Wikipedia 10K Redux by Reagle from Starling archive. Bugs abound!!!
You people are driving me crazy! *wink* Just kidding. I couldn't resist. Keep talking... --JimboWales ---- This article is actually better regarded as being about insanity, a topic about which many reams have been written. Examples of encyclopedia articles about this topic for your reference: [http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/5/0,5716,118185+1+109830,00.html?query=insanity mental disorder] -- [http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/5/0,5716,43445+1+42488,00.html?query=insanity insanity (topic in the law)] -- [http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg=2&ti=761573719 mental health] -- [http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg=2&ti=761553774 insanity (topic in the law)] ""SanIty" is variously defined as; the quality of a sound or healthy mind, rationality, the ability to discern right and wrong, "believing and thinking as you ought to believe and think, according to me," and any number of other definitions which users find expedient." Is this even true, or are you only speculating: who defines the term this way? Shouldn't you consider ''actual attempts'' to define the term? Shouldn't you at least say something that reflects what psychologists know and believe about sanity and insanity. -- LarrySanger ---- Well - hey, Dr. Sanger: I'm not even half done with the article yet. In authoritarian societies, under the imprimateur of supposed scientific soundness and by psychologists and psychiatrists educated in the best universities, we have had the political definition of sanity - ie, that which authority authorizes you to perceive, think, believe. Those who openly stray from it can be confined to mental institutions in order that their misbehaving minds might be tamed by shock "therapy,", lobotomy, and any number of other treatments. At least one public figure's wife right here in the good 'ol U.S. of A. fell victim to the same definition. South Africa has a history of declaring uppity blacks insane and visiting experimental psychiatric treatments on them, some fatal. I also will be dealing with the issues of reality testing and social norming, other hallmarks of sanity, before I am done. Please be patient. All this to be described as time permits. If you don't like the article when I am done, I am willing to adjust it so that it does not a) offend or b) reflect unsupported "idiosyncratic" views. Besides - I was unaware WikiPedia was to remain mainstream, or to repeat what other publications have already said over and over? ---- Bruce, you have the right on Wikipedia to write whatever you want. I reserve the right to write and change whatever I want (such as state my own opinions as to what Wikipedia should be like) as well! For one thing, Wikipedia should be unbiased. An article about sanity, in ''my'' opinion, should not be about Bruce's views about sanity, or Larry's views, or any one person's views, because that's inherently biased. It should be about what is generally known and believed about sanity, making plenty of room for a clear statement of the view of those mental health professionals who happen to believe as Bruce believes (or rather, vice-versa). Isn't that reasonable? -- LarrySanger ---- Of course it is. I believe once you see the finished article you will not find it biased, though it may throw a fresh light on some things. As always, I will stand ready to make adjustments if folks want. Anything I write is going to be from my point of view. Unlike anything I write for Nupedia, I am apt to rely of my storehouse of retained information and conclusions synthesized from it, and not research, re-research, buttress and pepper the text with references from others' scholarly works. All valid views are not necessarily mainstream. All mainstream views are not necessarily valid. I will, however, always attempt to rest what I write solidly upon either published research, replicable empirical observation, or both. You let me know if I mis-remember or mis-represent anything, and I'll fix it. ---- I'll have a look. Not everything I write is from my point of view, Bruce. Do you find that paradoxical? Not all valid views are mainstream, that's about as obvious as anything can be, when you think about it. Sure. But the purpose of an encyclopedia article is to convey what the mainstream views are--at least. By the way, regardless of whether you sign the article and regard it as yours, in my opinion it belongs to the wiki, and I will make bold to change it whenever I wanna. :-) Without asking you. -- LarrySanger ---- Fair enough. After all, I agree to the WikiPedia license when I dump it here. I think I at least mentioned most mainstream views in passing. I still don't like my last paragraph or so, so expect that to change. I have a well-formed concept but the words elude me at the moment. Blame it on a right-brain moment. As to your or anyone's revisions of "my" article, If I cannot get it to retain the