Making Stone Tools / A Non-verbal Process

A super group of videos…

Not a single word is needed to do this or to teach someone else to do this. The “tips” at the end would be demonstrated during the process. Children would see tools and other objects made day in and day out and would naturally copy their elders.

Archaeologists go on and on about how it takes “advanced cognitive skills” (like those needed to push around a shopping cart and swipe a credit card) to create stone tools. I have yet to hear a single researcher mention visual thinking. You can babble at a pile of stones, or another human, all day long, but all that yack-yacking will not produce one stone tool. The earliest stone tools are millions of years old; sophisticated flaked tools (Acheulean) were invented by Homo erectus, not Homo sapiens. Some research indicates that ‘language’ structure had its beginnings in sign language and not in vocalization. Pre and early humans were visual observers,  inventors and communicators – and not at all like modern social humans, who are a very recent “neotenic” variation of Homo sapiens.

All it takes is A FEW adept individuals to preserve techniques and to pass on skills. If a group were lucky, one “genius” might come up with improvements and refinements so that technical advancement could occur – which would probably be forgotten and reinvented many times. And critically, resources in one’s environment dictated solutions: nomadism provided exposure to new raw materials and new people, so “itchy feet” were likely more advantageous than staying in one place too long.

 

 

Debunking Left Brain, Right Brain Myth / Paper – U. Utah Neuroscience

An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Jared A. Nielsen , et al, Affiliation Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America (See original for authors and affiliations)

Published: August 14, 2013

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071275 (Extensive paper with loads of supporting graphics, etc.) (Heavy going technical paper)

Abstract

Lateralized brain regions subserve functions such as language and visuospatial processing. It has been conjectured that individuals may be left-brain dominant or right-brain dominant based on personality and cognitive style, but neuroimaging data has not provided clear evidence whether such phenotypic differences in the strength of left-dominant or right-dominant networks exist. We evaluated whether strongly lateralized connections covaried within the same individuals. Data were analyzed from publicly available resting state scans for 1011 individuals between the ages of 7 and 29. For each subject, functional lateralization was measured for each pair of 7266 regions covering the gray matter at 5-mm resolution as a difference in correlation before and after inverting images across the midsagittal plane. The difference in gray matter density between homotopic coordinates was used as a regressor to reduce the effect of structural asymmetries on functional lateralization. Nine left- and 11 right-lateralized hubs were identified as peaks in the degree map from the graph of significantly lateralized connections. The left-lateralized hubs included regions from the default mode network (medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and temporoparietal junction) and language regions (e.g., Broca Area and Wernicke Area), whereas the right-lateralized hubs included regions from the attention control network (e.g., lateral intraparietal sulcus, anterior insula, area MT, and frontal eye fields). Left- and right-lateralized hubs formed two separable networks of mutually lateralized regions. Connections involving only left- or only right-lateralized hubs showed positive correlation across subjects, but only for connections sharing a node. Lateralization of brain connections appears to be a local rather than global property of brain networks, and our data are not consistent with a whole-brain phenotype of greater “left-brained” or greater “right-brained” network strength across individuals. Small increases in lateralization with age were seen, but no differences in gender were observed.

From Discussion

In popular reports, “left-brained” and “right-brained” have become terms associated with both personality traits and cognitive strategies, with a “left-brained” individual or cognitive style typically associated with a logical, methodical approach and “right-brained” with a more creative, fluid, and intuitive approach. Based on the brain regions we identified as hubs in the broader left-dominant and right-dominant connectivity networks, a more consistent schema might include left-dominant connections associated with language and perception of internal stimuli, and right-dominant connections associated with attention to external stimuli.

Yet our analyses suggest that an individual brain is not “left-brained” or “right-brained” as a global property, but that asymmetric lateralization is a property of individual nodes or local subnetworks, and that different aspects of the left-dominant network and right-dominant network may show relatively greater or lesser lateralization within an individual. If a connection involving one of the left hubs is strongly left-lateralized in an individual, then other connections in the left-dominant network also involving this hub may also be more strongly left lateralized, but this did not translate to a significantly generalized lateralization of the left-dominant network or right-dominant network. Similarly, if a left-dominant network connection was strongly left lateralized, this had no significant effect on the degree of lateralization within connections in the right-dominant network, except for those connections where a left-lateralized connection included a hub that was overlapping or close to a homotopic right-lateralized hub.

