Categories

Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘schemas & memes’

The ‘Gay Cure’: was Spitzer right to recant?

Robert L Spitzer is one of the giants of modern Psychiatry, a scientific philosopher as much as a hands-on medical man. He’s been a fearless opponent of too-easily-accepted givens, notably challenging some of David Rosenhan’s conclusions in his 1973 study, On Being Sane in Insane Places. However, Spitzer really made his mark by leading the campaign to have homosexuality removed from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a psychiatric disorder – which it was in 1973. So the news last week that Spitzer had ‘recanted’ a study he had carried out in 2000-2001 and had published in 2003 caught my eye – especially as I had referenced that same study in a lengthy letter I had published in Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, in 2009. My letter, titled ‘An Imposed Etic’, was published as ‘An Imposed Ethic’ – presumably the editor thought ‘etic’ was a spelling mistake and didn’t get the sense I was trying to convey through the use of the term ‘imposed etic’. My point was that particular, localised values and norms were being applied as though they were universals, without empirical justification. I had been somewhat concerned by John Daniels’ article,… Read More

Austerity and the Euro – an Appalling Lack of Quality Leadership

Well, the Eurozone crisis has certainly dominated the news this past week or so – and the Greeks are once again at the centre of it. But this time it’s different. This time it’s not so much the ORANGE vMEME of the ultra-rich financial speculators effortlessly wrongfooting the BLUE-dominated fiscal technocrats in Brussels and Berlin which is causing the problem – though the speculators are still making plenty of money! Rather, it’s the people – the newly-poor, crushed and deprived by the austerity measures wreaking havoc with lives right across Europe – who are democratically electing populist politicians and extremist politicians promising them relief from the austerity. (21 of the Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazi candidates made it into the Greek parliament in the 6 May election.) New Greek elections in mid-June are tipped to give an outright victory to the leftist Syriza bloc which, if Syriza’s leaders stick to their guns, means forcing the European Union to renegotiate the second bailout deal agreed in March, so the austerity measures the Greek are forced to endure are that much less severe. That or Greece tears up the agreement and effectively leaves the euro. In trying to predict what will happen – or what should happen –… Read More

Lose a Cat, lose a Father….

Yesterday we – my wife, Caroline, and I – attended a service for the interment of my father’s ashes. A few hours later we picked up a new cat, a 6-week old male kitten we’re calling Basmati – ‘Basmati Rice’, geddit?! Baz, as we tend to call him, is settling in remarkably well and is a real delight after what seems to have been 6 months of loss. Personally I would never admit to being religious or, in any sense, ‘spiritual’ beyond having a strong but rather vague conviction that there is something bigger than me ‘out there’.  On the odd occasion I do think about it, I tend to think of this ‘something’ in God-the-Father/Allah-the-Compassionate terms – which I attribute to cultural memes rather than any spiritual intuition. And I certainly consider myself far too rational to entertain anything superstitious! Yet, for several years now, I’ve had the thought that I would lose Artemis, my cat, and Ted Rice, my father, within a very short time of each other. Of course, I could rationalise this by arguing that both were approaching the end of their natural life and had already lived significantly beyond the average age of their sex and… Read More

Is the Big Society in BIG Trouble?

So the day after David Cameron effectively relaunches the ‘Big Society’, with a new ‘white paper’, his key figure in charge of implementing the Big Society, Lord Wei of Shoreditch, resigns…. That could hardly be worse timing! Surely Cameron knew Wei was going?!? In which case it would have been much more politically astute to have rescheduled the launch of the white paper. As it is, Wei’s departure is a gift to Labour, with Shadow Cabinet Office minister Theresa Jowell saying, “….yet again”  the Big Society is “descending into farce. Only a day after Cameron told us all to take more responsibility, it appears that there will now be nobody in his government responsible for bringing the Big Society into reality.” If Cameron didn’t know Wei was going, then it says something about Wei that he could time his resignation to such negative effect or about either Cameron’s judgement in recruiting such a fickle ally or  Cameron’s treatment of Wei that he could undermine his boss in such a damaging way. Whatever the circumstances of Wei’s depearture, the effect is damaging both to Cameron personally and to the development of the Big Society concept. Whether you think Cameron is being honest when… Read More

The Northampton ‘Supergran’ and the Issues She raises

The footage of ‘supergran’ Ann Timson belting hell out of a bunch of would-be ‘smash ‘n’ grab’ scooter boys at a jewellers in Northampton the other week (7 February, to be precise) has had me musing ever since it was first  broadcast. The fact it is has become a ‘viral phenomenon’, spreading right around the world, has only caused me to muse further. By pure coincidence, a camera man was over the road filming for a documentary and he managed to capture the entire event on film. The footage was aired on ITN News that evening. Within hours, it was on YouTube and received nearly 6,000 views over the next 24 hours. Now there are multiple versions all over YouTube, Daily Motion, etc, using Superman logos and music like Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’, etc, etc, etc. Ann Timson’s onslaught has made news bulletins in the United States, Australia and many other countries. The event itself raises important questions – as does the fact it has become such a ‘viral phenomenon’. Just in case you haven’t seen it or you need a reminder, here’s a slight edit of the original footage…   Ann Timson So what made a 71-year-old grandmother with arthritis in… Read More

