Quickly revisiting the myth idea from yesterday, I don’t consider myths necessarily false. They are explanations of events. Szasz insisted that symptomology should reflect cause, but I don’t think this is always true in medicine, let alone the study of the mind.
Cancer can show up in many parts of the body. It can be caused by various insults to the cell copying system. Some genetic causes involve weaknesses in error correcting mechanisms. Other genetic causes may increase load on copy correction. Many things we do or which happen to us can either increase copying activity or strain error correction.
Many of Szasz’s criticisms of psychiatry revolve around injustices propogated in the past. We could compare these to the practice of delivering babies in hospitals. There have been many instances where the medicalization of birth harmed a lot of people. But I believe that the scientific method is at work in trying to improve things in the long run, and so I’ve had my children in hospitals. Szasz seems to feel there is some kind of original sin that runs through psychiatry, that cannot be overlooked. I know people who believe medical birth practices are stained by paternalism that makes injustice inevitable.
But getting back the the problem of how to explain and describe mental (psychiatric?) disorders, it’s pretty frustrating. Is ASD really different from OCD, and OCD from anxiety, as to cause? Does being female mean I have subclinical manifestations of ASD, but instead PMDD? Is it worth getting into seasonal patterns? And how much of this would have happened if my first child hadn’t died, etc. etc? The relative suckitude of my childhood is an organic result of being raised by the people who gave me these genes. I actually think it’s amazing things weren’t a lot worse, due in part to the resources some of these genes bring with them.
Here’s a strange analogy. How could a defect like failure to synthesize Vitamin C be selected for? Well, Vitamin C is made from monosaccharides. If you aren’t turning your food into Vitamin C, you don’t have to spend as much of your time scavenging for food. Some animals spend 80% of their time eating. If you don’t have to do that, you can spend time forming social groups, outthinking the animals that have to eat all the time, and if your genes have the right kind of instability, your kind could develop a big, fat brain that uses 30% of your glucose at rest. Wikipedia says bats also don’t synthesize Vitamin C. I’d argue that allows them to have the energy to fly. Guinea Pigs and Capybaras have exploited it to be some of the largest of their kind.