Wednesday 26 February 2014

Tall Poppies, Cyber Bullies, Culture Wars & Antidotes–updated

imageIt sounds like a joke, but in fact it’s deadly serious. What do a tennis player, two actors and a model-turned TV presenter have in common? The answer is: being cut down from below by the culture.

The difference between them is how they responded.

The death of Charlotte Dawson is the immediate reason for asking the question – a death she seems to have chosen in response not just to depression, but to a vicious online hate campaign she could never allow herself to ignore.

Deborah Hill Cone wrote a column about the death of Charlotte Dawson, suggesting the path to the freedom she never found in life would have been to abandon the idea that what others think about you matters – “the path to freedom” for women over fifty, for example, (the age of which Dawson was only a whisker away), being to “embrace the idea of being subversive, powerful, batty old broads.”

Could you have been one of those, Charlotte? (It's why so many of us go back to university. We all want to be Doris Lessing, Mary Wesley, Iris Murdoch.)
    But to get eccentric old bat status, you have to stop caring what other people think of you. That was particularly hard for you, Charlotte. Individuals with low self-esteem tend to be more concerned with what others think of them than what they think of themselves.
    You felt shunned for being single, being childless, for having a mental illness. The truth is no one really cares. But for you that was even worse.
    It is terrifying to think of becoming insignificant, being wiped out, being annihilated. So, ultimately, you chose to preserve Charlotte Dawson, the glamorous brand, aged 47, forever.

It wasn't just depression and “cyber bullying” that claimed Charlotte, argues Cone. It was, in a sense, living what my own favourite subversive old broad called “a second-hand life.” She wrote a book about it, the theme of which she said was

“individualism vs. collectivism, not in politics but in men’s souls.” The story opposes two different methods of approaching reality, including other people: using one’s own mind to the conscientious best of one’s ability—or surrendering one’s mind, in various forms, to the beliefs and wishes of others; being cognitively and psychologically independent—or being dependent on others for one’s ideas and values; seeking truth in nature, in the facts and laws of reality—or in society, in the opinions and unsubstantiated claims of others. [This novel] dramatises the life-promoting nature of the virtue of independence—of guiding every aspect of one’s life by one’s own mind—and, as a corollary, the inevitable destruction wrought by abandoning one’s mind.

If Cone’s commentary is correct, Charlotte Dawson’s sad end might be another tragic example.

But the culture wars are going meta. Cone’s column was not universally well-received. Ironically, the column itself attracted “cyber-bullying,” such that

you can still read about it on Twitter, two days later. People are still calling [Hill Cone] a "disgusting excuse for a human", impugning her looks, shouting "you make me sick" into the ether.
    You could safely guess that at least some of the same people have previously expressed their horror at Dawson copping the same -- and worse -- from people she didn't know online. It's a good thing that Hill Cone is not, so far as I know, on Twitter, but the outrage seemed no less furious on Facebook…

So when the chips are down even anti-cyber-bullies very easily become cyber bullies – and the tolerant masses of liberalism become intolerant culture warriors out for blood and not satisfied until they get it. [UPDATE: Says Simon Pound about Cone’s online harassment, “Grubby, depressing irony how the defenders of someone hounded by internet bullies were so bullying.”] You don’t even need to be a tall poppy to be on the receiving end of liberal rush-to-judgement --  as John Tamihere, Paul Henry, Alasdair Thompson et al already know to their cost, once the pack of unlaughing hyenas have decided you’ve offended their sensibilities, right or wrong, they don’t care what bits of you they tear off in response.

imageActor Alec Baldwin, himself a card-carrying liberal, has just become another victim of this online liberal clobbering machine – but being less sensitive than Charlotte Dawson he has come out punching against the modern-day liberal lynch-mob mentality in a long, thoughtful and well-argued piece explaining why he is saying goodbye to public life. It’s a piece that really deserves some reflection. (Words I never thought I would use about Alec Baldwin.)

But as Russell Brown points out in responding to Hill Cone’s column (it’s his description of reactions to it that I posted above), this doesn’t explain everything about Dawson’s demise. He reminds us that just last month Dawson

threw herself into the faux controversy around Lorde's frustration with being jostled by local media and offer, unbidden, this advice. "Unless you're very mediocre you need to get out of there - you just have to if you want to keep succeeding otherwise it'll just crush your spirit."

Faux controversy or not, that’s a sentiment many a tall-poppy has expressed in leaving this place. I remember Chris Lewis expressing it himself when he was driven out by the mediocrities running NZ Tennis.  Writing then about his departure, I quoted on his behalf Ayn Rand’s words about the death of Marilyn Monroe, and the hatred-of-the-good-for-being-the-good that killed her. Rand quoted Monroe, words that echo some of what I’ve heard quoted by Charlotte Dawson,

"When you're famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way," [said Monroe]. "It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she--who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature--and it won't hurt your feelings--like it's happening to your clothing. . . . I don't understand why people aren't a little more generous with each other. I don't like to say this, but I'm afraid there is a lot of envy in this business."
    "Envy" is the only name she could find for the monstrous thing she faced [observes Rand in response], but it was much worse than envy: it was the profound hatred of life, of success and of all human values, felt by a certain kind of mediocrity--the kind who feels pleasure on hearing about a stranger's misfortune. It was hatred of the good for being the good--hatred of ability, of beauty, of honesty, of earnestness, of achievement and, above all, of human joy.

imageI don’t know Dawson well enough to know whether that describes her or not, I’ve never followed her career enough to know.  But the reaction to her looks awfully familiar – it’s the same tall-poppy Chris Lewis characterises as the "the crab bucket mentality," “where anyone who is brazen enough to strive for success — or, god forbid, to achieve it — immediately becomes a target for the ‘crab bucket mentalities’ who, rather than strive for success themselves, derive enormous pleasure from attempting to cut the tall poppy back down.”

