What’s Happening in the Middle East?

As I wrote in “Neither Left nor Right,” before there can be a rational way to deal with the political troubles that are currently escalating in the Middle East, there must first be an understanding of Arab societies and their culture. This requires an understanding of tribalism and its relationship to the states in the Middle East.

From a historical perspective, tribal societies existed for millennia in the Middle East long before Arabs began converting to Mohammedanism in the seventh century and long before modern states with their precise boundaries were formed. In many ways these tribal roots are deeper than the Arab’s religious and political beliefs and they determine their behavior to a far greater extent. Tribal loyalties in the Middle East cut across the national boundaries that were arbitrarily laid down by England and France during the early part of the twentieth century. Furthermore, from a characterological perspective, Arabs belong in various degrees to the far right of the political center. These are important but frequently overlooked considerations at a time when America is struggling to work out a diplomatic resolution to the conflicts in that region.

As in the case of a medical disease there must first be an understanding of the disease before a rational treatment can be instituted. Symptomatic measures without knowledge of the underlying pathology are guaranteed to fail.

The Problem With Today’s Psychiatric Therapies

At the root of the problem with all psychiatric therapies is the lack of a functional understanding of a whole series of interrelated, unanswered fundamental questions starting with what constitutes emotional health and sickness?   From this question, the following questions logically arise: What are emotions?  What is an emotional disturbance?  How can emotional disturbances be classified scientifically to provide a rational system of diagnosis and treatment?   Without satisfactorily answering all of these questions it is not possible to arrive at a rational, causal method of psychiatric therapy.

Unfortunately, these questions cannot be adequately answered because people’s armored condition prevents them from thinking functionally.  Instead, today’s approach to psychiatric therapies falls into two general categories, mechanistic or symptom-based treatment and mystical or “holistic” treatment.   Symptom-based approaches to diagnosis, and treatments such as drug therapy and behavior therapy are superficial and of limited value.  From an etiological point of view, any symptom can appear in any diagnostic category.  The holistic approach does away with the problem of symptoms by focusing on the patient’s “wellness” and the “whole patient” but it evades the problem of diagnosis altogether.

From a functional view, the clinical significance of any symptom is the function that it serves in relation to the individual’s particular character diagnosis.  Therefore, understanding the patient’s character structure comes before the significance of the symptom can be understood.  This is why it is not possible to correctly treat a psychiatric disorder from a curative point of view without first having established an accurate diagnosis.

Rather than deriving their clinical thinking from their clinical observations, armored therapists force their observations to fit into their preconceived mechanistic-mystical ways of thinking, thereby doing a grave disservice to their patients as well as bringing about the destruction of a once highly respected profession.