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Exploring Gender as a Social Construct

This question is directed to people who think gender matters for behavior and mental capabilities. Similar questions could be asked about race and other traits.

Suppose that gender is a social construct. Suppose that gendered behavior is due to just culture, not a mix of culture and genes. Suppose that women are born with equal mental capabilities to men.

If you conceded all that, what would you change your mind about, if anything? Why?

I ask this because a lot of effort is spent denying that gender is a social construct. Many right wing people are quite hostile to the social construct theory and view it as dangerous. But what negative consequences do they think it implies?

I interpret people as thinking something like "If the left was correct that gender is a social construct, then a lot of their political philosophy would be correct, and I'd have to change my mind about a bunch of stuff." I am doubtful of this and don't see that the social construct theory implies much leftist political philosophy.

If gender is a social construct, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Social constructs exist and matter. They can't be instantly or trivially changed or gotten rid of. Culture and memes are important.

This issue is complicated by biological differences between the genders for e.g. muscles. Men are stronger on average. The difference is significant. Reasonable people don't deny that. Try to focus your answer on basically intellectual differences, personality differences, behavior differences, mental differences, etc., which are the things that might be cultural.

Note that the anti social construct view claims that genes influence gendered mental traits, but do not fully determine them. They think a mix of biology and culture leads to gendered traits. They don't claim it's all biology. The social construct view, by contrast, denies the role of biology. It rejects the mixed factors view in favor of a single dominant factor.

For people who think gender is a social construct, I have similar question: What (classical) liberal ideas do you think that contradicts, if any?


Elliot Temple on July 18, 2020

Messages (59)

I am just afraid it will mean more children exposed to hormone therapy and surgery, when it seems much of it happens to be peer pressure and other stuff.

Or what if its mental illness and we are indulging some form of mass hysteria. Like helping people with Bulemia throw up more efficiently.

For the record I have nothing against trans, I respect trans. I'll use your pronouns and take you seriously as a person.

I just don't know if we have really looked at the consequences.

Here is a question I don't know the answer to but might be important to think about. Since we've become more accepting of trans people, we have seen a rapid rise of girls who are identifying as trans, but why are not a bunch of older women coming out as trans now too?

again, I respect trans and have nothing against them. I don't think I am a bigot, I hope I am not.


Periergo at 6:17 PM on August 3, 2020 | #16954 | reply | quote

#16954

> Since we've become more accepting of trans people, we have seen a rapid rise of girls who are identifying as trans,

Do you mean boys who have transitioned / girls who want to transition? (personally i don't like the term 'trans' b/c stuff like trans-male makes things more confusing, not less. i've heard a now-boy describe the frustration of being mis-gendered only *after* it was public that he'd transitioned; a matter made even more frustrating due to them changing schools to avoid bad experiences like bullying etc)

> but why are not a bunch of older women coming out as trans now too?

it seems like the transition society made to being more accepting of homosexuality might be a good comparison. did we see the same frequency of 'coming out' across ages?

in both cases it seems likely that the older someone is the less they have to gain and the more changes they would have already made to cope. like, if we're talking about older pre-trans women and many of them dress fairly gender neutrally, don't have kids or a spouse, etc, then there might not be much point, or they might feel like it'd be an overwhelming change. so they wouldn't do it or be as public about it if they did.

there's also the possibility of exposure bias - who is the media talking about transitioning? etc

> I am just afraid it will mean more children exposed to hormone therapy and surgery

do you mean non-consensually or where they've been brought up without the skills to decide for themselves?

personally, even if the 'trans phenomena' (for lack of a better term) is 100% socially constructed and based on deep/implicit ideas ppl get when they're really young, it doesn't mean that changing those ideas is more important than living a good life (by like pursuing ideas and philosophy or whatever a good life means for that person).


Anonymous at 5:42 AM on August 4, 2020 | #16959 | reply | quote

I meant girls who are pressured into thinking they are supposed to be boys.


Periergo at 3:57 PM on August 4, 2020 | #16962 | reply | quote

> I am just afraid it will mean more children exposed to hormone therapy and surgery, when it seems much of it happens to be peer pressure and other stuff.

If your concern is "People believe that if gender is a social construct, then more stuff like hormone therapy and surgery should happen", then I agree with you. That's a reasonable concern about how people currently think.

But I don't think that any leftist political activism stuff actually follows from gender being a social construct. That's the issue I was trying to raise. (And, FWIW, I think gender roles and gendered behavior are basically social-cultural phenomena.)