Anyone familiar with the behaviour of a bunch of crabs trapped at the bottom of a bucket will know what happens when one of them tries to climb to the top; instead of attempting the climb themselves, those left at the bottom of the bucket will do all in their collective power to drag the climber back down. And although crab behaviour should not in any way be analogous to human behaviour, I can think of many instances where it is...
    Along the way many obstacles & barriers will be put in [the] path [of achievers]. One such obstacle, which brings me to the point of my article, is the tremendous amount of negative peer pressure that is brought to bear on anyone who attempts to climb life's peaks by those who have defaulted on the climb.
    And whether those peaks represent success on the sporting field, in the business world, in the academic arena, or in any other realm of life, including life itself, there will always be those who give up on their quest to climb life's mountains, and instead choose to remain at the bottom of life's bucket — which would be fine, as long as they didn't then devote their destructive efforts, like the crabs, to pulling the climbers back down.

I think that describes the online and offline lynch mobs to a tee.  Russell Brown is right that “perhaps it would be a bit better for everyone if there was more latitude for anyone to fuck up sometimes.” (And I’ll be eager to see him follow his own advice when the next Paul Henry/John Tamihere foot-in-mouth incident strikes.) But perhaps too there should be more simple respect for success from those who haven’t, and more self-respect and self-esteem from those who have.

As it happens, on this last, Chris Lewis recommends as antidote to the lynch mobs the very novel I mentioned above, by my favourite eccentric old bat:

In a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.
The Fountainhead CoverThe book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us, "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them."
At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.
For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.

It’s too late to help Charlotte Dawson. But for anyone else needing motivational fuel to succeed, or to shun their second-hand life, pass along a copy. It might just save a life.

Maybe even your own?


Chaz said...

Sadly, she suffered from a mental illness - depression, plain and simple. Where's your evidence for this angst ridden assertion it was caused by the "culture"?

I've no idea who Chris Lewis is. How many major titles did he win before New Zealand hounded him out for
being too successful? Has anyone warned Lydia Ko and Valerie Adams?

Darren M Meade said...

An automated technology to generate defamatory content about individuals and corporations that value their reputations, was launched in 2010 we're talking a whole new strain of WMDs weapons of mass defamation. Think about it: What if allegations of pedophilia were to pop up the next time you Google your name? Or obscene stories about your wife or your daughter? When we're talking about the potential ruin of your career, your marriage, or your child's future, money is no object and these predators know it. When the time is right, you'll get an email and it'll be Reputation Management to the rescue antidote in one hand, anthrax in the other.

How do I know all of this? It's simple: I was in the room while the plot was being hatched. They utilize an SQL injection code which manipulates search results in Google, Bing and Yahoo.

When I told this Reputation Management syndicate I would not be involved, I was offered a six-figure bribe and an equity stake in the venture. I chose option B, tendering my resignation. Shortly thereafter, I received an audio recording wherein operatives describe in great detail the effects a .50 caliber bullet will have on my brain because I would not go along with tormenting children to commit suicide. I suppose it's mildly amusing audio if you can ignore the fact that it's coming from someone with a history of orchestrating murder for hires in the past.

Look, I know I can't expect you to take my word for all this, partly because the Reputation management gang have already made good on their first threat to destroy my reputation online. Go ahead Google my name. It's mud if you don't already know me. But unfortunately for these guys, their death threats aren't the only thing I have on tape. I have the two-hour strategy session where they proposes how they can extort parents over their kids' futures. That sermon is available on a website called Ripoff Report. I also have over 20 additional hours of recordings all consensual that tie the entire operation together. They're now hosted offshore, beyond the reach of the Reputation Management goon attorneys, backed with detailed instructions in the event of my untimely demise.


Or, Google : Fox News Google-Cide

Rick said...

I did used to watch Charlotte when she was on TV1 c2002 in her show following Mike Hosking and Kate Hawkesby's Breakfast in which Deborah Hill (not yet Cone) was a regular. Also used to see Charlotte and Kate at that time when I was their delivery guy and would talk about their shows.

Have been fairly impressed with Deborah ever since that time. I liked what she wrote and the insights into the death- copying it into my Facebook stream at once. I saw Charlotte again at Fashion Week in 2012 and eye witnessed first hand facts that back up the idea that the biological clock was ticking on someone getting second-hand self-esteem from an external source: looks and how they are received by others.

Michele A'Court's was the first response I saw wanting to turn back the interpretation. To "not speculate" and not reflect on the cause of death. Just whistle, dissociate, bury it- nothing to see here. I think that learning from this death is what people don't want to do- and they are heaving in their zombie masses in resistance to the idea of learning anything here. To accept a lesson about Charlotte would start an avalanche that would require their moral and reality-integrating minds to resist the bigoted culture they accept they need to live up to. Tell the truth and run!

Deborah was about telling the truth, was taking an intellectual interest and trying to learn. Smart enough to cite research but not to remember the part about running? She must have known better than I know that she was making herself a target but she filed it anyway. Not too different to Charlotte who couldn't resist going back to the Twitter Crab Bucket?

Anonymous said...

the term "mental illness" is an analogy without substance. it takes a concept - physical illness - and nonsensically applies it in a non-physical domain - the mind.

so charlotte did not suffer from a mental illness called depression. she had moral issues.

called moral issues mental illnesses is to deprive people of their humanity and to abrogate responsibility.

Chaz said...

"so charlotte did not suffer from a mental illness called depression. she had moral issues."

What evidence from the neurosciences do you have to support this assertion?

Anonymous said...

chaz, one aspect of so-called mental illnesses is that they are diagnosed behaviourally and not by physical pathology. so you want me to give you evidence of something that doesn't exist?

to understand things like the mind and morality you need philosophy, not neuroscience.

Chaz said...

I'm wanting you to show me some scientific evidence for your hypothesis that there is no such thing as mental illness. While you're about it what is the basis of your assertion that you cannot understand "the mind" via the scientific method and neuroscience in particular. There will be some brain surgeons who will be able to learn and thing or two here perhaps. Thanks!

Jeff said...


