Sunday, April 22, 2018

No Confidence in Sheriff Scott Israel

Remember Scott Israel? Remember the Broward County Sheriff, the man whose department bears the most responsibility for the Nikolas Cruz shooting spree in Stoneman Douglas High School? Remember the man whose deputies were called to the Cruz home dozens of time, who were told repeatedly that Cruz was a danger… and who did nothing? Remember the man whose deputy, assigned to the Parkland High School, ran away and ducked for cover as soon as the shooting started?

I suspect that you only have a vague memory of Sheriff Scott Israel. After all, you have learned from a motley band of high school students that the fault for the massacre lies with the NRA. And besides, Israel declared that he had done nothing wrong, and so did not need to resign his post.

Many of us have found Israel’s dereliction of moral responsibility to be disgraceful and deplorable. He has resisted all of them.

The sheriff has resisted calls from nearly 100 Florida lawmakers to resign, and he refused to participate in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the shooting in March.

Now, The Daily Caller reports, the Broward Deputies Association will have an opportunity to vote no-confidence in Scott Israel:

The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association has scheduled a no-confidence vote for Sheriff Scott Israel over his behavior during the lead-up to and aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, union president Deputy Jeff Bell announced Friday.

The union is accusing Israel of “many instances of suspected malfeasance, misfeasance, failure to maintain fiduciary responsibility by the sheriff, failure to properly investigate possible criminal conduct by members of his senior command staff and the lack of leadership that has crushed morale throughout the agency.”

The last point is worth underscoring. If Sheriff Israel is not at fault, if he did everything right, then the deputies must be at fault. When leaders resign they do so in order to preserve the morale of their troops.

Social Justice Bullies

We were happy to see that New York University had found a constructive way to shut down campus social justice bullies. Administrators called their parents and told them that if they continued to disrupt the school’s educational mission, they would be suspended and would lose their financial aid. End of protest.

And yet, NYU is the exception to the rule. George Leef explained in National Review (via Maggie’s Farm) that victimhood culture has infested universities because administrators are too weak to oppose it. And far too weak to shut it down. Does this have anything to do with the fact that these schools have all become effective or actual matriarchies?

Witness Reed College, previously a beacon of liberal arts education in Oregon, of all places. The school has just caved to the pressure administered by social justice bullies. The Wall Street Journal editorialized on the conflict over a Humanities course, called Humanities 101:

For more than 70 years the 1,500-student private liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, has required every freshman to take a yearlong course covering the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman canon (Humanities 110). Through these texts, students explore “issues of continuing relevance pertaining to ideals of truth, beauty, virtue, justice, happiness and freedom, as well as challenges posed by social inequality, war, power and prejudice,” according to the course description. 

The course introduces students to the major thinkers in Western civilization, from Aristotle and Plato to Western religious leaders. As it happened, all of these thinkers were white. Thus, the course made non-white students feel inadequate. The course had to be shut down.

So, like the Red Guards of yore, the social justice bullies invaded classrooms and held sit-ins, making it impossible for other students to learn anything:

But activists calling themselves Reedies Against Racism denounced the course as “oppressive” and “Caucasoid,” claiming too many of the writers were white men. You know, like that lame Aristotle dude. Last spring they demanded that their peers participate in sit-ins, and last fall the bullying grew worse.

This meant that:

Protesters shouted down lecturers, forcibly grabbed microphones, and shut down class. The faculty finally voted to prohibit protestors from attending the class, and the college had to issue no-contact orders to stop them from harassing staff.

When a Reed parent dared to criticize the tactics and methods of the social justice bullies, they attacked the parent's employer:

When a parent complained online about the disruptions, a Reedies Against Racism participant “tagged the parent’s employer in a post,” the Atlantic newssite reported. English professor Lucía Martínez Valdivia said protesters were so intimidating that she suffered “physical anxiety—lack of sleep, nausea, loss of appetite, inability to focus—in the weeks leading up to my lecture.”

