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When do we get to give informed consent?

Miri is angry. She’s right to be angry. What’s she angry about? People who don’t know jack shit about psychology making pronouncements about psychology, especially aggressive personal “you don’t have that you liar!!” type pronouncements.

Apparently a bunch of Skeptics™ don’t know what posttraumatic stress disorder is, but insist on lecturing those diagnosed with it (or those who have studied it) without ever bothering to educate themselves about the disorder, its symptoms, and its etiology. Because nothing says skepticism quite like blathering on about what you have no evidence for!

Well they probably saw an episode of a tv show that mentioned it once. I saw this one episode of The West Wing this one time, when Josh had PTSD and Adam Arkin came down from New York to fix him. Josh was all defensive and angry because he thought it was going to be talking about fee-fees and he didn’t want to, but Adam Arkin said oh hell no, I’d rather be set on fire than talk about your fee-fees. So that makes me an expert on PTSD, surely.

So, onto our Skeptics who think themselves qualified to determine who has PTSD and who doesn’t based on their own random little criteria. First of all, if someone has the symptoms of PTSD, then they have the symptoms of PTSD. You can’t Logic! and Reason! your way out of this.

But second, to anyone who claims that only things like combat, assault, or natural disasters can cause PTSD, maybe you should see what actual researchers in psychology have to say about that. Namely:

Research on online bullying and harassment is, unfortunately, still sparse. But given the dismaying way in which interactions online can incite the same strong emotions that interactions in person can, I fully expect this area of research to fill up quickly. We’ve already seen in several high-profile cases that technology-based bullying and harassment can provoke someone all the way to suicide. That they might also experience PTSD is not a huge logical leap at all.

No but you see people who let online bullying and harassment provoke them to suicide are making a mistake, a factual mistake, like taking an umbrella with you because you think it’s raining when it really isn’t. It’s the same with PTSD. So if enough people harass people with PTSD hard enough for long enough, the people with PTSD will admit they don’t have it and then the harassers will have made the world a better place.

Notably, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which is the diagnostic manual used by the World Health Organization, does not attempt to stipulate which types of trauma cause PTSD. It just states that the first criterion is “exposure to a stressful event or situation (either short or long lasting) of exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature, which is likely to cause pervasive distress in almost anyone.”

I can easily see bullying and harassment falling under that category, as the only people I have ever seen claim that bullying and harassment are not traumatic are people who have not personally experienced it.

Maybe it’s all a big science experiment that we don’t know about. Maybe all these people are doing all this bullying and harassment as research. Maybe we’re all living in a great big giant motherfucking Milgram experiment.

Or else there are just a lot of shitty shitty shitty people out there.

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    One time, on a different board, this young man who was about to go to grad school in philosophy suggested that bullying was perfectly *fine* because people should learn how to deal with stuff. And when asked about the people who weren’t able to learn that lesson, he gave a virtual shrug and said, “Well, too bad.” As if we should just walk around those traumatized individuals lying in a fetal position on the ground because trauma or virtual shrug at the people who kill themselves because of bullying. After some robust browbeating, he came around and decided that, just because the level of bullying he had himself experienced wasn’t severe or overwhelming, that was no reason to defend bullying.

    Srsly, people? Defending bullying?? Who DOES that??

  2. Stacy says

    Here’s the thing. I’m fine with saying some things are worse than some other things.

    What I’m not fine with? Assuming that you know all the things people are dealing with.

    For example: Being trolled? OK, put it like that and I’ll agree: can be upsetting, but in the scheme of things not, in isolation, a huge deal.

    A concerted attempt to hurt and undermine somebody, lasting for hours, or days, or on and off for years? That’s not a little thing. Calling it “trolling” (in order to equate it with a mere few snarky comments made by wiseacres) doesn’t make it OK.

    You do that to somebody who actually doesn’t come from a privileged background, somebody who is vulnerable because in fact they’re a survivor of all kinds of horrible shit?

    You are beneath contempt.

  3. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Remember, to a certain variety of ‘skeptic’, the realisation that there’s no evidence/argument to support the existence of gods makes one an expert in everything – psychology, sociology, politics, economics, you name it.

  4. A. Noyd says

    Stacy (#2)

    For example: Being trolled? OK, put it like that and I’ll agree: can be upsetting, but in the scheme of things not, in isolation, a huge deal.

    Unless you’re a teenager trolling an airline with a terrorist threat. If only Twitter—and society in general—took online harassment and bullying even a tenth as seriously as that sort of thing.

  5. jenBPhillips says

    Someone I knew just died after a long and painful battle with cancer. I lost count of how many surgeries he had–well over 10–in addition to multiple rounds of chemo and all the palliative care available. It was one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen or heard about. So, I’ve decided that the next person who tells me that they have a benign or indolent tumor, or something trivial like a ductal carcinoma in situ, needs to just shut up about it. I will be pissed as hell if people who have anything less than Stage IV cancer affecting multiple organs decide to seek treatment for their paltry polyps, or dare to complain about any of their symptoms, or even refer to the insignificant thing they have as “cancer”.

  6. moarscienceplz says

    @#4 A. Noyd

    Unless you’re a teenager trolling an airline with a terrorist threat. If only Twitter—and society in general—took online harassment and bullying even a tenth as seriously as that sort of thing.

    I get your point, but conflating trolling with making terroristic threats just muddies the waters for everyone. Even though the teen was “joking”, threatening violence is way different from trolling.

