Guest post: Going along with delusions

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on The harm suffered.

This isn’t super-complicated stuff. One wonders why it’s so hard for people to see.

It’s willful blindness in this one claim particularly. If it were just the blindness, that would be one thing. It’s the coercion to collude that takes it that much further. It’s not usually suggested, as a matter of course, that society at large affirms and goes along with people’s mistaken beliefs about themselves. We don’t agree with dangerously underweight anorexics that they are in fact horribly obese. We do not humour people, suffering from very particular brain injuries, by going along with their sincerely held (but mistaken) belief that one of their own limbs is actually a robotic or alien replacements that have somehow been grafted onto their bodies. The vehemence and sincerity of these strongly held beliefs does not enter into the picture. The incorrectness of the self image overrides the firmness of the patient’s conviction. There is no demand made that we share, and reinforce, the delusions of these people, or a socially enforced, professionally sanctioned belief that doing so is actually good for the people trapped within these delusions.

We’ve noted on a number of occasions here on B&W that Donald Trump’s self image as a “stable genius” is a claim of the same sort. It is a laughably inaccurate self-image, but enough went along with him that he was elected to the highest office in the United States. Going along with delusions, or denying that they are delusions at all, can have serious ramifications. These are still being played out with the American body politic around the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. But there are delusions on both sides of the aisle.

People who would balk or laugh at “validating” Trump’s self assessment happily put pronouns in their bios, and will unquestioningly believe, repeat, and enforce the claim that TWAW. There are medical associations proclaiming that children can “know themselves” perfectly well, and that they should be allowed to make decisions about a future that they are, in reality, ill-equipped to imagine because they are still, you know, children. Puberty, a normal, healthy (if sometimes fraught) stage through which humans pass, is compared to “an approaching asteroid” to be paused, delayed or avoided. It is insisted that this can be done safely and reversibly. “Watchfull waiting” is branded as “conversion therapy,” while the euphemistically named “affirmation” approach is nothing but a fast-track to a path of mutilation, debilitation, and lifelong medical dependency that will likely fail to address issues that it leaves, by design, unacknowledged and unexplored. All for the child’s “mental health”.

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