Tim Barrus: The Danger of Removing Choices



Dear Tim Barrus,

I find it appalling that on the Gupta Repprt, you are promoting suicide.

Dear Brunhilde,

You aren’t listening.

The issue was an adolescent refusing cancer treatment and who was tied down, and the chemicals were injected into this person whose choices were removed without the consent of that adolescent.

Here is what I really SAID.

The word “appropriate” has been used here several times. Promiscuously.

“Appropriate” is an IDEA. And it is always for the human species CULTURALLY constructed. The idea of it comes from societal evolution, and has meant different things at different times. It was not written in stone for Moses.

The idea of appropriate was different for the puritans as opposed to the Japanese. The Western world deems appropriate one way. Buddha another. It is far too sweeping and susceptible to the vagaries of change to lean upon the idea of BECAUSE I SAY SO BASING MY OPINION OF THE IDEAS THE TRIBE AGREES UPON. The word appropriate is not appropriate to employ in this case as the idea of it is not in any way associated with any neutrality whatsoever. The case for nuance is disguised as medical science.

The ethics involved are the ethics of suicide. Our culture finds suicide abhorrent. It is an aberration of cultural norm. Even if we have assisted suicide, it is always couched in the rhetoric of ritual. It is not unlike any ritual coming from the cave of the witchdoctors who use chanting neurologically to induce agreement. The group is assisted to agree. The idea of what is reasonable is irrelevant.

Psychologists rely upon this crutch of a word constantly. It is attached fundamentally to the criminal laws of both church and state. God which is beyond us, and State that is beyond us, too. The machinations of the witchdoctors’ mystery is always a mystery. You need a prescription from a doctor who is indemnified by the State. The witchdoctor must swear on a bible, The Bible, with his signature that you have six months to live period. It goes on and on. The State call these rituals safeguards.

The right of suicide is never a legal given. The tribe takes control when it ascertains that the intent of the suicidal is not appropriate, or is appropriate to vary degrees in varying situations. It is far more straightforward to say: OUR SITUATIONAL CULTURAL VALUES AND THE BOOGEYMAN DO NOT PERMIT —- THIS SITUATION TO EXIST. Life is only sacred when it says its sacred.

But we do not all agree. There is no god, and the reality is that the State is powerless to police the extent to which members of the species actually take their lives.

They do not need permission. It is the final Catch-22 for the State but the State inappropriately hides behind the medical community with the power to intervene or not intervene in terms of what it defines as community responsibility. Also an Idea. Killing one’s self even when doctors claim they have a cure is an idea acted upon by any patient predating the idea of who is a patient and how do we intervene with our help. As with circumcision, the powers that be, decide. Why. Because they have the power to decide.

What is best.

But referring to the concept of appropriateness is never referred to appropriately as ACCORDING TO OUR CULTURAL NORMS YADAYADAYADA we get it. You have powers with the coming in and the going out because we remain mystified, transfixed, confused, and comforted by a process we know little about so therefore to protect the interest of the tribe, we will engage in certain rituals that in turn reinforce the hierarchy of the tribe. Suicide only is remains a complex set of behaviors that can be observed as abstractions to the neocortex. The idea of what is subversion cannot be acknowledged by the mainstream of any tribe — especially tribes that have directives that maintain cultural order with cultural practices where the doctors and fixer uppers have been invested with the patriarchal notion that they know what is best, and anyone who leaves the cave will be punished for not following these directives, and wink, wink, at the Church. Where do you think the idea of appropriate comes from. Why do you think it is used and relied upon over and over, often in the same sentence, as being the dominant idea. The Church and the State and the CaveClan collaborate with shared rituals where everyone agrees upon the Bureau of Standards whose chief priests are rooted in astronomy, quantum time, and they frequently keep the clocks the clocks. Order in the universe.

Or not.

Because to not agree so interjects so many “appropriate” solutions for the brain to overload with at any time. Because these are abstractions being defined as the shared notion of reality. I would argue that the species invents angels who work with whoever to see who gets into the appropriate angel group, and the rest of us have to wait outside in the rain. The idea of SHUNNING is a shared behavior with roots in stigma and how stigma is applied as both behavior and communication. We call it science. These are higher brain functions. But human behavior is never an absolute. There are too many of us, and we all get born, and we all die, but we have a right to life during the le inbetween and we employ ethicists, religious ministers, lawyers, judges, and juvenile detention to tell us what is real and not real.

And the cops have guns.

An addendum to this story goes like this. The female in question is held down for two weeks of enormous torture being perpetrated without her consent, consent as held to in varying degrees as cultural agreement, where the idea of slavery, pain, cultural retribution, and bondage are conveniently ignored as the human brain decides how dangerous is this terrain. Who can and who cannot leave without permission. There’s a cultural paradigm. You die in your bed surrounded by genetic relatives in your nice house because you died in your bed surrounded by these same people with their rituals and chanting in the nice cave, or it could have been a tree with a lot of beating of the Lucy breasts. She lived in Africa a long time ago. I would argue that time is not germane except to peers. Cultural tradition as to the dying room and funeral are appropriate or they’re neurologically foreign. You cannot kill yourself because it is not on the approved list of appropriate behaviors allowed at the beginning or the death, and we are fundamentally scared of the former, and belittled by the latter.

