Have you ever tried to explain a problem to someone who has trouble grasping it might be a problem?  In that case you may have been exhorted to do something which would be insufficient.  Alternatively, you have been told to do something you have already tried.  That is, something you have already tried without it working.  Or you may also hear you should do the very thing you can’t.

These are results of denying there is such a thing as mental problems.  Some think they are just pathologisations of part of the normal range of variation.  A society’s expectations may be too high compared to the average.  Then this leads to part of the normal rage of variation being pathologised.  However, it does not follow the normal rage of variation is the only thing there is.  Inevitably a small part of the population will get outside of it.  From this came the concept of statistical outlier.  In some of the cases the deviation has such consequences it becomes handicapping.  If the characteristic is something one acquires it can be called mental illness.  Is the deviation there from start it can be called mental impairment.

Related to denial is the belief that mental problems would be optional.  The fatal flaw with this idea is people as a rule not enjoying them.  Instead, mental problems are painful and can be outright unbearable.  Why would someone choose that?  The answer is people not choosing if they are having mental problems.  Instead, they spontaneously arise in a small fraction of individuals without them having any control.

People may even have mental problems without understanding it themselves.  Instead, they get physical symptoms which have mental causes.  Such individuals can be found through tests giving different results depending on someone having ability or not.  Is the result the same as without symptoms the cause of the problem is mental.  Then the person may have use of training of his or her limited ability.  But just telling such individuals to stop showing symptoms is an insult to their suffering.  Yes, their suffering is real.  It is just the causes of their suffering which they misidentify.

Neither is it humanly possible to simulate 24 hours a day.  All humans have limits to how much they have energy to do.  In addition, there is human error.  Trying to do something constantly for too long one will sooner or later fail.  Individuals which simulate only do so when they think they are observed.  If they can be observed without knowing it this can be used to separate simulants from people with genuine problems.

In some cases, it is defiance in self-control which is the core of the problem.  I think ADHD is over-diagnosed if people have too high expectations on children.  However, this does not prevent there from being individuals which are abnormally impulsive.  To just tell such individuals to sit still and concentrate is completely useless.  It is like telling the intellectually disabled they should think quickly.  Impairments don’t disappear from being exhorted to do the opposite of the symptoms.  This presupposes the very ability which an impaired person does not have.  I have myself got into something similar.  As a teenager I got heard ad nauseam I should have taken others into consideration.  I did not know what it was in others I should have taken into consideration.

Mental problems being unavoidable don’t mean we can’t do anything about them.  But we have to avoid wishful thinking and start from factually existing ability.  The ability the person has is often possible to train.  If ability does not exist it is possible to find strategies to compensate for this.  Some also have use for medications.  However, they should not be used as only solution to a problem.  Above all one should not administer medication without properly examining the problem.  Antipsychotic medication is outright harmful if one is not psychotic.

Now I don’t entirely deny we have free will.  I think we have it to some extent.  However, one should not overestimate what is possible to choose.  There are experiments claimed to show free will does not exist.  But I think they rather disprove us making conscious choices in many everyday situations.  Anyway, it is clear we have individual will.  This means different individuals inevitably want different things.

If all such limitations exist does this means we lack responsibility?  I would not say we always do.  Steven Pinker has a good suggestion for solution to this problem.  According to him we ought to ask the following question.  Could the person have been persuaded not to act in this way?  If the answer is yes we are responsible for what we do.  It is people taking it for granted the answer is always yes which cause trouble in this context.


Uploaded on the 16th of December 2023.