Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"New Jersey -- What's that smell?"

The image of Justice Zazzali of the New Jersey Supreme Court accompanying this post has been blocked. Perhaps he is shy. Maybe someone does not want that image associated with this text, which has been obstructed in a number of ways in the past. I wonder why? http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/images/zaz.jpg August 31, 2007 at 7:45 P.M. I am unable to access my msn account. Any changes to my writings at msn are involuntary and should not be attributed to me.

"I am still more frightened by the fearless power in the eyes of my fellow psychiatrists than by the powerless fear in the eyes of their patients."

R.D. Laing


I do not know how to explain acute mental suffering and collapse to someone who has never experienced such things. Perhaps no one can really do so. I believe that Freud in one of his great essays distinguished between "mourning" and "melancholia" (which is roughly what we call "severe depression") by suggesting that with "melancholia the shadow of the object of loss falls accross the ego." This may be the best existing account of the experience.

"Loss" is certainly a word that comes to mind when I recall my own bout with depression. Despair, hopelessness, exquisite agony, paralyzing suffering are also words that come to mind. For me, the experience resulted in a great deal of emotional loss and in more worldly forms of loss, for it cost me a life that I had struggled to build over decades. Psychic pain and emotional suffering can become so intense that nothing even begins to numb the ache.
For many of us, survival of such terrible episodes -- despite the nearly lethal incompetence (or worse) of so-called state therapists and/or torturers, who may suggest mind-altering substances or suicidal "adjustment" (sometimes even suicide in a literal sense) -- can also be liberating: "Jump off the empire state building"; "your book is shit and you are shit"; "you are retarded" -- all of these things have been said to me by so-called therapists taking advantage of an impaired condition in me that made it impossible for to respond to the torture.

Nietzsche is often quoted as saying: "Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger." This may be true, but it is truer to say: "Whatever does not kill you makes you braver and more free." William Styron writes:

"Much obviously remains to be learned (and a great deal will doubtless continue to be a mystery, owing to the diseases's idiopathic nature, its constant interchangeability of factors), but certainly one psychological element has been established beyond reasonable doubt, and that is the concept of loss. Loss in all of its manifestations is the touchstone of depression -- in the progress of the disease and, most importantly, in its origin. At a later date I would gradually be persuaded that devastating loss in childhood figured as a probable genesis of my own disorder; meanwhile, as I monitored my retrograde condition, I felt loss at every hand. The loss of self-esteem is a celebrated symptom, and my own sense of self had all but disappeared, along with my self-reliance."

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (New York: Vintage, 1990), p. 56.

There comes a point when life is so dreadful to a person in a state of profound depression that death holds little terror and one cannot be threatened or frightened by anyone. In such a state, one is forced to come to terms with what one "is" and believes most fundamentally. One must decide, then, what it is that one is willing to live and/or die for. It is the example of an "existential leap" into the abyss, the abyss of nihilism.
On a day when hackers have made it impossible for me to return to a draft of an essay I was working on earlier, denying me access to my own e-mail account, obstructing the use of my computer and all efforts to write, these words seem especially poignant and timely. I am energized by these experiences to persist in my struggle.

Sartre speaks of the experience of torture in the French Resistance as one limit situation. I understand what he means in an "existential" way. Being tortured, especially if one already carries a substantial burden of suffering, is a radicalizing and life-altering experience. At such a moment of crisis, one discovers what is of genuine value or most meaningful in life. Alternatively, one may be plunged into a bottomless nothingness, as the other possibility. One realizes in an extreme situation who really matters, what persons in our lives we cannot do without.

We learn in a "limit" situation what we will die for, which persons or values make our lives worth living. And with this realization comes the certainty that -- whatever struggle or adversity must be faced, whatever ordeal must be undergone, no matter how far we must travel or how long it takes to reach those we love -- we will not relinquish those fundamental relationships. We will never give up or abandon those people who matter to us, no matter what. We also will not hesitate to defend those values which we find at the center of the self.

