5 maart 2010


Studies in MEdical Sadism - 4: Intermezzo - Lucian


    "I'm an anti-cheatist, an anti-quackist, an anti-liarist, and an anti-inflated-egoist. I'm anti all the revolting types like that - and there are plenty of them, as you know."
    -- Lucian
     "Makt (..) betyr bare n ting: adgang til aa paafre andre smerte."
    -- Bjrneboe ($)

Today I have little energy, and I will translate a short piece I wrote in Dutch some two years ago. It also in its own way continues some of my reasons to write my Studies in MEdical Sadism, for which reason it should be part of the series, that indeed also is meant to consider various topics related to that subject in various tones and terms, and which is also quite serious in two claims:

  • There is such a thing is medical sadism in general, that is, medical doctors who are in business because they like to exercise power and like to earn money with pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others or from causing others pain or misery.
  • There is such a thing is medical sadism in the medical/psychiatric treatment of ME in particular, namely in the psychosomatic schools of Wessely, Reeves and Van der Meer (and others).

There are various reasons for this, two of which are that the medical profession itself does not properly clean its ranks and that one important underlying theme is power, for "all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Lord Acton), and there are few situations in which one person can exercise more power (for good or ill) over another than the situation in which the one is a doctor and another is the patient, or as Bjrneboe had it in the above Norwegian quotation: "Power (..) means only one thing: the ability to cause another pain."

And of course not all medical doctors, and also not most medical doctors, have been corrupted by power in a major way, or are medical sadists. But there are some, and one field and group of persons they exercise a great and malicious power over is the field of ME and patients of ME

Now to "Lucian of Samosata, otherwise known as Lucian the Blasphemer, or the Slanderer, or, more accurately, the Atheist":

I mentioned Lucian, who is my subject today, in my 30 favorite writers, also in connection with my - third - removal from the University of Amsterdam because of "your outspoken opinions" as a student of philosophy, and such Dutch honest and gifted feelosophers as prof.dr. Paul Scheffer.

I owe a very nice, good and readable translation of Lucian in Penguin:

  • "Lucian - satirical sketches", translated with an introduction by Paul Turner.

The edition I have is from 1968, and the original appeared in 1961, and in a moment I will quote Luciam's presentation of himself from it, but I start with a few facts to provide a little background.

Lucian lived approximately from 115-200 A.D. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Ed. Paul Edwards, tells about him, also in Paul Turner's words:

(..) Lucian claimed to be a champion of philosophy, wich he described elsewhere as a civilizing and morally improving study; however, he constantly criticized pseudo philosophers for their greed, bad temper, sexual immorality, and the general inconsistency between their preaching and their practice.
The historical occasion for such attacks was the encouragement of philosophy by Marcus Aurelius, which had made philosophers almost as numerous as monks and friars were in the Middle Ages.
  (p. 98-9, Volume 5)

He was a favorite of quite a few of my favorites. The reason is that he is quite often quite funny, that he wrote well (in Greek) and did not at all like philosophical obscurantists nor frauds. Voltaire admired him; he inspired Erasmus; and Hume cited him on hits deathbead.

It is possible - I do not know, but it rather seems like it - that Monty Python also was inspired by him (in part), for Lucian's dialogs quite often have a Pythonesque quality.

Turner's translation quotes "a tenth century encyclopedia", of course Christian, in which he was not loved:

Lucian of Samosata, otherwise known as Lucian the Blasphemer, or the Slanderer, or, more accurately, the Atheist, because in his dialogues he even makes fun of religion. (..) He is said to have been torn to pieces by mad dogs, because he had been so rabid against the truth - for his Death of Peregrinus the filthy brute attacks Christianity and blasphemes Christ himself. So he was adequately punished in this world, and in the next he will inherit eternal fire with Satan. (p. 7)

According to Turner this is mostly Christian paranoia, for in fact Lucian wasn't very critical of the Christians, although he did hold that they preached nonsense, like so many of the beliefs.

Lucian's influence on real thinkers and great artists living after him is described by Turner in the following words

Besides suggesting subjects for pictures by Botticelli, Drer, and Degas, inspiring the music of "L'apprenti sorcier" by Dukas, and influencing such European authors as Boiardo, Ariosto, Erasmus, Rabelais, Cervantes, Voltaire, and Goethe, Lucian has also played a part in English literature.

Sir Thomas More, who translated several of his works into Latin, echoes the True History [by Lucan - MM] in the general form, the fantastic humour, and the quasi-realistic details of his Utopia.
Ben Jonson (..) his best play Volpone, derives its plot from the brief dialogue on page 75-7 [in Turner's translation - MM]. It has been plausibly argued that Lucian is one of the sources of the Grave-scene in Hamlet, and Shakespeare's Timon of Athens is undoubtedly based in part on Lucian's Timon.

The reason for Lucian's influence is especially that he is funny, and makes mincemeat of the pretentious philosophers of his own time. He was less a philosopher than a writer, who liked to declaim his own texts in public, so that he also appears in this respect as Monty Pythonesque figure from the 2n Century A.D.

