Tony Perkins in “Psycho”

I learned something new yesterday about the shameless little man who runs the Family Research Council: Tony Perkins does not love anyone who is suffering from mental illness.

It’s possible that Perkins does not even know anyone who is suffering from mental illness or, at least, that he thinks he doesn’t know any such person. Because if he did know such a person, and if he cared about them even just a little bit, just enough to begin thinking about what their world is like, then he couldn’t have allowed this to be sent out in his name: “Should Private Businesses Be Forced to Pay for Sexual Disorders?”

The perpetually alarmed Perkins is alarmed this time over the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, which says that if you’ve promised to provide health care for your employees, then guess what? You have to provide health care for your employees. And you don’t get to break your promise just because your brain hasn’t yet figured out that it’s an inseparable part of your body.

Now I happen to think that the American model of employer-based health care is, itself, insane. It arises from the convoluted, wasteful and inefficient Rube Goldberg device we’ve constructed in an attempt to pretend that a free market in health care is theoretically sound. But given the existence of that uniquely American patchwork employer-based system (“you tend the sick with the health care system you have, not with …”) the Wellstone Act is necessary. It reasserts reality in the face of the fantasy that brains and bodies are somehow neatly and easily divisible.

I would understand if Perkins opposed all such mandates, and not just those involving treatment for mental illness, based on some free-market principle. I would disagree — on the facts as well as the ideology — but I would understand. But that’s not what Perkins does here. What he does, instead, is attempt to portray the concept of mental illness itself as illegitimate. He mocks the idea that mental illness refers to anything real.

He tries to show that mental illness is either trivial or merely perverse by cobbling together a weird little list of diagnoses from the DSM-IV:

The bill uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as the basis for identifying conditions that must be covered. Among the more troubling diagnoses incorporated into DSM-IV are: Circadian rhythm sleep disorder (jet lag type); Caffeine intoxication; Sibling relational problem; Substance-induced sexual dysfunction; Gender identity disorder; Necrophilia; Transvestic fetishism; and Pedophilia.

The two parts of Perkins’ little list are efforts to make mental illness seem either trivial or repugnant.

Let’s take the supposedly trivial first. Things like jet lag and caffeine intoxication are included as diagnoses in the DSM-IV because they can mirror the symptoms of more substantial problems and thus need to be either ruled out or ruled in by care providers making a diagnosis. Mental health professionals have to know about such things for the same reason that cardiologists need to be able to recognize the symptoms of heartburn. Clinicians need to be able, when appropriate, to tell a prospective patient, “You’re not depressed, you’re jet-lagged. Go home and get some sleep” or “It’s not a panic attack, just lay off the double espresso.”

It’s possible Perkins doesn’t understand that, but he doesn’t come across as someone who is either that stupid or that honest. So rather than give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s simply a moron, I’m assuming he’s deliberately misrepresenting the DSM to deceive his readers. He is, in other words, lying to his supporters to alarm them into sending him more money.

That’s pretty much his job. And he’s good at his job.

The rest of Perkins list is harder to make sense of. The FRC, like other anti-gay groups of the religious right, is still complaining that homosexuality is no longer listed as a mental disorder in the DSM. Yet here, by mocking the DSM and by snidely listing things like gender identity disorder and transvestic fetishism alongside jet lag, he seems to be suggesting … what? That these things are not substantially different from jet lag?

The context of this whole alarming Alert! is to oppose the treatment of mental illness. Perkins then goes out of his way to say that the treatment of necrophilia and pedophila are particularly “troubling.” Is there any way to read that other than as Perkins suggesting that these disorders should not be treated? Because that seems like a very strange thing to be arguing for anyone who’s not a member of NAMBLA. I strongly disagree with Perkins on this point. I’m not a kid anymore and I’m not dead yet, but I would still like to make sure that any potential pedophile or necrophiliac is treated as swiftly and thoroughly as possible.

