Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell. ~Karl Raimund Popper
By Adriana Gamondes
Autism, the fastest growing developmental disorder in the US, represents more than 7% of a $40 billion dollar psychopharmaceutical market for a demographic of roughly 1 to 2% of individuals under age 25, where roughly 85% of autism diagnoses are found. Marking a condition as a public safety hazard and those with the traits as near devils is the time honored manner of manufacturing public consent for exploitative and coercive treatment and dehumanization. In other words, a wide belief that those with autism are likely to kill could effectively snuff protest against drugging mandates which Torry, Satel, Koplewicz, NAMI, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Institute of Mental Health, a steady procession of presidential administrations and the pharmaceutical industry have pushed for all along.
But the population with autism may be only one of many targets of this particular campaign. Autism research provides an endless supply of unsubstantiated genetic corollaries which have the distinction of being protected by the state in order to obfuscate the role of government public health agencies in contributing to an epidemic. And, of course, these unsubstantiated genetic corollaries have endless applications for political and industrial exploits.
Questioning the “largely genetic” foundations of autism has ruined medical, scientific and media careers, and this may partly be because, as with the elusive schizophrenia “genes,” so many reputations and articles of scientific faith hinge on the theory. For instance, if a group of researchers needs to prove that pigs fly to serve an industrial sponsor or as part of an exercise in "weaponized anthropology” targeting a strategic or ideological foe, all they need do is link “proofs” of the imaginary flight of pigs to autism to create an automatic credibility shield
One example of the use of an “autism shield” arose from research defining the Maori in New Zealand as genetically violent due to the so-called “Warrior Gene." Viewed through the lens of Weaponizing Anthropology author David H. Price, social scientists conducting portions of the ongoing Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study—which turned 30 in 2012— might appear to have been "unleashed" for a particular mission. In the case of Dunedin, the campaign to “understand” the Maori synchronized suspiciously with a corporate war to gain access to oil and gas reserves on Maori tribal lands. And so when the MacArthur Foundation funded the Law and Neuroscience project promoting “Minority Report” style programs to identify and cull the “genetically violence prone” before they endanger entire regions and the planet, it was quite natural to try to link the “Warrior Gene" or monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene to other target groups for various agendas: Associating the “Warrior Gene” to African Americans might justify a consistently biased for-profit carceral system and continuing economic disparity; associating the “Warrior Gene” to Africans and Asians might justify Western competition against China to exploit African oil, etc.
Not surprisingly, the credibility-shielding sealant was added to the MAOA theory when in his book, The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Human Cruelty, UK autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen attempts to cast violent psychopathology—by way of “Warrior Gene” research—as a genetic cousin to autism via another hypothesis, the “zero empathy” theory. The difference between the two, he soothingly asserts, is that individuals with autism don’t intend the harm they do whereas the nondisabled zero-empathy gene carriers, though they really can’t help it either, do intend harm. What possible difference this would make in terms of public safety response to these marked populations if the ideas were presumed true and manifested as policy is an issue which Baron-Cohen washes his hands of with a few bids for clemency for these genetic burdens on our race.
In Eugenics and Other Evils originally published in 1922, journalist, social critic and philosopher G.K. Chesterton described individuals who separate themselves from the policy consequences of their conceptual campaigns—the “Eugenicist as Autocrat”:
If you let loose a law, it will behave as a dog does. It will obey its own nature, not yours. Such sense as you have put into the law (or the dog) will be fulfilled. But you will not be able to fulfill a fragment of anything you have forgotten to put into it.
Baron-Cohen repeatedly assures readers of his noble intent in pushing forward his theories. If his campaign feeds questionable policy and it all ends badly, he may argue that he didn’t intend for it to. Seeing hypotheses “misbehave” in application is an ironic risk embedded in the theory of genetic empathy or genetic-lack-thereof which also led premier “psychopathology” expert Robert Hare to lament judicial misuse of his “Psychopathology Checklist” in an NPR interview . Still, Hare makes no effort to disclaim the genetic theories which, as he admits himself, make his diagnostic instrument especially dangerous:
Mr. HARE: I’m very concerned about the inappropriate use of this instrument for purposes that have serious implications for the individual and for society.
SPIEGEL: Still, use of the test continues to spread. It’s now even mandated in several states. And the test has helped cause a shift in our ideas about where crime comes from, as well.
The idea that criminal behavior is primarily a product of poor environments has much less power today, in part because Hare’s work seemed to teach us that crime resides inside the person, that inborn personality traits like empathy can influence whether people participate in crime. Bob Hare.
Mr. HARE: Empathy is highly genetic in origin, modified and shaped by the environment, of course. But if you’ve got an adult who has virtually no empathy in the normal sense of the term, you’re not going to send him to school to learn empathy, Empathy 101. It’s just not going to work.
SPIEGEL: And when you think about criminals in this way, as people who are almost genetically predisposed to crime, you are much less likely to invest in their rehabilitation than if you saw their acts as a product of unfortunate environmental circumstances.
This is why it’s so important to figure out if bias and bad training are affecting Hare’s test to the point that it is potentially mislabeling people. After all, once someone is labeled as a psychopath, what can you do with him? Nothing but lock him away.
Mainstream media has attempted to popularize the “Warrior Gene” theory as science writer Josh Horgan noted in Scientific American:
Just when you think the blame-it-on-our-genes craze can’t get worse, the “warrior gene” goes viral. The latest media outlet to flog it is the Dr. Phil show, which on April 4 broadcast “Born to Rage?“. From the promo: “Scientists believe they may know why some people are quicker to anger than others. A new study suggests that inside a rageaholic’s DNA, ‘a warrior gene’ may be pulling the strings. Could today’s guests be genetically predisposed to fits of fury?”…
This cheesy talk show is hardly alone in hyping the warrior gene. In fact, Dr. Phil borrowed his headline from a recent National Geographic broadcast, “Born to Rage?“, which also explores “the disturbing possibility that some people are born to rage.” The show follows Henry Rollins, a self-described former punk rocker with a nasty temper, as he interviews “outlaw bikers, mixed–martial arts fighters” and other tough guys…
Race, inevitably, reared its head. In 2007 Rod Lea and Geoffrey Chambers, researchers at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, reported that MAOA-L [alleles with “low expression” of MAOA are linked to higher rates of violence and Antisocial Personality Disorder] occurs in 56 percent of Maori men. “It is well recognized,” the researchers commented in The New Zealand Medical Journal, “that historically Maori were fearless warriors.” The researchers’ racial profiling was based on a study of 46 men, who needed to have only one Maori parent to be defined as Maori. Lea and Chambers reported that MAOA-L was less common among Caucasians (34 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) but even more common among Africans (59 percent) and Chinese (77 percent).