The mind is a product of the biological and chemical processes in the brain. Physical examination of the brains of people with schizophrenia or clinical depression show clear abnormalities.

It is incredible someone in this day in age could be so ignorant. Are you anonymous because your name is Tom Cruise?

Anonymous said...

jeff and chaz: u can't understand a computer program by examining silicon gates. likewise u can't understand a mind by examining neurons.

a computer program can be downloaded and run on lots of different machines. it's not dependent on particular hardware.

do u think that the same will be true of minds in the future? that it will be possible to download minds into computers?

if so, then u are admitting that minds don't depend on brains and neurons. if not, then u deny AI.

what brains do 4 minds is provide a computational substrate. a universal one. like a microprocessor provides a universal computational substrate for computer programs. but minds and computer programs are substrate independent and can be run on lots of different substrates provided the substrate is computationally universal.

to understand minds and computer programs you need a different level of explanation than physics or neuroscience.

jeff - physical examination of the brains of ppl with schizophrenia or depression don't show signs of clear abnormalities. jst google and you'll see there is huge controversy. one problem is researchers are ignorant of philosophy.

Anonymous said...

oh - belittling ppl and calling them ignorant jst because their ideas seem outlandish to u is terrible.

i mst have some mental illness i guess. lol.

the drunken watchman said...

fill me in here... are some of you saying that there is no evidence that some mental disorders (OCD, for example), are, at least to some degree, genetically inherited?

Anonymous said...

yup, "mental disorders" are not physical illnesses and so have no genetic component. they r jst labels for behaviour considered deviant by current norms.

BTW lots of things do get passed down in families that are not genetic.

Jeff said...


Are you a troll looking for a reaction or are you really that stupid? Please give some examples of "things that get passed down in families that are not genetic."

Anonymous said...

religion. traditions. child-rearing practices. politics.

Jeff said...

Right so OCD & schizophrenia are passed on like a tradition. Except the vast majority of sufferers don't have schizophrenic parents to 'learn' it from, so no.

Your analogy of computer programs is particularly bad. They are developed by scientists from scratch so we know exactly how they work.

Recreational drugs don't cause a 'moral/philosophical' change; they cause well understood physical changes in the brain which in turn have a dramatic effect on our mood and perception. Most 12 year olds understand this. Did you go to school at all?

the drunken watchman said...

how about Downs Syndrome? a moral issue also?

Olivia Pierson said...

Great piece! You've nailed this issue so sweepingly. The rotten things said of Charlotte were vile, petty and cruel, if she could've found it within her to be batty-old-broad enough to not give a sh#t (actually necessary for survival in the public eye), she could've come out on top, but didn't. Alec Baldwin is a monkey with a bad temper. F#ck Hill-Cone for being such a cyber-bully b#tch about it all!

(What's with the "illegal characters" wordpress won't allow published?? - If the Queen's English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough....."

Anonymous said...

jeff who said anything abt drugs causing a "moral/philosophical" change? that's not my view at all. drugs don't contain knowledge of morality lol. they can't change a persons ideas.

i said Dawson had moral issues. like she cared what other ppl think. this made her sad. but she didn't become sad aka "depressed" because of chemical imbalances in her brain or whatever. like 4 drugs, that is totally the wrong kind of explanation.

u deny that all sorts of moral problems can be passed down as ideas from person to person? or that things like authority or conforming can take a huge toll on a person? look at ur comment abt school. u don't understand that school is abt force and conformity do u?

btw this blog agrees that mental illness is a myth. like search for Szasz on this blog. u should read some of his work. and retract ur comment abt me trolling.

the drunken watchman said...

.. so what about Downs Syndrome, then?

Jeff said...


According to you drugs shouldn't have any effect on our minds, since they work by altering the biochemistry of our brains. This is obviously false.

Lots of people face abuse, only people with clinical depression will kill themselves over it. The 'toll' you refer to is decreased levels of serotonin & other neurotransmitters. Nothing to do with 'morals'.

It's a joke you refer to school as about force and conformity when you can't string a proper sentence together.

Then to top it off you refer to a blog in your argument from authority. What about all the top neuroscientists, the people who actually understand the brain better than anyone else? There is no debate among them that mental illness is caused by physical imbalances in the brain.

Anonymous said...

dw - you are confusing brain diseases with mental illnesses. mental illnesses - things like ADHD - are supposedly sickness of the mind, not of the brain. that's why they are diagnosed behaviourally and not by any physical pathology. and that's also why they are called "mental illnesses" not "brain illnesses".

now i'm not saying that brain chemistry cannot be affected by the mind but u mst distinguish cause and effect. to explain human behaviour u need to know about things like free-will, morality, and responsibility. you can't explain it by talking about brain chemistry but what ur mind is doing affects brain chemistry.

Anonymous said...

jeff the blog is *this* blog, the one I was accused of trolling in for expressing the blog's opinion. i wasn't making an argument from authority but suggesting u should apologize. clearly u do not know the opinions of the blog u r commenting in.

Anonymous said...

yeah, so some brain chemical gets out of whack and causes you to take ur own life. talk abt denying personal responsibility and dehumanizing ppl. it's like saying a demon took over my mind and made me do it.

the drunken watchman said...

@ anonymous

I'm not confusing anything .. yet. Just interested in your theory that no mental disorders can be attributed to the physical state of the brain.

Can you please tell me how Downs Syndrome is diagnosed?

What about the thoery of reduced seratonin levels?

the drunken watchman said...

swhoops, I didnt finish that....

what about the theory that reduced seratonin levels are commonly associated with some mental "illnesses"?

are you saying that there is no such correlation?

and are you saying that reduced sereatonin levels cannot be an indicator of potential for mental "illness"?

Anonymous said...

dw - correlation is not causation. also no one knows what the "correct" serotonin levels are for a person.

this notion that chemicals cause or are an indicator of ideas is sinister because it denies ppl have agency. it is a pathway to totalitarianism. u hold the ideas u do because u can think and have free will, not because some chemicals are some way in your brain. "mental illness" is anti-Rand bullshit.

