Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Double Bind, Liberal Chicks, and Holden Caulfield

The Liberal Chicks inspire me to recollect issues of the 'double bind.' This is noted in a medical students first textbook in psychiatry, The Person. 'The child's trust in verbal communication depends on whether the words of the person who are essential to him help solve problems or confuse... Difficulty can arise when parents' words contradict their nonverbal signals, as, for example, when the mother's words of affection are accompanied by irritable and hostile handling... The value of words is also negated when erroneous solutions are habitually imposed, as when the child who cries because he wants attention is told he is hungry and is fed... Persistent denial of the correctness of the child's perceptions and understanding of what transpires about him or her can have a particularly malignant influence in promoting distrust of language and fostering distortions of meanings. The child is repeatedly placed in a "bind" because the obvious is negated, and he is threatened with loss of approval or love if he does not see things the way his parents need to have him or her see them. A mother keeps telling a little boy that he must love his Father as she does, that Father is very good to them; but Father comes home drunk, beats his wife and gives his son a whack.'

The vignettes of The Liberal Chicks are dissections in serious and humorous veins of what is presented as a true identity complicated by subsequent actions which 'bind' the observer who is left to seem to be expected to respond to the original (true) identity but faced now with really a different one.

Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye found himself overwhelmed in a similar situation. Psychoanalytically, he was unable to accept the flags of convenience that people flew under. He took an aspect of their 'good' presentation as a given identity and was overwhelmed when he 'bound' to that and was sheared, as it were, by finding in them a different reality. Thus, hypothetically, he was overwhelmed by the struggle over childhood double binds being too much the template for present relationships. In his first experiences, he had to find himself a person, in Lidz' phrase, but was, in those experiences, not finding himself an entity, having thus too strongly to have to recapitulate the attempt as a young adult. He solved this in reverie, in part, imagining a role as the catcher in the rye, saving lost children and turning his passive wish into an active role.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Laws of War and White Phosphorous in Fallujah

The Economist reports that white phosphorus was used as a weapon of war during last years struggle for Fallujah. Let us stipulate that it is true. Is this a war crime? The The laws of War are that if one side breaks a law, the other side may break it similarly in a demonstration that there is a penalty for breaking the law. The British endured, for a while the bombing of Coventry in part to conceal their possession of German code. The bombing of Dresden was to demonstrate to the German people that there would be a penalty for breaking laws against bombing civilian targets. We all know that, in a subterfuge, former US soldiers acting on a humanitarian mission were drawn into the center of Fallujah and hacked and burned to death, with body parts strung on a bridge. This was to the delight of the multitude including children. The author of the above book on the laws of War was a US prosecutor at Nuremberg, and it would be on his moral authority that white phosphorous could be used in Fallujah on one occasion.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Alito's Social Systems Perspective

LiberalChicks has a number of intersting vignettes that involve the effects of a relationship on bringing out the underlying characer of a person and how deviation from the expected and not just what is done or said is important. In the case, considered by the judge, of 'the search warrant,' as my link below comments, the 'problem' of filling out the search warrant form is, frankly, an evolving object relationship, and you have to think about how, in this case the police, doing this might change 'expected behavior.' Alito's first publication, "The Released Time Cases Revisited: A Study of Group Decisionmaking by the Supreme Court," 83, no. 6 Yale L. J. (1974): 1202-36 (pdf), got into this issue. For me it is fascinating that someone, as a judge, who would seem to me to be so removed from social systems in his work, is actually so insightful and interested in them as a part of his decison making.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

See Jane Read

She found a stunner on the Supreme Court, yes it involved abortion, today. I particularly like the uses of metaphor.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Oh yeah, Paris

Made my probably one trip to Paris some 14 years ago and will always remember the perfect attitude of a young French lady on staff at our hotel. Warm, mannered, taking an interest. In other encounters as well it seemed Parisian women have a confidence, acceptance of themselves as in the best men or women anywhere. A new Joan of Arc will take the Muslim men to school at some point in my opinion. The commentary on 'Paris Burning' has brought forth Austin Bay's finding of the history of how this cutural icon was saved from destruction in WWII, in part by the military valor of the French.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Aye Alito

My thoughts on Alito are here at the end of the comments on an analysis by Patterico of a case Judge Alito reviewed as a member of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.