It is also possible that the relationship between structural lateralization and functional lateralization is more than an artifact. Brain regions with more gray matter in one hemisphere may develop lateralization of brain functions ascribed to those regions. Alternately, if a functional asymmetry develops in a brain region, it is possible that there may be hypertrophy of gray matter in that region. The extent to which structural and functional asymmetries co-evolve in development will require further study, including imaging at earlier points in development and with longitudinal imaging metrics, and whether asymmetric white matter projections [52], [53] contribute to lateralization of functional connectivity.

We observed a weak generalized trend toward greater lateralization of connectivity with age between the 20 hubs included in the analysis, but most individual connections did not show significant age-related changes in lateralization. The weak changes in lateralization with age should be interpreted with caution because the correlations included >1000 data points, so very subtle differences may be observed that are not associated with behavioral or cognitive differences. Prior reports with smaller sample sizes have reported differences in lateralization during adolescence in prefrontal cortex [54] as well as decreased structural asymmetry with age over a similar age range [55].

Similarly, we saw no differences in functional lateralization with gender. These results differ from prior studies in which significant gender differences in functional connectivity lateralization were reported [16], [17]. This may be due to differing methods between the two studies, including the use of short-range connectivity in one of the former reports and correction for structural asymmetries in this report. A prior study performing graph-theoretical analysis of resting state functional connectivity data using a predefined parcellation of the brain also found no significant effects of hemispheric asymmetry with gender, but reported that males tended to be more locally efficient in their right hemispheres and females tended to be more locally efficient in their left hemispheres [56].

It is intriguing that two hubs of both the left-lateralized and right-lateralized network are nearly homotopic. Maximal left-lateralization in Broca Area corresponds to a similar right-lateralized homotopic cluster extending to include the anterior insula in the salience network. Although both networks have bilateral homologues in the inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insular region, it is possible that the relative boundaries of Broca Homologue on the right and the frontoinsular salience region may “compete” for adjacent brain cortical function. Future studies in populations characterized for personality traits [57] or language function may be informative as to whether local connectivity differences in these regions are reflected in behavioral traits or abilities. The study is limited by the lack of behavioral data and subject ascertainment available in the subject sample. In particular, source data regarding handedness is lacking. However, none of the hubs in our left- and right- lateralized networks involve primary motor or sensory cortices and none of the lateralized connections showed significant correlation with metrics of handedness in subjects for whom data was available.

Despite the need for further study of the relationship between behavior and lateralized connectivity, we demonstrate that left- and right-lateralized networks are homogeneously stronger among a constellation of hubs in the left and right hemispheres, but that such connections do not result in a subject-specific global brain lateralization difference that favors one network over the other (i.e. left-brained or right-brained). Rather, lateralized brain networks appear to show local correlation across subjects with only weak changes from childhood into early adulthood and very small if any differences with gender.

 

 

Visual Thinking / Speyer Cathedral – Space Shuttle

A visual thinker files away information in the form of images that may be “triggered” by encounters, many years later, that recall a stored image. Often, these mean nothing – are simple coincidence; mere curiosities – and will be returned to visual memory, but “updated” by the comparison.

In this case, a chance “appearance” of a photo of Speyer Cathedral, found while searching for something else on the Internet, immediately produced in my mind, an image of the Space Shuttle. The striking similarity of forms passed from a coincidence to a curiosity – and then to an idea expressed by Oswald Spengler in Decline of the West:  – that Western Culture is driven by the desire to overcome the visible; to expand into time and space; to replace organic nature with machines.

A thousand years in time separate these two iconic products of Western Civilization: Is the space shuttle not the fulfillment of the cathedral? Note that the (abstract) concept of Western desire for domination and “spatial conquest” is represented in my visual brain by SPECIFIC concrete objects, which only then, can be “connected” to word concepts.

untitled-speyer

Speyer is dominated by its Romanesque cathedral (dedicated 1061). Speyer is one of Germany’s oldest cities and the resting place of eight medieval emperors and kings of the Salian, Staufer and Habsburg dynasties. History: Speyer was the seat of the Imperial Chamber Court between 1527 and 1689, and also held 50 sessions of the Imperial Diet. The First Diet of Speyer (1526) decreed toleration of Lutheran teaching, soon revoked by the Second Diet of Speyer (1529). The latter diet led to the Protestation at Speyer the same year, during which 6 princes and 14 Imperial Free Cities protested against the anti-Reformation resolutions. It is from this event that the term ‘Protestantism’ was coined.

