Category Archives: psychiatrists

Pronunciamento of the philosopher-shrinks

Screenshot 2020-02-05 at 08.23.27An attempt to invalidate the political opinions and choices of opponents on spurious, potentially dictatorial, psychiatric grounds

Dalrymple points out that the assertion by a group of psychiatrists that Donald Trump is unfit psychiatrically to be president of the USA is

absurd and unethical.

It is

political prejudice masquerading as medical diagnosis and prognosis.

The psychiatrists

presumably take comfort in the unanimity of their opinion, as did the 100 German physicists who denounced relativity theory because Einstein was Jewish. If they had been right, said Einstein, one would have been enough.

Regarding the president’s paranoid style of thought, Dalrymple notes that

if Mr Trump did not believe that there were plots against him, if he were convinced that there were not, this would be delusional. For him blandly to say that he had no enemies in Congress, and that no members of Congress were meeting together to plan his downfall, would be a sign of madness, a loss of grasp of the most obvious reality.

The quack psychiatrists

must have a very unflattering view of the United States and its system of government—something like an electoral tinpot dictatorship—if they suppose that the fate of the country, indeed the world, rests upon the mental state of one man.

It seems, says Dalrymple, that they

would prefer the rule of philosopher-psychiatrists to that of people with psychiatric pathology (the vast majority of the population, if the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is to be believed).

The philosopher-shrinks believe in

a version of the basket-of-deplorables hypothesis. People who voted for or supported the president did not have a different opinion, they had an illness. Mr Trump is incapable for medical reasons of making a rational choice, and this applies to millions, tens of millions, of Americans.

Dalrymple points out that psychiatry

is not an exact science, and much of it—psychoanalysis, for example—is not a science at all. To leave the State to the discretion of psychiatrists is like leaving industrial policy to alchemists or public health policy to astrologers.

Educated voters for, and supporters of, Trump

are well aware of his character defects, which require no very great psychological acuity to descry, but prefer him to the alternatives for political and economic reasons.

Psychiatric imperialism

Screenshot 2020-01-30 at 09.42.36The growing pseudo-sophistication of credulity

Under the empire of the shrinks, writes Dalrymple (himself a shrink), there is a dialectical tendency to reinforce people’s wish to

objectify themselves and their behaviour, the better to escape personal responsibility and avoid genuine but painful self-reflection.

He observes that

the doctor wants to give patients a diagnosis, and patients want the doctor to give them a diagnosis. Every unhappy person leaves the doctor clutching a prescription. And every study shows that, whatever they are given as an antidepressant, their pills have a powerful placebo effect. Unfortunately, they can have serious and unpleasant side-effects. Gone are the days when doctors can dish out coloured water as a placebo to a credulous clientèle.

We don’t believe any more in spirit possession, he says,

but we do believe in serotonin – too much or too little or in the wrong place – as the root of all our troubles.

Psychoanalysis is that mental illness for which it regards itself as therapy

An American psychologist by the name of John Gartner argues that Donald Trump should be removed from office on psychiatric grounds:

We live in a pre-fascist society…The German psychiatric association said nothing during the rise of Hitler…We are facing a crisis that threatens to engulf the world in flames…Trump meets standards for commitment and should be required to undergo psychiatric evaluation, whether he wants to or not…The man is threatening to murder an entire country…We cannot call the authorities because the homicidal patient is the authorities.

Dalrymple notes that Gartner

displays no knowledge of or imaginative insight into what it is like to live in a totalitarian dictatorship—his Jewishness notwithstanding—despite countless memoirs, academic books, and films attesting to and describing life under authoritarian rule. Such ignorance or lack of imagination is culpable. For an American to compare contemporary life in the USA, no doubt unsatisfactory as it is in many respects, with life in a fascist dictatorship is self-dramatising, self-pitying, and an insult to those millions who suffered or died under totalitarian dictatorships.

It is legitimate to oppose the government and to despise the person of the president;

it is another thing to claim jurisdiction over whether he should be entitled to be president and whether he ought to be removed by committal to a mental institution. In the Soviet Union, psychiatrists occupied the kind of commissarship that Gartner is appealing for.