BTW, if gender is purely a social construct, surely trans people don't need hormones or surgery, just different ideas...


curi at 4:48 PM on August 4, 2020 | #16966 | reply | quote

#16962

> I meant girls who are pressured into thinking they are supposed to be boys.

what about the girls who are pressured into thinking they are supposed to be girls but want to be boys anyway? (wouldn't that be harmful to them, too?)

i think #16959 was asking about the direction rather than purpose, but okay.

also, originally you said:

> girls who are identifying as trans

identify as the alternative gender to their birth-gender which *makes* them trans.


Anonymous at 10:27 PM on August 4, 2020 | #16971 | reply | quote

#16966

> BTW, if gender is purely a social construct, surely trans people don't need hormones or surgery, just different ideas...

what if it's harder to change their ideas about that stuff than hormones or surgery?

if the conflict between their ideas and body is an issue, why is changing their ideas a better option than tech-based stuff if the outcome is approx the same?

is it *always* better to change one's ideas than those sort of alternatives? are there any conflicts between ideas where doing something physical is preferable to changing the idea?

(well, as i've asked it stuff like "get a cup of coffee" is a physical thing that most ppl prefer to do rather than change their preference for coffee)

idk, just writing the questions that come to mind.


Anonymous at 10:28 PM on August 4, 2020 | #16972 | reply | quote

#16972 What's your goal with this?


Anonymous at 10:37 PM on August 4, 2020 | #16973 | reply | quote

#16966 You bring up another point that I don't think I have explored. If it's a social construct, why the physical need for change with surgery and hormones, particularly upon children. There is a growing community around people who regret having transitioned. I think we might be inadvertently hurting children.

The trans community seems to suffer from a lot of suicides, and transitioning doesn't seem to help. Like I said earlier, what if we are doing the equivalent of helping bulimics kill themselves faster. What if it is a mental illness?

With all that being said. I don't think I will pursue this topic much further as it is not very relevant to me. I don't think I can do anything about it, and I have other more pressing concerns. This is me practicing Elliot Temple's suggestion of announcing a departure from a discussion topic.


Periergo at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2020 | #16977 | reply | quote

> What if it is a mental illness?

See this re *mental illness*:

https://curi.us/archives/list_category/72

and:

http://www.szasz.com/manifesto.html

from:

http://www.szasz.com/


nikluk at 2:45 AM on August 7, 2020 | #16992 | reply | quote

#16992 A quick skim seems to indicate that you would only consider the existence of mental illness if it was the kind of thing that showed up on an autopsy. Which seems completely absurd to me *but* I'd be willing to change my mind on this.

I don't think the mind is the same as the brain, a mind can break but the brain won't show this on an autopsy, IMO.

However, it seems fairly evident that treatments such as lithium for bipolar disorder is effective.

I am not an expert in Psychiatry or Psychology tho.


Periergo at 4:31 PM on August 7, 2020 | #16995 | reply | quote

> However, it seems fairly evident that treatments such as lithium for bipolar disorder is effective.

I don't think physical interventions (e.g. drugs, surgery, electroshock) are effective for "mental illness". I have read some of the research and found none that stands up to criticism.

If behavioral changes were due to e.g. a parasite, that might initially be categorized as a "mental illness", but would be recategorized as a physical illness once the cause was known. Similarly, Alzheimer's isn't considered a "mental illness".

The term "mental illness" refers to bad ideas, not physical ailments. But bad ideas are not illnesses and can't be cured with drugs. Stuff like depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar, ADHD and autism are ideas about how to live life which clash with society. Sometimes the stigmatized ideas are reasonable, and sometimes quite unwise, but in neither case is it a matter for medicine. People's problems, suffering, conflicts, etc., are real, but need to be viewed as what they really are (the difficulties of life, thinking and interacting with other people) in order to deal with them more effectively.


curi at 10:43 PM on August 7, 2020 | #16999 | reply | quote

>The term "mental illness" refers to bad ideas, not physical ailments. But bad ideas are not illnesses and can't be cured with drugs. Stuff like depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar, ADHD and autism are ideas about how to live life which clash with society. Sometimes the stigmatized ideas are reasonable, and sometimes quite unwise, but in neither case is it a matter for medicine. People's problems, suffering, conflicts, etc., are real, but need to be viewed as what they really are (the difficulties of life, thinking and interacting with other people) in order to deal with them more effectively.

