Understanding the world as it really is—random—can liberate and empower us.
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Against the idols of the age
Theodore Dalrymple M.D.
Is it necessary always to tell the truth? Shakespeare denied it and he was right.
Everyone is interested in terrorism, but no one understands it, despite the myriad explanations put forward. There is a good reason for this seeming paradox.
Some people who commented in an on-line forum on a suicide in Sweden showed a shocking callousness. Did they express it simply because they could?
The last of supply and demand may hold, but it is important to know which came first, and whether the demand is either good or permissible.
Many people go through a diary-keeping phase. Does it help them to do so? A blank notebook offers a few hints on how to become self-obsessed.
The staff of a French abattoir has been filmed behaving with almost incredible callousness. Were they enjoying themselves, only obeying orders, or acting in spite of themselves?
Philosophers and psychologists have sometimes tried to attribute all human conduct to a single motive. They are mistaken.
Previous psychologists and psychiatrists have tried to empty human conduct of moral meaning.
The avoidance of trauma and traumatization will one day be the whole business of upbringing.
Oblivion, annihilation, amnesia: for many, they are the highest pleasure.
Multiculturalism means everyone else must accept how you behave.
Psychology has some horrible experiments on its conscience - or ought to have.
Graffiti and tagging tell us both about the people who do it and what they do it to.
Strange conduct is taken in itself as evidence of pathology, and those who exhibit it as ill. Thus the world becomes a great hospital - or asylum.
Smokers are being bribed to give up their habit. This risks turning all human conduct into a disease.
We live longer and more healthily than ever before in history, in part because of medical advance. And yet we long for something more mystical than orthodox medicine. Why?
It is an illusion that people want to be happy, at least to judge by the way they behave.
There has been a remarkable and relatively sudden increase in the number of people with tattoos in western society. If the trend continues, more than a half of people will be tattooed. Why?
However much we think we know, experience still comes a surprise. This will always be so - and thank goodness for it!
Does posting angry words on the Internet and on social media console or inflame us?
Heroin addition is often described as a disease like any other. It is not.
Indignation and frustration are often taken as their own justification. But are they?
Our predecessors thought that self-esteem was a horrible notion. They were right.
Loss and melancholy cannot be avoided. Poetry assists acceptance better than manuals of happiness.
Everywhere we go we are bombarded with stimuli to keep us entertained. Do we have no right to silence?
Some people want to dramatize themselves by pretending to have been present at catastrophes. It can be lucrative or in other ways rewarding.
Theodore Dalrymple, M.D., is a writer and retired psychiatrist. He worked in a general hospital and a prison. He gave evidence in many murder trials.