Why shrinks diagnose anti-authoritarians with mental illness

Bruce Levine, a clinical psychologist, has written on Mad in America about his colleagues’ propensity for diagnosing anti-authoritarians with mental illness. Levine says diagnoses like oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder and anxiety disorder are applied to people who question authority’s legitimacy by mental health practitioners who are, themselves, unconsciously deferential to authority.

Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.

I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.

In graduate school, I discovered that all it took to be labeled as having “issues with authority” was to not kiss up to a director of clinical training whose personality was a combination of Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Howard Cosell. When I was told by some faculty that I had “issues with authority,” I had mixed feelings about being so labeled. On the one hand, I found it quite amusing, because among the working-class kids whom I had grown up with, I was considered relatively compliant with authorities. After all, I had done my homework, studied, and received good grades. However, while my new “issues with authority” label made me grin because I was now being seen as a “bad boy,” it also very much concerned me about just what kind of a profession that I had entered. Specifically, if somebody such as myself was being labeled with “issues with authority,” what were they calling the kids I grew up with who paid attention to many things that they cared about but didn’t care enough about school to comply there? Well, the answer soon became clear.


Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill


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Georgia school goes lockdown after SMS is autocorrected from "gunna" to "gunman"

When a student from north Georgia’s Lanier Technical College sent an SMS to a friend about his upcoming stop-in at West Hall high school, his phone helpfully corrected “gunna” to “gunman.” The message’s recipient alerted police, who put both the college and the high school in lockdown for two hours.

He meant to write “Gunna be at West hall this afternoon,” but the autocorrect function on his phone changed the word “Gunna” to “Gunman.”

The situation was further complicated when the texter accidentally sent the text to a wrong number.

The text, which now read “Gunman at West hall,” was received by someone identified only as “a member of the West Hall community” by the Gainesville Times.

Smartphone’s autocorrect function puts high school on lockdown


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TED2012: Lucy McRae, Body Architect


[Video Link] Lucy McRae was trained as a classical ballerina and an architect, and her work as a “body architect” incorporates these interests and more. She is the recipient of a TED Fellowship. I interviewed her this morning at TED 2012.

See all my TED2012 coverage.


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Arizona politician: Makeup on a freckle = good; Photoshopping it out = bad

[Video Link] Arizona state Rep. Katie Hobbs has introduced a bill requiring disclaimers on ads that digitally retouch models because they are “deceptive.” As video producer Ted Balakar points out, even though Hobbs believes Photoshop is a great menace that needs taxpayer money to control, she’s OK with “makeup, lighting, haircare products, cosmetic surgery,” and other pre-camera reality hacks.

Proposals like this are new in the US, but in the UK the movement has morphed into some pretty remarkable restrictions on free speech. The Advertising Standards Authority has banned all kinds of ads for all sorts of bizarre reasons: This Miu Miu ad was banned because it depicts a child in an “unsafe location” (train tracks), and this Levi’s campaign was halted because it supposedly encouraged children to play with fireworks.

This month’s slate of busybodies includes a familiar name as well as some nannying newcomers.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), ever watchful for the new “club drug,” is waging yet another crusade against yet another new product, and guess who he’s doing it for? The kids!

And then there’s Utah state Rep. Tim Cosgrove (D-Murray). Faced with the fact that law enforcement was wasting resources on anti-prostitution sting operations at salons that offer new age healing techniques Cosgrove didn’t suggest legalizing prostitution, nor did he advise cops to ditch the stings and focus on catching bad guys (you know, those who hurt people and steal things).

Instead he introduced a bill that would jail Reiki practitioners and other business owners unless they spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to obtain massage licenses. (He’s probably doing it for the kids.)

But this month, the top slot goes to someone else.

In the midst of the Kate Upton Sports Illustrated airbrushing controversy comes word that a Grand Canyon state pol decides it’s time to crack down on post production techniques that make models smoother and sexier. (But hey, she’s doing it for the kids!)

Presenting Reason.tv’s Nanny of the Month for February 2012: Arizona state Rep. Katie Hobbs (D-Phoenix)!


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Types of vagabonds, 1566

The following is a list of the “23 Types of Vagabonds” as identified in a 1566 book by Thomas Harman called “A Caveat or Warning for Common Cursitors, vulgarly called vagabonds.” These “types” were the chapter titles and a decade later compiled into a list in William Harrison’s book “Description of Elizabethan England, 1577” I’m not sure why “male beggar children” are categorized as “Of Womenkind” unless it’s being suggested that they should be under the care of their mothers. From Lists Of Note:

1. Rufflers (thieving beggars, apprentice uprightment)
2. Uprightmen (leaders of robber bands)
3. Hookers or anglers (thieves who steal through windows with hooks)
4. Rogues (rank-and-file vagabonds)
5. Wild rogues (those born of rogues)
6. Priggers of prancers (horse thieves)
7. Palliards (male and female beggars, traveling in pairs)
8. Fraters (sham proctors, pretending to beg for hospitals, etc.)
9. Abrams (feined lunatics)
10. Fresh-water mariners or whipjacks (beggars pretending shipwreck)
11. Dummerers (sham deaf-mutes)
12. Drunken tinkers (thieves using the trade as a cover)
13. Swadders or peddlers (thieves pretending to be peddlers)
14. Jarkmen (forgers of licenses) or patricoes (hedge priests)

Of Womenkind:

1. Demanders for glimmer or fire (female beggars pretending loss of fire)
2. Bawdy baskets (female peddlers)
3. Morts (prostitutes and thieves)
4. Autem morts (married harlots)
5. Walking morts (unmarried harlots)
6. Doxies (prostitutes who begin with upright men)
7. Dells (young girls, incipient doxies)
8. Kinchin morts (female beggar children)
9. Kinchin does (male beggar children)

The 23 Types of Vagabond(Thanks, Randall de Rijk!)