That's one hell of a claim!

Ok I am open to learn this. Show me the receipt. What is the evidence?


Periergo at 11:03 PM on August 7, 2020 | #17000 | reply | quote

#17000 You could read Szasz books or you could make your own claim or you could try to show some evidence which contradicts my claim.


curi at 11:18 PM on August 7, 2020 | #17002 | reply | quote

> #17000 You could read Szasz books or you could make your own claim or you could try to show some evidence which contradicts my claim.

I'll read his books but are there any meta studies that show his type of therapy outperform standard therapy?

If mental illness is about ideas, surely there is evidence of schizophrenia being cured by ideas, no? Otherwise you could just be fooling yourself by a pretty argument that is not based on reality.

Is your belief that mental illness is just bad ideas based on anything more than Szasz's books?


Periergo at 9:58 AM on August 8, 2020 | #17005 | reply | quote

#17005 There are lots of issues here including different epistemology views. We can discuss but I'll generally just address one little thing at a time. Step by step instead of complete answers.

To start, what's your background? How'd you find me? I don't know what shared background knowledge we have that I could refer to.


curi at 12:47 PM on August 8, 2020 | #17008 | reply | quote

> #17005 There are lots of issues here including different epistemology views. We can discuss but I'll generally just address one little thing at a time. Step by step instead of complete answers.

> To start, what's your background? How'd you find me? I don't know what shared background knowledge we have that I could refer to.

My background is in sales, but I don't enjoy it or find it interesting. I don't remember how I came across LW. I think it was through SSC.

I lurk LW. Your post caught my attention because it was more concrete than most. I am skeptical of ideas that are too abstract. I've read a lot of Eliezer's and Alexander's stuff.

For the most part I am self taught. I am familiar with David Deutsch via Sam Harris's podcast. That's all I can think of for now.


Periergo at 1:11 PM on August 8, 2020 | #17011 | reply | quote

#17011 Got it. Goldratt/TOC has ideas about sales FYI.

See if this interests you. It's got some relevant stuff. A bunch of links in the description too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx1mJNQHSD8

I also have an essay on psychiatry in https://gumroad.com/l/ezayH


curi at 1:16 PM on August 8, 2020 | #17012 | reply | quote

I really liked that video. I agree that science needs to be held to a high standard and what Dr. Peterson cited there does not meet that standard. I haven't got around reading Dr. Peterson's work. I've watched a few of his lectures and I like a lot of what he says. Sometimes he seems a bit more combative than is necessary but it is hard to tell what is necessary as a spectator, the left leaning media really went after him. Despite most people around him labeling him a monster, I can't help but respect the man, he appears sincere to me. Would you recommend his books despite the poor scholarship or no?

I also plan on investigating the resources you linked in that video.

As for SSRI's and depression. I am a little confused because I know someone personally who for a few years was going through some pretty severe depression. She would sleep 18-20 hours a day. This went on for 2-3 years I want to say, then she got on anti-depressants and within a couple months she began feeling much better. She was able to start sleeping 10 hours instead and was able to get a job and resume her hobbies she had before getting that depressed. Whatever the SSRI's are doing, it at least seems to do *something.* It is hard to discount personal experience like this.

I am looking forward to learning more about this though, clearly you have studied it carefully for a while and I don't assume you landed at a conclusion lightly.


Periergo at 9:50 PM on August 8, 2020 | #17013 | reply | quote

When people start taking SSRIs, other things change at the same time. Often they're now trying harder in other ways to fix their life, or under more pressure to fix things, or have family who is now more involved with the problem. That's one of the complicating factors – multiple things change around the same time that they start taking drugs. Often the reason they start taking drugs is because something just changed, e.g. they started drugs after they became more motivated to change things or gave up on everything else.

There are other issues. E.g. people (mostly females) sometimes have ice cream after a breakup and then feel better. Is the ice cream relevant and helpful in some way? Yes. Is it medicine? No.

Some drugs make it harder to think or make people less energy, or more energetic, or some pretty generic things like that. In this new situation, people may find life easier or harder to deal with. Even when it helps, that isn't comparable to taking antibiotics to cure chlamydia. It's a different sort of thing. It's a bit like getting a new tennis coach to help cure bad serves (but that shouldn't be called a cure because it's non-medical).

The typical thing psychiatric drugs do is partially disable brain functioning. This unreliably and inconsistently gets results with people who were hurting themselves a lot with bad thinking. It also can make some misbehaving people easier to control (misbehaving in the opinion of the people with more power).