Baron-Cohen laments the same risk of “misapplications” as Hare, though neither complains when their genetic empathy theories are liberally applied to generalizations of modern non-ideological, “inexplicable” massacres—speaking of things which end badly. This brings up the question of whether these scientists are even conscious of what they’re potentially unleashing.
In The Science of Evil Baron-Cohen offers only a surface review of the theoretical underpinnings of the “zero empathy” conception, including the MAOA criminal “Warrior Gene” theory, and tries to downplay evidence that the gist of the overall body of work supporting the MAOA theory is unambiguously racialist. The fact that the Maori are the sole ethnic group Baron-Cohen mentions in association with the gene merely amplifies his squeamish awareness of the implications. For example, Reti et al. attempted to argue that the most “dangerous” form of the MAOA gene—a 2-repeat allele—correlates to violence without association with childhood abuse. Like Baron-Cohen’s book, the study is rich in egalitarian qualifiers but the real story being sold is tucked within the stats. The authors claim that 2-repeat or “low expression” alleles are nearly ten times more frequent among African American males—4.7% of whom, according to the authors, carry the most dangerous or “low expression” 2-repeat allele— than white males— 0.5% of whom, according to authors, carry the 2-repeat allele.
MAOA gene mutations are also being associated with gang membership—the “gang-gene.”
As a researcher who deeply influences public and institutional policy regarding autism and is actively setting up a theory franchise on criminality, if Baron-Cohen does not wish readers to assume he supports a racialist conception of violence or the enactment of policies based upon these conceptions, he might not have “forgotten” to cite arguments which run counter to his support sources, such as Zammit et al.’s critique of the MAOA hypothesis, Misconceptions about gene–environment interactions in psychiatry:
MAOA x maltreatment on antisocial or violent behaviour
An interaction between variation in the monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) and childhood maltreatment on antisocial and violent behaviour in males was reported,17 such that the effect of maltreatment was greater with the low-activity variants of MAOA compared to those with high activity. Again, this relationship was greater than multiplicative.
Of 11 studies that have since examined this in males (see online supplement), only 4 have examined whether this relationship was indeed greater than multiplicative. Of these, 3 found no evidence for such a relationship, while 1 found support present only when reporting a 1-tailed p value. Of 10 studies that examined additive models, 5 reported evidence of a greater than additive effect (2 of these in subgroup analyses only), 4 found no evidence and 1 found evidence of an interaction but in the opposite direction to that originally reported. In samples that also included females, 1 study examined a multiplicative relationship and found an interaction in the opposite direction. Of 6 studies that examined additive models, 2 found evidence of a greater than additive effect, 3 failed to do so and 1 found an effect in the opposite direction. Studies finding, or failing to find evidence of interaction were equable in size.
In the closing passage of his 1998 book, Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies, and Others in Germany, 1933-1945, Cologne geneticist Benno Muller-Hill leaves readers with a final warning that MAOA gene research would likely be where the “new eugenics” reared its head. For unknown reasons, when Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press republished Muller-Hill’s book in English, the original title— Tödliche Wissenschaft. Die Aussonderung von Juden, Zigeunern und Geisteskranken 1933-1945— was changed in a way that dulled the impact ofthe author’s essential premise: rather than “Others,” the final category in theoriginal German title, “Geisteskranken,” literally translates as “the insane,” aka, the mentally disabled. The omission is a bit stunning since Muller-Hill’s book is widely considered the first comprehensive chronicle of the mass extermination of the disabled under Nazi eugenic policies. But the editorial blunting of Muller-Hill’s intent to include mental disability in a litany of targets of eugenic racialism isn’t surprising considering that the current direction of commercial genetics grossly contradicts the deep-seated need of modern commercial science to characterize its campaigns as humanistic, enlightened and unbiased: continuing “weaponized” research against specifically racial groups often cut its teeth on weaponized research targeting the disabled and vice-versa.
Baron-Cohen is deeply alarmed when critics infer he’s a eugenicist policy shill. Given the implications of Baron-Cohen’s choice of supporting sources and disavowal of responsibility for any unfortunate outcomes arising from his theories, it’s fascinating that he feels the need to step clear of the intended targets by assuring his readers in the book’s dedication that, quite unlike the Maori (and, implicitly, other less favored ethnicities), violent psychopaths and individuals with autism, he is genetically bequeathed with empathy which he equates to a “pot of gold” inherited from his grandmother.
It’s become very fashionable for autism and mental health pundits to brandish a badge of “empathy” as if this affirmed elite genetic fitness for the role of institutional policy maker. In an interview for Gelf Magazine in 2009, vaccine defender, front group blogger, overnight autism expert and Panic Virus author Seth Mnookin, who relies on Baron-Cohen’s work in his support sources, waves his own “empathy” badge at the proverbial genetic ivory tower security scanner: “I find myself being incredibly empathetic; it’s very easy for me to see the world from someone’s perspective. I find myself bending over backwards in my head to see their side…”
It’s also fascinating how small this world of euphemistic autocrats becomes once the focus is narrowed to the supposed “bridge” between autism and violence genes: one of the lead authors of a phase of Dunedin Maori research cited by science writer Josh Horgan was Sir Michael Rutter— another “impaired empathy/autism” expert. This is the same Sir Michael Rutter who acted as star witness against Dr. Andrew Wakefield at the General Medical Council proceeding, as well as the same who balked at discussing the ethics of the use of spinal tap on autistic subjects— since Rutter himself had performed precisely this type of research years earlier. Rutter was co-author of the book, Sex Differences in Antisocial Behavior: Conduct Disorder, Deliquency and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study along with husband-wife researchers Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffit, whose work the MAOA “Warrior Gene” theory is pinioned on.
It’s curious, given the focus on empathy, that extreme poverty and rampant, enduring racial discrimination in New Zealand were not featured as identifiable contributors to what Dunedin study authors categorize as “mood disorder” or “depressive disease”, i.e., sadness, among the Maori of Dunedin—just as Baron-Cohen and institutional and commercial scientists refuse to correlate pharmaceuticals to modern epidemics.
