Sunday, September 30, 2018

Open letter to Chloe Swarbrick_on Mental Illness

Andrew Atkin:

Dear Chloe Swarbrick,

In acknowledging your new portfolio on mental health issues, I wish to give you this open letter.

The focus on mental health today is all about providing patches. This is necessary but we must address causes if we do not wish to make mental health a forever-issue.

Psychiatrists have understood, and general research has long verified, that mental illness is principally the fallout of powerful internalised pain. In practical terms, mental sickness is overwhelmingly a manifestation of child abuse and this is where the conversation should begin if we can agree that the issue should be about more than protecting the tax-base.

To understand mental sickness (and the great majority of us do not) in its most simple form, just think of someone trying to get through life with three bulldog clips stuck to their fingers. The mentally ill are in pain and are struggling. Most importantly, they cannot respond to their children properly--sometimes hardly at all--and in the most severe cases they cannot even hold down a job. This is because of those 'bulldog clips', the effect of which they must forever struggle to manage. Internalised pain becomes an aggressive existential tax that makes all other (non act-out) activities very difficult.

What most people recognise as 'mental sickness' is not the internalised pain, which is its true basis. It is the broken-down defense system that makes the management of internalised pain fail, to a given degree. In turn driving toxic dependencies and heavy over-reactions. Open wounds, if you like.

Our mental health professionals deal with those open wounds by closing them up again, if they can. They do this with therapy and more commonly (and desperately) with drugs. But it's all patches. And those patches do not of course solve the deeper problem - they simply cover it.

The best that patches can do in such a traumatised world is leave us with a kind of zombie-nation, because when we cover our pain we cover everything.  A heightened state of repression will help people cope, but it will (and does) rob them of their full humanity. And alas that does not make for good parenting, so as to quickly stop the cycle of intergenerational pain.

So what is the solution? Keep going with the patches - we need them. But see them for what they are. Understand that child abuse and infantile damage is the real name of the real game. This should be our central target.

I would recommend education for the young on child rearing so they can understanding scientifically what really hurts children and what does not, to avoid the most gross of errors that we are all guilty of. We need to focus on infantile damage especially which is where the most serious internalised pain is rooted.

I believe we also need to make some tough decisions on fertility. Should we really be letting people who are patently emotionally disturbed have children, that they will almost certainly abuse and chronically neglect? Is this really the right thing to do, considering it is our whole society that has to deal with the fallout of this somewhat simple-thinking libertarianism? We need to ask tough questions here if we do not want the darkest extremes of the underclass to continue to grow.

To get an idea of the real New Zealand domestic world, which is where mass mental illness is generated, then I can suggest having some private conversations with experienced police officers. They will show you a world that we do not want to know, but need to know.

The very best and good luck,

Andrew Atkin

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Anxiety and Intelligence

Andrew Atkin:

I have written before that it seems strange that there should be any significant 
difference in Intelligence amongst humans with the same brain capacity. Owing to the fact that, evolutionarily speaking, the brain is an extremely expensive organ and it would seem a strange waste to not optimise the software running the hardware. Evolutionary pressure should have dictated that brains be virtually the same, in terms of intellectual capacity, amongst various human specimens.

However there is one variable, among others, that might suggest why we see significant differences in operational IQ between different people: Anxiety.

We know that when we are anxious that it's hard to think normally. In fact with enough anxiety we can hardly think at all. Why? Because most of our conscious attention is focused on external and immediate threat-detection, and in preparation for our anticipated response. So anxiety can and does dominate the metal budget in practice. I notice that I myself am always more intelligent--in an academic and reflective sense--when left alone in a peaceful environment. This is because my threat-detection system is nearly completely off, giving me my mind back in full. 

So what has this got to do with IQ? Some people, and probably all of us to a degree, are in a permanent state of alerted threat-detection. We can never fully relax and in turn focus like we should.  For some people the threat-detection function is locked-in epigenetically. The result is that threat-detection won't turn off, no matter where they are.

Mothers who are anxious while carrying are more likely to produce offspring that are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To be simple, an ADHD individual has been taught within the womb to expect to be born into a dangerous world, and they have been taught this by the mother's emotional state. A baby literally reads the world it will be born into through the mothers feeling-state, and in turn genetically adjusts itself to the anticipated conditions. The womb is a profound primer for the future life.

Will this affect the child's ability to engage in immersive concentration, and in turn compromise their development and operational IQ? Of course it must. But with epigenetics, again, the difference is locked in. So you can't facilitate concentration by simply changing the environment.

