philosophy: quotes by Theodor W. Adorno, Judith Butler, and Lionel Trilling

oil paint­ing by Pieter Brue­gal
The Way to Cal­vary
photo by christian-​vc3b6hringer

The universal…appears as some­thing vio­lent and extra­né­ous and has no sub­stan­tial real­ity for human beings.

Noth­ing is more degen­er­ate than the kind of ethics or moral­ity that sur­vives in the shape of col­lec­tive ideas even after the World Spirit has ceased to inhabit them — to use the Hegelian expres­sion as a kind of short­hand. Once the state of human con­scious­ness and the state of social forces of pro­duc­tion have aban­doned these col­lec­tive ideas, these ideas acquire repres­sive and vio­lent qualities.

Because the col­lec­tive ethos is no longer shared — indeed, pre­cisely because the col­lec­tive ethos which must now be herded by quo­ta­tion marks, is not com­monly shared — it can impose its claim to com­mon­al­ity only through vio­lent means. In this sense, the col­lec­tive ethos instru­men­tal­izes vio­lence to main­tain the appear­ance of its col­lec­tiv­ity. More­over, this ethos becomes vio­lence only once it has become an anachro­nism. What is strange his­tor­i­cally — and tem­po­rally — about this form of eth­i­cal vio­lence is that although the col­lec­tive ethos has become anachro­nis­tic, it has not become past; it insists itself into the present as an anachronism.

~ Adorno

Pol­i­tics of “the who” …the expo­sure and vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the other makes a pri­mary eth­i­cal claim upon me.

The recog­ni­tion that one is, at every turn, not quite the same as how one presents one­self in the avail­able dis­course might imply, in turn, a cer­tain patience with oth­ers that would sus­pend the demand that they be self-​same at every moment.

It may be that only through an expe­ri­ence of the other under con­di­tions of sus­pended judg­ment do we finally become capa­ble of an eth­i­cal reflec­tion in the human­ity of the other, even when that other has thought to anni­hi­late humanity.

~ Judith But­ler from Giv­ing an Account of Oneself

Every neu­ro­sis is a prim­i­tive form of legal pro­ceed­ing in which the accused car­ries on the pros­e­cu­tion, imposes judg­ment and exe­cutes the sen­tence: all to the end that some­one else should not per­form the same process.

~ Lionel Trilling

anti-​abortion movement’s focus on minority women


The Mis­sion­ary Move­ment to ‘Save’ Black Babies by Akiba Solomon at Col­or­lines

Care Net Urban cre­ates “cri­sis preg­nancy cen­ters” to dis­cour­age girls and women from get­ting abor­tions. Such cen­ters have tra­di­tion­ally been located in white, middle-​class neigh­bor­hoods near a clinic that pro­vides abor­tions. They get their fund­ing from such sources as golf ben­e­fits and dri­ves held in churches. Recently, Care Net has estab­lished a “cri­sis preg­nancy cen­ter” in a pre­dom­i­nately black neigh­bor­hood in Kansas City. Rely­ing on a debunked study claim­ing that the major­ity of abor­tion cen­ters are in areas of cities with a large minor­ity pop­u­la­tion, Care Net has made estab­lish­ing these cen­ters in minor­ity neigh­bor­hoods a priority.

Col­or­lines does in-​depth, inves­tiga­tive news sto­ries. If you’re inter­ested in how these evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian groups are por­tray­ing abor­tion as a white, fem­i­nist tool to hurt minor­ity women, and lying about the effects of abor­tion, I sug­gest you read this arti­cle. To try to sum it up would be to lose the plot.

Iraqis suffering psychological distress benefit from counseling


Spe­cial Report: Heal­ing Iraqis from Doc­tors With­out Borders/​Médecins Sans Frontières

Years of war and vio­lent con­flict leaves many Iraqis with high lev­els of emo­tional dis­tress that is mak­ing their lives mis­er­able and mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for them to rebuild their coun­try. Médecins Sans Fron­tières (MSF)/Doctors With­out Bor­ders has been col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Iraqi Min­istry of Health to make psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing avail­able through the Iraqi health care sys­tem. Together they’ve devel­oped a pro­gram that focuses on non-​pharmaceutical approaches to psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing for the kinds of anx­i­ety and depres­sion that com­monly result from trauma, vio­lence, and unre­quited stress. These ser­vices have been made avail­able in two Bagh­dad hos­pi­tals, and one in Fal­lu­jah. The plan is for these ser­vices to serve as mod­els of care that can be adopted by community-​based clin­ics through­out Iraq as an aspect of pri­mary care.

