“Alain de Botton on Pessimism”

From The School of Life:

Here Alain de Botton rehashes some of what he discussed in another speech I posted up recently, but I appreciate this one as well as quality food for thought and so am posting it up.

Problems with psychiatry discussed by Dr. Peter Breggin

An internet peep passed along the following videos of Dr. Peter R. Breggin.

“Beyond Belief – Behind the Scenes w/ Peter Breggin”:

“Dr. Peter Breggin, MD, Brief Intro to Empathic Therapy (2013)”:

“Dr. Peter Breggin’s Keynote address at the 31st Conference of the South Carolina Society of Adlerian Psychology, Oct 2013”:

And following are some videos by him I’ve watched previously.

“Peter Breggin, MD: Do You Have a Biochemical Imbalance? Simple Truths About Psychiatry”:

“How to Help the Suicidally Depressed Person–Dr. Peter Breggin’s 5th ‘SimpleTruths About Psychiatry'”:

That last one was a very good video that deserves to be watched by anybody and everybody. Glad to have found it.

In the next video Dr. Breggin talks about “how to help deeply disturbed persons”:

He went into much more detail about his experience volunteering at the state mental hospital in the book I’m currently reading titled Toxic Psychiatry, which I’m thoroughly appreciating. In that video he also mentions a non-psychiatry-related book by Martin Buber titled I and Thou, which I’ve also read and appreciated (recommended by prof. Anton).

There are also two other titles I’d care to mention here that complement the notions expressed by Dr. Breggin, and they are: The Manufacture of Madness by Dr. Thomas Szasz and The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. And for those interested in delving deeper into the psychospiritual rabbit hole, the writings and talks by Joseph Campbell add an interesting historical dimension.

When Dr. Breggin talks about how he realized the psychiatric profession was headed one way and he was headed another in terms of him placing more emphasis on social connections and addressing our human life concerns, I totally get where he’s coming from and felt the same way about the field of sociology (albeit for different reasons). While I share his psychosocial approach and attitude from what I’ve learned of the man thus far, my own division with the field of Soc. had a lot to do with it becoming aligned with the field of Social Work which ties into the State and thereby winds up tying back into the field of psychiatry. And not enough people within the sociology field seem terribly concerned about that, even as they superficially draw distinctions between their field and that of psychology and its theories applied through psychiatry. Too much lip service without enough bite. Very often sociology is left out of the mainstream conversation altogether, largely because it’s only taken seriously where it conforms and/or where it draws attention to itself. But sociology is the study of human life because we are core, first and foremost, social beings. Everything we do and everything we are is determined by this fact of life — no getting around it. And yet these field’s devolved into obscure academic squabbling over matters that most people out in society don’t know or care about (like what’s also happened to academic philosophy by-and-large). And it’s viewed as a field belonging to the political Left when it’s totally above and beyond being tied down by that nonsense. The political Left is within the realm of sociological examination, not the other way around. But academe now gives a different impression.

So there again I went my own way. ha  A pattern can be detected. Because why not? It’s about time people start opening up these inquiries out in greater society and investigating them where we stand. We all care about social dynamics on some level and can’t help but do so since we’re damn sure all impacted whether we like it or not in countless ways. Neither “I” nor “we” can exist on its own. We define who we are in relation to others, and we all interact and have a hand in molding one another, consciously or otherwise. It’s elementary, and yet plenty insist on treating the word “sociology” like it’s a bad thing, like it serves no useful purpose and its content is totally unimportant. That’s so odd when one really stops and thinks about it. lol  And that’s another one of those issues I take with academia dominating as it does, despite it supplying us with an abundance of interesting social theories that really work the imagination and get the juices flowing for those who are curious. The best stuff is farther back in history before it became suffused with and largely directed by special interest stances. But that’s a topic in itself to be further unpacked another day.

Sunday night thoughts and opinions on rape, jury nullification strategies, and the role of the courts

I’m stuck still thinking on those damn articles by Paul Elam on jury nullification in man-on-woman rape trials and the potential consequences that may spring from that.

First off, let me state it here plainly: I take issue with how rape shield laws are being applied. Evidence that is of actual relevance to the case should of course be admitted, yet unfortunately that’s not what’s happening in enough cases that it’s causing quite a stir and is creating an impossible situation for mounting an effective defense. When the man has been falsely accused, that seriously matters. Yet activist judges can and do take the law into their own hands and by their discretion have the power to decide these things, for better or worse. This is a travesty, absolutely, because it too often results in a miscarriage of justice. And if it’s going to continue this way, I am tempted to say we’d be better off without such laws then.

