healthy skepticism

http://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig10/szasz2.1.1.html

http://ideas.time.com/2013/12/14/psychologist-affluenza-is-junk-science/

A blind world is dangerous, but isn’t also an overly cynical world? A healthy world needs to have enough leeway for change, as well as a people wary of the consequences. A blind, oblivious population is easy to manipulate and can enable dangerous, usually groupthink, actions. To have an accountable nation, we need a thinking and somewhat skeptical population, people encouraged to question and keep having questions. Sadly, this is something that America critically lacks despite having a leading education system.  However, there is a fine line between inspiring thinking and encouraging pure skepticism. Skepticism, though necessary at times, can conversely hinder understanding, acceptance, and progress. It can be blinding in its own way by limiting people to only the downsides and making them unwilling or unaccepting to change. Combined with an openness to change though, skepticism and critical thinking can definitely be useful tools in keeping the nation accountable and on the road to progress. This applies not only when criticizing pop psychology and the newly established “affluenza,” but also to other religious, political, economic, and envioronmental aspects.

Contrary to what Szasz believes, there definitely are legitimate disorders that seriously hinder or oppress people, but he makes valid criticisms against the motivations and inhumane practices of insititutional psychiatry. He’s not entirely accountable in the article, but he expresses a passion for human liberty and rightfully raises questions about civil commitment and the insanity defense. This segues into the controversial verdict of Ethan Couch, a wealthy teenager in Texas who, despite conviction for manslaughter on four accounts, was let off lightly on the grounds that he suffered from a disease called “affluenza.” Instead of being jailed or worse as he normally should, Couch was sentenced to ten years’ probation in a “lock-down rehabilitation facility” where his treatment plan consists of horseback riding, massage, and swimming. His case has created an uproar, causing many to point out classism and the double standard in the American legal system. Some have sarcastically suggested that under the same logic, thousands of inmates should be released on the grounds of “povertenza.” Though Couch’s case is more extreme, it supports Szasz’ concerns on the insanity defense being used to excuse responsibilities. While there is ultimately no perfect answer when it comes to policymaking, it would be wise for the American population to maintain a healthy, skeptical attitude to the information and lack of information around them.

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