David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT…

This past weekend David Cameron pushed forward considerably ideas his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had been moving progressively towards …. In essence, this is to say pretty explicitly that, if you want to be British, you need to buy into the British identity and British values. (Ironically, freed from the collective responsibility of Cabinet, Blair on these issues is almost certainly well to the right of Cameron these days – see: ‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair). Cameron criticised ‘state multiculturalism’ and argued the UK needs a stronger national identity to stop people turning to extremism. With MI6 warning last week that Britain faces an “‘unstoppable wave of home-grown suicide bombers”, Cameron could hardly have ignored the threat from radicalised young Muslims; and it seems logical to ascribe their lack of identification with ‘British values’ as one cause of their radicalisation. In his speech on Saturday (5 February) Cameron accused multiculturalism of leading to a Britain of ‘divided tribes’. The prime minister posited that the multiculturalist dogma, which increasingly dominated political and social thinking from the early 1970s on, had meant the majority had to accord each minority ethnic group respect and the freedom to pursue its… Read More

Can the Lib Dems get off the Torture Rack?

Can the Liberal Democrats get off the torture rack they’ve put themselves on before next Thursday’s (9 December) vote on the university tuition fees proposal…? One can only hope so. That this was a potential destroyer was recognised by the architects of May’s Coalition Agreement who gave Lib Dem MPs the right to abstain when this issue came up for the vote. Unfortunately, a number of Lib Dem MPs are threatening to vote against Government policy – including former Lib Dem leaders Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, both of whom still carry considerable influence amongst backbenchers. Understandably perhaps in the past week or so Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have tried to resolve the confusion and bitterness by getting the Lib Dems to block vote on the issue…for the proposal, of course. Clegg and Cable are, after all, senior ministers in the Coalition Government. But with the party now as low as something like 14% (Guardian/ICM, 22 November) in the opinion polls – though some pollsters believe that figure is artificially low – and with rioting students calling for Clegg and Cable to dare to meet them in person, it can hardly be surprising that Clegg and Cable are desperate for a… Read More

The Mamas & The Papas: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll or Incest, Addiction and Unreleased Albums?

Did you know The Mamas & The Papas have an album out of new material – ‘MANY MAMAS & PAPAS’ – and it’s arguably even better than the albums they made in their mid-60s heyday? Er, hang on, I hear you say, how can The Mamas &  The Papas have an album of new material out when 3 of them are dead – Mama Cass Elliot since 1974? Well, of course, it’s not the original 4 members – though leader John Phillips (died 2001) is present throughout, had a hand in writing all the songs but one and produced and arranged all the material. Original Papa Denny Doherty (died 2007) is on many of the numbers – with Phillips’ protégé Scott Mackenzie (of ‘San Franciso’ fame) on others. The Mamas this time around are John’s daughter Mackenzie Phillips, more than surpassing stepmother Michelle Phillips in the role of soprano while the rotund contralto role of Cass is given a pretty reasonable pastiche by the nearly-as-rotund Spanky McFarlane (once of Mamas & Papas soundalikes Spanky & Our Gang). The music, which was actually recorded at various sessions in the 1980s by the touring Mamas & Papas and their backing bands, still treads the pathway between bright pop… Read More

Wanted: Suitable Latvian Men for Latvian Women

This article on the BBC News the other day (13 October) really caught my eye…about there being a shortage of suitable men for the women of Latvia. Of course, there have been many shortages of men before. Usually after wars there are shortages of men since men do most of the fighting. Even in the one and only truly ‘total war’ of World War II, far more men were killed than women. Eg: the Germans lost over 5 million men and the Soviet Union an estimate of upto 10 million. (If just some of the anecdotes I’ve heard are true, British and American soldiers in the ruins of Berlin in 1945 could have almost any German woman they wanted, especially if they had chocolate, cigarettes, nylons, etc, to give away.) However, a significant shortage in peace time is unusual. Paradoxically statistics show that more male babies are born in Latvia than girls. However, a high early male mortality rate means there are 8% more women than men in the country. Among the under-30s, there are almost 9,000 more men than women. However, this is inverted between the ages of 30-39 so that there are almost 3,000 more women than men. This… Read More

‘Lost’ in Purgatory?

Over 2 weeks later it’s still being remarked upon in the internet fan forums about just how similar in theme were the final episodes of 2 of the biggest TV dramas of the past few years, Ashes to Ashes (21 May) and Lost (24 May). The Life On Mars/Ashes to Ashes story arcs ended with ‘rough diamond’/’Neanderthal throwback’ [take your pick!] DCI Gene Hunt revealed to be a Christ-like figure living in purgatory to work with the souls of dead coppers to help them accept their untimely demise and move on to the afterlife proper. Hunt even got to fend off the devil-like Discipline & Complaints investigator Jim Keats’ attempts to steal the dead coppers’ souls. Truth to tell, I wasn’t much impressed with the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ finale, ruminating that the purgatory explanation was something of a cop-out, saving the writers from having to come up with some kind of science fiction story of alternate realities/dimension shifts/etc, etc. But – blow me! – just a few days later a near-identical theme was acted out in ‘Lost’s’ 2.5-hour grand finale. This time around it was Jack Shephard being Christ-like to save the island from the darkness brought on by the devil-like ‘Man in… Read More