Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Campus Psychiatry

Julie Ponzi reviews Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student written by an Anonymous M.D. I don’t know if the books is worth reading (she says it is), but her review is certainly worth it. Last paragraph:

"The problem is that college campus health and counseling centers assiduously avoid giving out that kind of information. Students are counseled to eat right, exercise, make time for themselves, and to use condoms. As one of Anonymous’s patients said to her, "Why, Doctor, why do they tell you how to protect your body—from herpes and pregnancy—but they don’t tell you how to protect your heart." Of course, to do this would run counter to the notion taught in most academic departments that women are just like men. And that...well, that just wouldn’t be politically correct."

Discussions - 14 Comments

"The problem is that college campus health and counseling centers assiduously avoid giving out that kind of information. Students are counseled to eat right, exercise, make time for themselves, and to use condoms. As one of Anonymous’s patients said to her, "Why, Doctor, why do they tell you how to protect your body—from herpes and pregnancy—but they don’t tell you how to protect your heart."

Because 'they' are neither your mother nor your spiritual director.


Of course, to do this would run counter to the notion taught in most academic departments that women are just like men.

I suspect if you carefully questioned most academic feminists, you would discover that it is their view that the talents of young women equal those of men. Conjoined to that (one might wager) would be the view that an irriducible (and quite visible) share of young men are bestial nuisances in manner and degree that the young women are not; and that masculinity is a pathology to be extinguished, not a property to be refined and ordered to good ends. (One might note in fairness to academic feminists that it is not unusual to find the former view stated in evangelical circles.

I should have said evangelical circles and others not on the list of the usual suspects. See:

Terrence Moore's commentary.

and

GL's comments on matters adjacent.

Ach. Troubles with links.

Terrence Moore's commentary may be found at this location.

and

"GL's" remarks on matters adjacent

at here

I think Art Deco might have come to a different conclusion if he had read the preceding paragraph wherein the medical explanation for women's heartache is detailed. It turns out that your mother, your spiritual director and your medical doctor should all be giving you the same advice--though, obviously, for different reasons.

your mother, your spiritual director and your medical doctor should all be giving you the same advice--though, obviously, for different reasons.

These three individuals have different functions and the doctor in question is an employee of a philanthropic agency whose functions vis-a-vis the student consist of the provision of instruction and other services for a fee. I would have no objection to college's acting in loco parentis and devoting efforts to the character development of the student if I thought the faculty and administration of most institutions conceived of themselves as providing an extension (not a corrective to) the efforts of parents and offered a worthwhile pedagogy in this regard. They seldom do.

I did read the preceding paragraph, Mme. Ponzi.

I have no doubt there are aggregate differences between men and women with regard to their thoughts and emotions on intimate human relations (though I suspect you may have identified them maladroitly). Those are aggregate, not categorical, differences. Strange as it may seem to you, the male of the species has an amatory life as well, which carries with it events that draw on their coping skills.

(I might also note that it never occurred to me at age nineteen, nor does it occur to me in my decrepit state to discuss problems of rejection and longing with my doctor. She is there to take my blood pressure, listen to me breathe in and out, take a note of suspicious skin lesions, examine my prostate, run hematoccult and urine tests, run the ear syringe, remind me that I am 30# overweight, and provide referrals to specialists).

Julie, all the time, run a'foul of this or that blogger. I for one thought it was a good review.

Art Deco, are you missing the point that the doctor in question here was, in fact, NOT there to take her patient's blood pressure? She is a psychiatrist and the patient in question came to her because she was suffering from mental distress. We can argue about whether or not a campus psychiatrist is the best place to go when you are suffering from mental distress (I think we would probably agree that it is not--and after reading this book I am certain it is not!). On the other hand, if these kinds of doctors are going to be there and they if they are going to be honest with themselves and to science, they should not be constrained--either by their own ideology or by PC administrators--from giving their patients valuable medical information that may cause a patient to change her behavior in ways that preserve both her health and her heart. Such doctors should not shrink from making an acknowledgment that some behaviors are positive and some are negative and that science, as well as morals, speak to the difference.

But I agree with you that moral advice from a doctor can sometimes be unwelcome--i.e., when it is not sought. Still, medical information that impacts the health and well-being of a patient but does not support the ideological agenda of a doctor should never be withheld or suppressed. It is amazing to me that girls are not taught the truth about the power of their hormones or the bonding power of oxytocin. Indeed, I made it all the way through graduate school without ever even hearing a word about oxytocin. I did not learn about its existence until I read a baby care book while I was pregnant the first time. The doctor never mentioned it. And even that book said nothing about its release during sex--though, I suppose, if one is reading that book, it is rather beside the point.