For me, that means a view of human dignity, of fundamental rights to freedom and equality in a political order roughly as indicated under the U.S. Constitution, which is fully compatible with democratic socialism. I am proud to describe myself as a democratic socialist, who is concerned with the defense of human freedom and social equality. Like Noam Chomsky, I believe that we can have social justice with civil liberties -- and we won't settle for anything less than a society which guarantees the right to both of those political values for everyone.

Liberty is the first requirement and demand of humanity, which immediately implies responsibility not only for my actions but for my neighbor's actions and pains. I cannot be free unless my neighbor is free. Freedom includes the right to be spared the paternalism of others, especially state officials, including shrinks employed by politicians or courts to extract information from victims in violation of their Constitutional rights. I will decide what is for my own good.

I will not deny my love for a very few persons -- including one woman, in particular, who needs to know what I feel -- regardless of what the cost of these feelings may be for me. Perhaps every woman has a right to know when someone loves her this way, so that to deprive her of that knowledge is a heinous injury to her. Such a denial of a truth that belongs to her is a violation of her autonomy and worth.

There are psychologists and psychiatrists in this society (and probably in others too) who INDUCE such conditions of collapse in people -- depression, suicidal despair and anguish -- for a fee. This results, sometimes, from an effort to make them easier to control by governments (what is done to prisoners and/or patients in institutions in many countries, including the U.S., can only be described as horrifying), or for other reasons. Sometimes psychologists torture victims just to steal from them ("where's your money?"), or to rape them, or worse. (See "What is it like to be tortured" and "Psychological Torture in the American Legal System.")

It is estimated by the Citizens' Commission for Civil Rights (CCCR) that as many as 25% of psychiatrists rape persons who are rendered helpless by hypnosis and/or drugging. I suspect that this is a conservative number, at least in New Jersey. For detailed documentation concerning psychological torture and related human rights violations by so-called therapists in the U.S., see http://www.mindjustice.org and http://www.mindfreedom.org . (See also "An Open Letter to My Torturers, Terry Tuchin and Diana Lisa Riccioli.") Dr. Harold Mandel writes:

"... [many] psychiatrists and clinical psychologists have turned into societal leeches ... who go to work for the highest bidder to force targets of generally unprovoked aggression into roles of misfits in society[,] regardless of how well-educated, law-abiding and decent victims may be." See "Psychiatry and Psychology Have Become Abusive Disciplines," http://www.topix.net/content/cj/1402929813753272823

If anything counts as the epitome of evil, then it must be the use of training in psychology or psychiatry to hurt rather than to help persons. I dread the thought of any contact with such "therapists." Based on my experience and study, I find the very thought of such people repulsive. Even more repulsive are government lawyers, judges and courts making use of information obtained and provided by such therapists, while covering up what torturers do, even as they speak to others of ethics and law. If you agree with me about this, then direct your criticism and anger at the occupants of institutions making such evil possible. http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/images/lon.jpg (Justice Virginia Long of the New Jersey Supreme Court.)

For those interested in the continuing use of psychological torture in the United States -- or the continuing development of "therapeutic" techniques which are aimed, ultimately, at the "control" of the civilian population -- a good place to start researching the issue is with the literature of protest against such torture coming out of U.S. prisons. For example, see: Hans Sherrer, "The Mental Torture of American Prisoners: 'Cheaper Than Lab Rats,'" http://www.forejustice.org/write/mental_torture_of_american_prisoners.htm; and H. Bruce Franklin's "Torture, American Style: The American Prison and the Normalization of Torture," http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/resources/torture/brucefranklin.html

For a recent update on these techniques as used by some U.S. soldiers against alleged terrorists, see: Douglas Waller, "Psychological Torture?," in Time, Mar. 21, 2005, and at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,1039751,00.html .

Essential scholarly sources include: Rebecca Lemov, World as Laboratory: Experiments With Mice, Mazes, and Men (New York: Hill&Wang, 2005); and Abu Ghraib: The Politics of Torture (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2004); see also the recently published study by Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation From the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York: Henry Holt &Co., 2006), pp. 21-60 ("Mind Control").