The autism epidemic is useful as a fear pitch for a range of ideological and product campaigns because the condition itself and the shock value of visible prevalence blind the public with terror– but only as long as the terrifying numbers are not actually identified as “epidemic.” Instead the public are being told they’re simply seeing more cases because these individuals are no longer hidden in institutions in our perhaps excessively (it’s implied, given the supposed danger) empathic and magnanimous age. But if the public believes that autism can happen in any family—which a genuine rise implies— those whose families are not yet impacted are less likely to support coercive management of affected or dubiously “genetically related” populations on the chance they could be condemning members of their own family one day. In short, coercive approaches and demonization might be frustrated by a prevailing “there but for the Grace of God go I” perception.
As an officially sanctioned and protected sealant for weaponized genetics— one that cannot be peeled off, inspected or questioned—aligning any condition to autism can be used to designate certain groups of people as inherently dangerous, lacking in empathy, less worthy and therefore exploitable and disposable. Black and white, angels and devils, us and them—the all-purpose absolutes which have served every form of social coercion, political turf battle, preemptive war and expansionism from time immemorial. If history is any guide, the more the “autism sealant” is applied for these purposes, the more good research money will go after bad and the more violently the doctrine will be defended until it becomes a sacrosanct core of institutional ideology. Anyone who believes in separation of church and state should be seriously concerned.
There’s no way around it: in terms of industry and institutional science, autism is becoming the “mark of the devil” along with the classic frothing finger-pointers differentiating their own worthy credentials.
As an estimated three or more individuals with special needs are killed every week in US schools and institutions due to abusive practices; as the news reports more and more children with autism arrested in schools, brutalized by police, denied organ transplants, found face down in ponds and subjected to a lottery for services; and as disability services around the country are trimmed to the bone; as the US drops to #49 on the world infant mortality index; as 1 in 8 children of Somali immigrants in Minnesota are diagnosed with autism and the national rate soars beyond the official 1 in 88; and as toddlers are drugged with increasing frequency, the act of binding together every frightening human impulse and condition with the “autism sealant” also protects societal conscience: we can cut our losses because the bulk of human evil can be found rolled up in a few tidy gene sequences which science has become suddenly divinely adept at identifying. Baron-Cohen argues, “…rather than there being some runaway escalation of autism, we have year by year simply become better at detection.”
Since there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic, attempts to explain away the catastrophic rise in autism and a nearly parallel rise in violent insanity as due to increased recognition or diagnostic substitution seem like a genomic version of the End of Days, complete with genetically determined zero-empathy massacrists as a sort of collective Anti-Christ and the scientific Second Coming separating the genetically worthy wheat from the genetically unworthy chaff in a ramped up selection. The Enlightened Rapture has come at last.
Even the genetically founded “self-esteem” campaign promoted by some high functioning adult self-advocates with autism or “neurodiverse” falls into the same schema. By denying the existence of an epidemic or that the majority of those affected are not high functioning and often suffer early mortality, and by drafting dead celebrities like Einstein and Mozart to autism in order to portray the condition as a type of technologically proficient genetic master race that has always existed and is responsible for nearly all human innovation, neurodiverse are basically characterizing themselves as something akin to the Wise Virgins: the chosen who lead the Ascension to a progressive, techno-centric paradise, leaving behind the less fit among their own ranks. Oddly enough, in the Book of Revelations, the unfit are those deemed too “foolish” to power up their gadgets.
In real life, a self advocate member of the neurodiversity movement and panel member of the federal Inter-agency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) voted against a medical code for deadly wandering among children with more severe or debilitating forms of autism on the grounds that such a code might impinge on "self determination" and issued objections to autism being framed as a medical condition.
Currently there’s an ICD-9 code and "Silver Alert" only for adults with dementia, for whom wandering is considered a potential feature of the medical condition, though no medical code for parents to provide to schools, state programs or insurers to access services and resources for affected children who, though many may be on the severe end of the spectrum, frequently display Houdini-ish skills in breaching locked windows, doors and gated yards or may bolt so quickly from caretakers that they're able to wander into danger. Children with autism who wander currently don't qualify for Amber Alerts, though weekly reports of deaths by drowning and exposure have become seasonal norms in the US.
Although 90% of autism parents polled reported their affected children have wandered into harm’s way, the neurodiverse disdain the claim that the majority of individuals with autism are so impaired that they lack the self determination to prevent them from bolting onto a highway at night or into an icy lake. Furthermore, requisite data collection for an ICD-9 code would prove that the rate of wandering and wandering deaths among affected individuals is a very new phenomenon. But this statistical reality of autism clashes with the neurodiverse view of autism as simply a genetic "difference" that has always existed and is even, in adaptive genetic terms, superior in some ways. And so the "Wise Virgins" deny resources to the "foolish" and don't speak up when God/government denies their existence. But the neurodiverse view fails to grasp that the creation of genetic castes is the underpinning of any tribalist social order by which the disabled have always been marginalized and disposed of— cast into the lake, so to speak, where children with autism are too often found face-down and dead.
It’s more than a little ironic that the neurodiverse frequently pin their genetic defenses and denial of environmental cause on the work of commercial scientists like Baron-Cohen, Sir Michael Rutter and Michael Fitzgerald who, out of the other sides of their mouths, promote various versions of the zero empathy association. But if ignoring the suffering of the least fortunate were simply chalked up to more “proof” that individuals with autism lack empathy, it doesn’t seem to be much of a distinguishing feature since the same is typical in the field of autism research itself: it was just more “casting into the lake of fire” when commercial researchers fell on the “vasopressin gene” theory of ruthlessness and criminality and linked the concept to autism.
Environmental pituitary damage may very well be a feature of the array of physiological injuries involved in autism since a rash of research has linked autism to reduced oxytocin— no surprise since both oxytocin and vasopressin are released into the blood via the pituitary from the same neurons as a key mechanism of the central autonomic network. Whatever the cause, some individuals with autism may have abnormal vasopressin. Impaired vasopressin may be a biomarker for Alzheimer’s as well.
