A conversation with Jonathan Rosen about his magnificent new book ‘The Best Minds.’
A parable of our society. Believing that patent madness is overcome by good intentions. Letting violent vagrants roam our streets and hoping that they'll follow their "better angels." Mutilating children in the vain belief that we're gods and can alter their sex on whim. Opening our borders to uneducated, third world hordes and pretending we'll still be America. Releasing violent sociopaths and defunding police departments. Basing our energy grid on pinwheels and panels, with a blind eye to the consequences to serve the false god of "climate change." Erasing competence requirements to serve some mad notion of "racial justice." Ignoring our deep tradition of due process and equal protection while turning a blind eye to corruption. And installing a senile imbecile as president and pretending otherwise.
America has become an asylum in the service of lunacy. Pretending otherwise doesn't change a thing. Progressive beliefs hold us in national schizophrenia. How long before our beloved nation becomes the slaughtered Carrie?
No one understands the horror of standing in an emergency room with a loved one lost in a psychotic delusional world totally powerless to get them the help they need and being told that unless the sick out of their mind patient signs the consent form nothing can be done. Our streets are full of the ones who will not sign.
I have some experience with people in my household having mental illness. Reality is not a joke. Reality is not a social construct. It is not "romantic" or "prophetic" that someone's physical perception/detection equipment is giving them these signals and they are dealing with things which aren't real. Invisible wheelchair, that's an amazing term which I had not heard before. It is exactly right, but also maybe invisible blind-cane because being distracted by the unreal, it is so very hard to deal with the dangers of the real. They stand there and you can't tell what false reality they are seeing, what temptations to action... and then the raw faith required for them to choose to believe you when you say, no, that is not real, take my word for it. Reject that feeling of danger, I'm not here to harm you, I'm not an alien or a monster. There is no room for exaggeration or "kidding" or joking because for a moment I am your perceptor of reality and you need to be able to trust me implictly and reject your own mind. (As the old joke goes, "who are you going to believe, me or your own lying eyes?)
Mental illness is nasty nasty terrible stuff. I'd rather have cancer. We all deal with false perception, hopefully to a small degree, but isn't it there?
Words are the little threads of life we use to try to connect our minds together and save ourselves and our loved ones from false perception. To purposely use those little life lines to deceive. It is better that a millstone be put around ones neck and they be thrown into the sea.
Using words to deceive people is bad.
That's how we talk 15 year old girls into sawing their body parts off, because perception of reality is fragile and people believe and we misuse their faith and abuse them.
Take everything I say, anyone says, as a hint about reality, sometimes helpful, sometimes completely dangerous and wrong. But I give this advice: try very hard not to lie, either to your self or to others, particularly your loved ones.
After graduating from college and before going to law school, I worked in a state mental hospital. Many of the patients, before they became ‘residents’ in more politically-correct times, had been there for years, some since childhood. The initial reasons for their admissions were lost in the mists of time. Nothing had been done for them beyond the administration of anti-psychotic medication.
At that time, Thomas Szasz and his book ‘The Myth of Mental Illness’ became a bible for us young, crusading anti-war types, many of whom were there as alternative service to avoid the draft. Then came the movement to close the institutions, and patients, many of whom were long forgotten by their families, were turned out with nowhere to go, only a patchwork of community mental health services in place. They became the progenitors of today’s homeless with no idea how to take care of their daily needs - or even survive.
I think of this story often as a reminder of the harm the governing elites, in all their infinite wisdom, cause to others in the name of progress.
Not all problems can be solved. Paranoid schizophrenia is particularly troublesome because the sufferers are not physically impaired and quite capable of violence in "protecting" themselves.
A friend awoke last winter to the "sound of a door slamming" only to find her husband had shot himself in their bed. Her sister and their father were also living in the house; when they ran to get Dad, they found him dead as well. Her husband had begun having delusions in late adulthood but wasn't taking his meds; instead rattling the pill bottle and making swallowing sounds in the bathroom. The police found multiple unused bottles of antipsychotic medications.
A thousand years ago I had a psych professor who encouraged us to try out some of the antipsychotics we were giving to our patients. My study mate, Tom, decided to give it a go; he stayed with me all day to protect him if necessary. His reaction to the Very Small Dose was that he felt the worst he'd ever felt in his life. As with Tom, antipsychotics very often "shoot down" patients, and they don't take their meds. Case in point, above.
We are a wealthy nation. We can afford clean, humane institutions for those to mentally unstable to live in society. To protect both us and them. Fuck Focault.
I found my anger simmering as I read Rosen’s summary of Foucault’s thesis. Foucault was obviously wrong from the beginning and yet the American elites embraced his thought with the terrible consequences Rosen acknowledges.