Chaz said...

And schizophrenics? Do they just not think hard enough about the consequences of their actions?

Still waiting on you do produced some evidence for your theory. I expect it's not coming.

Anonymous said...

"consequences of their actions". what do u mean by that? is it something like "backlash caused by violating social norms?"

Jeff said...


The scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that mental illnesses are caused by physical abnormalities in the brain. If you don't like that because you think it is 'sinister' then that is too bad; you are just being close-minded to reality.

Then you really gave away what a bigot you are by revealing that you don't like the evidence because it is anti-Rand. Well guess what? she died over 30 years ago and science has proved that what she believed was wrong.

It just goes to show that while Objectivism is ostensibly about embracing scientific evidence as reality, it is really just a wacky cult that regards Rand as an infallible god.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say I didn't like the evidence because it is anti-Rand. please improve ur reading comprehension. I said the whole notion of "mental illness" is philosophically bankrupt.

if u examine it the scientific evidence it is jst like the evidence for global warming: flawed and full of holes. point me to a paper u stand by and i'll tell you some of them.

also there is no consensus on mental illnesses. many reseachers readily admit that no biological basis is known. it's often the among the first things stated in papers. yet researchers persist in looking for it and believing. it doesn't pay them to step outside the orthodoxy.

it's all so much like the global warming stupidity.

Chaz said...

Evidence for your theory, anon?

the drunken watchman said...

Chaz - I think she is winding you up :)

by the way, I know correlation does not necessarily mean causation ... however, i asked you, rather, if you were denying a correlation between low seratonin levels and some mental disorders. (please improve ur reading comprehension :)

.. oh, and I also asked you how Downs Syndrome is diagnosed, remember ? :)

Anonymous said...

chaz - like I said to jeff, point me to a paper u stand by and i'll tell u some problems with it.

dw - downs syndrome is a genetic disease and there are genetic tests for it. what's ur point?

i answered the point abt serotonin by saying there is no agreement even abt what normal serotonin levels are. regardless, how can it be correlated with a non-existent thing? before u start throwing papers at me be careful u have read them properly and thought things through because i am well familiar with the flaws in them.

Chaz said...

OK, you have no evidence then. Thanks. I'll go with the science rather than Ayn Rand on this one then.

the drunken watchman said...

ah... Downs Syndrome is a genetic arrangement that results in, among other things, a mental "illness" (disease causes illness, right?. Aka "a mental disorder", right? And as you say, there are genetic tests for it.

That is my point - you are wrong when you claim that mental illness is a myth, and you are wrong when you say that all mental illness or "mental disorders" are not physical illnesses and so have no genetic component.

As far as seratonin is concerned - I am familiar with your truism that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but positive correlation is a step a lot closer to there being a connection between the two than it is to merely random association.


the drunken watchman said...

@ anon

Didn't you say " Downs syndrome is a genetic disease and there are genetic tests for it."?

That is my point - you are wrong BY YOUR OWN WORDS when you say that all mental illness or "mental disorders" are not physical illnesses and so have no genetic component.

You also appear to be contradicting your other statement that mental illness is a myth.

Dolf said...


I am intrigued by this theory of yours that everything must be proven biologically to be considered an illness and that behavioral diagnosis is always incorrect.

Say for example a person presents with a headache, a real zinger. A cat/pet/MRI scan and full blood panel reveals that there is nothing physically wrong with the patients head, hormones or vascular system. I ask the patient to prove that they are in pain, but their only response is to look at me with tears in their eyes. Lacking any physical evidence of pain I must therefore conclude that no pain is present and that my patient is merely philosophically bankrupt. I prescribe Atlas Shrugged, and a DVD by Leonard Peikoff.

You know, I suffer from chronic depression, and yes I do realize that you have stopped reading the moment you saw that. My dad has it, and I started presenting "symptoms" when I was a child. Didn't want to play outside, spent days in bed. not typical for an 8 year old.

When I was a teen, a preacher told me that if my belief was strong, if I gave myself completely to his religion my depression would be cured.

It did not work.

Then I read Rand. Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, We the Living, for the new intellectual, and a whole heap of her non fiction and Peikoffs work. I devoured the stuff and agreed with all of it. I even read Nietsche to understand the differences, and read Heinlein, because he stated he was a fan of Rand.

You know what, I am still depressed. I still wake up some mornings not wanting to get out of bed, but not wanting to stay in bed either. I love my job, my wife and my house, but I get suicidal thoughts.

What do you suggest I do? How do I further integrate my philosophy? How do I change my thinking to get rid of the black dog? I do not use drugs, I do not drink to excess, and I voted libertarians in the last 3 elections.

What more do I do?

Anonymous said...

but downs ppl don't have a mental illness, they have a genetic disorder. is it ur default assumption that when u meet a downs person they must be mentally ill? even if said person doesn't see themselves that way?

labelling downs ppl "mentally ill" and calling them "mongtards" and other vile things is an excuse for forcing and coercing them. And downs ppl get forced and coerced lots. what do u think that does to a person? many will withdraw and shutdown. they'll lie and evolve coping mechanisms. and then ppl will point to those behaviours as evidence of the mental illness.

the drunken watchman said...

@ anon -

but you described Downs Syndrome as a "disease" - you changed your mind?

the drunken watchman said...

@ anon "downs syndrome is a genetic disease and there are genetic tests for it"
@ anon "but downs ppl don't have a mental illness"

... looks like a tangled web, to me :)

the drunken watchman said...