Being tested could potentially save lives among those with or without cognitive disability because impaired vasopressin—otherwise known as the antidiuretic hormone or ADH which is critical in preventing the body from squandering water from the kidneys when there’s a risk of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance—can lead to increased risk of serious illness, more extreme complications in autism-associated diseases like mastocytosis or death from hypernatremia, catabolic and hypovolemic stress. Detection and treatment of abnormal vasopressin would hardly be a cure-all for conditions with complex medical profiles like autism, but some believe it could partly explain incontinence in certain neurological syndromes, lowered seizure threshold, cardiac insufficiency and heat intolerance among other things. There’s an old, relatively safe drug to treat it. But because potential medical risks of low ADH were not included in the media fanfare over vasopressin “criminal gene” research, many might be afraid to test for the marker.
During the Second World War, on one side of the Russian Front lay absurd Nazi eugenic “nature” theories condemning the mentally and physically disabled as dangers to society and to the purity of the race; on the other side lurked Stalinist promotion of Lamarckian genetics—the idea that acquired personality traits (e.g., “bourgeois corruption”) can be passed on to offspring, adulterating the purity of society. As Pulitzer-winning journalist, political activist and former Harvard seminarian Chris Hedges stresses in When Atheism Becomes Religion: America’s New Fundamentalism, both “bad seed” views, like two sides of the same coin, were used to rationalize torture, grotesque human experimentation and the wiping out of entire families and ethnicities on the concept that all evil lay within recognizably tainted evolutionary strains of human beings.
The terms “totalitarian,” “fascist,” etc., are overused and worn thin as moral hostage takers in the current political climate, though as philosopher Tzvetan Todorov suggests, the era crystalized a still persisting danger of parareligious scientism. What appears to set 20th century totalitarianism apart from other historical instances of mass injustice is that the externalization of evil from “us” to “them” was justified in scientific-sounding language. Considering the choices left to those with autism and families of environmentally injured children in calling for support for challenges and health issues, and considering the estimated six-fold increase in early mortality among affected individuals by a number of causes, many of them preventable, the autism community as a whole are a bit like refugees trapped on a battle front— caught between deadly “scientific-sounding” ideology to the east and more deadly “scientific-sounding” ideology to the west—or left and right as the case may be. In viewing autism, the demonizing pseudoscience—the “fronts”— can be swapped and switched or sometimes combined according to convenience. And so a bastardized hybrid of Lamarckian and Mendelian genetics has come together in the recent theory that autism mothers are, as Bettelheim claimed, emotionally cold (“refrigerated”), but due to a defective “vasopressin gene” linked to sociopathic greed and violent psychopathology.
Disclosure of actual medical ramifications and causes of impaired vasopressin could get in the way of marketing “behavior control” drugs for designated conditions, many of which reduce the expression of vasopressin/ADH, effectively increasing risk of the above complications. Also mercury is known to impair vasopressin secretion from the pituitary—a fact which, if disclosed, could lead to another profit inhibitor: prevention. But more importantly, admitting to physiological injuries and medical complications in autism detracts from the purely genetic-psychiatric paradigm which is so crucial to marginalizing and targeting groups of people through the concept of “genetically programmed devils.” It’s only a matter of time before industry-sponsored teams of geneticists and social scientists attempt to link the “vasopressin gene” to other strategic foes or targets in order to justify exploiting their labor, taking their land or bombing them to Kingdom Come for oil or other resources.
The theories and choice of targets give away a great deal. Even the Manchurian candidate theory for mass shootings has an element of externalization in that it attributes evil conscious intent to all of its engineers. That doesn’t mean the Hoover era drug and brainwashing experiments didn’t happen or that they aren’t continuing in some form— or even that current “happy pills” aren’t potentially the mass marketed end result of those now declassified social control experiments. But what if the conscious intent of so many secondary agents pushing certain risky pharmaceuticals in our culture—from school nurses to family doctors to public health officials—is to “help”?
In Why Progressives Don’t Get Autism, Age of Autism author and Editor Dan Olmsted wrote,
Progressivism, the idea that government can and should intervene to improve the lives of its citizens, arose early in the last century in response to the Darwinian excesses of Industrial Revolution, laissez-faire capitalism – child labor, abject poverty in the elderly, untaxed corporate profits that went right back into the pockets of the richest. It peaked during the New Deal, then plummeted during Reagan – “Government is not the solution to the problem, government IS the problem,” he famously said.
While this political philosophy waxes and wanes, as it should, I would argue that the word has a wider meaning now – that our country, great as it is and has been, faces challenges and problems that can be addressed by doing something, by making progress, sometimes but not necessarily led or funded by government. So it’s not so much a left-right issue as one of the static status quo versus the impulse to improve on it.
The “conspiracy for good” also doesn’t mean more aggressive unconscious motives can’t underlie benevolent intentions or that good intentions exonerate action, but if we endow the majority of capitulators with anything other than a devious conscious intent to control for the purposes of exploitation and destruction as part of some vast conspiracy, that would make them too much like us. There are criminals in every institution and conspiracies exist, but these are always sold to the bulk of those carrying them out as necessary means to some beneficial end.
The point is that belief in the “bad seed” theory of genetic disorder or criminality articulates a universal human impulse to externalize and quarantine evil in order to feel assured of our complete separateness from it. The plea of many humanist philosophers is that only through recognizing the universality of the impulse and the rationalizations it hides under can it be impeded. If something can happen to anyone given various environmental conditions (such as upbringing or trauma or toxic assault), it’s no longer possible to displace the capacity for defect, “sin” and crime or to divert self-scrutiny. “Frau Koma” is really nothing other than a “lurid parable” for the externalization of evil.
Externalization of evil is one of the earmarks of fundamentalist fanaticism as much as more serious theology and scientific inquiry, if they have anything in common, are defined by self-scrutiny and humility in facing, as Hedges puts it, that “there are forces in the universe which will always lie beyond the capacity of the human mind.” He argues that while more deeply considered theology and evolutionary theory share a view of collective human nature as “fixed,” the ultimate mark of fundamentalism and the root of every utopian scheme that ever existed is the idea that the human race is “perfectible.” What would better sum up the pharmaceutical sales pitch other than the fanatical idea that we can drug or plan away everything that makes us human? And the first step on the way to the shining future has always been the identification of those “castes” which hold back human progress and upon whom all human weakness and evil are externalized.
