The old joke, “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”, brings us to the present observations. [Answer: Just one, but the light has to really want to change.]
It is currently common for the main-stream news media to carry stories about well-known people who are being castigated for something inappropriate they may have said or tweeted many years ago. Often these famous people are apologizing for some past insensitivity. The conflict the media enjoys promoting appears to be between those who say people cannot change, and those who say people can change.
We wondered where or how this conflict may have originated, since there is a very long history behind this conflict. We’re sure we could write a whole book about this, so we’re just going to touch on a few interesting aspects.
We think there is no hope for humanity and society unless one can change for the better, and many methods have been developed to address such changes. But when a person says they have changed for the better, and they no longer endorse some prior unfavorable position or opinion, there can be an enormous backflash of mistrust from those who cry foul about such a change.
There must be some basic lack of confidence or doubt in one’s ability to change for the better. We think this stems from psychobabble originating from psychiatry and psychology.
As an example, there is a persistent theme in psychology and psychiatry that there is no evidence that intelligence can increase after cognitive training, education, or any other treatment.
“Scholarly” articles abound about intelligence and IQ (Intelligence Quotient), but the reality is quite simple. Intelligence, which is often confused with IQ, is actually the ability to recognize differences, similarities and identities. IQ is a relative measure of so-called “mental age” compared to others, and has been abused and exploited ever since the term was coined in 1912. Today there are many different IQ tests, since there are so many theories and disagreements about exactly what intelligence is.
One crackpot theory comes from Lecture 36 of the Teaching Company course, Understanding the Brain, from neuroscientist and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine professor Jeanette Norden, Ph.D., who says “Short of having massive brain damage, what we call IQ doesn’t change.” This is the misanthropic psychiatric point of view which makes the ridiculous claim that no change is possible.
In fact, one third of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) patients indeed experience such massive brain damage, and many suffer a steep drop in IQ. Before-and-after IQ testing of persons given ECT typically show a loss of 20 to 40 points.
Unfortunately, IQ has been used by psychiatrists and psychologists as justification to suppress and harm entire populations. For example, eugenicist Paul Popenoe and psychologist Lewis Terman used biased IQ tests to belittle non-white races.
Psychiatrists developed the racial purity ideology used by Hitler which lead to the Nazi euthanasia program and, later, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. No wonder there is such an aversion to the true data about intelligence, IQ, and one’s ability to change — these have been used by psychiatry and psychology to commit eugenics atrocities.
The psychiatric industry also has a history of deliberately reducing their patients’ intelligence, evidenced by this 1942 quote from psychiatrist Abraham Myerson: “The reduction of intelligence is an important factor in the curative process. … The fact is that some of the very best cures that one gets are in those individuals whom one reduces almost to amentia [feeble-mindedness].”
Psychiatry has enshrined the difficulties of change in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), with seven disorders under the category of Adjustment Disorder, which are a group of behavioral, emotional and/or physical symptoms that can occur after going through a stressful life event, indicating one is having a hard time coping with change. By emphasizing change as a disorder, they have given change a bad name.
So when someone apologizes for having said something stupid in the past, and says they now see the error of their ways, why not give them a break and take it on face value? Let’s acknowledge that people can indeed change for the better, in spite of the claims of psychiatry and psychology that “they know best!”