Part of the chal­lenge of reduc­ing stigma and encour­ag­ing peo­ple to seek psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing is let­ting peo­ple know that suf­fer­ing from trau­matic and unre­lent­ing stress is nor­mal— it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Here are two Iraqis express­ing what they’ve been going through to a counselor:

I came here for the first time, to over­come the sit­u­a­tion I’m in. I always have neg­a­tive thoughts and when any­one starts talk­ing to me I sud­denly can’t stop cry­ing. I wit­nessed sev­eral explo­sions go off in front of my house and have had my homes searched by the police sev­eral times. These expe­ri­ences affected my life and my work so much. I tried to talk to my fam­ily, but they didn’t under­stand me and didn’t lis­ten to me. They say I’m crazy. That’s why I came here I want some­one to lis­ten to me. I left my work and now I’m a house wife, I don’t like social­iz­ing with the fam­ily at all.


I almost had a ner­vous break­down. I hit every­thing that I see in my way. I get angry and hit things. I’m wor­ried that my chil­dren will get sick. I wit­nessed an explo­sion four years ago and I still have shrap­nel in my head from the inci­dent. Six years ago I was impris­oned in Abu Ghraib for a year and a half. I became an angry per­son, I would get irri­tated so eas­ily and always felt mis­er­able. After the first ses­sion of coun­sel­ing I felt that I had been helped. The prob­lem is I’m always wor­ried about the cost of liv­ing since I don’t have enough money… and I’m always afraid and wor­ried that some­thing bad could hap­pen to my family.

Women are suf­fer­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress dis­pro­por­tion­ately. My guess is that hav­ing gone from being equal to men in the eyes of the law, to being sub­ject to extreme Shia sanc­tions in pub­lic, and for some, pri­vate life has required many Iraqi women to adapt to more social con­trol and dan­gers that may seem arbi­trary and for­eign to them in the con­text of their lives and iden­ti­ties prior to the war. Also, women are pri­mar­ily respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing home life and tak­ing care of chil­dren, though many no longer have the social sup­port they used to have in this role. Many of these women also lost their hus­bands, fathers, and/​or broth­ers, sons in the war/​occupation/​continuing con­flict, and there­fore have inad­e­quate means in a soci­ety in which even pro­fes­sional women have lit­tle or no chance of find­ing a job. It’s also typ­i­cal for domes­tic vio­lence, gen­der vio­lence, and rape to esca­late in any soci­ety in a state of war— Iraq is not an exception.

Doc­tors With­out Borders/​Médecins Sans Fron­tières will com­plete their work in build­ing this model of psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing inte­grated into the Iraqi health care sys­tem in June 2013. They are leav­ing the Iraqi Min­istry of Health with rec­om­men­da­tions to improve the sys­tem. As always, Doc­tors With­out Borders/​Médecins Sans Fron­tières has, out of human kind­ness and exper­tise in deal­ing with peo­ple in polit­i­cal cri­sis, done a great ser­vice to peo­ple in Iraq who want some­one they can talk to about the psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress and over­whelm­ing emo­tion they’re feel­ing, and aren’t being helped within a soci­ety in which nearly every­one is and has been stressed, for a decade or longer.

In my opin­ion, they could cut the Gor­dian Knot of stigma by using the term “psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress” instead of “men­tal ill­ness” which is inun­dated with the stink of bio­log­i­cal psy­chi­a­try, simple-​minded reduc­tion­ism, and the reifi­ca­tion of diag­nos­tic cat­e­gories. Most of the peo­ple who will ben­e­fit from these coun­sel­ing ser­vices are suf­fer­ing from psycho-​social prob­lems and trau­matic stress. There isn’t some­thing “wrong” with their brains or minds, they are hav­ing a nor­mal response to an abnor­mal and inhu­man situation.

articles on psychiatry

tumblr_mksn3hsM061r4vhsho1_1280Art of the ‘Men­tally ill’: #5 Micheal Del­gado ‘Observe your Choices’

Is Psy­chi­a­try Dis­hon­est? And if so, is it a noble lie? a review of Gary Greenberg’s book Book of Woe by Ben­jamin Nugent

Green­berg is a psy­chother­a­pist — as well as a widely pub­lished jour­nal­ist and author — and he believes psy­chi­a­trists must make clear to patients that such dis­or­ders are not dis­eases but “pro­vi­sional cat­e­gories.” This, he pre­dicts, will mean “fewer patients, more mod­est claims about what [psy­chi­a­try] treats, less clout with insur­ers, and reduced author­ity to turn our trou­bles into med­ical prob­lems sim­ply by adding the word dis­or­der to their description.”