Part of Perkins’ problem here — or at least part of the problem he’s pandering to — is the popular evangelical notion that there’s really no such thing as mental illness, only sin. (The secular parallel to this in conservative ideology is that there’s no such thing as mental illness, only irresponsible personal choices.) In many evangelical circles, the word “therapeutic” is used only as a sneering pejorative. This arises from several of the more troublesome aspects of the American evangelical subculture: from its instinctive anti-intellectual/anti-science bias; from its neo-Neo-platonic belief in a body/mind, flesh/soul duality; from its illiteralist misreading of scripture (“they’re not mentally ill, they’re demon possessed“).

What that all adds up to, in many branches of American evangelicalism, is an attitude toward mental illness that is indistinguishable from that of the Christian Scientists.

One could try to counter this weird idea that mental illness equals sin by methodically addressing each of those root assumptions and rationally explaining the flaws of each, trying, through education and reason, to liberate Perkins’ followers from the intellectual veal pens he’s trapped them in. That approach might even be effective on some rare occasions. Most of the time, however, this idea will persist until the person subscribing to it has some direct personal experience that breaks through the illusory construct. They need to meet someone who is directly affected by mental illness. They need to love someone who is directly affected by mental illness.

Once that happens, it becomes much harder to continue blaming the victim.

  • Zed

    Tonio, that doesn’t sound like depression; that sounds like someone who either doesn’t care or is afraid of offending their boss.
    Depression isn’t not caring. Depression is hurting so damn much and being afraid to move or unable to bring yourself to do anything you care about, but it’s not “not caring”. You’re not asleep. You’re just busy dealing with all the pain.
    …hmh. Look, if you saw a friend slouching down the street, moving very slowly and carefully, you might assume they were tired, right? And you walk up to them, and drop a hand on their shoulder and start talking, like you do with friends.
    If they’re tired, they might perk up a bit and start talking to you, or they might explain it’s great to see you but can they talk to you later ’cause they want to go sleep, or whatever.
    If they’re a mass of bruises and sprains and scrapes under their clothes and you just whacked them on that huge tender spot you didn’t know about, they will suddenly move *much* faster and start screaming at you.
    You can’t tell from looking. And if you don’t poke them, then yeah, it just looks like they’re tired.
    They’re not tired. They *hurt*.
    As to this
    Possibly. Interactions with anyone who has power or authority over me bring out fear in me. Not necessarily fear of the person, but fear of doing something to displease the person.
    Why are you assuming that a depressed person will see other people as having authority over them?
    I can see two reasons for the assumption; one, that you think depression is about someone being passive and that this naturally leads to them being *actively* submissive, and taking action to curry favour (rather than taking no action because they’re busy dealing with other things); or two, that you’re assuming the stigma of depression is such that the depressed person will see themselves as flawed and inferior (which can happen, but isn’t always an overwhelming factor, and with D and W you could just as easily be dealing with undiagnosed depression anyway).
    If you’re using another rationale, can you explain it? I’d like to understand.

  • Jesurgislac

    W: Sorry, I’ve been whinging a bit, to get over the point that Ws have to consider their own needs, and that categorizing them as ‘abandoning’ D, or failing to give D leeway, or not making allowances for D’s illness, if they decide to prioritize their own needs is unhelpful. It’s as though the stigma is shifting from D to W. I think I’ve made my point – W should not be made to feel guilty or cowardly if she packs her bags and gets out. And it’s a damned sight easier to do that after fifteen minutes than after 15 years.
    Damn right. On all counts.

  • Tonio

    Depression is hurting so damn much and being afraid to move or unable to bring yourself to do anything you care about, but it’s not “not caring”. You’re not asleep. You’re just busy dealing with all the pain.
    You’re refuting a point that I wasn’t making. I wasn’t equating passivity with disinterest. I was saying that passivity has its roots in fear and pain.
    Why are you assuming that a depressed person will see other people as having authority over them?
    I’m not making that assumption either. I’m saying that I perceive others as having authority over me.
    one, that you think depression is about someone being passive and that this naturally leads to them being *actively* submissive, and taking action to curry favour…or two, that you’re assuming the stigma of depression is such that the depressed person will see themselves as flawed and inferior…
    No, I’m suggesting that *actively* submissive involves attempts to avoid others’ anger, which is not the same as currying favor. I’m also suggesting that the seeing one’s self as flawed and inferior is an inherent part of depression and not necessarily the result of societal stigma. Are these correct?