sense of what I meant, I can always remove my name from it. For the nonce, I leave it appended so folks know upon whom to blame the drivel presented. ;^) -- AyeSpy ---- Hi Bruce, I don't know how to improve this article, because I don't know enough about the topic of mental disorders in general. I do have some comments nonetheless--so, contrary to my own stated policy, I'll indent my comments and let you fix the article, if you can and want to. I am going to be blunt, because I think you will benefit from bluntness in this case. Here we go: "SanIty" has been variously defined as; the quality of a sound or healthy mind, rationality, the ability to discern right and wrong, "believing and thinking as one is authorized to believe and think" and other definitions which users find expedient. :Who has defined it this way? You're using passive voice. I don't believe you. :-) I don't think anyone has defined "sanity" this way, other than you; and I don't care how you define it, to be blunt, I care how psychologists and psychiatrists and people who have really studied this stuff. And who are the "users" you're talking about? This first paragraph doesn't bode well for the rest of the article. It sounds like you're bullshiting to me, frankly. Are you? The word itself comes from the root adjective "sane," which stems from Latin "sanus," or "healthy." The implication, then, is that a sane mind is a healthy mind. :Etymologies are notoriously bad for giving a ''scientific analysis'' of a natural phenomenon. While the etymology is interesting and should be left in the article, it shouldn't be made the basis of a thesis; it should merely be mentioned in passing. Health, in general, denotes strength, soundness, ''proper functioning'', especially of biological systems. As the mind is generally regarded as the seat of awareness and reasoning, its proper function might be said to entail clarity of awareness and accuracy of reasoning. One would expect to find these qualities, then, in a sane individual. :Frankly, although I personally strongly agree with all of this, it seems to me less than enlightening--platitudinous. If you don't ''know'' much about a subject, I'd say your task amounts to either (1) heavy research, or (2) producing a melange of platitudes, bullshittery, and simple falsehoods. Hmmm... It may be instructive to examine what constitutes clear and accurate awareness and reasoning and what constitutes inaccuracy in these areas. Further, it may be helpful to understand to what degree errancy must intrude into mental function before one can reasonably be determined to no longer be sane. :There are many things that "clear and accurate awareness and reasoning" ''could'' mean, and I wonder which of them you do mean. For example, those studying logic and critical reasoning believe they're studying the standards of good reasoning and clear thinking. So, by your lights, does sanity amount to being logical, and insanity illogical? Well, that might be part of it, but that's certainly not all of it. I'd say it's a definition by inessentials, but then, what do I know? There are a number of objective criteria whereby one may assess the workings of a mind and determine their accuracy, but the largest portion of these have been declared to be more useful in determining IntelliGence than sanity. :There are? Really? Who says, you? Why should you care, if you just declare it without proving it or giving any evidence? "Have been declared to be"? Who declared them thus? You? And are they using your concept of intelligence? Frankly, due to unanswered questions like this, I just don't know how to assess the above sentence except in a dismissive fashion. One's ability to perform mathematical computations, identify shapes, find the next in a series of deductive steps, identify patterns in data, all are related to mental accuracy, but may be poor indicators of sanity. The ''kinds'' of tasks which one performs accurately, then, may have an impact on the perception of one as sane or not. :You seem to have line of thought as follows: AyeSpy has a (rather vague) definition of sanity that amounts to "clear thinking and accurate reasoning"; ''some''one has declared that the only (or best? who knows?) sort of clear thinking is "objectively" measured by intelligence tests (since intelligence is what intelligence tests measure, presumably, but you're not too clear on that, it seems); but, by AyeSpy's definition of sanity, this unknown theorist's view of what clear thinking is implies that "intelligence" isn't a good analysis "sanity." :How many problems can you identify in the above reasoning? The most prominent aspects of accurate mental function which have been used as indicators of sanity over the centuries appear to have related to the areas of interpersonal relations and bodily safety of self and others. More recently, personal mental composure has come to be included, as well. :Which have been used as indicators of sanity, ''by whom''? And what does "personal mental