For women and some unfortunate men, these horrors are combined with sexual exploitation and rape, which is a common aspect of the experience of incarceration or even "psychiatric assessment." Any man who has been raped has been "reduced" to the condition of a woman in sexist society because, for Fascists, this is the most horrible degradation to which a person can be subjected, to be treated like a woman:

"... women's prison environments are violently sexualized, thus recapitulating the familiar violence that characterizes many women's private lives ... "

Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete (New York: Seven Stories, 2003), p. 78. (See my essay on "Carlos Fuentes and Multiculturalism.")

Methods of "sensory deprivation" and "self-inflicted psychological pain" or induced "guilt" are used by self-styled "therapists," in places like New Jersey and outside the country -- probably against dissidents or "others" (including unruly attorneys?) -- "confidentially" selected for such treatment, which is then covered-up by stooges for the powerful called "judges," at least by themselves, draping themselves in black robes and the same Constitution which they systematically violate and disgrace.
The goal for torturers is to assault the victim's senses, destroying his or her identity, thereby producing the failures in functioning that will later serve as a rationalizations for such "crimes against humanity." Frustration is an excellent technique for this purpose. It is no defense to a federal charge of conspiracy to violate someone's civil rights through psychological torture to say that, as a result of that torture, the victim was rendered dysfunctional enough to be unable to discharge his professional responsibilities and that this somehow justified the torture in the first place. Such a claim only makes the torturer's victim, more of a victim. (Compare "R.D. Laing and Evil" with "Psychological Torture in the American Legal System.")

Notice the comment made to the ACLU, by Khaled El-Masri, detained in Macedonia and Afghanistan, who states: "... I was brought into an interrogation chamber to meet an American who identified himself as a psychologist. ..." Harper's, February, 2006, p. 22. Mr. El-Masri had nothing to do with 9/11 nor was he involved in any other illegal activity. Elie Wiesel was moved by revelations of doctors' participation in torture to ask why "the shameful torture to which Muslim prisoners [and others WITHIN the U.S.] were subjected by Americans [has not] been condemned by legal professionals and ... doctors alike." New England Journal of Medicine 2005, 352: 1511-3.
How is it possible that you, Terry Tuchin and Diana Lisa Riccioli, are still any kind of "therapists"? Do you "take care" of New Jersey's judges and politicians? Or do you provide them with your "services" free of charge? Do you supply them with sexual opportunities? Or is it all about cold hard cash? "We can learn from you." That's what Terry likes to say.

As you stare at the faces of judges -- especially minority judges -- speak these words to them: "How can you condone torture and call yourself a judge? How can you live with your hypocrisy? What do you tell yourself that makes it O.K.? How can you judge others in reliance on the very laws which you violate?" http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/supreme/images/soto.jpg

Judges and torturers may not believe it just yet, but they will: "The whole world is watching."

What Mr. El-Masri -- who was innocent of any crime -- fails to appreciate is that by the time he was allowed to meet this so-called "psychologist," he had probably been interrogated on several occasions by the same person and others, while drugged or under hypnosis, then instructed at a subconscious level, to forget the encounters. Evidence of these horrors is plentiful: See "Hypnotically Refreshed testimony," at: http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal_mind/forensics/hypnosis/3.html?sect=21

Hypnosis is used not only to "refresh the recollections of witnesses," but to question people against their will, without their knowing it, in violation of basic human rights, as courts turn a blind eye to the abuse. See also: "Hypnotism Versus Crime: A Powerful Weapon or an Abused Tool?," in The New York Times, October 14, 1980, at col. 1; and Nina Bernstein, "9/11 Detainees Describe Abuse Involving Dogs," The New York Times, April 3, 2006, at pp. B1-B2 (torture in New Jersey jails).

One of the members of the New Jersey Supreme Court is "alleged" to have sanctioned the notorious "racial profiling" associated with that state's law enforcement mechanisms when he was state Attorney General. Take another look at the lovely portrait of Justice Zazzali, then let's ask him about his position concerning such profiling. Before you give the court a call, note that this is only one of many allegations of racism directed against New Jersey's judiciary. http://profilingrace.blogspot.com/2005/10request-for-transfer-to-other-court.html

I encourage you to post any allegations that you have against the New Jersey courts on the Internet. I urge you to protest against the violations of your civil rights. Remember that you are not alone. New Jersey is the most corrupt state in the nation (200 convictions so far, more are on the way) and its courts have become a national scandal.

