~~ Ravan's Ravings - April 2000 ~~

A periodic diatribe on one or many issues in the neopagan community
(or the world that we live in)

It is Thursday, 07-Jul-2022 00:43:51 PDT in Silicon Valley, California.

The Insanity Offense:

Pop Psychology as an Argumentation Technique

"You Disagree, So You Need Psychological 'Help'"

In many different discussion groups (and on web pages), have I seen the following argument tactic used:

Person A. "I don't agree with you, and this is why."
Person B. "You obviously have a personal/mental problem. I suggest X type of counseling."

Am I alone in being enraged at this implication of "If you disagree with me you are mentally/psychologically defective"??? What sort of rational argument on a basis of ideas is that??

Some Actual Quotes (no names - quoted w/o permission)

This Kind of "Concern" is Abusive Garbage!

  1. It derides the suffering of those who actually have or do need "counseling" or "therapy".
  2. It implies that those who have or had mental illnesses are not worth listening to - they're just "sick" and don't understand what they are saying.
  3. It's got to be the most patronizing, condescending, abusive, arrogant, and assinine argumentative technique I know of. Presuming to know another's mental health from text postings and that they can and should advise "treatment" is a pinnacle of egotistism and arrogance.
  4. It is not a response to the item under discussion, or even "genuine concern". It's just a thinly veiled ad-hominem attack.
The idea that some lay person, or so-called psychologist, can diagnose someone's mental problems on an email list, in a newsgroup, or on the web is ludicrous. When the offending idiot then feels obligated to post that "diagnosis" and recommendation for "treatment" to any public forum it is absolutely vile.

Have we no courtesy and consideration left?? Can't we debate IDEAS without calling into question an opponent's mental stability merely because they disagree?? Ad-hominem is bad enough, but when it masquerades as "concern" and "caring" it makes me see want to puke.

It infuriates me that this little trick has become a regular component of public discourse. Sure, if a person posts "I want to die today", it is appropriate to send them a private e-mail suggesting that they seek help. But such things should not be public, and nor used as a argumentation technique!!

I'm No Saint...

Yes, I can sling this kind of crap myself, I have enough of a background in psychology. But I try not to stoop to this technique. I use it on people who use it regularly on others, in part to demonstrate how assinine it is, and then only when the discussion has degenerated into an ad-hominem flamewar.

However, I'd much rather come out and call them a "Fucking jerk that should have been killed at birth." It's more honest than the false "concern" that people delude themselves into believing they're showing for their "poor, benighted and mentally unbalanced opponents".

Be warned, I will call people on it when I see it. I don't think that the pagan community should perpetuate the "meme" involved. I also expect to be called on it when I slip.

Page built: 4/28/2000.
Page last changed/tweaked 4/28/2000. Copyright © 4/2000, Ravan Asteris. OK to reprint with attribution and linkage, but not for profit.