This also isn’t to say that factors which trigger violent impulses and cause suffering can’t be addressed in what 20th Century philosopher Karl Raimund Popper regarded as “piecemeal social engineering” as opposed to “Utopian engineering,” which Popper equates to Plato’s conception for the perfectibility of the race, the precursor of eugenics. In The Open Society and Its Enemies: The Spell of Plato, Part 1, Popper warns about the “greater good” doctrine:
Before proceeding to criticize “Utopian” engineering in detail, I wish to outline another approach, namely that of piecemeal engineering. It is an approach which I think to be methologically sound. The politician who adopts this method may or may not have a blueprint of society before his mind. He may or may not hope that humanity will reach an ideal state, and achieve happiness and perfection on earth. But he will be aware that perfection, if at all attainable, is far distant, and that every generation of men, and also the living, have a claim; perhaps not so much to be made happy, for there are no institutional means of making man happy, but a claim not to be made unhappy, where it can be avoided. They have a claim to be given all possible help if they suffer. The piecemeal engineer will, accordingly, adopt the message of searching for, and fighting against, the greatest and most urgent evils of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good.
But don’t certain drugs and biotechnologies alleviate suffering? For some, not all. And, for some, certain treatments may cause irreversible damage, increased suffering, disability or death. The upshot of Popper’s discussion is that sacrificing the few for the “greatest ultimate good” is not justified in civil society, therefore whatever form of suffering-reduction is being proposed can’t be forced even if it’s offered as an option.
The controversy of parsing “lesser evils” in war will continue as long as there are wars, but social engineering is assumed to be a matter of domestic betterment—which probably explains how the prefix “war on” has been pasted to any forced domestic palliative campaign (war on drugs, war on disease, war on mental illness, etc.), not to mention questionable forms of foreign “humanitarian aid” in which the “greater good” rationale and the modified values of war are needed to pardon collateral human costs.
Informed choice is a different matter. People who take psychoactive drugs often like the effects. There are some conditions—life threatening seizures or intractable self-injury—which are so far presented with few other options and, unless the current model is changed, are unlikely to be provided with safer or more effective options. Thinking all human evil and all violent psychosis would disappear if these drugs were forever banned is a bit like saying the world would be perfect if only we could get rid of this damned utopianism. Drug induced violence would certainly be reduced if marketing were strictly limited, if firewalls were erected between regulatory agencies and industry and if consumers were stringently informed of risks and given wide access to non-psychopharmaceutical alternatives. But human beings have always had and always will have an attraction to mind altering substances and to try to legislate against it is to legislate morality, something which Todorov describes as one of the three central linchpins of totalitarianism. And it doesn’t work.
Prescribing doctors can’t make long term predictions over which individuals will go mad on drugs and they also can’t predict who won’t, though it’s become abundantly clear that the standard practice of seeing medicated patients twice or four times a year for fifteen minutes to renew prescriptions is a recipe for disaster. Money plays an obvious role in the practice. But as anthropologist Hugh Gusterson indicates in his study of atomic scientists, ascribing only the basest motives to a profession—greed, dominance, the drive to express potency— isn’t actually the worst that can be said about it because the view ignores the ideology and rationalizations underlying the euphemization of risks, romanticization of technology and exaggerated self-assurance that this technology can be controlled even in the face of repeat error and loss of life— the assumptions of utopian engineers.
Among the identifying factors which Popper uses to illustrate the difference between piecemeal and utopian social engineering are force, fraud and what Popper describes as the key element of fraud, the division of castes or “racialism.” All are in operation in the pharmaceutical paradigm where authorities are somehow endowed with the power to ensure that collateral is written off as well as denied.
According to Popper, racialism is intrinsic to a social form of “historicism”— the idea that history is essentially controlled by set laws of “history and evolution…whose discovery would enable us to prophesy the destiny of man.” “Historicism”—the pursuit of the secret scientific formula which would supposedly endow the few with the tools to direct the fate of all— is based on a genealogical caste system separating the inherently inferior from the inherently superior, with the latter supposedly (divinely or through superior evolution) “chosen” to decide which is which and to lead humanity to perfection and transcendence.
Popper proposes that racialism—a key part of the “organic theory of the state”— is at the root of what Plato rationalized as the “noble lie” imbuing the propaganda and fraud necessary to sell utopian schemes in service of power:
Concerning the use of lies and deceit, Plato urges that these are “useful only as medicine”, but the ruler of the state, Plato insists, must not behave like those “ordinary doctors” who have not the courage to administer strong medicine. The philosopher king…must be determined to administer “a great many lies and deceptions”—for the benefit of the ruled, Plato hastens to add. Which means, as we already know, and as we may learn here again from Plato’s reference to medicine, for the benefit of the state. What kind of lies has Plato in mind when he exhorts his rulers to use strong medicine? Crossman rightly emphasizes that Plato means “Propaganda, the technique of controlling…the bulk of the ruled majority”…”by means of both persuasion and force.”
Like beauty pageant contestants, everyone hopes for world peace and a shining future for humanity. But when, as always happens with utopian schemes, the promise of fantastic transformation, for which the public were persuaded to trade rights and freedoms, begins to crumble under abuse of power and the sheer emptiness of claims, force kicks in. As Orwell elaborated, “All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed, they must rely exclusively on force.”
In marketing certain pharmaceutical drugs and technologies, persuasion often is fraud. In 2005, a research team directed by Dr. John Ioannidis of the Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, demonstrated that there’s less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper will be true. A Cochrane Collaboration analysis discovered that industry funded studies are reviewed more favorably by medical journals even when the studies were of poor quality (cited by Mercola). Jon Jureidini, head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, found corruption and fraud running through every stage of bringing forth blockbuster drugs, from the peer review process to marketing. As for the “genetic underpinnings” of disease and psychiatric disorders, a large number of findings turn out to be false. But rather than being subject to retractions, findings are often recycled or researchers tweak data until they achieve their desired results. In a special report for The Guardian entitled, Genetic ‘Breakthroughs’ in Medicine Are Often Nothing of the Sort , psychologist Marcus Munafò and geneticist Jonathan Flint write:
In the years following media coverage of discoveries of a gene for depression, for intelligence, and so on, journals less prestigious than Science or Nature often publish reports that contradict the original claim, some even saying that the findings are quite compatible with chance.
…so many high-profile findings can be explained by chance alone that one genetic epidemiologist, John Ioannidis, has taken on the task of explaining, "Why most published research findings are false"4. Some of the reasons are due to the misuse of statistics and poor study design, but what Ioannidis and others now looking at this problem also point to are the social and political factors. These contribute to his claim that:
"The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true. The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true."