composure" mean? Criteria other than accuracy of function have been employed as determinants of sanity. Conformance and agreement with societal norms have played as great a role in the determination of sanity historically as any other criteria. In some contexts, societal norms loom large. For example, in WesternCivilization, one would generally find it unsettling if a friend began to speak of voices telling him things, of demons tormenting him, or how he was cured by someone burning incense, shaking rattles, and chanting. Modern psychiatry lists such reported experiences among the symptoms of SchizoPhrenia - a serious mental disorder. In many regions of the ThirdWorld, however, shamanistic tradition accepts and reinforces such experience. One who declared to the members of such a culture that these subjective experiences were invalid might find his sanity called into question by the local chief or medicine man. :This is perhaps the first interesting thing you've said; but you might try citing a source or two, because it is far from original. The impact of a culture or cultures are evident when one examines what the modern western medical (psychiatric) community uses as a measure of sanity. In a medical/psychiatric context, the most general means of identifying sanity is a definition by exclusion - that is, "absence of functional mental illness, defect or disorder." The word "functional" (denoting abnormality in function, but not in form) is important, as dysfunction which is traced to a uniformly remediable or replicable physical cause generally is reclassified as a medical problem rather than a mental one, with concomitant change in diagnosis and approach to treatment. Such medical issues are removed from the criteria for judging "sanity." The medical/psychiatric definition just stated will seldom be satisfied in the absolute, as will be seen below. :Why don't you quote a psychiatric source, and make an effort to ''explain'' what "the" definition is? And oh, there's only one definition in currency? I wouldn't have expected that, but then, what do I know? :I've got to get a move on so I am not going to be able to comment in depth on the rest of this. The problem of identifying a concise,positive, functional definition for sanity, a key element in the more general issue of MentalHealth, is perhaps best illustrated by comparison. In identifying "sanity" with "health," one invites comparison with known standards of health in other organs and systems. A contrast is immediately apparent between the certainty and objectivity with which one can identify physical health, as opposed to mental health. One may examine, for example, a liver. Its normal role and functions, uniform from one person to the next, can be determined through the methods of physical science. It can be x-rayed or biopsied. Liver enzymes in blood samples can be measured. Hepatitis antibodies can be tested for. In the extreme, exploratory surgery may be performed. The proper functioning of a liver can be quantatively measured. While the mind is usually associated with a body organ, the brain, science to date has been unsuccessful in attempting to develop brain testing protocols which are definitive in predicting or measuring sanity. Part of the reason for this is that "normal" mental function may vary from person to person and from one context to another. Therefore, contextual observations, tests and measurements remain the standards of choice. The standard for mental diagnosis in psychiatry is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). It has undergone a substantial evolution in the last half-century. From the few mental disorders defined in Freud's time, the number of psychiatric determinations of aberrant human behavior has expanded. When the DSM was first published in 1952, it listed 112 mental illnesses or disorders. The 1994 issue of DSM (IV) specifies more than 370 disorders. And the psychiatric community has not always agreed on how these should be classified. For example, concerning "schizophrenia," DSM-II states, "Even if it had tried, the Committee could not establish agreement about what this disorder is; it could only agree on what to call it." DSM-III says "there is no satisfactory definition that specifies precise boundaries for the concept 'mental disorder'.... For most of the DSM-III disorders... the etiology [cause] is unknown. A variety of theories have been advanced... not always convincing, to explain how these disorders come about." DSM-IV states that the term "mental disorder" continues to appear in the volume "because we have not found an appropriate substitute." Diagnoses which appear in the manual were developed, in part, by a majority vote of those attending DSM conferences. As a result, short attention span, questions about one's spirituality, difficulty with writing or mathematics, defiance of one's parents, fidgeting, excessive neatness, all have found a place in the manual among symptoms and diagnoses. In contrast, homosexuality or the