Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This article by John Podhoretz has it exactly correct: (hat tip: Kent S):
Can it really be that anybody seriously believed a career Army psychiatrist would deal with the “stress” of his own deployment to a war he opposes by opening fire and shooting 43 people? Evidently, the answer is yes, as Noah Pollak and others have noted. This is a particular American madness, as far as I can tell, the invocation of ludicrous pop psychology to explain acts that can only properly be described as evil.

This is more of the therapeutic psychobabble that I have written about before, and to put it bluntly, such nonsense is destroying psychiatry's credibility as a discipline. I wrote then:
"The therapeutic sensibility", or what I call "therapeutic psychobabble", is not actually therapeutic (i.e., it does not lead to healing) in the least.

In fact, this sensibility often becomes the major impediment that prevents patients with serious emotional problems from taking control over their lives. And, for individuals who aren't patients (but soon will be, most likely) it reflects a passive world view, where a person is the helpless victim of forces outside their control.

The key aspects of this psychobabble include an overemphasis on "self-esteem" at the expense of self-control and personal responsibility; an attitude that practically worships "feelings" at the expense of reason and truth; a fundamental misunderstanding about stress and the role of stress in life (i.e., that "all stress is bad", for example; and failing to appreciate that stress, when it is acknowledged and dealt with in healthy ways can enhance maturity and psychological health); and finally the glorification of victimhood and the celebration of unhealthy narcissism and the narcissists who exhibit it.

Case in point. Podhoretz also grasps the reason why this particular idiocy is being put forward with such enthusiasm now:
The “stress did it” claim has nothing to do with Hasan anyway; it’s a cover for implicit attacks on the McChrystal strategy for deploying significant additional troops to Afghanistan. That’s the true purpose of the pop-psych analysis anyway; it’s a way of removing the singular meaning from an event and converting into something more all-purpose.

Something much more "all-purpose"--like narcissitically turning the conversation to a topic that will help Dear Leader rationalize his supposedly in-depth,careful, already determined, future decision about the war in Afghanistan; which, when it finally becomes public will not quite be at all that it seems.

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