The Dream of Freedom

Adam Curtis, he of the Power of Nightmares has a new documentary out (All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace which I heartily recommend), so while I waited for it to download I watched the first episode of his last series called The Trap…about how the game theory and the cold war changed the US and the UK with the myth of freedom, especially during the Thatcher years…interesting and hard hitting stuff, and I especially find interesting how the whole DSM came about and how computer diagnostics changed the way we all think about mental illness…that’s if the computer diagnostics, the game theory and the idea that you can define someone by external observation and a checklist are correct? I think Laing might’ve had a point there…the idea of ‘normal’ should be an anathema to any psychiatric personnel. I wonder what my American friends think of this normalising of mental illness in their country? It does seem rather a lot of people are medicated over there…

Of course the scary thing is Cameron is reviving these changes to the NHS and Thatcher’s legacy, but I get the feeling without the game theorists on board, it seems like he’s shadowing what she did without understanding why.

Also there’s a personal thing that hit me about 2/3rds of the way through…my mother was a systems analyst and she studied psychology…the zero sum game of the Prisoner’s Dillemma and (un)intentionally creating such a system through distrust breeding mistrust pretty much describes my childhood, I’ve long suspected she was using these theories on all of us.

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