  • Froborr

    Seeing oneself as flawed and inferior is a common symptom of depression. It is not necessarily an inherent part of depression, however.
    It’s like, I dunno, getting a runny nose when you have a cold. Colds very often cause runny noses. However, you can’t say of someone who is sneezing a lot, has red, rheumy eyes, and can’t breathe through their nose, “That person’s nose isn’t running, therefore they don’t have a cold.”
    Similarly, depression might cause a person to become passive or it might not. It might cause frequent crying jags, or it might cause numbness, or it might cause lashing out in anger. There are a lot of different symptoms of depression, and no one sufferer is necessarily going to have all of them.

  • Zed

    > You’re refuting a point that I wasn’t making. I
    > wasn’t equating passivity with disinterest. I was
    > saying that passivity has its roots in fear and
    > pain.
    I’m not sure passivity is the right word, though, anymore than laziness or relaxation is the right word to describe the friend who’s been beaten black and blue. But it looks like that from the outside, and perhaps it is a workable word, so okay.
    >> Why are you assuming that a depressed person will
    >> see other people as having authority over them?
    > I’m not making that assumption either. I’m saying
    > that I perceive others as having authority over
    > me.
    *is puzzled* Even the in DW example, where it’s you and someone you’re in a relationship with going out to a movie?
    >> one, that you think depression is about someone
    >> being passive and that this naturally leads to
    >> them being *actively* submissive, and taking
    >> action to curry favour…or two, that you’re
    >> assuming the stigma of depression is such that
    >> the depressed person will see themselves as
    >> flawed and inferior…
    > No, I’m suggesting that *actively* submissive
    > involves attempts to avoid others’ anger, which
    > is not the same as currying favor.
    Attempting to avoid others’ anger is not a universal characteristic of depression. Neither is being off enough that you think a loved one might be *angry* at you for liking a movie you didn’t like can happen. I will not say it never occurs; I’m saying that it’s not what comes to my not-a-medical-professional mind when I think of depression.
    On the other hand, provoking others’ anger so that you can be self-destructive because you *deserve* to be hurt, you deserve to be yelled at, you screwed up and everything is awful (now and forever), and it’s better if they get angry at you anyway so that they’ll leave and have a good life because they don’t deserve you–that can happen. Doesn’t happen all the time, but it can.
    Or hearing that they liked or didn’t like the movie and breaking down crying and not being able to stop even though you know you’re upsetting them because you don’t remember the movie, you couldn’t concentrate, your brain just isn’t there and you don’t know what to do, it’s like there isn’t even a “you” to know anything, and then they ask if you want to go sit down somewhere and catch your breath and you can’t even *decide* and it’s not that you don’t understand what’s going on it’s just that you can’t *think* and it’s terrifying. And then you cry because you’re wasting all this time because you couldn’t even make a simple decision.
    > I’m also suggesting that the seeing one’s self as
    > flawed and inferior is an inherent part of
    > depression and not necessarily the result of
    > societal stigma. Are these correct?
    No, I don’t *believe* so (although again I understand it’s very common).
    But even if you are depressed and you do see yourself as flawed and inferior, it doesn’t follow that you always handle it by trying to avoid making people angry.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    The puzzling thing, at least for me, Tonio, is that I’m not sure whether you’re saying you’re depressed or not. Where are you coming from on this?

