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Friday, December 01, 2017

Where We All Are Now

1 comment:

jimf said...

> The Leader of the Free World is now completely unhinged,
> but we can't do anything at all about it because he has
> rock solid support. . .

I watched an unusual documentary on YouTube recently:
A Bipolar Expedition (Mental Health Documentary)
Real Stories
Published on Oct 21, 2017

The extraordinary story of Paul Downes, a 49-year-old businessman with
bipolar disorder, who in 2009 invited 12 young Ukranian women, some of
them part time models, to join him in a Jamaican castle.

What at first appeared to be an innocent fantasy rapidly became ever
more bewildering as Paul at first invited a number of women to marry him,
then all of them in an attempt to form a harem of 12. As time went on,
Paul lost interest in the women and instead turned his attention to
taking over the world, pacing about the castle and making proclamations
like a villain from a James Bond movie as the women went about sun bathing
and swimming. . .

It's fascinating to actually see this phenomenon unfold on video,
as opposed to merely reading a description of the disorder.

In the full-blown stage of his mania, when Mr. Downes reveals to his
documentarist "I am Allah!" (and later makes the same proclamation
at the dinner table to his 12 Ukrainian guests, who keep smiling
as though they're in on the game -- and certainly they're not in any
position to provoke or contradict him; it's not even always
clear they're sure they've understood him correctly through
the language barrier, though they all seem to speak some English),
the businessman has clearly had a break from reality.

I'm reminded of that scene in the old Masterpiece Theater drama
_I, Claudius_, in which John Hurt, as the Roman emperor Caligula,
announces to Derek Jacobi, as Claudius, that he has become a god.
Claudius later warns another family member of this, adding
"Oh by the way, we're gods too."

In both cases (the real one and the fictional one), this break from
reality (both involving godhead, not an uncommon fantasy of the
mentally ill) constitutes what a shrink would probably label
"psychosis" (in contrast to a "mere" personality disorder of the
kind observers have been "diagnosing" in Trump up to now).

But no one in the documentary, not the Ukrainian women and not the
hired cameraman, breathed any hint of contradiction, either by word or action,
when Downes proclaimed "I am Allah!" Everybody just went with it.
The colloquial (once upon a time it was technical, and maybe it still is)
term is "humoring" the patient. There was certainly an element
of "humor", as well as cringeworthy embarrassment at the sight
of sombody making an utter ass of himself, for a viewer safely on
the other side of a video screen. For the people actually there, any
humor might quickly have turned to terror, or at the very least serious
discomfiture at being fired, ejected from the premises at short notice,
or being stranded far from home without financial resources
as a consequence of having provoked the displeasure of "Allah".

Caligula was brought down by the Praetorian Guard, not by the
palace physician. Deeming a U.S. president unfit for office
and removing him against his will, would be a political act
(quite possibly involving the Secret Service). If the 25th Amendment is
invoked, it will be as a post hoc justification for what
will have essentially been a political decision, not as a
watertight a priori diagnostic threshold for action.

Mao's personal physician thought he was crazy too, as Barbara Oakley
once recounted in _Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed,
and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend_
Chapter 9, "The Perfect 'Borderpath': Chairman Mao"
pp. 216 et seq.
(see comment #8)