> Would you recommend his books despite the poor scholarship or no?

I wouldn't recommend Peterson's books. I think his best material is his YouTube video series of his two psychology courses.


curi at 10:26 PM on August 8, 2020 | #17014 | reply | quote

> As for SSRI's and depression. I am a little confused because I know someone personally who for a few years was going through some pretty severe depression. She would sleep 18-20 hours a day. This went on for 2-3 years I want to say, then she got on anti-depressants and within a couple months she began feeling much better. She was able to start sleeping 10 hours instead and was able to get a job and resume her hobbies she had before getting that depressed. Whatever the SSRI's are doing, it at least seems to do *something.* It is hard to discount personal experience like this.

Re: discounting personal experience:

Lots of people go on various fad diets and then lose weight. This can happen for a few reasons:

1) many diets involve cutting out a major source/sources of calories, which people don't adequately make up elsewhere, leading to a calorie deficit.

2) the decision to go on a diet happens at the same time as other health-related decisions, such as exercising more and paying more attention to health and eating in general, which lead to weight loss.

3) people may be doing the diet at the encouragement of/at the same time as friends and family. this external source of encouragement/support/pressure helps them stick to the diet.

4) many people lack knowledge of how to prepare meals in a variety of ways and eat in a variety of styles. The cooking/recipe knowledge embedded in the diet may make it easier for the person to keep to a diet and be happy and not find dieting bland or boring. (E.g. if you mainly know about eating fast food you may think that dieting means something like eating shitty salads and boiled cauliflower, but then you discover South Beach and think hey this dieting stuff isn't so bad).

(other reasons too, not an exhaustive list, just illustrative).

The reasons I just listed are pretty generic. You can lose weight if you have a calorie deficit, whether on Atkins or the spaghetti-and-tacos diet. Becoming more active while not commensurately increasing your calories will cause you to lose weight. External encouragement is compatible with a large variety of diets.

But what often happens is that instead of these broad, generic issues getting the credit for the weight loss, it is "South Beach" or "Atkins" or "the Apple Cider Vinegar diet" that gets the credit. And the experience of an individual dieter was indeed that they lost weight! In so far as they just relate the experience of losing weight, their experience is "valid". But that does not make their *explanation* for why they lost weight valid.

The decision to go on SSRIs often happens at the same time as other stuff, such as the person encountering a new personal problem, the person recognizing or acknowledging the seriousness of an ongoing problem, the person facing external pressure to work on their problems (from e.g. loss of work, pressure from family, or impending loss of family/spousal support), the person beginning (or having recently started) a course of "talking" therapy/counseling, and so on.

It's hard to see or measure things like "change in a person's perception of a problem" or "amount of external pressure a person is facing to deal with a problem" but easy to see someone is taking Lexapro. So improvements in a situation commonly gets attributed to the Lexapro.

Various "mental illness" drugs are also correlated with suicidal ideation in some studies, though many people seem to selectively ignore that and just focus on the correlations (with less depression instead of more) that they like. "Increase in suicidal ideation" is a real experience people have too though, after taking such drugs. My guess there is that people who are depressed enough to be taking drugs in the first place are more prone towards that kind of thing in general, and may face the additional problem of being upset that the drug isn't "working".


Justin Mallone at 12:40 AM on August 9, 2020 | #17015 | reply | quote

#17013 Drugs give people an excuse. It's not my fault I didn't solve this previously. There was a physical issue. Better ideas wouldn't have worked. I'm not just an idiot or sinner.

This is one of the things that enables people to solve their problems.

If they try to solve their problem without drugs, and it seems to be working, sometimes they feel bad (why didn't I do this sooner? wtf is wrong with me if this is all it took to solve?) and sabotage the process (people are good at sabotaging problem solving without being consciously aware that they're doing it).


curi at 1:22 PM on August 9, 2020 | #17021 | reply | quote

We are quite good at self sabotage.


Periergo at 9:53 PM on August 9, 2020 | #17070 | reply | quote

#17015 There are a lot of confounding variables to be sure. I don't yet think this necessarily means drugs do not work or there is no such thing as mental illness. There may be too many confounds for us to even possibly arrive at a correct answer.

Your explanation is among the many that seem *plausible.* Also there is the problem of the wide variety of mental illnesses or bad ideas that appear as mental illnesses.