Allegations that "no one can be hypnotized against his or her will," have been rendered obsolete for decades as hypnotists have mastered techniques of forensic hypnosis, without a subject's "consent," by enlisting the cooperation of "subconscious will." Professor G.H. Easterbrooks is eloquent on this subject. Hypnotism (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1957). For an update on this work, see Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture, pp. 20-30. The New York Court of Appeals concluded in 1983:

"Because hypnosis is an inherently suggestive procedure, its use by the police to obtain an identification or details concerning a crime [use of non-consensual hypnosis in civil proceedings was deemed beyond the pale, except de facto in New Jersey, allegedly, and] may, if impermissibly suggestive, violate the defendant's constitutional rights."

People v. Hughes, 59 N.Y.2d 523, 453 N.E.2d 484, 466 N.Y.S2d 255 (1983) and http://www.law.harvard.edu/publications/evidenceii/cases/p-v-hugh.htm

Anyone suffering through an episode of emotional pain is best advised to stay as far away as possible from such therapists-for-hire. If you do see such a therapist, then do not be surprised if the intimate details of your sessions are providing fodder for his or her chats with the police, colleagues, or unidentified "others," or providing conversational "amusement" at your expense, in violation of your rights to privacy and autonomy.

See again: "The Ministry of Therapy" at Philosopher's Quest. See also Alfred McCoy, "The Long Shadow of CIA Torture Research," http://www.counterpunch.org/mccoy05292004.html; Alexander Cockburn, "The Wide World of Torture," http://www.thenation.com/docprem.mhtml=z00111z6&s=cockburn; and Nat Hentoff, "CIA Secret Torture Centers," http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0619,hentoff,73121,6.html

There are some very disturbed "therapists" who may come to relish power over others (Diana Lisa Riccioli), derived from the use of narcotics or hypnosis in "therapy," and who will use such a power in violative ways. (See "Psychological Torture in the American Legal System" and B.F. Skinner's Behaviorism and Evil.") Finally, in response to international criticisms, U.S. physicians have explicitly ruled out -- at least publicly, what happens behind the scenes may be different -- helping in any way with coercive interrogations. "Psychiatrists Rule Out Help to U.S. Torturers," http://www.prorev.com/2005/11/psychiatrists-rule-out-help-to-us.htm

In prisons, even with politically powerless civilians selected (secretly) for torments because they are deemed exceptionally "interesting," such experimentation is said to be a feature of covert government activity in the U.S., particularly in the jurisdictions with the most corrupt and inept institutions. These methods are often used against political or other dissidents. New Jersey is the state that leaps to mind at such moments. I suppose the same is true in other countries. Victims are rarely those residing in the affluent suburbs, so their torments generate little concern on the part of the powerful.

Thomas Szaz points out that most psychologists in the U.S., and in other Western nations, are no longer in private practice but are engaged in devising ways to "control" people. See Law, Liberty and Psychiatry (New York: Collier Books, 1963), p. vii. There are several organizations on-line ("Mind Freedom" is one) with well-corroborated lists of horrors to which persons in the U.S. have been subjected against their will, everything from forced electric shock therapy to undisclosed tortures involving drugging and up to date methods of hypnosis, which is a primary tool in this secret intelligence gathering. See Edward F. Deshere, "Hypnosis in Interrogation," at http://www.parascope.com/ds/articles/hypnosisDoc.html

The executive Council of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis states: "We are deeply troubled by the use of this technique by the police" or "other agents of the State." The concerns are even greater when these techniques fall into the hands of organized crime or terrorist groups, possibly operating with the "protection" of corrupt government officials -- or even courts -- in crime-infested jurisdictions like New Jersey.

Techniques have developed substantially (and secretly) since these articles were written. I have no doubt that these methods were and are used in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but I am sure that they are also used today (secretly, of course), within the United States against dissidents or other "trouble-makers." New Jersey has come under fire for torturing persons in Passaic County (victims were detainees awaiting trial on charges and not convicted of any offense), while Hudson and Essex Counties' jails make the Passaic facility look like the Beverly Hills Polo Club. In fact, unsuspecting "residents" long to get into the Passaic facility because the food is said to be very good. See again, Nina Bernstein, "9/11 Detainees Describe Abuse Involving Dogs," The New York Times, April 3, 2006, at p. B1.

