Divine divergence

Freddie deBoer on the valorization of mental illness:

Marianne Eloise wants the world to know that she does not “have a regular brain at all”. That’s her declaration, on the very first page of her new memoir, Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking. The book catalogues her experience of a dizzying variety of psychiatric conditions…By her own telling, Eloise has suffered a great deal from these ailments; I believe her, and wish better for her. But she would prefer we not think of them as ailments at all. And that combination of self-pity and self-aggrandisement is emblematic of our contemporary understanding of mental health.

Actually it’s emblematic of our understanding of way too many things. I don’t think I’ve thought of it this way before but “that combination of self-pity and self-aggrandisement” is an excellent description of the trans ideology, and an indication of what’s so repellent about it. Both self-pity and self-aggrandisement give me the crawls, and I bet I’m far from alone in that. They’re qualities that are very unsurprising in children and teenagers but after that they need to be left behind.

Eloise is a champion of neurodivergence, an omnibus term that’s recently ballooned in popularity, which can include autism, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, or indeed any other psychiatric condition that’s hot right now.

Ah yes – the “difference” approach. That explains why Laurie Penny got so indignant the other day when Ted Kuhner talked about autism as a severe disorder as opposed to Just Being Different.

The idea is that there’s a group of people whose brain chemistry differs, in some beautiful way, from some Platonic norm. And it’s an idea that’s taken on great symbolic power in contemporary liberal culture.

It seems to start from the unexceptionable idea that people shouldn’t be persecuted or neglected for being different, and to go from there to being different is always good no matter what. It’s a non sequitur, but try telling the LPs of the world that.

There is, for example, a thriving ADHD community on TikTok and Tumblr: people who view their attentional difficulties not as an annoyance to be managed with medical treatment but as an adorable character trait that makes them sharper and more interesting than others around them. (They still demand extra time to take tests, naturally.)

And as for gender dysphoria…

11 Responses to “Divine divergence”