You might believe that the university defended the course. Certainly, it did not threaten the student bullies with suspension. It is far too woke for either of those actions. Instead, it decided that it needed to change the reading list of Humanities 101:

Reed College now says it will scrap some of the traditional texts and focus half the course on Mexico City and Harlem. Reedies Against Racism still isn’t satisfied. In a statement on Facebook last week, the activists called for faculty to cut more “white” texts from the curriculum “as reparations for Humanities 110’s history of erasing the histories of people of color, especially black people.”

Give them an inch and they want to take a mile. It serves the Reed faculty and administrators right. They are paying a price for their weak-kneed lily-livered cowardice.

Just case you were wondering whether there is a hidden agenda here, I suspect that there is. I suspect that the social justice bullies who are spending their time militating are simply avoiding classroom work, especially challenging classroom work. Why are they avoiding the classroom work? Could it be because they are not smart enough to grasp the material? Could it be that classroom discussion exposes their ignorance? Could it be that when reading Plato or Aristotle they see how little they know? Undoubtedly they prefer cultural products that do not require so much hard work.

One suspects that these social justice bullies were admitted under diversity quotas and cannot compete with students who were not. I know you will find it hard to believe, but the thought naturally wafts through one’s consciousness.

The net effect is that Reed College is dumbing down its curriculum to allow students who were admitted for diversity to feel better about themselves. You see, it’s all about therapy. And about self-esteem. And about perpetuating the fiction that students who were admitted with vastly different qualifications are really all equal. And about perpetuating the other fiction, namely that all cultures are of equal value, that all thinkers are equally proficient, that all literary text are of equal merit. Why study Plato when you can mull over cartoons?

So, Reed College joins those schools who have caved in to pressure from social justice bullies and is turning its students into imbeciles. Politically correct imbeciles, if you like, but imbeciles no less. Obviously, the students who do not find the dumbed down curriculum challenging will bear an unstated resentment toward those students who are forcing them to waste their time.

But, it’s worse. A recent study suggests that dumbing down the curriculum makes students depressed. John Ellis reports on it for Pajamas Media:

… if students attend a college where the classes are less academically challenging than they're used to and where their peers are less academically focused than their high school classmates, the risk for depression rises substantially.

If a student’s high school courses were more difficult and if a student’s high school classmates were more intelligent, that student, upon entering a place like Reed College is more likely to get depressed. For not being challenged, for not learning anything, for feeling like they are wasting their time, students become depressed. Who knew?

No one emphasizes this angle, so it is worth noting. No one seems to care about what happens to the students who attended excellent high schools when they arrive at supposedly prestigious institutions of higher learning and discover that their minds are being left to stagnate, that they are not learning from the great minds of Western civilization but must waste their time pondering the half-truths of mediocre thinkers. And thus, end up dumber when they leave than when they arrived.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Marrying the Right Person

To continue the discussion from my prior post on Arranged Marriage I will report on a 2015 article from Psychology Today, authored by Utpal Dholakia. David Foster, of the Chicago Boyz blog, linked it in the comments section yesterday and it is well worth our attention.

Dholakia offers an astute and valuable analysis of how and why the custom of arranged marriage works in India. Evidently, the custom does not force young Indians to marry someone they do not want to marry. At the same time their parents do not just send them out on their own, with only their adolescent judgment to guide them. Parents participate actively in the selection process.

One must emphasize that the terms, arranged marriage and free choice marriage, are slight misnomers. In an Indian marriage, young people have a free choice among several options. They can choose one or even none. In what is called a free choice marriage, it’s more like a free-for-all. You can choose anyone you want from a myriad of possibilities.

In India parents take charge of the situation by choosing a small number of acceptable mates. It makes a certain amount of sense, since the new spouse will become part of a family. People do not see marriage in terms of coupling two individuals, but as an alliance between families:

For both men and women, the individual’s parents or older family members screen for and find prospective mates for further consideration through their social circle, community, or by advertising on matrimonial websites or newspapers. There is an initial meeting in a family gathering, after which the couple has a few opportunities for chaperoned courtship. At this point if neither party has vetoed the match and if they are so inclined, they may spend some time together alone. And then it is time to make the decision. It is not unusual for the process from initial introduction to the final yes/ no decision to unfold within a few days. A 2013 IPSOS survey found that 74% of young Indians (18-35 years old) prefer an arranged marriage over a free-choice one. Other sources report that as many as 90% of all Indian marriages are arranged.

