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Pathologizing Vulnerable, Normalizing Power: Where Psychologists Fear to Tread

Uploaded 1/26/2021, approx. 35 minute read

I'm wearing a mask. Is this a delusional act? Am I delusional?

There are quite a few people who deny the existence of a virus, or even that there is a pandemic going on. And the vast majority of humanity would disagree with them, and so they would consider people who take off their masks to be delusional.

Where do we draw the line? How can we tell the difference between delusion and belief, delusion and hope, delusion and optimism? How do we know what is normal and what is abnormal? Is it a spectrum? Are these discrete states easily distinguishable?

Hope and optimism, for example, should be derived from reality testing, from a realistic assessment of the environment, human environment and natural environment.

If hope and optimism and belief derive from a delusion, never mind how widespread this delusion is, then they are pathological, they are unhealthy.

And so today I would like to discuss everyday life, phenomena in everyday life which could easily be cast as psychopathologies, as mental illness, as forms of sickness, and then ask the question, why do we exempt these behaviors? Why do we as psychologists exempt these behaviors? Why do we give them a pass?

Why when we see similar behaviors in other settings, in other cultures, in other contexts, we pathologize them, but we don't when it is in our culture, for example.

It's a complex issue and a very touchy and controversial one. And I hope you stay with me to the end, because it's going to be a bumpy and egodystonic right, guaranteed.


Where do we draw the line?

Normal people adapt themselves to their environment, human environment, natural environment, abnormal people, people with mental health problems, do exactly the opposite.

They try to adapt the environment to themselves. They don't want to change, they don't change, or they are incapable of changing, so they expect the environment to change. Society, friends, family, the workplace. They have idiosyncratic needs, a unique profile, and they expect everyone around them to mold themselves to fit this profile, like a key and a lock.

And when these sick individuals succeed, when they do transform their environment, human environment, their society, or natural environment, when they do this, everything is pathologized.

Consider, for example, Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler was a very sick man. Nazi Germany was a very sick society. Why? Because it had adopted itself to the profile of Adolf Hitler.

So what's the difference between Adolf Hitler and other movers and shakers in human history? What's the difference between him, for example, and Napoleon? Why don't we castigate Napoleon in the same terms that we castigate Adolf Hitler?

Where do we draw the line?


Before we start, starting with Sigmund Freud and his disciples, there was a new trend, trend of social biology.

We started to medicalize. We started to pathologize.

What was hitherto known as sin, wrongdoing, misbehavior.

You see, psychology succeeded religion.

Before there was psychology, there was religion. And religion provided inner peace. Religion provided and gave healing. Religion fostered and engendered peace of mind. Religion was a form of impromptu psychology or psychiatry or therapy.

Religious was a form of psychotherapy.

And so here came Sigmund Freud. And he absconded with religion's artifacts. He invaded the turf, the territory of religion, and he medicalized sin, wrongdoing, and misbehavior.

And as the vocabulary of public discourse shifted from religious terms to scientific terms, to offensive behaviors that constituted transgressions against the divine or against the social order, these transgressions have been relabeled.

So, for example, self-centeredness, de-sympathic egocentricity, they are known today as pathological narcissism.

Criminals used to be criminals, but now they are no longer only criminals. They are also psychopaths.

Their behavior, though still described as antisocial, is now attributed to their deprived childhood. It is the deterministic outcome of some genetic predispositional brain biochemistry, gone awry.

In all this medicalization and pathologicalizing, it casts in doubt the very existence of free will and free choice between good and evil.

Narcissists can say, well, I'm a narcissist. You know, what can I do?

Psychopaths can say forgive me. I'm a psychopath. That's why I am. It's my nature. I'm like a virus. I don't mean ill, but I kill.

It's very bad for morality.

The contemporary science of psychopathology or clinical psychology now amounts to a godless variant of Calvinism, a kind of predestination by nature or predestination by nurture.

So what I want to do in today's lecture is to examine five everyday phenomena and how psychology took over and pathologized this phenomenon and how it refused to pathology, decline to pathologize other phenomena, which definitely are pathological and should have been pathologized.