Word justice highlighted with a yellow markerAnd this speaks to why I take such major issue with Paul Elam’s encouragement for people to blanketly vote not guilty in all man-on-woman rape trials. While we don’t want to risk sending innocent people to prison for crimes they did not commit, I don’t see how adding more activists in the courtroom is bound to help restore justice. No, instead it just aims to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction that is no more fair or just, when the real focus ought to be holding police and prosecutors accountable for blatant misconduct or negligence where warranted. Because they have jobs to do and it shouldn’t include their own activist leanings either (which so happens to be prejudicial against black males in particular — and let us not forget that the rich often operate as if above the law and somehow manage to get away with it even if they wind up charged and face trial).

Our legal system is indeed a tangled web that won’t likely be untangled anytime soon. And in the meantime tons of people suffer at its hands, especially those convicted on drug charges since the State just loves prosecuting those cases.

But I don’t see how adding even more activists to the pile is in any way going to prove beneficial in the long-run. I try to imagine what sort of backlashes will spring up in response to that if ever the MRM does grow in numbers and many do wind up embracing this jury nullification strategy. I can imagine some feminists feeling it their obligation to play hyper-biased activist juror running in the opposite direction in other types of cases, in an effort to send a message right back to the men’s rights advocates. And then what? What might happen should everyone become activists for their pet causes when selected for jury duty? Well, according to some of the MRAs I’ve interacted with on this topic, that’s precisely what they want to have happen because they see that as hastening the demise of our system. So, at root, that’s what this strategy is angling for? I don’t know if that’s Paul Elam’s own position on the matter or just chortling from his minions, but it’s a rather disconcerting proposition. Assuming law and order could be broken down on such a scale, where does that leave us as a society? Every man and woman for him/herself?

Though I don’t think that’s what will wind up happening. If I know one thing about this system it’s that it won’t go down without a mighty fight. What could stop citizens and State employees from pushing for criminal proceedings to be handled by the judge directly without a jury present, or perhaps to simply try to overhaul the jury selection process in total? See, there’s always a way around these sort of schemes, and I’m willing to bet the public would knee-jerkingly go along with some such alternative if they felt the courts were being undermined. And there again innocent people may face prosecution, this time without the benefit of a jury of their peers to hear them out. That might very well turn into a travesty too.

In my worldview, if we want the system to function properly, we the citizens operating within it in whatever capacities, from cops to judges to jurors, must conduct ourselves properly and objectively assess all evidence presented to the best of our abilities. That is our duty and our responsibility to one another. If not us, then who else? If we worry that pertinent information or evidence is being withheld, we should be able to demand greater access so as to more deeply scrutinize the methodologies employed in accumulating evidence for the case in question. And here I can see where rape shield laws will get in the way of that, so perhaps that’s where we need to start directing more of our focus, on getting those either repealed or more strictly limited to certain types of information that would only likely bias the trial without adding anything of real relevance. But, in so doing that, we have to get to a point where we Americans learn to accept that just because a person was or is “promiscuous” by some people’s standards, that in no way means they are deserving of being violently attacked. Until we can lay these prejudices to rest, justice cannot be served and feminists will continue arguing in favor of suppression of information.

Then, when we get down to hearsay and “he said vs. she said” situations where there’s no real way to determine whether consent was granted, we step into some seriously sticky terrain. And personally, much as people aren’t going to want to hear this and worried as I am that people will mistake me for minimizing date rape situations to mere trivialities (that is not my aim), I think it may be better to handle some of those cases outside of court. Because where there’s no real way to determine what went on, especially between two drunk individuals who weren’t apparently dangerously violent toward one another, what can the courts realistically be expected to do? To simply take one’s word over the other’s? That’s not necessarily right either.

I’ve personally been subjected to enough negative sexual experiences in the past to feel comfortable enough saying that just because someone is in the wrong and oversteps the bounds and mistreats someone else doesn’t automatically make it a criminal matter. It entirely depends. Perhaps in a case where one party transmitted a serious and incurable STD to the other in what one claims was a non-consensual tryst, or when rather serious physical injuries were acquired, that’d be a matter for the courts to decide on. But in what I’m going to callously refer to here as “garden variety” date rape situations, he may be a major asshole who deserves comeuppance but that doesn’t mean cops and the courts are the best option for handling it necessarily. That’s my opinion.