It matters that most young people prefer to arranged marriage to free-choice marriage. And that the arranged marriages yield a very low divorce rate and a high level of satisfaction:
The first is that Indians have an astonishingly low divorce rate. Despite doubling in urban areas since 2007, only about 1 in 100 Indian marriages end in divorce. This is one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. Even more impressive is the second statistic, about the high levels of satisfaction reported by those in arranged marriages over the longer-term.

If this form of arranged marriage works, the question is why? Enquiring minds want to know.

Dholakia looks at the decision-making angle. I addressed the same issue, but in slightly different terms. He writes:
From a decision making perspective, choosing a marriage partner through arrangement has at least two major advantages. The first is that people that one respects and trusts, AKA parents or elders prescreen the available options, leaving a small and manageable choice set.

The couple is not flying blind. They do not have to spend untold months trying to judge each other’s character. Moreover, as I mentioned, decision making is easier when each person has fewer options.

Dholakia continues:

But for most people, it is difficult to figure out when to stop searching and just as hard not to begin again once they have settled for chosen a partner.

And also, people who have too many options tend to overthink the issue:

Another negative consequence of thinking too hard about different options is that people get attached to them so that choosing one option produces regret at having lost out on others (what psychologists call as the “choosing feels like losing” effect). Nowhere is this truer than in dating and marriage decisions where potential partners may have different attractive qualities, and none may have all the qualities one is looking for.

Whereas parents choose prospective mates according to objective criteria, young people operating according to a free choice system tend to emphasize more subjective criteria, like looks, attractiveness and feeling:

In free-choice marriage decisions, one of the hardest challenges is finding a good set of options to choose from. From those interested in marriage, complaints about how hard it is to find a good man or a good woman are commonplace. Just as problematic, when left to their own devices, people tend to use prescreening criteria that emphasize outward appearances (looks, possessions, etc.). These are short-term oriented but may not necessarily contribute to longer-term marital outcomes. For instance, social psychologists have found impressive evidence for “attractiveness matching” in which daters give heavy weight to physical attractiveness of potential partners, and favor those whose attractiveness is comparable to their own.

Evidently, but not to evident not to mention, when parents choose the dating pool, their children are meeting prospective mates with whom they have the most in common. This might tamp down passionate intensity, but it is a better predictor of marital durability:

What is more, they share many characteristics such as social class, religion, caste (yes, even today, for Hindus), and educational attainment that signal similarity and may be important predictors of longer-term marriage success. The vetting process also limits the choice set size and puts a grinding halt to further search once a choice is made. Making others you trust do all the hard work in the choice process pays off.

As it happens, young people who are meeting prospects chosen by their parents do not really go out on dates. They do not engage in a courtship ritual. They spend time together, first chaperoned, next on their own, to see whether they find each other suitable and presumably, sufficiently attractive. So much of the process has been taken care of already, that very little remains:

In an arranged marriage, the speed with which one must decide whether or not to marry the person they have been introduced to doesn’t leave much time for careful thinking or comparisons. Instead, it encourages going with one’s gut feelings about the partner, which in turn may leads to more satisfying outcomes. In free choice marriages, on the other hand, the long and elaborate dating process provides lots of time and opportunity to judge potential partners critically and deliberately, and long for the ones that got away.

I would be more careful about saying that the young people are following gut feelings. Just because you have only spent a few days getting to know a person, does not mean that your judgment is gut-level. Allow me also to mention that these young people are not engaging in very much pre-marital sex. Since our current culture tells young people that they must have premarital sex, to see if they are sexually compatible, the point deserves emphasis. Dholakia does not mention it, but it is worth noting.

 By and large, a couple entering an arranged marriage simply doesn’t know each other that well compared to those beginning free-choice marriages. (The only exception is a free-choice marriage to a stranger during a Las Vegas trip.) Consequently, the expectations from each other at the relationship’s outset will be lower. This is because in-depth knowledge is crucial to forming accurate expectations, and more knowledge produces higher expectations.  In Indian arranged marriages, in particular, many people give greater weight to compatibility and financial security over romantic love, further contributing to restrained expectations. 

