I'll respond to your comments first before seeing the other comments. Cost limitations mean I may be out of this debate for a lot of the time.
Harv: "I Would Feel Better If I knew a little more about you. Your posts are a little troubling and to be frankly honest I'm beginning to think you might suffer some form of severe mental illness. I'm not asking for any identity or anything, I just want to feel comfortable that you have a firm grip on reality. Every human being in my opinion has a certain responsibility to their fellow man, whether they encounter them in person or on an internet forum such as this."
You make some good points there. Somewhere I came across a guide to posting on discussion forums. One point they empasised is "never forget that it is a real human being on the other side".
On the question of "a firm grip on reality":
the common meaning people take from a comment like that is: we know there appear to be some people in our world who seem to confuse fantasy with reality.
Maybe you have heard of the fictional character "Walter Mitty".
Now, Thomas Szasz is a professor of pschiatry who wrote a very interesting book I came across many years ago; called "The Ethics Of Pschoanalysis".
This book describes an ethic of "taking responsibility for one's own behaviour"; and describes a way Szasz approaches what he calls autonomous pschotherapy: where people figure out problems with living by listening and talking. An example of his style is: professional and client are regarded as "student of himself" and "analyst"; they negotiate a contract where responsibilities and obligations for ethical behaviour are made clear.
For example: ethics include confidentiality by the professional; payment for service rendered by student; student is free to do whatever they want with their purchase; professional assists student-of-himself in clarifying his situation by encouraging self-responsibility, suggesting alternative explanations, showing logical inconsistency, whatever.
However, it is obvious that a professional could be basically "a listening piece of furniture", providing an environment for self-exploration where ieas can be bounced around without fear of betrayal or any kind of coercion.
An example of Szasz's style is for the professional listener to :"do not take notes".
The student is not an object to be manipulated by the professional; they are parties to a proffesional relationship of mutual rspect.
Now, what is very interesting about Szasz's ideas is he has actually (if you leave out the analysis (although actually a lot of that is just keeping to the ethic of self-responsibility on each side- people may take a while to get used to the idea that they are safe and don't have to act; they can solve things themselves) - what Szasz has described is an ethic for human relations generally of mutual respect and no coercion.
In other words he could be talking about Christianity, it seems to me.
His non-coercive reality; free discovery approach is in contrast to the dictating diagnosing madness-manufacturing coercion of the mental-health industry. Szasz's approach is "take responsibility for your own conduct"; the mental-health industry approach is hijack medical language and use it to serve coercive behavioural control.
Increasingly moral values get re-defined as health vales; and those who want to coerce others find it easier to get away with this under the banner "health".
Szasz points out that "salvational rhetoric" is very resistant to criticism (who can be against health?).
Shocking to see some months ago the extent of the grip of madness-mongering on people when New Scientist magazine has a major article listing hundreds of so-called "phobias" people supposedly "suffer from".
What about the right to be afraid of spiders? What has any of this got to do with medicine?
The scandal of dictatorship evident in pschiatry goes much deeper though.
Ivan Illich in "Medical Nemises. The Expropriation Of Health" shows Szasz's arguments about moral dictatorship in the guise of health apply to real, non-fake physical medicine. Whether or not a particular bodily state is "disordered" is a moral judgement: doctors can provide the science but if you like your body being with a broken leg- that's your business.
The State does not own your body or your so-called mind. The righting of alleged "wrongs"; whether of dissaproved behaviour through drug torture and cosmetic emotional manipulation by psychiatry; or of physical differences by physical genuine medicine; is a question of morality.
Well; interesting thing is; it goes deeper:
already someone has written a book suggesting "physics as metaphor". Are physicists living in a self-generated dream world; in fact morality is still paramount?
What about mathematics? Surely :"2" is a metaphor or analogy for "1+1"?