Here Lucian gives his own motivation to write about philosophers, in a dialog with the Goddess Philosophy:

PHILOSOPHY: But what's your job? There's no harm in asking that.
LUCIAN: I'm an anti-cheatist, an anti-quackist, an anti-liarist, and an anti-inflated-egoist. I'm anti all the revolting types like that - and there are plenty of them, as you know.
PHILOSOPHY [smiling]: Well, well! You're quite an anti-body, aren't you?
LUCIAN: I certainly am. You can see why I've got myself aso much disliked, and why I'm in such a dangerous situation. Not that I'm not an expert pro-body too. I'm a pro-truthist, a pro-beautician, a pro-sinceritist, and a pro-everything that's pro-worthy. But I don't find much scope for exercisting my talents in that direction, whereas thousands of people are always queuing up for the anti-treatment. In fact I'm so out of practice as a probody, that I dare say I have lost the knack of it by now - but I'm a real expert at the other part of my profession.
PHILOSOPHY [seriously]: That's bad. They're opposite sides of a coin, as it were. So don't specialize in one at the expense of the other. They should merely be different aspects of the same fundamental attitude.
LUCIAN: Well, you know best, Philosophy. But I'm so constituted that I can't help hating bad types and liking good ones.
   (uit: Fishing for phonies, in de Turner-vertaling, p. 177-8)

Now you may perhaps understand why a person like me really likes Lucian, though in my own case (my criticism) : (my constructive work) = 20 : 80, approximately, on my site.

Lucian is recommended, and is also someone you may read with considerable pleasure without knowing much about philosophy: To enjoy him all you need is some superficial acquaintance with The Philosophers that teach in the University of Amsterdam or with their better known foreign counterparts in deception that are being served on Dutch TV for example by Wim Kayzer, that you may come to appreciate by means of my Hip, spiritueel, modern, lefdasje:  Spinoza, that was inspired by modern Dutch types quite like the "philosophers" Lucian met in the Roman Empire.

I wish you much reading pleasure with Lucian. Fun!


($) Books quoted from: Lucian, translated and introduced by Paul Turner, Penguin Books, 1968 (1st publ. 1961); Frihetens yeblikk, Jens Bjrneboe, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Oslo, 1977 (1st publ. 1966), p. 178.  ""Makt (..) betyr bare n ting: adgang til aa paafre andre smerte" = "Power (..) means only one thing: the ability to cause another pain".

P.S. There are other important reasons why I decided to write my Studies in MEdical Sadism, besides being hurt by it and a victim of it, such as that messrs. Wessely, Reeves and Van der Meer, and others of that ilk, who have set themselves up as "specialists in ME" have done so by pseudo-science, which again overlaps with three things I specialized in philosophy: philosophy of science, logic and methodology - and not, I am quite certain, pseudo-science due to incompetence, for although the named gentlemen have quite a few willing executioners amongst the more stupid or sadistically inclined nurses, paramedicals, and the dumber or sicker sorts of (perverse) psychotherapists and psychiatrists, it is quite clear to me that messrs. Wessely, Reeves and Van der Meer know that they deceive, misrepresent, mislead, arbitrarily redefine, defame, insinuate, and in general terms simply abuse science and reason, on purpose, for gain or for perverse kicks.

It is true that this is a bit difficult to appreciate clearly if one does not know much of philosophy of science and methodology, especially, but if one does one can see quite a few cases of deliberately mistaken and misrepresented methodology (e.g. as regards to which kinds of patients are to be studied as "patients with ME"). (*)

But one quite clear sign that everyone can see with just a little care is that messrs. Wessely, Reeves and Van der Meer usually fail to mention the work of others in the field they claim falsely to be scientific experts in; if they do, they generally misrepresent and pooh-pooh it, while generally lacking themselves the requisite specialist knowledge; and especially that they consistently and for decades fail to tell their readers and the journalists they spoke with that what they claim themselves to be the truth about ME - a psychiatric condition: it is malingering or due to a dysfunctional belief system - is in complete disagreement since many decades with the rulings of the Word Health organization, that has classified it as a serious neurological disease in 1969, and has in 1991 further ruled that it is not a psychiatric disease.

For some of the evidence, see the next and last part:

P.P.S. Real scientific background

The present text is a first effort, and may take some reviewing, for which I don't have the fitness just now.

Since I complain of the "science" of the psychosomatists, let me repeat and extend a list of real scientific facts and reasoning. It is all well worth reading by anybody interested in ME, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy of science, the morals of and motives of psychiatrists, or rational thinking:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
     insufficient evidence
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

And let me note that there are now approximately 17 million persons with ME all of whom have been and are slandered, defamed, lied about and misrepresented by the schools of sadistic pseudo-science I have been talking about.


(*) Those who doubt this can check out the texts in the P.P.S., especially those by professor Malcolm Hooper, who is a real scientists, who knows methodology and philosophy of science.

Maarten Maartensz

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