

Wrt evolution: I believe that evolution cannot work as a theory without discarding the constraint of mortality, meaning successful adaptations cannot be dying off by getting old, i.e. for no reason. That would make a theory about occurance of sex difference easy, I would think, since it overcomes the short-termish problem.

Thank you. This clarifies some things for me.