Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Old friend Gary Greenberg has an article in the May Harper's Magazine that I commend to your attention. Sorry, no Internet availability but do check it out at your local library. Gary's writing is somewhat eclectic but he is interested in many of the subjects we obsess about here, including the reification of mental illness and the social structural determinants of psychopharmacology. I won't say much about the piece now because I don't want to spoil it for you, including the boffo ending, but maybe in a couple of weeks, once people have had a chance to read it (and certainly if Harper's does make it available on the web) I'll have more to say.

Meanwhile I'll just say that Our Hero suffers from the ineluctable pain of the human condition (which I will diagnose for him with the Buddhist label, dukha), complicated by insight and reflectiveness. Alas, the insight-reflectiveness syndrome causes him to give too many wrong answers on the Hamilton Depression Inventory, rendering him a victim of Major Depression. The doctors who deliver the bad news are not acting on behalf of greedy pharmaceutical executives, rather they are testing a natural substance, unpatentable, already available at the GNC. Nevertheless they perforce live in the the drug companies' universe, in which a disease process consisting of what the late K. Vonnegut famously described as "bad chemicals" in the brain maps onto the answers people give to a particular game of 21 questions, and that this disease is cured by ingesting good chemicals.

In return for the endorsement, Gary has agreed to pick up all the rocks on my property and pile them neatly along the creek bank.

In an unrelated development, I've resumed posting on the dialogue blog after a substantial hiatus. Anyone interested in why the pause and why the resumption can check it out.

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