Discovering that SSRI's are not useful for depression as we once thought doesn't really mean that other treatments for other illnesses (or not) are not effective, nor that the illness itself is not real. Maybe schizophrenia, sociopathy etc... is all real, maybe it is bad ideas. Some people go from catatonic to functioning adults via these treatments. I am still having a hard time imagining how/what intervention would help in this manner.

As for my example of the depressed person. I can only really go with what she told me, and afaik there was no "other" thing she did besides just start taking the SSRI. However, as she got better she began doing other things that could be of help. But according to her the catalyst was the anti-depressant.

What would be a working alternative? Did Dr. Szasz cure a bipolar person, or a schizophrenic? I have not seen evidence of this. I did read however, that he took a new patient off his medication and shortly that patient committed suicide. I am not saying Szasz was at fault here, maybe this would have happened no matter what Psychiatrist had seen that man. It does give one pause. Perhaps Szasz is wrong, what kind of damage would his ideas cause if he is?

Anyway, as I said I would give this an open minded approach and still plan to. I just wanted to update as to my current thoughts on the matter. Don't get me wrong I am shifting somewhat, I am now more skeptical of SSRI's than before. Maybe my prior on SSRI's working was 80% now it is more like 50%. My prior of mental illnesses being real was 99%, now it is 96%.

Onwards!


Periergo at 11:48 AM on August 10, 2020 | #17111 | reply | quote

Looking through your links. I found the idea of inflammation possibly causing depression to be very compelling.

I forget where I saw some research that certain things that reduce inflammation appeared to also help with depression and anxiety. I'll try to see if I can find it.


Periergo at 4:15 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17332 | reply | quote

#17332 I think "depression" is just ideas. People are sad over failures to solve problems, ongoing conflicts, failure at goals, etc.


curi at 4:18 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17333 | reply | quote

Periergo at 4:19 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17334 | reply | quote

Periergo at 4:20 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17335 | reply | quote

You can't actually do a research study on depression unless you first establish objective criteria for measuring who is and isn't depressed (at what times). I don't think those exist.


curi at 4:22 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17336 | reply | quote

> #17332 I think "depression" is just ideas. People are sad over failures to solve problems, ongoing conflicts, failure at goals, etc.

Could there be multiple causes? Some people get depressed due to what you mentioned here, but maybe some people have a physical ailment that causes them *feel* depressed, e.g, inflammation?


Anonymous at 4:24 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17337 | reply | quote

> You can't actually do a research study on depression unless you first establish objective criteria for measuring who is and isn't depressed (at what times). I don't think those exist.

I assume in that case you reject the criteria for Depression on the DSM-V? (or DSM-IV as used by the Saffron study)


Periergo at 4:29 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17338 | reply | quote

#17338 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK36406/table/ch1.t1/

Criteria for Depression according to DSM4


Periergo at 4:31 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17339 | reply | quote

#17337 Inflammation can be a life problem you're struggling with just like losing a job can be, or losing a game of beer pong, or whatever.

I also think feelings are a type of idea and are governed by thought processes that interpret one's situation.

> I assume in that case you reject the criteria for Depression on the DSM-V? (or DSM-IV as used by the Saffron study)

Well you tell me: Are those objective criteria? Can they be measured in a consistent, repeatable way? Do psychiatrists agree on who is or is not depressed at a similar rate to physicists agreeing on the length of a rod in meters? Do measurements of those DSM criteria reliably correspond to a person actually having "depression" (are they a good proxy)?


curi at 4:32 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17340 | reply | quote

> Well you tell me: Are those objective criteria? Can they be measured in a consistent, repeatable way? Do psychiatrists agree on who is or is not depressed at a similar rate to physicists agreeing on the length of a rod in meters? Do measurements of those DSM criteria reliably correspond to a person actually having "depression" (are they a good proxy)?

Ok let me try. So DSM4 Linked Above shows these as symptoms.

1. Depressed Mood

Not Objective.

2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in most or all activities

Not sure, Could be. Could be measurable like, I used to read 3 hours a day but now I only read 10 minutes a day.

4. Significant weight loss (or poor appetite) or weight gain

Yes could be objectively measured.

5. Insomnia or hypersomnia

Yes

6.Psychomotor retardation

Yes

7. Fatigue or loss of energy

Maybe could be measured objectively.

8.Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

This one is tough. What is excessive guilt? Crying for hours over spilled water? I can't think of an objective measure.

9. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness

Diminishing ability to concentrate could be measured objectively I think.

10. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), or suicidal ideation, plan, or attempt

Maybe. Could be measured by # of times contemplated suicide per day/week.


Periergo at 4:43 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17341 | reply | quote

#17341 I should add for completeness what else entails a diagnosis according to the DSM-IV

**Major Depressive Episode:**

- 5 or more depressive symptoms for ≥ 2 weeks

- Must have either depressed mood or loss of interest/pleasure

- Symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment

- No manic or hypomanic behavior

**Minor Depressive Episode:**

- 2–4 depressive symptoms for ≥2 weeks

- Must have either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure

- Symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment

- No manic or hypomanic behavior

**Dysthymic Disorder**

- Depressed mood for most of the time for at least two years

- Presence of 2 or more of symptoms of dysthymia

- Never without symptoms for 2 months or more over 2 year period

- Symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment

- No major depressive disorder in first two years, no manic, hypomanic, or mixed episodes.


Periergo at 4:47 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17342 | reply | quote

> 5. Insomnia or hypersomnia

>

> Yes

It doesn't specify what amounts of sleep qualify. Nor, as far as I know, is anyone expected to actually measure sleep quantities. And the amount of sleep that's in the unspecified normal range is considered to vary by person anyway. So it's just a judgment call. Right?

Also there are many other causes of insomnia. Do they mean insomnia without some other known cause? How are such things handled? Again they seem to just leave it to the discretion and judgment of the psychiatrist. E.g. insomnia due to being in a prison cell and being kept awake with noise and light presumably shouldn't count towards depression, but criteria for what counts or not aren't laid out.

> Not sure, Could be. Could be measurable like, I used to read 3 hours a day but now I only read 10 minutes a day.

That measurement would be quite an unreliable proxy. Maybe you're busy now. There could be thousands of reasons to cause that measurement to change other than the thing you're trying to use it as a proxy for. Further, even when it changes due to the right thing, it doesn't tell you whether the diminished interest is "marked". It could e.g. be a slight interest reduction resulting in the activity being outcompeted by several other activities which had been only slightly behind.

> 7. Fatigue or loss of energy

>

> Maybe could be measured objectively.

Maybe could be? Perhaps. But they didn't provide any way to, any units to measure in, any measuring device, any amounts or quantities for what is a big enough loss to count, etc. So it isn't objective as used by psychiatry today.

> Diminishing ability to concentrate could be measured objectively I think.

Whether or not it could be somehow, they aren't suggesting any good way to do it.

> 4. Significant weight loss (or poor appetite) or weight gain

>

> Yes could be objectively measured.

This one we actually know how to measure but they still don't give any objective criteria to guide a psychiatrist. How much change is "significant"? They don't try to say. It's just left to judgment, so different psychiatrists could easily reach different conclusions about the same person.

They're all like this or worse. It's nothing like physics.


curi at 4:51 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17343 | reply | quote

Not like Phyiscs.

Do we have any better alternatives though?


Periergo at 5:00 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17344 | reply | quote

#17344 Yes, try to solve our problems using rational problem solving. Learn to cope with life better. Read some philosophy books or self-help books or life skills books or psychology books or whatever. People know all sorts of stuff they can do that can help. Go to the gym and get a girlfriend. Put more effort into getting a job. Negotiate a raise. Change communication strategies so you fight with your kids less. Get a hobby. Find some new friends to replace a few assholes. This stuff works and psychiatry somewhat discourages it.

Psychiatry adds negative value to this process of trying to use one's mind to rationally deal with life. Medicalizing the problems makes them harder, not easier, to deal with.

Psychiatry is an institution of social control. It's similar to the inquisition. They still torture and mutilate people today and call it therapy (e.g. they renamed lobotomies and electroshock rather than actually stopping doing them).

See e.g. The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement by Thomas Szasz. Psychiatry was never about helping the "patients". Its role is to excuse and justify coercing them.


curi at 5:10 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17346 | reply | quote

#17346 Thank you.

You might be partial to Jung or Adler. Have you read them? Their ideas are not that similar but they both take the line that one can fix psychological problems through reason. What they consider reason varies between them but you might enjoy them.

I think OI was partial to Jung too.

I have also heard that Foucault has made similar arguments to Szasz against Psychiatry.