And start, of course, how else? With religion.

Here's a question. What constitutes an established institutional religion? And what's the difference between a religion and a cult or a cult and a sect? Is it the quantity or the number of followers? Because if it is, we are in trouble.

The Moonies, the Unification Church, they had four million followers at the peak. That's a big number of like-minded people, all of them adhering to the same tenets. And yet, no one would say that the Unification Church was a religion or even a religious establishment. They were regarded widely as a sect.

So what's the difference? Is it historical precedent like tenure in a university? The longer you are around, the more a religion you become. I mean, the longer the period, the more you are considered a religion.

Is this it?

Religious people display manifest signs of addiction. The religion caters to numerous elements in the addictive personality. I could safely say that religious people are junkies. They're not junkies of substances, but they're junkies of narratives, of signs, of symbols, of miracles, and ultimately of delusions.

And we are trying desperately to avoid this discussion in psychology. Why?

Because religious people are very powerful. Very powerful because they're very numerous. And because they're very numerous, they have political might. And they can leverage this political might and the money that stands behind it to destroy, exterminate psychology.

Bear in mind that most universities in the world rely on state finance. And in most countries in the world, religion has a pronounced political role.

So it's like taking on the Republican party. You wouldn't want to do that.

Psychologists, therefore, are politically correct, as we will see.

Every diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual hastens to say, no, this is not about religion.

Let me read to you the text. I'm reading from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5.

An individual's cultural and religious background must be taken into account in evaluating the possible presence of a delusional disorder. Really? Why?

The content of delusions also varies across cultural contexts, you don't say. That's a politically correct statement. It's a message that the community of psychologists is sending to religion, to institutional religions. Don't worry. We're not going to attack you. We're not going to pathologize you. We're not going to encroach on your turf and enter your territory.

To each his own, we are not going to declare that religion is a delusional disorder. That's not okay. That's intellectual dishonesty.

Because if you look at the definition of delusional disorder and the diagnostic features of delusional disorder, as they are embedded in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the first thing that comes to mind is religion, not the second, the first.

It's a perfect encapsulation description and capturing of the essence, the quantity of what it is to be religious.


And now to explain what I'm referring to.

If you believe that the scriptures, scriptures of every religion, Old Testament, New Testament, Quran, Buddhist writings, whatever. If you believe the scriptures, religious writings, a beautiful literature, I'm all with you. Never surpassed the best there is.

You know, soul lifting if we had a soul. If you believe that religious writings are allegories of the human condition, of history, I'm all with you. I'm all for it.

Religious writings are wise, sagacious. They are distillations of millennia of human experience. They should be studied thoroughly, absolutely mandatory.

But if you believe that the events described in religious writings have happened, had actually happened, that they are real, that they are a form of history, something is seriously wrong with you. You're mentally ill.

What is your mental illness? Delusional disorder.

And the psychiatric establishment and the psychologists all over the world, they're terrified of religious people. They don't want problems. They don't want their budgets cut. They don't want to be decapitated. They don't want any trouble.

So they stay away from religion, which is intellectually dishonest.

A while back, it was suggested that religion, mysticism, and more generally spirituality, are actually genetically determined. It was known as the god-gene hypothesis. And it proposes that spirituality is influenced by heredity.

And there's a specific gene. It's called the vesicular monoramic transporter. V-M-A-T-2.

And this gene predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystical experiences.

The first to propose this idea was a geneticist, actually. His name was Dean Hamer. In 2004, he published a book called The God-Gene, how faith is hardwired into our genes.

And the hypothesis is based on a combination of behavioral, genetic, neurobiological, psychological studies. And the arguments of this hypothesis are the following.

Number one, one, spirituality can be quantified, can be measured by psychometric tests.

Number two, the underlying tendency to spirituality is partially heritable, genetic.

Number three, part of this heritability can be attributed to a specific gene, V-M-A-T-2.

Number four, this gene acts by altering monoramic levels.

Number five, spirituality provides an evolutionary advantage by providing individuals with an innate sense of optimism and hope.

