Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hoarding Condition

From boston.com

Car towed after cargo blocks windows

An elderly Sandwich man's car, which was so full of trash and other random items that the rear and side windows and half of the windshield were completely covered, was impounded in Yarmouth yesterday morning, police said. Police said that Theodore Clements was pulled over in his Nissan Stanza when police noticed the blocked windows. Searching the car, they found an assortment of items, including a cast iron chain and hook, a bike, hockey helmets, and empty food boxes. Clements told police he had a diagnosed hoarding condition. The car, which was unregistered and had not been inspected since March 2005, was towed, police said, and Clements was issued a citation and taken home to a senior housing complex.
Hoarding condition. Yeah, yeah, that's it. I have a hoarding condition. A biological explanation for my behavior! I'm not a pack rat. I have a medical condition.

Let's close the prisons and provide all criminals with medical treatment instead. Someone out there has a murder condition. Actually, someone out there has a stupid condition.


  1. If not a biological reason for all behavior, then what is the reason? Are we not controlled by our brains?

    Do you reject the idea of mental illness? Are people with Alzheimer's choosing to forget? Why would the brain be any different than any of our other organs that naturally succumb to disease?

    Thoughts are the result of firing neurons responding to specific stimuli. It makes sense that people might experience mental diseases that cause them to behave in inappropriate ways.

    Having said that, I support having a prison system. If you commit a crime, you should face the consequences. The fact that you are mentally defective is unfortunate but it doesn't excuse you from taking responsibility for what happened.

    Perhaps treating people in hospitals for things like murder and rape is the better way to go. What benefit do we derive from locking people up without rehabilitating them?

  2. I have irrational thinking syndrome which results in cognitive impairment. The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities is working on a cure. Until then you'll just have to go easy on me when I make irrational arguments.

  3. I do not accept the assertion that we are controlled by our brains, if by that you mean that the brain and the mind are synonymous. There is a lot of debate among scientists over this issue, and it may turn out that science is of little help in the debate because, as one writer put it, explanations of our thoughts are a subset of our thoughts, not the other way around.

    I agree that brain disorders can affect behavior. However, I do not believe that all behavior is caused by chemical reactions. I believe you have free will, and that it's illogical to argue otherwise (you *choose* to argue that you have no choice.)

    Furthermore, your willingness to hold people responsible for their actions conflicts with your assertion that humans are chemical machines. Why do we hold fellow human beings morally responsible for their actions, but we don't do the same for animals? After an animal attack makes the news, it's common to hear, "It shouldn't have been killed. The bear was just being a bear. Isolate it, don't encroach upon it's habitat, but don't kill the bear."

    We hold humans responsible because they have a will. We teach our kids to make right choices. We hold elections because we believe people have the ability to weigh facts and make the right decision. OK, I'll stop right there, because I've just blown my argument ;-)

  4. If we are not controlled by our brains, then what does control us? Do you believe that our minds are somehow separate from our bodies? If so, what is that separate thing? Matter, energy, a spirit? And what is the evidence for this?

    I believe we are controlled by chemical reactions in our brains because that's what the evidence suggests. People can't live without a brain. If you damage the brain people may have changed personalities or even die. This suggests that the brain is the key organ for determining self. And you can change people's abilities by messing with the magnetic fields around your brain. (http://www.centreforthemind.com/newsmedia/WHATSHOT/index.cfm)

    What supporting evidence can you provide for the mind being separate from the brain?

    I don't understand how it is illogical to argue that all behavior is a result of chemical reactions. Where is the error in logic? Isn't it more illogical to argue for the existence of something for which there is no tangible evidence?

    I fail to see the conflict between holding people responsible for their actions and the fact that the a chemical machines. It is beneficial to society to hold people individually responsible. That's reasonable to me.

    We don't hold animals morally responsible because we don't see them as being moral beings. Morally, they are no different than an inanimate object like a book or a rock. People may say "it shouldn't have been killed" but they do kill animals.

    Personally, I don't understand why people get outraged about what happens to some animals and never think twice about killing mice or cockroaches. Really, I don't understand how there is no compunction about the raping and killing of plants we do each day. Under a microscope, a plant doesn't look much different than a snake or a rat or a human. We're all cells and molecules.

  5. It appears to me that people are capable of learning and changing their behavior. I believe it is in our best interest as humans to reward certain kinds of behavior and discourage others. All types of behavior may be natural but why shouldn't other members of society work to reduce behavior that we find unacceptable.

    Just because a certain behavior is declared a mental illness does not mean that we will necessarily tolerate it.

  6. If all behavior is caused by chemical reactions in the brain, no one is capable of changing his or her behavior. Therefore, attempting to discourage behavior that you find unacceptable is a useless exercise. In fact, the attempt to discourage unacceptable behavior is an act free will, but as we have agreed, strict materialism precludes free will.

    However, I believe a good case can be made that the ability to make choices and change one's behavior is demonstrable evidence that free will does indeed exist, and therefore, the mind is not entirely a function of chemical reactions.

    It seems that to argue against this point is to make it. There's the error in logic.

  7. The feeling is mutual.