The History of the Space Shuttle, by Alan Taylor, Jul 1, 2011 (Fabulous photos): From its first launch 30 years ago (1981) to its final mission scheduled for next Friday, NASA’s Space Shuttle program has seen moments of dizzying inspiration and of crushing disappointment. When next week’s launch is complete, the program will have sent up 135 missions, ferrying more than 350 humans and thousands of tons of material and equipment into low Earth orbit. The missions have been risky, the engineering complex, the hazards extreme. Indeed, over the years 14 shuttle astronauts lost their lives.

 

Brain Imaging – Reality and Hype / Penn State – Neuroethics

Excellent! Please watch complete video – an A-Z explanation of how data is produced by brain imaging and is processed, manipulated and interpreted to come up with valid or invalid claims: Invalid inference from data to mental state and behavior in reverse inference studies.

Pretty much blows all those dumb “psych study” claims out of the water… witchcraft, magic, mind-reading…are being used to “judge-profile-diagnose” human intent, guilt and pathologic mental activity.

Lots of physics, but with simple clear presentation …

 

Are You a Genuis? / A Video for Narcissists about Asperger People

This stupid video has been viewed more than 11 MILLION times…there are way too many narcissists out there!

Is there any doubt that this character assassination is based on Asperger symptoms?

Note the blue eyes – I must be a genius. A majority of Old West “gunslingers” supposedly had blue eyes. Gee Whiz! For being such a minority, we sure have a lot of responsibilities…

 

 

 

 

Spengler / On Scientific Psychology

What Oswald Spengler said:

Every professed philosopher is forced to believe, without serious examination, in the existence of a Something that in his opinion is capable of being handled by reason, for his whole spiritual existence depends on the possibility of such a Something. […] The proposition “there is a soul, the structure of which is scientifically accessible; and that which I determine, by critical dissection of conscious existence-acts into the form of psychic elements, functions, and complexes, is my soul” is a proposition that no psychologist has doubted hitherto. And yet it is just here that his strongest doubts should have arisen. Is an abstract science of the spiritual possible at all? Is that which one finds on this path identical with that which one is seeking? Why has psychology meant, not knowledge of men and experience of life, but has been the shallowest and most worthless of the disciplines of philosophy, a field so empty that it has been left entirely to mediocre minds and barren systematists? The reason is not far to seek. It is the misfortune of “experimental” psychology that it does not even possess an object as the word is understood in any and every scientific technique. Its searches and solutions are fights with shadows and ghosts. What is it the Soul? If the mere reason could give an answer to that question, the science would be ab initio unnecessary.

The image of the soul is mythic and remains objective in the field of spiritual religion so long as the image of Nature is contemplated in the spirit of religion; and it transforms itself into a scientific notion and becomes objective in the field of scientific criticism as soon as “Nature” comes to be observed critically. As “time” is a counter-concept to space, so the soul is a counter world to “Nature” and therefore variable in dependence upon the notion of Nature as this stands from moment to moment.

I maintain, then, that scientific psychology has, in its inability to discover, or even approach the essence of the soul, simply added one more to the symbols that collectively make up the Macrocosm of culture-man. Like everything else that is no longer becoming but become, it has put a mere mechanism in place of an organism.

…For everything that our present-day psychologist has to tell us – and here we refer not only to systematic science but also in the wider sense to the physiognomic knowledge of men – relates to the present condition of the Western soul, and not as hitherto gratuitously assumed to the “human soul” at large.

____________________________________________________________________

Oswald Spengler (an Asperger?)

I first came upon DECLINE over 30 years ago. I keep going back to this text, not because I see history as truth – but culture forms a profound boundary between  “popular” received wisdom and extra-human reality.  

 

The German philosopher Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) is famous for his Decline of the West. He held that civilizations, like biological organisms, pass through a determinable life cycle and that the modern West was approaching the end of such a cycle.

Oswald Spengler was born at Blankenburg am Harz on May 29, 1880, the son of a postal official. Although mathematics and natural science were his major subjects at the University of Halle, he received his doctorate for a dissertation on Heraclitus in 1904. After recovering from a nervous breakdown in 1905-1906, Spengler taught in secondary schools until a small inheritance from his mother allowed him in 1911 to move to Munich as a private scholar. Spengler never married.

Exempted from military service because of poor health, Spengler wrote the major part of The Decline of the West during the war years under conditions of great economic hardship. The first volume appeared in 1918, the second in 1922.

