Category Archives: Essays

Medicating Complexity

Over at City Journal, Dr. Dalrymple questions the efficacy of antidepressants after reading a recent article that examined the scientific evidence supporting the serotonin hypothesis of depression.

All unhappiness became depression: indeed, the words unhappy and unhappiness almost disappeared from Western man’s lexicon. The bodily norm was bliss and deviation from it was illness. The solution was medication.

These Days of Openness and Transparency

Theodore Dalrymple takes on the modern obsession with transparency in politics over at The Epoch Times.

Its corollary is that we are ruled by a pack of people who are only seekers after office, who don’t believe what they say, and use words only to advance their own careers. Any principle that they claim to espouse is but a cynical smokescreen or an instrument for their own petty ambition: Everything for them is but a means to the end, the end being their political ascent for its own sake. Presentation is all, substance nothing.

Under the Influence

In this week’s Takimag column, the dubious doctor comes to learn what an influencer is after watching a thought-provoking film in Paris.

Moreover, the film tackles what is surely an important social, or antisocial, development, namely the replacement of human face-to-face relations by relations through electronic means. How serious a problem this really will prove can be known only in the future; no doubt people were once extremely concerned by the spread of the ability to read print, and worried that it might interfere with ordinary social relations.

European Divisions Across the Channel

Back at Law & Liberty, the skeptical doctor reviews the tendencies and contradictions of the various nationalist movements in Spain, Wales, Belgium, and Scotland.

The motive force for much of this nationalism is resentment, which is one of the few emotions that can become genuinely chronic and therefore an inexhaustible and invaluable source for achieving political power. This is not to say that there can be no justification for resentment.

Second Thoughts on the Second Amendment

Theodore Dalrymple opines on the well-known Second Amendment of the United States Constitution over at Law & Liberty.

I am in sympathy with Originalists who believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as literally as possible. Still, they should not abandon the position once it yields a result different from the one that they would like. This is dishonest.

At Face Value

In his Takimag column, our self-critical doctor does some serious soul searching after rushing to judgment on a bus trip.

Therefore, we cannot shy away from judgment any more than we can shy away from the atmosphere around us. What is not possible cannot be desirable, except in the minds of self-indulgent utopians; but though we cannot avoid judgment, we can avoid sticking to our judgments through thick and thin, irrespective of evidence against them. Therefore, we must hold them with a certain lightness, though not frivolity. We must be prepared to relinquish them.

Obedience and Freedom (and Fools and Legislators)

In the July edition of New English Review, the good doctor considers the conflict between obedience to authority and freedom after reading a book with the thought-provoking title of Obedience is Freedom.

True obedience, says the author, retains some element of voluntary consent, a willingness to submit to authority when it is possible not to do so. Obedience is more than bowing to the inevitable. It often requires an informal but assumed acceptance of what is done and how it is done. That is why a shared understanding of behaviour requires a shared culture.

The Sovietization of Mentalities

Over at The Epoch Times, our dubious doctor shares his concern for the latest bureaucratic diktat of the American Medical Association.

But the dangers of a society in which the commissars of the American Medical Association, or any other such body, forbid and punish what they think is heresy are far greater than one in which the Raoults of this world blaze across the historical firmament for a moment. Freedom is desirable in itself; it’s also the necessary condition of that self-correcting activity that we know as science.