Monday, January 9, 2017

Michael A. Cohen, dumb hack

A recent article in the Boston Globe is just beyond amazing, for its combined arrogance and naïveté.

Dylan Roof, the murderer of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, is about to be sentenced to death. The journalist is obviously writing from an anti-death-penalty perspective, which is fine with me, I'm neither pro- nor anti-death penalty, in any general way...

But the real point author Michael A. Cohen wants to make is apparently more about mental illness and crime: "(T)here is perhaps no better example of the inherent flaws in the death penalty -- and the problematic way that the criminal justice system deals with mental illness -- than this case." Dylan Roof supposedly has "a broken brain", for which phrase Cohen cites celebrity TV psychologist Dr. Xavier Amador.

Dr. Amador (at least as Cohen quotes him) quite confidently diagnoses Dylan Roof with schizophrenia. Never mind that Amador has never examined Roof. Never mind that Roof apparently experiences no hallucinations, and he demonstrates no disorganized speech and no grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior. The only "delusions" that can be ascribed to Roof are his racist beliefs. Amador says that Roof shows flat affect and is unable to express emotions. But how does he know that, just from the media about the trial?

Even referring to the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia in DSM-5 as if it were valid and reliable (which is a real stretch or fantasy), we should notice that Dr. Amador's "diagnosis" of Dylan Roof is pure speculation. But Amador is a TV psych. He makes his living largely by entertaining people, maybe not so much by effectively treating them.

Why would a journalist of Mr. Cohen's stature get so serious about repeating the glib psychobabble and speculation? Cohen seems to believe that Amador is saying something substantial, something that can be analyzed for significant implications about society and justice, etc. But it's pretty obvious to anyone who can read, it's all nonsense.

Something about motive here seems inexplicable....

Well... people hate to look at death, don't they? They fear death, they fear insanity, and they fear evil. Whenever they can, they pretend that these things don't exist, or at least that they're far away. Mental illness, schizophrenia and Dr. Xavier Amador are merely social fashion, to help with the pretense.

And I'm sorry, but Michael A. Cohen is a dumb hack when he writes an article like this.

Judges and lawyers appreciate the nature of "mental illness" better than psychiatrists: at least they occasionally admit they have no idea what causes people to be evil or how to cure them.

All of those "great strides (that) have been made in understanding these illnesses within the public health community" enabled no prediction and no protection against Dylan Roof's bullets, and they offer no solution and no reassurance, whatsoever, for the future.

Those "great strides" are trips and stumbles in the dark, by idiots preyed upon by charlatans. There is no scientific knowledge here, only pretense and fear.

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