The Decline of the West is an impassioned attack against the values of modern post-Enlightenment civilization—of intellect, social equality, peace, and urban culture. Borrowing from the anti-intellectualist tradition of German conservative thought, he rejects the possibility of scientific history. History is never “correct” or “erroneous” but only “deep” or “shallow.” Human history as such has no meaning. In place of the traditional Eurocentric conception of a linear history of human civilization, Spengler offers a “Copernican” view of history in which Western (or Faustian) civilization since A.D. 1000 constitutes merely one of eight historic cultures. Each culture has a wholly individual way of looking at the world which permeates all its cultural expressions, even its mathematics and science. No understanding is possible between men of different cultures. Nevertheless, the similarity of the life processes of birth, growth, and decay makes possible a “comparative morphology of history.”

The Connected Mess / A passive-aggressive “energy” problem

Summer, or what I call summer – any number of consecutive days when the atmosphere is an enveloping ocean of warm gas; inseparable from one’s body and mind, it supports and floats one effortlessly like the liquid ocean transports planktonic life forms that are embedded and entrained by currents.*

Currents of energy, like those that drag rubble and ice along the asteroid belt; like ice flows and debris flows across the solar system; like satellites around the planet, like probes with mathematical destinies: a ‘shove’ in one direction can be enough to predict the journey.

Ocean currents can be generated by wind, density differences in water masses caused by temperature and salinity variations, gravity, and events such as earthquakes. Currents are cohesive streams of seawater that circulate through the ocean.

We may sense that this sort of universe exists; passive as well as dynamic, but quickly our truly mad minds reject the pleasure of “being taken care of” by the currents of time and existence; bliss is an emotion not well-tolerated.

Al Ghazali said, “The happiness of the drop is to die in the river” but if one is already “in” the river… entrained, carried effortlessly, one can simultaneously be on the bank, “behaving” in peculiar and determined human ways. It’s a matter of “seeing” and “not-seeing” the patterns of transformation.

Homo sapiens believe that the universe is about control, and define the universe as “something” that is both “in control” and an “object” full of stuff to be controlled. Of course; our survival requires our attention and action, but total control is insanity.

We know of adventurers, who instead of “living off the land” drag, man-handle, shove and heft supplies into and over a landscape – even reject food stuffs and knowledge offered by people who live – and survive, right there, in the “wilderness” because  it’s unfamiliar and unlabeled. A “blank spot” on the map is full of stuff. The “blank spot” is in the mind.

Passive energy is everywhere, but we reject it. “Futurists” advocate for outlandish schemes to solve “the energy problem”

What problem?

The solar system, all the bodies that compose it, all the processes that shape it; all the processes that shape life on earth, have been “up and running” for about 4.6 billion years. And, as far as we can see (literally, back in time to the postulated “Big Bang”) an extremely energetic universe has never run out of energy.

I think our “energy problem” is the word “passive” – we exclude “passive” simply because it’s not “aggressive”. We want to be Masters of the Universe; to bend it to our will, and force it to work for us, when IT ALREADY DOES JUST THAT. This is as supremely ridiculous and as irrational as any demand that has ever been made, or will be made, by a sentient species, anywhere in the universe.

Totally unreasonable solutions proposed to “solve” the human energy problem.

I love this one, because it demonstrates the fantastical inability to “think” effectively,  which plagues Homo sapiens!

1. Locate a “black hole” 2. Lasso it, drag it, and park it “somewhere near earth” 2. Use its evaporative energy – so much energy, so that we will never, ever run out. 3. This triumph of outrageously aggressive manipulation means that “we” can feed the ever-increasing energy demands of an ever-increasing human population. 4. Technical details and $$$ funding to be “invented” by our infinitely masterful future selves.

Meanwhile… let’s keep patching up our primitive 19th C. infrastructure to “handle” our 21st C. addiction to data manufacturing and transmission, which will “solve” the food and water problem by sending yummy pictures of gourmet food and bottled water to starving humans.

Pretty aggressive? You bet! Reasonable? No. Creative? No. Stupid? Yes.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth…

Renewable Energies: Wind, Solar, Biomass DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201200005

A rundown of what countries are doing to expand energy possibilities.

My comment here, is that the label “renewable” is misleading; it’s based on “fossil fuels” being a finite resource (geologically unique), the “burning” of which creates   conditions that produced previous mass extinctions – the release of carbon from “sequestered” sources is key. (This is complex; see American Chemical Society website “Climate Change Toolkit” for explanatory articles)

Energy supplied by solar radiation is in fact, “overwhelmingly abundant” and dangerously so. The challenge is capturing the energy and “spreading it out” to meet levels of demand for electricity that human activity “dictates”. As long as we cling to aggressive “control” of energy via a “grid” generation / distribution  system, we will fail to utilize the fabulous fact of the existing distribution of energy planet wide that “fuels” all life on earth. Nature “redistributes” and “shares” energy – that’s what “nature” is; the processes that drive a “system” that has “worked” for billions of years.

