RE: memetics-digest V1 #1329

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Tue 13 May 2003 - 16:40:12 GMT

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    Dace, I was glad to see your response, and it seems to undermine the use of the DSM criteria that you offered initially. I would agree that it is a good thing to undermine!

    And I would agree that no competent therapist should offer a diagnosis based on the facts given in my scenario -- but that, of course does not stop the rest of us from trying to do so. <smile>

    The Soviets and others have tried to equate disagreement with insanity, an execrable response to those who challenge the central power center, and somewhat akin to the Inquisition.

    To turn to a second element of behavior that has confounded this list, the use of invective and dismissive insult...

    My sense is that email, particularly in a public list where we presume strangers lurk, is a difficult place to explore true differences of opinion. Our relative anonymity and disconnect from our list members makes it easy to choose offensive words, knowing that we will never have any further dealings with the person we are debating with. So when we reach the decision that the other person is not worth debating with, but we may yet wish to persuade other lurkers, we hang in on the argument, though caring little about its impact of the other debater.

    Clearly, I think, this is not a matter of anyone having a personality disorder, but is inherent in the nature of the situation.

    What do you think?


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf
    > Of Dace
    > Sent: Sun, May 11, 2003 3:15 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1329
    > > From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    > >
    > > Hi, Dace,
    > >
    > > I have read the personality disorder criteria, and worry at how
    > useful the
    > > list is. Here is why:
    > >
    > > I can well imagine a person who, say, engages in an unusual
    > area of study,
    > > say the neural net model of information exchange within a
    > government, and
    > on
    > > the basis of that concludes that the head of the government is isolated
    > from
    > > significant portions of information and thinking, and is
    > instead receiving
    > > only a small amount of the information, controlled by a handful
    > of people,
    > > who thus have an easy time controlling the thinking and decisions of the
    > > head of state. Let us posit that he is correct in his analysis. So, our
    > > researcher starts warning people about this, and the more ignored he is,
    > the
    > > more vociferous he becomes, such is his worry that his government is
    > making
    > > or might make dangerous decisions. He finds himself, more and
    > more on the
    > > outs with his colleagues, friends and family. He gets fired, for not
    > > tending to his business and forcing customers to listen to his
    > suspicions.
    > > Friends stop inviting him to parties. He sinks into a
    > depression, over the
    > > state of his country and over what it has cost him personally.
    > He goes to
    > > therapy, where he is told that he is delusional by a therapist who has
    > never
    > > heard of neural nets and believes that questioning the head of state is
    > > unpatriotic. He goes to his minister, who tells him that the
    > country is in
    > > the hands of God and that what he really needs to do is pray
    > for guidance.
    > > He goes to his sister, who tells him he should confide in his
    > wife, who is
    > > worried about him. He goes to his wife, who tells him that if he just
    > > started working again he would feel better about himself. He tries to
    > > explain neural nets to his friends, who tell him that they can't
    > understand
    > > him but why doesn't he come over and have a beer and watch the game. He
    > > becomes morose, and finds himself taking long drives alone, and
    > sometimes
    > > crying when he thinks about things too much. He finds himself guzzling
    > > Klondike Bars, and day-dreaming about the happier times when his mom
    > > used to give them to him up at the lake in the summers.
    > >
    > > Now, the list you cite asks only that an individual exhibit two of the
    > > criteria listed. But an outside observers would say, I think,
    > that he has
    > > symptoms of criteria: A 1-4, and B, C, D, E, and F. In other words,
    > > according to the DSM, he has a personality disorder. But, does he? True,
    > he
    > > is alone in his views, but that is because others haven't developed the
    > same
    > > expertise and done the same research. True, he is out of sync with
    > everyone
    > > he talks to about his conclusions, but, again, it is because they don't
    > > understand neural nets, or because they don't want to hear 'subversive'
    > > thoughts. True, it is an enduring pattern, but that is because
    > the danger
    > > that he is trying to warn people about is persisting.
    > >
    > > But does he really have a personality disorder?
    > >
    > > Is it not possible for one person to be right, though a
    > thousand tell him,
    > > over and over again, that he is wrong, or stupid?
    > >
    > > Cheers,
    > > L
    > Hi Lawry,
    > Based on the information provided above, no competent therapist would
    > diagnose a personality disorder. This description does not in any way
    > suggest a personality disorder or, for that matter, any other mental
    > illness. Even depression is not indicated because there's a clear-cut
    > trigger for the feelings of despair. Criterion A-1 is not met simply
    > because you take a view of the world that's radically different
    > from that of
    > most other people. The key is that you perceive yourself as some kind of
    > benevolent deity when your behavior is objectively that of a
    > complete jerk.
    > Criterion A-2 is revealed when you react with extreme hostility to anyone
    > who tries to point this out. The example above in no way complies with
    > criterion B. Not only does the pattern have to be inflexible,
    > but it has to
    > apply to a "broad range of personal and social situations." It can't just
    > be an anomoly that's set off by a single, unfortunate situation,
    > as related
    > above. Criterion C refers to an "enduring pattern," not a single event.
    > Criterion D demands that the pattern go back at least to early
    > adulthood and
