The New McCarthyism: “Opposite World”
It seems that if one strays beyond the bounds of what some consider to be “conventional wisdom” or CW, that one can be branded mentally ill. I was a bit surprised to read this from Turner about me, in a comment to a post I wrote yesterday:
JC, you can live in Opposite World only for so long before they take you away. Seriously, I’m worried about you.
Now I really don’t mind that I get sideswiped in comments. I get that all the time, and I know that Turner means well, and is having a hard time digesting all of the ugliness that we keep throwing out to folks about the corruption, lies and propaganda that our administration and Congress spew.
But it was an article at Zero Hedge, “If You Question Authority, You Are Mentally Ill”, Report Finds, that really got me going. It seems that the newest edition of the DSM puts those of us who don’t conform into a new category of mentally ill.
Is nonconformity and freethinking a mental illness? According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.
There’s no doubt that 4&20 has become a hotbed exhibiting the above symptoms. So I guess Turner is correct in his diagnosis that I “live in Opposite World.” At least according to the DSM. I wonder what the treatment (penalty?) for ODD is? The Mind Unleashed describes the dangers with an analogy with Soviet Russia and communism (not so unlike Democratic America and McCarthyism):
According to the DSM-IV, the diagnosis guidelines for identifying oppositional defiant disorder are for children, but adults can just as easily suffer from the disease. This should give any freethinking American reason for worry. The Soviet Union used new “mental illnesses” for political repression. People who didn’t accept the beliefs of the Communist Party developed a new type of schizophrenia. They suffered from the delusion of believing communism was wrong. They were isolated, forcefully medicated, and put through repressive “therapy” to bring them back to sanity.
Unfortunately, what happened in the USSR seems to be a harbinger of what is happening in America. People who don’t accept the notion of American Exceptionalism, believe what the government tells them, read exclusively the MSM and parrot it all back treading the straight and narrow, are ostracized from society in a variety of ways. It really is unfortunate that people who believe themselves to be progressive liberals can’t allow for freethinking amongst the proles.
Back to the treatment (besides ridicule and ostracizing). As the current DSM-V focuses on the disease in children, it also mentions that the “disease” progresses into a variety of conditions in adulthood, if not “treated” properly. A few of those diseases include ADHD, conduct disorders and personality disorders, all with a pharmacopeia of drug treatments. So yeah, let’s drug the freethinkers! Shock therapy! Reintegration camps (jail)!
So, I would offer that those who are attacked for being “freethinkers” ponder for a moment what it actually is that we are engaging in. Freethinking has been described many places, but here is a simple description from Wiki:
Freethought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or the intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas.
I can embrace that. Other co-occurring disorders with ODD are anarchism (he says tongue in cheek — at least until DSM-VI) and atheism. I definitely am of the anarchistic bent (having concluded from my time involved with Occupy that democracy and capitalism are mutually exclusive), and am most definitely irreligious. So I guess that really puts me in “Opposite World” according to some.
Freethinking is a field unto itself, and is fraught with controversy, from those who want to credit some of our country’s founding fathers with utilizing it (Thomas Paine, i.e.), to those who want to argue religion and science. I find it fulfilling though, to consider myself — and many of the people who blog and comment on posts like this — a nonconformist and a free (though occasionally sloppy) thinker.
And for those who might want to hear a podcast (included on The Mind Unleashed article) about the controversy between psychiatry and nonconformity/freethinking, I’ve included it below the fold.