These tactics can then be denied, publicly, by the "therapist" (that's you Terry) or the authorities (that's you, John -- "nothing personal") in the event that a disastrous failure results. Such things are not simply unethical; they are evil. Sadly, they are also very real and not uncommon occurrences. They are, allegedly, sometimes undertaken at the secret request of government agencies, courts and committees. G.H. Easterbrooks, "Hypnosis in Warfare," in Hypnotism (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1957), pp. 193-214; Jessica Mitford, "The Torture Cure," in Harper's, August, 1973, pp. 16-30, 18; and for an update on these horrors, see Jane Mayer, "The Experiment," in The New Yorker, July 11 & 18, 2005, at p. 60.

Any government official (especially a judge) who participates in such actions or who is aware of them and does nothing to prevent the torture, is guilty of monstrous evil, as far as I am concerned. There must be some ethical awareness or minimal decency left in people who witness or are aware of the psychological torture of a human being, yet react with indifference or amusement (even if they happen to wear black robes). Perhaps the normal sense of decency is dormant or atrophied in such people because it gets in the way of professional "success." Compare the statements of "Herr Janeck" in the film Judgment at Nurenburg with the sort of statements one is likely to receive from state Supreme Courts upholding "vigorous" interrogation methods to "protect" the public (meaning people like themselves). http://www.law.upenn.edu/alumni/alumnijournal/Spring2005/feature1/images/poritz.jpg

If any such person comes upon these words -- or if you are a therapist specializing in forensic techniques designed to "extract" information from helpless victims (that's you, Terry and Diana) -- then I ask that you reflect on the nature of your actions and the humanity of those persons subjected to "hands off methods of torture." (See "A Letter From a Condemned Man.")

This sort of abuse is difficult to prove and much of it is swept under the rug to prevent "embarassment" to state institutions, including courts, that condone, ignore or fail to do something about the often appalling conditions of "therapy" at public expense, or the deliberate secret torture of "sources" of information by forensic psychiatrists. Perhaps the justices are too busy posing for portraits or attending black tie dinners, probably provided at taxpayers' expense. What looks like a bad scene from The Godfather III, for example, is a "black tie" dinner attended by New Jersey Supreme Court Justices, Jaynee La Vechia and Virginia Long --probably on your tab: http://www.alumni.rutgers.edu/alumnews/2001/summer/features/images/hda2-7912.tif.JPG (This image will no doubt be blocked soon.)
Rutgers is the State University of New Jersey, financed by taxpayers, whose students' tuition is likely to rise as a result of "waste" and "theft" of public funds, which are desperately needed to pay for more judicial portraits. No doubt students were pleased to learn of this fancy dinner at their expense and yours. If the image to which a link is provided is blocked -- probably by someone with a guilty conscience -- then simply do a Google search for New Jersey "Justices" LaVechia and Long. How was that dinner ladies? The taxpayers have a little indigestion. How about you two?

Self-seeking "therapists" are out there, not just in the dismal places in the world that you might anticipate, but in places that you would not expect to be riddled with corruption. Mental institutions and psychiatric care at public cost have become what the Chancery Courts were in Victorian London: a source of revenue for unscrupulous mental health and other professionals "connected" to the "boys" (of both genders) in county couthouses and all-too familiar with the means of gorging on public funds.
New Jersey's budget crisis of 2006, produced by a cummulative "short fall" of $4.5 billion that disappeared from previous budgets, was no surprise to me. I wonder if "therapists" affiliated with the state's disgraced medical school "got" some that loot? If they did, then I'm sure they'll share it with their political friends and judges. The people stealing that money get to decide who is "ethical."

Paradoxically, the greatest obstacle to any suffering person's recovery, in my judgment, is posed today by middlebrow mental health "professionals" whose job is to help. Moreover, this obstacle consists of a set of assumptions about mental suffering as an "illness," something external to a person and of sufferers as "sick," and thus to be cured externally also, through medication, instruction or other treatment, provided from above, as it were, by an "expert."

