Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Embarrassing Psychobabble Exculpation of Mel Gibson by NBC‘s Dr. Nancy Snyderman

Do you find much that is complicated regarding the audio recordings of Mel Gibson’s threatening former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and implicitly admitting assault and battery against her?

Neither should any non-corkscrew thinker, but NBC’s Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman does.

Interviewed this day on NBC’s “Today” show by Meredith Vieira along with former judge and prosecutor Jeanine Pirro, (who has apparently herself been the victim of domestic abuse), Dr. Snyderman unleashed a barrage of excusing psychological possibilities, perhaps heretofore unknown by experts outside the forgiving walls of forensic psychiatry.

The recordings of Gibson’s clear, non-slurring and chilling, threatening demeanor (“I’ll put you in a f...... rose garden”) replete with imminent ultimatums (“You hang up, I’m coming over there”) brought these responses from the understanding Dr. Snyderman: “This is mental illness;” “Any psychiatrist would look at [possible] inflammation, infection, tumor drug use;” and then she wonders if this could be an “alcohol-fueled rant.”

Not only was there a 20-year or so history of violent rhetoric on the part of Mr. Gibson, but there was no evidence even of his slurring his words this time as there was on previous audios of, for example, his anti-Semitic tirade of years past.

Judge Pirro tried to point this out, but psychiatrically excusing rhetoric does not require valid evidence, as observers of the shameful use of the insanity plea in our courts well know.

Dr. Snyderman relentlessly pursued her psychiatrically mitigating interpretation: she argued that it’s important to note that “paranoia” can be a “root” or a “byproduct of a brain that’s gone haywire.” The medically terminological precision and sophistication in that statement is evident of the social irresponsibility of Dr. Snyderman.

Asked what should follow from this point? The psychobabbling Dr. Snyderman does not disappoint, articulating her fatuity twice for emphasis: “Immediate psychiatric help; immediate psychiatric help.”

Nor does the excellent Judge Pirro disappoint: she thinks the most pressing matter at this point is to arrest and prosecute Mr. Gibson. She sees Gibson’s crimes for what they are; that is, actions by an “angry hateful batterer.” She does not search for ways to deny agency. She also anticipates that “any jury would be outraged” at these tapes.

Yes, unless their anger is assuaged by psychiatrically mystifying doctors who have no hesitation in making nonscientific speculations to benefit criminal offenders.

Professor Vatz has been writing on psychiatry and rhetoric for over 35 years



Bruce said...

It is embarrassing for the psychobabbler to put forth a defense that Gibson's own lawyers have not even offered.

A better psychological analysis of Gibson would explore not hypothetical brain tumors but demonstrated cognitive biases coming from the bizarre world of his expressed religious ideas. His explicitly expressed religious views hold that incorrect doctrine - not immoral or unethical conduct - damns one to eternal Hell.

It should be easy to see how this belief causes him to damn Jews when he is both drunk and sober, how it fails to brace his predatory tirades against his wife (after all, she's not a sedevacantist Catholic and he is, so there), how it fails to bridle his mouth and behavior towards justice. For you see if one is saved by faith, not by decency, then one will pursue faith and not decency. Q.E.D. Any economist can confirm that when you increase the price of something, you get more of it; in Gibson's case, vicious indecency has been free of charge while the price of doctrinal wavering is infinite.

Frankly I have often wondered why conservatives do not take up the intellectual battle against salvation by faith, though a few have done so (e.g. Ayn Rand.) There is a direct-line correlation between elitist snide liberal intellectual posturing from tony suburbs and the ethical tin ear of Calvinist (or Jansenist, in Gibson's case) sola fide beliefs, as expressed in South African apartheid, American slavery and segregation in the Calvinist South, etc.

streiff said...

How one gets from the rather embarrassing rantings of a celebrity to a full throated attack on faith in general and Catholicism in particular simply underscores the adage that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice.

Let's take these one at a time. Sedevacanist Catholics represent an internal squabble in the Catholic Church and not a separate religious dogma. They don't hold that incorrect doctrine or dogma condemns one to Hell, the position of the Church has long been that no one knows who is and is not condemned to Hell. To claim than knowledge is rather presumptuous and if someone does claim to have access to that particular factoid it hurts no one but themselves.

You are correct. Orthodox, with a small "o", Christians believe we are saved by faith. Catholics, however, do not believe in sola fide which is a Lutheran construct. We believe that your faith is demonstrated through your works (see the Epistle of St. James, or, as Luther termed it, the epistle of straw) and that faith without works is dead.

So if Gibson does believe, and I've seen no evidence to indicate that this is the case, that his conduct towards others is without spiritual damage so long as he adheres to correct doctrine, then he's not adhering to the doctrine of any branch of Catholicism.

Ayn Rand was not a conservative. How anyone can read Rand and say that is a bafflement. Rand is an Objectivist which runs directly counter to Christianity and American political tradition.

There is no intellectual battle against salvation by faith for a simple reason. If you are a Christian you must believe it as a matter of definition. If you aren't a Christian you're free to believe whatever your particular brand of religion tells you to. Unfortunately, most religions, also as a matter of definition, require you to believe in something in order to achieve salvation.

I think your overarching theme could use a lot of work. I don't know that Gibson is a Janenist. If he is then he certainly isn't Sedevacanist as the two are rather incompatible. That said, I think it is apparent that American Catholics, rather unconsciously, have acquired some of the veneer of the Jansenist heresy simply because the American Church has been swimming in a Protestant sea for two hundred years.

On the other hand, I'd point out that Calvinism was a distinct minority religion the the antebellum South and virtually unknown among the slaveholding class. The primary denomination among planters in the Tidewater was Episcopalian and its Methodist offshoot. Much of the deep South was essentially unchurched but the upper classes were not affiliated with that quintessentially Mid-Atlantic/New England denomination, Presbyterianism, in any large numbers. Indeed, the Methodist and Baptist churches split over the issue of slavery while retaining their benighted belief in salvation through faith.