@ anon

ok, you asked for a study which concluded a genetic predisposition to OCD, and you said you would point out how it is flawed. So how about this one? (randomly selected by me from thousands of choices)


Anonymous said...


u said u agreed with all of it when u first read Rand. did u? many objectivists do not agree with all she said. and it is common to get Rand wrong, like completely back-to-front and upside-down wrong. so i wonder what u thought u were agreeing with?

u say u suffer chronic depression and that it goes back to when u were a child. i don't doubt u suffer nor that it has been going on a long time. but i don't think u have a disease called "depression".

i imagine the way ur father tried to deal with his problems would have in turn created many problems for u as a child. so no wonder u were sad and didn't want to get out of bed. but this doesn't mean u inherited a disease from ur father. what happened is ur father's bad ideas influenced in a big way ur ideas as a child.

also if what u had was a disease why did it appear at 8 and not at birth? like Downs is present at birth? could it be what happened is at 8 u finally got broken?

u are now having trouble getting rid of the kind of ideas u had as a child even though u have tried to learn better ideas. ideas can be hard to shift because they are tangled up with all sorts of other ideas in ways we may not even be fully aware of ourselves.

u took the right approach trying to learn philosophy. but i think u r going to have to go wider and deeper to get the integration u r looking for. like read Szasz's "The Myth of Mental Illness" and other books by the same author. here's something u can read also:

also check out the other essays on that site plus join the discussion group it mentions for lots more on the kinds of things we are discussing.

the drunken watchman said...

@ anon "downs syndrome is a genetic disease and there are genetic tests for it"
@ anon "but downs ppl don't have a mental illness"

... looks like a tangled web, to me :)

appreciate your efforts to philosophise Dolf out of his self-inflicted depression, but wouild you mind sorting out your contradictions first please?

the drunken watchman said...

maybe Dolf is depressed becasue people insist on calling him Dorf :)

Anonymous said...

heh, typo - could have been worse though, like t for f :)

the drunken watchman said...


@ anon "downs syndrome is a genetic disease and there are genetic tests for it"
@ anon "but downs ppl don't have a mental illness"

... looks like a tangled web, to me :)

Anonymous said...

dw - I don't get want u think is tangled. why should genetic disease = mental illness? or brain disease = mental illness?

what brain diseases like alzheimers do is produce general problems with the operation of your mind. it's like ur computer processor developing a fault affects everything running on ur computer.

one can learn to work around these faults although with alzheimers it becomes progressively more difficult because it is degenerative. but for the fault to change ur ideas it would need knowledge of how to do that. where does that knowledge come from? sure u may change some of your ideas when u realize u have a brain disease but that is u doing that and not the brain disease.

brain diseases are problems with the environment u think in and not mental illnesses.

but that fault doesn't make ur programs depressed or evil or whatever.

Anonymous said...


You write, "I love my job, my wife and my house, but I get suicidal thoughts."

Please do not act on the suicidal thoughts. Try to remember that your wife and your family and close friends hold you in high esteem and love you. Whenever the bad thoughts sneak up, fight back and defeat them with remembering the goodness of the people who are around you. Think about all those ones who want you to stay around so they can be with you in this life. They do not want you to go. Think on that.


the drunken watchman said...

You acknowledge that Downs Syndrome is a genetic arrangement which causes a particular mental condition (as well as certain physical charactersitics). So far so good. But the suggestion that OCD might also be a genetic arrangement which causes a particular mental condition, you disagree - not just on the grounds that the evidence might not be fully in, but you disagree on principle - you say that this is just not possible.

seems tangled, all right.

Anonymous said...

whoa dw, i didn't say downs causes a "particular mental condition". pls reread my comment. ur interpretation is not accurate. what condition did u think i said?

the drunken watchman said...

anon, we can all do semantics, you know.

Ok, I didnt say you "said it", I said you "acknowledge it".

The alternative to acknowledging that Downs predisposes to a different kind of mental state is to say that you believe Downs Syndrome does not predispose to any kind particular mental state, is that what you are saying?

I do suspect you are just at play here, but anyway, I am initerested to hear you admit it.

Just to get it clear, now - you are saying that Downs Syndrome does not predispose to a kind of mentality that many or most if not all Downs Sydromers exhibit? Right? That Downs Syndrome is not a predictor of any kind of mental state. Is that what you are saying? Or we going to do another dance?

Anonymous said...

suppose ur brain developed a lot of faults. so as well as dealing with normal day-to-day life ur going to have to learn to deal with and work around those faults. it's going to add a lot of overhead to everything u do. ppl will see u now behave differently. but r u mentally ill? would u consider yourself that way?

i wouldn't. what u have is a brain problem that ur mind needs to learn to work around.

now imagine u had those brain faults since birth. so as well as the normal challenges of learning u face the challenge of learning and working around ur brain faults. that's going to be really hard right? and even harder when ppl start calling u "mentally ill" and treating u as such.


the drunken watchman said...

No, I dont getit

Have your fun with some other sucker.

Anonymous said...

wow, I argue that downs ppl have problems that cause them to falsely get labelled as mentally ill and u think I'm playing u 4 a sucker. so easily do ppl deny other ppl their humanity. ur not worth talking to.

Dolf said...

@DW : I've been called worse, and some of it by you, actually :-)

@Anonymous: Get a name. furthermore, it is attitudes such as yours that lead people to suffer in silence. I will state this once and for the record: You have no idea what you are talking about. You parrot a single writer that is contrary to a century of established scientific research, and while your arguments may seem reasonable to you they are no more than conjecture and misapplied logic.

The same goes for the blog author, since you rightly point out that you are in agreement with his stated opinions, However, just as you shouldn't quote Einstein on anything other than physics, I do not quote an architect on mental health issues.

You seem to have strong opinions on others and like telling them what to do; this strikes me as odd for a self identifying objectivist. Also I do believe you are wrong: All objectivists believe ALL that Rand said. It's sort of entry to the club, and one of the key criticisms of the system.

To answer your questions one on one:

I have read to much of Rand to be in such a great misunderstanding of her. Sure I might miss some of the finer points, but I surely do not have it back to front.

You concede I suffer from something but then state that it is not depression. To quote the bard: Would a rose by any other name...

To blame my father for my suffering is the ultimate cop out. I have nothing but respect for my father , and he did an amazing job. An accusation such as that is utterly unacceptable.

