Dear Thom,

Although I am unable to listen to you every day, I listen often. I frequently hear derisive comments about both mental illness as well as sexuality, (the topic of which I'll leave to another day). Last month was particularly intense, yet I heard no retraction in the weeks following. I wonder to myself: "...how can someone who seems to understand the complexity of neurological development so well, speak with such mis-informed and harmful speech about obsessive compulsive disorder?..."

Understand that I know that I could not do what you do, and realize that speaking live is a very difficult thing to do. It's easy to make mistakes. However, given the number of times I've heard you speak about OCD as though (often self-) punishing intrusive thoughts can possibly explain the selfish, sociopathic hostile aggression of the neo-con movement, I think you're terribly confused on this issue. Further, you yourself are contributing to a further demonization of people who have the mental illness OCD. "OCD" isn't a catch-phrase; it's a life-long struggle. Your snide remarks make it seem as though those of us who have this could or should learn to care more about other people (aka become more moral people), rather than listening to our repetitive self-negating thoughts. I, personally, could not have less in common with a neo-con, as my life's work involves helping other people rehabilitate themselves from the trauma imposed by sociopathic others. And, I have OCD.

In order to "learn you up" myself, I redirect you to the following:

Decety, J. The neurodevelopment of empathy in humans. Dev Neurosci 2010:32:257-267.

First, although you are correct that OCD *is* very common (13% or so of US population), neo-conservative ideals are practiced by far, far more people. Many who practice subtle cruelty to others consider themselves moral, as long as their morality is defined as supporting the preservation of "what's mine", rather than supporting the culture-building of "ours". I'll take care of their grandma, but they seem disinclined to care for mine.

Personally, I've been wondering myself how it is that at least 1/3 of the US population could have grown up without empathy or altruism. I understand how political powers take advantage of that portion of people. But how did they get that way in the first place, and why didn't I develop the same way? While I still can't answer "why" exactly, I think there is some very interesting information regarding "how" people develop, or rather don't develop into people with empathic skills. The development of empathy requires a healthy brain, affective arousal, emotional understanding and emotional regulation. Emotional regulation, for example, is a neurodevelopmental skill learned *so early* within the first 3 years of life, and is very hard to learn thereafter, because of the variety of rewards that come from not controlling your emotions, like becoming a bully, for example.

I ask myself, (as someone who thinks overly on these medical topics) is it not possible that people with metabolic syndrome, which includes dysfunctional autonomic arousal neural systems, cannot learn, or perhaps lose empathic skills as they become sicker? Since religiosity is correlated with obesity/diabetes-inducing food (see: http://www.theheart.org/article/1202071.do), is it possible that our empathy-deprived South, or even the highly religious Governor Walker, eat food/have a lifestyle that prevents them from caring for other people? I wish you would spend more attention here, than on believing in a false correlation between obsessive thoughts and determined cruelty.

My main task for you (;>) is to start looking into the neurodevelopment of morality, and to stop attacking those of us who had *no* role in our personal development of mental illness. I am a moral person with mental illness, and you attack me when you casually equate OCD with immoral sociopathic ideals and behavior.

See also: Hunter P. The basis of morality. EMBO reports 2010:11:3:166-9.

Please have someone read these articles, and see if you can't shift your own understanding of the difference between intrusive obsessive thoughts and sociopathic lack of empathy and unwillingness or inability to experience the pain of others. This is really different stuff, and your audience(s) would benefit from your attention and distinction of the issues.

Thank you for your time.

Obsessively yours,

WF

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