And this is where a lot of folks and I don’t see eye to eye. I just do not see the State as being deserving of playing the role of arbiter for every dispute that arises out here in society. Some things we can handle better among our own. Sometimes the best course of action is putting the word out to warn others that someone mistreated you so that they can take precautions, and this can be achieved a number of ways. But unfortunately there are times when turning to the cops will prove to be more of a pain than it’s worth, and that’s not intended to deter anyone from going to the police if they’ve been injured. Just sayin’ is all.

I personally never involved the cops in anything I’ve been through in this respect, and the reason why had a lot to do with how I’d heard cops had treated others in positions similar to my own, and it just didn’t seem worth it. And sometimes it’s just a matter of the evidence not being sufficient for the D.A. to want to take the case to trial, as is very common especially among these sort of he said/she said situations. Going back to his residence or having him over isn’t asking him to mistreat us, and poor treatment shouldn’t be accepted if it can be anyhow avoided, BUT in the eyes of the law that can look quite foggy. And when it comes to both persons being very drunk, hmmm…I’m not sure what the hell people are supposed to do about that other than learn to be much more careful about how much they’re drinking and who they’re leaving with. Shitfaced isn’t the best state of mind to assess the character of another person you’re about to go somewhere private with. It might start off consensual but what if he moves into doing things you don’t like? Well, at his home and naked underneath him is a pretty vulnerable position to be in when figuring this out. I’m speaking very seriously here.

We must do more to better protect ourselves, because this hook-up culture combined with rape hysteria has everything out of wack nowadays. And I don’t think the courts are in a position to remedy all of this for us. If we could understand that and do what is within our power, then a lot of rapes and sexual mistreatment probably wouldn’t occur. Because it tends to be a crime of opportunity, especially date rape. But this is swerving off into topics I probably should create a video or two to delve into, when time and energy permits.

[Edited for greater clarity Jan. 29th, 2015.]

American Drug War: The Last White Hope (Pre-Release Cut)

“American Drug War: The Last White Hope: Pre Release Cut”:

Given the released documentary as a gift, and it’s also available on Netflix. It’s valuable in opening up the inquiry and getting people thinking about following the money trail, offering up cases for us to look into for ourselves, like the Iran-Contra affair and the coca situation ongoing in Colombia and previous CIA and DEA employees speaking out about their knowledge of related department misconduct.

Personally, while I don’t stand in the way of the legalization of marijuana, I favor decriminalization. Anything you’re capable of growing for yourself to consume should be exempt from taxation. That’s like if the government came up with the idea to tax us for the vegetables we grow in our own gardens.  Psshhahh, right.

The reading of “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (my thoughts follow)

YT user ChristophDollis recommended I watch the following video titled “Abusers, Orgasms, Pain and Pleasure…” uploaded by Stefan Molyneux:

Pausing at the 34 min. mark, let me first say thanks for suggesting this clip of the reading of a piece titled “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (from “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” — Nov. 1975). Interesting hearing what people have been putting out into the universe and how much of the public has overlooked it. The rest of my comments below aren’t directed at anyone in particular and are simply thoughts stimulated by the video.

One reason I believe the public tends to glance right past material such as that (besides not finding it entertaining) is because we’re all affected by exactly that which Dr. Prescott is discussing. While 1975 was before my time, not much has changed in the way of improvement in our social relations since then most certainly, yet our heads remain firmly planted in the sand. Not many of us are out here actively seeking information and answers, partly because many people lack time and/or energy, but also because we are a socially and sexually fucked up lot. lol That’s not putting it delicately, but I doubt many would disagree if they really stopped and thought about it.