Finally, Dholakia explains that couples who have chosen mates selected by their parents have lower expectations from marriage and are less likely to be disappointed. They are also less likely to see marriage as a long term love affair, and more likely to understand it as a cooperative enterprise:

As research on satisfaction judgments shows, when expectations are low, they are more likely to be met or exceeded, leaving the newly-wed highly satisfied. In a free-choice marriage, in contrast, high expectations often develop during an elaborate dating period, with the culture placing great weight on the romantic love ideal. This sets people up for a let-down after the honeymoon period is over.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Arranged Marriage: Pro or Con

David Foster has linked a prior post, about marrying the right or the wrong person on the Chicago Boyz blog. He raises the question of whether arranged marriage. It has provoked some interesting comments, so I link the post, for your attention.

Should We Give Socialism Another Try?

With the exception of American academics and Western European intellectuals everyone knows that socialism has failed. Everyone certainly knows that Communism has failed miserably… and socialism is nothing but a watered down version of Communism.

We often forget, so it’s time to underscore it, but socialism was an Enlightenment project, an effort to reengineer human society and even human nature in order to provide social justice. To produce, a more just and more egalitarian society. We can argue that it failed because there is no such thing as social justice. So said Friedrich Hayek and he appears to have been correct.

Hayek wrote this:

In these circumstances I could not content myself to show that particular attempts to achieve ‘social justice’ would not work, but had to explain that the phrase meant nothing at all, and that to employ it was either thoughtless or fraudulent. It is not pleasant to have to argue against a superstition which is held most strongly by men and women who are often regarded as the best in our society, and against a belief that has become almost the new religion of our time (and in which many of the ministers of old religion have found their refuge),and which has become the recognized mark of the good man. But the present universality of that belief proves no more the reality of its object than did the universal belief in witches or the philosopher’s stone. Nor does the long history of the conception of distributive justice understood as an attribute of individual conduct (and now often treated as synonymous with ‘social justice’) prove that it has any relevance to the positions arising from the market process. I believe indeed that the greatest service I can still render to my fellow men would be if it were in my power to make them ashamed of ever again using that hollow incantation. I felt it my duty at least to try and free them of that incubus which today makes fine sentiments the instruments for the destruction of all values of a free civilization — and to try this at the risk of gravely offending many the strength of whose moral feelings I respect.

One understands that the French Revolution was the first grandiose attempt to engineer social justice. In the name of justice society was restructured. Those who had held power were executed, and a new class rose up to take charge. Until the advent of Napoleon, of course. But, the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror took their cues from Rousseau’s tract against inequality and attempted to level the social hierarchy by punishing those who had gained too much power.

Does any of this sound familiar?

After the French Revolution, Hegel took over for Rousseau and concocted a grand vision of the movement of human history. By his theories the script had already been written and would play itself out… leading to a kingdom of justice and equality on earth. Some mistakenly believed that Hegel was predicting that history would end with liberal democracy. In truth, those who reconfigure human society in order to make it conform to an ideal state where justice and equality would reign have always ended up producing police states. It applies to Communist states and it also seems now to be applying to American college campuses. 

After all, the endpoint of history, a la Hegel, occurs when the Idea completely escapes its relationships with sensuous form… and that means that we will all think the same thoughts and believe the same beliefs. Thus, that we would all bask in the Idea… as you can observe, this can only be accomplished when the state polices everyone’s thought. There is no place for a marketplace of ideas. In the final reckoning there will only be a monopoly of ideas, held by the state. The reasoning says that once we believe fully in ideas of justice and equality the society will naturally become more just and more equal.

By now, most of the world knows that Communism does not work. With exceptions like Cuba and Venezuela, most of the human species has tossed Communism into the dustbin of history.

And yet, the more it becomes clear that Communism has failed, the more American academics and professional thinkers, people who have certainly not been hired for their mental prowess, have glommed on to it.

Now, Kristian Niemietz has shown that socialism is having something of a revival, because its proponents cannot accept that it has failed. They are asserting that it has not really been tried. The totalitarian mind, as you likely already know, never admits failure. If reality fails to affirm the truth of an idea, then reality is at fault, or counterrevolutionaries are to blame, or it has not been implemented correctly.

