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Archive for June, 2005

Cannabis and Mental Health: The Link

June 19th, 2005 No comments

“There is growing evidence that smoking cannabis causes mental health problems”. The BBC headline being pushed as the major news story this morning is bad science. There may be a growing body of evidence that smoking cannabis and having mental health problems are linked but the link and causality are far from proven.

Since the sixties when R.D. Laing’s promoted his ideas about Schizophrenia being principally a political and social fact our understanding of the “disease” has not gained much ground. The dismissal of Laing’s theory was bad then and part of the same problem we are encountering here. People who suffer mental health problems, in short, do not suffer the new original sin of genetic problems. They suffered growing up in families and a world which do not make sense yet pretend to.

That people who ask for mental health support are unlikely to get is much more likely the causal issue here. People suffering senselessness in this world are left to their own devices and self-medicate using alcohol, drugs or experience to fill the gaps in themselves created by upbringing.

The locus of control being placed outside of the individual by family and society is the principal gap forming problem. Persons raised in controlling families and society lack self control. They are then very ready to give it up to an outside substance or person. It keeps them where they are comfortable: In a semi-infantile state where they will not have to address, understand and deal with the families and experiences that fucked them up.

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“Margaret Thatcher was a Punk”, Says Geldof

June 18th, 2005 No comments

Sir Bob Geldof on Margaret Thatcher: “She lashed out at every institution she saw. The Monarchy, The old Tory party, the old Labour Party. She was a Punk”.

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Was Buddha a Humanist

June 18th, 2005 No comments

Humanist weddings are legal in Scotland from today without the need for a separate civil ceremony. Some fellow on BBC breakfast this morning said that humanism was recognition that there is no God, that religion will not save you and that it is up to each of us to do their best in the world for themselves and others. I think if the historical Buddha were alive today he would identify more strongly with Humanism than with much of what bears his name.

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Time for the Three P’s

June 17th, 2005 No comments

The phrase “the three R’s” for reading, writing and arithmetic was clearly formed by someone who was not too hot on the first two of them. They seem to have been able to count to at least three which shows a better hold of the last. These things are meant to be the foundation of a good education, the tools to help each child negotiate their way through life.

It seems to me they are not up to scratch in the world in which we now live. Is it time to replace them with “the three P’s”: psychology, philosophy and politics? These things would give each child the tools they need to understand the world in which they live. Our world is constructed principally as a world of human thought and most of these thoughts – even the ones we think of as integral to “who we are” – are regurgitated: they are someone else’s thoughts.

Of course, a population who were psychologically, philosophically and politically literate would be somewhat harder to control or fool than we are now. It would be quite anarchic if people were offered the power of understanding in this manner.

I guess that is why the politicians won’t ever do it. They would lose their power of hiding and be revealed from behind their veil of secrecy: if people could understand all these complex issues for themselves there would probably be no call for a political class to interpret the world for us.

We have, by and large, done away with the priesthood – at least in Britain where only 7.5% of the population attended a church in 1998. The politicians are the new priests interpreting and presenting our place in the universe for us and creating the rules that guide and steer us.

After the Iraq war debacle I am starting to contemplate taking up church going. It’s a way of voting with my arse. This feels especially right after reading The Downing Street Memo today. Conclusive proof, were it needed, that the US and British Governments had made all the decisions about invading Iraq long before the public presentation of this decision making. That veil of secrecy again.

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Jackson, Juries and Justice: How Tom Sneddon Helped Child Abusers.

June 14th, 2005 No comments

Michael Jackson has been found not guilty of all the charges against him relating to the alleged grooming and abuse of Gavin Arvizo. Some would say he was vindicated. The jury in post trial interviews gave a different story. They felt that not enough evidence was presented to convict which is very different from vindication.

Presented with a weak prosecution case reliant on weak witnesses the jury had little choice in reality. There must have been some doubt even in the minds of jury members who felt there was a case to answer here. In this we are presented with a perenial problem of legalistic justice: it is always partial, always conditional.

Much evidence is what people say they heard, saw and thought. Juries must take a view on the voracity of these things. In doing so they can take the wrong view. Evidence is subject to review, updating and new analysis forever. Verdicts can not be continually updated to match.

Justice in the true sense of the word has not been well served in this case. Tom Sneddon, by chasing his own dragon of Jackson’s “Guilt”, has left the scene more difficult for victims of sexual abuse. There will be a little bit less belief and a little bit more reluctance to prosecute than before the trial. Tom Sneddon has hurt abused children and helped abusers – something he surely must regret and which must have been far from his mind when pressing for this ill-advised prosecution.

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