And it is this last point that I dispute.

Optimism and hope grounded in a delusion, grounded in a falsification of reality. Optimism and hope grounded in impairment of reality testing, grounded in fake forgery data and information, misinformation.

This kind of hope, this kind of optimism are pathological. They're ill. They require health and treatment. And no amount of political correctness in the DSM or out of the DSM could change this.

Delusions are defined in the DSM as fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence.

So if you believe that something had happened and there's a preponderance, overwhelming preponderance of evidence that nothing like this can happen in principle and you still believe it, you need help. You need therapy. You need treatment or in many cases, medication.

Delusional disorder, diagnostic criteria, diagnostic and statistical manual, edition 5, 2013. Criterion A, the presence of one or more delusions with a duration of one month or longer. Criterion B, no schizophrenia present. Criteria C, apart from the impact of the delusions or its ramifications, functioning in daily life is not markedly impaired.

Behavior is not obviously bizarre or odd. The delusional person appears to be totally normal.

It is only when we talk to the delusional person and he says something that we know is we know to be not true. We know to be false. We know it's impossible.

And then he insists on it. It is only then that it becomes clear that the person suffers from delusional disorder.

Hallucinations, if present, are not prominent and are related to the delusional theme.

So hallucinations like miracle working and all this, they are related to the delusional theme.

Criterion E, the disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition and is not better explained by another mental disorder such as this or that.

Delusions have bizarre content. Delusions are deemed bizarre if they are clearly implausible.

Now the DSM uses the word implausible. I go one further. What about impossible? Like let me rephrase this sentence. Delusions are deemed bizarre, ultra bizarre, insane if they are clearly impossible. Not understandable. I'm continuing with the DSM. Not understandable. Not derived from ordinary life experiences.

So these are bizarre delusions and delusions are continuous as the DSM.

Symptoms fulfilling the diagnostic symptom criteria of the disorder are remaining for the majority of the illness course with sub-threshold symptom periods being very brief relative to the overall course.

So religious skepticism would be a break in this delusional disorder but it would be brief. And if it's not brief, it's healing actually.


Now what about the people who have religious experiences, mystical experiences, including the founders of all the major religions all over the world. What about these people?

They not only suffer from delusional disorder but they are in all likelihood psychotic. They have had psychotic disorder and their psychotic disorder was coupled probably with dissociative identity disorder.

So the people who spawned, who gave rise to religions all over the world, especially religions which are delusional. Religions which rely on events or history which is utterly impossible. So these kind of people, they not only had delusional disorder, which is clear because they came up with these delusions and they believed in the veracity of these delusions. They had experienced these delusions as real. The reality testing was short but they had two other probably co-occurring mental illnesses.

Psychotic disorder and remember psychotic disorder is when you externalize internal objects, when you hear voices talking to you or you see visions which are actually internal objects, elements of your own mind. You just don't know the difference. You can't tell the difference.

So elements of your mind look to you to be real and outside you. That psychotic disorder we call this process hyper-reflexivity.

But they had another thing which is dissociative identity disorder.

I would like to read to you the diagnostic criteria for dissociative identity disorder.

A, disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states which may be described in some cultures as an experience of possession. This is the DSM.

The disruption in identity involves marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency accompanied by related alterations in affect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition and or sensory motor functioning. These signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual.

Criterion B, recurrent gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information and or traumatic events that are and when these gaps are inconsistent with ordinary forgetting. Criterion C, the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

D, the disturbance is not a normal part of a broadly accepted pattern. E, the symptoms are not attributed to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition.

And here's what they have to say in the diagnostic, in the clinical features, in the diagnostic features.

Possession, for identities in dissociative identity disorder typically manifest as behaviors that appear as if a spirit, a supernatural being or outside person has taken control over the individual, such that the individual begins speaking or acting in a distinctly different manner, speaking in tongues.

For example, an individual behaviors, say the DSM, may give the appearance that her identity has been replaced by the ghost of another person who had committed suicide in the same community years before, speaking and acting as though she were still alive.

