Thursday, December 01, 2005

Psychiatric Bigotry

Dr. Martin Kafka spoke at New Hampshire Hospital Grand Rounds today about sexual offenders and pharmacological treatments. After a somewhat dry and technical lecture, he closed with a rather vulgar small-penises joke about George Bush and his administration, including (ha ha) Condi Rice.

I have been going to conferences and picking up these continuing education credits in the psychological sciences for almost 20 years. I have heard, I estimate, over 300 different speakers. They have told many anti-conservative jokes, almost never anti-liberal. The lone exceptions were two Bill Clinton sex references in the late 90’s. Both seemed more congratulatory than critical, but they were at least ambiguous.

Dr. Kafka is a heavy hitter in the field of paraphilias, sexual addiction, and psychopharmacology of sex offenders. The lecture was appropriately professional, with reference to dopamine receptors, functional MRI’s, the hypothalamus, and comorbidity studies. The overall point, that dysthymic disorders, anxiety disorders, and ADHD are comorbid with paraphilia-related disorders and sexual offenders, and that these can provide a clue which direction to take in prescribing, was excellent. Notably, he took special care not to offend any hard-school feminists by stressing that he was not writing off cultural influences to male sexual aggression but simply noting the biological substrate.

Social judgment is a subtle thing to describe, but easy to detect when someone attempts a joke and it falls flat. The audience – my coworkers – laughed appreciatively. My own social judgment is good enough to know what would have been the response if he had attempted that small-penises joke about the previous administration. People would have been annoyed and mumbling. If Hillary Clinton had been included, several women would have walked out (and they would have been right to, by the way).

You can poke around on the internet and find people making vulgar jokes about Democrats, perhaps even especially the Clintons. But you will not find that level of bigotry in polite and professional conversation. Not directed leftward, at any rate. These urbane, sophisticated people, nearly all with advanced degrees, enjoyed this intense bigotry. This key to social acceptance is not lost on those coming up in the field. Everyone in human services knows what the cool kids’ politics are.


SC&A said...

Well said.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, 'university politics are so vicious because they are so unimportant and irrelevant.'

While Dr Kafka's credentials, experience and research are extensive, that should not be mistaken for relevence in the real world- that is, anything outside his narrow field of expertise.

One could easily infer that his remarks on politics- which are way outside the purview of his expertise- in an attempt to to convince his audience (equally ill equipped) of his relevance outside his field.

In other words, he's trying a bit too hard. He's in a room of nerds, pretending to be cool- because he realizes outside academia- in the real world- his credentials don't count for much.

He's like the cop that brings his badge into the shower with him- without his credentials, he's nothing.

Most of us have no problem not being experts in everything. In fact, most of us have no problem saying , 'I don't know,' and then learning, observing and ask more questions. Most of us thrive on that.

Dr K, however, is the go to expert. Just ask him.

I'll leave pages 2 through 17 for your diagnosis- no doubt far better than my own.

SC&A said...

One more thing- in the light of day, the attribution of sexual immaturity and deviancies (that is what K is inferring), by K onto the right (or anyone that might disagree with him) is more than telling.

Talk about projection.

DADvocate said...

In line with S.C.A's somments, sounds like a form of penis envy.

OBloodyHell said...

> In line with S.C.A's somments, sounds like a form of penis envy.

I dunno, in my personal experience dickless wonders never find ha' penis.

Reginleif said...

I remember seeing Kafka give a speech more than 10 years ago (I believe it was on the effects of antidepressants on libido, but I could be wrong... my memory is terrible). The guy grated on my nerves. This isn't to say that he doesn't know his field of endeavour, but I could easily envision him making the comment that you report.