There is another Philosopher I read but escapes me now that made the argument that we are less tolerant as a society of deviant behavior than most cultures in the past. In the past people who acted strangely were made Shamans and respected. Or were left alone to do their own thing unless they were going to starve or something then the community would help feed them but wouldn't force them to change.


Periergo at 5:19 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17348 | reply | quote

> There is another Philosopher I read but escapes me now that made the argument that we are less tolerant as a society of deviant behavior than most cultures in the past.

I think we're generally much more tolerant. David Deutsch argues this in his discussion of static societies in http://beginningofinfinity.com

We only recently got the majority to stop physically beating children for disobedience. (I estimate that the majority stopped but it's hard to tell.) That's just beatings though, not all physical use of force like picking up a child and carrying him against his will.

Children were generally under much much more pressure for conformity and obedience in the past. Today, children get away with so much that the adults are very annoyed and start accusing them of ADHD, autism, etc., and bringing in psychiatrists to control them, because the parents and teachers are no longer brutal enough to control the children themselves.


curi at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17350 | reply | quote

#17350 I really want to read his book. His conversations with Sam Harris were some of my favorite.

but I am still in step 2 of this: https://www.elliottemple.com/essays/reading

Your dream reader suggestion worked like a charm. I am now reading about 2-3 hours daily which is a big difference from 2-4 hours weekly.

I don't think I want to wait until I read for 12 hours straight before I begin to pick up David Deutsch though. I am not sure at what point step 2 starts to to bear diminishing returns.

But I am not able yet to answer questions such as,

>Are you self-aware about how much you’re understanding what you read? Do you know when to go back a page and reread?

I have not reached this level of self-awareness. The good news is that I am now reading at 500 WPM thanks to the app. Which is a drastic improvement I did not expect at all. A very pleasant surprise.


Periergo at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17352 | reply | quote

> I don't think I want to wait until I read for 12 hours straight before I begin to pick up David Deutsch though.

yeah that's unnecessary

> I am not sure at what point step 2 starts to to bear diminishing returns.

judgment call. i don't have some easy way for you to decide.

> The good news is that I am now reading at 500 WPM thanks to the app. Which is a drastic improvement I did not expect at all.

great :)

you might also like Overcast. that's what i speed up podcasts in on iOS. and there's SpeedUp Player Pro for any audio. and i use VLC on mac or windows to speed up video or audio. for youtube, i mostly use Video Speed Controller chrome extension.


curi at 5:39 PM on August 11, 2020 | #17353 | reply | quote

Dear lord...As I read more of the articles you linked re: Psychiatry. I am astonished. The quackery one.

I had no idea things were that bad with that field. I don't even know what to say...I am shocked.

What is this, failure of capitalism in healthcare? Pharmaceutical companies must make a profit so they throw ethics out the window?

This is so sad :(


Periergo at 10:38 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17357 | reply | quote

#17357 Psychiatry is older than current corporations and market incentives. I think a lot of the current economic system stuff you have in mind is from after WWII or at least after the great depression. So I don't think that's the root cause. I think the root cause is basically that the powerful wanted ways to get and do what they wanted, particularly to other people, and psychiatry offered an alternative to open violence/threats. There are lots of other factors involved though, e.g. people actually being bad at life, having problems, suffering, etc.

And we don't have capitalism (free market) in healthcare in the US. It'd be a failure of government control. And it's only the government that has the power to let psychiatry circumvent the criminal justice system with e.g. involuntary commitment (imprisonment without trial) or the insanity defense.


curi at 10:46 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17358 | reply | quote

#17358 Could Universal Healthcare work in the US like it does in Scandinavia?


Periergo at 11:00 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17359 | reply | quote

#17359 I don't think it works well anywhere.


curi at 11:02 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17360 | reply | quote

So the poor are doomed to die or go bankrupt :( ?


Periergo at 11:05 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17361 | reply | quote

> So the poor are doomed to die or go bankrupt :( ?

You seem to be making huge assumptions you haven't discussed in detail. Maybe try to say more of your reasoning.

This may interest you btw https://curi.us/podcast/pq-ideal-healthcare-system


Anonymous at 11:08 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17362 | reply | quote

Yes.

I'll check it out.


Periergo at 11:10 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17363 | reply | quote

#17361 Medical costs are massively inflated due to a bad system, and incomes (and real productivity) are massively lowered as well by government intervention in the economy.

Currently everyone dies. There is little funding for or interest in research to change this like SENS.