Even as the American Psychiatric Association protests that they cannot be held responsible for a patient’s actions because they cannot predict those actions, organized psychiatry advises state and federal legislature in forming laws regarding use of force in mental health policy. Organized psychiatry also guides jurisprudence on public safety and death penalty cases, often on the basis of deeply flawed genetic research or, as The Guardian flatly stated, perjury. They are policy makers endowed with the awesome power to pull the strings of life and death. To quote Popper again,
What a monument of human smallness is this idea of the philosopher king. What a contrast between it and the simplicity of humaneness of Socrates, who warned the statesmen against the danger of being dazzled by his own power, excellence, and wisdom, and who tried to teach him what matters most — that we are all frail human beings. What a decline from this world of irony and reason and truthfulness down to Plato’s kingdom of the sage whose magical powers raise him high above ordinary men; although not quite high enough to forgo the use of lies, or to neglect the sorry trade of every shaman — the selling of spells, of breeding spells, in exchange for power over his fellow-men.
Fundamentalism expresses this shamanism through the promise of paradise; and scientism sells the idea through a “vulgarization” of Darwin’s theory in service to a Platonic style of racialism: the laughable concept that select human beings are destined to teleologically evolve—i.e., evolve for the better. What’s more, scientism demands the customary recognition of a wise caste among scientists who can accelerate this evolution through the wonders of modern chemistry and social engineering in order to make our species smarter, more rational, happier, healthier, less violent—and, as those positioning themselves as the evolutionary vanguard claim of themselves, “incredibly empathetic.” Never mind the predictable body count of this particular social model.
“Empathy” has become the trendy tagline for supposed degree of evolution from ape aggression or transcendence from “original sin” depending on whether the rationalization is framed as scientific or religious. But in Efficiency, Sustainability, and Justice to Future Generations (p. 68), Klaus Mathis and Fabian Diriwachter write:
The ability to put oneself in other people’s position is generally evaluated as a positive quality. This circumstance must not blind us to the fact that empathy can be utilized for very different purposes. An evolutionary benefit of empathy is thought to be that of understanding competitors in order to eliminate them more efficiently. Someone with empathy can understand their counterpart more easily and therefore engage more effectively with their desires and interests. But it is also empathy that helps the sadist to find out how to torture his victim with particular cruelty.
One could argue that enjoyment of pornography requires a type of empathy: after all, the viewer is not actually participating in the depicted scene yet somehow identifies with the excitement they imagine the participants experience—which would include those who are titillated by depictions of cruelty and sadism. In The Office and Philosophy: Scenes from the Unexamined Life, Jeremy Wisnewski argues,
In everyday language, people tend not to discriminate between the kinds of empathy. But philosophy is about being careful with words so that we do not confuse our concepts and get misled about our conclusions. For example, one would normally say that a psychopath does not have empathy. This is somewhat misleading, since a psychopath who lacked cognitive empathy would be very frustrated. After all, if his goal were to harm or torture people, then he would not know whether or not he was doing it right! It would seem then, that if he lacked anything it would be affective empathy—he doesn’t truly feel the pain he is causing.
Simon Baron-Cohen, in his review of We Need to Talk About Kevin, concedes that "cognitive empathy" or the ability to guess what someone is thinking or feeling, differs from “affective empathy"— the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. The capacity for cognitive empathy in the absence of affective empathy would not rule out sadism and psychopathology in other words. But even affective empathy, like any human faculty, is morally ambiguous, merely a color in a paint box: what defines it is what picture is painted with it as law professor Lynne Henderson suggests in Legality and Empathy:
The reality of empathy is that we are more likely to empathize with people similar to ourselves, and that such empathic understanding may be so automatic that it goes unnoticed: elites will empathize with the experience of elites, men empathize with men, women empathize with women, whites with whites. I would call this ‘unreflective’ empathy.
And as empathy becomes a mark of the “chosen” and lack of it a diagnostic criterion of the damned, what picture does it paint? An unreflective division of castes, a replacement for fundamentalist interpretations of “sin” and “sinlessness” and a manner of casting off all sins onto designated societal scapegoats.
The cult of science does this by projecting all “primitive” destructiveness stemming from various genetic deficits—original sins— to a less- or defectively-evolved grade of human. This in itself is not a “sin” of course because investigators have “bent over backwards” to “understand” the targets.
In the same way that tribal cultures engage in “totem meal” rites of projecting all the sins of tribe members onto a sacrificial animal, when commercial science pundits claim to be “incredibly empathetic” while participating in crusades against consumer freedom, what they really mean is something closer to a tribal ritual of identification— where the “chosen” dance around in the scapegoat’s skin a bit after cutting its throat.
In this sense, “empathy” has become the semantic stand-in for purity because “sin,” like the idea of swinging from a prehensile tail, has disappeared from the repertoire of the self-designated “rationalist” class.
Hedges defines sin as “a stark acknowledgment that we can never be omnipotent, that we are bound and limited by human flaws and self-interest. The concept of sin is a check on the utopian dream of a perfect world.” In Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, a character sums up the fatal flaw of his fictional father, Felix Hoenikker, the novel’s Oppenheimer-like “Father of the Atom Bomb” and one of the “smartest scientists on Earth”:
There are lots of good anecdotes about the bomb and Father … For instance, do you know the story about Father on the day they first tested a bomb out at Alamagordo? After the things went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, ‘Science has now known sin.’ And do you know what Father said? He said, ‘What is sin?’
Utopian cults baptize an immaculate earthly elite who justify force as the means to achieve a progressive paradise and the sacrifice or weeding out of the inferior for the good of the race. The elite, according to the cult of science, are the more “purely rational,” supposedly freer of superstition, irrationality and magical thinking and somehow less bound by human flaws, self-interest and selfishness, therefore more effectively empathic. The irony of the current scientific cult, like many religious cults, is that it ultimately rationalizes a preemptive withdrawal of mercy, “empathy” and basic civil rights from those classes of people who are diagnostically undeserving of self-determination because they’re deemed to intrinsically lack empathy or, in a wider societal sense, collectively lacking in rational cognitive processing—another “deadly sin” on the list of diagnostic vices— and therefore selfishly obstructive of the march to progress and the achievement of the greatest ultimate good for mankind.