There are many, many illnesses that present only later in life. Should a person with genetic hypertension not present with that from birth. Your argument is flawed.

You also keep referring to a book written in 1961, which has been widely integrated into Psychological and Psychiatric practice.

This would be akin to rejecting modern radiotherapy, because a writer in the sixties disagreed with the use of xrays in forced sterilization.

It challenges a science that at the time was in it's infancy and thanks to works such as that, psychoanalysis has largely been adapted from it's Freudian roots or replaced with practices like Cognitive behavioral therapy.

The fact that you do not know this shows why you are utterly unqualified to comment on the modern day practice of psychology. Normally I would let this go, as there are plenty of uninformed internet trolls. However, your words do actual damage. Because of yourself and PC, there are people out there in genuine distress that may not seek the medical care they need.

Of course you will not take responsibility for your opinions, because in your world rights come without responsibilities, and you have the right to freedom of speech, without taking ownership of the outcome of your ideas.

the drunken watchman said...


i jokingly called you Dolt in retaliation for you saying I was "fundamentally dishonest". Sounds like a fair swap, to me :)

Anyway, we are on the same side, here.

And go well in your fight against your depression, mate.

Peter Cresswell said...

To clarify here, this Anonymous commenter (if you're going to have an opinion, then get a name for Galt's sake!) speaks neither for me nor for Ayn Rand.

Dolf said...

@DW: Bygones mate, from there the smile. And agreed, it was a fair trade, I am not proud about how that exchange ended.
Thanks for the well wishes.

@pc: I do understand that this guy does not speak for you, but you do a fine job of speaking for yourself on the topic. I refer of course to May 06, 2013.
The position that "Rand cures Mental illness"*, held by Mr Nymous, yourself, and Dr Michael Hurd, does damage, and encourages otherwise sensible people to avoid medical treatment that can greatly increase their enjoyment of life.

Ironically of course, CBT says exactly what you say: that in sorting out how you process and take ownership of emotion, you can master your responses to external and internal stimuli, and greatly reduce your depressive feelings. However, this is very hard to do on your own, and the guidance of a professional is hugely helpful.

From there my frustration at the fact that you are both technically correct (in your assessment that Psychoanalysis and the culture of disorder seeking is crap) but also dangerously wrong (in your rejection of all professionals)

*Facetious statement, I realize that it is not Rand that is supposed to cure the affliction, but rather the brand of rational thinking she adapted from Aristotle.

Monos Yuan said...

> You concede I suffer from something but then state that it is not depression.

ain't what I wrote. i said u do not have a *disease* called depression.

ur state of mind is not a result of any physical illness. it's a way of thinking. call that way sadness or depression or whatever. but it's not a disease. it's a product of ur own mind and its thought processes.

it's possible to think differently.

Monos Yuan said...

> To clarify here, this Anonymous commenter (if you're going to have an opinion, then get a name for Galt's sake!) speaks neither for me nor for Ayn Rand.

well maybe u better clarify how u differ and why u think I differ from Rand.

the drunken watchman said...

reading Monos Yuan's reminds me uncannily of those super-slick movies put out on 'Intelligent Design' - craftily ommitting any use of the word "God". or "creator" etc.

scratch Monos Yuan, and watch a religious nutter bleed, I say :)

Monos Yuan said...

> scratch Monos Yuan, and watch a religious nutter bleed, I say :)

nutter? so religious ppl are mentally ill as well? that's were all this stuff leads - to declaring ppl with differing opinions or unconventional lifestyles and behaviours "sick" and in need of treatment.

it is ironic also that despite u labelling me a "nutter" it is u that believe in non-existent things. i don't believe in either gods or mental illnesses. neither exist

Monos Yuan said...

> Because of yourself and PC, there are people out there in genuine distress that may not seek the medical care they need.

why do u assume it must be "medical" care they need and not some other type of help? sure seek out medical care if u want to and u think it helps. but oftentimes it does not and causes harm instead.

like consider anti-depressants. my argument is they don't work, so prescribing them is not going to help a person (other than by giving them hope or something) and because they don't help they will prolong suffering.

here are some other arguments they don't work:

Jeff said...


You keep going out of your way to ignore peer reviewed science while seeking out obscure articles by nobodies in support of your ignorant opinion. There is no polite way of saying this: you are a fucking idiot.

Monos Yuan said...

jeff so u ignore ideas that don't have the backing of authority, are not mainstream, and are put forward by "nobodies"? so if u want to see who's a "fucking idiot" look in the mirror.

and ur wrong there is agreement in the peer reviewed science abt anti-depressants. many researchers are coming round to the view they don't work. u know how to use google right? it's pretty easy to find this stuff. the reality is these drugs are harmful.

btw, i don't give a shit abt insults.

Anonymous said...

One of the warnings on the label of antidepressants is they may cause suicidal tendencies. WTF.

Chaz said...

"so u ignore ideas that don't have the backing of authority, are not mainstream, and are put forward by "nobodies"?"

You mean like those around chemtrails, the moon landing being a hoax and there being no such thing as mental illness? Ummmm yep. Why do you accept such notions as fact?

Monos Yuan said...

why r u trolling? why do u come 2 this blog?

if u insist on following authority and going with the mainstream u will make huge mistakes because u r not seeking the truth. ur jst conforming. new ideas that are true and that end up changing the world are always a minority opinion at first and it is common for the originators to get pissed on by ppl jst like yourself.

so stop being an arse and try to learn something.

Chaz said...

"new ideas that are true and that end up changing the world are always a minority opinion at first"

That might or might not be true, but that doesn't mean that every idiot who ignores reality is Galileo. Sometimes, as in this case, a nut is just a nut.

Monos Yuan said...

chaz - look at what ur doing. ur declaring me a nut. aka mentally ill. 4 saying that mental illness is a myth. rather than rationally dealing with the argument ur saying I'm sick. that gives u an excuse 4 ignoring me. and u don't even see the irony.

if galileo had been wrong would he then have been a "nut"? how do u distinguish between a "nut" and someone who just plain has wrong ideas?

what drugs do u recommend I take 2 deal with my mental illness that "mental illness is a myth?"

the drunken watchman said...