Gartner

shows an implicit contempt for US institutions and history if he thinks that the election of one allegedly unstable man can turn his country into a fascist dictatorship almost overnight.

He is

what Kraus said of psychoanalysis, a cause of the disease it pretends to cure. He believes that people who show instability, anger, paranoia, feelings of persecution, and cognitive confusion would and should be involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation.

Dalrymple suggests that Gartner read Chekhov’s 1892 short story Ward No. 6, in which Dr Ragin is committed to his own asylum.

A satanic gynæcologist

Dalrymple points out that J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise (1975)

has several doctors as characters: a lecturer in physiology at a medical school, a psychiatrist, some neurosurgeons, and a gynæcologist.

The book

is typical of his dystopian genre. The high-rise of the title is one of four 40-storey blocks of flats built in the docklands area of London (as the novel was published in 1975, the location is an instance of Ballard’s prescience).

The residents of the new development, all of the professional classes,

start a war against each other of a class nature (the higher the floor you live on, the higher your social status).

Eventually there is anarchy.

Everything is vandalised, the services cease to work, rubbish accumulates everywhere, the walls are covered in graffiti, and the residents raid one another for food and eat each other’s pet dogs.

Dalrymple notes that almost every element of Ballard’s fictional horror is visible in less extreme form in the real world today.

Pangbourne, the gynæcologist,

is among the worst characters in the breakdown of order. Rich and successful, he lives on the highest floor, the 40th, and has led a raid with women acolytes to the lower floors, capturing an accountant and a meteorologist.

Dalrymple asks:

Which of us has never met a Pangbourne?

27 idiotic mental health ‘experts’

Dalrymple writes that The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (2017) is

principally an echo chamber for the thoughts and feelings of those who abominate Mr Trump.

The authors relay their political preferences rather than provide any independent or dispassionate knowledge.

Dalrymple’s chief objection to the book

is not so much its transgression of a rule of professional ethics, but its profound, though predictable, banality.

Psychological ‘diagnosis’ of this kind

amounts to little more than re-description of easily and publicly observable traits and conduct. Anyone reading the 360 pages of this book will probably come away with nothing new to him, no fact that he did not know before, and no opinion that he had not heard before.

The explanatory value of the diagnoses offered by the ‘experts’ is

virtually nil.

For example,

we know that Mr Trump has narcissistic personality disorder because he is narcissistic; he is narcissistic because he has narcissistic personality disorder. This is the kind of ‘explanation’ that Molière ridiculed: opium produces sleep because it has within it a dormitive property.

Trump, the book informs us,

lacks self-esteem. That is why he is so narcissistic. He is always trying desperately to compensate for his permanently damaged self-conception.

Of course, says Dalrymple,

if he were a morbidly shy and retiring man, the same lack of self-esteem would explain it. In effect, then, the same factor explains everything from the grossest exhibitionism to the most profound social withdrawal.

Jargon that passes for science

Dalrymple writes that he has given evidence in cases

in which various psychiatrists have sought to explain (or is it excuse?) murderers because of their difficult childhoods, poor upbringing, bad education, and so forth.

He has watched

relatives of victims foully done to death squirm with pain and disgust as feeble exculpations of the culprits are offered in the language not so much of science as of jargon.

The Cheshire cat

The psychiatrist and communist fellow-traveller Reg Ellery, writes Dalrymple,

was of a type by no means uncommon, the intellectual who changes his mind but whose certainty is like the grin of the Cheshire cat, being what remains when everything else has disappeared.

Dalrymple adds:

I, of course, am not at all like that; at least, I don’t think that I am. No, no, I am quite certain that I am not.