Niemietz writes:

Socialism is extremely in vogue. Opinion pieces which tell us to stop obsessing over socialism’s past failures, and start to get excited about its future potential, have almost become a genre in its own right.

For example, Bhaskhar Sunkara, the founder of Jacobin magazine, recently wrote a New York Times article, in which he claimed that the next attempt to build a socialist society will be completely different:

“This time, people get to vote. Well, debate and deliberate and then vote – and have faith that people can organise together to chart new destinations for humanity. Stripped down to its essence, and returned to its roots, socialism is an ideology of radical democracy. […] [I]t seeks to empower civil society to allow participation in the decisions that affect our lives.”

Nathan Robinson, the editor of Current Affairswrote in that magazine that socialism has not “failed”. It has just never been done properly:

“It’s incredibly easy to be both in favour of socialism and against the crimes committed by 20th century communist regimes. […]

When anyone points me to the Soviet Union or Castro’s Cuba and says “Well, there’s your socialism,” my answer […] [is] that these regimes bear absolutely no relationship to the principle for which I am fighting. […] The history of the Soviet Union doesn’t really tell us much about “communism” […]

Why has socialism failed? Simply put, there was not enough democracy, not enough political freedoms. People could not vote. People could not exercise the right to free speech. There was no free press.

Niemietz continues:

Closer to home, Owen Jones wrote that Cuba’s current version of socialism was not “real” socialism – but that it could yet become the real thing:

“Socialism without democracy […] isn’t socialism. […] Socialism means socialising wealth and power […]

Cuba could democratise and grant political freedoms currently denied as well as defending […] the gains of the revolution. […] The only future for socialism […] is through democracy. That […] means organising a movement rooted in people’s communities and workplaces. It means arguing for a system that extends democracy to the workplace and the economy”.

And Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig wrote an article with the self-explanatory title ‘It’s time to give socialism a try’:

“Not to be confused for a totalitarian nostalgist, I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.”

As it happens, and to state the obvious, all Communist regimes have always called themselves democratic. They all called themselves Democratic People’s Republics. Their idea of democracy did not involve messy public debates or a balance of power between proponents of different ideas. They believed that only the Party understood the general will of the people—to use Rousseau’s concept. Thus, the people might not understand their true interest—they might vote for Donald Trump or even for Republicans—but their overlords in the Party knew what they really wanted and needed to take power in order to allow the people's will to be expressed.

This allows us to understand all of the mewling over how our sacred democracy was corrupted by the Russians, who managed with a minimal expense, to manipulate American minds and trick them into betraying their best interests by voting for Donald Trump. The question of Russian meddling and Russian collusion involves mind control. It is an expression of bitter resentment by those who believed that they had gained full control over American minds, only to discover that those pesky free-thinking Americans had not done as their overlords had told them and had not done what was surely in their best interest.

The Taiwan Question

The diplomatic thaw between the United States and North Korea has been wondrous to behold. No one imagined it possible. Everyone assumed that the Trump administration would muck it up and cause a nuclear holocaust.

We do not know how it is going to turn out, but we do see clear signs of progress. Clearly, something is going on and things are moving in a positive direction.

By my reading, the thaw has been orchestrated by Chinese President Xi Jinping… undoubtedly in coordination with the Trump administration. When Kim Jong-un traveled to Beijing, to be greeted as a dignified head of state, the message was clear. Xi was pulling the strings and was giving so much face to Kim that the latter could confidently negotiate away his insurance policy… his nuclear weapons.

If we want to speculate—and what purpose is a blog if not to allow us some wild speculation—we should ask what Xi received in return for his changed attitude toward the Korean peninsula. Clearly, he received something in return. He received something from President Trump, something that was in China’s national interest.

If you ask that question, and everyone seems to be avoiding it, even though it is unavoidable, the answer that pops immediately into mind is: Taiwan.

I suspect, without any evidence, that Trump offered Xi an assurance about Taiwan. The Chinese believe that Taiwan is part of China, roughly as they believed that Hong Kong was part of China.  I don’t that that Trump can or would hand Taiwan over to China, but other options are available. Clearly, the Taiwan issue is in the forefront of the Chinese politics. Xi did not intervene in North Korea because he's a nice guy or for the fun of it.

