~~ Ravan's Ravings - April 2000 ~~
A periodic diatribe on one or many issues in the neopagan
It is Wednesday, 14-Apr-2021 04:02:57 PDT in Silicon Valley, California.
(or the world that we live in)
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)
- "Hey- give it up already! You really need to get some
counseling- your anger is obviously causing you major difficulties. I
would be happy to recommend some Grief Counseling and Anger Management
therapists for you. Wishing you successful therapy!"
- "...and - as just a personal recommendation - seek
This Kind of "Concern" is Abusive Garbage!
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.
- It derides the suffering of those who actually have or do need
"counseling" or "therapy".
- 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.
- 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
- It is not a response to the item under discussion, or even
"genuine concern". It's just a thinly veiled ad-hominem
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.