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Road Rage

Be the First of Your Block to Fall Victim to The Newest, Coolest, Syndrome and Pay Us Large Sums to Be Cured...Eventually

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 12, 1997.

Couldn’t help but notice that Road Rage is the topic of the moment in both the national and the local media. This is bolstered, of course, by a ratings sweep, but that wouldn’t explain the excess coverage given in the papers and magazines. It strikes me that Road Rage emerged as a topic after some idiots in the Los Angeles area - hardly a reality reach - started shooting other people for looking at them wrong as they idled their car on the expressway. Oddly, that was ten years ago, yet we’re getting all the coverage now. How come, you wonder? OK, I wonder. Well, I don’t wonder. I’m pretty sure I know.

As with every slight variation in mob behavior, psychology, a discipline of heroes, leaped forward to save us from ourselves. Every article, every news segment featured at least one of these self-less immortals, offering their theories, their implication that the nation would decimate its population in gun battles and demolition derbies on the interstates. Only the calm, parental guidance of psychology - as demonstrated by the hero offering his phone number to the viewing public - will prevent this catastrophe. The $100 an hour fee is surely trivial in their effort to save us from the violence of this mental illness.

You can’t even laugh at this stuff anymore; it has long ago become a self-parody. Psychology and its anal, higher-class cousin, psychiatry, are pretty much on the ropes of medical progress. People point to the fall of communism and its poorer cousin, socialism, as the great redefined paradigm of this century. But I think the increasingly rapid descent of all the mental therapies deserve at least a trophy for dishonorable mention, if not the garland itself.

Very like all the various modern political socialisms, psychology and its attendants developed in the very late 19th century and by the 1920’s had been so thoroughly accepted it has become hard to realize how new, how unproved and unprovable much of it is. Is it medicine? Well, psychiatry claims it is, and it must be said that psychiatry discovered the medicinal connections to mood and behavior that may yet make itself superfluous as a discipline. But since the 1970’s, the nation has been bombarded with so-called psychological and psychiatric experts who testify on opposite sides in court cases. One of them has to be utterly wrong. If, as they say, it is so open to interpretation, there are few points of distinction between themselves and a priest divining the blood clots in a vivisected liver. If science, where are the immutable laws? That a psychologist, psychiatrist or the more laughable and not necessarily educated therapist is considered expert because of continued position on winning court cases may be good business, but it is a fearful thing to describe it as science. I mean, look at economics.... NO! Wait! Don’t. Forget that.

And we don’t hold them accountable. There is a flare-up of activity, they save us, and then they go away, sated with new clients for a while. That’s too bad. Remember in the early 1980’s when we were scared to death with the abducted children scares? Remember the milk cartons, and the melodramatic interviews with psychologists? Remember how we were told that this epidemic was due to thus and so reasons, and they were available to help. Then recall how it turns out that someone had misunderstood FBI statistics, and that child abductions were actually rather low, and of the ones reported, most were abducted by a divorced parent? Remember? Sure you do. The Therapy Trust surely remembered, because they’ve trotted out the same scare tactics every year since. It was a mass fraud, partly inflicted by the media, mostly by the psychologists.

Now a psychiatrist is merely a boilerplate entry at a criminal trial, to be countered by one from the other side. They have no impact; they are highly paid expenses and nothing more. Worse, we all understand that if these two disagree, always disagree, then there is something wrong with their profession. After all, we never hear of two other doctors disagreeing over whether or not a victim’s leg is broken, or if a driver receiving a bullet in his ear might have been hurt, and if we did we’d make sure that the incompetent was banned from treating people. But we continue to treat these mental health 'experts' in self-justifying activity with respect.

So, now that we’re all in a panic over Road Rage, let’s those of us who somehow, without professional help, are able to keep the magnum holstered promise ourselves we will, somehow survive. Really. You can do it.