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Ayn Rand was wrong

daemonburrito (1026186) writes | about 5 years ago

User Journal 2

Ayn Rand was wrong.

Rand asks us to take as a given that her conclusions necessarily follow from a logical examination of humankind, hence the term, "objectivism."

The sophism aside, the scientific advances of the last 50 years make it near certain that her conclusions were flawed; in particular, advances in the understanding of animal behavior, neurology, and cognitive science.

Ayn Rand was wrong.

Rand asks us to take as a given that her conclusions necessarily follow from a logical examination of humankind, hence the term, "objectivism."

The sophism aside, the scientific advances of the last 50 years make it near certain that her conclusions were flawed; in particular, advances in the understanding of animal behavior, neurology, and cognitive science.

We now know that altruism and empathy are assets. We know that they have a biological foundation. And, rationally, we know that we possess these traits for an evolutionary reason.

If Rand could examine our existence with logic (as scientists do) now, she would have to accept that her understanding of human drives was, at best, incomplete.

But if she were alive today, I don't think she would. Her examination was not, as she believed, of the human condition; it was of herself.

She dissected her own mind and found a person with what is now known as Dissocial Personality Disorder.

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Dissocial Personality Disorder? (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | about 5 years ago | (#28563123)

I dislike Ayn Rand quite a lot. But I'm also hesitant when I see psychological conditions diagnosed. Can you elaborate on your claim that she suffered from DPD?

Re:Dissocial Personality Disorder? (1)

daemonburrito (1026186) | about 5 years ago | (#28565397)

Sure. It could be a little hyperbolic, and I am not a psychologist.

I wish I could give you a better link for this, but you only have a choice between the crappy WHO webapp (requires javascript and is unlinkable) or a pdf of the ICD for Diagnosis (blue book) and Research (green book).

The ICD criteria are that three of the following must be present in addition to the general criteria of a personality disorder:

F60.2 Dissocial personality disorder

  1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.
  2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
  3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty to establish them.
  4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
  5. Incapacity to experience guilt, or to profit from adverse experience, particularly punishment.
  6. Marked proneness to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict with society.

http://www.who.int/entity/classifications/icd/en/GRNBOOK.pdf [who.int]

http://www.who.int/entity/classifications/icd/en/bluebook.pdf [who.int]

I believe that these criteria are a good fit; recordings of interviews with her can be used in lieu of an evaluation. In addition, we can use her philosophical framework as a reference if we accept that there was some projection happening. And, if we allow ourselves, we can use her reported history of romantic relationships.

DPD and related adult personality disorders are admittedly controversial diagnoses, but I am nearly certain that a firm basis for these diseases will be discovered someday soon.

My hypothesis is that Rand actually lacked brain function that most of the population takes for granted. As is the case with many other fringe philosophies, the author was unwittingly attempting to perform a self-diagnosis; she projected her lack of empathy to society at large. After her self-examination, she concluded that empathy and regard for societal obligations were a fiction; she had found neither in herself.

Aside: I think that these personality disorders are much more common than is reflected in our culture. If you were hesitant about my diagnosis of Rand, then you may not approve of this corollary: Many readers who suffer from personality disorders find validation in her books. For them, participating in our society must be very painful and confusing, as it is based on concepts with which they cannot be familiar. Rand's work and life provide some relief for them, casting their impairment into normalcy.

I will accept that neither the ICD nor the DSM are likely to be perfect descriptions of these problems, but the general notion of personality disorders is almost certainly accurate. In any case, I think it's reasonable to conclude that Rand was impaired.

Oh how I wish that the very notion of mental health was not taboo...

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