In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of industry-supported “weaponized sociology” studies and subsequent media reports arguing that growing consumer dissidence against certain technological innovations like genetically modified crops, vaccines and psychiatric drugs stems from an irrational health belief model and that, furthermore, this tendency to cult-like, short-sighted superstitious irrationality may be genetic.
Both “Skeptic” icon Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, and Richard Brodie, former technical assistant to Bill Gates and author of Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme, have advocated engineering evolution by manipulating social consciousness—aka, “memetic engineering”— and thus guiding natural selection and evolution itself to eradicate irrationality and “false belief” from the species. Malcolm Gladwell has been accused of lifting the "meme" conception for his "epidemic" theory of contagious ideas and beliefs. But Gladwell, possibly more of an opportunist than ideologue, shies slightly away from Dawkins' proposal that thought and belief not only impact the evolution of ideas but may actually impact evolution itself. As outrageous as it sounds, commercial science and the media are increasingly filled with true believers in the creed.
Imagine the horror of the Anti-Defamation League when on January 9th, 2009, journalist Bill Moyers presented an argument about violence in Gaza entitled, Bill Moyers Reflects on Middle East Violence (scroll to 2:50).
What we are seeing in Gaza is the latest battle in the oldest family quarrel on record. Open your Bible: the sons of the patriarch Abraham become Arab and Jew. Go to the Book of Deuteronomy. When the ancient Israelites entered Canaan their leaders urged violence against its inhabitants. The very Moses who had brought down the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” now proclaimed, “You must destroy completely all the places where the nations have served their gods. You must tear down their altars, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred poles, set fire to the carved images of their gods, and wipe out their name from that place…So God-soaked violence became genetically coded.
Wherever one stands on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and there are many Israelis and Palestinians who hope for an end to violence—Moyers' summary remark was ethically craven, aside from having no basis in science, history or anthropology. Tzvetan Todorov makes the simple point that more human beings were killed in the name of science and twisted concepts of genetics in the twentieth century than died in human conflict or anthropogenic disasters in previous recorded history. Our ape ancestors, according to primatologist Richard Wrangham, committed routine lethal raids, cannibalism, rape, battering and infanticide. Apes are not generally believed to be religious. The fact that so many human lives have been squandered in religious conflicts throughout history simply makes the question of religion moot to the discussion. The faculty of belief—belief in anything— is just another color in the paint box. It can paint pictures of courage and tolerance or arrogance and extremism.
Moyers conducted a reverent interview with Richard Dawkins in 2004 in which Dawkins does his usual fish-in-a-barrel routine by highlighting the more extreme and destructive fanatical religious and paranormal views in order to comparatively prop up his own brand of “rationalism,” though Moyers avoids questioning Dawkins over the no less absurd idea of memetic engineering, a concept which Moyers later invokes with the “God-soaked” remark.
The picture that emerges from the utopian palette never seems to change. For all its enlightened claims, the concept of memetic engineering doesn’t differ much from ancient alchemy. Along with their faith that they would eventually be capable of transmuting lead into gold, alchemists sought to uncover an Elixir of Life—a magic bullet to end all suffering, disease and death—and divined that the human species could be permanently delivered from its imperfect state through thought and belief. Inherent to the magical side of ancient alchemy, like in its modern practice in India, is the caste system.
Dawkins and other supporters of memetic evolution have watched as their theories “evolve” into literal application: the idea that thought and belief alter DNA—Lamarckian genetics reincarnated. This has been taken to such fanatical heights that Dawkins’ Skeptic comrade Sam Harris has called for the total annihilation of Islamic culture on the idea that believers are inherently tainted with violent ideology. Like Baron-Cohen’s cries of kinder-gentler intent in response to protests that his push for prenatal autism screening could bring about mass abortions, many members of the Skeptic front movement recently reacted to public criticism by momentarily distancing themselves from Harris’s more concrete interpretation of memetic evolution (while still defending its core assumptions). From Chesterton’s “Eugenicist as Euphemist”:
Most Eugenicists are Euphemists. I mean merely that short words startle them, while long words sooth them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, however obviously they mean the same thing. Say to them “The persuasive and even coercive powers of the citizen should enable him to make sure that the burden of longevity in the previous generation does not become disproportionate and intolerable, especially to the females”; say this to them and they will sway slightly to and fro like babies sent to sleep in cradles. Say to them “Murder your mother,” and they sit up quite suddenly. Yet the two sentences, in cold logic, are exactly the same.
Dawkins pulls slightly short of blunt about his ideological aims: “We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.” But Harris doesn’t euphemize at all: “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing in them.” He states that “honest people” should “destroy bad ideas” (and apparently their “bad” human vectors) where they find them.
Dawkins and his Skeptic/radical atheist followers demonstrate that there’s no better cover for a secular form of fundamentalist historicism than externalizing and generalizing the same fanatical paradigm solely to groups which self-identify as non-secular—extremist members of which have frequently also been guilty of externalizing all evil to nonbelievers. Both extremes fail to account for historical acts of valor and selflessness committed by the ideological opposition, or when mass atrocities and heinous deeds were performed under their own banner. It doesn’t take a PhD to recognize that the degree to which any religious or secular ideology purports more than symbolic infallibility in select (honest) human beings—at least sufficient sinlessness to condemn others without rigorous due process— is also the degree to which it’s cult-like.
The tribal caste conceit is hard to escape—it exists to some extent in every human institution and is reflected in commonplace impulses like celebrity worship. In Escape from Evil, anthropologist Ernest Becker chides humanity for the way our hearts palpitate at the sight of an admired idol. How do we know we’re each endowed with “dark” as well as “light”? Aside from the simple fact of being human, Becker indicates that our primitive humanity can be measured by those worshipful palpitations. Viewing some human beings as virtually transcendent gives hope and can fuel aspirations. And it’s entertaining. But the dark side of the same impulse is the usual division of castes and dangerous reverence for authority. As Hedges argues, Christ’s “My kingdom is not of this world” can be taken as an allegorical warning that perfection cannot be found in any human institution. When the idea is projected into a hereafter or, for secular purposes, to a far off goal of social engineering as Popper describes, it fulfills a common human need for hope in addressing social ills and human suffering. But all cults promise previews—transcendence in the here and now and naturally an elite which will decide who is or is not in “the book of life.”
For its part, commercial science has anointed a higher order endowed with special wisdom in gauging by DNA who is “Round-Up Ready” enough to join the worthy on the march to a shining future and who shall be cursed to the fire of disability, disease, dangerous insanity and extinction.