  • Tonio

    Zed, thanks for the clarification.
    Neither is being off enough that you think a loved one might be *angry* at you for liking a movie you didn’t like can happen.
    That’s not quite accurate. It’s about worrying that the other person might question his or her love for you because your taste might be weird or bad.
    Even the in DW example, where it’s you and someone you’re in a relationship with going out to a movie?
    Maybe not authority in the sense of giving orders. But the other person does have power over you through their capability of getting angry. Anger is one trait of authority figures, and anger amounts to a withholding of love even when the angry person doesn’t see themselves as withholding love.

  • Tonio

    Where are you coming from on this?
    Sorry, I should have explained that I suspected depression but I wasn’t sure.

  • Cyllan

    Anger is one trait of authority figures, and anger amounts to a withholding of love even when the angry person doesn’t see themselves as withholding love.
    Mmm, Tonio? I know it’s been said before, but you really should look into this. Anger does not amount to a withholding of love; sometimes love is required to be angry. Anger is also not limited to authority figures although I will grant that authority figures do have more freedom to express that anger.
    I love my spouse. Sometimes my spouse does things that make me angry like forgetting to call me when he’s on his way home. (We all have our issues, okay?) I do not love my spouse any less when he forgets to do this; I’m just angry that he forgot. If I loved him less, I wouldn’t be as annoyed. Because I love him, however, I take the time to tell him that I’m angry and he takes the time to apologize.
    Admittedly, this is small anger, but the big anger cases are much the same — although I don’t tend to discuss those in public. Every time that I’ve been in a towering fury, it’s been with someone that I loved deeply and dearly. I loved them no less when I was furious with them. When my friends and loved ones are angry with me, it is much the same. They can be angry with me and still love me, and I know that they love me even while accepting their anger.
    (Caveat: There are people who have anger issues. Generally, I don’t hang around these sorts of folks because their rage isn’t reason-based. If someone blows up at me for no good reason, I find that I don’t really need their friendship.)

  • http://jakobknits.blogspot.com Jake

    Tonio, it seems like you’re arguing with Praline by describing something that’s entirely different. Praline and Zed have given an excellent description of depression (I say as a sufferer of it).
    You are describing something else… I’m not sure, insecurity maybe. You’re describing something that sounds real. I’m not sure why you keep describing it, maybe you experience it? But what you’re describing is not depression. That doesn’t make it not a real or valid experience, it’s just not a depressive experience.
    To me, the conversation between you and Praline looks like this:
    ======
    Praline: I’m going to give my favourite curry recipe. You chop an inch of ginger finely, mix it in a bowl with cumin, turmeric, coriander seed and cayenne. Then you take a head of broccoli, a block of tofu, and some red peppers…
    Tonio: Don’t forget to boil the water!
    Praline: Huh? I guess if you’re having your curry on rice you should boil some water with rice in it, but the curry is actually prepared in a frying pan. You want to heat the oil on medium heat, then add some chopped onion and the spice mix and saute it until the onions are translucent, then add the tofu and broccoli…
    Tonio: No, you put pasta in the water. And you don’t cook it for more than 7 minutes or it gets too mushy.
    Praline: Um.. I guess you could have the curry on pasta if you want, but that doesn’t really have to do with the recipe I’m giving here. So you add those ingredients, saute them until the broccoli is bright green, then add the red peppers, saute just long enough for them to warm through without really cooking and, voila, curry!
    Tonio: I never said you should put curry on pasta. I’m saying that I like my pasta al dente. With tomato sauce on it.
    =======
    I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a lot of cross-purpose talking going on here, and I think that either there’s another mental illness other than depression that you would like us to discuss, or else you’re trying to describe depression and getting it way wrong.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    Tonio, take it from your old pal Praline: if you think you might be depressed, go to a doctor as soon as ever you can. Depression is deadly serious, and statistics show that the sooner it’s treated, the better the chances for recovery. I hope you aren’t depressed, but it’s like finding a lump: get it checked out by a professional straight away before it metastasizes.

