An unusual perspective with much validity…
Date published: 5/29/2013
Your “What’s Normal?” editorial [May 23] correctly suggests that Big Shrink and Big Pharma may be in cahoots to drum up more business and sell more pills, but you left out the most significant reason for today’s race to the snake pit: The current power grab to define and rename mental illnesses is Big Shrink’s way of acquiring some much-needed class because psychiatrists have always been quacks per se, and furthermore, they know it.
Writers, not psychiatrists, are the true interpreters of the human mind and heart, and we have been at it for a very long time. The classical playwrights of ancient Greece were putting people on the couch 2,500 years before Freud was born, a practice taken up by Shakespeare that led pioneer psychiatrist Ernest Jones to call his treatise on mother problems “Hamlet and Oedipus.”
Look anywhere and you will find that writers got there first. Lady Macbeth’s “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers!” tells the marriage counselor all he needs to know in one sentence.
Do you wonder why the Pentagon’s sexual assault cops committed sexual assault themselves? Study the character of Javert in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” Are you suffering from depression? Try Emily Dickinson’s description of a certain slant of light on winter afternoons: “None may teach it anything, ’tis the seal, despair,–an imperial affliction sent us of the air.”
Oh, and what did your psychiatrist call your terror when you told him about seeing a snake? Dickinson called it “zero at the bone,” which may be the best analogy in American literature.
Welcome to Big Normal, where virtues like neatness are called “obsessions” and filed under Compulsive Re-Alignment Syndrome.