Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Delusions, Their Defenders, And Their Promoters

     Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth. – Robert A. Heinlein

     The above is a thought of striking insight. Many persons labor under some delusion – and in many cases, the delusion is what makes the holder’s life worth living. Dale Carnegie mentions a typical, and typically fascinating case in How To Win Friends and Influence People:

     Why do these people go insane?
     I recently put that question to the head physician of one of our most important hospitals for the insane. This doctor, who has received the highest honors and the most coveted awards for his knowledge of insanity, told me frankly that he didn't know why people went insane. Nobody knows for sure. But he did say that many people who go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance that they were unable to achieve in the world of reality. Then he told me this story:
     "I have a patient right now whose marriage proved to be a tragedy. She wanted love, sexual gratification, children, and social prestige; but life blasted all her hopes. Her husband didn't love her. He refused even to eat with her, and forced her to serve his meals in his room upstairs. She had no children, no social standing. She went insane; and, in her imagination, she divorced her husband and resumed her maiden name. She now believes she has married into the English aristocracy, and she insists on being called Lady Smith.
     "And as for children, she imagines now that she has a new child every night. Each time I call on her she says:
     'Doctor, I had a baby last night.'"
     Life once wrecked all her dream ships on the sharp rocks of reality; but in the sunny, fantastic isles of insanity, all her barkentines race into port with canvas billowing and with winds singing through the masts.
     Tragic? Oh, I don't know. Her physician said to me:
     "If I could stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn't do it. She's much happier as she is."

     The unfortunate woman in the above found the reality to which she was subjected impossible to endure. She went insane – i.e., she adopted a set of comforting delusions and invested herself totally in them – to shield her from that unendurable reality. The physician who described her case above exhibited a degree of humanity and sympathy that goes well beyond the norm. I could only wish that everyone might think, feel, and act as he did.

     That woman’s delusions were her way of surviving the shipwreck of her life. Only God knows why her life turned out the way it did, but both we and God can easily see why “Lady Smith” abandoned reality for a far preferable fantasy world. In comparable circumstances, you or I might well do the same.

     Do you know anyone whose delusions are the cushions he inserts between himself and an intolerable reality? Given that most of us believe ourselves to be better persons than we really are – brighter; stronger; faster; handsomer; more moral or ethical; better drivers – I estimate the probability to be about 100%.

     Delusions of the sort “Lady Smith” exhibited don’t necessarily impose a burden on others. (I said necessarily. Remember that part.) However, there are species of behavior, arising from personally held delusions, that can burden others, especially given the abominable state of our law in this year of Our Lord 2016.

     The critical cleavage arises when the deluded one includes among his delusions that he has a right to dictate your opinions and behavior to conform to his delusion. When the contretemps rises to the level of enforcement, there can be the most terrible of consequences.

     Consider the following brief video snippet, culled from the movie Hitman. Please watch it; it’s less than a minute long.

     When Agent 47 says “That’s not a woman,” does he immediately leap from his seat to upbraid “her” about inappropriate clothing choices? He does not. Does he do so later? Again, he does not. He has no interest in imposing his opinions on the creature. Apparently neither does the restaurant...and it’s all for the best. “Her” delusion of womanhood might well be what keeps “her” from being a danger to others.

     Yesterday, in the comments section to this piece, I had an exchange with a certain Amy Tapie, an official of the Gender Identity Center of Colorado. That’s apparently a gathering of “trans” people: its members were born into one sex but have chosen to live as the other.

     I want nothing from such persons but to be left alone. I consider them deluded. However, I concede that their delusion might be functional. At any rate, it’s not my place to interfere with them. Problems arise when such persons demand a certain level of conformity from us: specifically, to ratify and approve of their delusion.

     For Smith to demand that others’ see the world (or any part thereof) as Smith requires is the start of a road to Hell – a short one. Nor does it matter at all how many Smiths league together to demand it.

     I could go on about this for a great many words more, but I’ll spare you. In summary: It’s best for those of us who see the world a little differently not to try to impose our opinions of it on others – whether or not we’re in the majority. The delusions of others might be more important than we know. Indeed, our delusions about our strength, speed, agility, intelligence, appearance, and sexual prowess might be all that keeps us from unpacking the Barrett .50, grabbing an unopened package of Oreo Double-Stufs, and climbing the nearest clock tower. Nor ought we to take too great an umbrage at minorities that exhibit delusions we find laughable. We cannot know which of them has a Barrett .50 and an unopened package of Double-Stufs.

     As usual, it’s attempts by the use of the law to compel such agreements and ratifications that really cause trouble. In the degenerated state of law in our time, such attempts are distressingly frequent, often aided and abetted by media thugs (e.g., Memories Pizza). That’s the vilest sort of coercion. It must be resisted a outrance. If freedom does not include the freedom of thought – the right to see the world as we please and make our decisions thereby – what could it possibly mean?

     Have a nice day.


Dystopic said...

There's a deep truth buried in this. The seminal issue of our time may be that the patients are running the asylum. They are demanding compliance of the doctors. Believe my delusions, or else.

Some of the places I DJ have all manner of... interesting people in them. Over time, I have developed something of a natural immunity. I don't really notice them. I know they are there, of course, but I skip over them in a manner not unlike skimming a page with too many filler words. I have no interest in disabusing them of their delusions. But, if asked, I would not approve of them either. Such is my right.

These days, things have changed. What we think of as tolerance is considered an evil by them. They have confused tolerance with acceptance, and they demand it rigorously. Gender queer, transgender, otherkin, all manner of nonsense... we must accept it. Worse, they demand it be acknowledged as superior to the non-delusional. Homosexuality is elevated *above* heterosexuality. Radical Feminists are notorious for saying that Lesbianism is more moral, more pure in some fashion, than heterosexual relations.

The mental patient is telling the doctor that *he* is the delusional one.

In the normal course of human affairs, I just don't care about all these things. Call yourself the King of Spain, it makes no difference to me. I've always had great difficulty understanding why people must impose their worldview (and hence their delusions) upon others. Why can't they just leave well enough alone? Why must they be busybodies?

Brian E. said...

@Dystopic: "Why be busybodies?" Why insist that we must 'agree' with them?

Because it gives VALIDATION to their delusion. And for those that haven't *completely* lost touch with reality - this is something that they *desperately* need.

Not all that are deluded are lost within their delusion, they seek validation to confirm that *their* reality is the 'real' one.

Linda Fox said...

I have to think that many of the "differently gendered" have a lamentable lack of imagination - they don't REALLY believe their own spewings. Because their doubt is so great, they imagine that if they can just compel everyone else to give vocal support to their nonsense, that they will boost their own belief.

We who don't buy into their madness will ENRAGE them. Only with our help and vocal assistance can they manage their delusion.

And, unfortunately for them, we WON'T help them.

Pascal said...

You are not deluded that this is a far too sane an essay to be received well by the privileged set. As demonstrated by the Trump fanatics who have embraced his unleashing their pent-up wishes to be not PC, emotions have the power to blast away any chance for reason to return, and the Critical Theorists have known this long before we woke up. said...

This is probably one of the finest pieces ever written and commented. This piece has been quoted by myself in my "conversations" with those who seek special validation who are dear to me, and it has aided in piercing the vale of "ideology" that gets in the way of productive discourse. Well done, commenters and Francis alike!