    > probably adolescence. This is not something that appears during
    > a mid-life
    > crisis.
    > Keep in mind that diagnosis with a PD is just the first step.
    > The next step
    > is to ascertain which of the ten varieties of PD apply in a
    > particular case.
    > You're looking for things like narcissism, which involves a severe deficit
    > in empathy, a willingness to manipulate people, arrogance, a sense of
    > entitlement, grandiosity, etc. Or it could be antisocial tendencies, or
    > paranoia, schizoia, hysteria, etc. When diagnosing a PD, the therapist
    > always looks for these ancillary traits. While there's no
    > question that Joe
    > is suffering from a PD, I've been less certain which form applies in his
    > case. At first I thought it was narcissism, but with his
    > incessant bullying
    > I began to think it was antisocial PD. I recently discovered
    > that so-called
    > "serial bullies" are diagnosable with narcissism as often as
    > sociopathy, so
    > perhaps it is narcissism after all. Of the the nine criteria for
    > narcissistic PD, five are required for a diagnosis. I believe that Joe,
    > based on his behavior on this list, conforms to criteria 1, 4, 7,
    > 8, and 9.
    > 1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements
    > and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate
    > achievements)
    > 2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance,
    > etc
    > 3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be
    > understood by other special or high-status people (or institutions).
    > 4. requires excessive admiration
    > 5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of
    > especially
    > favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his expectations
    > 6. is interpersonally exploitative
    > 7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings
    > and needs of others
    > 8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
    > 9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
    > No doubt a face-to-face relationship with Joe would reveal more
    > evidence of
    > these symptoms. However, long-distance diagnoses are not unheard of.
    > Harper's magazine ran a professional diagnosis of the biblical Samson, who
    > clearly reveals all seven criteria of antisocial personality disorder. US
    > army psychiatrist Walter Langer diagnosed Hitler with antisocial PD during
    > the war without ever having met him.
    > As Dr. M. Scott Peck pointed out in *People of the Lie*, the very idea of
    > "human evil" would not exist were it not for "malignant narcissism."
    > Traditionally, what's evil is things like earthquakes and plagues
    > and swarms
    > of locusts. Human beings aren't supposed to be evil. When they are, like
    > Hitler or Saddam or George W. Bush, they probably harbor a personality
    > disorder. (For a psychiatric analysis of W., see
    > Finally, keep in mind that the DSM-IV contains only diagnostic
    > criteria, not
    > general descriptions. For a really insightful discussion of clinical
    > narcissism, see This is
    > the "traits" page of Joanna Ashmun's website. Like me, she's had a lot of
    > personal experience with narcissists and knows how to spot one.
    > > From:
    > >
    > > In a message dated 5/9/2003 2:54:46 PM Central Daylight Time,
    > > writes:
    > >
    > >
    > > As I've stated before, Joe is clearly diagnosable with a personality
    > > disorder. The diagnostic criteria are listed on page 633 of the DSM-IV:
    > >
    > > A. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that
    > deviates from
    > > the expectations of an individual's culture, as manifested in two (or
    > more)
    > > of the following areas:
    > > 1. cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other
    > > people, and
    > > events)
    > > 2. affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, lability, and
    > appropriateness
    > > of emotional response)
    > > 3. interpersonal functioning
    > > 4. impulse control
    > > B. The enduring pattern is inflexible
    > > C. The pattern leads to distress or impairment in social areas of
    > > functioning.
    > > D. The pattern is stable and of long duration.
    > > E. The patern is not better accounted for as a consequence of another
    > mental
    > > disorder.
    > > F. The pattern is not due to a drug of abuse, a medication, or a general
    > > medical condition (e.g., head trauma).
    > >
    > > [Jake] I interpreted the above as a pure ad hominem. Perhaps a somewhat
    > > sophisticated and intelligent sounding one, but an ad hominem
    > regardless.
    > > Perhaps you could say, "Well, I was just trying to help people out by
    > warning
    > > them about Joe." But I don't really buy that. Whether Joe gives you
    > > headache, whether you find him full of "brutish eloquence" or something
    > else,
    > > he has been around these parts for a while now. A look through the
    > archives
    > > of the memetics list, or the Church of the Virus
    > >, for the last several years should give
    > people
    > > whatever warning they need. I personally avoid psychiatrically
    > "diagnosing"
    > > people over the Internet.
    > So do I. I'll make an exception only when two factors are in
    > place. First,
    > there has to be no doubt whatsoever as to the accuracy of the diagnosis.
    > Second, the offending individual must keep up the bullying for a
    > long time,
    > showing no signs of relenting. I spent months calmly responding
    > to each and
    > every attack from Joe. I spent more months simply ignoring his attacks.
    > Finally, it became obvious that he was never going to stop no
    > matter what I
    > did. Joe is entirely to blame for the exposure of his mental illness. He
    > has brought this upon himself. Not that it matters to him, of course. He
    > honestly believes he's a wonderful guy, and I just harbor some kind of
    > irrational hatred for him. So it's not as if I'm hurting his feelings or
    > anything. All of this goes right through him. If my comments
    > were intended
    > to hurt his feelings, as is usually the case with ad hominem, I'm doing a
    > pretty lousy job of it.
    > > Speaking of diagnosing people, this is one of my favorite "What's wrong
    > with
    > > me?" fun links.
    > Thanks for the reference. I'll take a look at it.
    > Ted Dace
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