July 6, 2009

Diagnosing Michael Jackson

You have probably seen some of the postmortem efforts to pin psychiatric diagnoses on Michael Jackson, in the wake of his untimely demise. It's a pedantic enterprise, with no shortage of diagnostic contenders: Pedophilia, anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, and a dual diagnosis (that's a psychiatric disorder plus a substance abuse disorder). Most recently, we've got J. Michael Bailey, the man transgender activists love to hate, wading into the fray with erotic identity disorder and a paraphilia called autogynephilia.

"Whoa, folks! Not so fast!" say others.

Calling for a little reflection on this whole paraphilia-hebephilia-whateverphilia diagnostic craze is Scientific American columnist Jesse Bering, a research psychologist at Queen's University Belfast:
Would you really have wanted Oscar Wilde euthanized as though he were a sick animal? Should André Gide, whom the New York Times hailed in their obituary as a man 'judged the greatest French writer of this century by the literary cognoscenti,' have been deprived of his pen, torn to pieces by illiterate thugs? It's complicated. And although in principle we know that all men are equal in the eyes of the law, just as we did for Michael Jackson during his child molestation trials, I have a hunch that many people tend to feel (and uncomfortably so) a little sympathy for the Devil under such circumstances.
I highly recommend Bering's muse, "Pedophiles, Hebephiles, and Ephebophiles, Oh My: Erotic Age Orientation" (which, by way of full disclosure, cites yours truly).

1 comment:

Gabi said...

"The man is innocent. He always was."
(Attorney Thomas A. Mesereau)

R.i.P. Michael