It’s not as if we don’t understand how the “passive”energy system works! We just don’t like being “passive” or “receptive”

If we are truly “smart” we ought to be able to design locally-responsive energy systems. Not everyone needs or wants to be a “master of the universe” or to be an object that exists to fuel the “modern” addiction to data production and consumption.

A glass of clean water and a “real” nutritious meal, that can be savored in safe spot somewhere in the “river of life” would be miraculous.

 

 

Eugenics in Psychiatry and Psychology/ A Contemporary Issue

From the website: “Saybrook University was established to challenge the idea that human beings needed to be broken down into parts and isolated from the rest of the world to be understood. Instead, our founders declared that human beings are complex, and to understand them, one must understand the interconnectivity of everything that they experience. Committed to helping students achieve their full potential, our community is deeply rooted in this humanistic tradition.”

https://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialist/posts/09-12-12/

My highlights in bold; comments in green. 

Eugenics and Psychiatry: A Brief Overview of the History

In my casual observations in conversation with colleagues, I find that very few mental health professionals are aware of the historical link between psychiatry and eugenics. I was not aware of this history until relatively recently, when I read Robert Whitaker’s groundbreaking and brilliant text, Mad in America. When I read that section of the book, I was utterly devastated and filled with righteous anger. How could this have happened? How could it be that medicine, with its benevolent intentions, could be used so easily in the service of dehumanization and oppression? Eventually, I wrote my own account of this history in the book Drugging Our Children: How Profiteers are Pushing Antipsychotics on Our Youngest, and What We Can Do To Stop It. In my chapter in this text, I make the case that the over-medicating of our children is part of a longer history of abuses by psychiatry, and it is a biologically reductive approach to dealing with human suffering.
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The history of eugenics is a story we all need to know and understand, or else face the penalty of dooming ourselves to repeating it once again. But first things first: What exactly is eugenics? Eugenics was a movement that began in the late 1800’s. It was influenced by the ideas of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin, as well as by selective breeding in the farming of plants and animals. At that time—the dawn of the Industrial Age—populations within urban areas were swelling at breakneck speed, and it became increasingly difficult to feed these populations. It took government intervention and strategic planning to find ways to innovate farming in order to be able to feed the growing and hungry masses. Selective breeding of crops and farm animals allowed farmers to maximize the potential of the land, so that it could feed many more people than had previously been conceived. Selective breeding was so successful, many powers-that-be began to raise the question: if selective breeding can be beneficial with crops and farm animals, why not apply this new technology to shape the genetic future of the human species? This was the birth of eugenics. Those who began to study eugenics took it that the human population can be separated into two genetic classes—the eugenic, or those who were deemed to have “fit” genes that should be perpetuated into the future, and the cacogenic, or those who were condemned as having ill-fit genes that were believed to be toxic to the future health of our species.
Given that rich, white, Anglo-Saxon males were the ones with wealth, power, and influence, it was predictable that, of course, they deemed themselves to be the ones who were “fittest,” and anyone who threatened their power were conveniently situated on the cacogenic side of the eugenic divide. (Actually, many non-Anglo Saxon males saw themselves to be superior models and jumped into Eugenic activity) Those deemed cacogenic at this time included blacks, immigrants, criminals, the poor, the mad, the disabled, the mentally retarded, those with drug and alcohol addiction, and gays and lesbians, among others. The eugenic movement viewed individuals in these social classes (females are and were considered to be cacogenic by default – see The Bible and other foundational religious texts) as persons who were victimized by disease that must be cured by eliminating these people from the population, whether through segregation, sterilization, or extermination. (And still are)
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Few people will be ignorant of the fact that the eugenics project came to its fullest realization with the Final Solution of Hitler and the Nazis in WWII Germany. What many do not realize, however, is that it was in fact America that led the international movement toward eugenics, and it was only because of America’s example of putting eugenics successfully into practice that Hitler was able to persuade the Germans that their own eugenics project was the way to go. The end product of eugenics in Nazi Germany was the death of somewhere between 11 and 17 million human beings—6 million Jews (a quarter of them children under 15), about 270,000 gypsies, 3.3 million Soviet POWs, 2 million non-Jewish Poles, 250,000 disabled, 15,000 homosexuals, and many others. Those who were targeted first were those who were considered to be mentally unfit—the mad and the mentally retarded. These unfortunate individuals were corralled into rooms, and succumbed to exhaust fumes (the tail pipes of trucks had been connected by hoses to vents in the room). The result was the first mass killings by the Nazis. How could this happen?