unreasonable desire of a slave to escape, once defined as mental defects (the former in early editions of the DSM), do not appear in today's DSM. In 1995, Dr. Rex Cowdry, then director of The National Institutes of Mental Health, stated to a U. S. House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee hearing that, regarding mental illness, "We do not know the causes. We don’t have methods of ‘curing’ these illnesses yet." This should not be surprising. It has been without doubt a cultural process, within the fairly limited culture of psychiatry and psychology, which has taken place in an effort to define the boundaries of sanity. Diseases with cultural definitions may not respond to medical science. :The above has dropped into a journalistic sort of mode, and it's obvious that you're trying to set up an argument against the received view of insanity. Let me cut to the chase, then. Bruce, I couldn't care less what your views about insanity are. If I read an article about sanity and insanity, I want to know, ''in detail'', what ''the received'' views are. This can include minority views, but they are the minority views of (who else?) ''psychiatrists.'' If there isn't a psychiatrist who hasn't promulgated your view, that's probably because your view is not very plausible. I can say this without knowing anything about your view. I can even say it knowing what I do know so far about your view, ''and'' agreeing (I guess?) with your general drift. But that '''doesn't matter'''! It's ''far'' more important to learn first from the experts, and try to convey that very clearly, and then, ''only'' then, make an attempt at building on or controverting that. :Anyway, I think you should rename your article BruceOnSanity. That is an accurate title. It isn't an encyclopedia article about sanity. -- LarrySanger ---- I'll get back to you on this, Larry. I am inclined to rename the article something like "TheProblemOfDefiningSanity," as I am loathe to dig about for every single publication I used in support of my statements, so as to make it the definitive encyclopedia article on "Sanity." Suffice it to say that my introductory definition, minus the part in quotes, is synthesized and paraphrased from three ordinary dictionaries. The part in quotes is a tacit matter of defacto political practice, and I will move it to another part of the article. The "platitudinous" paragraph is to mention the next logical step to the reader, rather than to take it unseen, no matter how obvious it might otherwise seem. ''..."it's obvious that you're trying to set up an argument against the received view of insanity."'' You seem to be under the impression (broadly held, BTW) that psychiatry or medicine or some consensus authority actually defines sanity. Here is the real kicker - there '''IS NO''' "received view" on the definition of "sanity" from doctors or psychiatrists. One must read tons of books by them (done, thank you), each individual author defining it differently if he defines it at all (they prefer to go on at length about abnormalities, and the obvious fact that an absence of them is the preferred condition), and then try to find points of general agreement between them. The "medical" definition I used is paraphrased from the only medical dictionary I could find which did not define it as merely "Soundness or health of mind. Normal mentality." Question is, what the heck do you mean, "Normal?" The word "normal" is not a (forgive me) normative word, unless its characteristics are either obvious by definition, or can be demonstrated (like the normal function of a liver, heart, gut, brain, what-have-you). Well, I finally found "Normal" as being "without mental disorder." What's a mental disorder? See DSM-IV. You read DSM-IV, and it says "we can't agree and don't really know what a mental disorder is, or if it should be called a disorder at all - but here is the long list of things we do agree ought not to be a part of human mentality." Note that I did not say in the article that there was only one medical definition. I said there was a "most general" one - one than can be found in medical literature which does not conflict with other definitions found in medical literature. The only thing they agree on is "normal." Quoting Taber's, (F. A. Davis, Philadelphia, 1974): "normal - 3. In psychology, free from mental disorder, or of average development or intelligence." Who defines sanity in terms of interpersonal relations and safety of self and others? Heck - EVERYONE! But I should prabably make clear that I'm talking about a "street" definition, not an authoritative one. Examples: Why should he be committed? He's a danger to himself or others. Is he sane enough to fly a commercial jet? No - he takes unreasonable risks. Is she sane? No - she does not relate normally with others. She talks to herself, babbles incoherently, flails her arms for no reason, whatever. Is he sane enough to assist in his own defense? No - he keeps calling his lawyer "Jesus" and accusing him of