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Parental Units

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Well, in the middle of all this, I’ve started to read a book–The Servile Mind, by Kenneth Minogue–that speaks to a lot of it, but before I get to the book, I want to get to the parents.

Lymaree said that kids don’t learn the kinds of things I’m talking about in school, they learn them from their parents long before they get to school.

But I’m not too sure that the parents are much of a better bargain.  I watched a Dateline on ID episode a few weeks ago–at least, I think that’s what it was; I watch the ID Channel so much I get the stuff it shows confused after a while–about an episode of cheating in a small town.

The issue was a final project for a high school biology class.   The project was to count for a large proportion of the final course grade, and students had plagarism explained to them beforehand, as they had the punishment for plagarism–failing the paper, period–also explained.

Come time to hand in the projects, the teacher failed something like eight to twelve students for plagarism.

At which point, their parents hit the school, ready to sue.  And under no circumstances would they admit that their children had done anything at all worthy of punishment.  One kid insisted he had not plagarized, because where the source he’d used had put the information into one long sentence, he’d divided that sentence into two shorter ones.

Then the administration–took the side of the parents.  The teacher was forced to resign, and the student grades on the plagarized papers were raised while the proportion those papers counted toward the final grade were lowered.

The one bright spot in this whole mess was that it became national news, and transcripts from that school were suddenly sharply downgraded by colleges when they considered those students for admission.

Of course, that was also the bad news, since everybody–even the students who did not cheat–was tarred with the same brush.

Minogue sees this kind of thing and explains it as part of a larger whole–this idea that there should be no serious consequences to anything, that punishment is always wrong and probably abusive. 

But he points out, and I think he’s right, that this doesn’t actually lead to a society in which individuals have more liberty.  What used to be a bad habit, or criminal behavior, is now a “disorder.”  What used to be punishment is now “treatment.”  But punishment was finite–you go to jail for a determined number of years, you lose your job, you spend all your money and don’t have it for the rent and get tossed out on the street.

“Treatment,” on the other hand, is open-ended, and in more ways than one.  There is no time when you’re “done,” except when your therapist or other authority says you are.  You are therefore subordinate to your therapist in a way that you’re never subordinate to your boss or the guards in your prison. 

A prisoner who just doesn’t want to deal with these people any more can always refuse to apply for parole, fulfill his entire sentence, and walk out the door a free man.  A patient with a disorder has no objective guidelines to tell him when he’s “cured,” and the rules for being cured can change on him every other week without his being able to do a thing about it. 

Of course, if the patient has voluntarily made himself one and gone into treatment under his own steam, he’s free to quit when he wants to quit.

But a person forced into therapy–as part of the “treatment” for his “disorder” required by the school, or by his employer, or by a court–must defer to the judgment of this therapist in everything.  Anything less than total acquicense is “proof” that he still has his “disorder.” 

Forced therapy is the ultimate example of the rule of men and not laws.

What’s more, courts, schools, employers and others are willing to impose “therapy” even when it is demonstrably useless.  Over 95% of everybody who enters drug or alcohol rehab programs goes back to using within a year.  That’s what is usually called “failure” in any other enterprise. 

Still, courts and parole boards confidently demand attendance at “programs” as a condition of release, probation or parole. 

When the system ends up in a situation where the patent uselessness of the “therapy” cannot be denied, the result is both hysteria and a frantic backpedaling on all the sacred cows of the movement.

Practicing pedophiles, it seems, are not curable–that means the condition must be innate.  But an innate sexual preference is a sexual orientation, and we shouldn’t discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.  So–well, so pedophiles are born bad, they’re barely human, they ought to be treated like scum, they should have no civil rights.

Since that doesn’t sound right, we try something else–they themselves were abused as children.

Hmm.  But if they themselves were abused as children, and that explains their pedophilia, then anybody who has been abused as a child is “at risk” to become an abuser himself. 

So, if you admit to the social worker that you were abused as a child, you are automatically under heightened suspicions of abusing your own children, and that admission alone has been used in some states (California, for instance) as a reason in and of itself for putting a child into foster care.

Am I the only one seeing the problem here?

The Minogue is interesting if only in its attempt to investigate whether these kinds of situations are a natural result of an expanding franchise, because–he thinks–the shift to thinking of government as a “provider of services” is itself a natural result of an expanding franchise. 

I’m blithering, and the office is full of people today and not exactly conducive to reflective thought.

But I’ll leave you with that, and with this:

Faith based systems–systems that require us to believe things even when reality contradicts them–always result in higher and higher levels of central control.

It’s the only way to keep the peanut gallery from noticing that the faith is full of…horse manure.

Written by janeh

December 7th, 2010 at 9:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses to 'Parental Units'

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  1. I’d think the Protestant experience alone, particularly in the more, ummm, that is, the groups that emphasize the individual relationship with God would prove that faith-based systems don’t invariably result in higher levels of central control. Far from it. The requirement to believe things that can’t be proved from a materialistic viewpoint often results in fission, not fusion.