Secular or not, scientific fanaticism is still a form of faith, but one which, like any cult, creates angels and devils in earthly form. Why continue the pretense that this isn’t an alternative religion with its own shamans, gods, devils and divine messengers? Hence the ultimate cheap gimmick—the Frau Koma avatar—on which to project all the pseudo-rationalist absolutes.
The argument isn’t new. As mid-twentieth century philosopher and originator of the “Serenity Prayer” Reinhold Niebuhr warns in The Irony of American History and in The Children of Darkness and the Children of Light, the creation of absolutes and the externalization of evil are the means by which we inadvertently take on the evil attributes we project onto ideological foes. He warns that this will happen when the state and science attempt to combine the human need for transcendence by offering a paradise on earth, which invariably leads to the use of power without scruples under an illusion that a particular “conception of an unambiguously ideal end” justifies such abuse: “As politics deals with the proximate ends of life, and religion deals with ultimate ones, it is always a source of illusion when the one is invested with the other…This unification is spurious and dangerous; but this in fact adds to, rather than detracts from, its striking power. Religion and science are combined in such a way that the modern cult of science is brought completely into the service of an existential faith.”
In his book on technological and progressive fanaticism, When Atheism Becomes Religion, Hedges reiterates Niebuhr’s warning for modern application: “Those who, in the name of science, claim that we can overcome our imperfect human nature create a belief system that functions like religion. It gives meaning. It gives purpose and hope. But it is a myth. It is not true. And there is nothing, when you cut through their scientific jargon, to support their absurd propositions.”
Vonnegut asks, “See the cat? See the cradle?”
Todorov, also cited by Hedges, defines scientism—the “religion” of science— as the campaign to create a paradise on earth by “curing humanity of its criminal instincts” and warns further that scientism is an intrinsic element of totalitarian doctrine: “At a particular point in history, however, a conjunction occurred bringing together several preexisting strands: revolutionary ardor, implying the use of force; the millenarian dream of building an earthly paradise here and now; and the pseudoscientific doctrine asserting that complete knowledge of the human species was about to become available. The moment of this meeting marks the birth of totalitarian ideology.”
Members of the new “rationalist” front who issue organized defenses of commercial genetics and pharmaceutical policies are fond of quoting Karl Popper’s scientific theories, though they tend to steer clear of his social hypotheses because Popper is unequivocal on the irrelevance of whether certain utopian theories are framed as mystical or scientific: in either case, any attempts to apply these types of theories to society are, as Popper warns, “veiled forms of propaganda to return to tribalism.”
When rationalized as a scientific crusade for the betterment of humanity, mystical, caste-dependent tribalism—with its scapegoating rites and totem meals to displace evil and achieve the purity of the tribe— is simply a veiled bid for totalitarianism. In this sense, there’s nothing more politically ominous than the hunt to identify the born killer.
Much more substantial than the imagined genetic overlap between conditions like autism and mass murdering psychosis is the similarity between modern drug-fueled massacrists and their creators: what’s shared by those in the throes of violent side effects and those whose pseudoscientific doctrine led to the forceful marketing of harmful pharmaceutical products is a sort of “avenging angel” or avatar delusion leading some to expedite a virtual “day of reckoning.” Elements of this are reflected in the totalitarian or fundamentalist symbol-fragments that so many of the chemically-driven mass killers may suddenly identify with. Both creator and creation are convinced they are “fixing” the world by taking power over the unworthy, no matter what scale is used to judge other human beings and find them wanting. Both imagine themselves to possess a supernatural ability to identify the inherently “bad strains” who can no longer be reached by human means. Both ultimately move towards the use of force— one through fraud and mandated treatment, the other with bullets.
Erich Fromm wrote in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, “As long as one believes that the evil man wears horns, one will not discover an evil man.” One will also fail to see any potential for evil in the mirror. The similar mentality between purveyors of modern pharmaceutical “progress” and those driven mad by it might not be simply poetic accident to the extent that those creating, profiting by, prescribing and forcing certain treatments in the guise of “helping” would naturally be blind to side effects representing something in themselves they wished to deny.
Holocaust survivor and novelist Primo Levi warns of what he called the “Manichean” view that human beings can be divided into absolutes of pure good or pure evil. Levi protested any blurring of the line between perpetrators and victims as a “precious service rendered (intentionally or not) to the negators of truth.” “I do not know,” he wrote, “and it does not much interest me to know, whether in my depths there lurks a murderer, but I do know that I was a guiltless victim and I was not a murderer.” But Levi also stresses that “Nobody can know for how long and under what trials his soul can resist before yielding or breaking,” and “every one of us can potentially turn into monsters.”
Levi’s point is potentiality, not actuality. Not everyone will yield to destructive impulses but denial of universal monster-potential seems to be central to genetic fundamentalism: those pushing for forced treatment instead prefer to quarantine the roots of violence to a genetically defective caste rather than recognizing that their technology had merely unmasked and unleashed something which exists as a capacity in themselves along with everyone else, though it might otherwise not be expressed. So just as many modern pharmaceuticals may, in the extreme, strip the mind of more sophisticated social inhibitions, destroy the faculty of love and amplify a capacity for violence which is at the root of our species— the parallels of “original sin” according to western theology and “ape aggression” according to Darwinism—medication madness may be the ultimate expression of the mentality of its inventors: the externalization of evil and the conceit of God-like status in justifying the performance of the ultimate triage or Last Judgment.
If modern drug-fueled killers expose the messianic, “millenarian” core of scientific overreach, it’s not surprising: the primitive parts of our brains seem geared to a simplistic view of good and evil, worthy or unworthy, so that any ideology or “science” based in this tendency can’t claim to be enlightened or humane. Like any human drive run amok, it’s simply naked tribalism dressed in rationality. But this is precisely why it sells and why “Frau Koma” will be resurrected again and again whenever we deny by any means that every one of us, regardless of status, carries the “gene” for this potential and there is no cure.
Adriana Gamondes is a contributing editor to Age of Autism and a Facebook page administrator. She and her husband commute between Massachusetts and Florida and are the proud parents of recovering twins.
Disclaimer: Withdrawal from psychotropic drugs can often be more dangerous than continuing on a medication. It is important to withdraw extremely slowly from these drugs under the supervision of a qualified specialist. Withdrawal symptoms are sometimes more severe than the original symptoms or problems.