working for the CIA. now I gotta run - but I will see if the article cannot be tuned up some. I should probably introduce my thesis more clearly, "Medicine and psychiatry have self-admitted difficulties defining sanity, and here's why. And, by the way, could a definition be developed upon which most would agree?" ---- OK, Larry - I think I have addressed the majority (though not all) of your concerns. I will revisit this after I have thought of other things for a while. I wonder - does anyone else have concerns or comment? The more I work on this article, the more I think I would like it to be a good and thoughtful one, though not an authoritative or definitive one. ---- Bruce, I'm not usually this much of an asshole, though ''some'' people know very well that I'm capable of it. :-) Your attitude, that your opinions on the subject are as important as psychiatric opinions (and thus should be put under titles such as "SanIty" and "TheProblemOfDefiningSanity"), touches on a strange pet peeve of mine. I'm all for developing our own ideas. I love trying to figure things out for myself, and I have no trouble being irreverent and disrespectful to the mainstream, when warranted. In fact, insofar as I understand it, for what it's worth (''very'' little, of course), I think I largely agree with you. But that doesn't matter. My pet peeve is the attitude you take here: you are failing to do justice to what the zillions of brilliant psychiatrists who have written zillions of books on these subjects have said. Now, if the stated subject of your article were BruceHamiltonOnDefiningSanity, then I'd have ''absolutely no problem whatsoever'' with your article, because you're the world's greatest expert on ''that.'' It would be a little like my trying to write a long, definitive-sounding article on, let's see...kayaking. Why, I've been kayaking. I have helped haul kayaks around the Prince William Sound. I've met (in person!) a guy who wrote a book about kayaking in the Prince William Sound. Suppose I were to say, in the article, "There is a problem with the way that people kayak. They have their rowing patterns (or whatever) all wrong. This article will explain why it's wrong." Then I proceed to explain the better rowing pattern. Suppose I were to put that article under the heading KayakinG. ''Then'' suppose the aforementioned author of the book on kayaking, a ''very'' experienced kayaker and I believe definitely an expert on kayaking, were to read my article. What would he think? If he cared at all, he'd think: "Who the &*@# is the bozo who wrote this &@#%*, and why was ''he'' elected to write the article on this subject? Why should ''anybody'' give a flyin' &@#^ about his opinions?" You have '''every''' right to your opinion, and '''every''' right to express it on Nupedia. But, in ''my'' opinion (just my opinion--but I think many would agree with me), you do not have the right to treat your opinion as anywhere near to being on a par with those of actual experts, which you do by the mere act of voicing your opinion in an article under the heading "Sanity" or "TheProblemOfDefiningSanity." I don't care if you've read books and thought about it and are smart. Doesn't matter. You should put your article on "BruceHamiltonOnDefiningSanity" or "AyeSpyOnSanity" (that's catchy). Then no one can fault you with wanting to promulgate ''your'' totally unqualified views as being on a par, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, with totally qualified views. Jaysus, Bruce, don't you know that virtually every smart psychologist who has written on this topic has been over the conceptual ground you've covered? I'm a trained epistemologist, and I could write a decent Nupedia article on epistemic circularity. I have thought ''a lot'' about that subject at a very advanced level--I dare say that on the very narrow question of how to define 'epistemic circularity', I'm probably one of the few experts in the world. Despite that, I wouldn't include my own theory (developed in my dissertation) in an encyclopedia article on this subject. Why not? Because it was developed by a flippin' ''graduate student,'' in his ''dissertation,'' ferchrissakes; my theory would be news to everyone except my dissertation committee. You don't put ''new research'' and ''idiosyncratic opinion'' into encyclopedia articles, because encyclopedia articles are--''for better or worse''--summations of "what is known" about the topic in question. I guess it's a damn shame that I'm not going to grace the world by publishing my dissertation or parts of my dissertation and put my opinions on epistemic circularity into the realm of "what is known" on the topic. Until I do, for purposes of writing an encyclopedia article, it doesn't matter if I'm right, it doesn't matter if my theory blows all the others out of the water, etc. That's not what encyclopedia articles are for. -- LarrySanger, stepping off his soapbox finally, now fully intending to do something productive rather than critical for Wikipedia