The sci-fi writer who was a rat

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue Apr 24 09:21:48 MDT 2001

Adam Levenstein wrote:
> I don't think it's quite fair to call Dick a "rat" or
> say he "betrayed" anyone. As the article points out,
> during his later years the poor guy was quite
> literally insane,

I don't know whether "insane" is still a legal term, but it sure as hell
is not a medical term -- or a term which has much relevance to any
mental illness. It is another of those terms that may usefully applied
to structures, activities, policies, ideas but _not_ to people. Also,
what do you mean by "literally" insane? How  does it differ from
metaphorical insanity? I agree with you, however, that the Lingua Franca
article offers no basis for calling Dick a "rat." He was clearly ill --
and it is poor practice simply to badmouth the mentally ill.

Incidentally, the same issue of Lingua Franca contains an interesting
note on mental illness by Martha Nussbaum, in a brief review (under the
title "Border Patrol") of _Women and Borderline Personality Disorder:
Symptoms and Stories_ by Janet Wirth-Cauchon. The book seems to bear out
a remark my therapist once made, that a diagnosis of borderline
personality disorder was a psychiatrist's way of saying "Fuck you" to a
patient. What it adds is that the diagnosis is perhaps (probably)
grounded in sexist assumptions. Nussbaum's closing remark is that "A
wastebasket diagnosis, in other words, is inevitably going to make
patients feel like trash."


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