Monday, December 22, 2014

The Coffee Monster

I remember when homosexuality was considered a mental illness by the psychiatric community. Then it was dropped from the roster and a short time later they recognized homophobia as the problem. They literally turned on themselves. Not surprising. The psychiatric community has never entirely had their shit together. And how could they?

The one thing the human brain finds most intolerable to contemplate is the human brain. What’s going on there? Well for one thing we have this whole consciousness thing messing everything up. Consciousness most clearly does not understand itself. We suffer constant illusions that consciousness is responsible for everything we do and it doesn’t take much effort (much courage though, perhaps) to detect the falseness of this feeling. Human feelings are almost always misleading, if not always. When we try to be mindful we discover that the very vast majority of what we do is without any conscious participation at all. Furthermore, close self-observation reveals constant evidence that the thoughts that we’re aware of do not actually seem to have much control at all over the things we do or the choices we make.

The psych community has very little explanations for all this, and how can they? The neuroscience community is still working largely with theories regarding the brain, rather than fact.

What the psych community does seem to be good at though, is making observations and grouping together generalizations about things and labeling everything with their labels so that they can talk among themselves and write reports and give professional advice that is all full of these labels and thus they sound like they know something. Then when it comes to using the knowledge they are presumed to have due to all these label references, to actually solve problems, the solutions become very vague: psychiatric counselling. Which tends to go on forever without problems actually being solved and while much money changes hands all the while.

Looking at the history of changes to psychiatric dogma is disappointing. Rather than leading trends in any way, they simply follow them. The psych community suffers from the cultural superstitions of the day just like all the masses of ordinary people.

Of course, when you’re smack in the middle of any given culture, one doesn’t realize how much superstition you’re prey to, because everyone around you is also crippled by an evolutionary-infantile consciousness and supports the same illusions.

Currently we are still riddled with sexual superstition. It’s absolutely ubiquitous. I can think of only one person I know – so far at least – who I can talk about sex with, in a completely logical way, while the other 9000 or so people I’ve met – are entirely hopeless as far as I can tell. I probably could have said two people if I’d met Kinsey.

The psych community is right in there with the masses. And because of all the superstition they’re in bed with, they can’t do the research they would need in order to become enlightened. Because the research itself would be deemed sinful – or whatever any given person would say to describe the product of their hang-ups and confusion.

One day, I’m sure, all sexual predilections will be discovered to be vastly more common than previously assumed, within the realm of normal, and free of the mental illness label.

Enter the pedophile. Or more specifically – the sex offender.

What do we do with them?

For now, it doesn’t really matter whether we classify sexual attraction to children as a mental illness or not. Because sexual interaction across generations is problematic either way. As long as kids are at risk of psychological suffering – whether from perceived victimization or perceived perversity on their own part, and whether the causality stems from the incident or from the social stigma and a child’s own lack of mental constitution, sexual interaction between generations is obviously – within this culture – a very bad idea.

So the courts have to deal with child sex offenders and this is really tough, because with nowhere else to turn, they put their trust in the psych community and then receive the flawed information and flawed recommendations from a not-very-scientific science that doesn’t like to admit how much they don’t know.

Because we choose to call pedophilia a disease, or at least think of it in those kind of terms, we’re stuck with the perception that prison cannot cure them, but we can’t jail them forever, so what the heck do we do?

Between probation, parole, Long-Term Observation orders and other court-ordered restrictions including the lifetime 161 order which bans prior sex offenders from playgrounds and similar places permanently, we keep a real close eye on them and hope for the best.

So let’s take a person like Howie.

Howie is a slow child. He has obvious learning disabilities. And if I may penetrate the illusion of childhood innocence for a moment, Howie is constantly victimized. He is mocked and bullied every day by his peers because he is slow. But Howie understands the wicked underbelly of childhood. There are no police for children. There is no one to protect a child from another ill-minded child, or gang of them. Life rarely ever works that way.

Howie simultaneously worships and despises his tormentors. He knows so very well their superiority and their cruelty. He wants to be them, and he wants to kill them. He reluctantly admires their physicality. His childish fantasies about their bodies mingle with his fantasies of strangling them.
For reasons that we don’t understand and that the psych community doesn’t understand despite a myriad of labels that they will assign to all of these ideas, Howie grows up without losing these fantasies. The scars of his powerlessness never heal.

Growing up, he loves horses. Hardly surprising given their gentleness, which Howie has sorely lacked, and also given the horse’s masculine body structure. Their extraordinary popularity with pubescent girls invites fairly obvious theories of psycho-sexual origin.

Howie also loves demolition derbies. Something about the power granted by the automobile and the aggression and destruction appeals to the boy who had been so defenseless and afraid to lash out against his aggressors except in fantasy.