Mental suffering is not like the flu. It is not something that you have, but more like what a person is. This quality of perception may be linked to what is most fundamental about someone, including what is best about him or her. The same might be said about freedom. Your freedom is you, it defines you. And mental pain is one of the things that can deny you your freedom. Hence, it denies or deprives you of yourself. The PRODUCTION of such pain in people by so-called "experts," who have the nerve to call themselves "therapists," must be among the most loathsome violations of human rights in a time and place when human cruelty has become routine or even a bureaucratic dispensation, even among physicians.

New Jersey's torturers, for example, strive "through insult and disqualification, by means of threats ... to break all the victim's possible existential platforms." Through this asymmetry, the torturer eventually achieves "complete power" and reduces the victim "to a condition of total or near total defenselessness."

A Question of Torture, p. 10.

These vile methods are used secretly in some of the worst jurisdictions in the United States, as I say, where government is for sale, as part of the techniques for the interrogation-torture of persons. Many victims of such torture are innocent of any crime, a fact which is also covered up by the authorities, who may (it is very possible) sometimes find it necessary to frame a victim for "something" to cover their tracks.

Most survivors of such torture are damaged severely -- and for life -- by the experience. If you survive years of secret torture, then you will never entirely leave your torture chamber. If you can add such trauma to a substantial burden of early psychic pain, then your life is a walk on the edge of a precipice. The pain and suffering incidental to "ego torments" and humiliations, usually sexual ones, leave crippling psychological scars on victims. No one devastated by such experiences can be asked to pretend that "nothing happened."

It is no longer Creon who confronts Antigone. She is denied even that dignity, as she is now confined to a room where ingenious methods of behavioral conditioning may cure her of her disturbing tendency to non-conformity and her "anti-social love for her brother."

"In some cases man's dreadful inhumanity to man has been inspired by love of cruelty for its own horrible and fascinating sake [that's Diana]. More often, however, pure sadism was tempered by utilitarianism, theology or reasons of state. Physical [or mental] torture and other forms of stress were inflicted by lawyers in order to loosen the tongues of reluctant witnesses; by clergymen in order to punish the unorthodox and induce them to change their opinions; by the secret police to extract confessions from persons suspected of being hostile to the government. [Thanks to developments in psychology,] stress amply sufficient to cause a complete cerebral breakdown can [now] be induced by methods which, though hatefully inhuman, fall short of physical torture."

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), pp. 71-72 (Psychological torture is probably worse and more widespread today than when Huxley wrote these words, as indicated in Professor McCoy's book.)

I saw a dog owner recently who, smilingly, placed a collar on her pet with a potential electric charge. At the push of a button on her remote control, she could jolt her dog in order to remind him to stop or sit, that is, to obey a command. "It doesn't really hurt him," she said. This is the "externalist corrective" ideal of behaviorists everywhere, who at this moment are probably at work on such a collar for you and me. After all, slaves have to be kept in their place. And for such "therapists," we are all slaves.

The behaviorist pattern is to use stress and anxiety until a person is at the breaking point, making him or her more amenable to suggestions and altered memories. They call it "programing." The struggle to remember, to hang on to one's memories, is waged against the efforts of incompetent or sold-out "therapists" to have us "adjust and forget," after informing on our family members and friends, of course, usually with public officials or cops in the room when they "extract" the information.

The worst of the common blunders made by American therapists is the assumption that someone else's -- for example, an "expert's" (who exactly is an "expert" on human suffering?) -- values or "sense of adjustment" could ever be right for the afflicted individual. It is often simply taken for granted by advocates of a conformist conception of normality or of a trendy psychobabble perspective on life, in which political correctness features prominently, that social adjustment is a good thing for other people. This is to say nothing of the far worse practice of turning the therapist's couch into a laboratory for experimentation without a person's consent or into a witness box, something which happens often enough and is usually covered up, or into a mechanism of punishment in prisons. A torturer once said to his victim: "We can learn from you."

There are social settings that are not worth adjusting to and there are persons who are temperamentally inclined to rebellion and opposition, persons driven to hold different, anti-majoritarian or contrarian values, most artists and many philosophers for example. No one has the right to make value choices for an adult human being who has broken no criminal laws by his or her own life-choices.