  • Zed

    Hmmh.
    Anger doesn’t amount to a withholding of love, but when anger is present love is not usually being demonstrated in a comfortable way (if love is even there to begin with, but I’m leaving arguments with co-workers or other drivers out of this for the moment).
    Therefore, if you need love to be present (and this doesn’t have to be elaborate, gift-giving, romantic paeans love–it can just be comfortable body language, common points of reference, and so forth), anger means the love is not there as far as you can perceive.
    And if you don’t have confidence in the existence of the love–if you believe that they might stop loving you because of your taste in movies–that can be a terrifying thing.
    Am I outlining it at all right?
    I don’t think that’s depression. I don’t know what to call it–low valuation of the self? Utter lack of confidence in your ability to read people?–but I don’t think it’s depression.

  • Zed

    Re: my above comment: I don’t think that’s depression yet, and I am not a professional anyway. Praline’s right; get it checked.

  • Froborr

    Zed: You’ve just given a perfect description (speaking as a sufferer) of a major facet of Avoidant Personality Disorder. Which has an extremely high co-morbidity with anxiety and depression, I should note.

  • Tonio

    Every time that I’ve been in a towering fury, it’s been with someone that I loved deeply and dearly. I loved them no less when I was furious with them. When my friends and loved ones are angry with me, it is much the same. They can be angry with me and still love me, and I know that they love me even while accepting their anger.
    How did each of you know that you were still loved? Others’ anger doesn’t feel like love to me. A few times when my wife has gotten seriously angry with me, I’ve gotten nauseous and dizzy.
    I think that either there’s another mental illness other than depression that you would like us to discuss, or else you’re trying to describe depression and getting it way wrong.
    No, I was simply trying to understand depression and whether or not I fit that description.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    @Tonio. When people have been angry with me, I’ve simply had a sense that there are two kinds of anger: anger from people who are considering breaking off their dealings with you, and anger from people who just want you to stop doing whatever it is that’s ticking them off. The latter is anger that only carries the threat of more anger, and the former carries the threat of withdrawal, punishment and all kinds of other things. It’s the difference between ‘Stop pissing me off, it’s pissing me off,’ and ‘Stop pissing me off, or else…’
    Anger with limited threat is what we get from loved ones. Anger with threats is what we get from pepole who don’t love us, or at least, don’t love us healthily.
    If you’re having difficulty distinguishing between the two, that is an issue you’d probably benefit from working on. If you’re feeling actually nauseous or dizzy when your wife is angry, that sounds like acute anxiety to me. Anxiety ties in heavily with depression, and indeed, many other mood disorders that can play merry havoc with your life. For your own benefit, as well as your wife’s, I’d try to nip this in the bud and talk to some trustworthy professional about it.

  • borealys

    Tonio, it could be depression. It may be mild depression, or a precursor to depression, a risk factor for depression, or a depression manifesting in a way different than what other people on this thread have experienced. Low self-esteem and irrational anxiety about interpersonal relationships can absolutely be a part of depression. On the other hand, it may not be. The symptoms you described could be a part of some other psychological disorder. An anxiety disorder, maybe?
    If you aren’t sure, get it checked out. Maybe it’s not a full-blown illness yet, but it sounds to me like you’re at the very least at risk of developing one. Believe me, if you can head a full-blown depression off at the pass by dealing with your anxiety and stress and self-esteem issues, it’s 100% worth it.

  • Froborr

    Tonio: I can’t answer your question, because I’m in the same boat as you. When someone is angry at me, I feel as if they’ve withdrawn their love. Likewise when they’re not paying attention to me (and yet, at the same time, being the focus of attention makes me intensely uncomfortable). I’ve managed to reach the intellectual understanding that the love is still there underneath even if the person isn’t showing it at the moment, but that hasn’t helped much with the emotional experience thus far.