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Leaf-nosed bat with very odd face

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This handsome critter is a newly-discovered species of leaf-nosed bat found in Vietnam’s Chu Mom Ray National Park. Scientists suggest that the animal’s strange face may enhance the animal’s echolocation abilities.
Strange New Leaf-Nosed Bat Found in Vietnam(National Geographic)


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Dosing cats with Uncle Sam

Over on Submitterator, frycook keeps finding these amazing/horrible old U.S. Army newsreels. He or she has posted some great stuff, including this gem, in which the chemical corps tests psychoactive substances on a cat while the narrator cheerfully natters about the strategic military benefits of hallucinogens.

Video Link


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Stock traders compared to pscyhopaths

The behavior of rogue stock traders could be considered more reckless and manipulative than that of psychopaths, according to a new scientific study at the University of St. Gallen. (Of course, the definition of psychopath is rather complex — and you find them in the darndest places, like running huge companies — but that’s another story, and one best told in Jon Ronson’s terrific book The Pscyhopath Test.) In this new study, the researchers put 28 stock traders through a battery of tests and computer simulations, and compared the results with the scores of psychopaths. From Spiegel Online:

“Naturally one can’t characterize the traders as deranged,” (co-author Thomas) Noll told SPIEGEL. “But for example, they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test.”

Particularly shocking for Noll was the fact that the bankers weren’t aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage. Instead of taking a sober and businesslike approach to reaching the highest profit, “it was most important to the traders to get more than their opponents,” Noll explained. “And they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents.”


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Do we need to talk about climate change, in order to talk about energy?

This is one thing that changed for me during the course of researching and writing Before the Lights Go Out, my upcoming book about the future of energy. I used to approach conversations about energy from a climate-centric perspective. First, I have to help people understand the science of climate change and get them past the misinformation and blatant lies surrounding that issue. THEN, we could talk about energy solutions.

But now I think that perspective is dead wrong.

Polls show that a majority of Americans want to change the way we make and use energy. What we disagree on is why that change needs to happen. The good news: We don’t have to agree on the “whys” to reach the same solutions.

My book comes out April 10th, but you can read the introduction online now. It’ll give you a better idea about why I think that climate change—important as it is—is not the only way to engage Americans on energy issues.

“Climate change is a lie.” The man leaned back in his chair and folded his arms over his chest. “Climate change is a lie,” he said again. “It’s just something made up by environmentalists to scare us.”

I heard this story a few years after it actually happened, from Eileen Horn, one of the environmentalists who watched this man’s speech from the other side of a two-way mirror. At the time, Horn and her colleagues were about to launch a new nonprofit organization called the Climate and Energy Project (CEP), an environmental activism group based in the state of Kansas. The man was a participant in one of a series of focus groups that the CEP had put together in Wichita. The idea behind the focus groups: don’t be stupid. Too often, Horn told me, environmental activism started with what the activists thought the public believed. Focus groups were a nice way to get around the sloppy art of assumptions. Instead, the Climate and Energy Project could get a bunch of Kansans together in a room, lob some ideas at them, and watch how they respond. What did the intended audience already know, and what did they not know? What did the people of Kansas think about the future of energy?

It was a nice plan, but it wasn’t too enlightening at first. The participants talked about where they got their news—NPR and CNN on one side, Fox News and a handful of radio talk shows on the other. Opinions on climate change split right along the lines of favorite news sources. You will probably not be shocked to learn that the man who declared climate change a lie fell squarely on the Fox News side. Whether or not you disagree with him, his position was fairly predictable. You and I have met any number of people with the same background and ideas.

Yet Horn remembered that man, specifically, because he changed her outlook on the world. In a way, he changed her life. Not because of his position on climate change, but because of what she learned about him—and other people like him—as the focus group continued.

“No matter how the conversation started, whether they believed in climate change or not, the discussion always, eventually, turned to energy solutions,” she told me. “And when it did, it turned out that this guy drove a hybrid car and had changed all his lightbulbs out to CFLs.”

Read the rest at BeforeLightsOut.com. Just scroll down the page and you’ll see the link.

Image: #431 Global warming get warmer houses, sweet, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mikaelmiettinen’s photostream


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10 commandments for con artists

From Lists of Note, the 10 Commandments for Con Men as set out by Victor Lustig a con-legend who once took $5K off Al Capone and sold the Eiffel Tower.

1. Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con-man his coups).
2. Never look bored.
3. Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
4. Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
5. Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow it up unless the other fellow shows a strong interest.
6. Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
7. Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
8. Never boast. Just let your importance be quietly obvious.
9. Never be untidy.
10. Never get drunk.

Lists of Note: 10 Commandments for Con Men

(via Kottke)

(Image: Victig.com)


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