Race, class, and a flawed perception of who gets or deserves “government assistance.”
As the current Presidential campaign/circus proceeds with unheard of antics on a daily basis, I have become reminded over and over again of the importance of the modern phenomenon of narcissism. As a tongue in cheek pictorial example to set the tone for this series of posts in the few weeks before the national election, I have chosen the famous but perhaps forgotten by many of our younger generations of the prototypical fashion dandy of Britain in the early 1800’s, Beau Brummel. In a way, he could be the male forerunner of the phenomenon of fame seekers such as the ubiquitous Kardashians.
In spite of the now rampant, free-wheeling, arm chair psychologizing and analyzing of the Republican nominee for the Presidency Donald Trump, there persists in the blather and smoke of the nondebate political exchanges among the candidates, an issue that still is important. This is the somewhat famous “Goldwater Rule,” formulated and made part of the American Medical Association’s section of Psychiatric Ethics in 1973. It basically stated that psychiatrists were being unethical if they held forth on diagnosing, attaching specific psychiatric labels and such to Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona who was in 1964 the Republican nominee for the Presidency. A magazine published for approximately 3 years by Ralph Ginsburg, a prominent counter-culture writer in the 1960’s.
Section 7.3, which appeared if the first edition of the APA’s code of ethics in 1973 and is still in effect as of 2016, says:
On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement. [From Wikipedia
Mel Gibson’s 1997 movie “Conspiracy Theory” stars as Jerry Fletcher in which played the wacky paranoid Jerry Fletcher who saw conspiracies everywhere and had his own conspiracy newsletter, almost presaged the now more recognized emerging self-assumed ideology of the “targeted individuals” that was highlighted the day of this writing June 10, 2015 in the New York Times. It is a fascinating article and an uncanny almost eerie instance of art imitation life or perhaps predicting life and future reality. Almost prescient as some cinema works by talented directors and screenwriters sometimes produce.
Delusional fads, as I tend to call these fantastical false beliefs that have gripped our imaginations since the days of the Salem Witch Trials and other waves of social weird beliefs have come and gone for ages. Another movie that is another instance of the growing genre of Big Brother and Others spying on us all was Gene Hackman’s terse dark movie concerning an ex-“Agency” technical spy whiz who had retreated into protective extreme isolation. Enemy of the State from 1998 was a startling portrayal of the nightmares of the past few years’ revelations courtesy of Edward Snowden’s leaking of the extent of the NSA’s ostensible spying on everyone through the open digital conduits into our lives, from terrorists to citizens to world leaders, some of or closest allies.
Today at the state hospital where I work, our leadership staff had the entire professional staff hear the professional and personal presentation of a fellow mental health professional talk on this lady’s story of recovery. This was as remarkable story and “witness,” as they call such a presentation in the fundamentalist Southern religious circles as I have ever heard.
I was a little uncomfortable at the start of this presentation in all honesty as I knew this was going to be one of those riveting moments in anyone’s journey of self-improvement, self-discovery and professional development that I have had many times over my working and personal “career” as a mental health provider. This lady had already presented her story and stories all over our large hospital to every unit and service in the hospital over the past few days. I had attended one such session with the staff from my unit and heard her unique style of presenting and remarkable, make you sit up and step outside yourself, re-examine your oldest most stubbornly held precepts, kind of talk. I had already started letting myself undergo the beginnings of what I knew by today was shaping up as a personal “paradigm shift. I was also curious to see how she would present herself and her story to a very large conference room full of many professionals such as I who can be an intimidating audience. I was also curious to see what additional she would have to say as I had been nailed in my psyche by what she had had to say the first time I heard her speak a day before, as well as the reactions of my colleagues. How many would be moved? Would they be as moved as I had been?
It has been months since the former longest-serving Speaker of House, Dennis Hastert, was outed as a child molester of the youth he coached in his school teaching years. He was convicted of paying out millions, reportedly somewhere in excess of over $3M to at least one former victim to ensure his silence on Mr. Hastert’s sexual predatory crimes. It all came out in a mundane investigative manner, following the money as the saying goes, when large withdrawals over a period of time were from his bank accounts were being made and drew that attention of the local banker, banker investgators and all the way up the chain of oversight exacntly the way it was supposed to work.
Now the story has broken in the news media ari waves and picked up nationally that investigators are apparently dropping the other shoe. They are releasing/leaking to the press that he molested not just the one person he was paying off for silence but a now known total of at least four young vulnerable high school male youth under his tutelage. Whether this is a public service of the “feds” to reveal and answer the questions hanging in the air over this shocking revelation and investigation leading to a federal conviction of one of our fairly respected national Congressional medical campaign leading o another round of indictments,remains to be seen. But it does confirm the suspicion and clinical suppositions of many mental health clinicians who have worked with sexual predators and molesters, aalnost none of them ever molest just one child or youth. It is almost universally that case that these predators finally are outed after a career of molesting multiple children and youth; after all, this is a puzzling condition that combines elements of addiction, brain dysfunction that is likely lifelong and yet poorly understood, based in a thoroughly dishonest ‘personality disorder,” people who tend not to be treatable or achieve throughgoing lasting internalized change. They require treatment which is more like North Korean “re-education,” teaching them how to manage and control every second of their lives their malicious impulses toward children and youth for their own gratification. There are many mental health professionals who work in correctional settings to try to change or instill control in such antisocial predators, but in my judgment they can only prepare these men for a life outside a correctional facility that is backed up by stainless steel structure that intrudes on their privacy and all elements of their personal lives to a degree that our society has not yet been prepared to go. Very few of these predators can control or give up their urges to molest
It remains to be seen what the recent revelations by the ‘feds’ means for Mr. Hastert, his declaration with tears that the “shame” of being outed and convicted of elements of his scheme to cover up his earlier career as a molester was “punishment enough,” makes one consider the possibility that the “feds” are going to reveal in the near future far worse issues, e.g., a continuation of his care as a child molester or worse long after he left coaching in high school decades ago.