Sincere, modest Stalin versus the Nazi sodomites

Dalrymple leafs through Eyes Left! (1943) by Reg Ellery, the Australian psychiatrist and fellow traveller, and is amused by this sort of stuff:

The Soviet Union must be the pattern for our reconstructional efforts. We should remember that it succeeded in spite of overwhelming obstacles because the socialist ideology appealed to men and women with courage and enthusiasm, willing to risk personal pleasure and private satisfaction for the splendid purpose in the task that lay ahead of them. We, likewise, can succeed if we can enlist the pliant sympathies of youth to a doctrine which aims at the abolition of the exploitation of man by man.

As for Stalin, Ellery found him to be

a man whose modesty is as disarming as his determination is inflexible—a man of great vision, a sincere student, a warm friend.

Dalrymple explains also that Ellery felt that he had discovered the secret source of German fascism, which he identified as homosexuality. He appeared to blame the whole of Nazism on homosexuality, latent or otherwise. Ellery wrote:

Nazism is a homosexual culture. The Nazi ideal is masculinity. The typical Nazi has the homosexual’s fear of the female. Hitler and his satellites, under the strong pressure of their own latent homosexuality, have foisted this masculinity on the German nation once again, knowing, perhaps, that militarism flourishes best in the atmosphere of repressed homosexuality.

Don’t mention the Muslims!

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-02-55The religion we dare not name

Lying in bed late one night unable to sleep, Dalrymple resorts to a normally reliable curative: the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Two papers in particular quickly banish the insomnia,

  • one by Jeremy W. Coid, Kamaldeep Bhui, Deirdre MacManus, Constantinos Kallis, Paul Bebbington and Simone Ullrich headed Extremism, religion and psychiatric morbidity in a population-based sample of young men,
  • and one by Kamaldeep Bhui, Maria João Silva, Raluca A. Topciu and Edgar Jones on Pathways to sympathies for violent protest and terrorism.
Bognor Regis Chess Club in the great days

Bognor Regis Chess Club in the great days

Dalrymple writes that in addition to being quite unilluminating, the articles’ conclusions are

as dull as the annual accounts of a local chess club.

The authors

would make Armageddon sound boring.

They are also pusillanimous. We all know, Dalrymple notes,

what kind of terrorism and extremism the authors are thinking of, but the title of neither paper mentions it. We walk permanently on eggshells.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-33-38What religion are we talking about? The articles do not tell us. The whole subject

is dealt with in so opaque a fashion that it is difficult not to believe that the authors feared retribution—from the politically correct if not from terrorists themselves. They are like those puppies that, being curious, approach a danger, but then retreat, approach again, and retreat again.

Perhaps the authors wished to prevent readers from drawing the obvious conclusion, that

Enoch Powell had been right all along.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-36-55We should all like to know, says Dalrymple,

why some people become terrorists, other than for the most obvious reason: that to kill, maim, and destroy, supposedly for a good cause or some allegedly higher purpose, is a delight to a certain kind of person, worth even dying for. In addition, I doubt that there are many more self-important people than terrorists.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-46-45You might think that psychiatry and psychiatrists would be able to shed some light on the matter, but this, Dalrymple points out,

is a manifestation of a modern superstition, that human self-understanding has made great strides pari passu with technical advances such as brain scans and a knowledge of neurochemistry. In fact, we have not advanced beyond Pope’s description of Man as ‘the glory, jest and riddle of the world’.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-49-03screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-50-26

 

 

Placebo effect on the doctor

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 08.39.32Dalrymple relates that in Augy Hayter’s Fit to Be Tied,

a patient who has escaped from an asylum returns to his former office, where he was the boss, and advertises for an employee. A young man applies, but in the middle of his interview a doctor (described as having ‘the arrogance of insecurity’) and a nurse arrive to haul him back to the asylum.

The nurse returns

to the office to reassure the applicant, who asks, ‘Is it true he is being given shock treatment?’ The nurse replies that it is and it isn’t; he goes through the motions of having it, but the apparatus has been disabled so that no electricity goes through his brain. The doctor does not know this but is satisfied with the result.

The play, says Dalrymple,

seems to have been inspired by the commonly repeated story of the electroconvulsive therapy clinic in which the machine had broken down but nobody noticed: to which one can only say they cannot have been very observant.