We’re a society of sado-masochists basically, and plenty of folks are attached to being that way. They see it as normal or even healthy. It affects so many of us that it indeed appears to be the norm. Pressing pleasure and pain boundaries is all the rage these days, whether that be on the softer or harder ends of the spectrum. And arguably on the less extreme end it’s difficult to argue that such behavior is terribly detrimental when it can be quite enjoyable play for both involved. Furthermore, I do believe sex has become a balm of sorts to pacify us as we struggle through modern times. Sex can have drug-like qualities of its own, particularly in how it allows a mental escape. I’ve been particularly skeptical of these claims circling about “sexual addiction,” but I do get how sex has for many an obsessive allurement. It’s where pleasure-seeking meets sexual dysfunction brought about in a wide assortment of ways. People do need touch and I’d agree many lacked enough of it and go on seeking it however which way. This easily can lead into the topic of prostitution and pornography, which then necessarily runs into economic bullshittery, but I’d prefer to keep it relatively brief right now.

Pornography must be mentioned, because it reflects just how sado-masochistic we’ve become. Americans may argue that many of us don’t truly engage in the cruelties exhibited on common pornos, but it’s enough that we use them for masturbatory material. How many of us don’t? It gets into our psyches through viewing, and we don’t resist it and demand more affectionate sexual displays because why? Because we are lazy and will take whatever is put before us? Because we grow conditioned to viewing this sort of material since many of us were exposed by our teen years? Because some have grown to genuinely like it? Men and women genuinely are turned on watching a woman be gagged by cock, making choking sounds, looking pathetic, while the man has hold of her hair and is calling her a “stupid whore”? That is truly exciting, is it? And all this anal sex, is that really what everyone wants? Many have told me no, but I also know that plenty are curious.

The trouble is that people tend to imitate pornography, this is my observation. Everyone has their own experience to pull from, but this is my view of it. Especially younger males. Older males over the age of 45 approach sex differently, though it’s difficult to put into words. Less formulaic approach to sex, perhaps. The younger man is oftentimes re-acting a routine, one that apparently is supposed to include oral sex performed on him and involves a lot of banging, not much kissing, not much caressing. That’s a weird thing to me and it turned me off on much of my own age group in my 20s. I’ve watched my share of porn and still do occasionally, so I do know where they’re getting this stuff from. It’s not just the way of men — it’s the training of young men and women to be bad lovers. That is my take.

The lesson of porn is one too often of aggression and intimate distance. Because a penis is inserted into a vagina, we call that intimacy. That is not intimacy. That is mere function. Calling the purely physical act itself intimacy is so completely detached from considerations of realness, genuine attraction, mutual respect and feelings of exhilaration. This mindset is robbing sex of the sanctity it rightfully deserves.

Whether money is exchanged or two lovers find one another in a bar or sex is filmed and distributed for others to view, it is not my concern. None of that automatically desacralizes sex in my eyes. What does is the negative, resentful and/or apathetic attitude that so often accompanies sexuality, at least as practiced in the U.S today. The lack of respect for the act is apparent to me, and it sickens me, even as I’ve been caught up in just such a lifestyle myself. Extricated myself from it, by and large, but I am still affected by it, and my body responds to it, even as my mind knows better. That is the result of conditioning, of youthful exposure, of porn increasingly influencing the mainstream media (which I term as “porn culture”), of widespread acceptance (especially within my age group), and undoubtedly upbringing factors in. We live in a social climate of value anomie where everything is up for experimentation, especially if money or attention can be attained off of it.

Sexual displays garner attention. People respond to that, as is natural, especially for those who feel deprived of enough attention. Sexuality, therefore, isn’t so much addictive as it is magnetic. We’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. Social and intimate dysfunction opens people up to drawing toward sexual dysfunctionality. This I do believe.

Yet people defend it. Tooth and nail. They tend to argue from a libertarian legal perspective (which, to an extent, I share), stating whatever adults are involved in voluntarily should be allowable. While I’m not an advocate for censorship or bringing in new laws to attempt to control our behaviors, I have come to take issue with the hard-line attitude in support of virtually all pornography and violent displays, because it leaves off the table the moral, social, and psychological dimensions to this ordeal. It’s as if legality is all people want to see in any of this; all other concerns are reduced and dismissed as mere personal preferences.

Having now finished watching the entire video clip, I basically agree with what that man said. However, I worry about his strategies being employed someday in a “Brave New World” kind of way, which would create a host of problems all unto itself. Call me a Luddite of sorts, which is probably accurate to an extent, but I have trouble with comprehending how modern life as Westerners experience it is healthy for humans in terms of its push toward “experts”micromanaging everything and economics ultimately determining our collective fate. Much more could be said in response to this clip, which I am glad to have listened to, but it’s approaching dinner time.