So where does that leave us? With pure morality: freedom and responsibility. As you judge, so you are judged. God is in everything. Noticing what exists I find allows me to navigate what may seem perilous waters to some... how? Because if I have any concerns about anything. well those concerns exist; so I can notice them too. By allowing every voice to be heard; by taking responsibility for my choices; by "keeping my head screwed on" and knowing when I am reading things into things and knowing my choice actions and keeping conscious of the patterns I am juggling- I can navigate.
What am I? I was once a physics student; I ski and snowboard. I like to figure out how the universe works. It is possible to think laterally: serious physicists are saying things like "It's all consciousness"; --I'm finding this sort of thing. In "Schrodinger's Kittens" John Gribben describes John Cramer's interpretation of quantum mechanics where the universe is full of "handshakes" or agreements.
As a Christian I notice this looks like Christianity's "God is Love". I find patterns that look like patterns of a discussion.
Now; like most people perhaps I didn't pay much attention to the idea of "crazy people" except, like most people I suspect, I knew there was something suspect about the ideology of pschiatrists.
My up-bringing was Catholic, but I come from a family where questioning authority is somewhat the norm I guess. When I first came across the idea that "mental illness" was a fiction; I thought "check that out". Well it turns out it's perfectly obvious (earlier in this forum I gave the arguments against pschiatric ideology and Paul at least agreed with them).
The problem is this: societies are held together supposedly by certain common beliefs and behavioural norms. Anyone in breach of those assumed rules may find themselves dealing with ignorance, fear, misunderstanding etc,. by the group.
At one time people were examined by professional "witch finders" for "witches marks". These marks on the skin are common (just ordinary blemishes) but in the eye of the witch-finder it could be a sign that someone is a witch.
Psychiatrists play a similar game of "heads I win, tails you lose". Once you get into a certain frame of mind, anything can seem to be a symptom of so-called "mental illness".
A classic joke about madness-mongering by psychiatry goes: if the "patient" (a misleading use of medical language) is late for an appointment he is hostile, if he is early he is anxious, if he is on time he is compulsive.
Now, Szasz empasises the fact that: while disputes (between parties) exist about acceptable behaviour; while perceptions of strange behaviour by a person about themselves or about others, exist; and while fear and ignorance exist; this does not make "dissaproved conduct" into "medical illness".
You know what a metaphor is. Poets use metaphors often and people think nothing of it. What Szasz shows is that both psychiatrists and some of the people who they allegedly assault with chemical weapons misleadingly called "treatments" have been shown to appear to take metaphors literally.
Psychiatrist's confuse metaphorical illnesses, that they've invented, with real illnesses; some of their victims appear to society to also be confusing fantasy with reality.
If mental illness was real medical illness; it would have a patho-physiology detailed in patho-physiology texts.
Until quite recently pathology texts ignored the thousands of fake illnesses invented by pschiatry (clear evidence of the fraud of the medical-play-acting by psychiatry).
I noted that more recently, some pathology texts have items on so-called mental disorders. But they make for quite different reading compared with the entires for real illnesses. It's like finding astrology entries in an astronomy book.
The pschiatry entries are full of speculation and wishful thinking.
What is really shocking is the scale on which people have been terrorised into being dictated to by mental-health ideology ; dictated into thinking only permitted thoughts.
George Orwell's "1984" where he describes the torture of a heretic who defied "big brother" and the "thought police" comes to mind.
Harv: "Just because I don't know you doesn't mean that I should necessarily debate with you. You've shown an inclination to completely shield yourself from reality by trying to be an expert in physics through simple everyday analogies no less."
You do not have to debate with me.
There is nothing wrong with analogies; Feynman has an excellent one for entropy invoving drying oneself with a wet towel.
"I can't help but think that this means that you suffer the effects of mental illness, and that its best for me to talk about other things with you. Sorry Alan, but this is a vital issue. One shouldn't encourage an alcholic to visit a bar, and one shouldn't encourage a mentally ill individual to become more involved in their fantasies. Maybe of terribly off in my judgement, but I'm not the only one here who thinks you suffer from some kind of psychological issue."
I do not believe in taking literally the medical metaphors of psychiatry.
I see where you are coming from.