Strange Brouhaha

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Here We Go Again

Y'know, it's not (exactly) that I disbelieve her. Psychologist Martha Stout says that there are many many many more sociopaths than we ever imagined. They walk among us, their charming eyes hiding the reptilian coldness that they will only reveal when they have us in their power. Quieter brothers to the serial killers, they will humiliate us at work, twist our minds, and laugh at our displays of empathy and conscience. And there are so! Many! More of them! Than we ever imagined! Aaaaa!!!!

Excuse me, but this is just the latest in a very long list of bugaboos in my lifetime. In approximate order:

There are so many more people with ADD/ADHD than we ever imagined!

There are so many more people with depression than we ever imagined!

There are so many more cases of physical/emotional/sexual abuse than we ever imagined!

(Even) There are so many more gay people than we ever imagined! (One in ten has become accepted wisdom, but was not what people thought for most of the century.)

Our society perceives a syndrome--hyperactivity, depression, fabulousness, sociopathy--and suddenly it's everywhere. Notice that these are all relatively squishy, vague categories that depend largely on self-reporting. Notice also that we are basically ALONE IN THE WORLD on all of these things. ADD/ADHD, for example, is an almost exclusively American phenomenon; NOBODY else medicates their kids the way we do.

In other words: it's still 16-whatever. We're still in Salem. And we're still...looking...for witches.


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