  • burgundy

    It sounds a little bit like emotional object permanence, or lack thereof. If you’re looking at a chair, and I draw a curtain across the room so you can no longer see it, you know the chair is still there, it still exists (unless you have specific evidence that I have moved it, like dragging sounds). This is something that very young infants have to develop; they don’t come with that feature already installed.
    What you’re describing makes me think that for whatever reason(s), you don’t process relationships in quite the same way. I know my family members love me; I have always known this and they have shown it and said it repeatedly. If my mother is angry at me (and she has been really, really angry at times), I can be terribly upset by this and still not fear a withdrawal of love. The curtain is obscuring the chair. Rather than needing the chair’s existence to be demonstrated over and over again, I can trust that it remains until and unless I’m given reason to think otherwise.
    I have a bit of the same problem myself, but not in that particular area.

  • stinger

    Posted by: Praline | Mar 06, 2008 at 09:31 AM
    Thank you, Praline. Having been D myself, I find it too much to articulate. You have done so, and done it well.

  • Tonio

    An anxiety disorder, maybe?
    About five years ago, I spent a few months on an SSRI drug. My counselor at the time thought it might help clear the anxiety enough so I could see issues more clearly. He couldn’t prescribe the drug himself but he had me take the recommendation to my regular doctor. The drug only led to weight gain.

  • Froborr

    burgundy: That is a *brilliant* comparison, thank you.

  • Zed

    @Tonio
    How did each of you know that you were still loved? Others’ anger doesn’t feel like love to me. A few times when my wife has gotten seriously angry with me, I’ve gotten nauseous and dizzy.
    First, I’ve never been in that situation. I don’t know if what I say will help at all. The worst I’ve ever had is a faint optical trick where it’s like I’m looking at my husband through the wrong end of a telescope and he’s so so far away. But that’s happened maybe half a dozen times in my life, and not always when the person I’m looking at is angry at me.[1]
    You know because they said they love you, and they’ve said that just because they’re angry it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. And if the fight’s a bad one, sometimes you forget this for a minute, because you’re busy being angry. But that’s different from *doubting* it.
    Second, I’m strictly a layperson, albeit a moderately interested one in mental health issues. I’m not a professional and I can’t tell you what’s wrong or help. Please please please see about talking about this to someone? It sounds like a horrible thing to go through, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    [1] Weirdly, I *always* get fragments of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” or “How Beautiful You Are” in my head at those points.

  • lonespark

    Hmmm, Tonio, I know exactly what you mean about your reactions, because I’m the same way. Hard for me to sort out whether that’s the depression, or something else related to what may involve elements of Avoidant and/or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, or just a quirk of personality I’ve inherited from my indecisive, anxious father and grandfather. And it’s not like I don’t have reason to be anxious; I’ve often done something wrong at work, then not been able to own up to it, or admit ignorance and ask questions, and my husband does often criticize my actions, my priorities and sometimes my taste. But, especially when I was severely depressed, I blew the liklihood of criticism out of proportion, into a blanket judgement of my worth as a person, and in wanting to avoid those situations, I paralyzed my life. The rest of the time, though, I’m just the person who hates making cold calls and such.

  • Jeff

    Every time that I’ve been in a towering fury, it’s been with someone that I loved deeply and dearly.
    Damn, I forgot to buy GW Bush a Valentine’s day card! [/snark]
    ========================
    anger from people who are considering breaking off their dealings with you, and anger from people who just want you to stop doing whatever it is that’s ticking them off.
    Do you have these backwards? If my sweetie persists in doing something that I think is unhealthy (frex, smoking — safe example since neither of us smoke), I’ll get angry if she doesn’t even try to quit — I want her to stop the behavior that’s pissing me off. But I wouldn’t leave her, or threaten to leave her, unless it is a MAJOR deal-breaker (as snorting coke, might be).