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In America, the eugenics movement was funded by big money (and still is! – and by average Americans who invest in bio-tech companies): Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and the widow of Edward Harriman. At this time, for example, Victoria Woodhull stated, “imbeciles, criminals, paupers, and the otherwise unfit…must not be bred,” and supported the forced sterilization of American citizens. (Control over reproduction of “unfit” humans is being promoted today as genetic repair of defective fetuses and selective engineering of “designer” fetuses, sold as the “right of parents” to select for “perfect children”. Hence the crazed search for arrays of  genes linked to Autism – no proof of cause is necessary; just bogus science that legitimizes a vast array of “defects” bundled into the Autism grab bag of socio-developmental disorders)
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Charles Davenport, a Harvard-trained biologist, was appointed head of the Eugenics Record Office on Long Island, and Davenport and his team of heavily funded researchers began to investigate and maintain files on family lines in the general population who they considered to have defective genes. Meanwhile, money and influence was used to manipulate politicians and judges in order to make eugenics legal and to put it into practice. (It is, de facto, legal today, due to legislation and protection of industries such as Big Pharma and vast research funding by governments around the world. )
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Connecticut has the dubious distinction of being the first state to ban marriage among those deemed “unfit.” By 1914, more than 20 states had followed in the footsteps of Connecticut, and by 1933, every single state in the union had fallen into line. At this time, those deemed to be disabled or unfit were segregated into populations in order to prevent them from reproducing in the general population. These “asylums” were later rationalized to be “treatment” centers rather than the concentration camps they were originally intended to be. Between 1907 and 1927, the United States had victimized over 8,000 people with eugenic sterilization so that they could never again reproduce.
xCalifornia took the evil of involuntarily sterilization to the level of an art form. Faced with the problem that involuntarily sterilization is a form of medical intervention that is intended to harm—that is, intended to destroy the ability to procreate—it was in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” To remedy this problem, California medical doctors quickly rationalized their behavior by claiming their eugenics project was actually a form of treatment that would ‘cure’ the patient of his or her mental illness. (But then, it was discovered by the “helping, caring, fixing industry” that incredible profits could be made by “increasing” the number of “defectives” by  mass diagnosis, an almost infinite supply of psychoactive pharmaceuticals, and chronic subjection of the American population to ever-expanding theories and applications of “mental health” therapies. Promote addictions … bingo!) In the case of Buck v. Bell, the “right” of California to sterilize its own citizens was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision in 1927.The American eugenics project, with the backing of the U.S. Supreme Court and supported by the huge pockets of the robber barons, inspired Europe nations to initiate their own eugenics programs. Soon, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland were sterilizing citizens the elite deemed to be “unfit” according to their classist, xenophobic, sexist, and racist standards. It was only later that Hitler came to power and used these movements to initiate Germany’s own eugenics program, which took the American eugenics project to its logical conclusion with the extermination of those deemed “unfit.” No public outcry against the Nazi extermination of the disabled could be heard. In fact, American publications from the New England Journal of Medicine to The New York Times sang Hitler’s praises as “progressive” for his “humane” extermination of “unfortunates.” Reading these articles in American academic journals and in a publication such as The New York Times, I became nauseated and could barely read on. Yet, one can go to these publications and read for him or herself how easily and skillfully hatred can be rationalized and disguised within the false benevolence of a medical discourse.

Has psychiatry today fully exorcised the demons of it’s past? I think not. Children in poverty, especially those on public welfare and in foster care, are much more likely to be drugged with harmful antipsychotic drugs. I see this kind of psychiatric abuse as an extension of the eugenics project, and it needs to stop. Psychiatry is also still used to perpetuate racism. Today, we still see that black men are misdiagnosed with schizophrenia five times more often than white people. It is easier to label a person with madness and force his compliance with antipsychotic drugs than to endure the difficult job of listening to a man who lived with the darkness of a lifetime of victimization by racism. Until we see such patterns disappear from psychiatry practice, I will remain unconvinced that psychiatry has fully escaped the weight of its shameful eugenic legacy.

— Brent Dean Robbins

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