Behaviour Health

Is Anorexia Nervosa a Weapon?

The great majority of we human animals want to live in communities and follow the same lives as others with the same rules. There have always been a much smaller number of rebels who do not want to follow this example. They consist of leaders, stuck-insiders and creative geniuses. Leaders are those who have their own ideas and their aim is to teach them to groups of people who want to be told what to do. If they don’t want that then the leaders will coerce them by brute force, i.e. rulers who need to raise armies. The rest of the outsiders consist of two species. The first are the stick-insiders who want to do their own thing or nothing, but don’t want or cannot because of their retiring nature show it to anyone else because they are fundamentally terrified of their fellow creatures. (more of this later). The second kind are those who are the imaginative geniuses that prefer to educate themselves and spread the fruits of their research to all of us. Einstein is a good example. Although he could mix with the people he loved, he himself admitted that his work came first.

When people’s lives become unbearable, the bravest of them go on strike. When the suffragettes were imprisoned the only way they could make themselves noticed was to go on hunger strike. This is a very effective way of drawing attention to their plight. Nelson Mandela did the same for the same reason when he was in prison. Their enemies knew they would get blamed if they died and that would rouse wrath outside.

Whenever a large group of people feel they are not free enough to do what they want and say, a new outbreak of strikes emerge. Today there are many young people, mostly women, who go on hunger strike. Only we don’t call it that, it has been dubbed as an illness: anorexia nervosa. Why? For the same reason that Russian politicians had their political prisoners diagnosed as mentally ill which gave the authorities a right to take away their freedom. How can anything be an illness when it comes into being as the result of deliberate action by a person?

What do we do? Put them in a different kind of prison: hospital. Unbelievable!! Here are two good reasons why girls go on reduction dieting and put their lives in danger. First, they want to follow the fashion of being very thin so they can wear certain kinds of clothes that most other girls are wearing. The other reason is to rebel against their parents. You won’t believe this, but it is treated in the same way as the suffragettes were treated, but in a less brutal manner.

One of the reasons I gave up being a therapist is that the usual method is to try and get them to eat again or to go into hospital in extreme cases. There is only one thing to do. Help them to win back for themselves the right to care for themselves properly and to work out for themselves a regime good enough to keep them well and prevent them from dying. You have to have a will of iron to give up eating. This means that when they finally see what they have been doing to themselves, they are in a position that enables them to solve the problem for themselves by learning to give up their illusions and come to terms with reality which means accepting their true selves, not anyone elses.


Attention Deficit Disorders. Uggh!

Attention Deficit Disorders. Uggh! How I hate all these acronyms. How they have crept into our language, most of them to do with ‘mental illness’ which as I have said before is an oxymoron. Many children today have been ‘diagnosed’ with it as an illness and worse they have been treated with medication. I have no doubt that this is a big mistake. Too many parents believe what ‘professional people’ tell them without question.

The truth is that school is often so paralisingly boring and always has been that children do their best not to listen and they are right. George Bernard Shaw and other wise men believed that one of the main purposes of school is to give parents more freedom from having to look after their children.

I remember my own experiences in a state school. I listened only to what I wanted to hear. One of the phrases that occurred over and over again was ‘Pay attention!’ Things are not better now: they are worse because the methods of teaching basic reading, writing and arithmetic today have been interfered with by busybodies influenced by the government. Too many changes have been implemented. Things do not get better. It is very important that we maintain our public and grammar schools and bring back more opportunities for apprenticeships. Universities are important when they are free to take in only those creative people who can increase our knowledge for the benefit of everyone. The greatest mistake was to create many more universities with the aim of trying to force all children to stay much longer at school than they want.

I was horror-stricken when I heard that primary school children have to do homework! In their early years, say up to eleven, children need lots of time to do the things they want to do themselves. I remember enjoying my evenings when I got home. I read a lot of books of all kinds, only because I wanted to and I enjoyed being able to run about in the summer countryside.

Bertrand Russell, who lived with his grandparents because his parents died when he was small, said how lucky he was to be able to stay at home and read anything he wanted in the family library. He was one of the few wise men who knew what children needed. He and his wife established a private school where children could happily do what they wanted to do.

I have always followed an axiom that is, as far as possible, that we should never do what we do not want to do. All it does is breed disappointment and resentment. This I have done all my life and I have reaped great rewards. Karl Marx said “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” He forgot one important thing. Who was good enough to judge such important matters? That was the problem. The wrong people made the decisions.


The Myth of Mental Illness

This is the title of a book by Thomas Szasz that was published in 1972. Anyone who is puzzled by psychology and psychotherapy must read this. It is clearly written and the best on the subject.

Do you know what oxymorons are? You might think they are a variety of dinosaur, or some kind of idiot. No. They are two words put together that don’t belong to each other because they don’t make any sense. There are many oxymorons in the field of psychiatry. Here are two examples: ‘mental illness’ and ’emotional intelligence’.

All illnesses are caused by malfunctions of a part of the human body. So what is mental illness? It used to be called ‘madness’. Everyone knows what we mean by that: someone whose behaviour is so different from everyone elses that they become a danger to themselves and others. No-one knew what to do with them. By treating it as an illness that can be healed by calling it a ‘mental illness’ psychiatry thinks it can be cured. They are wrong.

The brain is an organ that affects everything that happens in the body, but the mind is not. No-one knows what it is. It has puzzled philosophers and writers since they first thought about it and we are no closer to an answer. The idea that we have a soul that is eternal arose out of philosophical attempts to categorise the mind. Two of our greatest philosophers, Descartes and Spinoza thought on those lines.

If we do not know what a mind is and where it is, how could it be sick? Therefore we should rid ourselves of this phrase ‘mental illness’ because it is meaningless and misleads people to hope for a ‘cure’.

The second oxymoron, ’emotional intelligence’ was the title of a book by Daniel Goleman launched in 1995. It immediately became a best seller in America and England. He introduced the idea of an EQ as a companion for IQ. It is easy to see how people loved the idea. All those people who wanted to know how intelligent they were but didn’t pass the test, welcomed a different kind of test for using the emotions in a helpful way.

Remember both these tests were devised by people from the limitations of their own research and thinking. They are ideas, not facts. Why? Because we do not have enough information, and we will probably never have enough knowledge to estimate just how well we are capable of managing our emotions and thoughts.

Emotions and the intelligence that is generated by the brain are two completely different things.

However, because they are different, it is not impossible for them to work together. To do that we have to carry out the most difficult task: to get to know our conscious and unconscious selves and that is the real purpose of psychotherapy. We can get guidance from a professional, but, as in every profession, it is essential that we find the right kind of specialist we feel we can trust.