Or an individual maybe or an individual continues the DSM, may be taken over by a demon or a deity, that's as close as they get to admitting that religion is a form of sickness, as close as they get.

I read this to you again. It's a very courageous sentence, very brave, buried, of course, as deeply as possible in the DSM, but it's still there.

Let me read it to you again.

An individual says the DSM, an individual may be taken over by a demon or a deity, taken over in, quote unquote, by a demon or a deity, resulting in profound impairment and demanding that the individual or a relative be punished for a past act, followed by more subtle periods of identity alteration, etc.

So they admit, they come very close to admitting that what religious people considered consider as demons, angels or God or deity, God or his relatives. All this is a case of dissociative identity disorder.

Do you know what's the previous name of dissociative identity disorder? Multiple personality disorder.

The majority of possession states around the world, they immediately retreat. The DSM immediately realize, they realize what they've done and they become immediately politically correct. The majority of possession states around the world are normal, usually part of a spiritual practice and do not meet criteria for dissociative identity disorder.

Sheer unmitigated nonsense, result of fear, terror of religious people. They are afraid to confront them.

The identities that arise during possession form dissociative identity disorder, present recurrently, are unwanted, involuntary, cause clinically significant distress or impairment and are not a normal part of broadly accepted cultural or religious practice.

So if you are possessed by a demon or talk to a deity on intimate terms and it is a part of the mental illness known as your religion, you're okay, everything is fine. But if you do this and you're an atheist, you'll be placed in a mental asylum.

Simple. Something's wrong with it. Even religious people shouldn't admit. There's something wrong with this.

In 1907, Freud wrote the first of many books about religion. He ended up writing about seven, I think, maybe eight books about religion. In 1907, he wrote the first book.

It was titled Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices. And he suggested that religion and neurosis, mental illness, are similar products of the human mind. Neurosis, he said, has compulsive behavior. It's a form of individual religiosity.

Remember what I keep saying?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a private religion. Freud said it before me much better. He said, neurosis is individual religiosity.

And what about religion? Freud said, religion with its repetitive rituals is a universal obsessional neurosis.

Where are the brave psychologists that existed 100 years ago? Of course, Karl Marx, who was not a psychologist, and not a religious person, to use a British understatement, he was a 19th century philosopher, and the founder of Marxism, he viewed religion as the soul of soulless conditions, the opium of the people, a form of protest by the working classes against their poor economic conditions and their alienation.

All modern religions and churches are organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the exploitation and stupefaction of the working class.

Let me translate it to you.

He says that established institutional religion is there to take your money. It's a self-enriching, narcissisticcon-artistry form of organization.

And I fully concur.

So does Dawkins, by the way.

Okay. You know, homosexuality was considered a mental illness until 1973. It was included in the diagnostic and statistical manual. And now it is not. Now it is common accepted practice, not even stigmatized anymore. And definitely not a mental illness by any definition of the word, by any stretch of the word.

So if mental illnesses and mental disorders can make exits and entrances, you know, into the DSM and out of the DSM, because for example, sadistic personality disorder disappeared from the DSM, masochistic personality disorder disappeared from the DSM. Are these real entities? Are these real disorders? Are these real illnesses? Are these clinical entities akin to cancer or diabetes? I mean, it's unthinkable of publishing a textbook about medicine without diabetes or cancer.

But here is the DSM dispensing of dozens of diagnoses in and out, like, not a park, like a theme park, you know, and it's very disorienting because it's not clear what are the ideological, intellectual criteria and foundation for inclusion or exclusion.

Even giants of the field like Theodore Miller, they argue for the inclusion of certain mental health personality disorders, sadistic, masochistic, negativistic, passive-aggressive, also not in the DSM.

So there's a huge debate among the giants of the field, among the most preeminent scholars as to what should be and shouldn't be malignant narcissism.

Kernberg was an advocate of malignant narcissism. It's not in the DSM.

So, and no one knows, it's totally not transparent. No one knows the minutes of the committee, the DSM committee are not published. No one knows why certain disorders make it and others become apocrypha, apocryphal.