Insofar as this is the case, we can see that what sometimes looks like genetic differences in intelligence may actually be environmental; meaning, the environment of the womb. Our assumptions on inherited intelligence being genetic, are based on identical twin studies of infants that have been separated at birth - not separated before birth. In turn, an anxiety-state passed on down through the generations may be falsely representing the real intellectual potential of any given select group of people.

Insofar as anxiety, and its response, compromises operational intelligence we can see that it would make sense to support mothers while they are pregnant. This is to be sure they do not expose themselves and in turn their babies to any more anxiety than need be. That would be easier said than done if the mother is inherently anxious due to her personal history, but we can do our best to make things better for the child nonetheless.


Note: I would like to add a practical note for employers: Making your staff anxious is no way to get the best out of them. You're more likely to turn high-IQ into high staff turnover, and you can only get away with that (without cost) on a mindless production-line. And this problem, where it exists, is easy to solve. Just talk to your staff about how they feel around you, their supervisors, and their co-workers. As I've argued in this article, how they feel is in fact a very important question. You want to know if you're making your staff "dumb". And speaking from personal observations, this problem happens all the time. It's amazing how many employers create the very problems they try to solve by breathing down their staffs necks, subtlety degrading them, and making them feel anxious.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Economics, Money and Life

Andrew Atkin:

You would think that money was like any other unit of value. That is, it should respond to the supply to demand function. Meaning, the more money you have the less it should be worth to you, per unit. So the difference in personal value between earning $90,000 pa and $60,000 pa should be small compared to the difference between earning $60,000 and $30,000.

In terms of material living standards that is true. Money is indeed worth less the more you have. In turn the more money you have, the more the other aspects of your life should be worth to you in relative terms. In theory, with greater wealth your focus on more spare time and better human company etc, should grow as a natural priority. Yet curiously, countless people do not think or respond like that. Often the more money they get, the more they want, and the more they give themselves to the pursuit of it.

The question is why? Psychological needs amplify a purely rational relationship to earning money. Such as the need to have what others have to avoid feeling as though you're missing out; or the need to use money to display status. But again these variables have nothing to do with the raw material value of money - they just amplify our drive to obtain it. 

Curiously, when you look at the fact that the per-unit value of money should shrink in the wealthy world, as it is ever-more abundant, social control might then become difficult. How do you pay people off to do what you want them to do, when they hardly even care for the extra money you're offering? Maybe this is why our society puts so much pressure on the young to 'be all they can be', which boils down to threatening to make them feel inadequate if they don't climb to their personal peak in the commercial world...

Are we instinctively fighting against people making otherwise materialistically rational decisions that we don't want them to make, because it's in our interest to amplify the tax-take? You can wonder. Societies always pressure people to live up to characteristics that they need and/or want. It's written in the abstract value systems.

There's another powerful variable western society has introduced, that works to make people want to work harder than it's worth. And that is anti-discrimination laws...

As money in the wealthy world becomes more of societal game, as opposed to a raw material needs game, then the most potent thing you can do to make people "wage slaves" is negatively regulate their social environment in response to their wealth. In western society today, if you don't make enough money you might be forced to live amongst the underclass, because you are not then allowed to build a new residential development that outright blocks undesirable people. In our world, you need to live in a somewhat rich neighborhood to avoid the underclass.

In short, we have made money a prerequisite for being part of a given social class. I do not believe this is an intrinsically natural phenomena. It comes from the need to specifically use money to discriminate.

However, I believe this could soon come to an interesting end (see video below). With the development of low-cost large-scale private communities, based anywhere in the world, where most people can work online, and most critically where people can form exclusive communities by choosing each other via online interviews (think, Tinder for groups) and not on the basis of money, then the heart of the modern status game could turn on its head.

The result could be that your social world is more determined by who you are, as opposed to how much money you earn. This could lead to an implosion in the need to make more money than you would otherwise want, leading to a better rationalisation of life choices, and ultimately of course a higher real standard of living.  

Indeed, it's interesting that in richer societies we see a greater gender-separation in work-life choices, as compared to poorer societies. Women in rich societies tend to choose lower-paying 'feminine' careers ahead of higher-paying male-dominated careers, because they would rather do the work that they enjoy doing when they no longer have to worry about basic survival. Again, I believe we could see a radical amplification of that basic trend--for both men and women--as people's lives become less dominated by material needs and, so importantly, as more opportunity to directly regulate their social environments without wealth becomes hopefully manifest, so they are in turn free to live a more materialistically rational life.