  7. A. Noyd says

    moarscienceplz (#7)

    I get your point, but conflating trolling with making terroristic threats just muddies the waters for everyone. Even though the teen was “joking”, threatening violence is way different from trolling.

    What? Trolling is the use of social media to provoke others for one’s own amusement. The content of that provocation can be anything, from talking about fluffy bunnies to creating a terrorism scare. Threatening violence is just a really easy way to provoke people.

    I bet the Dutch teenager started out thinking her tweet would count as nothing more than a “snarky comment made by a wiseacre,” then quickly found out that some trolling is treated very seriously. Obviously she’s not the brightest person in the world, but how much had she bought into the culture that treats most violent trolling with an utter lack of seriousness?

  8. says

    but see… if we admit that traumatic stress OTHER than bullets flying at you can cause PTSD, then we’d have all kinds of inconvenient issues to deal with…

    Like the fact that prison sentences are extremely likely to cause PTSD, that there are probably high percentages of people in prison with PTSD as a result, that even short incarcerations for non-violent offenses are likely to cause it in many people….

    … and there goes our whole “lock up the pot smokers” and “throw away the key”, “law and order” justifications for (for-profit) prisons.

    We might just have to deal with someone arguing that causing traffic scofflaws and people with illnesses (addicts) by imprisoning them is “cruel and unusual,” since you’re causing permanent injury to them.

    Goes against our whole culture. We LOVE locking people up.
    We LOVE looking at people with health problems and mental problems and blaming them for their own illnesses and shaming them.

    We can’t let reality ruin that!

  9. says

    Ohhh. and…. the trauma of childhood hunger and financial/home instability… jesus, we might have to treat childhood poverty as a BAD thing.

    next thing you know, we’ll be expected as a society not only to stop blaming them for being born poor, we might be expected to HELP!

  10. Shari says

    @8 Ophelia – ex-fucking-atly

    Doing ‘dumb things’ that threaten people SHOULD BE PUNISHABLE.

    No one should get a free pass to tear up someone’s peace of mind, someone’s privacy, someone’s life via ‘trolling’ because it’s ‘funny’. That actually makes it more reprehensible than people who feel they have a legitimate beef.

    For some reason, there’s this idea that threats of violence aren’t serious.

    Throwing the idea at someone that you think violence against them is justified, or funny, or a great idea is pretty violent.

    You don’t have to be a special snowflake to feel violated by an onslaught of violent threat. Anyone claiming otherwise seriously needs pychiatric deprogramming.

  11. Dunc says

    Srsly, people? Defending bullying?? Who DOES that??

    Well, bullies, obviously… Possibly also people who have been bullied and don’t want to acknowledge that it’s hurt them.

  12. thetalkingstove says

    Srsly, people? Defending bullying?? Who DOES that??

    People who think that they are just fucking fantastic, and they would never be upset by bullies, so how can anyone else be?

    I’m continually amazed at the absolute inability of these chumps to comprehend that “I feel X, therefore X is right for everyone and if you’re not like me you’re weak and fuck you” is not a valid life philosophy.

  13. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    I’ve had people tell me that bullying made them stronger, so kids in school today should have to endure it. I ask one woman why abuse was only good for kids. Would some abuse in her life now make her stronger? Of course not! That was a horrible thing for me to say. Only children get better from abuse. It toughens them up, according to bullying proponents. As a homeschooler, I have heard this so many times. “It was good for me! You can’t stop it. That’s just part of being a kid.” It’s like Stockholm’s.

    Sometimes it isn’t the bully that is convinced that bullying is normal and acceptable. Sometimes it is the victim that would be even more hurt and disappointed if they realized that their abuse wasn’t OK. It did not make them stronger. It only taught them that no one cared, that they were on their own and abuse was something they had to live with. They twist the narrative to make themselves feel better and to make them feel like survivors instead of victims.

  14. johnthedrunkard says

    There seem to be:
    a) rationalizing predators
    b) rationalizing victims
    c) perhaps more insidious, a whole culture that uses Panglossian reference to ‘human nature’ to justify anything on the basis of its mere existence.

    c) seems to include an array of Free Will believers and evo-psych addled ‘bros.’ Randroids and Stalinists? I suspect these groups are more prevalent in atheist circles than in the population overall.

    I recently realized that I qualify as a PTSDer. And it seemed reasonable to discount the idea because MY story doesn’t match X or Y. If you aren’t getting shot for going to school, why complain about harassment?

  15. Blanche Quizno says

    Out of all the win on this thread – and there’s plenty, no two ways about it – this is my favorite:

    I’m continually amazed at the absolute inability of these chumps to comprehend that “I feel X, therefore X is right for everyone and if you’re not like me you’re weak and fuck you” is not a valid life philosophy. @14

    Thank you, thetalkingstove. Keep talking.

  16. Blanche Quizno says

    @15 Jackie, I homeschooled my two children up to high school (at which point they chose to go to a small charter high school with a really good reputation for academics) for precisely the reasons you point out. It’s appalling that so many people seem to think that bullying must be part of a “normal” childhood, to the point that the kidlets will be disadvantaged or even harmed for not going through it!

    “How will they be socialized??” is the standard lament.

    “Who do you want socializing YOUR kid, you and the people you know and children you know, or the kids you don’t know who come from violent, abusive homes and have all sorts of dysfunction?”

    Having been bullied myself and suffered greatly from it, there was simply no way I was likewise going to throw MY children to the wolves. Even if it meant being immersed in a community overwhelmingly loaded with crazy fundamentalist Christians and Mormons *ugh*

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