This flux renders the whole profession of psychology and psychiatry very suspect. And this is why even theoreticians, even psychologists, even, you know, they are afraid to take on everyday phenomena, such as religion, because if they pathologize religion and it's reverted, like in Wikipedia, you know, revert vandalism, it's reverted tomorrow.

How are they going to look?

So the DSM is much about exclusion, is about inclusion. It tells you if it's culturally accepted, it's okay. If it's a religious practice, it's okay. If it's relevant to the period in history, it's okay.

I mean, they are very wary to take a set of principles, set of diagnostic criteria and applied fearlessly and rigorously to observable phenomena of human conduct and misconduct, which leads me to conspiracism.

Conspiracy theories, the people who believe in conspiracy theories and what is their psychology or psychopathology. Conspiracism is the propensity to believe in unproven and unverified, often repeated conspiracy theories, urban legends, myths and patent falsehoods, usually involving an evil intent of a cabal to abuse, manipulate and exploit the unsuspecting masses.

And I'm not talking only about the well-known conspiracy theories, because, for example, the whole empath movement online is a conspiracy theory with a narcissist in the role of the evil demonic presence and the empath in the role of the angel, angelic, blameless.

So this is a conspiracy theory.

Most people are gullible. They believe literally anything and anyone, a well-documented and thoroughly researched phenomenon known as the base rate fallacy.

And then once they come to believe something, they defend their misconceptions fiercely, as they actively align themselves with other people, like-minded people, and signal their uncritical conformity in like-minded tribes and silos.

Confirmation bias goes hand-in-hand with virtue signaling. I believe what you believe. I'm as virtuous as you are.

Frequent exposure to these echo chambers, to these toxic nonsense, such exposure solidifies the belief in these outlandish and inane narratives. And this phenomenon is known as consistency.

Social media leverages consistency as a grist to their perpetual mobilized rumor and gossip mills.

Other cognitive distortions feed into conspiracism.


Consider the proportionality bias, the erroneous conviction that great events are caused by commensurately massive reasons or plots or dynamic processes.

This flies in the face of chaos theory and its butterfly effect. A lone grandiose gunman in Texas can rock the entire world with a single shot.

We also find patterns where there are no patterns. Apophenia, pareidolia, these are the clinical names. We connect dots that should remain unconnected, discrete.

We find continuities in the disparate and in the unrelated, including other people's actions as related to their imputed motivations.

And this is known as intentionality bias.

Conspiracism is a personality trait. Even after a favorite conspiracy is debunked, there is a counterfactual residue left in the individual's mind.

We call this the continued influence effect.

The more you try to argue with a true believer in a conspiracy theory, the more entrenched this person becomes in his or her misinformation and paranoid skepticism.

And this is known as the backfire effect.

Conspiracies thrive on ignorance. We don't know what causes autism.

So, anti-vaxxers enter the anti-vaxxers.

There is a smidgen of grandiosity info as people trust their gut instincts and consider themselves enlightened in the know, superior to the sheeple, adepts with access to arcane knowledge.

Finally, conspiracy theories as wage reduce, ameliorate anxiety and depression.

And the people who believe in conspiracy theories are again divided in two. They are those who apply critical thinking and rationality to conspiracy claims.

And then they make up their mind. And they are those who adhere to conspiracy theories, believe in them, adopt them almost religiously, out of emotional reasoning.

And these people are usually mentally unhealthy.

And I would like to read to you the criterion of paranoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Paranoid personality disorder first.

A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of other people, such that their motivations are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. Suspects such a person with paranoid personality disorder suspects without sufficient basis that other people are exploiting, harming or deceiving him or her.

When I say other people, can be institutions. They don't have to be other people. And these institutions can be held bent on abusing and misusing a group of which that individual is a member.

Number two, is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends, associates, other people.

Number three, is reluctant to confide in other people because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her.

Number four, reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events.

Number five, persistently bears grudges, is unforgiving of insults, injuries or slights.

Number six, perceives attacks on his or her own character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counter attack.