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    @ Jeff: I think I had them in a somewhat confusing order. Basically, I meant: healthy love = no threats, unhealthy love/no love = threats.
    Hi Stinger – thanks for the kind words. Hope you feel better… :-)

  • http://mabus101.livejournal.com Mabus

    Regarding RTC attitudes on mental illness:
    Roughly 200 years ago, a substantial number of churches ancestral to the RTCs happily picked up the concept of mental illness as part of the growing opposition to strict Calvinism. “If a person really is incapable of doing the right thing,” they argued, “there is something wrong with them, but it isn’t sin and they can’t be blamed for it.” They adopted what amounts to the current legal definition of mental illness–the inability to understand right or wrong, or the inability to act on that understanding.
    The problem was that the new psychiatric “establishment” immediately began to medicalize more and more behaviors, and more and more instances of behavior, to the point that it looked as if the whole idea of “sin” would vanish from society. The proto-RTCs had favored the new conceptual framework of insanity as part of an underlying free-will ethic: most people are sane/healthy, and capable of doing the right thing if they will discipline themselves; only a few people are mentally ill. In case that doesn’t draw your sympathies, they also feared that the government would try to control normal people via “psychiatric” treatment–brainwashing their citizens into being good loyal patriots.
    Some of the RTCs tried to hold the line. Some surrendered and went over to the liberal side of the force. And some decided the whole concept of psychiatry was wrong, and there was no such thing as insanity–only bad behavior, or only demonic possession.
    This encapsulates quite neatly the fighting over what belongs in the DSM and what doesn’t–RTC churches tend to accept the underlying validity of the types of illnesses listed, at least in terms of “What is abnormal behavior?” Thus the internal conflict whenever something gets removed from or added to the DSM.

  • http://mabus101.livejournal.com Mabus

    Er…accidentally left this out: The “not responsible” angle is still an intrinsic part of the RTC concept of mental illness, too. Thus the furor over certain specific diagnoses like pedophilia–RTCs perceive society as wanting to have its cake and eat it too, since if pedophilia is a mental illness, by RTC standards it’s inappropriate to blame the guy who violated your son. He couldn’t help it!

  • Tonio

    to the point that it looked as if the whole idea of “sin” would vanish from society.
    Replace “sin” with “responsibility” and you would have the secular conservative position. Why do the two positions sound similar? Is it because both the secular conservatives and RTCs take authoritarian stances on personal behavior?

  • Tonio

    He couldn’t help it!
    Is that really what RTCs believe, or is that simply a straw man that they’ve created?

  • http://mabus101.livejournal.com Mabus

    Tonio: Replace “sin” with “responsibility” and you would have the secular conservative position. Why do the two positions sound similar? Is it because both the secular conservatives and RTCs take authoritarian stances on personal behavior?
    Yup. This is not new information. Nor do I consider it terribly remarkable. Personal responsibility is one of the foundational characteristics of civilization. While I strongly prefer that people control their own behavior, there are cases where they refuse to do so, and someone else must do it for them.
    Is that really what RTCs believe, or is that simply a straw man that they’ve created?
    I can’t speak with certainty for all RTCs–beliefs on responsibility vary somewhat between my church and, say, that of the Southern Baptists. But in the Churches of Christ–yes, that is absolutely what we really believe. (There are many internal divergences of theology, but this is one point on which the variation is very small.) One cannot be responsible for what one cannot control. If pedophilia is a mental illness, it cannot also be a sin and should not also be a crime (though it is dangerous behavior for which someone should be institutionalized). If it is a mental illness for some people but not for others, it is not a sin and should not be a crime for the first group, but is and should be for the second. The position was formalized (insofar as anything is formal with us) in response to Calvinist beliefs in which people are held responsible for sins which God unchangeably decreed they would commit, but it is far more general. We take free will very seriously indeed.

  • Tonio

    While I strongly prefer that people control their own behavior, there are cases where they refuse to do so, and someone else must do it for them.
    Sure, but that’s not authoritarianism as I perceive it. Authoritarianism teaches that people are predisposed NOT to control their own behavior, that someone else MUST do it for them through rules and threats of punishment. At the same time, it teaches that people are always responsible for their behavior. From what I’ve read, some Christian denominations acknowledge that homosexuality may be inherent rather than a choice, but they still maintain that gays are required not to express their sexuality. I find that position strange.

