Some time ago, when reading the intro to "Law and the Mental Health System", a psychologist by the name of Thomas Szacz was mentioned - among his other beliefs, he suggests a sharp divide between mental health issues that are biologically based (which he considers genuine illness) and those that are socially based (which he terms "problems in living"). At the time I admired his conclusions but felt his arguments were a bit sloppy. Presently, I feel mostly the same but think his arguments may be slightly overstated - while in general I'm tempted to make that divide (phrasing it as "software" versus "hardware" problems using a CS-inspired analogy), there are some matters that fall in fuzzy ground below - predisposition to some "problems in living" that are not always exhibited are a feature of some mental health issues. I've generally been uncomfortable with calling things that feel like "software" problems illnesses - it feels like an abuse of the term to me to place something that might be dealt with by talking with a psychologist (or a friend) in the same category as, say, autism, a heart condition, or similar (this has led to spirited discussion on this topic with a few people) - I don't think it's unacceptably behaviourist to draw this divide so long as the "other side" is acknowledged to be there. I also don't think this should have a large practical effect on funding psychological/social therapy for helping people with "problems in living" (Szacz does) - our society, I think, should be organised for the good of all. I recently read a bit more on Szacz - he has a number of other beliefs that are strong and interesting - It's difficult to entirely approve of or disapprove of them as a set (at least for me). Wikipedia mentions a few, comments:
- Myth of mental illness - As stated, I agree more than disagree with him on the matter, although I don't feel that all "software issues" are equal nor merit equal societal respect/privilege. If a person, through "software issues", becomes sufficiently disconnected from reality and/or poses a certain kinds of threat to others (not "self or others"), institutionalism is usually appropriate, I think
- Separation of psychiatry and the state - No. I entirely disagree.
- Presumption of competence - Largely agree, but wih criteria that were founded on appropriate bases, changing the presumption may be appropriate.
- Death Control - Entirely agree. This is something I'm passionate about.
- Abolition of the insanity defense - Largely agree, excepting claims of being unwillingly drugged (which would require deliberation) and matters that can be traced back to biology
- Abolution of involuntary hospitalisation - Disagree entirely.
- Right to drugs - My position on the matter is too nuanced to easily compare to his. I am comfortable with considering social harm and care for individual autonomy when evaluating individual drugs for prohibition - his is based much more on autonomy.
Particularly difficult for putting Szaczist ideas into practice is the lack of clarity beforehand which mental health problems will turn out to be on the hardware side of the line - he regards this as a thrown gauntlet, but if it is used to decide quantity of funding for care (which I do not advocate), inadequate research may case negligent care to be delivered to those with a mental health issue that later may be shown to be an illness. This may be a hazard of operating near new knowledge though, and could just as easily be an argument for society's care extending into "life issues" as well.
- Murakami's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman - A collection of stories, I felt almost like they were written for me. Wow.
- Ramic's Language and the Interpretation of Islamic Law - Difficult read, worthwhile. Reinforces my respect for Islamic jurisprudence (even if it's the kind of respect for a principled foe rather than a "let's do this" type of respect.
At work - tried to move one of our servers from Fedora to RHEL - gave up after seeing some licence-key-based snags during initial install. It's irritating RedHat has moved things that way. Looks like we'll be using CentOS instead.