Number seven, has recurrent suspicions without justification regarding some issues like, for example, the fidelity of a spouse. Does not and all this does not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depressive disorder with psychotic features or another psychotic disorder and is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or some other medical condition.

So this is paranoid personality disorder.

You will immediately recognize, of course, many conspiracy theorists as having this paranoid personality disorder.

But there's a personality disorder which feeds people who believe in conspiracy theories even much better and it is the schizotypal personality disorder.

Diagnostic and statistical manual edition five has this to say about schizotypal personality disorder.

A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with and reduced capacity for close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood, etc.

Has the following ideas of reference, excluding delusions of reference.

In other words, the idea that he's targeted somehow or that institutions or people do things act in certain ways because they want something from him that is somehow involved. That's ideas of reference or referential ideation.

Number two, odd beliefs, strange beliefs or magical thinking that influence behavior and are inconsistent with subcultural norms, superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy or a sixth sense, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations, unusual perceptual experiences including bodily illusions, odd thinking, odd speech, vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, over elaborate or stereotype, suspiciousness or paranoid ideation, inappropriate constricted effect, behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar, lack of close friends or confidants other than first degree relatives, excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about the self.

Does not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depressive disorder with psychotic feature, another psychotic disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

Do you see these two personality disorders? Put them together and you get the prototypical, archetypical conspiracy theorists.

Why don't we simply declare bravely and courageously that people who believe literally in the scriptures, in religious texts, are mentally ill and people who believe in conspiracy theories are mentally ill? Why don't we have this intellectual integrity?

The profession is prostituting itself in order to secure grants, political support and not to confront two big portions of the population. They're terrified, simply, fusillanimous, cowards.


Let's talk about defiance.

Defiance and contumaciousness is when you hate authority and your natural reaction to authority is to challenge it.

Donald Trump is an example of defiance and contumaciousness combined, drain the swamp.

So let me read to you the diagnostic criteria of two mental health disorders and you tell me if they don't capture perfectly the personality of someone like Donald Trump, the personality of someone who is defined in your face, hates authority, contumaciousness, impulsive and reckless.

Let me read to you these diagnostic criteria. Listen well and tell me if they don't capture perfectly these people.

And if so, why did no one come out and say these politicians are mentally ill? These and these people are mentally ill?

Why are we so terrified of speaking our mind as psychologists?

Oppositional Defiance Disorder, criterion A, pattern of angry, irritable mood, argumentative Defiance Behavior ofvindictiveness lasting at least six months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from these categories and exhibited it during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling.

So someone with oppositional Defiance Disorder has this. Angry, irritable mood often loses his temper, he's often touchy or easily annoyed, he's often angry and resentful, argumentative, Defiance Behavior, often argues with authority figures or with adults if it's a child, often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures, refuses to comply with rules, often deliberately annoys other people, often blames other people for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.

Vindictiveness has been spiteful of vindictive at least twice within the past six months.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder, it's a mental illness and yet few psychologists dare to speak up.

Antisocial personality disorder, A, a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years as indicated by three or more of the following.

One, failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for condemnation or arrest.

Number two, deceitfulness as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases or calling others for personal profit or pleasure.

Number three, impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.

Number four, irritability and aggressiveness as indicated by repeated physical fights or other fights and assaults.

Number five, reckless disregard for safety of self and others.

Number six, consistent irresponsibility as indicated by repeated failures to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.

Number seven, lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another.

And so this captures perfectly certain individuals and yet we're very loath to speak out against them, to diagnose them in public. If they're powerful people, if they're famous people, if they are celebrities, if they can do the profession of psychology harm, we are terrified of interest groups. We're terrified of organized religion, of institutions, of establishments, of organizations.

And so we keep twiddling our thumbs and producing politically correct workarounds just not to say it out loud.

And on the other hand, we pathologize behaviors which should have never been pathologized.

Consider, for example, seductiveness. Seductiveness, flirtatiousness and promiscuity are features of histrionic personality disorder, somatic narcissism and borderline personality disorder.


Let me read to you the criteria of borderline personality disorder.

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a series of contexts.

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment do not include self-suicidal or self-mutilating behavior which are covered in Criterion 5.

