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5/21/13 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:07 AM

1-is mental illness moral?6/4/6
2-is there any way out of the ideological apparently unresolvable differences in America?6/2
3-is our industrialized food production system killing us?4
4-ought the government do more to regulate essential services and products?6/4/4
5-is there a solution to pluralistic ignorance?6


is mental illness moral?

Jon: our friend here Mr. Peloquin has mentioned he grew up in a home that included a mentally ill parent. He has also mentioned being dubious about the legitimacy of that parent's dysfunction. I gather he wonders if she really wanted to be functional, a sense that she chose to do harm by not trying to heal. If true, then that parent would be guilty of a kind of immorality; choosing to not get well, thereby harming the family. Mental illness often is viewed as an illegitimate illness. We do hear people say to someone who is, say, depressed, to "just get over it!" We wouldn't dream of saying that to a cancer victim (You have cancer? C'mon, everybody gets cancer! Get over it!"). So my question is asking us whether in fact we believe mental illness is in any part an immoral state of being.

Jim: I can attribute morality to action. Culpability is not connected to mental illness.

Jon: some of us here may remember Chris, the man with Bi-Polar disorder who used to attend this group regularly. Would you consider his illness evidence of immorality?

Jim: it has to be about action

Vivian: our military has in its history taken a dim view of the legitimacy of mental illness in spite of its always arising among some people exposed to the horrors of war. 

Jon: yeah, fellow soldiers might consider a mentally ill member a "loser", or weak. Someone who isn't pulling their weight by choice, thereby committing the immoral act of being a malingerer. We perhaps sometimes wonder if an alcoholic really has an illness over which they have no control. We see them being deadbeat parents, threatening our safety when they drive drunk and we are at least tempted to point a moralistic finger at them. It's tempting to say this kind of mentally ill person is an immoral person.

Vivian: there's not a choice when it come to mental illness

Gina: sometimes it looks like a weakness. A flaw in their character.

Meg: it can be used as a crutch. I don't really know if they're really doing their best.

Meg: [to Jim] my childhood training via the Bible said our bad thoughts are as bad as our bad actions action.

Jon: my brother has had a hard life. Lots of alcohol since he was a teen, never really had a job for long, drummed out of the service (alcohol on the base), hasn't paid child support for 18 years. Is he an immoral person?

Steve: Jim mentions action as the key to acknowledging the immoral. I also think intent plays a role. 

Jon: have you ever known someone mentally ill?

Steve: I went through it with my brother's alcoholism. I can understand it intellectually as a disease. But emotionally I can't.

Meg: I was married to an alcoholic who was depressed and eventually killed himself. I couldn't help but understand his suffering and why he did the things he did, even when he was doing bad things.

Jon: have you ever felt a need to defend him/his actions to others?

Meg: probably. I didn't want him to be judged. We were a team. I met him sober when he seemed happy and said he was. When he started drinking I'd remind him he was happy sober and he would say I was wrong.

Mark: did his drinking caused depression or visa versa?

Meg: depression first and also trained by his heavy drinking family, plus he started drinking at age 13. I've been defensive of him when others judge him.

Jim: looking at morality it's a construct enforced by society. Then we say "ok I'm willing to acknowledge there are physical reasons for harmful/immoral actions. If someone's logic is wrong and they use it to do harm, society needs to be able to judge that. This cuts to it. We make rules, cut out excuses. Mental illness represents why but it's not an excuse.

Shannon: capability of knowing what's right and wrong is key.

Chris: what if they can't tell the difference?

Shannon: Jim's saying no matter the reasons harm has been done and we must be clear about that.

Chris: is alcohol itself immoral?

Jim: we can't assign immorality to a substance.

Chris: what if it's used to make a profit?

Jim: it's never immoral to make a profit!

Gina: I had an unstable mom, never knowing what would happen when coming home. My uncle asked why dad didn't divorce her? I found her blameworthy and still do.

Meg: was your dad or your mom more accountable?

Gina: in my mind when young it was my mom. As I aged it became more dad.

Jim: what is the cure? Child protection? Whatever, it' the morality that needs to be enforced. We need not at all morally judge her mother, just her immoral acts. 	



If there is a problem you can do nothing about, why be upset? If there is a problem you can do something about, why be upset?

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