I suggest you drink a couple of slabs of Waikato, the beer they named a province after. That should fix it :)

Jeff said...


Your view on mental illness was common many decades ago. Then came advances in neuroscience, clinical trials of new medications etc which produced evidence that changed the way rational, educated people see these issues.

To use the Galileo analogy: by your logic you would be arguing against the new mainstream view after Galileo had proved his theories, thinking that going against the 'mainstream' inherently makes you cleverer.

And being deluded or ignorant and stupid is not the same thing as having a mental illness. You clearly don't even know what the definition of mental illness is for fucks sake.

I'll say it again: You're a fucking idiot.

Monos Yuan said...

> Your view on mental illness was common many decades ago. Then came advances in neuroscience, clinical trials of new medications etc which produced evidence that changed the way rational, educated people see these issues.

ur like the warmists saying there is a consensus. well these is a lot of disagreement. take Hirsh, the author of the (newly published) book I linked to above. he says:

"Antidepressants are supposed to be the magic bullet for curing depression. But are they? I used to think so. As a clinical psychologist, I used to refer depressed clients to psychiatric colleagues to have them prescribed. But over the past decade, researchers have uncovered mounting evidence that they are not. It seems that we have been misled. Depression is not a brain disease, and chemicals don't cure it."

does it make u happy that it is not jst me saying it? and that this author has all the "proper" qual's and it's a new book?

yes there have been advances in neuroscience and yada yada but what where are the detailed explanations of how these drugs are supposed to change ideas and ingrained ways of thinking? there aren't any.

Chaz said...

So there's no such thing as depression just people with bad ideas, morals and philosophy, eh Galileo? Can you provide some evidence for this assertion (published and peer reviewed, please)? I can find a number of people on the internet who think the moon landings were faked, L Ron Hubbard is a prophet and that 9/11 was an inside job. However, this is not evidence. Thanks now!

Monos Yuan said...

chaz - u seem to think ideas alone cannot have the power to make someone feel chronically low.

ideas can be powerful. some ideas have been handed down to us over the generations. those ideas contain lots of evolved knowledge because while other ideas died, those survived. that's y some bad false ideas survive over generations: they contain true knowledge abt how 2 survive. so ideas have in them more than their explicit content. a lot more.

if i'm right then artificial intelligences of the future won't be immune from feeling chronically lo aka depressed (hi marvin). but ur position is that can't happen because it's a disease and a disease couldn't affect a robot.

aren't these sort of philosophical arguments enough for you? u keep wanting evidence but if u don't understand the philosophical arguments you'll misconstrue the evidence and won't understand what reseachers might be doing wrong.

Chaz said...

"aren't these sort of philosophical arguments enough for you?"

No, why would they be, Galileo? You're making empirical claims without producing any evidence. It's faith-based, and remarkably similar to Scientology as it happens. Care to explain the difference?

Dolf said...

Monos, Your argument against antidepressants may have merit, if properly presented. Antidepressants, like any medication, has side effects, and we have seen, by some estimations, an over prescription of them.

However, you do not present your argument rationally. You go the route of the anti-vaccination brigade, throwing out the baby with the bathwater and completely ignoring the positive effects of the drug.

On any given treatment/breakthrough/theory there will be dissent. That is a good thing and I encourage it as it leads to improvement and refinement. However, discarding a century of scientific study, wholesale, because a handful of professionals disagree with a single aspect of it is just, well, stupid.

On a slightly different note, I want to ask a serious question (Which I will extend to the blog owner): What is in this for you? I mean, I know why I am arguing with you, namely that I do not want people to avoid medical treatment because your voice is the only one they hear.

What I don't get is why do you argue? What harm is caused to you, by my use of fluoxetine? What do you gain out of people avoiding getting help?

It reminds me of people telling moms to not vaccinate their kids because there may be some side effects. Why would you do that?

the drunken watchman said...


I was out of this, but I got another question (prompted by the recurrent accusation of 'homophobia' on this blog every time the subject comes up (or is even vaguely hinted at) in any other than a positive light) .....

(specifically, this time, comment by Andrei, responded to by Dolf. on one of the Ukraine threads)

IYHO, is homosexuality a choice? 100% choice?

Monso Yuan said...

dolf - medical help can be valuable if it is discovered, say, that u have an underlying condition like epilepsy. but it ain't helpful at all if ur let to believe that ur ep is bipolar disorder and given drugs for bd. and that happens.

by all means get the medics if you believe something is wrong. but beware. make sure proper checks 4 underlying conditions are being done and that u are not getting a diagnosis based on symptoms alone. as in the epilepsy example, diagnoses from symptoms can b wrong. that's why doctors do blood tests and take piss samples. but in psychiatry there is no underlying condition, only the symptoms. so that check against an underlying condition can't happen.

u should b concerned that inappropriate medical help can and does kill ppl. psychiatric drugs do cause harm. it's not jst they hv side effects. ppl expect to be helped by them and are not and that compounds their problems.

Dolf said...

DW: Yes that was my jibe at Andrei, but to be fair his comment did revolve around Obama being evil for supporting Gay marriage. You being pedantic about definitions, I would assume you would agree that one who hates homosexuals and their supporters are homophobes?

Monso: You keep going on about underlying conditions, and not diagnosing a disease by it's symptoms.
I asked you a question earlier on pain. you avoided it, preferring sophistry over rational arguments.

I have yet a to hear a rational answer as to where you derive a right to tell people that their suffering is not real. You talk from an uninformed position with no training and a very selective set of background reading.

I will repeat what I said at the beginning of this: You have no idea what you are talking about. Luckily through this thread you ignorance has shown, and I am confident that should anybody read the thread in it's entirety your opinion will shown for the hogwash it is. That was my only goal.