Number two, a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

Number three, identity disturbance, markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Number four, impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging.

Example, spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating.

Number five, recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats or self-mutilating behavior.

Number six, affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood, intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days.

Number seven, chronic feelings of emptiness. Number eight, inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger, frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights. Number nine, transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.


Now this is a pathology. This is clearly a pathological state which requires help.

Compare this to histrionic personality disorder which I'm about to read to you.

Why do we pathologize histrionic behaviors?

Common daily occurrences by billions of people.

So we dare to pathologize women mostly. We dare to pathologize women with borderline personality disorder, with histrionic personality disorder, there's a gender bias. We dare to pathologize women because they have been until now weak, disorganized, they didn't have a lobby, they didn't have a movement, they didn't have political power, they didn't have corporate power.

So the DSM is rampant, flooded with pathologized female behaviors.

Yet when it comes to organized religion, conspiracy theories, etc., no way, it's okay, it's not pathological, it's culturally appropriate, it's religiously appropriate, it's spiritual, it's any cop-out in the book.

Histrionic personality disorder. Listen well. A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood, is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention.

Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate, sexually seductive or provocative behavior, whatever that means, displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions, consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to herself, has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail, shows self-romatization, theatricality and exaggerated expression of emotion, is suggestible, easily influenced by other people or circumstances, considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.

Now this is not a pathology. I don't know, it's a personality style, but it's not a pathology. There's nothing pathological here.

Some things are exaggerated, some things are under-emphasized. For example, one thing they forgot to mention is that actually histrionics are much, are hypersexual, they don't like sex.

So compare borderline to histrionic and see how we pathologize behaviors, traits, lifestyle choices and personality styles that should never be pathologized.


Let's take another example.

Loners, you don't like people, you don't like company, you don't like sex, you don't like to have an intimate partner, you like being with yourself, you like your own company, you find it titillating and thrilling and perfect fun.

You don't need anyone, you're loner.

Oops, encrypts schizoid personality disorder.

Yes, they have pathologized preference to being alone because it's asocial.

There are echoes here of social control, trying to tell you how you should behave, how you should feel and who you should be, determining your identity via the levers of the profession of psychology and psychiatry.

Psychology and psychiatry had placed themselves at the disposal of societies all over the world. In communist countries, psychiatrists would commit dissidents, would commit opposition figures to mental asylum, lock them up at the service of the communist regime.

Something very similar is happening in the capitalist world. If you don't behave in socially conforming ways, you are pathologized, you're declared mentally ill and then they can do anything to you, literally anything.

So schizoid personality disorder, a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings.

Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family.

How shocking! Almost always chooses solitary activities, has little if any interest in having sexual experiences with another person, takes pleasure in few if any activities, lacks close friends or confidence other than first-degree relatives, appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others, good for him, shows emotional coldness, detachment or flattened affectivity, does not occur exclusively during schizophrenia, etc.

There's nothing pathological in any of this. It's a personality style, perhaps even a regrettable personality style, as far as the individual is concerned.

He's missing out on many things, but it's not a pathology.

So either we refuse, we decline to pathologize. People, groups and institutions, because they are powerful and we are afraid of them. Or we pathologize, pathetic groups like loners and minority groups like women, because we can and we are not afraid of them. They can do nothing to us. It's an opportunistic profession and the DSM is an opportunistic tone.

It doesn't reflect any knowledge in the scientific sense. It reflects social compromise, it reflects lack of intellectual integrity, it reflects fear and it reflects the need to secure funding, the need for licensing. In other words, it reflects the interaction between state and an academic profession.

There is no academic profession which relies more on the state than psychology and psychiatry. Funding is common in all academic disciplines, but psychology and psychiatry are especially vulnerable.

And they did this to themselves by being inconsistent over the decades, by compromising, by faking, by pathologizing and demonizing vulnerable groups. They have acquired a horrible reputation.

And I know that as a professor of psychology we don't have a good reputation. It's not too late though, there's always the DSM 6.

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