He sees this hum­bling of the dis­ci­pline as the path to an “hon­est psy­chi­a­try.” A nim­ble rhetori­cian, Green­berg implies that in its cur­rent state psy­chi­a­try is like the tit­u­lar swindler of Melville’s The Confidence-​Man, from which that “heart of man” quo­ta­tion is drawn. Psy­chi­a­trists, he says, must learn restraint. They must say “I don’t know” more often. Because, from some angles, the pro­fes­sion looks like a con­fi­dence game. If it’s a sci­en­tific study of the mind, rather than sim­ply a mir­ror of our cul­tural val­ues, why was homo­sex­u­al­ity listed as a dis­or­der in the DSM until 1973? Go back even fur­ther in the annals of men­tal ill­ness, and you find drapeto­ma­nia, pro­posed by the New Orleans physi­cian Samuel Cartwright in 1850: “the dis­ease caus­ing negros to run away.”

Sui­cide rates increase dra­mat­i­cally among middle-​aged Amer­i­cans by Ryan Jaslow at CBS news

Sui­cide now kills more Amer­i­cans than car acci­dents, accord­ing to a new gov­ern­ment report.

In 2010, the last year of avail­able data included in the report, more than 38,000 peo­ple took their own lives. In the same year, less than 34,000 peo­ple died in motor vehi­cle crashes.

The Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention’s (CDC) analy­sis of U.S. sui­cide rates found sharp increases among cer­tain pop­u­la­tion groups, includ­ing middle-​aged adults.

For­mer cham­pion says pub­lic safety fears led to adop­tion of mea­sures that seri­ously cur­tailed patients’ freedoms

Con­tro­ver­sial pow­ers to treat men­tal health patients in the com­mu­nity while seri­ously cur­tail­ing their free­doms have been crit­i­cised by one of their strongest supporters.

Pop­u­larly known as “psy­chi­atric Asbos”, Com­mu­nity Treat­ment Orders (CTOs) were intro­duced five years ago after a series of high-​profile cases that involved men­tally ill peo­ple attack­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic. The dra­con­ian mea­sures have now been shown to make no clin­i­cal dif­fer­ence – and the psy­chi­a­trist who cham­pi­oned them is call­ing for their imme­di­ate suspension.

CTOs gave doc­tors legal author­ity to impose con­di­tions on their patients after they are released from hos­pi­tal such as where they must live, what drugs they must take and even how much alco­hol they could consume.

If they broke any of these stip­u­la­tions they could be imme­di­ately recalled and sec­tioned to a psy­chi­atric unit.

It was hoped that the orders would strengthen psy­chi­a­trists’ abil­ity to ensure patients stuck to their treat­ment pro­grammes after being discharged.

articles about veterans


Major Com­mit­ments From Employ­ers to Boost Vet­er­ans Hiring

America’s busi­nesses have hired or trained 290,000 vet­er­ans or mil­i­tary spouses in response to Pres­i­dent Obama’s chal­lenge to the pri­vate sec­tor in August 2011, nearly triple the orig­i­nal goal of 100,000.

Defense Bill Man­dates Sui­cide Prevention

Included in the National Defense Autho­riza­tion Act signed by Pres­i­dent Obama is a pro­vi­sion requir­ing the Pen­ta­gon to imple­ment a stan­dard­ized and com­pre­hen­sive sui­cide pre­ven­tion pro­gram. The amend­ment, spon­sored by U.S. Sen­a­tor Patty Mur­ray, was crafted after a major study by the RAND Cor­po­ra­tion showed that there are seri­ous gaps and a lack of con­sis­tency in mil­i­tary ser­vices’ sui­cide pre­ven­tion pro­grams. The new law comes as the num­ber of active duty sui­cides con­tin­ues to rise, with 2012 exceed­ing 2011.

VA Seeks Expanded TBI Benefits

The Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs is propos­ing to add five diag­nos­able ill­nesses which are sec­ondary to service-​connected trau­matic brain injury (TBI). The VA pro­poses to add a new sub­sec­tion to its adju­di­ca­tion reg­u­la­tion to state that if a vet­eran who has a service-​connected TBI also has one of the five ill­nesses, then the ill­ness will be con­sid­ered ser­vice con­nected as sec­ondary to the TBI.