  • Ursula L

    In terms of defining depression – whether it comes out as anger, or as withdrawal, or a variety of other expressions – I have a theory, of sort.
    Depression tends to express itself (or at least be notice by the person affected) when it affect the things that are important to them. It takes away the pleasure of the activity or interaction, makes the person react and perform badly in the activity or interaction, and makes the person avoid the interaction, even if there is some pleasure left in it.
    So someone who loves playing basketball might realize that they are depressed when they keep going to their usual game, but just don’t enjoy playing, find themselves unable to play in the same way they used to, with no discernable reason, and find themselfs just not going – not because they intend not to go, but because they are avoiding it. Someone who values interpersonal relationships might find themselves not enjoying the company of the people they care for, not “doing well” with their interpersonal relationships, by becoming angry or sullen, and generally unpleasant, and becoming withdrawn, avoiding being with people when they enjoy it. Someone who normally enjoys fashion and dressing well might find themselves not bothering with nice clothes or makeup. Someone who loves to study or learn might find that a new, well-written book on a topic that fascinates them just isn’t interesting, that they can’t remember what they are reading, and that they just aren’t reading, even when surrounded by wonderful books.
    So, when my depression flairs up I might well be avoiding basketball – but I can’t tell that it is a problem, because I avoid it anyways, sports being the evil horrible things that they are.
    I avoid social interactions, but it isn’t very noticable, since I’m not all that social. To a certain extent, I’m on “artificial” behavior when I’m socializing, since I’m normally so completely introverted, and I can mantain the “artificial” behavior even when depressed, and still enjoy the social event in my ususal way, and not seem out-of-sorts. (I’m not pretending to enjoy things I don’t, or otherwise deciving, just moving myself out of my default state of being alone, into an interactive state that I can mantain and enjoy for a few hours, before the effort becomes overwhelming.)
    But what is really frightening, and what tells me it is time to get help, is when I stop reading. For classes, for personal study, for fun. That strikes to the heart of what I am. But that type of depression doesn’t necessarily present clearly as depression to counselors, who tend to be focused more on the interpersonal aspects of life. I’ve found they tend to look for all sorts of problems as being the “real” depression, with the intellectual stupor being an expression – it’s because I’m stressed about classes, or lonely, or whatever else they can think of that is more important to them, in the way that brain-play is important to me.

  • Anonymous

    the only true evil in this world is the lack of human empathy
    Why is it you slactivites always come up with a way to express the things I struggle to put into words with such ease and eloquence? Exactly, my friend. Exactly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradgranath Brad Granath

    I agree with your point, but it looks like FRC is on to you.

  • Atgeyer

    Brad – in what way?

    (- from Saffi, too lazy to sign in)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So rather than give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s simply a
    moron, I’m assuming he’s deliberately misrepresenting the DSM to
    deceive his readers.

    This tactic is very common among right-wing fearmongers, who take legitimate things that seem hi-falutin-ly esoteric and basically say, “See, those liberal eggheads are doing these silly things that any plain-thinking person knows is bunk.”

    It’s like with this whole ebonics kerfluffle.

    It was intended to classify the speech of African Americans in a way that would give (largely white) teachers in schools a mechanism to help transition students into learning what might be termed “American Standard”.

    Then that ignorant useless sack of crap Limbaugh found out about it and had himself a grand old time mocking the entire thing as a product of ivory tower eggheads. (Of course one huge unstated assumption Limbaugh was counting on is that his largely white audience buys into the melting pot cultural myth, and with it, the idea that everybody should just “learn to talk white”.)

    That’s fine if the ethnic groups in question have a reason to go along with it.

    Somehow, I don’t think African Americans have had much luck melting into the pot, as it were. <_<

    Anyway I've sidetracked pretty far, so to circle this back to Perkins and the DSM, the main problem is that the general group of people who tend to distrust mental medicine to begin with, and who don't understand mental disorders, won't care to grasp how psychiatric diagnoses actually work amd that actually they don't just slap a label on anyone who wants to get a diagnosis to avoid work or whatever.


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