Why am I angry? Because Rosen and Bari herself are part of this elite class who pretended for over a generation that Foucault’s lies were true--and wrecked America. They’ve certainly destroyed the non-STEM American university system.
A friend of mine was accepted to Harvard Business School in the mid-80s. A month later she sent me a copy of Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization”. She was a B-School student and was being socialized to ingest Foucault as part of the entrance requirement for becoming a member of the Master Class.
A few years before, Yale’s star literary professor and the single individual most responsible for infecting American thought with what Rosen calls the “playful” school of Post-Structuralism, Paul de Man, was revealed to have been a Belgian Nazi. The rising star French-Algerian professor Derrida, like Foucault of Jewish descent, rose to the defense of Paul de Man, who was his close colleague and collaborator. In the name of tolerance these people promulgated lies, Nazism and the demoralization of America’s finest institutions.
And now we’re meant to be moved by the very late realization of these successful candidates for the ruling class that their intellectual mentors were liars, and that reality has consequences? As I look around at the vast cultural, social and political wreckage for which Foucault, de Man and Derrida bear a heavy responsibility, I am not inclined to be forgiving to their eager American collaborators.
I’ve never read the book nor heard of this guy prior to reading this. However:
1. A smart crazy Yale guy killing his wife isn’t noble or society’s fault any more than a middle class suburban guy or a ghetto guy doing the same thing. Domestic murders happen in Japan and Singapore and Switzerland and other super safe countries.
2. Some people need to be involuntarily institutionalized.
3. Yale Law School is arguably a hotbed of leftist groupthink putting out ideological zealots.
Let's just keep in mind that the doctors "treating" these people are often just as deranged. Need I remind you that Drs. Allen Frances and Bandy X. Li claimed that Trump killed more people than Hitler, Stalin and Mao combined? Talk about insane........
This was such a great read. As a daughter of a severely mentally ill father, this hit home in a good way. I can attest that the “good intentions” of institutions are not helping the mentally ill. Enabling beyond reasonable care only make it worse.
I find it rather off putting that people call this a tragedy for Michael. I can see how his life is tragic, for sure. But isn't the bigger tragedy the story of Caroline? She usually is just known as "the fiancee" or the "dead, pregnant fiancee". Her death, and the loss of what might have been for her, should be much more central to this story.
As a husband, father, physician, and someone who has experienced severe depression in my immediate family, leading to my mother's suicide I read this story with interest.....and ambivalence. I have struggled with ADHD all of my life but never knew this until I turned 45 and was researching this for an article I was writing. It was a revelation to read all of the characteristics of ADHD and repeatedly think, "That's me!" It helped to make sense of my life and more appreciative than ever that I married someone willing to put up with my distractedness, failure to follow throught, and chronic inattention. As to Michael's mental illness, my exposure to mental illness as a physician, althought admittedly very limited, has been enough to cement how little we understand and how complex a societal problem this is. There are twin dangers in the extremes: forced institutionalization and medication versus our current laissez faire attitude that has resulted in everything from tent cities to mass shootings. We have seen that top down solutions, i.e. governmental edicts, do not work or, to the extent they do, risk becoming Draconian. Rather than lay the blame for Michael's tragedy on an abstract- society, I would place most on the supposedly rational, reasonable people around him who failed to protect him from himself. I say this with great humility because I saw my mother's suicide coming years before it occurred, but still found I could not stop it. Will I read this book? I don't know. Knowing how the story ends, I would mostly read it as someone who appreciates good writing. That said, there is so much great writing in the world that will not drag you down emotionally or pose eternally unaswerable questions that this book will be low down on my list.............................R. Bosshardt, MD, FACS
The Best Minds sounds like a revisiting of many themes from Simon Winchester's book The Professor and the Madman. I applaud this engaging interview.
What’s with the propensity to glibly declare Yale Law School, or five prestigious US schools including Yale, “the best”?
I read the threads. know what I never saw?. any sympathy for the dead woman, her family or her friends..we are more concerned about the "madness' and the person with the madness that we forget the ancillary tragic consequences.. a dead woman and a dead fetus.. many here abhor the idea of early termination of a fetus but let this slide as a consequence of a failed medical system.. frankly this person should have been kept off the streets and out of a relationship forever..instead we have a dead woman and a book that tells us how sad mental disease is as if we didnt already know
Reading this left me curious about Carrie, so I Googled her. (Her last name was Costello.) There seems to be very little verified information, and nearly all of it casts her as a sort of supporting character in the life of Michael Laudor. I realize that Laudor is the one Rosen had the longest, closest relationship with, but I hope the book honors Carrie as a person in her own right.