This, from the Singapore Straits Times, yesterday:

Chinese aircraft have again flown around self-ruled Taiwan in what China's air force yesterday called a "sacred mission", as Taiwan denounced its big neighbour over what it called a policy of military intimidation.

H-6K bombers, Su-30 and J-11 fighters and reconnaissance aircraft took part in a patrol around Taiwan, air force spokesman Shen Jinke told the official Xinhua news agency yesterday.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said the air force fly-by served as a warning against those pushing for Taiwanese independence.

China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around it.

"The motherland is in our hearts, and the jewelled island is in the bosom of the motherland," H-6K captain Zhai Peisong was quoted as saying in a statement on the Chinese airforce's microblog yesterday.

"Defending the beautiful rivers and mountains of the motherland is the sacred mission of air force pilots."

Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, is one of China's most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

More recently, China has been incensed by Taiwan Premier William Lai's comments that it deemed were in support of Taiwan independence, though Taipei says Mr Lai's position remains that the status quo between Taiwan and the mainland should be maintained.

One suspects that Xi Jinping’s cooperative attitude toward North Korea will ensure that the status quo between Taiwan and the mainland will be maintained and that Taiwan will not be announcing its independence any time soon.

At the least, I recommend that we keep an eye on events-- or, non-events-- in Taiwan.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Case of the Psychiatric Patient and Ex-Con Looking for Love

In a better world Ask Polly would not have responded to the letter sent by a woman who calls herself “I’m Still Here.” But, we do not live in a better world and Polly doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. Thus, Polly's willingness to address a woman who has an extensive history of psychiatric hospitalization and criminal incarceration becomes an excuse for her, yet again, to show us how little she knows. 

ISH was brought up in an authoritarian religious household. She married young, had four children and then had a breakdown. With the help of a therapist she has folded it all into a narrative of rebellion against oppressive forces. We do not know whether the therapist is a psychiatrist, whether ISH is taking any medication, and what her diagnosis is. We do not know whether her issues are psychological or physiological. We know very little. It does not deter Polly, but any serious therapist would need to know these things and would only treat this woman in coordination with a psychiatrist.

By that I mean that if ISH is suffering from bipolar illness, which is only treatable with medication, we would know that her therapist’s efforts to make it all into a coherent narrative, to fill it with meaning and to shift the blame away from her and on to her husband and parents, is a fool’s errand. Or better, it’s a form of indoctrination.

Now, some excerpts from the letter:

After more than a year of being told I wasn’t good enough, I broke down in the biggest, loudest way I knew how. I put on very public shows of self-harm, hysteria, panic, and despair. I threatened suicide, ran away, overdosed on medications, cut myself, and ended up in too many ERs, ICUs, and psych wards to count. In retrospect, I know I was begging the world to love me. I thought if I hurt myself enough, someone would save me.

My husband divorced me. Naturally, right? Like, who wouldn’t? I upped my level of commitment and put myself in a coma. A few weeks after I was released from the hospital, I put myself in jail.

Jail was a turning point, the degree of torture that it was. My searing terror of ever going back to jail moderated my actions, and it led me to find a therapist who knows her shit. I never thought I’d get to the point where death/escape doesn’t rule my every thought. I’m learning that I am good enough, I am worthy of love right here, right now, and always.

I got a job working with at-risk youth. I got my own apartment. I’m making actual friends for the first time. I’m working with my ex to spend more time with my kids, and I’m parenting them better than I ever have. Even though my time with them is limited, I’m busting my butt to be the parent I never had. I tell them every day how valuable they are and that I love them forever for one reason: THEY ARE MINE. I look at them, I listen to them, and I’m trying to love them with my whole heart.

I want to experience authentic romantic love, but I’m too paralyzed to do anything about it. I want to find a man who sees me — all the sparkly badass parts along with the steaming dungheap parts — and chooses me. A man who would find me sobbing on the couch and connect with me instead of criticizing me. A man I could have sex with because I want to, instead of doing it because I’m supposed to.