Art Deco, are you missing the point that the doctor in question here was, in fact, NOT there to take her patient's blood pressure? She is a psychiatrist and the patient in question came to her because she was suffering from mental distress.

I may be missing the point. However, I am also denying the premise. Fuller Torrey has offered, for about a generation now, a critique of psychiatry that is salient here: that it has in great measure abandoned the care of those suffering various sorts of dementia (most particularly schizophreniform disorders) in favor of agreeable office practice listening to the 'worried well'. In his view, the worried well need counseling, not therapy; and counseling is a division of education, not medicine.

That psychiatrist is addled in a manner her sub-profession is addled: when she says she speaks for 'science' and not 'Leviticus', she fancies that norms of human behavior can be discovered ultimately and thoroughly through empirical science. One should note, the diagnoses she makes have recommended treatment plans. She is permitted to be prescriptive, but within limits delineated by the canons of her sub-profession (DSM-IV, &c.), which is to say according to the lowest common denominator of the sense among her the establishment among her colleagues of how human beings ought to live. I think we can fairly argue that the institutional position of psychiatry in this society (and perhaps the self-conception of psychiatrists) is derived in great measure from the notion that their judgments are no more subject to the examination of laymen than are the judgments of cardiologists. The more explicit the moral cousels of psychiatrists are, the more people will likely stop believing in faeries and the insurance industry might cut off their allowance. The problem Dr. Anonymous faces is inherent in the professional position she occupies.

There are a mean of 4,500 students on college campuses in the country. The number of students who are latently insane (ca. 45) would not justify the employment of a psychiatrist on campus even if these youngsters were there twelve months of the year and none elected to use the services of outside physicians.

These youngsters could consult with the college chaplains, who few laymen would argue would be out of line in giving moral instruction. However, given the calibre of the contemporary clergy (and more so those who can land a job working for the dean of students), this sort of plan of action might not have the greatest utility.

One unacknowledged aspect of the context of this discussion is the strange decline in academic performance among young men in the last fifteen years, something not replicated on the distaff side. Mme. Ponzi is concerned we are not paying enough attention to women

.

"when she says she speaks for 'science' and not 'Leviticus', she fancies that norms of human behavior can be discovered ultimately and thoroughly through empirical science"


How else would you discover them? I sympathize with Ponzi's article, but I wonder whether she is willing to accept the implications of it: mankind is a machine regulated by its hormones. These girls feel attachment to guys through the laws of chemistry, not through free will. Love, then, is nothing more or less than an instinct we feel because of our chemical makeup. I love what the article implies, but I'm surprised that people aren't more offended by it (that is, people on the right)...

How else would you discover them?

I think it was Max Weber who offered a caution that social science could not justify a value. Delineating the contours of mundane behavior in various contexts is a different act than crafting a conception of justice or right conduct.

One might also note that science is a subset of reason

You moved the target a bit on that one. What connection is there between "she fancies that NORMS of human behavior can be discovered" and "social science could not justify a VALUE" ?


It seems to me that the therapist and client have the same value: the happiness of the client. That is the only value. Thus, the question is how to reach that value, and science can certainly help us there.

You moved the target a bit on that one. What connection is there between "she fancies that NORMS of human behavior can be discovered" and "social science could not justify a VALUE" ?

The connection is that the two statements, one ironic and the other direct, express the same idea.


It seems to me that the therapist and client have the same value: the happiness of the client. That is the only value. Thus, the question is how to reach that value, and science can certainly help us there.

And if the happiness of the client is served by engaging in bank robberies?

Though I did not feel myself to be in any way qualified to subject the entire field of psychology to the critique that Art Deco offers, I sympathize with his point as well. I do believe that there is probably something inherently flawed with the premise that psychiatrists as psychiatrists can offer the kind of help these young people need. On the other hand, as sentient human beings employing their faculty of reason as any intelligent and well grounded mature person might employ it, I am quite sure they can help their patients. I am also sure that the medical information they bring to the table may help to persuade those who might otherwise be skeptical about what seems to be common-sensical advice.

I see no necessary jump to the place that Boo posits as the end point of such an admission. I do not believe that we have to say that love connections are mechanical if we admit the role that the physical plays in it. Oxytocin makes it harder for a woman to get over a bad connection--not impossible. But a woman ought to be aware of what is going on with her body at least as much as she is aware of what is going on with her emotions. The two are connected--but not, I believe, inextricable.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/10362