Healthcare is a scarce resource. We have limited production capabilities. Decisions have to be made somehow about which healthcare goods to produce and how to distribute them. Putting the government in charge of allocation decisions doesn't make the pie bigger or address the underlying problem (scarcity), and it leads to various problems. People overuse healthcare they don't need, inefficiently, when they aren't paying for it. And the government makes some things unavailable to people if they were willing to pay a lot, or makes you wait in line a long time.

The free market is good at resource allocation and efficient use of resources.

If you're really worried about poor people, at least consider simple policies like taxing and redistributing some cash which they can then spend on whatever they'll get the most value from (whether it's medical insurance or otherwise).

We live in a society that has made medical insurance basically illegal. What we call "medical insurance" now is basically like a gym membership where you're prepaying for some services and you have to keep paying whether you use them or not. Some insurance against disasters is thrown in. But the actual concept of insurance means getting protection against rare events and bad luck, and you can't actually buy that anymore, and it'd be way cheaper than what's currently available to buy, and it'd cover anyone, including poor people, to get their lives saved if they got AIDs or got hit by a bus and severely injured but not killed or whatever.


curi at 11:13 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17364 | reply | quote

> So the poor are doomed to die or go bankrupt :( ?

You may appreciate this post http://justinmallone.com/2019/10/healthcare-freedom-thoughts-economics/


Justin Mallone at 11:19 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17365 | reply | quote

Right makes sense.

Resource allocation is best left to free markets. Right now there is a lot of corporate interference in government, the whole revolving door phenomena etc...

These people won't give up their power though, so I am not optimistic we'd head towards a free market tbh.

> We live in a society that has made medical insurance basically illegal. What we call "medical insurance" now is basically like a gym membership where you're prepaying for some services and you have to keep paying whether you use them or not

Yeah, I pay a huge chunk of my paycheck per month and I still have to pay a lot per Doctor visit. It sucks.

I remember reading about a Surgeon who had a private practice that said to hell with it and stopped accepting *any* insurance. He just charged a flat fee per surgey. He made more money and it was cheaper for the patient. (Is this even allowed anymore?) I can't find the story anymore.


Periergo at 11:27 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17366 | reply | quote

I've also spoken to some doctors who said they spent a ton of their time dealing with insurance companies and paperwork, so they have very little time to spend with their patients.


Periergo at 11:33 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17367 | reply | quote

#17367 Yes and that's despite the growth in administrators (people who don't actually provide any healthcare at all). Similarly we're seeing a growth in administrator roles at schools.


curi at 11:39 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17369 | reply | quote

Are there any sectors were things are getting better not worse? I look at Universities and they seem more like activist factories than institutions of knowledge.

I feel like we're driving off a cliff while we're debating the # of gender pronouns and suddenly skin color matters as much as it did in the 50s, wtf happened.

Tbh that terrifies me the most. I am seeing more and more racism on both sides of the aisle. This won't end well.


Periergo at 11:57 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17370 | reply | quote

where*


Periergo at 11:59 AM on August 12, 2020 | #17371 | reply | quote

> Are there any sectors were things are getting better not worse?

We have better software and electronics (including communications infrastructure like internet cables and cell towers) than we had in the past. And there's more information available on the web.

Science is still making some progress in some areas. Some businesses are improving too and some new products are being invented.

I think the food industry has been getting better. E.g. now we have more partially-prepared food options to buy and we can get meal kit deliveries. And sous vide wands are cheap among other kitchen tools that didn't used to be widely available.

Delivery has improved dramatically. Amazon will ship so much stuff to your doorstep, fast. So will Walmart, Costco and others. Restaurant and grocery delivery (perishables) are available and improving too.

Uber is mostly better than taxis.


curi at 12:13 PM on August 12, 2020 | #17372 | reply | quote

Cars and bikes continue to improve. They're getting safer and more reliable. They get new features like rear backup cameras and dashcams.


curi at 12:15 PM on August 12, 2020 | #17373 | reply | quote

#17366 You may be referring to the Surgery Centre of Oklahoma

https://surgerycenterok.com/

which is still operating.

There are other ways of psying for medical care directly, like direct primary care:

http://theparadocs.com/2018/04/14/episode-002-how-direct-primary-care-made-me-love-medicine-again/


oh my god it's turpentine at 1:19 PM on August 12, 2020 | #17374 | reply | quote

#17374 Yes this is it! Thanks.


Periergo at 9:13 AM on August 13, 2020 | #17385 | reply | quote

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