    Some things, like addiction, are so bloody destructive that even a 5% or less chance of success is worth trying. At the point at which courts come into it, you’re usually dealing with people who have had years – or even decades – of trying and failing at dealing with their addictions on their own, so the odds of that working this time around are probably even less – and, of course, statistics on ‘cures’ for conditions that probably don’t have them; that show periods of alternating periods of using and not, of varying lengths, are notoriously difficult to collect and interpret. But when you – or the judge, or your family – are desperate, 5% looks good.

    The other things – being forced into ill-defined and unproven ‘therapy’, favouritism towards our own revealed in getting them out of trouble by any means possible, the difficulty of applying logic to moral issues especially without first examining one’s underlying assumptions – are part of the human condition and always with them. Like addiction, actually, and the tendency of some groups to form rigid structures and other to split or collapse entirely.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t have to insist that cheating is cheating, and should be punished, that behaviour driven by any of your innate drives must be controlled, and that anyone who wants to treat people should have some evidence that the treatment helps the patient.

    But with our best efforts, we’ll still have some people who insist that their close relative, caught red-handed, is really innocent, and that they have a right to do whatever their brain chemistry and hormone levels make soooo tempting, and desperate people and well-meaning ‘healers’ trying to fix what can’t be fixed, and sometimes what wasn’t broken in the first place.


    7 Dec 10 at 10:37 am

  2. Ummm. Five percent is about the number of people who give up on drugs and alcohol each year with no treatment whatever. If a drug can’t outscore the placebo, the FDA keeps it off the market as a fraud. This strikes me as excessive. But to insist that people participate in programs without a success rate above chance–and to legislate that insurance must pay for such “treatment”–is lunacy.

    An increasingly common lunacy, I’ll admit. But if you applied to the therapy industry what we insist on from real science–consistency and objectivity of analysis and demonstrated results–lots of therapists would be out of work. So, like those outraged parents, they insist that we deny reality.

    They’re not the only ones. How about the “equal opportunity” mafia insisting that every culture and race and both sexes are equally suited for–and equally prefer–any given employment, so that any deviation from this on the part of persons hiring and promoting is proof of bias. Again, challenging the fundamental assumption is just proof you’re really set in your biases.

    And both, as Jane points out, give government more power to make discretionary calls. A government under which everyone is guilty of something is a very happy government.

    “Faith-based systems” is only a particular case. The general case is that if you challenge the assumptions which legitimate people getting lots of power and money, the people with lots of power and money will come down on you hard. Repeat after me: “He who draws his sword against a prince can sheathe it only…”


    7 Dec 10 at 5:11 pm

  3. Back in the “good old days” when I was a young man, there was a common belief that therapy only worked when the patient wanted it. If that view is correct, than forcing people into therapy won’t work.


    7 Dec 10 at 6:45 pm

  4. Behavioral modification therapy, including aversive conditioning, can work whether one wants it to or not. Cognitive therapies, on the other hand, do require the willing participation of the victi…er, therapee. If that is indeed a word.

    If it is, it shouldn’t be.


    7 Dec 10 at 10:43 pm

  5. “I’ve started to read a book–The Servile Mind, by Kenneth Minogue”

    Snap. So far very good.

    Here’s Keith Windschuttle on the subject:


    Let me know if you have problems viewing it.


    7 Dec 10 at 11:23 pm

  6. re ‘therapee’ – why not ‘patient’? Of course, that word is often replaced by ‘client’ these days.

    If your objection is that people who undergo cognitive therapy are really victims, well, so are people who undergo quite mainstream treatments – particularly if their medical professional is incompetent, careless, merely having an off day, or possibly treating something that has only a few bad treatment options.


    8 Dec 10 at 7:57 am

  7. I was joking, Cheryl. I have indeed been helped by cognitive therapy myself. But I didn’t really think of myself as a patient. More like a worker in the vineyards of my mind. The therapist was more a guide than someone who “treated” me, at least in the same sense my physical doctors treat me.

    Perhaps that’s the missing element in all this. Mental treatment generally cannot do the same sorts of things that surgical or pharmaceutical treatment can, not without the participation of the person. Calling it “treatment” is misleading, as if the client were passive recipient, rather than the one doing the work.

    It’s more like exercise than treatment. It doesn’t do any good unless you do the work yourself. Otherwise mental treatment applied to a passive or resistant patient is like those shimmy belt machines they used to use in the 1950s in place of real exercise…just shakes up the flab, but doesn’t really reduce it.


    8 Dec 10 at 2:47 pm

  8. Sorry, Lymaree, I misunderstood you and I’m not at my most cheerful and able to spot jokes right now. Nothing serious, just tiredness and busy-ness.

    I’m not sure I’d use ‘treatment’ in quite that way, although I do get your point. Patients (or clients) have to participate in their own treatment even with pills and operations – remember that lovely term ‘non-compliant’ for the patient who doesn’t take the pills, or doesn’t take them as prescribed, or refuses surgery and yet expects a cure? And patients were expected to eat mild milky diets or reduce salt intake, at least before ulcers were proved to be caused by a microorganism and some people’s hypertension not influenced by salt intake.

    It’s certainly true that passive or resistant patients aren’t going to benefit from counselling, but they aren’t going to benefit much from pills or surgery either, not if they get it into their heads that they don’t want to participate in their treatment.


    8 Dec 10 at 3:36 pm

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