What Mark Lazare is "trying" to do

[From Bill Powers (971215.1339 MST)]

Mike Acree (971215.0836)--

Mark Lazare said

If the CT is unwilling to agree to Treatment and is still suicidal a

petition is ordered

by me to Commit the CT to a emergency Psych Eval. At this time the Ct

is force into treatment up to 23 hrs. in a secured Psych. hospital.

Mike said

Sounds like a tough sell to persuade people they have 100% control over
their own perceptions and actions when you stand ready to force them
into treatment--lock them up for 23 hours--if they don't say the right
thing (agree to the treatment you want to give them). What do you see
suicidal persons as trying to control outside themselves that justifies
your forcible intervention? And your deception? (There is, of course,
a trivial sense in which we can always be said to be in control of our
own perceptions and actions, even with a gun in our back; but that's not
a sense of control that offers much comfort, or that anyone prizes.)

Some people view suicide as completely unacceptable behavior under any
circumstances. They, of course, will always try to prevent it, just as they
would try to prevent a lethal attack on themselves or a third party. There
is no PCT principle that says they are right or wrong for doing so -- what
they do about suicide follows from the perceptions and goals they have
regarding it.

Others see suicide as protected by the right to self-determination, and
they will not try to prevent it, and may even aid others in ending their
lives. That, too, follows from their perceptions and goals, and PCT has
nothing to say about whether they are right or wrong.

Both sides present "justifications" for their preferences. A justification
is a supposedly objective reason for the goals one pursues, a reason that
is compelling beyond mere personal preference. But what do you do when the
reasons you find compelling don't compel the other person to agree with
you? This is particularly a dilemma from the standpoint of a person who
argues for unlimited personal freedom and against any interference in
another person's life. If the other person's choice is to be coercive and
to intervene in the affairs of others, then by the principle of
non-interference one must refrain from trying to change the behavior of
that person. The result is that while one may criticize the other person's
coercive behavior, one does nothing else about it. There's no solution to
that dilemma but to give up the principle of non-interference or to bury
the conflict in rationalizations.

This, of course, leaves the person who is wholeheartedly in favor of
coercion and intervention in the driver's seat: there is no conflict to
cause any hesitancy in using coercion to achieve any goal as long as
superior coercion does not prevent it (and of course the person who is
against coercion can't use that method without giving up the principle).

It seems to me that this is a fundamental problem of morality: those who
are bound by moral principles are at a disadvantage relative to those who
aren't, or to those whose moral principles are less self-restrictive. The
human race has never solved this problem. Usually what happens is that one
or both sides will make up general principles which they claim to have
validity beyond one individual's personal choices. They may invent a God
who lays down the law for everyone, and who has unlimited power to punish
transgressions and reward obedience. They may invent logics which are
claimed to be universally true, so that people who fail to act logically
can be treated as defective. Or they can invent inborn human traits, so
that people who fail to exhibit them can be treated freely as if they were
not human.

Unfortunately, these justifications for one's ideas have no effect unless
they're believed, and it is precisely the people who don't believe them who
cause one problems. The people who do believe them cite their religion or
logic or science as the reason why everyone should behave correctly, but of
course they are only explaining why _they themselves_ behave as they do.
The reasons they find overwhelmingly convincing fail to have any effect on
the nonbelievers.

So what _does_ PCT imply about all this? First of all, it implies that
nobody has undeniable justifications that apply to everyone; justifications
are only one's own higher-order perceptions and goals. So that route to
controlling the behavior of others is closed; it never was open. PCT also
predicts, accurately I think, the consequences of internal and external
conflicts between control systems. If one falls into internal conflict,
control of some aspects of ones's own life is lost. When external conflict
occurs, mutual control of some aspects of the environment is lost. One may
choose to give up control in either case, but it may seem less desirable
to do so if one knows in advance that this is the likely outcome.

There is one thing that it is possible to do to another person that can
change the other's principles: it is to create the conditions under which
the other person can come to a new understanding of what is in that
person's interests. This can be done very crudely: "Please believe me, if
you do that I will shoot you." Or it can be done in a more general way:
"I'd like to show you something you might find interesting. Just hold on to
this rubber band and keep the knot over the dot." Understanding is
something which, once attained, can't be lost. It can be changed, but not
forgotten. Even to resist it is to acknowledge that it exists.

As the old saying goes, the truth you teach yourself will make you free.


Bill P.