“Men are so necessarily Mad, that not to be Mad would be itself a form of Madness”

There’s an article here about ‘Mad Pride’, a group of people diagnosed with mental illnesses (couldn’t decide whether to put scare quotes round that…) who advocate personal freedom in deciding whether and what medications to take and treatments to receive. There’s a very long discussion about it in comments here. (The title is a quote from, I believe, Blaise Pascal)

I am broadly sympathetic to ‘mad pride’, ‘anti-psychiatry’, and related movements, but it would be disingenuous of me to act as though I had a confidence and settled opinion that I lack, so I won’t offer a definitive position. What I will offer is a few observations that may help to navigate.

So the first thing is: let’s take the most commonly used argument for forcible treatment, which is that some mentally ill people are dangerous to themselves or to others, and thus it’s irresponsible to not treat them. Now, probability of violence against others is statistically correlated with a number of features: most obviously, being young, and being male.

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What the Gurkhas tell us about the World

So the British government, after extensive public outcry and even more extensive Joanna Lumley, has granted the Gurkhas, a group of specialist Nepalese soldiers who served the British army, the right to stay in Britain.

Perhaps this gives us a glimpse of the alchemy involved here. If you’re a foreigner and want to enter Britain without leaving yourself open to assault, you must first kill another foreigner somewhere, some enemy of the Mighty Empress Windsor. Then, rather like a sacrificed animal, that other dead person’s blood will protect you.

Seriously, what a screwed-up world is this where the best way to earn respect and dignity has to be through war? How many soldiers have made a greater contribution to human happiness than the average child-raiser? But does having a child earn anyone the right to be left in peace to live and work where they want? Of course not – any suggestion of rewarding or supporting people involved in the vital work of child-raising is seized on by the right-wing to lament the decadence of society and the tides of ‘baby-factories’ sweeping across the world.

The most destructive typically-male activity is a badge of honour, while the most productive typically-female activity is a mark of suspicion. What a coincidence.