[Marxism] Don't you know they're gonna ulrgghh...

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at mail.com
Wed May 5 19:13:53 MDT 2004

> Message: 6
> Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 07:27:10 +1000
> From: <g.maclennan at qut.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [Marxism] People Say I'm Crazy
> To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
> 	<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
> Message-ID: <16655039.3be7ff51.81aac00 at mail-msgstore01.qut.edu.au>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> Rachel,  
> Defending the use of medication for mental illness on the web 
> is like supporting Stalin on Trotsky.com.  But the theorists 
> you mention have actually done enormous harm and as this is a 
> serious matter, I will have another go at the forts of folly.
> Really what is at the heart of this anti-medication rubbish 
> is anarchism and its dream of the marginalised, in this case 
> the mentally ill, as the source of oppostion to modernity.  
> There are lots of parallels such as the poet and the artist 
> as divinely inspired etc etc.

This is more or less true: as those who may not have pondered the class 
and political origins of Deleuze and Guattari would not be inclined to 
think, "anti-psychiatry" is fundamentally a creature of cultural conservatism 
-- as a theoretical outlook it fundamentally appeals to people who *handle* 
certain elements of social interaction quite well and others not at all 
(an easily verified reality for anyone with "eyes to look"), although it is 
indeed quite the boon for the *enormously* suffering mentally ill.  The side 
of the story which is rarely told is that most psychiatry since Freud has been 
fundamentally *very poor science*: that is, far more "formal" than empirical
and this in a fundamentally unvirtuous way -- contemporary neuropsychiatrists
have not worked their way out of a riddle years-ago posed for them by Chomsky, 
for example.  So, although a certain amount of pessimism as regards the brain's
role in cognition is indeed warranted, perhaps high-hog grant-grubbers should 
not be determining the character of public discourse concerning such issues:
it is, on all anatomies, not really an organ which improves with manipulation.

> All that stuff about poets and artists in a way is almost 
> harmless, and it has helped them get laid so no big deal. 
> However the case of mental illness is very different.  If you 
> have been up close to a psychosis and seen the terror and the 
> truly terrible suffering, and then seen that terror subside 
> and go away with the administration of olanzapine or another 
> drug, then you would be truly thankful for the drugs.  And 
> you would also know that the theories and polemics of Szasz 
> and Breggin and Lang in these cases are not worth a bucket of 
> spit.

As a sometime consumer of olanzapine and social researcher of various
kinds, I can tell you that the neuroleptics (administered to a welter 
of "severely" mentally ill patients and pregnant women) are *totally*
not as told -- that is to say, the experience of taking such drugs
is akin to that reported for ketamine and their original *function*
was wholly other than the "cognitive improvement" veritably promised
for certain of these -- namely, to practically *immobilize* patients
in mental hospitals (formerly more "welcoming" and involved in the US).  
That is to say, what has occurred with neuroleptic treatment is truly
not the discovery of new clinical efficacies but the adoption of a 
new vocabulary for discussing the "ethic of care" for mentally disturbed
persons: roughly, to move all issues pertaining to their life out of
that sphere of social action "constraining" the civil law and into the 
medical system, to make them *unmuendig* or an "aged minor".  Relative 
to such a "paradigm", the anti-psychiatric discourses of yesteryear 
are almost superfluous: the going therapeutic framework does not permit 
any honored criteria of "falsifiability" for illness diagnoses, although
the underlying intellectual and legal authorities for such have not changed.

> There are two other apsects of your post that are worth 
> commenting on.
> You doubt John Cadigan did his own web page.  Why?  You 
> ignore what he says about the newer medications helping him 
> and giving him some kind of life. Why?   You don't want to 
> listen. Just as you won't listen to this post.

That's marvelous, but how often is this said "on behalf of"
the patient?  Unconscionably often: there is no such reticence
about the propaganda distributed by pharmaceuticals companies
as regards the appropriateness of relatively novel treatment 
with such serious medication (although he had his share of
Thorazine shots, like other schizophrenia patients Nash did not 
have the option of "maintenance treatment" at the time he
was in and out of mental hospitals).  
> I hate it when a Marxism list becomes the last refuge of the 
> anarchistic type of anti-modern-science bs that circulates 
> every time the topic of mental illness  is raised.  People 
> suffer and kill themselves because they won't take their 
> medication.

This is, *actuarially* speaking, not true: there is no effective
psychiatric treatment for suicidal patients, such that my 
health provider Kaiser Permanente will not pay for such treatments.
> That's the bottom line.

Unfortunately not: all *pathos* aside, optimism as regards cognitive
science is a historical "fortress of solitude" as regards the appeal
of the left and simple economic facts show that issues tangentially
related to such treatment will not go gently into that "quiet room". 

> regards
> Gary



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