So what if the priapic razorback lies almost every time he opens his mouth, implied the good doctor. It beats having us feel bad about the man we voted for because that would make us feel bad about ourselves, which is practically the worst thing that can ever happen in the value system of today's psychology profession.
At this very minute there is a trial going on across the river from me in Maryland in which former U.S. Senatorial aspirant, Ruthann Aron, stands accused of arranging to have a hit man kill her husband and his lawyer. She doesn't deny making the arrangements because she was caught in the act. The "hit man" was an agent of the state. But her lawyers have found members of the psychiatry profession to testify that she was so badly wounded psychologically from having been abused as a child that she is not responsible for her actions. Never mind that if the hit man had been the real McCoy, and good at his work, Dr. Aron and his lawyer would have ended up quite dead and Ruthann would have gone on playing the grieving widow and the upstanding member of the community. No psychiatrists would ever have been likely to have been needed to regale us with tales of Ruthann's childhood trauma.
Similarly, it was not difficult to find psychiatric "experts" to tell us why the Menendez brothers were driven by their scarring upbringing to shotgun their parents to death as they sat watching TV and eating ice cream, and then to make up a cock and bull story about how they discovered the bodies.
We have also been treated recently to the spectacle of the "suicidologist" Dr. Alan L. Berman, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, telling us for Kenneth Starr that "to a 100 percent degree of MEDICAL certainty, Vince Foster committed suicide." That conclusion, in turn, was based to a large degree upon recent psychiatric literature that concludes that "perfectionist types," presumably like Foster, are inclined to do themselves in. One of those so concluding is Yale professor Sidney Blatt.
By this time everyone has probably already heard the three reasons why lawyers are being used to replace laboratory rats:
1. They are more plentiful.|
2. You can get attached to a rat.
3. There are some things a rat just won't do.
As you reflect on the examples I have given of modern psychiatrists at work and the following, which concludes part 3 of my four-part series, "America's Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster," found at my web site, you might think of substituting "psychiatrists" for "lawyers" in the joke, especially with respect to that third qualification:
Actually, it's probably even worse than circular reasoning because Dr. Berman seems to have made a bit of a leap to make a warped Felix Ungar type out of a man who simply exhibited high standards. The likely circular reasoning is explained by a letter that I sent to the student newspaper of Yale University on February 8, 1996, with an information copy to the psychologist whose work is the subject of the letter. It was not printed, but I did get a response from the psychologist who simply thanked me for the information. I reproduce the letter to the editor here almost in its entirety. As you read it, bear in mind as well the opening quote from Edward Zehr. It is not just the propagandistic press that concerns him, but the "decay of our basic institutions."
I might also note that while this long essay began with comparisons
between current developments in the United States and those in France a
century ago, comparisons to our late lamented cold war superpower rival
can hardly be avoided.
I trust that the final failure and collapse of that great experiment in large-scale planning called the Soviet Union will not lead to the rapid withering away of academic programs in Sovietology. There is much to be learned about human folly and treachery from the largest and longest such experiment in history. Take, for instance, the systematic corruption of that nation's institutions and professions, as all independent and objective standards were sacrificed for the perpetuation of the power of the state. Outstanding examples of such corruption were in the professions of journalism and psychiatry. We now know that to be a correspondent for Pravda or Izvestia was to be a member of the KGB, and we have all heard the tales of brave Soviet dissidents condemned to psychiatric hospitals and plied with mind-altering drugs because, after all, anyone who would challenge the state "must be crazy."
These things come to mind because I have just finished reading the innocuously-titled article "The Destructiveness of Perfectionism, Implications for the Treatment of Depression" in the December, 1995, issue of the American Psychologist by Professor Sidney J. Blatt of the Yale University Department of Psychology. Ostensibly an examination of the motivation behind the recent suicide deaths of three prominent and successful men, it turns out to be something quite different upon closer examination. One of the three men, you see, and the one enjoying the prominent lead place in the article, was Vincent W. Foster, Jr., Deputy White House Counsel.
Psychoanalysis, itself, is not without its serious detractors, but when it is done long distance and post mortem, the reason for skepticism is increased. When the analyst relies almost completely upon secondary sources for his information about the subject's mental state, the validity of the inquiry results become all the more questionable. When those secondary sources are only newspapers, and the newspapers are only The New York Times and The Washington Post, then the whole exercise is little better than a sick joke.
Do I exaggerate? Let's look at the facts. Professor Blatt deduces much about Foster's thought processes from the text of one of the few primary sources he presumably thinks he has, the fingerprintless, torn-up note which mysteriously materialized in Foster's briefcase some days after it was searched and thought to be empty. He is able to invest such confidence in the authenticity of the note because his twin bibles failed to carry the October 25, 1995, Reuters dispatch reporting that three certified handwriting experts, one of whom is renowned literary document authenticator, Reginald Alton of Oxford University, had, independently and unanimously, with extensive supporting explanation, pronounced the note a mediocre forgery. Scholars like to invoke the authority of the best source available, and, to date, these are it. Therefore, the best conclusion a reputable scholar can draw about the sentiments expressed in the torn-up note is that they represent what someone, who we may presume to be Foster's murderer, wants us to think Foster was thinking, not a very good basis for Foster's psychoanalysis.
Citing a New York Times opinion column, which is really no better than a tertiary source, Blatt tells us that Foster "did not seem to be his usual self, (his)...mood seemed low, (he)...spent weekends in bed with the shades drawn...recently lost 15 pounds, and...sent out signals of pessimism that alarmed close friends and colleagues."
Virtually every word of that statement evaporates upon close
examination. Had Blatt done the responsible thing and at least
consulted the writings of Foster-case investigator Christopher Ruddy of
the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he would have discovered that, at the
time of his physical examination on December 31, 1992, Foster weighed
194 pounds and that his body when autopsied on July 21, 1993, weighed
197 pounds after having lost blood and dried out in the sun for some
hours. This fact was originally discovered by independent investigator
Hugh Sprunt using Senate Banking Committee hearing documents. Those
documents, which include the testimony of all of Foster's close
associates, turn up no one whose observations about Foster's behavior
fit, even loosely, Blatt's quote. They all say he seemed his normal
self to them. Furthermore, White House spokesperson, Dee Dee Myers,
says in the Washington Times of July 30, 1993, that the story about
Foster working in the bed on weekends with the blinds drawn is not true,
and no corroboration for it turns up in the record.
Perhaps Professor Blatt deserves the benefit of the doubt and did not realize just how contrived is the press case upon which he depends so completely. However, that requires imputing to him a degree of credulity that ill becomes a serious scholar. Is it not almost as easy to believe that what he has produced is not really a work of scholarship, but of propaganda?
In the case of this most recent report of the misleadingly-named Office of the Independent Counsel, as with the newspapers that reported on it, it is certainly a good deal easier to believe.
March 17, 1998
See also "So
He Cheated, So What?" Since writing this article, I have
discovered an example of much deeper corruption in the psychiatric profession in
the United States. See the role of psychiatrists in the death and the
cover-up of the likely murder of America's first Secretary of Defense, James V.
Forrestal. Go to http://www.dcdave.com/article4/040927.html
and follow the links.
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