There is no such thing as a "politically correct" view of life or human relations, nor is there a single kind of "correctness" in loving relations or political opinions. It is no one's business to judge another person's suffering, much less to impose values upon that other on the basis of some presumably correct understanding of human life. It would be worthless to do such a thing anyway. Any "secret" treatment to which a person is subjected against his or her will is torture. Values decisions are meaningless unless arrived at by the individual agent him- or herself, freely, in an unconstrained manner. Ethical solutions must be found only in the same way that you arrive at the correct answer to any question or problem -- through reasoning and dialogue.

The ultimate victims of illicit psychological experiments or tests that are violative of persons' privacy or dignity will always be those who perform them, or so I hope. No therapist can be a cop or an information-gatherer for the State, while still claiming the status of a healer. (This means you, Terry.) No one should decide which relationships or persons are "healthy" or "appropriate" for you. Certainly, no twice-divorced therapist can do so. And to throw away mutual, life-saving love -- on the rare occasions when it is available -- is always, ALWAYS a tragic mistake. Coming to the right conclusions about what are the correct or "true" values in life, or who really loves you, is exclusively your responsibility.

There is no such thing as therapy without your freely given and unimpaired, specifically taylored and limited consent for a predetermined period. Secret therapy by adhesion, as I insist, is another way of describing torture. Nothing done secretly to you -- much less in violation of your privacy and autonomy, or for purposes that are not your own -- can be called therapy. Secrecy in health records or the hiding of information from a "subject" in legal proceedings renders those proceedings offensive to the due process provisions of the Constitution, as were the "Star Chamber" inquisitions feared by the framers. Discovery does not mean that you get to see what the authorities allow you to see, but that you have a right to everything in their files, all of their files. Yet such tainted proceedings and fraudulent discovery are routine today in the shadow world of forensic psychiatry. And so are the cover-ups of such tainted proceedings by tribunals and state agencies that have forgotten or abandoned their Constitutional mission.

The power of therapists of one type or another has grown exponentially in our society, even as their utility and relevance has declined, while their advice has too often been reduced to non-comprehending platitudes and bromides. A moment or two pondering the mind-numbing banalities of most popular therapists (like Dr. Phil) should suffice to establish this point. This is to say nothing of John Gray's assumption that some of us are from "Mars" and others of us are from "Venus." Meanwhile the solutions to human troubles for those of us from the planet earth are what they have always been: love and solidarity, together with a sense of satisfactory creative effort -- that is, creative work that is meaningful to the afflicted individual.

Therapists must be more than agents of conformity and torturers. They should be effective patients' advocates, recognizing that suffering may be part of the price that one pays for being "different" -- that is, for living a life in opposition to the prevailing values of one's time and place. To be demoralized by the anticipated withdrawal of the public esteem or recognition of the society that one is criticizing or from which one is alienated in some ways, often while admiring it in other ways, is to grant a victory too easily to the powers that be.

As a boring heterosexual, with a distressingly short list of sexual partners over my lifetime, I acknowledge loving two women over the decades of my adult life, one of them passionately and romantically, the other intensely and devotedly. Far from regretting this, I am grateful for having experienced such love, whatever any shrink or judge thinks about it. My emotional life is not the State's business. As Lenny Bruce, himself a victim of emotional suffering and prudishness, once said:

"You can't do anything with anybody's body to make it dirty to me. Six people, eight people, one person -- you can do only one thing to make it dirty: kill it. ..."

The Essential Lenny Bruce (New York: Ballantine, 1967), p. 288.

The best of the analysts, real psychiatrists and therapists, recognize that "breakdown can also be breakthrough" (R.D. Laing), that one may choose or accept one's "madness" -- say, poetry, poverty and resistance to oppression -- over affluence, obesity, suffocating normality and a heart attack at thirty-eight. John Stuart Mill's question comes to mind: "Is it better to be a contented swine or a suffering Socrates?" A live dog or a dead lion? Is it better to be Jack Kerouac or Homer Simpson?

You decide which is the more attractive option. I think that I already have. No justice, no peace.

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