I am not going to waste any further time on this, as I am essentially trying to teach a pig to sing. (no doubt with your well read mind you will get the reference)

Monos Yuan said...

yeah, dw, our sexual orientation is a choice. ppl do change their choice of sexual orientation. but they often rationalize it to make out that it wasn't a choice.

even if we got our sexual orientation from our genes we could still change it. after all, it's a preference and any preference can be changed.

ppl seem to think that if we get preferences from our genes then that makes them hard or impossible to change. not so. preferences that we learn r harder 2 change than any we might inherit. this is because when we learn a preference we learn the reasons for our preference and can criticise the alternatives. genetically inherited preferences don't come with reasons or criticisms of alternatives and so are easy to change.

we have free will and are free to choose our sexual orientation. or free 2 choose not to hv a sexual orientation. or whatever.

gay rights ppl should celebrate this. they don't. they want to make out that sexual orientation is inborn and can't be changed. that's 2 deny ppl free-will.

Monos Yuan said...

>I have yet a to hear a rational answer as to where you derive a right to tell people that their suffering is not real.

but I'm not claiming that ppl's suffering is not real. one can suffer while having no underlying organic condition. that's common in fact. and I said to u "I don't doubt u suffer". so ur misinterpreting my words.

why u do think I have a problem with the idea of phantom pain?

the drunken watchman said...


pedantry notwithstanding, a salient feature of this blog and many of the commenters is their sensitivity to any comment even remotely able to be construed as a criticism or dislike of homosexuality, and their zealous readiness to construe same..

Unless I have missed something, your offensive name-calling of Andrei was because of his comment about 'dildos and arses' vis a vis the practicing of Christianity in the USA?. I mean, seriously, even opposition to legislation for 'gay marriage' (which I didnt notice in Andrei's) necessarily means homophobia? I thouight you were trying to present yourself as a well-reasoning person, and then you go and say something dumb like that? .

Anyway, you have seen Monos' comments about homosexuality and choice. My guess, based on my above observations, is that this blog will go eerily quiet, and there will be few if any responses to Monos' comments on the subject.

Dolf said...

Not being gay myself, I don't really have a horse in that race. But since we are having a conversation:

My comment on Andrei was aimed at his closing remark:

"Which is more than we can say for the moron in the White house who has shed copious amounts of it during his hope and change presidency - who has taken it upon himself to make the world safe for gay marriage or something equally bizarre."

Now, we know how Putin feels about gays. And we know how Andrei feels about gays. My comment, facetious as it may have been, was pointing out that Andrei and Putin have that view in common.

Given that the view expressed (calling Gay marriage Bizarre) is quite "Anti-Gay", or homophobic in the modern use of the word, I don't think my comment was that far off the mark.

Sure, I may have exaggerated, and maybe drawn a long bow connecting Putin's persecution of gays to Andrei's disparaging of them, but it was done in order to point out the fact that Andrei did not focus on politics in a post on political motives, but rather chose to focus on the various leaders position on Gay marriage.

I found that amusing, and decided to point it out. I am sorry if the word homophobe offended you, but given the comment wasn't even aimed at you, I don't quite get your insistence on following it up.

Regarding the "Is being Gay genetic or learned" I'll ask a mate of mine. Being gay, he'll know a lot more about it than I would. Perhaps our friend Monos should do the same.

the drunken watchman said...

Jeez Dolf

why would I personally be offended by the use of the word "homophobe"? I was referring to the fact that the word, if iinaccurately applied, will likely be considered offensive - by the recipient, dummy!

":inaccurately applied" means that Andrei's comment "to make the world safe for gay marriage or something equally bizarre" can be interpreted in different ways - perhaps the notion that Obama has made such a thing a priority in terms of world safety is what Andrei finds bizarre? But, true to my expectations as outlined in my previous comment, you are ever so quick to assume 'gay-bashing'.

Likewsie, as expected, you query my "insistence on following it up". This is a blog, for goodness sake, with a comments section.Imagine if you challenged every comment here with a query as to why the commenter commented.

But, as I said before, It is always the same here when it comes to homosexuality. It seems to be taboo for some reason.

By the way, you sure like a scrap, dn't you?

That medication you are taking indeed works well :)

Dolf said...

OK, perhaps we need a "Lighthearted" font or something, because I genuinely don't know what to make of that. I am not actually having a go at you, or "enjoying a scrap". I do like a good rational argument, even if it does involve the odd bit of name calling (which is why I don't hold the Dolt comment against you)

"Assuming gay bashing"? No.
Reading posts with prior knowledge of the poster. Andrei has made his disparaging view towards gays public
on this blog before. As such I read the 50/50 calls to the side that would fit in with the persona Andrei has portrayed on this site. I do the same with you, and you with me.

Whether you were personally offended: I assumed so given you used the word "offensive" in regards to my comment. I would therefore assume you found them offensive? I don't feel offended on behalf of others, and I don't assume others to feel offended on my behalf. If Andrei found my remark offensive let him say so. Unless you are Andrei under a different name perhaps? (Hey, this is the internet, you never know).

insistence on following it up? Mate you actually switched comments to another thread (you know I'm following). You are actually going to an effort to get more opinions/arguments out of it.

I mean, not a single person, even Andrei himself, made as much as an oblique reference to my post. If you had let it go, it would have died quietly as the bad joke it was. Yet here we are , having a "scrap" about it. How do I interpret that?

the drunken watchman said...

Dolf, you are too much for me

just a day or so ago you acknolwedged that me calling you Dolt was in retaliation for saying I was "fundamentally dishonest" . Bygones, right?

Now you are reinventing it, saying you dont hold it against me because "I do like a good rational argument, even if it does involve the odd bit of name calling ".

You contradicted yourself on this in one all-too-easy movement, and it disinclines me to engaging further with you.

Dolf said...

Do you have a point to make regarding the topics we're discussing?

Anonymous said...

OK, so Putin does not like gays. So, it is true that Rand didn't like them either. Now since she is infallible when it comes to Objectivism, the last word on the subject must be that gays is ungood.