Might I say that finding true love is the least of her problems. She had a nervous breakdown and indulged in a spectacular series of self-destructive actions. As I say, she might have been bipolar, in which case she was not treated correctly or well. It does happen. She abandoned her children and her husband and is happy to blame her parents and her husband for her problems. Failing to take responsibility for her actions, she wants to live out the next chapter of the narrative that her therapist has taught her.

In the narrative she is not at fault. She now believes that she understands her problem and that she is ready for love. She still, however, can end up on the couch sobbing uncontrollably. Perhaps this signals an ongoing and untreated depression. Perhaps it's part of a bipolar disorder. If she thinks that love is going to solve it, she has bought the psycho world’s fiction and is about to be seriously disappointed.

Since Polly has no idea about what is going on here, she sounds especially mindless:

And it seems like we’re all destined to experience a private, intoxicating natural disaster that can usher us to the next level of happiness and understanding. But to get there, you have to bear witness to the disaster with every cell of your being. You have to let your emotions and your truest desires into the room instead of burying them deeper. Sometimes that feels a little bit like letting a monster loose.

A private, intoxicating natural disaster… huh? There was nothing private about ISH’s public spectacle. She fell apart in public. I suspect that in her community she has a reputation for bad behavior… and that this does not make her social life any easier. To imagine that her bad experiences can serve as a positive step toward happiness and understanding is absurd, stupid and dangerous.

Polly gets worse, imagining that ISH is an angel of light:

But now your monster has transformed into a gorgeous being of wisdom and light, one that’s anxious to share that light and that joy with others. Even though you feel fearful, I don’t think you have much to fear from love, because you’re resilient, you know your own heart, and you trust yourself. As long as you know that the steaming dung-heap parts of you are all tangled up with the sparkly badass parts, as long as you understand that you are that rare and precious species of angel-monster that has the power to inspire and give generously to others, you have nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately, this is not a joke. Again, Polly does not understand that this woman’s reputation is probably well known where she lives. Her problem is restoring her good name, not finding some form of redemption through true love. Have you noted that our seriously professional credentialed therapists are trafficking in a secular religion? In the name of science.

It gets worse. Polly tells this woman, whose instincts and gut feelings led her into this impasse that she should trust her instincts. When she tried to kill herself, she was following her instincts. When she overdosed she was trusting her instincts. Whatever she did to merit incarceration involved failing to control her instincts:

I just want to remind you that you can trust your instincts. Even though things might feel frightening and uncertain, you know that you’ll be okay. You’ve been through the fire and you can survive. You have to remind yourself, even as you feel fearful, that it’s thrilling and good to feel vulnerable to love. You’re strong enough to feel fear and still be brave in spite of your fear.

Polly next descends into cheerleader mode:

This is a great moment for you, because you get to ask for exactly what you want for the first time in your life! That’s how I feel, too. I can ask for what I want, even when I think it’s a little much. And I can accept when some people aren’t cut out to give me what I want.

This is pathetic. The notion that this seriously damaged women can now live out Polly’s adolescent fantasies is pathetic. Asking for what you want means very little if you are not the person, if you do not have the character and reputation, to obtain it. Polly is setting her up for disappointment.

Of course, we do not know what ISH's therapist thinks about this quest for redemptive love. And we do not know why, when ISH loves her therapist, she is writing to a magazine advice column.

Polly has no idea about what this women is thinking, how she thinks or her belief system. This does not prevent her from telling ISH that she is a great thinker and is fully capable of loving:

But I think it’s even more important to understand the unique, hidden strengths you have that lie in your belief system and in your clear, hard-fought ideas about what it means to be alive and to honor another human being with your love.

Because here you are, living an inspired, engaged life that you can really FEEL for the first time. Savor this. Don’t rush past this moment. Don’t let your interest in true love take you out of the enormous joy of this day, and the next. Don’t obsess. Give yourself time and space to figure out how you want to live and what makes you happy.

You and I know that once ISH goes out to find true love she will most likely be used and abused by men. Surely, her judgment is seriously distorted and her instincts are defective. If she imagines that with her newfound therapy-induced insights she is going to overcome all that, she is smoking the wrong kind of cigarettes. As for Polly, she is being completely irresponsible. She is aiding and abetting what looks to be a looming calamity.