Therefore we give cultural providence to the approved physician.

Who will not be there when your husband or your teenage son dies. People die regardless of the cultural denial that defines us. Death mystifies and it undermines the idea the State itself. Sex creates us. Sex scares us too, (that is supposed to be a secret because we are conflicted). Our brains are addicted to the behavior of reproduction. It is surrounded by great mystery and value by the tribe. The tribe will decide who gets to have it and relationships recognized by the State as so many cave babies used to die all the time. We needed to value life to such an extent that mom stated home instead of collecting berries, and dad went out and got the berries. We needed babies and invented storks. We make up another State one goes to at the end.

Register in the book, please. You might or you might not get in. The new State will decide. God is busy but he cares. He’s kinda benevolent. He’s modern. The old one was child abuse.

Should the State intervene in suicides. Medication refusals. Same issues. Same cultural ethics apply.

The adolescent suicide rate is an exact replica of economic decline as defined by the extent to which one is appropriately attached to available resources. The ups and downs. Both the same. Map.

I would argue that the availability of resources as it relates to individual values constructs the development of language which is what contemporary technology is.

Availability to technology is not unlike the availability of either assisted suicide or suicide. Both are linked to class.

Adolescent humans kill themselves COMMONLY in juvenile detention which is where the female in question is going if she persists in running away from the cave to find maybe another one. One that might not tie her down, feed her veins chemicals, shove bedpans under her butt, a catheter, hydrate her, and then send her to detention if she spits at them or bites them, being assaultive now; the very place where adolescent suicide is an epidemic.

Or let’s pretend she doesn’t fight back.

She’s still at risk not only for suicide, but she is also at risk to sexual violence which is also an epidemic at any of the places she is at HIGH risk for attending.

We punish her with suicide even as we attempt to beat it out of her by enforcing her proximity to the big bugabuga itself. Where kids kill themselves at an alarming rate. I would argue that the epidemic is so internalized to the group that we start to OWN it or we will just continue to see figures where suicide rates and economic statistic graphs are not the same map. OWNING it means acknowledging the fact that we are ALL complicit in keeping the cycle alive because we are historically able to manage it through denial.

Where you will be controlled according to your hierarchal position in proximity to the group.

Meanwhile, the suicidal suffers. That, indeed, is real. The rest of it is cultural rubbish.

It’s not a rubbish we appropriately want to comb through. We may not be neurologically equipped to do it well at all.

Where do we draw the lines in the sand. Where do we intervene or not intervene. The answers very. We think of schizophrenia as an aberration, and it is, but we do not intervene all that effectively in downtown Los Angeles which is where people are returned to a homeless jungle that will eat you alive, and where violence is ubiquitous, We CHOOSE diseases just like we CHOOSE stages of development. We CHOOSE not to fund Community Mental Health, and we throw people away every day. The right people. The chosen people. The mad. This is the actual status quo. The patient is headed for incarceration. We portend she’s not (she is just a child which is what our juvenile detention centers are filled with, especially in the absence of the parent who we have detained as well and whose human rights have been removed). But she’s at high risk to have her aberrant behavior also attended to chemically both in and out of the hospital. She’s now one of “them.”

The people who never make the appropriate choice. We pretend we can remove choice as a burden for them but this is only a culturally invested illusion created by the society the “patient” or not well person lives in as that society constructs its ideas of power that when assailed resort to all of the old ideas invested in the cave and assigned power to the wise people who would decide what is appropriate, and what will not be tolerated even in purely symbolic forms.

It’s not about the patient. It’s about the use and misuse of power.

We must decide. All of us. Not just the wise people of the tribe. Suicide is an epidemic among ALL adolescents, and what the implications are for the tribe itself must be articulated and articulated again and again. It’s not a dialogue best left to any group. All of us must facilitate adolescents to dialogue on these ideas as to who the individual is and what is his or her responsibility to the group. It’s not black and white. It never has been. I would suggest that to save them, we have to keep them talking, and we cannot afford to say that all the paradigms of life are worth living. We must be truthful about where the grey areas and tensions are. The dialogue must not be subdued with silence. Any adolescent who is at the edge of ending their lives deserves our best shot at keeping them human, loved, and protected because that is what our species aspires to even if we screw it up as consistently through the failure of the institutions we create, adolescence is where the rubber meets the road. We must be clear about how the society has constructed its values because adolescent neurology is so fight or flight. As things stand today, adolescents easily fall through cracks we as adults made. The tug back from the brink is called listening. To do it is no small, mean feat.

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