He grows up with his slower-than-average mind and the scars remain and the fantasies remain, as do his penchants for horses and cars. And then one day he finds himself in the company of a boy child who reminds him of all the boy children who haunted him through his formative years. But Howie is big now; a young adult. He has nothing to fear from this boy. He treats the boy with gentleness, experimenting with that which he was deprived. And then he experiments with the violence. He wraps a towel around the boy’s neck and squeezes until the terrified boy loses consciousness. Then he experiments further. He removes the boy’s clothes to see his body, and takes pictures so that he may relive this experience later in his imagination.

The experience is satisfying to Howie. He knows it’s wrong. He wants not to do it again but he can’t always control his impulses and it happens again. A habit has been formed.

Howie is captured by police. He’s tried, convicted, serves time and is eventually released under close observation. He appears to cooperate with all his conditions, restrictions and treatments. But he never loses the desires. With no skills for making friends and no capacity for generating the normal rewards that people take satisfaction in, he spends the great bulk of his adult life offending, doing time, breaching conditions, flirting with re-offences and doing more time.

He is in his early 60’s when he finally makes it through a sentence and a long probation without breaching conditions in any way. He has earned just a little bit of freedom. He is restricted by the lifetime 161 order and by a two-year 810 supervisory order which further limits his mobility but at least he can leave his bedroom at the group home once in a while without bringing down the wrath of his former probation officer or of his acting-therapist; a man named Digger.

The psychologist, Rosie, severely limited by that lack of understanding availed in her field, doesn’t know what to do about Howie and so doesn’t really do anything with him. She simply declares that Howie has an incurable sexual pathology and there is no question as to whether he might re-offend again, but that it is only a matter of when.

First surprising flaw in the system: As a court-appointed psychologist (the 810 orders Howie to be amenable to treatment by this specific professional), she suffers no limitations on how the treatment is carried out or even by whom. So she declines to treat him at all for his crippling anxiety or communication problems, and instead farms him out to her husband Digger; a man without medical qualifications of any imagining who is instructed to interrogate Howie at weekly sessions in order to scare him into confessing whatever he has been up to.

So the taxpayer foots the bill for treatment which constitutes an absent psychologist’s half-wit husband grilling the so-called patient and ritually calling him a liar and acerbating Howie’s anxiety and communication problems and scaring him into spending more time in his bedroom where there’s little else to do but fantasize about the sexual victimization of little boys and staring out his window at the neighborhood children and those walking to or from school several times a day.

Second surprising flaw in the system: These supervisory orders are shockingly ambiguous. Lawyers normally write in an almost baffling legalese in order to effectively facilitate law by being profoundly specific, a communication style which the masses are not accustomed to. But these orders are clearly designed with the opposite intent. The language is dull and attempts at interpretation can go wildly different ways. Multiple offenders with the same orders can engage in the same activity and some will be interpreted by police, judges and/or therapists (genuine or otherwise) as perfectly lawful while others will be jailed for interpreted breaches.

The boon of this system is that judges, lawyers, police and the psyche community can, in the absence of reliable intelligence concerning pedophilia as a guide, just trust their feelings and collude under the umbrella of ambiguity to interpret documents inconsistently in order to put those behind bars whom they feel they want to.

Likely this system has saved some children from victimization, as well as jailed some former offenders needlessly and for no legitimate reason.

A volunteer group works with Howie. Statistically, one in seven child sex offenders re-offends. Among those who receive aid from the volunteer group, only one in fifty re-offend.

Enter Randle.

Randle is a new volunteer who is introduced to Howie and like other volunteers before him, is disarmed by Howie’s capacity for openness. This elderly man is branded a liar on a weekly basis, yet when away from his current oppressor, has a child-like way of opening up in an unguarded fashion; a very likable quality observed less and less in this 21st century megalo-materialist society.

Randle is a little different. He knows how much feelings can’t be trusted, like in the rare brief moments when he thinks of Howie as a monster. He knows how illusory consciousness is; how infantile and unreliable this exciting brand-new development in evolution is. He knows a few things about the psych community and about the criminal justice community and due to his job in corrections he knows a lot of sex offenders.

He knows that people are worth more than their deeds. He knows that the past is the past and people are capable of great change. He has experienced great change himself (in completely different forms). He knows that Howie needs to experience other rewards than the perceived rewards that bringing fantasy to fruition might bring. He knows that Howie needs to replace bad habits with useful, rewarding habits and that this cannot be done, hiding in his little institutional bedroom.

Howie is acutely aware of his own age. He is utterly convinced that any mistake at all, a re-offence or just a breach, will result in him going back to prison for the rest of his life. Howie, for the first time in his long grueling life, has a friend that he can trust. That is one reward that is making a difference. And the things that Howie and Randle do together manifest more rewards. After horses and race cars, Howie loves dogs and he loves coffee. And he likes solving word-search puzzles. The other kinds of puzzles are too difficult.