The reg­u­la­tory change comes after an Insti­tute of Med­i­cine (IOM) study found “suf­fi­cient evi­dence of an asso­ci­a­tion” between mod­er­ate or severe TBI and Parkin­son­ism; demen­tias (which VA under­stands to include pre­se­nile demen­tia of the Alzheimer type and post-​traumatic demen­tia); depres­sion (which also was asso­ci­ated with mild TBI); and dis­eases of hor­mone defi­ciency that may result from hypothalamo-​pituitary changes.

Those find­ings are reported in the IOM’s “Gulf War and Health, Vol­ume 7: Long-​Term Con­se­quences of TBI.”

The report also found “suf­fi­cient evi­dence of a causal rela­tion­ship” between mod­er­ate or severe lev­els of TBI and diag­nosed unpro­voked seizures. Although ser­vice con­nec­tion would depend in part on the sever­ity of the TBI (mild, mod­er­ate or severe) and the period of time between the injury and the onset of the sec­ondary ill­ness, the pro­posed rule clar­i­fies that it does not pre­clude a vet­eran from estab­lish­ing direct ser­vice con­nec­tion even if those time and sever­ity stan­dards are not met. It also defines the terms mild, mod­er­ate and severe to be con­sis­tent with Depart­ment of Defense guidelines.

epidemiology: incidence of multiple sclerosis in Gulf War era veterans

The spring 2013 newslet­ter for Vet­er­ans with Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis, has an arti­cle about a recent epi­demi­o­log­i­cal study con­ducted on Gulf War Vet­er­ans with MS, to find the dis­ease bur­den of MS. Accord­ing to the study, the inci­dence of MS has been increas­ing over the last forty years.

U.S. mil­i­tary pop­u­la­tions have been a source for epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies on MS since World War I, when Dr. Fred M. Dav­en­port pre­sented a study of mil­i­tary draftees that were dis­charged with MS. These and other stud­ies were done on vet­er­ans who served in World War II, the Korean Con­flict, and the Viet Nam War. Most of these stud­ies exam­ined risk fac­tors, age of onset, and the pro­gres­sion of the dis­ease until death.

In the new study a total of 2,169 Vet­er­ans who served dur­ing the Gulf War era (start of war in 1990 to 2007) and were service-​connected* for MS, were included in the study in an effort to find trends and MS risk fac­tors within this group.

The aver­age age of onset for this pop­u­la­tion was 31 years.

Women had an inci­dence of MS rates nearly three times as high as men, which is the same in most countries.

The rates for inci­dence of MS are increas­ing for Racial and Eth­nic minori­ties, which con­trasts with ear­lier stud­ies of MS show­ing that Whites were affected more.

The Air Force had the high­est inci­dence rate, fol­lowed by the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and finally the Marines. The “boots on the ground” Air Force and Army vet­er­ans had a higher inci­dence than other sol­diers; which is an odd con­trast to the Marines hav­ing the low­est rate.

Fur­ther stud­ies will be look­ing more deeply into the rela­tion­ships between minor­ity pop­u­la­tions and MS. For more infor­ma­tion on this study, you can read the abstract at

“The Gulf War era mul­ti­ple cohort; age and inci­dence rates by race, sex, and ser­vice” in Brain: a Jour­nal of Neu­rol­ogy from Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press, or pay an exor­bi­tant amount of money to sub­scribe to the jour­nal, or pay $32.00 to access this arti­cle for one day. On the bright side, if you reg­is­ter with this jour­nal, you can have access to some free pub­li­ca­tions in each issue like

Mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing evi­dence for presymp­to­matic change in thal­a­mus and cau­date in famil­ial Alzheimer’s dis­ease.


On the bright side, Oxford Open has a vari­ety of fully open-​access journals.

* If an indi­vid­ual had symp­toms of MS in the mil­i­tary, or within seven years after hon­or­able dis­charge, he or she may be eli­gi­ble for service-​connected disability.

the future of psychiatry: the DSM and the National Institute for Mental Health


The National Insti­tute for Men­tal Health is aban­don­ing the DSM, for what appears to be psychiatry’s pipe-​dream of prov­ing that men­tal ill­ness is bio­log­i­cal and genetic, but at least it’s not tak­ing the piece of garbage that is the DSM-​5 seriously.