With Randle he gets out of his bedroom often. They go to Tim Hortons and drink a lot of coffee. Sometimes Randle has work to get done on his laptop so Howie solves his puzzles. Randle always keeps a few books of them on hand. Sometimes a kid will come in and sit near them and so Randle and Howie leave and sit in the car instead. They visit with the dogs who belong to Randle’s friend. Howie loves them and they love him. They stick to him like glue and Howie enjoys fussing with them all day while Randle does his work nearby.

They take drives in the country. They get ice cream at the dairy during school hours. They go down by the lift bridge, but away from parks, and watch the big laker liners come in. One time a family with kids is in the area and so they leave, and decide just to come during school hours.

They take the dogs to an off-leash area during school hours; not that kids go to off-leash areas anyway. Kids are not permitted unaccompanied by adults, and families with dogs have little need for off-leash zones with their inherent risks. Parents don’t want their kids exposed to those same risks that bring about the restrictions.

They go swimming at the adult swim during school hours, doubly isolated from any chance of glimpsing a child whatsoever.

They go to antique stores and occasionally to restaurants and always Randle is on the lookout for kids. It’s strange though, this constant vigilance. What does it achieve? It has never been Howie’s habit to abduct a child; only to molest one who was trusted to his care. The idea that he will sneak off with a child under Howie’s nose is purely preposterous.

Ah, but triggers. The psych community has found a word that makes for a great label. Pedophiles are like loaded guns. They must be kept away from triggers. They must not find themselves looking at kids.

Of course there’s a huge inconsistency here, isn’t there?

Howie’s been placed in a group home third-floor bedroom with a window overlooking a street where plenty of kids live and play.

His interrogator, Digger, the half-wit husband, rents a modest office space across the street from a school and schedules Howie to arrive just when hoards of kids are walking to and from the school on their lunch break.

Driving down the street to go for coffee there are kids on the sidewalks. In fact there are probably 100,000 kids living in the same city where Howie lives and there is simply no way to avoid them. And of course, kids pop in and out of coffee shops with consistent regularity.

So how this trigger-avoidance deal is intended to work is quite the mystery. Former rapists of adult women are not expected to go through life without glimpsing women. Maybe no one really gets it. Maybe it’s just a matter of the creep factor. Maybe we just trust the little feeling that says – we don’t want pedophiles in the same places as kids would have fun in. Because that’s just creepy. We want to see our kids having fun in the illusory absence of pedophiles. And we don’t want sex offenders to glean any of the magic that the rest of us can, watching kids just be kids. We’ll take that away from them just for the hell of it – because they’re monsters and we should never stop finding ways to make them suffer.

Of course Randle thinks about how Howie suffered all through his childhood and what tragedies stemmed from all that. Randle does not suspect that suffering makes the world a safer place.  

But Digger needs to earn a living off the tax-payers, or at least help his wife to do so. So he must posture himself as being useful. He must be perceived to be accomplishing something. And sounding the alarm for transgressions or imaginary transgressions is the only thing he knows how to do or else has the mandate to do, so he must keep interpreting transgressions, one way or the other. So he sounds the alarm about the off-leash area where kids never go and he sounds the alarm about the swimming pool where kids never go during adult swim time while they are in school. And he sounds the alarm because Randle and Howie played mini-golf on a quiet evening and came within sight of a single child who was in no danger of any kind and who was not the relevant age/gender combination to trigger Howie in the slightest.

So Digger is motivated by money (who can blame him?) and Detective Dan is motivated by having too much work to do (who can blame him?) and doesn’t want to have to go check out more locations than he has to, and so together, under their cozy umbrella of ambiguity, they scare Howie away from the places he wants to go; mostly places where children are never present. And sometimes they outright cheat and say, “You can’t go there!” and leave Howie to think they’re respecting the law instead of their personal interests.

And so things that Howie is allowed to do, in order to generate healthy rewards, according to the charter of rights and freedoms, with a reasonable interpretation of his court orders, are in effect forbidden him on a whim. Of course, he could go if he chose to and as his rights allow, and he could not be put in jail, but then he would piss off the wrong people. Digger and Detective Dan have the option to apply to the court for a renewal of the 810 order upon its expiry in another year; something Howie prays won’t happen if he is deemed “good.”

Randle would far prefer that the 810 order become permanent, but interpreted with intelligence, wisdom and logic.

Randle is very concerned that Howie is going to spend what’s left of his life waiting for freedom that will never come, and remain in a fragile place with regards to community safety, instead of making real progress.

Randle is concerned that the system seems flawed, corrupted and based on junk psychology and should be challenged. Randle also knows that staying quiet about it could eventually make his volunteer work very easy and simple, when Tim Hortons becomes the only place at all that Howie is allowed to go, not because Tim Hortons is a child-free place. No. Because Tim Hortons is a soulless pit of an institution where no magic will ever happen; certainly no kid magic.

Every cup tells a story.

No comments: