How is that supposed to help? January 18, 2009 1:40 AM   Subscribe

Jesus f*ckin' wept. Has half of AskMe gone off its meds today?
posted by flabdablet to Etiquette/Policy at 1:40 AM (463 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

Although it's exceedingly rare, it has happened in the past that husbands have murdered their wives (and vice versa) without it being a 'crime of passion'. This is probably not one of those cases. But given that it's not one of those cases, she should take steps to ease her own mind, which include such things as canceling a life insurance policy that's unnecessary. It's a first step, methinks.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:44 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Probably the whole question is a set-up - someone is testing their novel plot out on us and we fell for it. But in case it is actually real, it seems like the first step to solving any problem is ensuring that you are physically safe.
posted by hazyjane at 1:45 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know I'm being totally paranoid and insecure and yet here I sit writing this. Please help bring me back to reality. I apologize for the length.

[snip length]

My husband is loving, thoughtful, and wonderful to be around and yet I keep wondering if he is trying to kill me. Please help me stop.


It has perhaps escaped some responders that the question does not read "please help me feed my paranoia by suggesting ways to act upon it."
posted by flabdablet at 1:57 AM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


Probably the whole question is a set-up

You can say that again (or just let me).
posted by Chuckles at 1:57 AM on January 18, 2009


I keep thinking flabdablet's trying to bait me.

If it's for a book, c'mon. Steal a good tv plot, like Airwolf II.
posted by carsonb at 2:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


I've seen so much advice I thought was crazy in AskMe, almost all of it having to do with relationships, but this thread seems to have taken it to another level.

*I think Matt needs to up the $5 entry fee, referrals only, and maybe include a basic logic test.

Oh wait, too late for that.

*I know I know, I was joking... kind of.
posted by -t at 2:33 AM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why does nobody suggest the obvious answer: poster needs to take a secret lover. A lonely single man with an overdeveloped sense of chivalry and a background in police, military, covert work, etc. Secrecy is important here, but the adulterous nature of the relationship provides plausible cover.

1. Snare him well with passionate sex, and then run hot and cold, ramping up and then withdrawing affection until the lover is crazy. Ensure that you can display serious bruising during sex. Then begin explaining how your husband is trying to kill you, and you'd like to leave him, but he'd never allow you to live if he left her for another man.

2. Take out additional life insurance policies on the husband, and the next time he arranges one of these dangerous vacations, invite the lover along 'for protection'.

3. ???

4. Profit!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:57 AM on January 18, 2009 [30 favorites]


That question is more made up than Tammy Faye Baker and I'm surprised it was approved. In the off chance that it is not made up, then the asker is either mentally ill or the potential victim of a very dramatic and incredibly ineffectual murderer- in which case all bets are off.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:13 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flabdablet, you are really overbearing in that thread... why not just say what you have to say and leave it at that? Other people are allowed to comment.
posted by taz at 3:19 AM on January 18, 2009 [16 favorites]


I have to admit that I thought the original post seemed a little odd and was possibly a joke post. I still think so. But there's no way of knowing, and people do get killed in strange and odd ways all the time, and I've seen some myself, so . . . I chose to proceed as if there might be something to it.

By the sort of strange coincidence which seems to happen to me a lot lately, tonight I had coffee with a friend, who told me about the strange case of Neil Lofquist, whom he'd known in high school and had gone through confirmation classes with, and his comment was, "Gee, you never know who's going to go off the rails and do something positively insane, do you."
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:21 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


about the strange case of Neil Lofquist

The strapline at the top of that page is unfortunate.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:28 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's been a few anon AskMe's recently which, to my jaded old mind, have seemed like trolls street theatre Kaycee Nichols audience-participation dramas with plot elements stolen from classic movies. I kept reading after the start of that one to see if Billy Zane was going to turn up on the boat...

I know the admin interface hides the identity of anon askers - does it also provide some measure of ... trustworthyness? ... of the asker? Something like "Member for < 6 months, < 5 posts, < 5 comments" would send up red flags.
posted by Pinback at 3:32 AM on January 18, 2009


I'm with Hazyjane, there's something about the entire post that seems too convenient, too nicely plotted to reflect the actual messiness of real life.

I have often wondered if these types of posts were often just pranks or writers doing just that--working out some plot.

What would be interesting if someone just took one of these heavily suspicious posts and did something with it, selling the story before the original author.
posted by uxo at 3:42 AM on January 18, 2009


The question right before it about SSRIs and marijuana interactions is similar, though less intense.

I really think the use of anonymous AskMe questions to seek what can only be medical opinions offered at a distance, with no accountability, and no followup, and not nearly enough facts to support any such opinion, is bad medicine. It's a constant issue, I know. But someday someone is going to post something like one of these two questions and everyone is going to pile on with opinions and counter-opinions and glib diagnoses and silly advice and goading questions, and then we'll learn that the OP has committed suicide or harmed someone else (or, I suppose, been murdered) instead of seeking professional medical help.

And that will really, really suck. A website has to know its limitations.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:48 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That said, I think the "my husband is trying to kill me" post is bullshit.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:49 AM on January 18, 2009


Trusting that your partner is not trying to murder you is a pretty important part of a relationship. It sounds like cancelling her life insurance is something she has to do to re-establish that trust. If she cancels it and he continues to treat her as he always did, then she can put her fears to rest and go get therapy for her paranoia. If she cancels it and everything changes, then she can leave him and go get therapy for the fact that her husband wanted to murder her.

Either way, cancelling the insurance + therapy is the way to go.
posted by creasy boy at 3:50 AM on January 18, 2009


It has perhaps escaped some responders that the question does not read "please help me feed my paranoia by suggesting ways to act upon it."

Yeah, well, flabdablet, it should be mentioned that the *title* of the post is "Is my husband trying to kill me?" not "how can I stop thinking this?"

So perhaps people might be forgiven for choosing to answer one question instead of the other. But neither question belongs on AskMe, if you Ask Me. And perhaps you should rein in your righteous indignation about all the people who answered the factual question instead of the medical one.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:02 AM on January 18, 2009


And I apologize for multi-posting, but this subject really rankles me, and I have to add this:

Suppose the OP is real, and serious. If she was someone you cared about -- let's say you *were* her husband -- how would you feel about her spilling this stuff all over the web on AskMe, even "anonymously"? There are ***way*** more than enough details in that post, assuming it's true, for people who know this couple to identify them (sailing vacation, hiking vacation, good looking husband, no kids, wife is an orphan from a drunk driving accident -- I bet that gets us down to about 10 potential couples in the United States). So potentially, a bunch of people think "I know who this is, and the husband might be a killer," or "I know who this is, and the wife is losing her mind." Either way, this family's private tragedy is out there for the world to see and make wrong assumptions about. It's a lot like when CNN sticks a microphone in the face of the mother of a missing kid and some grieving mother's lack of affect makes some viewers think she killed the kid rather than that she's in shock. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Or perhaps the original anonymous questioner suffers from some other mental illness -- the kind that makes people post highly dramatic stories centering on themselves anonymously to public websites for kicks. Such actions are not always or only malicious. They are themselves symptomatic of mental illness. Either way, we're aiding and abetting her decline, not her recovery.

And either way, nothing good can come of this being on the web. I repeat my strong personal objection to this sort of post.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:11 AM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


You know, flabdablet, since you bothered linking to my comment, which was mostly along the lines of "don't you have a friend you can talk to about this?" - I'll say this much: I hope for your sake that this either is a hoax or the poster is gravely mistaken. Because if its not one of those two, you and a whole bunch of the other morons not giving this poster credence, well - let's just say there's gonna be a whole 'nother lot of us who will be too sad to say I told you so.

And I say that speaking as someone who knows that feeling.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:14 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am totally going to submit some film plots as Ask Mefi questions!
posted by zemblamatic at 4:16 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


flabdablet: "It has perhaps escaped some responders that the question does not read "please help me feed my paranoia by suggesting ways to act upon it."

As it may have escaped others that the question was not "please label me, diagnose me, mock my suffering, display your adamantine wit at my expense and call me a liar."

Maybe all the goddamn armchair analysts out there need to cast their gimlet eye on each other and reinterpret the thread as one colossal thematic apperception test. Which posters are susceptible to paranoid ideation? Can you spot the feeble-minded histrionics and self-absorbed narcissists just itching to command the thread and prove themselves right? Who uses humor to ward off empathy? Who's desperately afraid of being made a sucker?

Fascinating, really.
posted by aquafortis at 4:30 AM on January 18, 2009 [46 favorites]


Without making any specific diagnoses, the actual M.D. in the thread tells Anonymous only that she is in serious need of a doctor. AskMe Armchair Psychiatrist Brigade, take note. Do you really think that bringing up alarming possibilities like paranoid schizophrenia to an already terrified person will encourage her to get help?
posted by Drop Daedalus at 4:45 AM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would not get pregnant right now as the largest cause of non-natural death of pregnant women is murder by their husbands or partners.

what
posted by slimepuppy at 4:48 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also suspect it is BS... We've been gamed on this one.

Not being critical of the team here....It's a tough job being a mod, you guys do us all a tremendous service keeping the house clean...
posted by HuronBob at 4:50 AM on January 18, 2009


Gamed? Probably.

Husband out for blood? Probably not.

See a therapist? Yeah, sounds good.

But fuck, you know, I mean - some people do get murdered. Not a lot of people, mind you, but it's in the realm of remote possibility. It is.
posted by kbanas at 5:11 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd just say that stranger things have happened. One summer, 4th of July, guy came walking into town still wearing a jail bracelet, petty theft or something... Being the squatter/homeless/punks/vets/druggies we were we said "cool, have a seat", we had a little BBQ going on. Watched fireworks, somebody let him crash in their tent.... next day black vans swarm at the grocery store, everybody face down on the ground... dude had been on the run for a couple of months after hacking an old couple up with an axe up north in Washington state. I hope this turns out well. (I have arson, OD, suicide, rape stories out the yang).
posted by zengargoyle at 5:12 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember, you don't have to answer the question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:28 AM on January 18, 2009 [19 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised that so many people think this is a fake. For a person with a real mental illness, I think this kind of paranoia is not unusual. And on the off chance that her suspicions are not unfounded, I see things on the news all the time with circumstances stranger than this.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:30 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac is right, an anonymous internet community is not the kind of place for that kind of question. It should never have been posted in the first place.
posted by afu at 5:31 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you for directing me to that fascinating AskMe question and the fascinating debate, here.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:06 AM on January 18, 2009


Either the question is bogus or Chica isn't well. It's pretty much as simple as that, regardless of whether or not her husband is trying to kill her, which he's not.

I urge mods to lock the thread and memail/comment in the post that the general consensus is that regardless of all other things she seeks help right away.

As for "normal people don't have that many brushes with death in a year", I call bullshit. "Normal people" don't go couples-sailing on boats big enough to require rigging, normal people don't "go hiking in another country on cliffside trails", and all kinds of people accidentally trigger their autostarts. (Of course, every autostart I've ever seen shuts off after 15-30 mins if no key is inserted...) Normal people might do those things, but not all in the span of a couple months to a year, certainly not in their first year of marriage.

Please just close it up before more armchair pulpdramatists give really bad advice. It's someone's life, not a cheap paperback.
posted by TomMelee at 6:10 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


The question sounds like total bullshit to me. No way to know, of course, but it smells too bad for me to want to bother trying to answer it.
posted by languagehat at 6:27 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This comment bears repeating:

"I really think the use of anonymous AskMe questions to seek what can only be medical opinions offered at a distance, with no accountability, and no followup, and not nearly enough facts to support any such opinion, is bad medicine. It's a constant issue, I know. But someday someone is going to post something like one of these two questions and everyone is going to pile on with opinions and counter-opinions and glib diagnoses and silly advice and goading questions, and then we'll learn that the OP has committed suicide or harmed someone else (or, I suppose, been murdered) instead of seeking professional medical help."
posted by chlorus at 6:31 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Indeed, normal people die. In any given year, a whole lot of normal people die. In most cases they are not "murdered" (directly, although if you live in Gaza, Kabul, or Baghdad, or are a young African American male in Oakland or the Bronx, you may discount that last statement).

I mean, stepping away from the ethical and psychological issues here and looking at the question qua literary text, the reason a lot of people are calling bullshit (or questioning the OP's mental health) is that the sequence of coincidences is so forced and unlikely, and so cinematically sourced (all of the above have been used repeatedly in movies far more often than in real life). Oh, and the strange pattern of three perfectly legitimate plot devices failing to succeed due to deus ex machina interventions as exotic as, say, not pushing someone off a cliff or rescuing the person you tried to murder five minutes beforehand. The tropes of genre fiction thrillers are evident aplenty in the Anonymous Wife's Tale.

Now, two further hypothetical explanations tack the sailboat of death back toward the imputation of possible "reality." Of course, the conniving murderous husband could, indeed, be deeply influenced by this same canon of genre fiction and cinema. And so could a delusional wife convinced that death lurks on the next pillow over. All we're really missing here, so far, is slow poisoning. But that's so banal, and medically provable. It's really become so hackneyed as a cliché that even a hack would avoid it. But either of these explanations requires imputing a state of mind to a subject we cannot know except through the false window of narrative, and whom we cannot question directly. So we have a tabula rasa, semiotically speaking, upon which a thousand stories can be laid out and examined and disarticulated and combined into new Monsters: maybe her husband is trying to kill her because she's insane? Maybe her husband is trying to make her insane by leaving all these clues that he means to kill her?

In this sense, and especially given the anonymous authorship and the metanarrative apparatus -- on a site called *Meta*filter, no less -- what we have here is a canonical example of the postmodern poetics of hypertextuality. Dissertations remain to be written about this episode, and newspaper articles, and then a film that inspires some new folie a deux in the real world to complete the simulacrum effect, to extend the rhizomatic nexus in which we are all, always and already, embedded as narrative subjects.

That's why I lean toward calling it bullshit, anyway.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:31 AM on January 18, 2009 [23 favorites]

"I really think the use of anonymous AskMe questions to seek what can only be medical opinions offered at a distance, with no accountability, and no followup, and not nearly enough facts to support any such opinion, is bad medicine. ...
Is wrong. I know many people who would never say anything to their close "at home" friends that all know each other that might seek a bit of advice from a distant friend who knows none of their other friends or an anonymous post somewhere. They sometimes just need a kick in the butt. They may not have Google-Fu, they might only know immediate close by family and friends and not want to burden them with the knowledge. They would rather have a heavy dose of dumping on mostly stranger and listening and picking out good advice. I think it's pretty good here in the "don't eat it, or I'd eat it", "seek therapy", "go to the emergency room now", "talk to your doctor", "DTMFA" way.

If they post and 90% of people say "seek therapy" maybe they will. If they don't they never will.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:41 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree the best advice is some therapy, and I take some vicarious experience from all the mefi questions where mental illness is displayed. I think the idea of censoring responses that take the symptoms seriously are probably misguided, they are valid, if only remotely plausible. I suspect that the original poster might take the credible replies as reinforcement of the delusion for a moment, but the overwhelming chorus was seek professional help, as it should be, and likely that will filter through, and hopefully prompt her to consider it.
Afterall, despite the OP's reluctance to seek counselling if she had to lie to her husband, the consensus certainly was to seek it out.
I like the posts that directly answer the somewhat irrational fears, I would like to think if I were ever in a situation that was straight out of a movie, where the simplest answer was to question my sanity, I would at least be able to see the responses that took it seriously.
posted by bystander at 6:55 AM on January 18, 2009


My guess is that it is a performance art question, rather than a real one. But if it is real, it really disturbs me that there are pages and pages of answers there that look to be casually feeding the OP's delusions and paranoia.

If it's an honest question, she needs to see a mental health professional ASAP, period. And if it's a performance art question, the pages and pages of weird answers are just rewarding the performance artist asker.

Honestly, I think the question should be deleted, just like some of the "hey, the stump of my wrist is really bleeding, but going to the ER is inconvenient, how can I fix this with the microwave and duct tape?" questions get deleted. If the person is in crisis, they need professional help, and otherwise there isn't anything being served by that kind of display.
posted by Forktine at 6:57 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


And now to be glib, as it is meta, if the OP is as poorly endowed as she feels, why not enjoy the fast burn of life with a gorgeous husband? Better a year of paradise ending in death than 40 years of misery with no happiness in sight. I certainly would have liked a sailing holiday, a hiking holiday and no kids to wake me at 5am for the last 12 months. (not really, offspring googling me in the future).
posted by bystander at 7:00 AM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]

"hey, the stump of my wrist is really bleeding, but going to the ER is inconvenient, how can I fix this with the microwave and duct tape?"
You find an inflexible object, you tape it tightly to your stub, you twist and tape it down again. Microwave is no help, maybe boiling water on your stub for a while, it's gone anyways. "go to the ER now!" x 100.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:04 AM on January 18, 2009


"hey, the stump of my wrist is really bleeding, but going to the ER is inconvenient, how can I fix this with the microwave and duct tape?"

Go see a therapist.
posted by metastability at 7:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


We can save a lot of time by not repeating the same old debate about medical questions here.

There is no consensus, so it's obviously a mod's call whether an anonymous question gets posted. One hopes there is some screening for reliability -- a longtime solid member posts something anonymously (that s/he's willing to let the mods know, btw, and isn't that interesting, since Matt and Jess and Cortex now have first hand knowledge of a possible violent criminal activity . . .) -- but I would just urge our leaders to err on the side of caution when a post such as this one screams either a) I'M FAKE! or b) I'M LOSING MY MIND! or c) VIOLENT CRIME IN PROGRESS! One can add that to the "how can I fix my bleeding stump with duct tape" list, right?

I'm just saying that if I were a mod -- and thank god I'm not and blessings be upon them -- I would not pass this question through the anon queue. Never mind that it is, in fact, two different questions (as I pointed out above), one grants the premise of the apparent delusion (speaking very abstractly and assuming it is a delusion because . . .); the second asks to be disabused of the delusion, acknowledging it is likely delusional thinking in the first place.

Giving advice can be a heavy responsibility. I've always thought AskMe was legally and ethically over-exposed in the medical domain, and there has long been disagreement among members about this question, including strong opinions from medical professionals on several sides of the argument, as I recall (similar for legal issues and questions).

It's a judgment call with respect to anonymous questions. Depending on how you see the aftermath so far, it may or may not have been a mod's misjudgment to post the question, but it's certainly provided a lot of entertainment value for all of us, and that's certainly a legitimate mission of MetaFilter. It's just sort of squicky to be entertained by other people's suffering, or to pretend to be suffering to entertain other people with it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:09 AM on January 18, 2009


I'd love to see this post deleted. Some of the advice is downright dangerous.
posted by schwa at 7:10 AM on January 18, 2009


Of course it's anonymous, once again. You're a goddamned drama queen, anonymous!
posted by Mister_A at 7:12 AM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


In this sense, and especially given the anonymous authorship and the metanarrative apparatus -- on a site called *Meta*filter, no less -- what we have here is a canonical example of the postmodern poetics of hypertextuality. Dissertations remain to be written about this episode, and newspaper articles, and then a film that inspires some new folie a deux in the real world to complete the simulacrum effect, to extend the rhizomatic nexus in which we are all, always and already, embedded as narrative subjects.

That's why I lean toward calling it bullshit, anyway.

So in essence, your very dasein, the entire field of your discursive practice, is suffused with the ineffable Lacanian jouissance of bullshit. In other words, you're completely full of shit, yes?

As the great Searle once said of Derrida...you're the kind of guy who gives bullshit a bad name.
posted by aquafortis at 7:14 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


to entertain other people with it

Sorry, should have said "without being explicit about a fictional premise," moot since AskMe presumes good faith intention to report facts in the real world correctly as the basis for its discursive norms. Perfectly OK to entertain other people by representing other people's suffering as performance or fiction or whatever. Not to lie about it where people expect you to tell the truth.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:16 AM on January 18, 2009


aquafortis, I hope you know enough about lit crit bullshit to know I was taking the piss, right?

And I've read both Searle and Derrida. Plenty of bullshit in both.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:17 AM on January 18, 2009


(and actually, agreeing with your insightful point about this being a thematic apperception test)
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:18 AM on January 18, 2009


that question is a fake as the shroud of turin.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:19 AM on January 18, 2009


Look, the OP listed a bunch of flashing lights for mental fragility besides the paranoia, orphaned dramatically, no friends, poor self image, not measuring up to past girlfriends - it was a slam dunk to get the therapist response.
If it had been a straight facts question - suspicious boating and car starting (the cliff stuff, not so much) - it still probably would have had seek therapy as the top answer, as spousal murder is so vanishingly rare, but the other pointers to mental illness are pretty blatant.
Sure, crazy people get killed too, but in an anon question without any follow up possible you need to play the percentages.
posted by bystander at 7:22 AM on January 18, 2009


You know what should never have been posted? This boilerplate DTMFA answer.

If it's supposed to be arch and funny, it's a miserable failure. If it's not, it reflects utterly contemptible cowardice. In no way could it conceivably be construed as useful advice by any reasonable person. It could, however, be the kind of bullshit validation-of-paranoia that helps somebody struggling with anxiety and insecurity take the first steps toward throwing away a perfectly good marriage.

I've just weighed in again, perhaps ill-advisedly, in an attempt to balance up the rising tide of fear-driven bullshit that's still so prevalent in the AskMe thread. And if anybody thinks that flat denial of the OP's illusory worries amounts to labelling her, diagnosing her, mocking her suffering or displaying my adamantine wit at her expense: I hope you never go mad, because if that's the way your peer group thinks, it's going to take you a hell of a long time to pull out of it.

William Burroughs wrote: Do not offer sympathy to the mentally ill. Tell them firmly, "I am not paid to listen to this drivel. You are a terminal fool."

I know from painful personal experience that this attitude is the single most helpful thing to encounter when afflicted by paranoia. The least helpful thing is anything even vaguely resembling pandering to it.

The first mention of paranoia comes from the OP herself in the very first line of her extended question. She clearly has got a clue what's really going on, and the drama queen OMG-maybe-he-really-is-a-murderer brigade isn't helping.
posted by flabdablet at 7:22 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Any help is better than none. No matter what. Most likely.
Knife stuck in your leg and you've called 911 and it's 60 minutes before they get there....
Got a rash on my thigh...?
(sorry, mom is ICU nurse, friends are EMT and Red Cross volunteers and I was a lifeguard.) Do anything to help. F*** the consequences.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:22 AM on January 18, 2009


I see things on the news all the time with circumstances stranger than this

And why do they make the news?

Because they're really fucking unusual.
posted by flabdablet at 7:25 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's interesting. My mum was an ICU nurse too (now it's hospice). My impulse from an upbringing in a medical family would be to first avoid doing any harm even before you prioritized "helping" by any means at all.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:26 AM on January 18, 2009


fourcheesemac: sorry, nevermind the snark! Sigh...good one!
posted by aquafortis at 7:31 AM on January 18, 2009


"hey, the stump of my wrist is really bleeding, but going to the ER is inconvenient, how can I fix this with the microwave and duct tape?"

Followed up a few weeks later by "I spilled blood all over my Macbook keyboard and now some of my keys don't work; can I get this fixed under warranty if I don't tell Apple how it happened?"

This is like one of those Jack Bauer justifications of torture by a republican. I was delighted to see our new Attorney General refuse to grant the "nuclear bomb about to go off and you have minutes to get the disarm code from a terrorist" premise for justifying torture when offered by that moron Senator Cornyn during his confirmation hearings. Yeah, if that happens, do whatever you can.

But that never happens, except in James Bond movies and on "24."
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:31 AM on January 18, 2009


aquafortis, no worries. I'm a Marxist social scientist. I've been skewering pomo lit crit bullshit since I was in graduate school, and one learns to do a pretty good parody after nearly 20 years of having to read all that crap. I'm rather impressed I did it well (badly) enough to fool someone who clearly knows the source code.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:35 AM on January 18, 2009


Every aspect of the question seems too plot-devicey to be true, especially when combined into one story. Plain woman orphaned by a car accident. Charming man sweeps her off her feet. Lots of money. The over-used sailboat story. The over-used cliff story. The exhaust story recently heard on Oprah.

I vote for a troll or a person who is too mentally ill to benefit from "see a therapist" comments on the internet.
posted by PatoPata at 7:39 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't have a problem taking the OP on face value. Yeah it could well be a fake post - but does it matter? It costs us nothing to treat it as a genuine question. I don't see anything good coming from everyone constantly second guessing and calling bullshit on every suspicious ask.mefi posting then.

But yeah - delete or lock the the thread anyway - the answers have become farcical.
posted by schwa at 7:39 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


As I understand it, one of the goals of MF that I think I like is to have many intelligent people looking at a situation and trying to look at 1) whether there is a commonly accepted truth that can be found, or not; and 2) what that commonly accepted truth might be or is.

I think that these goals come before the goal of providing feedback to anonymous posters. I don't care much about an anonymous poster. If an anonymous poster can't take care of self, will have trouble in life; if anonymous poster can take care of self, will have less trouble in life but still some. Maybe some anonymous poster will benefit from the MF community examining truth, either by changing his/her life, or having a nice laugh or lesson. Maybe anonymous poster will not benefit from MF; not much we can do about it. Anonymous posters will generally hear what they want to hear if that is their karmic position.

Why should I care about an anonymous poster? Hasn't done anything for me, isn't offering anything to me, isn't accountable. I don't care about the anonymous poster. I'm looking at the truth.

If I misunderstand the goals of MF please direct me to the correct party line on this question.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 7:40 AM on January 18, 2009


I didn't answer in the thread because I don't have enough knowledge to be helpful, but I'm otherwise one of the ones flabdablet would find dangerous and ludicrous. I mean, if the question's not a fake, I do think she has rather more justification for becoming paranoid, if that's what she is, than the average newlywed. Does paranoia act like this -- self-doubting, based on real events? My admittedly ignorant impression of it is that those who are paranoid are utterly convinced, and that what they're convinced of is patently impossible. I also doubt most people could find as much in a year with their SO to fuel a suspicion like this if they tried. Of course probability favors insecure wives over a murderous husbands in a general population, but once the population is reduced to those who write in this way about these events, I'm not sure that the probabilities don't shift enough to give a little credence to the possibility of the latter. If anonymous were my friend, and told me these things in this tone, I really wouldn't know whether she was on to something scary or whether she needed mental help. So, I don't think it's irresponsible to express either possibility in the thread, and I think it might be irresponsible to declare either as such a certainty that the other shouldn't be considered.
posted by daisyace at 7:46 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every aspect of the question seems too plot-devicey to be true, especially when combined into one story.

plot-devicey! that's perfect. i was struggling to find the words to express why my bullshitometer went to 11, but that's exactly it. that, and the way the plot-deviceyness was told in such a la-de-dah, matter of fact way.

somebody genuinely fearing for their life wouldn't be so "oh, and the other week i noticed that the pack of rat poison was half empty. i asked my husband about it, and about why my coffee had been tasting so weird lately, and he said that he'd filled the sugar container with it because there was nowhere else to put it. he also wrote the number for the poisons information line on a sticky note on the fridge, just in case i accidentally drank more of the poison"
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:51 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm one of the commenters linked at the top of this callout, so here's my answer to flabdablet:

No, I am not off my meds. I took the question seriously. If it were posted again today, even after reading this thread, I would leave the same comment.

I'm not trying to feed the poster's paranoia. I answered the way I did because I'm not convinced that she's being paranoid.

In fact, after reading the original question, I was stunned by how many answers assumed that the poster was mentally ill.

It's true that the question may be made up. But, sue me, I decided to answer as if it wasn't.
posted by bingo at 7:52 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's been a sort of hectic weekend around here and we were sitting on that quesiton trying to figure out what to do about it. I generally think super-paranoid questions are a bad fit for AskMe generally [like the "people are trying to spy on me through my TV" sorts of things] but it wasn't totally clear if this was one of them. Giving a bunch of "oh you might be right" feedback to someone who is paranoid (or, in a worst case scenario paranoid schizphrenic) is simply a terrible feedback loop. I had been hemming and hawing, I am still actually, and I guess cortex approved it.

It may be one of those things where we have to adjust the purpose of the AnonyMe feature somewhat because often the questions that seem like they need this anonymizing feature THE MOST are the ones that maybe shouldn't be on AskMe at all to begin with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:53 AM on January 18, 2009


I think it was a fair call by the mods to approve this. Yeah, we might be being gamed, if so, it is entertaining. The OP might be paranoid, if so, if she gets a therapist and exposes these fears, she might be less so and get help. And yeah, she might be in danger, but this post hasn't increased the danger, and has possibly lessened it, so a win all round!
posted by bystander at 8:08 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that thread is a trainwreck. I know why you guys allowed it, jessamyn, and questions like this are going to be a natural part of a site like Ask Metafilter. So that's cool. But the people pandering to someone who at best is suffering from such terminally low self esteem that she can only imagine an attractive man would want to be around her so he can kill her for the insurance money should really take a step back.

We have no idea what's going on in this relationship. The only reasonable response is therefore to advise the OP to seek professional help. A shrink will be able to tell if she has a legitimate concern or vastly more likely needs some mental health assistance (whether minor or major).l
posted by Justinian at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


God,I've become such a mod crawler - cortex is ugly, jess is dumb and matt has b.o.
vacapinta and pb are not even on my insult radar.
posted by bystander at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2009


The simple solution is to tell us who posted it and let us decide if it's real.
posted by gman at 8:17 AM on January 18, 2009


it was me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:23 AM on January 18, 2009


The simple solution is to tell us who posted it and let us decide if it's real.

Also we need to know which fake account her real husband is posting under.

Uhuh. Yep.
posted by schwa at 8:24 AM on January 18, 2009


There are some things you shouldn't touch, some things you can't fix.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This question reads as fake. I'm glad, though, that I have the option of not answering and that the decision to delete or approve is not mine.
posted by orange swan at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If this is a real question, the internet is not the place to go for answers. Case closed.
posted by Eideteker at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2009


let us decide

And I say this with absolutely no irony whatsoever - that would truly be letting the inmates run the asylum.
posted by mrmojoflying at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2009


yeah, she might be in danger, but this post hasn't increased the danger

The thing she's most likely to be in danger of is burning down her beautiful marriage, and the yeah-it-could-happen brigade seems intent on fanning the flames.

Yeah, it could happen. And 9/11 could have been a Bushco plot, and vaccinations could cause autism, and Neil Armstrong might have faked the moon walk, and HIV might not actually have anything to do with AIDS, and Gene Ray could actually be a genius.

And he left the garage door OPEN? In the situation I was referring to, the garage door was closed and it still worked. Did he fill up his gas tank beforehand, too?
posted by xanthippe at 10:36 PM on January 18 [+] [!]

On second thought, just get a divorce right now - even if it doesn't turn out to be true, are you ever going to feel happy or relaxed in this marriage? I think you already know the answer to that.
posted by xanthippe at 10:38 PM on January 18 [+] [!]

I have no idea what is possessing xanthippe to channel Iago. Most of us get over pulling the wings off flies.
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


(by which i mean, in a past life i invented a time machine, travelled to the future (our present) and posted it. i forget why, but it had something to do with a dare, and a bunch of spanish doubloons secreted away in a vault in lichtenstein)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:31 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


it was me.

Then it's real.
posted by gman at 8:34 AM on January 18, 2009


The simple solution is to tell us who posted it and let us decide if it's real.

IT WAS ME!!!

I'm joking. And I thought I received harsh answers on my AskMe's, but the ones on this AskMe was a lot worse. I wish that OP good luck, whatever the circumstances.

I think we all should see if this shows up on 48 Hours Mystery six months from now.
posted by sixcolors at 8:35 AM on January 18, 2009


We can save a lot of time by not repeating the same old debate about medical questions here.

We could save even more time by not repeating the same old 'see a therapist' answer, over and over again. I mean, once it's done a couple of times, what can it possibly achieve? If the asker is as suspicious and paranoid as she seems, I'm betting this kind of pile on would simply feed the paranoia.

Challenging her assumptions seems fine. Noting her self-esteem issues also seems fine. Pointing to the places where she might be able to get help with those issues -- that's fine as well.

But if that many people (none of whom actually know me, and so it's just as likely their responding to the awkward manner in which I framed my question than real concrete concerns about my mental health) started piling on and telling me I needed to see a therapist, I'd probably either flame out or just stop reading.

Perhaps, in some parallel universe, people do respond productively to this kind of thing. I've never seen it happen myself though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:35 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what is possessing xanthippe to channel Iago.

Because Iago is the most channelable of all the immortal bard's characters? C'mon, who would you rather be? Iago or Rosencrantz? Iago or Timon of Athens? Iago or Lear? Iago or Richard the Third?

If you answered anything but "Iago" to any of these questions, get thee to a therapist.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:37 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wait a minute...crazy people? on the Internet?
posted by jonmc at 8:37 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


sixcolours is also me. just wanted to clear that up.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:38 AM on January 18, 2009


spartacus, too, right?
posted by jonmc at 8:40 AM on January 18, 2009


Look, I haven't read this whole thread, but I just wanted to say that the question isn't someone working out the details of a book they're writing, it's someone stealing the details frm a book written 30-some years ago-- John D. McDonald's "Turqoise Lament." It's been years since i read the book, so my recollections are a bit imprcise, but at least one (and possibly all three) of the murder attempts in the book are effectively identical to the question, as is the fact that Pidge (in the book) is an orphaned woman of only average attractiveness recently married to a handsome guy whom everybody loves. People think Pidge is crazy for believeing her husband is trying to kill her-- they live such a wonderful life of sailing in tropical seas, hiking along jungle cliffs-- seriously it's the exact same plot.
posted by dersins at 8:44 AM on January 18, 2009 [71 favorites]


If the asker is as suspicious and paranoid as she seems

And just to amplify this bit -- I didn't particularly think that the poster was being paranoid either. My own assumption was that her personal history might have led her mind to wander somewhat, and ask a pile of 'what if' questions in what she believed was a safe place.

If she'd been genuinely paranoid/thought disordered, I'm guessing she'd be reporting his actions to the police, or running as fast as she can. It's possible, as some people suggested, that she's got issues regarding her ability to value herself that makes her prone to asking some of these questions when they wouldn't occur to most people, but I'm not seeing how that 'you need therapy' pile-on is likely to improve those self esteem issues.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:44 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


no, that was Kirk Douglas.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:44 AM on January 18, 2009


Fine. If we're all coming clean here, I use the nickname 'jessamyn' when I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression that I actually have a heart.
posted by gman at 8:48 AM on January 18, 2009


from an Amazon review of The Turquoise Lament:

Travis McGee once again takes on the torch of righteousness as he saves the daughter of an old friend. She thinks she's losing her mind, which is exactly what somebody wants her to think.

and there we have it, folks: the OP isn't being killed by her husband; he's trying to send her insane.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:54 AM on January 18, 2009


if you must write askme questions, the words you use should be your own; don't plagiarise or take on loan. there's always someone, somewhere with a big nose* who knows, who'll trip you up and laugh as you fall.

* i have no idea whether dersins actually has a big nose or not
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's fucked up.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2009


The thing she's most likely to be in danger of is burning down her beautiful marriage, and the yeah-it-could-happen brigade seems intent on fanning the flames.

It's not a beautiful marriage if she thinks her husband is trying to kill her. Even if he isn't.

As far as Turquoise Lament, I haven't read it, but the summary on wikipedia says that the wife has an inheritance. Here, it's life insurance, which is less dramatic, but also a worse motivator.
posted by bingo at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


my main concern, have all the mods been raptured?
posted by dawson at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


The suggestions to unilaterally cancel the life insurance really get me. If the husband really was a killer, than I suppose he'd be like NOOOOO FOILED AGAIN, so fine. But if he is not really trying to murder her, canceling the life insurance that they'd already discussed and agreed on is going to look like really erratic, weird behavior. If the asker is not crazy, why are we trying to make her look crazy?
posted by grobstein at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


MetaTalk: Your husband's trying to kill you. No, your huband's trying to kill you.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:08 AM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


The question right before it about SSRIs and marijuana interactions is similar, though less intense.

Speaking of which: Don't the anonymous question posting guidelines say that questions about illegal activities are unlikely to be approved? There seems to be an unspoken exception to that policy... cough cough
posted by Joe Beese at 9:11 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then why are you talking about it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2009


flabdablet, I'm confused. Are you 100% sure the OP is mentally ill or are you just playing the odds?

My feelings are similar to yours, but I'm not as sure as you are (and I'm confused as to why you're so sure). If I had to give numbers to my suspicions, I'd divvy out the probabilities as follows:

The post is a hoax: 60%
The post is real and the poster is mentally ill: 35%
The post is real and the poster's husband is trying to kill her: 5%

Now, for the sake of this discussion, let's ignore the possibility that it's a hoax. Do you agree with me that there's a small chance the poster may be right -- that her husband may be trying to kill her? Maybe you think the chance is smaller than I do. Maybe you think it's a 1% or 2% chance, but do you think it's a possibility at all?

(Several people have pointed out that if the husband is trying to kill her, he's a pretty lousy murderer. That probably means he's not trying to kill her. But there's a small chance in means that he is, and that he's just bad at it. If I tried to kill someone, I'm sure I'd suck at it, too. I'd probably be very divided about it, and so I wouldn't totally commit to it. I'd sort of arrange possible accidents in a half-ass way, knowing that if they did kill the person, I might be able to convince myself that it wasn't my fault.)

I ask because you act as if an intelligent person can read the thread and deduce logically that there's no chance the poster's husband is trying to kill her. I don't see how one could do that, but if you think such iron-clad logic exists, please explain it.

Or maybe you think a 5% (or smaller) odd isn't worth considering. "Yes, there's a 5% chance I left my keys in the bathroom, but that's such a minor chance, I'm not going to bother looking there." Is that your stance? That 5% is effectively 0%?

I know people who never consider tiny odds. I guess it's helpful in making decisions if you act is if 95% is 100%. Be that as it may, 95% is not 100%.

To me, the sensible answer is "You're almost definitely paranoid, and so you should seek professional help. There is a tiny chance you're not, and so you should do some things to protect yourself, too -- or you should play the odds and, since the chance that you're right is so small, you should just go with the 'I'm mentally ill' conjecture." That mirrors how many of us live our lives. If there's a 10% chance or rain, I don't wear a raincoat and galoshes. But I might bring along an umbrella. Or I might say, "Screw it. I know there's a small chance it might rain, but I'm going to assume it won't and deal if I'm wrong."
posted by grumblebee at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2009 [31 favorites]


I just can't imagine the pain and horror the OP might feel upon reading all this. Seriously, nothing like opening up to a bunch of strangers and be hit over the head with the consensus that you're crazy, insecure, paranoid and get thee to a shrink pronto!

Also, I think its appalling that we think its acceptable to treat people this way, mentally ill or otherwise.

Personally, I'm really hoping I'm being taken for a ride here. And I stand by my response, especially knowing that we'll never really know what the situation is.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:17 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


THE POSTS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE
posted by Countess Elena at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2009 [17 favorites]


Your husband's trying to kill you

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

especially for wolfdog
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2009


Good catch, dersins. I'm not sorry I gave a sincere answer. In terms of taking chances in life, buying the story for a couple of minutes is infinitesimal.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2009


If someone favourites an anonymous question, does that up the poster's count? Because...
posted by gman at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2009


I'd like the ability to MeFi Mail 'anonymous'.
posted by gman at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2009


I need to read more AskMe.

The insurance policy is secondary to the mental condition.
If this isn't a bullshit post, she's working herself into the position of being able to kill this guy and claim it was self-defense.

Personally, I think this is more some sort of predictive experiment by a psychology grad student / creative writer.
posted by Busithoth at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2009


Also, I have no trouble whatsoever believing that the guy on that hardback cover of The Turquoise Lament plots to kill women for money on a regular basis.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


If someone favourites an anonymous question, does that up the poster's count?

22,134. read it and weep.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Personally, I think this is more some sort of predictive experiment by a psychology grad student / creative writer.

I think it's a giant five-dimensional hologram, myself.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:24 AM on January 18, 2009


I so badly wanted to write that HE IS CLEARLY TRYING TO MURDER YOU BUT THE POLICE WON'T BELIEVE YOU SO YOU MUST TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS AND KILL YOUR HUSBAND AT THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY PERHAPS BY SLASHING HIS THROAT WITH A KITCHEN KNIFE WHILE HE SLEEPS but the mods would have probably deleted it. Killjoys.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:25 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just read the bit about "The Turquose Lament." If that turns out to be true, I would shift my odds to 95% hoax, 5% paranoid-delusions fed by the book.
posted by grumblebee at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2009


Grumblebee: making up percentages != fact.

Also, I think it's OK for "get therapy" to get posted 50+ times instead of deleting all past the first couple, because then perhaps it will make it obvious to the poster that seriously, they should get help.
posted by TomMelee at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2009


22,134. read it and weep.

That many favourites and the prick doesn't even return the favour.
posted by gman at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2009


That many favourites and the prick doesn't even return the favour.

tell me about it. anonymous & i even dated for a while. even a simple reacharound was too much for that asshole.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:33 AM on January 18, 2009


How do you reacharound an asshole? I think you've got it reversed.
posted by gman at 9:38 AM on January 18, 2009


ah, so sweet & innocent you are, gman.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:40 AM on January 18, 2009


Yeah, we went back and forth on this one a bunch yesterday. Approving it was getting down to coinflip territory, but I had some time to watch the thread yesterday and so went ahead. Only a couple of stupid/lulzy answers that needed deleting in the first couple hours, hoped it would keep going that way overnight.

If it's fake or not is not something we privilege as the decisive factor in weird anony submissions. We give stuff the sniff test and will in some cases do the heavy lifting to cross-check the (otherwise unknown-to-us) submitter and make sure it's not coming from someone suspicious or implausible, but at the end of the day we have to approach these things on the merits of the question under the assumption that it's genuine.

In this case, it's a troubling situation and (though I pretty much stay out of anony questions I've approved) I agree very strongly with the perception that this is someone who needs to get to therapy, stat, to deal with this; but bumpiness of the question and all, I'm generally inclined to say it's better to risk being gamed to let someone get a reality check from a crowd of outside observers. If that means we have a professional obligation to be suckers occasionally, so be it.

cortex is ugly

i never should have shaved :(
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fuck. I was supposed to use my jessamyn account for that comment.
posted by gman at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2009


Grumblebee: making up percentages != fact.

I'm not claiming that making up percentages is equal to fact.

Here's what I'm claiming: Fred tends to leave his keys on the coffee table. One day, he goes to work and forgets his keys at home. Luckily, his wife hasn't left for work yet. So he calls her and asks her to grab his keys and bring them to him at work. She says, "Okay, where did you leave them?"

What is the correct answer to that question?

A. It's 100% sure I left them on the coffee table.
B. It's VERY LIKELY I left them on the coffee table, but not as likely as 100%.

Given human variability, I'd say definitely B.

Now, imagine two people who agree with me that B is the correct answer. One of those types is likely to say, "I probably left them on the coffee table." Another is likely to say, "I left them on the coffee table." In other words, there's a type of person who knows small counter-odds exist but who treats them as if they didn't exist (probably because they feel like it helps them make firm decisions without wasting time worrying about rare possibilities).

I was trying to figure out whether flabdablet is one of these types or if he really is 100% sure of his interpretation.
posted by grumblebee at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


but the mods would have probably deleted it. Killjoys.

Yeah, knowing that adults who know the rules here will nonetheless actually pull that shit is one of the more depressing parts of the job. I only had to remove a couple of those last night before I went to bed, but that's a couple too many for my taste.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's why I think this is important: imagine being told that some medication will stop you from ever getting another cold. However, there's a 1% chance it will kill you. Do you take it? Do you even think of that 1% chance as a chance? Or do you just shrug if off and think of the drug as safe?

I would probably take the drug, but I wouldn't think of someone as crazy if he chose not to. And I would think of my choice to take it as a gamble, not as a perfectly safe thing to do that will reap me a benefit.

Yes, 1% is very small. But IF it turns out to be your roll of the dice, you're fucked. When deciding something that's odds-based, it makes sense to figure in both the probability of something happening and the consequences of it happening.
posted by grumblebee at 9:48 AM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh man, does this post make me glad we don't have anon answers. I can just see the wiseass who posts "Yeah, I think you're writing a novel and this question is about the feasability of your plot. In which case, you should also include dancing monkeys."

My own 2c on anon questions is that if the mods approved it, we should err on the side of it being 100% legit. The world is a weird place populated by bizarre people in unlikely scenarios. Sure, there is the possibility that it's fake, but our answers should err on the side of caution. If it's not, a lot of harm could be done by bullshit answers.

And really, if the mods were raptured, who would be approving the anon questions?

Also: I think asking the user to identify herself is the WORST IDEA in the world. If she really IS going through this, admitting her paranoia to the screaming hordes is not going to help her sanity in any way shape or form. If she's reading this MeTa, she's probably either a) (assuming it's true) horrifically insulted and even MORE paranoid or b) (assuming this is performance art) totally amused, in which case it's best to remain anon to keep the joke going. I really think we should be giving the asker the benefit of the doubt in terms of validity and just leave her identity alone.

If this is some sort of elaborate hoax, I'll admit it, you got me.

Also: I am UbuRoivas.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:52 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd also like to point out that we're at a pivotal point in history when it comes to public perception of mental illness, at least in the US. Even ten years ago, most people stigmatized mental illness. Now, some people do and some people don't, which confuses everything.

I take an antidepressant. Almost everyone I know takes one. We can argue another day about whether or not we should be as medicated as we are, but I know that I've reached a point where I can (and do) hear a friend say he has ADD or bipolar disorder without batting an eyelash. To me and my group of (liberal, over-educated, neurotic, New York) friends, mental illness is normal.

To other people, it's shameful. I can't connect to that point of view any more (everyone I work with knows I take antidepressants -- I don't try to hide it), but intellectually I know it exists. There are many many people on Metafilter who are like me. They've been on meds for years or they have friends who have. It seems normal to be medicated. It seems normal to be in therapy. I don't think I know anyone who hasn't been in therapy at some point.

So when people "pile on" to say "get therapy," in the year 2009, they're not necessarily saying or thinking, "you insane freak!" They're probably thinking, "Yup. Like the rest of us, you have something wrong with your brain, and just as you'd take aspirin if you had a headache, you should see a therapist for whatever ails you now." People like that -- myself included -- should try to remember that not everyone thinks like that. That large portions of the population are HORRIFIED to be told that they're nuts. But there's not evil intent. It's just a clashing of world views.
posted by grumblebee at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2009 [14 favorites]


I approve of the approval of the question. There's nothing wrong with asking it, assuming it's true. It's fair to think it's BS, and it very well might be - dersins' reference is compelling, and it's full of standard tropes. But it's also fair to answer seriously on the off-chance it's not.

The repetition of "see a therapist" is not a bad thing - it's a sign of the growing wisdom of this site that it's gotten so common, and in fact the more times an OP sees that message, the greater their sense that the overwhelming majority sees an application for therapy. If one person tells me my foot hurts because I have environmental mercury poisioning, and twenty people tell me to see a doctor because it might be plantar fasciitis, I'm going to weigh the more frequent responses much more accurately. All of us are more right than any one of us.

Fears of damage that might be done by AskMe answers are, I think, really overblown. We tend to overinflate the power of our words on this site. They ARE important and they can be helpful - but anytime you find yourself thinking that something you said or didn't say is going to result in another individual's choice to live or die or chances of dying, please take a deep breath and go make a sandwich or something. There are times your advice can be pivotal in presenting the person with the next series of choices - that I won't deny, having certainly experienced it. But people are living a real life in a real context of which the internet, and any specific website on the internet, is only a part. As long as you are acting in good faith, you are never going to be a superhero for a member of your web community who is going to swoop in and make everything right, or prevent terrible consequences whose inceptions predate your involvement, including conditions you could do nothing to control. At best you can only be a part of any decision-making they do - sometimes a wonderful and supportive part. But almost never will you - or AskMe or MeFi in general, be the sole factor that determins a person's course of action after asking a question.

Of course, we should all be accountable for the advice we give and certainly we're capable of giving bad or shallow advice. But that's not a risk of the internet, it's a risk of living. I'm for wide parameters on allowing questions that seem as though they stand a chance of being genuine. In the thread and this one, AskMe has demonstrated that its bullshit detector is in good working condition, so if it is BS it hasn't really been a successful stunt, and at the same time demonstrated that its moral compass is also in working condition, resulting in statements of compassion and useful advice that if it isn't bullshit, it's time to get professional help.

If this question is true, the overwhelming "Get professional help" advice is excellent. And (keeping in mind that AskMe is not only useful for the poster, but for the silent unknown numbers of people who search it in future) it is the most responsible advice in this situation. The majority opinion has emerged; AskMe's done its work. Those who are saying "maybe you're not crazy" can't be shown to be incorrect, though perhaps they are also very credulous. And that doesn't really matter as long as the strong message emerges that the OP needs help if the story is true. And advising her to cancel the policy makes sense, not because it "removes the motive," but because it is a concrete action she can take to reduce her anxiety.

In short, everything seems to be working as it should.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm reminded of that fraudster who got a hate-on for MeFi a while back, and posed as a Concerned Church-member wanting to clean up Craigslist. Similar skating of the line between plausibility and obvious hoax; similar guarantee to rile folks up.

Maybe it's another disgruntled person whose dubious schemes were thwarted.
posted by CKmtl at 10:01 AM on January 18, 2009


grumblebee: just like there's a difference between a headcold and tuberculosis, there's nuts as in neurotic and nuts in they're coming to take me away ha-ha!!

Also, I am non medicated. *gloats*
posted by jonmc at 10:01 AM on January 18, 2009


it's a troubling situation and (though I pretty much stay out of anony questions I've approved) I agree very strongly with the perception that this is someone who needs to get to therapy, stat, to deal with this;

Hey, even if it's BS, the advice to get therapy is still excellent! It's like the "surface area" of interpersonal advice (almost always a good answer). In this case, it'd be therapy to help with the exhibitionism, exceptionalism, arrogance, and neediness of fucking with hundreds of well-intentioned people.
posted by Miko at 10:10 AM on January 18, 2009


chlorus: But someday someone is going to post something like one of these two questions and everyone is going to pile on with opinions and counter-opinions and glib diagnoses and silly advice and goading questions, and then we'll learn that the OP has committed suicide

Already happened.

Community consensus: mathowie was pretty clear on it, he thought it was great that this seriously mentally ill person was leaning on MetaFilter in place of medical advice from her doctors.

The dead person? Well, shit happens. Not MetaFilter's fault- because we aren't a doctor.

Dead person: still dead, apparently already forgotten. No voice to speak up for herself and say how fucking stupid was that, to try to use MeFi as her doctor.

I am reminded by the comment form that "everyone needs a hug." Try hugging a corpse, jackass.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2009 [14 favorites]


As a survivor of suicide, I can say that there's absolutely n qualitative difference between the reaction on MeFi and the reaction of people in the day-to-day life of the person. Same guilt, same recrimination, same blame, same self-blame, same questioning, same anger with nowhere to go. Suicide isn't different when it happens here, and the fact that people do the same thing when a person you know from offline interaction say and do exactly the same things doesn't make this community a unique failure or especially worthy of blame. Dead person apparently forgotten? Speak for yourself. Using MeFi as her doctor? She was using every single resource in her life as a doctor (I live in her town). The people she knew are asking themselves the same set of questions. The people she knew were equally unable to help.

This is why I don't believe this community neither has magical healing powers, nor has the ability to especially endanger people.
posted by Miko at 10:32 AM on January 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


When two of the wisest posters here -- Miko and ikkyu2 -- have such orthogonal stances, we know we're in the gray. And I don't just mean the MetaTalk gray.

Everyone needs a hug, but some of us also need drugs.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:33 AM on January 18, 2009


It wasn't my wife, but I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

If that is a real question and the poster truly believes it, then this is as good a place as any to get advice. I think the real issue is losing both parents in an auto accident. Never dealt with that appropriately and now has issues being loved.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2009


[above - to be clear, by "the person" I meant to speak generically. The suicide of the MeFi member isn't the one I had direct experience with - that was 20 years ago. The latter part of the paragraph does refer to the MeFite.

I also want to point out that any number of MeFites may have committed suicide and made terrible decisions, totally unknown to us.]
posted by Miko at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2009


And jesus, i had no idea soulbee was gone. Heartbreaking. Not sure how I missed that.

.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2009


And jesus again, I commented in that thread with a dot. I guess I had just blocked it out. Cuz now I'm sad all over again. Ouch.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:36 AM on January 18, 2009


grumblebee, can you simplify your point about probabilities? I get that it's a non-zero chance that anon's husband is trying to kill her. Hell, for all I know my husband could be plotting to kill me, though I have absolutely no reason to think so. I don't understand what else you are trying to say.
posted by desjardins at 10:40 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's fair to think it's BS, and it very well might be - dersins' reference is compelling

The more I think about it, the more similarities I can remember between the question and the book. At least one incident has been lifted WITH ALL ITS PARTICULARS. Specifically, the scene in which the couple is sailing, the husband comes about unexpectedly, the boom knocks the wife overboard, she starts to drown, it seems to take a very long time for the husband to rescue her.... and then he finally rescues her, and is terribly apologetic for what happened. This EXACT scene takes place in the Turquoise Lament, and has been lifted for this question.

This is not a mentally ill person crying out for help. This is a fabulist fucking with us.When I get home tonight, I'll look for my copy of the book. If I can find it, I'll quote some of the relevant passages. I can't seem to find a useful version of it on google books.
posted by dersins at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2009


re: soulbee - it was never confirmed, only assumed, that she committed suicide. allkindsoftime seemed to be fairly close to her, and he stated that he did not suspect suicide. So I think it's rather unfair to use her as an example, when we don't know what happened.
posted by desjardins at 10:44 AM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Probably the whole question is a set-up - someone is testing their novel plot out on us and we fell for it.

Who is this "we" you are talking about? Didn't everyone else think it read like bad fiction?

There is something about the tone that completely undermines any claim to truth.
posted by jayder at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2009


Who's desperately afraid of being made a sucker?

Seriously. What's up with this? I thought a lovely thing to come out the Kaycee Nicole affair (possibly the only lovely thing) was the refusal of halcyon and others to turn all cynical - and that was after an investment far greater than just answering an AskMe. Really, what's the value of calling BS - so you can say "I told you so" if it turns out you were right? Who cares? I think all the commenters are aware that the post might be a fraud.

Assuming the post is for real, I agree with grumblebee that there is no way to know, absolutely positively, that the poster's fears are unfounded (as highly unlikely as that may be). How on earth could we know this, and on what basis, flabdablet, do you state your evaluation of the case as categorical fact?

Finally, in the department of speculation: it's entirely possible that none of the bad scenarios being batted around is the real one: it may be that the poster is not a fraud, that her husband is not trying to kill her, and that she is also not mentally ill. I once suspected someone I loved of something really horrible. I'm not paranoid and have never had such thoughts at any other time. I don't even feel particularly embarrassed when I think back about it; it was just something I got in my head and later got over. Mostly had to do with reflecting on the fact that we really can never know with 100% certainty what another person is capable of, we can only trust based on the accumulated history of our interactions with them. This is a perfectly normal thought-rut to get into, and a therapist could certainly help the poster get out of it.
posted by torticat at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm plotting to kill all of you. and you'll never see it coming!! MWAHAHA!
posted by jonmc at 10:49 AM on January 18, 2009


I've seen some weird stuff in this world. Only my love for surreal art and literature has ensured that fiction remains stranger than reality.

Having buried a friend who didn't ask the right questions at the right time, it's hard for me to ignore the tiny possibility that there is veracity to the scenario posed by the asker.

So, a serious answer. With a caveat.
posted by batmonkey at 10:49 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It could be made up but reread this paragraph:

I also keep wondering why throughout the last month he was always forgetting to shut the door all the way. I never have troube shutting it. Was he just doing it so it wouldn't look suspicious when it was open if he tried to gas me? And why did he need cash from my purse? He always kept a large amount of cash on him and replenished if it got at all low. Why did he let his cash get so low? And how did he inadvertently hit the button? It's actually recessed a little and I have to firmly press it. And why did we get the autostart? I never use it and neither does he. We did get it on both cars but was this just more for show?

Buying remote-starting cars and an elaborate scheme of not closing a door so it wouldn't look suspicious when he tried to gas her? I suppose buying the house with a faulty door is part of it, too? Why wouldn't he just get in the habit of not having cash on hand so it wouldn't be unusual to borrow some? This is not a murder plot. Anon needs help. Don't fuel the paranoia.
posted by starman at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read that question right after it was posted and couldn't get myself to believe it. Her husband is such a clumsy would-be killer that if I didn't know any better, I'd swear to god she's got a pre-pubescent daughter and her husband's name is Humbert Humbert.
posted by milarepa at 10:52 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also: "off the meds" - not classy.

My answers are logical and put the asker back in the hands of professionals who won't have confirmational bias.
posted by batmonkey at 10:57 AM on January 18, 2009


If ask.mefi is getting gamed, it's pretty transparant. Considering the "plot" is pretty much exactly this.

And if someone is testing out their novel plot, they are in for a surprise.

I think it's far more likely that:

1- The poor person asking the question has whipped herself up into a frenzy.

or

2- The husband isn't a potential murderer, but he is a jerk and is just trying to show how easy it would be to kill her, if he wanted, which he doesn't. Just to keep her on her toes.
posted by gjc at 10:58 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's just that I would ask: if MeFi is thought to be dangerous when dealing with mental-health questions, what's the suggested alternative policy? Not allowing them at all? I think that could result in greater harm than allowing the generally responsible way in the discussion - that's all this is, a discussion - is handled. I can't help but think of what would be lost. Over nearly ten years, think how many people have addressed their depression and sought therapy because of responses on the site. How many have seen a doctor or gone to the ER because of responses on a medical question. How many have made an appointment with a specialist or learned of a new medication or treatment to ask about. How many have decided not to eat the sandwich. There has been a collective benefit to the overall mental health of the community, despite the existence of at least one terrible mental health outcome, the suicide, which you can't attribute to either the presence or absence of MeFi involvement. I think AskMe is quite lucky to have a very pro-medicine, pro-mental health, pro-professional-treatment stance in the aggregate. There are a whole lot of web communities to which people gravitate where responders will happily tell posters that their problem is too much soy, imbalanced chakras, demon possession, or the fact that they haven't accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. I mean look at this crap. Obviously what advice is available at MetaFilter is of a generally much higher quality.

So when I imagine User Doe coming here to post their problem, and seeing a page which says "Mental health questions are not allowed on AskMe. Please consult a professional. Here are some mental health links" I see a rebuff from one potential source of help. The user might follow the links and maybe they'd be helpful - but they might also feel like they got shown the door, that they're beyond help and too fucked up to deserve help from a community they know (not uncommon when you're depressed and hear that you need serious help - it can be alienating). They might just as likely end up at one of the stupid sites where they can post their question, but have no helpful response (reminds me of parents who don't want their kids having sex, so they never bring it up - the kids end up learning about sex through friends, often with incomplete and wrong information). The benefit to posting here is that you will not only generally be urged to seek professional help if you need it, you'll also hear from people who have experienced something similar, people who you know in some capacity and can relate with to some degree. That can be very encouraging and normalizing to people who need a social boost to take the steps they will need to make in order to heal.
posted by Miko at 11:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [21 favorites]


There's really no good way to answer a question like this, and that's why I stayed out of the thread.

It's just one of those things - what if you're wrong? Are you willing to take responsibility for giving the wrong advice?

That probably explains the preponderance of "find a therapist" answers; although I often see that as sort of a cop-out non-answer, in this case it's really the only safe answer you can give.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2009


And there was the mystery of the guy who thought he came up with the fist today, too! There's something strange in our neighborhood.
posted by ignignokt at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every aspect of the question seems too plot-devicey to be true, especially when combined into one story.

All the "aliens abducted me," "the feds have tapped my phones," "they've inserted microchips in my brain" suspicions you hear from other paranoid people also sound like storylines. I don't think plot-devicey-ness is adequate proof that a question is fake.

However, having the exact combination of multiple plot devices as a book written in the early 70's would be, so I'm interested to see what dersins comes up with.
posted by salvia at 11:26 AM on January 18, 2009


We really need to stop allowing questions where the person is clearly suffering from some form of mental illness.
posted by geoff. at 11:37 AM on January 18, 2009


My guess is it's the goons. Kinda reeks of that. Sounds like bored high schoolers on the long weekend.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2009


I think the reason that post shouldn't have been allowed is that there was really only 2 possible answers, both of which involve seeing a professional.

A) She should seek therapy.
or
B) She should talk to the police.

Preferably in that order.

That could have been answered in five minutes with a MeMail. Posting it was just giving people an excuse to gawk at somebody who is suffering.

(or she was making it all up, in which case it also should not have been posted)
posted by empath at 11:45 AM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Here's why I think this is important: imagine being told that some medication will stop you from ever getting another cold. However, there's a 1% chance it will kill you. Do you take it? Do you even think of that 1% chance as a chance? Or do you just shrug if off and think of the drug as safe?

I would probably take the drug, but I wouldn't think of someone as crazy if he chose not to. And I would think of my choice to take it as a gamble, not as a perfectly safe thing to do that will reap me a benefit.

Yes, 1% is very small. But IF it turns out to be your roll of the dice, you're fucked. When deciding something that's odds-based, it makes sense to figure in both the probability of something happening and the consequences of it happening.


This is pretty tangential to the general discussion (about which I by-and-large agree with Miko), but a 1 percent chance something (particularly a drug) is going to kill you is huge. That's one person out of a hundred dies from it. A drug like that would never get past the FDA in a million years. There are over 300 million people in America; if everyone took a drug with a 1 percent chance of killing them, it would kill 3 million people. If there were a 1 percent chance everyone's spouse was trying to kill them, the murder rate would be astronomical.

My point is, I think, that thinking about this in terms of percentages isn't actually very helpful.

I think it's incredibly unlikely that this person's husband is trying to kill her. If you insist on assigning percentages, it's well less than 1 percent, as murders, especially of spouses, are generally crimes of passion, which this scenario wouldn't be. I think the chance that this is a hoax, especially considering dersins' find, is almost certain. But even if the chance that this is not a hoax and the person is mentally ill is less than 1 percent, and the chance that the husband is actually trying to kill her is less than .001 percent, the proper answer is still "You should cancel the life insurance and get therapy stat." If it's a hoax, nobody is being hurt. If the person is mentally ill, canceling the life insurance is a tangible way to reduce her anxiety in the short term, and therapy should help with the rest. And if the husband is actually trying to kill her, well, canceling the life insurance helps with that, too, and that also might end up coming out in therapy.
posted by Caduceus at 11:51 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


How many have seen a doctor or gone to the ER because of responses on a medical question.

Oooh, I'll offer a testimony here. On the basis of answers to someone else's question about insomnia, I read an article about Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and realized (for the first time reading any medical article - I am not a WebMd symptoms surfer) "HOLY EFFIN SHIT THAT SOUNDS LIKE MY LIFE."

I saw my neurologist followed by a sleep specialist and had the diagnosis confirmed. I've since received treatment for it and my life has improved a thousand fold. So yes, AskMe is a wonderful tool and good answers CAN improve lives.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


After lurking for years in Metatalk this is one of my first posts here. I'll address an issue no one seems to have brought up. My concern is the emphasis in the comments on "seeing a therapist."

"Therapist" refers to professionals with all sorts of training. I had always thought that "therapy" was a way of working through a problem. Assuming the woman is ill, how can she select a "therapist"?

So if this woman suffers from mental illness, she needs to see a psychiatrist, or barring that, a general practitioner as soon as possible. If I were losing my grip on reality, I'd want someone, even internet strangers, to intervene and insist I see a medical doctor, as soon as possible.

To that end, the only advice that makes sense in the thread is Ikkyu2's. Not because he's an MD, but because it seems like common sense to rely on an MD to diagnose and treat illness. Maybe therapy is the answer, but therapy is not a substitute for evaluation by a physician.
posted by vincele at 12:00 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


chlorus: But someday someone is going to post something like one of these two questions and everyone is going to pile on with opinions and counter-opinions and glib diagnoses and silly advice and goading questions, and then we'll learn that the OP has committed suicide

Already happened.

Am I totally missing where ha-ha crazy pile-on happened with Soulbee? I see perfectly reasonable questions which acknowledge ongoing therapy, followed by a range of largely reasonable answers which affirm her ongoing therapy. I know that her death affected you deeply, ikkyu2, but I don't think that these situations are comparable.
posted by desuetude at 12:02 PM on January 18, 2009


[Chance that the husband is actually trying to kill her] x [Chance that he's going to make an attempt before she can find a therapist] x [Chance that he's going to do something more effective than leaving a toaster next to the bathtub] = Therapy is a fine suggestion.
posted by lore at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2009


Great catch, dersins. I can't believe people are still seriously discussing the idea that the poster is paranoid or a potential murder victim. I used to read a lot of Travis McGee novels and almost certainly read this one, which is probably why I instantly thought "fake"—it triggered my subconscious memory of the book. The question really should be deleted, now that it's clearly bullshit.

hey, the stump of my wrist is really bleeding, but going to the ER is inconvenient, how can I fix this with the microwave and duct tape?

Just remember to duct-tape it before you put it in the microwave, otherwise you'll have a heck of a cleaning job. Should be fine within the week; if not, post a follow-up.
posted by languagehat at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2009


grumblebee, can you simplify your point about probabilities? I get that it's a non-zero chance that anon's husband is trying to kill her. Hell, for all I know my husband could be plotting to kill me, though I have absolutely no reason to think so. I don't understand what else you are trying to say.

I don't want to spend too much more time on this (other than in MeMail, if you want), because it's a bit of a sideline. So here's my last post about it:

Let's say Mr. Smith has not discussed how he voted in the election, but his kids know he is a lifelong Republican.

His son says, "We can't be sure who Dad voted for, but it was almost definitely Bush."

His daughter says, "Oh come ON. We KNOW he voted for Bush."

I have sympathy for both these points of view, though I'm more like the son than the daughter. The truth is, neither kid knows how their dad voted, because neither was with him in the voting booth (and he didn't tell them). There is very good reason for believing he voted for Bush, which is why I understand where the daughter is coming from. Still, the son is speaking more accurately.

Now, if you just hear the daughter's comment on its own, without knowing anything about the family dynamics, you might have a question about what she means. Does she mean that she actually does know for sure that her dad voted for Bush (because he told her who he voted for or because she spied on him when he was voting) or does she mean that because he's always voted Republican in the past, the chance that he voted for Obama is so minuscule it's not worth thinking about?

That was my question for flabdablet. Was there something in anon's post that made him as sure that her husband was not trying to kill her as my fictional daugther would be if she actually spied on her dad voting? Was there some sort of contradiction in the post (that I missed) that made it logically impossible that the husband was trying to kill anon? Or, if you pinned flabdablet against the wall and forced him to be really literal, would he sigh and say, "Sure, there's a CHANCE that he's trying to kill her, but it's not worth thinking about. It's so small that it's better for all of us to pretend it doesn't exist at all. By giving it credence, we're taking something that's almost definitely not true and making it seem like it's much more likely than it is"?

To me, it seems like flabdablet (and most of the other responders) are almost definitely right -- that anon is paranoid and should seek therapy. But I don't see anything in anon's post that makes me SO sure that I'm at flabdablet's level of "Come ON people. Jesus!" In other words, if it turned out that her husband WAS trying to kill her, it wouldn't feel to me like someone just disproved the law of gravity. From the vehemence of flabdablet's post, I feel like if he found out he was wrong, he'd be speechless. What makes him so sure of himself?

However, this is likely a personality difference (think of my son and daughter, above). Some people think of 99% as 100%. Some don't. There are pros and cons to both views. The negative of being like the son is that you're much less decisive. In my life, I'm like the son and my wife is more like the daughter. Everything is shades of gray with me. She is more sure of stuff. On the flip side, when she loses something, I often find it. She won't look in the bathroom because, "there's no way I left in there... I never leave it in there." She's right that 99% of the time she doesn't, so since 99% = 100% for her, it's a waste of time to look there. Since to me, there's a 1% chance it's in the bathroom, I look. And it's there. At which point, when I hold it out to her, she looks at me as if the universe has been unfair. As if someone cheated.

Getting back once more to the son and daughter, he says, "I agree with you that dad almost certainly voted for Bush. But we can't be absolutely sure."

The daughter says, "Of course we can. He ALWAYS votes Republican."

The son says, "Okay, let's ask him. But if he says he voted for Obama, you have to agree to give me all your money and all the money you'll ever earn for the rest of your life."

You're the daughter. Do you agree? Does this give you even a moment's pause?

My point is that when the stakes are high enough, 1% suddenly IS important. If someone says there's a 1% chance that this medication will give you an upset stomach, I'm going to take it. If they say there's a 1% chance it will cause you an agonizing death, I'm may still take it, but I'll at least have pause. Are you the type of person who calls medication that has a 1% chance of killing you "perfectly safe"? Or are you the type that calls it "most-likely safe"? Again, I sympathize with both views.

Anon thinks her husband is trying to kill her. If there's a 1% chance she's right, to me it's worth considering. Which is why my answer is "Get therapy, but also do what you can to make yourself feel safe."
posted by grumblebee at 12:07 PM on January 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


My point is, I think, that thinking about this in terms of percentages isn't actually very helpful.

I agree. I'm just trying to make doubt tangible. I don't really think in terms of 100%, 99% and 1%. I think in terms for for-sure, very likely, unlikely, etc.
posted by grumblebee at 12:10 PM on January 18, 2009


Over nearly ten years, think how many people have addressed their depression and sought therapy because of responses on the site. How many have seen a doctor or gone to the ER because of responses on a medical question.

Because of AskMe questions - both my own and others' - I finally pursued ADHD treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy, and my life and mental state have improved a thousandfold. This community has helped me in more ways than I can count. The value of AskMe and the value of the medical establishment are not mutually exclusive - in fact, just the opposite.
posted by granted at 12:12 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anon thinks her husband is trying to kill her.

You mean "the hypothetical Anon I was imagining before it became clear Anon was gaming MetaFilter with a baroquely convoluted thriller plot."
posted by languagehat at 12:14 PM on January 18, 2009


If there's a 1% chance she's right, to me it's worth considering. Which is why my answer is "Get therapy, but also do what you can to make yourself feel safe."

Except that you pulled the 1% out of your ass. We have no reason to believe it is anything like that high.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


but therapy is not a substitute for evaluation by a physician.

A therapist who suspects mental illness is likely to refer the patient to a psychiatrist or MD. If the issue is based in anxiety or self-esteem but doesn't meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness, a therapist can be very helpful with that. Therapists can also be helpful with depression, even though psychiatrists and medication can be helpful too.

At least one incident has been lifted WITH ALL ITS PARTICULARS. Specifically, the scene in which the couple is sailing, the husband comes about unexpectedly, the boom knocks the wife overboard, she starts to drown, it seems to take a very long time for the husband to rescue her.... and then he finally rescues her, and is terribly apologetic for what happened. This EXACT scene takes place in the Turquoise Lament, and has been lifted for this question.

Though I still think your theory could be true, dersins, this doesn't leap out at me as at all improbable or suspicious in itself. I sail, and this is pretty much how getting thrown overboard by a boom during an unexpected jibe happens, regardless of circumstances. It always seems like a very long time when you're the one in the water, and no matter how hard the people on the boat are working to get you, it doesn't seem hard enough or smart enough. So that exact scene has taken place in the life of many novice and even experienced sailors - that's why it's a great situation for a book or movie murder if the murderer is trying not to be suspected (because it's so plausible, it happens, and occasionally people are seriously injured or killed this way). If it were exceedingly rare, the inquest would treat it as a lot more suspicious. It appears in fictional plots because it is a common accident, so a murder could easily disguise it as an accident. See the rescue stats from U.S. sailing - these are racers, people who sail all the time, and you'll notice a lot of people knocked unconscious or injured by the boom.

"Normal people" don't go couples-sailing on boats big enough to require rigging, normal people don't "go hiking in another country on cliffside trails"

Nonsense - of course they do, all the time, even within one year. A boat doesn't have to be big to require rigging (a boom) - even teensy daysailers have a boom that can knock you overboard when the sail's up and wind is blowing. Even I've taken both types of trips within one year. There are plenty of reasons to doubt the story, but the vacation plans aren't among them. They're normal enough in outdoorsy people's lifestyles.
posted by Miko at 12:17 PM on January 18, 2009


This is a pretty big problem in the forum. We see it as entertainment. We see other lives like the ones we see on television. We tell them to do the most dramatic thing for our entertainment like DTMF or "YES HE IS TRYING TO KILL YOU RUN!!" Or we tell them to do the things we have never been brave enough to do, or secretly with to do.

There's a real disconnect between entertainment and reality here. Its pretty sad and really there should be some kind of warning when people post questions. Perhaps something like "A lot of this advice is from bored teens and college students who will just tell you something for their own amusment and self-satisfation. Most people answer with zero experience under their belt. Dont take it too seriously. All relationship, health, and mental health askers are especially warned."

I hope this question is fake, because a lot of people pretty much did nothing but help raise her paranoia from a 7 or 8 to a "I must do something now" 11. Shame on you people.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:19 PM on January 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


Am I totally missing where ha-ha crazy pile-on happened with Soulbee? I see perfectly reasonable questions which acknowledge ongoing therapy, followed by a range of largely reasonable answers which affirm her ongoing therapy. I know that her death affected you deeply, ikkyu2, but I don't think that these situations are comparable.

Agreed.

Also, I resent the implication that we've forgotten soulbee. I didn't interact with her a ton, but I was certainly affected by news of her death, and saddened by it. I also think of it often when there are HealthFilter kind of questions. It reminds me that I'm not qualified to answer some medical questions or psychiatric questions, and I think the most helpful advice for many of the people asking these sorts of questions is that they should look for someone who is.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:22 PM on January 18, 2009


Oh btw, when youre drowning it exactly feels like people are letting you drown. This happened to me once. I was near convinced that I was going to drown in front of a bunch of people who were watching. In reality, when you cant breathe your mind races and freaks out. In the few seconds it took for someone to notice I was close to the paranoia of the poster.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:24 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


We tell them to do the most dramatic thing for our entertainment like DTMF or "YES HE IS TRYING TO KILL YOU RUN!!" Or we tell them to do the things we have never been brave enough to do, or secretly with to do.

Except that's really not what the majority of AskMe responses tell people.
posted by Miko at 12:25 PM on January 18, 2009


So AskMe is like Pascal's Wager. Believing that it works costs nothing, and in return it has the potential to save and improve lives as much as any other community support structure. As someone who has turned to totally inappropriate internets for my desperate anonymous questions before, I can tell you that even critical, pointless, or highly questionable answers are better than the babble in your own head. Please don't limit the scope of AskMe, it's definitely among the best web resources for a dose of rationality in confusing situations.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:27 PM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


So if this woman suffers from mental illness, she needs to see a psychiatrist, or barring that, a general practitioner as soon as possible. If I were losing my grip on reality, I'd want someone, even internet strangers, to intervene and insist I see a medical doctor, as soon as possible.

Sadly, many harried psychiatrists and GPs will listen to her for about 10 minutes, then write out a scrip. She needs to be compassionately evaluated and counseled, so her choice of practitioner will prove very important. She may be best served by a PhD-level clinical psychologist who can work in tandem with a psychiatrist, if medication is needed.
posted by terranova at 12:29 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


There absolutely is a cost. Believing a bunch of amateurs when you should be talking to a professional or at least a loved one who cares has a cost. Ever google a medical condition and read the boards? Its incredible how much dangerous disinformation is out there. That includes askme. At the end of the day this is a mental health question and as should be treated as seriously as any mental health issue.

Ive asked a couple medical related questions here and on more "serious" boards and all the answers turned out to be 100% wrong.

AskMe is great for "is my cat sick" or "why isnt my computer booting" questions, but anything past that level can turn out badly for the asker.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:33 PM on January 18, 2009


Dead person: still dead, apparently already forgotten. No voice to speak up for herself and say how fucking stupid was that, to try to use MeFi as her doctor.

Although it is clear from your previous comments that you have bad feelings about your own interactions with Soulbee, ikkyu2, I think your presentation of the facts here (inasmuch as we know them, which is not much) is unsupportable. We do not, and will most likely never know, how Soulbee died. Although many people have taken the tiny window presented on this individual's life through their presence on Metafilter as license to assume they know more about the situation than they do, it is clear from her posting history that she was unfortunately troubled by a range of serious health issues which were not resolved or even necessarily fully understood.

Beyond this, the characterization that this individual had replaced professional support of her physical and mental health with interaction on Metafilter isn't supported by the facts. In fact it is clear that she was under active medical and psychological supervision. Your implication that her interaction with Metafilter in any sense contributed to her death is completely without foundation in fact and your singling out of Mathowie is particularly baseless and unjustified.

You've expressed your opinions on the issue of mental health advise at great length (citing another example in which there is zero evidence that interaction with Metafilter in any way harmed the individual or contributed to the delayed diagnosis of their condition, by the way). And I'll reiterate what I said then: a baseline reality of the format of Ask Metafilter is that people can and do receive advice that is so bad as to be potentially fatal. There is no possible absolute policy or mechanism that could prevent this. Either the people who participate in this site are allowed the ultimate responsibility of their actions or they are not. If you feel so strongly that the nature, policies and administration are so unsupportable and their consequences so potentially dire I really have to question how you justify for your continued participation in the site.
posted by nanojath at 12:35 PM on January 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


There absolutely is a cost. Believing a bunch of amateurs when you should be talking to a professional or at least a loved one who cares has a cost.

But inevitably, when it is indicated, the bunch of amatuers will recommend talking to a professional. That is invariably what happens. And yet the bunch of amateurs can offer some surrounding support that is unlikely to come from a "go elsewhere with your problem" message. As long as we continue to see responsible "See a pro" answers, AskMe is doing its job. The day you only see the advice of a bunch of amateurs with no reference to professional help, when help is clearly warranted, would be the day to get concerned.

There is a lot of misinformation out there, no question. Personally, I believe the best response to "bad information" is not "no information" but "more information, including accurate information." It seems to me that almost invariably, when an AskMe problem could respond to mental health treatment, mental health treatment is suggested by a commenter.
posted by Miko at 12:40 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think my therapist is trying to kill me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:41 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


And how does that make you feel?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:44 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think my therapist is trying to kill me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:41 PM on January 18


It's probably just one of your other accounts/personalities. Just stay out the kitchen and the bedroom and you'll be fine.

Dr. PA PHD
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:46 PM on January 18, 2009


It seems kind of reckless, irresponsible and dangerous to post in that AskMe thread at all, except to say IANAD, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IMMEDIATELY. Any other answers are pointless stupid wankery.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:48 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are people who post who are obviously in need of therapy, but they don't know that unless someone tells them. There are lots of anonymous questions by people who seem to be very insecure. That insecurity inhibits the person from trusting their own judgment. Therefore the only way for them to get help is to be validated by someone else. I think AskMe can provide that service. There is no inherent harm in getting therapy. It's not like anyone is posting directions on how to perform surgery on oneself (and I hope that would be deleted). Most of the medical and mental health questions amount to "see a doctor" and "get a therapist." We can't control whether someone takes that advice or not.

A bit off topic, the other day people on reddit tracked down a suicidal teenager and called the police. THE KID'S MOTHER posted to say thank you. So, online communities can save lives.
posted by desjardins at 12:50 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think my therapist is trying to kill me.

I think my therapist is trying to bill me, which is far more frightening.
posted by jonmc at 12:51 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


The reddit thread is difficult to read if you haven't been following it from the beginning. Here's the relevant part, where the kid has been tracked down and is found to be OK.
posted by desjardins at 12:53 PM on January 18, 2009


I admit that I did not read all these comments, but did anyone suggest that the worried wife simply make a will leaving the proceeds of her insurance policy to a facility for abused women? Possibly uxoricidal husband's reaction would be telling.
posted by Cranberry at 12:54 PM on January 18, 2009


A bit off topic, the other day people on reddit tracked down a suicidal teenager and called the police.

And last month someone threatened to commit suicide on a webcam and a bunch of people egged him on. He killed himself. Lets not pretend that online strangers are some magic bullet. We only know about this because it made the news.

There's a huge incentive to thank or publicize when things work out. I wonder how many people have suffered in silence because of advice from a stranger. How many of them come back and give anyone an update. Im guessing its pretty rare.

Im also pretty skeptical that people dont know what a doctor or therapist is until some mefite tells them to visit one. Most likely they are asking a question because they want verification of their biases. And they get it. Lots of people say "Yes he is cheating on you" or "yes, hes probably going to kill you soon. Cancel the insurance!!" Lets give people a little more credit. Not all askers are country bumpkins in need of all yer city learnin'
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:56 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


mathowie was pretty clear on it, he thought it was great that this seriously mentally ill person was leaning on MetaFilter in place of medical advice from her doctors.

That's sort of a heavy allegation to place at mathowie's feet without providing the link where he says just that. Unless there are other instances, this seems to be the clearest articulation of his opinion on the subject, and is hardly as irresponsible as you make it out to be. If you have other examples that prove otherwise, it would be a good idea to provide them.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:02 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Im also pretty skeptical that people dont know what a doctor or therapist is until some mefite tells them to visit one.

My point is not that they are ignorant, but that they don't trust their own judgment. If they did, there'd be no need to post a question.
posted by desjardins at 1:02 PM on January 18, 2009


Also...there's been research on conditions that cause people to either seek, or avoid, mental health treatment. Among the barriers are things like mistrust of providers, lack of awareness of services or awareness that the problem is a mental health problem; stigma; and cultural bias against mental health help. I see the sharing/narrative approach of AskMe as a place that performs many of the functions known to increase the likelihood that someone will seek treatment: debunking myths (such as "they'll put me on drugs," "they'll lock me up,"), normalizing treatment ("it happened to me,"), providing hope that treatment can help ("I'm much better now," "I'm so glad I went," "it's much easier to deal with when you have help"), defusing fear ("they were really nice to me," "I expected it would be terrible but it wasn't"), recharacterizing the problem ("you posted that you are miserable in your job, sounds like you have both fatigue and hopelessness, is it possible you might have depression?") and calling attention to resources ("here's a link with instructions on "how to find a therapist"; "here's a sexual-abuse hotline for the Bay Area")

People arrive at mental health treatment through dozens of different types of gateways. Not only are not all of those gateways initial appointments with trained professionals, undertaken immediately by the suffering person at the first sign of trouble - hardly any of them are. An ideal world in which people who need help only encounter trained professionals - and right when they need them - doesn't exist. What we need to do instead is improve the likelihood that this pathway will lead to that help when warranted - not close the pathway entirely. In the real world, people end up seeking mental health treatment largely because of the recommendations of people who are not professionals in that field - friends, family, teachers, religious counselors, co-workers, even bartenders. I don't see MetaFilter as some kind of uniquely negative gateway to approach the question - it's as good, as helpful, a community at directing people to professional services, when needed, as any other human community in this respect - and better than many, as I've said above.

A minority of people who need mental health services actually end up getting them. That's a significant and serious risk, to me, and if there's anything AskMe can do to get more people into the group of seekers, it will ultimately be doing good. The important thing is seeing the suggestion appear when it's warranted, and that does continue to happen here. I'm not sure how we could institute the happening of that without removing some of the authentic and personal conversation that is effective in helping those barriers to help-seeking fall.
posted by Miko at 1:03 PM on January 18, 2009 [24 favorites]


If this were an actual question from a real person (I'm not saying it is) who was dealing with the onset of a real mental health problem in the form of paranoid delusions (I'm not saying that's the case) the suggestion to go ahead and cancel the life insurance policy coming from an intervening professional would not be outrageous, at all, believe it or not. The cardinal rule of interventions with psychotic clients is to never, never fight the delusion. All the effort in the thread to rationally explain to the OP why she's not actually experiencing what she thinks she is experiencing is exactly the opposite of what you are trained to do in these situations. Fighting the delusion just makes you, the intervening mental health professional, another plot point in the delusion and part of the overarching conspiracy the person senses is at work around them. It drives a wedge between you and your client and makes helping them impossible.

If you think that suggesting she cancel her life insurance policy in order to afford her relief from a clear source of agitation that, if this were an actual situation involving the onset of psychosis, could possibly be exacerbating her paranoid symptoms is crazy then you are not cut out for mental health work. In working within the delusion I've had extensive conversations with clients about (actual example) figuring out ways to seal up the secret entrances in the house that the Mormons are using at night and come in and rearrange the client's furniture and cut her hair. Taking the delusion seriously gives a psychotic person comfort, it relaxes them and allows them to trust you as someone who isn't just writing them off as totally crazy. Shit, this one time a couple of my coworkers went to this dudes apartment and tinfoiled the place from floor to ceiling because the client said that would help block out the signals the government was using to monitor him. The tinfoil wallpaper did help; he was able to sleep that night in his apartment instead of heading back into the streets. After he got medication his symptoms began to subside and the tinfoil came down. No big deal.

That's how you deal with paranoid delusions, you've got to realize that the person is suffering and by telling them that they aren't actually experiencing what they think they are experiencing you are only causing them to suffer more.

Having said all that, I personally don't think that's an actual question and I really wish people would stop doing shit like that.
posted by The Straightener at 1:09 PM on January 18, 2009 [56 favorites]


+1000 to Miko

I would never ever have sought help on my own.
posted by desjardins at 1:12 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I feel sorry for the husband in this scenario. Here's this guy who loves taking his wife on trips. Teases her about the cliff. Felt stupid about leaving the car on that one time and was scared shitless but feels slightly herioc that he saved her from drowning one time. He suspects nothing. One night he goes to check his email on the family computer and there's a message from his wife to a bunch of strangers about how he is trying to kill her. Its full of obvious madness. Its incredible! He reads the responses and half the people feed her paranoia. He's shocked and betrayed. He might understand mental illness in his wife, but just incredibly stunned that a bunch of "smart" people would feed an obviously sick person so much bullshit.

I feel sorry for both of them. They have a long way ahead of them. This whole situation is pretty depressing. Mefi has just made it worse for them both. This question should have just been deleted as there are no good outcomes from it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:14 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Using "off your meds" as an insult is ableist and really, really fucking insulting. Oh--excuse me--f*cking. But let's move on to my comment.

I do feel that if she is incorrect or correct, she needs support. I also feel that if she is mentally ill to the point of being unable to maintain an intimate relationship without great anxiety, perhaps an intimate relationship of this type is not healthy for her at this time. A marriage in which you are afraid for your life, rightly or wrongly, is not a wonderful marriage.

I also question the underlying assumption that him killing her for money would be plausible. Really, does he need money that badly? The question is ambiguous in that regard.

It is also my understanding that therapy--ongoing talk therapy--is an important part of recovery from mental illness and trauma. Most, if not all, therapists are willing and able to refer patients to appropriate medical professionals.

Finally, if you think your husband is trying to kill you it's probably not a great idea to get pregnant.

I know this thread is about more than just my comment, but I do think that my clarifying my comments will help you see this in a less black-or-white fashion where your position is the only rational one.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:17 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope that thread makes it into the podcast. I think we could all use a lesson in recognizing signs that our spouse is trying to kill us.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:17 PM on January 18, 2009


Look on the bright side, people. If the doubters are wrong and the husband really was trying to kill her -- and succeeds -- we'll all end up on national television! I mean, rich young couple, exotic tropical getaways, murderous intrigue, and a horde of internet commenters following along each step of the way. It's sensationalistic crime drama at its finest!

(On the other hand...)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:18 PM on January 18, 2009


Well I feel sorry for you DDA. Inferring from your username that you are a fan of Charlton Heston you must be miserable over his recent death and that your party lost the election. Your interest in having posts deleted shows your paranoid fixation on your own demise that has resulted in you refusing to leave the house for fear of being chased and eradicated by a giant eraser.

By the crumbs on your sleeve it's obvious that you have been binge eating oreos, your slouching posture indicates a lack of sleep, probably due to having the wrong sleepnumber bed, and the distinct odor of fluorocarbons from your medicine cabinet points to an addiction to huffing methoxyflurane. Please see a doctor.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


on what basis, flabdablet, do you state your evaluation of the case as categorical fact?

On the basis that the first thing the OP says after the jump is "I know I'm being totally paranoid and insecure and yet here I sit writing this. Please help bring me back to reality," the last thing she says is "My husband is loving, thoughtful, and wonderful to be around and yet I keep wondering if he is trying to kill me. Please help me stop," and that absolutely nothing in between adds up to the actions of a murderer.

On the basis that a life lived in unjustifiable fear of your own husband is a life of tragically low quality.

On the basis that paranoia feeds on little crumbs of doubt, and that the way to get past paranoia is to learn to tell it to its nasty grinning little face to fuck right off.

On the basis that we human beings generally do an incredibly poor job of dealing effectively with overwhelmingly low probabilities of overwhelmingly poor outcomes. The general pattern is that the poorness of the overwhelmingly poor outcome, no matter how remote its chance of being realized, so paralyses the decision-making process as to render reasonable decisions almost impossible.

The standard illustration of this last point is response of large numbers of new parents to the idea of vaccinating children against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis and tuberculosis. The simple fact is that the risk of an adverse outcome from any of the vaccines is orders of magnitude below the risk of death from the diseases they offer immunity to, but that doesn't stop half the Internet continuing to trumpet the idea of vaccination as a dreadful conspiracy by those horrible short-sighted conformist scientists to make you deliberately poison your children with lethal doses of mercury.

The idea of being betrayed unto death by one's own beloved is so compellingly awful that the tendency is not to write if off as being even less likely, and therefore less worth worrying about, than other unusual ways to die such as being struck by falling coconuts. Instead, the tendency is to throw around made-up possibilities like "1%" which is almost certainly at least five orders of magnitude too high, and advise precautionary measures on the basis of those - while being blinded to what should remain obvious, which is that those precautionary measures involve considerable risks to the health of the marriage and the mental health of the advisee.

Living in constant fear of imaginary dangers is no way to live. And in my opinion, advising somebody to continue to live in fear of what are very nearly certainly imaginary dangers is irresponsible, cowardly and all too common.

On preview:

The cardinal rule of interventions with psychotic clients is to never, never fight the delusion


There's a huge difference between a "psychotic client" and an anonymous poster who has asked for help in fighting her own paranoid ideation.

Speaking as one who has experienced involuntary mental health intervention: the attitude of the professionals I came into involuntary contact with did squat for my mental health. It was the consistent refusal of people I already knew and had reason to trust to treat my delusions with respect that made that edifice crumble.

It seems to me that the point of treating delusions seriously is to establish that initial relationship of trust. It also seems to me that if somebody comes anonymously to an Internet forum specifically to seek advice on getting rid of a troublesome idea, then that person already has some level of trust for her anonymous correspondents as a body, and that the advice provided should therefore be served completely straight.

If I came here for a reality check (which I am now incredibly unlikely to do, given the amount of nervous nellies I've seen emerge in this thread) the last thing I'd want is to have my paranoia validated and coddled.

On further preview:

Honestly, I feel sorry for the husband in this scenario

Me too, which is why I went through the exercise of attempting to retell it from his point of view. It sounds like they've got a beautiful thing going there, and encouraging midnight fears to undermine that is just not right.
posted by flabdablet at 1:31 PM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


creasy boy writes "It sounds like cancelling her life insurance is something she has to do to re-establish that trust. If she cancels it and he continues to treat her as he always did, then she can put her fears to rest and go get therapy for her paranoia. If she cancels it and everything changes, then she can leave him and go get therapy for the fact that her husband wanted to murder her."

Or she cancels it and he kills her in order to move on to his next victim. Cancelling the insurance policy signals and does nothing to resolve this issue.
posted by Mitheral at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


THE WOAMN IS AKSNG 4 UR HELP N UR TELING HER 2 GO SEE THE RAPIST??/??!11 UR ALL SIK BASTRDS. MY PARY R WITH TEH WOMAN WHO INDANGER HER LIFE.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


flabdablet you suck
posted by BrnP84 at 1:37 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


John D MacDonald, Travis McGee #15, The Turqoise Lament and Anonymous #111950, Is My Husband Trying to Kill Me?

Plagiarism or Art? By geoff.

Introduction: I just searched through the book fairly exhaustively and this is what I came up with: Howie meets Pidge, who just inherited a lot of money. He's rich, popular and good looking. They take a cruise and through a series of events tries to get Pidge to think he's trying to kill her, but in such a way she sounds crazy when telling other people. So when he does actually kill her, he can point to how crazy she was and no one will suspect him. Howie previously killed some other people. Travis McGee is the good guy who is uncovering Howie's murderous past from his houseboat. Seriously.

JDM, Pidge went forward to make certain everything was secured. The stars were beginning to come out. He caught a glimpse of her as she went over the side. With no hesitation he yanked a life ring free and slung it into the dark sea as she slipped by ... I ran up to the bow and threw a line to her and could just make out the way it fell across the ring. I made it fast to a bow cleat and yelled to her to make it fast to the ring. When I got back to the wheel, there was enough way on her so I could turn her back up into the wind, and this brought Pidge swinging in alongside near the transom. I got the line with a boathook and pulled it up, got hold of the line, pulled her up inside the ring, skinned her knee on the hull. I was laughing and crying. It was such a hell of a long chance. And we'd made it. Know what she thought really happened?"
"What?"
"She thought I was watching her after she went forward and saw her lean way over the rail to free a line, and I turned sharp to port to flip her overboard. She thought I came back around and tried to run her down, for God's sake! And then for some damned reason, changed my mind and rescued her!"
"She get over that too?"
"I'd have to say not completely. I'm sorry I have to say it. If she'd just give me a chance. Or if she'd get professional help. But as soon as we tied up, she got the hell off and won't even talk to me. It's a month. I don't know what to do."

Note: They then continue island hopping in the story

"The next leg? It was sort of open. It's a hell of a jump from here. You've got to want three thousand miles of open ocean and be ready for it. We'd planned to drop on south-Tahiti, American Samoa, then maybe Fiji to Auckland to Sydney-and decide there if we wanted all the rest of it, or if we'd had the best of it. If so, then we thought we'd probably sell the Trepid there and fly home."

Anon, "I was a little dazed, it was quite wavy and for a few moments as I struggled in the water to get my head up I actually thought I was going to die. It seemed like it took for ever for my husband to get turned around and come back to get me. But he did and saved me. At the time was so grateful to my husband for saving me and he felt so bad and kept apologizing profuselfy. He said there had been a sudden gust of wind that caused the accidental jibe. I had some bruises but was overall in good shape and did my best to enjoy the rest of our Island hopping."

JDM, "They never knew what hit them. The way it was reconstructed, they got new bottle gas delivered the day after Christmas, and there was a cracked fitting in the copper tubing right where it come through the trailer wall. The pressure of the new tank opened that fitting a little, a slow leak. Propane is heavier than air. So in the night it filled the trailer up like a faucet turned on slow, filling a bathtub. When it was full up to this high, it got up to the little pilot light on the counter-top gas range, and that's all she wrote. Wasn't one piece of side wall standing. We had a big switch to electric around here. Real big. If you squint through the bushes, you can see a big white job with blue trim past those cabbage palms. That's number one-oh-eight, and from coming to going, they lived there just about ten years, a little over."

Anon, "About a half hour after he left I had just gotten out of the shower and thought I smelled exhaust. I went to the garage door and to my horror saw the car running. I immediately called my husband and he told me to open all the windows, go sit right at one of the windows and he'd be right home (he was very comforting and always seems to handle problems so well). He came home and we figured out what must have happened. I felt ok so we didn't go to the hospital."

This is a pretty bad book, but towards the end he drugs Pidge, slits her wrists and "saves" her by calling for help. She survives, but doesn't remember anything and he comes off as the hero. The ends involves Travis McGee and Howie at the top of a mountain near a cable car. Howie pushes her off the cliff or something, when no one is watching, and Travis McGee comes in at the last minute to save her. Then somehow Howie falls off the cliff, and the story everyone knows is that he was a caring husband who had an accident on a mountain. Of course Pidge and Travis know the real story!

I'm a little uncertain who Travis McGee is, he seems like a guy sales around the world solving crimes.
posted by geoff. at 1:40 PM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is a pretty bad book

Don't you say mean things about Travis McGee.
posted by redfoxtail at 1:46 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


As for "normal people don't have that many brushes with death in a year", I call bullshit. "Normal people" don't go couples-sailing on boats big enough to require rigging, normal people don't "go hiking in another country on cliffside trails"

Huh? I call bullshit on your knowledge of what a sailboat is.

It is commonplace for young childless couples to go on vacation. Sailing and hiking are incredibly common recreational activities. It's not as if she was claims to be goaded into a vacation featuring parkour, street luge, and wreck-diving.
posted by desuetude at 1:47 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think my therapist is trying to kill me.

She'd better be, I paid her a LOT of money for the hit.
posted by nanojath at 1:48 PM on January 18, 2009


i think it's interesting that no one has suggested that it might be the husband who made this post in an attempt to see whether his so far unsuccessful attempts would be taken seriously if his wife complained about them - or whether these might be potentially good ways to get rid of her, if he hasn't tried them yet
posted by pyramid termite at 1:49 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


John MacDonald and Travis McGee are awesome (he's like a slacker James Bond) but this is good research other than that. On the other hand, who cares? Unlike some Givewell scam ("sales around the world causing crimes?") all this fake post generates is drama.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:50 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nonsense - of course they do, all the time, even within one year. A boat doesn't have to be big to require rigging (a boom) - even teensy daysailers have a boom that can knock you overboard when the sail's up and wind is blowing. Even I've taken both types of trips within one year. There are plenty of reasons to doubt the story, but the vacation plans aren't among them. They're normal enough in outdoorsy people's lifestyles.

Just further validation of my complete disinterest in outdoorsy activities; no outdoors activities gives my non-existent spouse that many fewer ways of killing me without raising suspicion.
posted by Caduceus at 1:51 PM on January 18, 2009


It's not as if she was claims to be goaded into a vacation featuring parkour, street luge, and wreck-diving.

Oh god, no. Parkour is so 2008.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:54 PM on January 18, 2009


Thanks for the detective work, geoff. I'm glad to see at least some people's BS detectors aren't rusty.

What's amazing that this thread will probably go on for 100 more comments treating the post as if it were still hypothetically real.
posted by uxo at 1:57 PM on January 18, 2009


This seems to me a combination of a need for real actual psychological (or psychiatric) therapy, along with what Pratchett refers to as "headology" -- dealing with the psychological problem by presenting the "solution" to it even if it is a bit crazy.

Which is to say, I think it's totally reasonable to say on one side: "There's almost no chance that your husband is going to kill you; you're probably paranoid" and say, "Go ahead and cancel your life insurance policy". At that point, the thing that is making her worried -- that there is a lot of money hanging over her and that there is a value in her being dead -- is no longer there, and she can focus on the therapy.

I mean, she's going to therapy anyway, no matter what. So to some extent this conversation: "I have had paranoid thoughts that you're trying to kill me" has a high probability of coming up whether she cancels the life insurance or not.

Anyway, aside from the fact that canceling would to some extent fuel her paranoia, is there any good reason to have life insurance when you are young and have no children? I honestly don't see how it would be cheaper. Even if your rates do go up, is that difference greater than (annual premium * number of years you had the plan)?
posted by Deathalicious at 2:01 PM on January 18, 2009


I live a flamboyant homophonic lifestyle.
posted by geoff. at 2:02 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


all this fake post generates is drama.

or comedy, depending on how you look at it.
posted by jonmc at 2:03 PM on January 18, 2009


I reckon it's improbable that the post is real; the narrative sounds somehow contrived. Improbable, but not impossible. It's also extremely improbable that the poster's husband is trying to kill her, but not completely impossible. Any true crime afficionado will tell you that there have been many instances in which husbands have killed wives, and wives have killed husbands, sometimes after several clumsy attempts and sometimes for less than a hundred grand in insurance. Sometimes by pushing them off cliffs or in mysterious sailing accidents. But again, it's extremely improbable.

Either way, "you are definitely and absolutely paranoid, see a therapist, you freak" is not helpful; "you are probably correct that your suspicions are unfounded, if you see a therapist they can help you work through it" is much more helpful, and far more likely to be acted upon.
posted by andraste at 2:11 PM on January 18, 2009


flabdablet you suck
posted by BrnP84 at 8:37 AM on January 19 [+] [!]


YouTube commenters, represent!
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 2:18 PM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


First of all, ikkyu2's use of what he calls soulbee's suicide as an example of AskMe going horribly wrong with "opinions and counter-opinions and glib diagnoses and silly advice and goading questions" is such utter and complete bullshit it calls his ability to discuss this issue rationally into *very* serious question.

"Already happened"??

Riiiiight.

Oh, and taz nailed it up above; flabdablet's way overboard in that thread. From the start there are plenty of "See a therapist immediately" answers, and yet somehow none of those people felt the need to then throw a fit and try to control the entire thread.

Oh, and cars have auto-starters now? Am I the only one who thinks that's a completely dumb thing to have?
posted by mediareport at 2:21 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're helpful if you park outside in winter.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:27 PM on January 18, 2009


They're helpful if you park outside in the summer too.

Why are we whispering?

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on January 18, 2009


It's winter?

Sorry. /Los Angeles resident

posted by scody at 2:33 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It could be a hoax. Even if it is, giving sincere answers doesn't cause harm.

The poster may get useful ideas and perspective. If 100 people told me to seek professional help, I'd sure give it a 2nd thought.
posted by theora55 at 2:51 PM on January 18, 2009



Oh, and cars have auto-starters now? Am I the only one who thinks that's a completely dumb thing to have?



Eh, I say the same thing about car batteries with 900 cold cranking amps or attached to a trickle charger, but then again I live in the south.
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:52 PM on January 18, 2009


geoff, thanks for doing the research so I don't have to! On the other hand, it's been a few years since I read the Travis McGee books, so I think I'll re-read it anyway. Not an awful book, by the way. John D. McDonald is a surprisingly (given people's expectations aout genre fiction) good writer-- though many of his attitudes are admittedly dated, rooted as they are in the 40's and 50's.
posted by dersins at 3:12 PM on January 18, 2009


Frankly, just remove the motive, then get therapy so you can enjoy your marriage.

wtf?
posted by diocletian at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2009


ikkuyu2, this is a pretty strong accusation to make, and your link doesn't support it.

Community consensus: mathowie was pretty clear on it, he thought it was great that this seriously mentally ill person was leaning on MetaFilter in place of medical advice from her doctors.

Support or retract, please.

Also, John D. McDonald:1970s::Sue Grafton:1990s.

If you like page-turners set in Florida, let me recommend everything ever written by Carl Hiassen. If you like well-crafted whodunits, go for Ross Macdonald.
posted by dogrose at 3:54 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Deathalicious writes "is there any good reason to have life insurance when you are young and have no children? I honestly don't see how it would be cheaper. Even if your rates do go up, is that difference greater than (annual premium * number of years you had the plan)?"

Let's say you develop, oh say, pancreatic cancer at age thirty five. If you maintained continuous life insurance from 25 you could continue to have life insurance coverage (and in some cases increase it, mine is like this) at the same rate as your group established at 25. If you didn't you couldn't buy insurance at any price. Less morbidly conditions like diabetes and MS can make you uninsurable or elevate your premiums to the point of unaffordability. And life insurance is cheap for healthy young non smokers. I paid less than $20 a month for half a million when I was in my twenties.

mediareport writes "Oh, and cars have auto-starters now? Am I the only one who thinks that's a completely dumb thing to have?"

Besides allowing me to start my car when it's -40 from the comfort of my living room/office my remote starter will run my car for foo minutes every couple of hours. This allows me to park places for long periods where I can't plug in with some reassurance that I'll be able to leave at the end of the day. It's quite a bit more environmentally friendly than just leaving your car idle all day.
posted by Mitheral at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2009


Community consensus: mathowie was pretty clear on it, he thought it was great that this seriously mentally ill person was leaning on MetaFilter in place of medical advice from her doctors.

No he didn't. I'm aware that you don't like some of the policies here and I hope you're aware that we sometimes give your prickly AskMe answers some more leeway than we usually would give to a prickly commenter because we appreciate your contributions here, but this is untrue and unkind.

Realistically, some people do not consult doctors. I think this is a damned shame. Having a place where you can get people to give you advice [especially if that advice is "you really need to see a doctor because of X, Y and Z reasons"] in my opinion helps more than it harms. It's also possible that having actual doctors on the site acting aggressive and hostile and dismissive of their patients or people asking questions may actually not further the cause of helping get more people who need care to go to the doctor.

There are a lot of complicated and conflicting reasons people don't seek or get the care that they need and it sure is frustrating, but comments like yours are needlessly cruel and hurtful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:12 PM on January 18, 2009 [38 favorites]


This is an instance I recall where the poster returns to say the answers to her AskMe (which was a classic "see a professional" case, IMHO) were very helpful. I am sure there are many others.
posted by Rumple at 4:31 PM on January 18, 2009


we sometimes give your prickly AskMe answers some more leeway than we usually would give to a prickly commenter because we appreciate your contributions here

That's sort of a cruddy deal - I'm not the sort of guy who demands there be a hard and fast rule for every sort of situation, but at what point does a helpful prickly commenter become just an entitled prick?

QUESTION LARGELY RHETORICAL, NOT DELETION-EMBITTERED PRICKLY COMMENTER
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:35 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I THINK THAT SOMEONE IS TRYING TO KILL ME!
INFECTING MY BLOOD AND DESTROYING MY MIND!
NO MAN OF THE FLESH COULD EVER STOP ME!
THE FIGHT FOR THIS FISH sail boom IS A FIGHT TO THE DEATH!
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2009


The Entitled Pricks would be a great band name. I'm just saying.
posted by jonmc at 5:02 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Supreme Dicks was the name of an actual band when I was in college.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:11 PM on January 18, 2009


I like my commenters pickled.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:12 PM on January 18, 2009


The Entitled Pricks would be a great band name. I'm just saying.

Yes, and Handsome Dick would be ideal for that band.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:19 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like my commenters pickled.

Thank you.
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on January 18, 2009


That's sort of a cruddy deal - I'm not the sort of guy who demands there be a hard and fast rule for every sort of situation, but at what point does a helpful prickly commenter become just an entitled prick?

It's a cruddy deal for all the other doctors on House as well, but House is what holds that whole fucking show together, so deal with it.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:02 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's a cruddy deal for all the other doctors on House as well, but House is what holds that whole fucking show together, so deal with it.

with all due respect to ikkyu2's professional expertise, you don't seriously mean to suggest that he's the one "holding the whole fucking show together" at metafilter, do you?
posted by scody at 6:15 PM on January 18, 2009


There's a huge difference between a "psychotic client" and an anonymous poster who has asked for help in fighting her own paranoid ideation.

You, nor I, nor anyone else here can establish that this poster is or is not mentally ill or even posting a serious question. So, honestly, it's a moot point. I was simply trying to point out that if this person is in fact mentally ill and is in fact experiencing a paranoid delusion such rational explanations like, "don't worry, that happens in boating all the time," would not be effective in helping the poster combat their paranoid ideation because rational arguments do not make the symptoms of a psychotic disorder disappear. This is why deploying rational arguments to fight the delusion make the situation worse. Despite all rationality the person continues experiencing the symptoms anyway, and will experience nothing but increased anxiety and agitation the more you try to rationalize with them that they shouldn't be experiencing what they are experiencing, or that what they are experiencing is a figment of their imagination.

Honestly, I thought that was all pretty clear the first time around.
posted by The Straightener at 6:19 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


with all due respect to ikkyu2's professional expertise, you don't seriously mean to suggest that he's the one "holding the whole fucking show together" at metafilter, do you?

You just keep on thinking that.
posted by the Cabal at 6:22 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's a cruddy deal for all the other doctors on House as well, but House is what holds that whole fucking show together, so deal with it.

Ummm, dude, that's a TV show. Ralph couldn't hit Alice hard enough to send her to the moon, either. Sorry you had to find out this way.
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ummm, dude, that's a TV show. Ralph couldn't hit Alice hard enough to send her to the moon, either

You mean that show was not about mankind's inspired struggle towards lunar exploration?

with all due respect to ikkyu2's professional expertise, you don't seriously mean to suggest that he's the one "holding the whole fucking show together" at metafilter, do you

Given my serious tone and the unimpeachable gravitas of the example I chose to illustrate my point, I am quite aghast that you would impugn, of all things, my seriousness.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:43 PM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


flabdablet> William Burroughs wrote: Do not offer sympathy to the mentally ill. Tell them firmly, "I am not paid to listen to this drivel. You are a terminal fool."

William Burroughs? The guy who convinced his wife to play William Tell then shot her in the head? That's the guy you're quoting in this thread?

Well, that's either extremely obtuse or one of the most subtle jobs of trolling I've ever seen.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 6:52 PM on January 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


miko - The repetition of "see a therapist" is not a bad thing - it's a sign of the growing wisdom of this site that it's gotten so common, and in fact the more times an OP sees that message, the greater their sense that the overwhelming majority sees an application for therapy. If one person tells me my foot hurts because I have environmental mercury poisioning, and twenty people tell me to see a doctor because it might be plantar fasciitis, I'm going to weigh the more frequent responses much more accurately. All of us are more right than any one of us.

You would weigh them equally if you were thinking rationally, and the case we are talking about here is someone who is not thinking rationally. People in general are going to weigh advice that goes with there gut feeling more strongly than other advice and that is particularly true for someone with mental illness. Add the the fact that "see a therapist" is used so often that it has become a cliche, it is very easy for posters to ignore that message and just see the advice they want to see.

If I had a mental illness, the thread in question probably would have read something like this.

see a therapist OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE. THE POSTER IS OBVIOSLY A SCZOID FREAK AND NEEDS TO BE LOCKED IN A MENTAL INSTITUTION!!!!


see a therapist DON"T LISTEN TO THESE OTHER IDIOTS, YOU ARE RIGHT YOUR HUSBAND IS TRYING TO KILL YOU. SAVE YOUR SELF KNOW!!!!

And so on for 100+ comments now.

There is simply no way for someone who isn't thinking rationally to filter the good advice from the bad.
posted by afu at 7:04 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Err on the side of caution. If the mods let it through, treat as on the up and up. Because you don't have to pay attetion at all... you know, flag it and move on, bitches.

That said, It's a cruddy deal for all the other doctors on House as well,
I thought it was 'Cuddy' and what happened to her hair? What happened to that show?
posted by From Bklyn at 7:15 PM on January 18, 2009


needlessly cruel and hurtful

Sorry you were hurt. There are others your policies are hurting - not just about permitting stupid paramedical advice, although that is certainly stupid and wrong-headed; but, also, about permitting hateful, racist, sexist, classist crap to fester here on a daily basis. In this case I thought it was egregious enough that it was needful to point it out. I don't do anything to be needlessly cruel or hurtful, and I resent that implication as I would any insult.

I'll close up shop here. My participation was an experiment on my part, and required a certain amount of courage every time I hit post. I'm writing it off as a failure and will sleep better for it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:37 PM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


THE FIGHT FOR THIS FISH sail boom SEA KITTEN IS A FIGHT TO THE DEATH!

An additional edit was needed to reflect current Cabalistc nomenclature.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:38 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does this mean Hugh Laurie's going to be on a show that I might watch now?

Also:

MetaFilter: Permitting hateful, racist, sexist, classist crap to fester here on a daily basis.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:47 PM on January 18, 2009


aaaannnd away we go.

come back ikkyu2, you are strong on the scientific method. I would like to point out that I was in that thread saying see someone who can write a prescription before he did - but I'm low end liberal arts all the way, so what do I know.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:48 PM on January 18, 2009


There are others your policies are hurting - not just about permitting stupid paramedical advice, although that is certainly stupid and wrong-headed; but, also, about permitting hateful, racist, sexist, classist crap to fester here on a daily basis.

ps. With a ton of respect for your contributions, it seems kind of weak to bail out and disable your account without some backup for that (mostly the stuff after "paramedical" - in the sense that I can appreciate the weight of your experience in offering that opinion specifically), heavy shit doc.


I'm sorry to see you go.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:55 PM on January 18, 2009


Wow. Well, just to clarify, I don't favor a blanket prohibition policy on mental health questions, and I find Miko's arguments, as always, persuasive to the point of affecting my own view of the broader issues her. I still think a question that exhibits flagrantly delusional ideation (or evident fiction) or claims to report a murder plot in process, even if qualified as possibly delusional, crosses some kind of line that *if* I were a moderator - and again, I am glad I'm not and I think the mefi mods rock - I would avoid crossing.

It's a judgment issue, not a policy issue.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:57 PM on January 18, 2009


I'm writing it off as a failure

Really? You're writing off your years of thoughtful, useful, cautionary medical advice in AskMe as a failure?

Good lord. Why?
posted by mediareport at 8:11 PM on January 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


And why be such a dick on the way out?
posted by The Straightener at 8:13 PM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Honestly I think it's pretty fucked up that ikkyu2 dragged soulbee's name in here, completely misrepresented what actually happened, shit all over mathowie and the other mods, all because some stupid chip on his shoulder he's had for seemingly ages now. I really liked you're additions to the site here for a while but seriously, good riddance.
posted by dead cousin ted at 8:19 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


"your", I hate when that happens.
posted by dead cousin ted at 8:20 PM on January 18, 2009


A sad day.
posted by painquale at 8:38 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn, I hope you'll reconsider, ikkyu2.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:42 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, please do reconsider it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm writing it off as a failure

Wow, that is a harsh way to see things. Gotta say, if I were you, I would only characterize my involvement in MeFi that way if I were depressed, because your postings have been valuable to this community. Hope you're doing alright, ikkyu2. Hope we'll see you again.
posted by heatherann at 8:59 PM on January 18, 2009


I really don't see what other choice ikkyu2 has if he really believes what he is saying, that Ask is actively contributing to the endangerment of the mentally ill. In the discussion in the thread I linked to in my previous comment he pretty much completely dismissed all the counter-arguments to this stance.

I also think it would be pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that his issues with Metafilter went beyond even the catalog of parting shots he delivered in his farewell message. I've been expecting him to go for a while.
posted by nanojath at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2009


Oh, and previously.
posted by nanojath at 9:15 PM on January 18, 2009


Gotta say, if I were you, I would only characterize my involvement in MeFi that way if I were depressed.

Truly sublime.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:19 PM on January 18, 2009


Au contraire. If he genuinely thinks it's OK to (apparently wrongly) blame a woman's suicide on an Ask thread IN WHICH HE OFFERED FUCKING ADVICE HIMSELF WHICH WAS NOT "Go see a doctor and don't talk here"...

...and then blames said death of one of our own on the mods?

Then he can shove his four years up his arse, imho.
posted by genghis at 9:20 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huh. Ninja flameout.

I've on the whole thought ikkyu2's made some pretty impressive contributions, which makes this whole thing, particularly his inability or unwillingness to explain why, exactly, he thinks AskMe is contributing to the endangerment of the mentally ill in a convincing manner all the stranger. I agree with heatherann; I hope he's alright.
posted by Caduceus at 9:24 PM on January 18, 2009


When people you know kill themselves, it's hard to predict which interactions you'll get stuck on. When I worked at a grocery store, one of the clerks came back from being out for a few weeks (leaving us short-staffed) and I jokingly said.. "I'm glad you're back because I can finally take my vacation."

A couple of days later, she hung herself. Now, I didn't know that the reason she left was because she was depressed, but I still kind of took it hard that that was the first thing I said to her, and basically was my only interaction with her after she came back and before she died.

What I'm saying, is I can kind of understand what he's going through. There's always that 'if only i had said..." feeling that never really goes away.
posted by empath at 9:39 PM on January 18, 2009


It's pretty clear to me that he's been beating himself up about not being enough of a mind reader, and not having said the perfect answer to soulbee's AskMe questions, to prevent the suicide that he's presuming was the cause of her death. That kind of rage and guilt and grief can get directed outwards as well as inwards (IME, remembering my reactions to news of a friend's suicide).

So, notwithstanding that his accusation against mathowie is over the top, I'd hope some people react to his comments here with a bit of compassion. (If I'm wrong, ikkyu2, sorry. Please remember that there are many people here who would miss your contributions.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:40 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I got a lot out of this particular "failure" of yours, ikkyu2.

I'm not sure I can even imagine how wonderful it would be to be present at one of your successes, but I have no doubt they will continue to come thick and fast.

Good luck and good night (sweet prince).
posted by jamjam at 9:41 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought ikkyu2's contributions were very helpful - but having worked with neurologists (his profession) and neurosurgeons, this subsequent flameout does not surprise me one bit. I think he'll be back.
posted by HopperFan at 9:47 PM on January 18, 2009


He is, like the rest of us, a mixed bag. In his case, a brilliant guy with good intentions who has made more positive and interesting contributions to this site than 99% of its members, but who is arrogant up past his eyeballs and occasionally prone to snap judgments that he's not too eager to re-examine once he's made them. I'm only mildly surprised that this happened (I could envision such a thing but figured it would take more), but I'm sad to see him go too.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:50 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


TakeMyCaduceusAndGoHomeFilter.

What a pity, but you know: free will and all that. It says more about you, and far less about Matt & Co. than you probably imagine.

Take care.
posted by scody at 10:06 PM on January 18, 2009


Really? You're writing off your years of thoughtful, useful, cautionary medical advice in AskMe as a failure?

Good lord. Why?


Some kind of delusion, obviously. He should probably seek professional help, but I'm not qualified to say.
posted by Chuckles at 10:10 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't you have a diagnostic roulette wheel, Chuckles?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:19 PM on January 18, 2009


Flame-outs are always kind of sad. But to quit and return every few years is kind of weird.

It's just a website, you know -- any time I start getting angered by something here, I know it's time to take a breather and come back when I have some perspective.
posted by Forktine at 10:38 PM on January 18, 2009


MOTHERFUCK

Personally sad. Of course I hope you come back, ikkyu2. So I can see what you're thinking more of the time. You're one of my favorite people in the world.

Is it super windy there? I bet it would be fun to ride a bike in such high winds.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:52 PM on January 18, 2009


I'll close up shop here. My participation was an experiment on my part, and required a certain amount of courage every time I hit post. I'm writing it off as a failure and will sleep better for it.

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:57 PM on January 18, 2009


Remember, you don't have to answer the question.

YOU DON'T KNOW ME AT ALL
posted by davejay at 11:13 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really don't see what other choice ikkyu2 has if he really believes what he is saying, that Ask is actively contributing to the endangerment of the mentally ill.

I do see another choice, and that would be: given his lengthy experience with web communities and all their potentials, and his professional expertise in medicine and its ethics, he's kind of in an ideal position to work with web moderators and the professional mental health community to establish a set of protocols for mental-health policies on web communities. In fact I think that'd be an extremely helpful way to channel the frustration and powerlessness everyone feels in this sort of situation.

I do think the burden of proof that web interactions have an overall negative impact on mental health would be on him, and I've never felt that he satisfied the need for that proof. Negative outcomes are not in themselves proof that community advice is ineffective on the web, any more than they are in real life. People in well-supervised therapeutic situations still have negative outcomes, and so do people in web communities. One can't point to either community as the source of the failure. For people who have no functioning RL community, the web will always be present, and will always function as a potential mental-health referrer. The quality of the responses available on the web will always be dependent upon the quality and expertise of the responding community - to remove an expert voice from the community does not seem, to me, a way to better the outcomes for members of the community as a whole. Certainly ikkyu2's consistent urgings toward responsibility and accountability in commenting and toward seeking professional advice increased the responsibility of posters overall, and the quality of responses, over time. The disappearance of that one voice does leave a vacuum which less knowledgeable voices may fill. It may feel more personally comfortable to stop commenting here, but I'm not sure the broader impact of the loss will be a positive one on individual outcomes, in the aggregate. Still, if it was hard to resist giving dosage advice and specific instructions as if he were a treating physician, perhaps it's better not to give people the illusion that they were under some kind of treatment. But again, we're back to the question - where are the protocols? What's helpful advice, and what's treading too far?

ikkyyu2, if you're still tracking the thread, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and your contributions. I think it might be good for you to seek counseling, actually, about survivor guilt, which might be amplified by the fact that medical training encourages people to feel very powerful. You might be feeling an excessive amount of guilt over an outcome over which you had no control, though you wished you could have and perhaps your profession encouraged you to think you did have. You don't need to feel as though you've caused negative outcomes here. You have been helpful in any number of positive outcomes which are less obvious and sometimes not noted at all. There are real limits to the power of any single contribution, though it's tempting to think that they should've been more powerful. After you say your piece, the rest is up to the person listening. The same is true in person-to-person treatment. Many people in your field have had to deal with negative outcomes for patients while under their treatment. As you know, that doesn't mean they caused or contributed to them.

And also, I think you would have a lot to contribute if you led a professional initiative for MDs and medical professionals on developing standards for web communities. If you feel the protocols here are inadequate, I understand, but I haven't yet seen you offer an alternative suggestion for how mental health (or for that matter, physical health) questions should be handled (aside from not handling them at all). Doctors have been managing interactions with the lay environment for over a century; it's time there were some guidelines set forth for the lay web environment, where people will seek advice as surely as they have sought it in person for at least that amount of time - in fact, more surely, because they are less inhibited by their face-to-face daily environment. I don't expect that to diminish, nor do I expect outcomes to improve because professionals abandon the forums that remain useful. Chances are your impact could be far-reaching if you were willing to spend some time developing your concern into an easily implemented set of guidelines, supported by research, on how web communities might handle situations in which mental-health intervention seems needed.
posted by Miko at 11:37 PM on January 18, 2009 [33 favorites]


Wait, how did we start at "OP on this question is either way past our ability to fix, or trying out a screenplay idea" and end at "as far as one of the resident MDs is concerned, we're all festering classist, racist, sexist, hate-riddled sacks of shit out to help our fellow MeFites into an early grave" again?

OK, yeah, past my bedtime for sure. All I was going to do for the original OP was suggest Gavin de Becker's books, and I didn't even make it that far because the thread rapidly became TL;DR. I guess I'm endangering the OP by my inaction.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:40 PM on January 18, 2009


It's pretty clear to me that he's been beating himself up about not being enough of a mind reader, and not having said the perfect answer to soulbee's AskMe questions

Perhaps he should see a therapist?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:41 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can only support this comment from Miko.

ikkyu2, who was possibly the single best person in AskMe (and a marvellous contributor elsewhere), has expressed a number of concerns of principle over time which make it surprising to me that he lasted this long. My hope is that he could re-evaluate how those principles apply in a way that would make him feel morally able to continue to contribute.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:59 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having done my shocked comment, I have now read this thread and it is my personal duty to try to say that I know ikkyu2 and I feel for him and I understand how and why he was being exacting nigh to quixotic on this matter. Metafilter cannot keep things real. Perhaps there are lots of other such impassioned doctors, whose work is also their amazing gift and their love, but I never knew there were any till I met this man. Physician, heal thyself, thine nerves lay bare.

and ikkyu2, honestly?

I'm writing it off as a failure and will sleep better for it.

Oh, right-o. You sleeping alone... or with a certain someone you met from Metafilter?

A-HEM! A failure? Ha!

To quote Ariel the mermaid, "How can a world that makes such wonderful things... be bad?"

But that's all inside baseball and for this page on this site right here, I can defend ikkyu's remarks with my heart and my faith only as much as I would any of the rest of yours', which is none more much.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:05 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


So is ikkyu2 nathan wallace?
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:21 AM on January 19, 2009


God, some of you just live to rub it in.

It's just a website, you know

No, sorry, that doesn't work. You're an AskMe fixture and you're here commenting in a part of the site less than 10% of users even visit. Clearly it is just a web site to a lot of people, but not to you. And not to me, and not to a lot of the other people here who are acting like the loss of one of our most intelligent and generous community members is easy to brush away because was occasionally an asshole to people here and insulted the mods. There are plenty of people here for whom that's practically a full-time job description; if you want to throw a party save it for when one of them fucks off.

ikkyu2 helped me personally once when I was ill and I doubt highly I'm alone. He is clearly deeply troubled by Soulbee's death and haunted by the idea that he should have done more to help her. I don't think his representation of Matt's decision is correct, but the idea that we should be scrupulously careful where health issues are concerned, particularly mental health issues, is completely correct. It's unacceptable that people answer with misinformation and lulz in those threads, or routinely mock the latest version of Time Cube Guy on the front page. One of the many things I admire about him is that he was consistently a voice against stigmatizing the mentally ill.

Disagree with his take on this situation all you like but snarking on his grave and trotting out the "it's just a web site" canard is bullshit. If you want to give advice to suicidal people it's not just a site anymore. If the bonds people form here are real, then it should matter when a long-time member in obvious pain departs. There are many more than he who have slipped away without announcement because of general hatefulness (and yes, that includes "racist, sexist, classist crap") and I miss them, as I'll miss him. It's not the mods' faults -- it's what plenty of us are freely choosing. Either this place is a community or it's not. You don't get to have it both ways.
posted by melissa may at 12:25 AM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


Damn, ikkyu2 is gone?

That sucks. Sorry to see you go ikkyu2. I do hope you'll be back despite this episode. And if you don't, good luck with whatever you end up doing with the rest of your life. You'll be missed.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:40 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


man, I should have kept my big mouth shut.

dang.
posted by batmonkey at 12:47 AM on January 19, 2009


Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think that "see a therapist" was the only good answer to this question.

This kind of reminds me of this one AskMe from a while back, where the OP was obviously a paranoid schiozophrenic. And I say this as someone who was concerned enough to correspond with her privately by email. Basically, she gave every sign of being sick with paranoia, and asked about how to find out if her apartment (and cellphone, and landline) were bugged. Some people were helpful and told her to see a therapist. Others were ..... not so helpful, and went so far as to give detailed information on where to buy surveillance equipment. Talk about feeding a sickness. And then some were "classy" enough to go on at great length about how the OP "obviously a troll." Yeah, it was kind of a sad day for the community, and it didn't make me proud to be a member on this website.

So I don't really know if posts like this are a good idea. On the one hand, it's pretty sick to see tech geeks telling paranoid schizophrenics where to buy surveillance equipment. On the other hand, maybe it is more useful to have 100 people telling you to see a therapist instead of just one mod responding through private email.

All I can say is that I'm glad that I'm not a mod, and that I do not have to make these kind of choices.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:01 AM on January 19, 2009


Does Ask Yahoo get questions like this? How do they deal with it?
posted by empath at 1:08 AM on January 19, 2009


Oh man, Yahoo Answers even has a Mental Health category. What a fucking train wreck that is. There's just no comparison.
posted by empath at 1:15 AM on January 19, 2009


who'll be next?
posted by Wilder at 1:50 AM on January 19, 2009


Well this really sucks. ikkyu2 is someone who cares about the site and sees it as a real community, and he's left. I find this more serious than a run of the mill flameout. Prickly he may be, but he's an extremely valuable poster and it's worthwhile to try to get him back. If I were the mod here I'd apologise (even if I felt uncomfortable doing so) for my tone, and try to negotiate an understanding. Because the problem wasn't WHAT he posted, it was the manner in which he posted it, yes?
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:57 AM on January 19, 2009


I'll point out a thread I consider one of AskMe's success stories.

The OP described her situation and wondered if she were manic. Person after person told her "it sure sounds like it; go to an ER." After she posted some resistance to the idea (via a mod), there was a further deluge of people calling on her to go to the ER.

She said: I always get annoyed when anon posters don't follow the advice of the majority of the responders. So I will be a good askmefi-er and go to the hospital.

And 5 weeks after that: I thought that I'd post back here about what happened to me as I'm always curious when I read AskMeFi about what occurred and I know a few of you suggested you'd like to know. First, thank you all for your kind words and recommendations about going to the hospital. I needed that frank talk to get over my nervousness and actually go. The hospital was much different from what I expected. Nothing like the scary movies at all. A tad boring and noisy but otherwise good. [...] So that's what happened. Thank you for everything. I am glad that I listened to you all.

We did well that day with helping someone who was suffering from mental illness. Good work, group.
posted by Zed at 2:17 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


It could be a hoax. Even if it is, giving sincere answers doesn't cause harm.

I dunno, seems like a lot of people's goodwill, time and energy was used up because of the OP.

And wow, there goes a long-time contributer, for better or worse, as you can see above.

I'm pretty sure the OP is laughing his/her ass off right now.
posted by uxo at 2:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just fuck. How can one crazy post that probably isn't even true lead to the loss of one of the real contributors to this site? It's like slowing down the car to avoid hitting a fucking rabbit crossing the street and getting t-boned by a pickup truck running a red light because of it. Just. Fuck.

ikkyu2 is -- was? -- one of the good guys here, and losing him makes MeFi a little less good. I can't tell you how many times I have replied to "what can possibly be so great about a website" with "there are amazing people in that community," and proceeded to list off 10 or 15 kinds of expertise one could almost always expect to encounter --- "actual neurosurgeon" usually among them.

And I suggest anyone gloating over his departure either hasn't read some of the fine and expert advice he has given on this site (do you know how much a few moments of opinion from this guy would cost your insurance company?) or -- especially -- hasn't interacted with him personally backstage in some way.

ikkyu2's departure is Metafilter's loss. ikkyu2, I really hope you reconsider. Many of us have lost a wheel in a MeTa thread. This place gets a little personal sometimes because we think we know each other and many of us are pretty full of ourselves, which is what draws us to an online community full of like-minded high achievers who aren't used to being wrong, or being challenged by similarly smart people when we are. I know I've taken at least three of four long breaks after feeling burned by an unexpected snarkfest in the gray. And almost everyone snaps and lashes out sometimes too. I know I have, and regretted it, and apologized, and weighed what this community is worth against hurt pride or wounded feelings and come back again.

I'm amazed at the snarking at his departure. Sometimes this place gets a little too meta even for me. Yeah, he lashed out at Matt and obviously has unresolved anger or pain about the soulbee situation. But really, "don't let the door hit your ass" comments are no better, and a hell of a lot less understandable than someone dealing with anger over a tragic death.

I think, if only in soulbee's memory, that we should try to be a little kinder to each other then we sometimes are -- and I know I can snark with the best of them (ok, not the best, but I make up for it with artful profanity). The issues in this thread are high stakes one for some of us, but for the most part they don't touch the height of the stake we all have in preserving our community.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:30 AM on January 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


So I was thinking about this whole mess, how ikkyu2 is gone and how Ask Metafilter (and MeFi in general) is made less valuable a resource because of him, and how I'd really love the mods to look into who anonymous was in the instance of this question and find out if the question was real or if the community was being gamed and impose a punishment if it was the latter....

... and then I found this video called 'Matrix Cat Fight' which is essentially one cat vs. lots and lots of cute puppies (set to the music from Matrix: Reloaded where Neo fights multiple clones of Agent Smith) and I laughed a lot. So I'm posting it in the hope lots of other people here get a laugh out of it as I did and so that something good can come out of this train wreck of a thread.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:37 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's like slowing down the car to avoid hitting a fucking rabbit crossing the street and getting t-boned by a pickup truck running a red light because of it.

Occam's razor applies to metaphors as well.

In this situation, you could go with "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" or "cutting off your nose to spite your face".
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:14 AM on January 19, 2009


I too think this is a case where the mods should investigate the original post a little. Maybe it's a dead end, and I would never, ever want to compromise the anonymity of any "anon" poster who sincerely sought help here. But since the information exists, how could it hurt for a mod to chime in and say "yeah, this came from someone we have reason to believe is sincere because of her prior posting history or long-time membership" or "no, this came from someone newly signed up and we can't vouch for the poster's relationship to this community." No names, no IP addresses, no identifying details, just a finding of authenticity.

Because if we have been gamed, and it's cost us a really fucking valuable member of our community, we have a right to wonder, and to know if the mods have reason to think the post might have been serious. I don't want to accuse a truly mentally disturbed person of being a prankster, and frankly, this prank would itself be a pretty good sign of a disturbed person if it is a prank (Online Munchausen's Syndrome, perhaps?). But if we've been played by an attention whore, it's been a pretty damn good effort to fuck with us if it takes out someone as valuable here as ikkyu2 and leaves so many of us with a bad taste in our mouths.

And I will say one more time that the issue for me isn't "mental health questions on AskMe, yay or nay?" Of course people have been helped -- *I've* been helped by such questions, like a lot of y'all. I've also answered quite a few in good faith based on my own experiences (I sometimes think of this as "bipolar/ADHDfilter" because I think so many of us who wind up here are similarly wired for intensity.) I think the vast majority of such questions are fine, and that you don't need to be a doctor to help someone struggling with mental health issues, certainly someone who is also getting medical help for a problem if it's serious.

I think the problem arises when the asker is flagrantly delusional to the point that the post reads more as a call for help than a sincere question (or, as in this case, as a call for attention).

And I think a problem also arises when a question accuses someone else of even possibly committing or planning to commit a heinous crime. I haven't seen it discussed in this thread yet (where is the MeFi lawyer brigade?), but it seems to me to present a problem if an identifiable person (to the mods) posts a specific scenario that, were it true, would make all of us witnesses to a murder plot. If the OP had said she thought her husband might be plotting to kill someone *else,* the advice "go to the police" might also be advice the mods would be well advised to heed.

Obviously, there's pretty much consensus here that the OP is either a bullshitter or delusional. But just as doctors are required to take any report of even the most oddball symptoms at face value until they've ruled out possible, and even very rare, explanations for these symptoms, the police are required to take any report of a possible violent crime in process seriously. This post is just as much the latter as it is the former, and the likelihood of the reported crime being real is about the same as the likelihood that the post is even sincere -- vanishingly small, but not impossible.

This whole episode sucks, and it's a trainwreck that might have been foreseen. I accept Jess and Cortex's explanation for how it got posted, of course, and am *not* blaming the mods for a judgment call gone wrong -- I'll say it again that the moderation on this site is the heart of what makes if soar.

But accusing someone, even while expressing doubts, of planning to commit murder is very serious shit indeed. If it's a joke, it's an appalling one. If it's serious, it's either very disturbed behavior or it demands immediate contact with law enforcement, perhaps including a subpoena for the IP address of the poster.

The only real basis we have for determining the authenticity of a post on this site is the reputation of the poster. A better plagiarist that this OP could easily have left us all thinking this was a serious situation and worrying about "her" fate. *The* basis for this community's sense *of* community is that we acquire reputations that follow us from post to post and thread to thread, and that many of us are either formally non-anonymous, or easily traced to meatspace identities (like ikkyu2, and anyone trashing him from behind a well-hidden identity is a coward). Anonymity fucks with that basic principle of the community, which makes it a powerful force for disruption (as here), and places, in my view, a very high burden of coherence and good faith on anonymous posters, and on the mods to enforce that standard.

I think that standard was not met for this post. Shit happens, of course. But I still wish the post itself would be deleted, or that the mods would give us a verdict on the basis of evidence only they have access to about the likely authenticity of the post.

Because if this came from a respected and long-time member of this site, then we're being total dicks calling the post bullshit and playing games with the meta-issues here.

But I doubt it. My guess is this person signed up recently just to fuck with us, and that's something that can be confirmed or denied without compromising "her" anonymity, right mods?
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:32 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Occam's razor applies to metaphors as well. In this situation, you could go with "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" or "cutting off your nose to spite your face".

Or you could come up with something original. Just saying.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:36 AM on January 19, 2009


(because if Occam's Razor "applied to metaphors," there would be no metaphors, Ubu. Circumlocution, indirectness, allusion, and polysemy are not responses to a demand for efficiency in rhetoric. What baby? What bathwater? Indeed, you're much more likely to get t-boned because you slowed down to avoid hitting a rabbit than you are to throw a baby out with his bathwater or survive cutting off your nose to spite your face. A metaphor that is closer to a real world possible scenario is, arguably, a simpler allegorical explanation than one that requires imagining impossible things.)

/linguist
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:40 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I could come up with something original if my head were the kind of place where the stars give birth and die, but as it happens, it's more like picking little bits of indeterminable matter out of the strainer that protects the plughole of my kitchen sink.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:41 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


and as a linguist, you'd surely know that "metaphor" itself is a metaphor, from the greek, "to carry across" (the meaning from one thing to another). so, instead of "the simplest metaphor being the best (or most likely to be correct)" you end up with a reflexive chain of metametaphors, ironically subverting the entire exercise. /semiotician
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:53 AM on January 19, 2009


Because if we have been gamed, and it's cost us a really fucking valuable member of our community, we have a right to wonder, and to know if the mods have reason to think the post might have been serious.

I'm not sure if the blame ought to be laid on a potentially mischievous prankster.

As others have said upthread, this may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

A non-occamite might phrase this as "the loose cannon that, in a chance upsurge of the murky sea, broke free from its moorings, and careened across to the nether side of the topdeck of the Mary Rose, already topheavy and overburden'd with suchlike weaponry &c, thus causing a cascading sequence of cannons also veering to starboard (or portside, as the case may be) and eventually leading to the warship, thus encumber'd on one side, to roll over and finally submit to the tender caresses of the mermaids"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:13 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


But accusing someone, even while expressing doubts, of planning to commit murder is very serious shit indeed.

Presumably that's why the poster posted anonymously. Because an anonymous post that's simply posing the question actually isn't accusing anyone of anything.

Because if we have been gamed, and it's cost us a really fucking valuable member of our community, we have a right to wonder

Wander all you like, but if the mods offer what they claim is an anonymous facility, and then go ahead and breach that anonymity for whatever reason -- well, anything short of 'I am about to do serious injury to myself or others' -- then the site is fucked. To breach it over the fact that someone throws a hissy fit and flounces out, regardless of how well liked or how valued their past contributions is just ludicrous.

Obviously, there's pretty much consensus here that the OP is either a bullshitter or delusional.

I'm not seeing such a consensus. I also think that bullshitter is the most likely outcome, but say for a minute that we rule that possibility out. That someone has certain ideas that are poorly supported by the evidence is not a justification for calling them delusional. If it was, we'd be telling all the religious people who post to the site to get psychiatric help as well.

Delusional is one possible option, but it remains a guess.

If I were the mod here I'd apologise (even if I felt uncomfortable doing so) for my tone, and try to negotiate an understanding.

That's a terrible idea. The only person who responded to his post was jessamyn, who did so with her usual tact and good grace. She has nothing to apologize for whatsoever. If what jess says is true, then if there's any apologizing to be done, it's ikkyu2 who needs to apologize to matt for his lamentable misrepresentation of matt's position here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:22 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ugh. Sorry, fourcheesemac. My eyeballs appear to have skipped over this sentence without it registering.

I would never, ever want to compromise the anonymity of any "anon" poster who sincerely sought help here.


My bad.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:24 AM on January 19, 2009


Ah, no worries Peter.

Ubu, we should develop this in some language thread. The metaphoric basis of *all* natural language is one of my genuine research specializations. Our English lexicon (and indeed, any natural language lexicon) is largely made up of "reflexive chains of meta-metaphors," since very few words have a naturalistic (indexical or iconic) relationship to their referent.

What we might call "actual metaphors" -- figurative speech meant to assist analogical reasoning -- are the tip of the metaphorical iceberg, as it were. See James Fernandez's excellent edited volume *Beyond Metaphor,* for example (and read Paul Friedrich's brilliant essay "Polytropy" for the case that natural language consists of tropes "all the way down").

The question best applied to figurative speech used to advance logical arguments is "how apt is the analogy," and efficiency is only one dimension of aptness. I chose to compare this trainwreck to a sudden, unexpected car accident caused by taking a sudden precaution for safety because it captured the unexpected, bolt-from-the-blue (or maybe it's from the Gray) quality of ikkyu2's departure, which neither the baby/bathwater nor the nose/face metaphor express.

If efficiency were the standard for the aptness of figurative language, literature would be science.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:42 AM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Miko, you're amazing. ikkyu2, I hope you work through whatever it is that's making it difficult for you here.
posted by mediareport at 4:50 AM on January 19, 2009


Also, any "actual Occamite" (I like it -- can I steal that?) would have declared in the first few posts that the high likelihood is that the original AskMe post was a fucking hoax and that the rest of this has been one big clusterfucking waste of time. By the time we're discussing metaphor theory several hundred posts down the page, Occam has left the building with his razor looking for someone else to slice up.


And I'll beat someone to the punch:
MetaFilter: One big clusterfucking waste of . . . oh, never mind.

posted by fourcheesemac at 4:52 AM on January 19, 2009


Miko, you're amazing

Quoted for truth.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:53 AM on January 19, 2009


The metaphoric basis of *all* natural language is one of my genuine research specializations. Our English lexicon (and indeed, any natural language lexicon) is largely made up of "reflexive chains of meta-metaphors," since very few words have a naturalistic (indexical or iconic) relationship to their referent.

I think we're on the same page here. Only, I would dispute that any signifiers have any "naturalistic" (<>
Laurie Anderson put it perfectly: language is a virus.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:58 AM on January 19, 2009


(damn, the software fucked up my comment. no matter; the main points are still there)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 AM on January 19, 2009


Didn't William S. Burroughs (there he is again!) come up with "language is a virus" first?

I will dispute the case that there are no naturalistic signifiers in language. But maybe not here. Suffice it to say I'm a Peircian, and not a Saussurian, about this. If language consisted only of "arbitrary" signs, we would have no basis for assessing the truth conditional norms that apply in any given act of discourse.

One classic example of this is deixis. While the words "you" and "me" (or "here" and "there" or "this" and "that") are arbitrary with respect to their sounds vis a vis their reference in the real world, their occupation of particular slots in the grammatical structure of a sentence is precisely not arbitrary, but dependent on shifting features of the natural context of their use. (Thus it is always great fun to play "I'm me and you're you/No, *I'm* me and *you're* you" games with little kids learning how to use first and second person pronouns. But we forget, once we've mastered it, that we had to learn to match up the arbitrary signs with the non-arbitrary grammatical categories they occupy). We could also discuss iconic signs, exclamations, and the decidedly less arbitrary non-segmental dimensions of language structure -- raising the volume and pitch of your voice in anger or alarm is pretty much universal across human cultures, for example.)

I'll save delving into Jakobson and Silverstein for another thread, though.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:07 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm often amazed by what people use MeTa for.
posted by flabdablet at 5:11 AM on January 19, 2009


this may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

It seems like that's what's happening. ikkyu2 was concerned about the larger issue for a while, and it seems as though Soulbee's death brought it into sharp focus and put him on high alert for failures of the community.

Either this place is a community or it's not. You don't get to have it both ways.

I think one danger we fall into when using the word "community" is that we're conceiving of it in some ideal sense - we're not just a population, we're a "community," and somehow the word "community" is supposed to connote a certain set of values, good feeling, belonging, etc. But MetaFilter behaves like a community even when people are behaving like assholes. There are assholes in communities. My town is a community - there are assholes and great people in it, there are people who are less engaged in civic life and people who are fully engaged, there are people who are talented and generous and there are freeloaders and naysayers and criminals. A community is just a group of people who share a common characteristic - could be geography, could be demographic, could be interests, could be participation in a program. Sometimes communities do fail. Sometimes they do some things much better than they do other things. MetaFilter may not always be functioning according to our ideals, but it's always a community, by default - it's made up of people who share the common interest of reading the site. So if we're having an issue with something going on within the community, it's a question of community values and norms - not whether it's a community. It is no matter how you slice it.

Anyway, I hope ikkyu2 returns, a lot. The site without him would be less good.
posted by Miko at 5:14 AM on January 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


it's a question of community values and norms *

...and the strength of the interpersonal bonds. Which I think is where people are locating the failure when they feel disappointed by the community. Part of operating well within in a community is understanding how the bonds are formed and how deep they can be expected to go. Sometimes I think the expectations are a little higher for the social bonds than a web community can manage - even one with pretty strong actual bonds, like this one.
posted by Miko at 5:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I go to bed, this thread is about the AskMe and its questionable validity.

I get up, and ikkyu2 has LEFT? Because of THIS?

AM I IN AN EPISODE OF SCOOBY-DOO? HUH?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:23 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Laurie Anderson put it perfectly: language is a virus.

Stolen from William S. Tell: psychotherapist extraordinnare.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:25 AM on January 19, 2009


failures of the community

No disrespect intended, but that's nonsense.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 AM on January 19, 2009


AM I IN AN EPISODE OF SCOOBY-DOO?

This is the Bizzaro World episode in which those pesky interfering kids are the people who actually kill the victim, and then they successfully manage to frame the fairground owner who gets fried on the Electric Chair in his very own Fun House.

Featuring ikkyu2 as the ghost.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:31 AM on January 19, 2009


Where can I get some of this mermaid love?

Ikkyu2 - you've been an excellent commenter for ages, please do not go. Miko's post about mental health questions and protocols is excellent - I think you could do a great deal of good here.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 5:41 AM on January 19, 2009


Ok, I'm really quite confused. How is it possible to believe, as some of you continue to believe, that this is NOT a hoax? I believe in the benefit of a doubt, and all, but did you believers skip Geoff.'s comment titled "Plagiarism or Art" up above?

The three incidents described by the OP: carbon monoxide poisoning, drowning in the ocean WHILE ISLAND HOPPING, and almost being pushed off a cliff are all in the book. So is the fact he's a handsome/popular dude and she's some average-looking girl.

Even if you overlook the hackneyed, cringe-inducing writing in the original post, I cannot fathom how this post can be real, based on how it pulls all three of its situations from an existing novel, as well as the details of its two main characters. I cannot understand how one can say there is still a "chance" the poster is telling the truth, so we should still treat this with kid gloves, you know, just in case.

Maybe you all know of island-hopping couples whose average-looking wives feel their handsome husbands are trying to kill them for insurance money using a plot from a 1970's novel? You don't think this may be a bit of a...stretch?
posted by uxo at 5:41 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


The likelihood of any one, given, specific person having two brushes with death (not three, hiking along cliffside trails while your partner makes jokes about your fear of heights while not actually making any threatening moves is not a brush with death) within a year is small, which perhaps leads some people here to question the veracity of the post.

What they forget is that it's highly likely that at least one out of tens of thousands of MeFites will have two brushes with death within a year.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:01 AM on January 19, 2009


The likelihood of any one, given, specific person having two brushes with death (not three, hiking along cliffside trails while your partner makes jokes about your fear of heights while not actually making any threatening moves is not a brush with death) within a year is small, which perhaps leads some people here to question the veracity of the post.

Falling into the water isn't a brush with death either, and the car scenario was unlikely, too.
posted by desuetude at 6:13 AM on January 19, 2009


The client I mentioned earlier as an example of working with people who are suffering paranoid delusions killed herself about a week after the intervention I described. Immediately after finding out about that I was pretty much destroyed; I really liked that client a lot, she had an amazing life story that ended in ruins because of her psychosis, and I had always felt a tremendous amount of empathy for her. However, since all this was taking place within the framework of a professional mental health treatment team I wasn't allowed to dwell on feelings of failure and regret. Client suicides become a crisis for the team that worked with them and a good mental health agency will have a mandatory clinical staff intervention at that point to help their employees process what happened. The clinical director of the agency at that time was a personal friend of mine and gave me constant assurance that I did everything I could, that every rule and regulation was followed, that there was no negligence, no short fall, no blame to be placed on anything other than the disease that had dogged this woman for 25 years, that had brought her in contact with a laundry list of professionals, in every hospital in the city, none of whom were able to help her.

If a client asked me what it was like to die by dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself on fire, as soulbee did to ikkyu2, that would become a discussion point in a clinical meeting that included the client's psychiatrist, the psychiatric nursing staff and the other social workers who were familiar with her history. There would be a broad range of input about not just medication but also psychosocial stressors and qualitative information from the team that worked with her in the community that would be used draw up an action plan that would possibly lead to a psychiatric intervention.

Ikkyu2 didn't get help after soulbee's suicide, which honestly isn't Metafilter's fault. He established a relationship with a mentally ill community member that blurred the lines between friend and patient, which is also not Metafilter's fault. Ikkyu2 was in fact providing soulbee with medical advice without being a part of her real world medical or mental health treatment network, which is not Metafilter's fault.

I think that maybe part of the problem is that there was only one doctor here, whereas if there were many doctors the doctors could check these things between themselves in order to help establish some hard standards about these types of online interactions. In the real world, psychiatrists don't operate alone, they have support staff for assisting in handling these situations, including when the relationship with a patient is maybe going in a direction that it shouldn't, that neither the general Metafilter community nor its mods can provide for the one doctor on the site.
posted by The Straightener at 6:36 AM on January 19, 2009 [17 favorites]


Peter, no intent to impugn any mods here - I often apologise when I don't think I am the one who is wrong. Standing on principle or defending a boundary isn't always the only answer.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:42 AM on January 19, 2009


A few weeks ago, I was driving home in the wee hours of the morning. As I drove along the ramp from one highway to another, I saw a car pulled over on the shoulder, and next to it, a woman, waving frantically. I pulled over and she came to my car window. She said she was out of gas, and could I give her some money to get some gas?

My first thought was to give her $10. My second was that she might be scamming me (especially, given some discussion I had read recently, on MeFi I believe, about the stories panhandlers make up). I decided right then and there that I'd rather be the sort of person who occasionally got scammed out of $10 than the sort of person who turned his back on someone legitimately in need. I offered to give her a ride to a gas station, which she declined, saying her brother was on his way to pick her up and give her a ride, which furthered my suspicion (why couldn't her brother just give her the money?), although perhaps that was just an excuse to avoid getting in a car with a strange man. Yet I still felt I had done the right thing.

How is it possible to believe, as some of you continue to believe, that this is NOT a hoax?

I do not believe that the question was a hoax. I also do not believe that the question was not a hoax. I am withholding judgment on that matter for now (and unless more information comes to light, which seems unlikely, forever). The attitude that, given a situation which might be interpreted in more than one way, one must immediately form a conclusion in favor of one interpretation or the other has always puzzled me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:50 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The likelihood of any one, given, specific person having two brushes with death (not three, hiking along cliffside trails while your partner makes jokes about your fear of heights while not actually making any threatening moves is not a brush with death) within a year is small, which perhaps leads some people here to question the veracity of the post. What they forget is that it's highly likely that at least one out of tens of thousands of MeFites will have two brushes with death within a year.

That's ridiculous. We're not talking about "two brushes with death within a year," we're talking about a post written in the style of a pop novel that rips off the plot of a pop novel. Read uxo's comment: the post is obvious, undeniable bullshit and (once again) should be deleted.

As for ikkyu2, he could be a valuable member and in that way I'm sorry he's gone, but I hope he doesn't come back unless/until he masters whatever it is that made him say such shitty things about mathowie and this community. I'm not placing blame or calling him names, and I realize he's under tremendous (partly self-created) stress, but it's not good for the site to have him ranting self-indulgently like that. "Don't let the door hit you in the ass" is unkind, but it's a natural response to a parting comment like ikkyu's.
posted by languagehat at 7:20 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


On non-preview:

I do not believe that the question was a hoax. I also do not believe that the question was not a hoax.

None so blind as those who will not see.
posted by languagehat at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2009


Ikkyu2 didn't get help after soulbee's suicide, which honestly isn't Metafilter's fault.

Am I wrong to think that NONE of us know how she died? Wasn't "suicide" an assumption that was not borne out?
posted by tristeza at 7:22 AM on January 19, 2009


DevilsAdvocate: I understand your decision and maybe you'll always do that. It's a classic scam, though. I've had it tried on me twice, and the circumstances are so similar and so agree with other cases of documented fraud that I'd have to really have some extra reasons to believe anyone who told me a story about needing gas money.

Maybe I'm just stingier with my Hamiltons, though.
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on January 19, 2009


ikkyu2's exit is certainly a loss for AskMe, but his childish temper tantrum on the way out really lacks class.
posted by caddis at 7:33 AM on January 19, 2009


Am I wrong to think that NONE of us know how she died? Wasn't "suicide" an assumption that was not borne out?

I don't think the manner of death is really the salient factor here. soulbee was a member of our community who reached out for help. ikkyu2 is one of the community members who tried his best to offer what he could. Her passing was sudden and unexpected. No matter how that happened, it's tragic. A tragedy like this, someone dying young and suddenly, is hard for anyone who was close to the deceased.

Out of respect for soulbee and her family, I think we should keep questions about the manner of death out of our grief process. What's done is done. She's gone and even if we knew the minute to minute details of how it happened, it wouldn't bring her back.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:34 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just a reminder for those still tuning in. Sometimes, people's lives can be so atypically terrible that when they ask for help, members of this community conclude that they are lying. In the instance I linked to, there was a girl asking for help. She seemed to have few resources in the real world. People jumped all over her and demanded that she prove she was real and meet someone and practically give DNA samples. Guess what? She doesn't post here anymore. I hope she found other means of help, because she seemed to be in an extremely difficult situation.

Please, just remember that there are real people with real feelings behind these posts. It's possible that the question under discussion here is a scam, in which case perhaps people in similar straights might one day be helped by good answers to it, but it's also possible that this is a genuine question from a person who appears to be in crisis.

It's not easy to ask for help. Let's not make it harder.
posted by prefpara at 7:35 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


He established a relationship with a mentally ill community member that blurred the lines between friend and patient

What? Do we know that? Your formulation seems unduly harsh given the little we know about their interaction from ikkyu2's comment in the thread about soulbee's death.

Read that comment again and tell me where he "established a relationship with a mentally ill community member that blurred the lines between friend and patient," because what I see is a doctor being approached by a troubled person out of the blue, and that doctor offering what little comment he could, given the odd limitations of this new kind of online interaction with a relative stranger, and later agonizing that "I didn't take enough care to ensure that she got the help she so obviously in retrospect needed."

Nowhere in that is anything approaching your formulation.
posted by mediareport at 7:38 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I understand your decision and maybe you'll always do that. It's a classic scam, though. I've had it tried on me twice, and the circumstances are so similar.

Thanks for the link, but one of the things that weighed in favor of giving her the money was the different circumstances from the common form of the scam. A ramp from one highway to another, where cars commonly fly by at 50-60 mph, seems a less likely place to try to pull off the scam than an off-ramp, and 3 a.m. doesn't seem to be the most profitable time to pull such a scam. Not saying it wasn't a scam, mind you, but it seems somewhat less likely than the more common form of the "out of gas" plea. Had it been 5 p.m. at a stoplight, maybe I wouldn't have given her the money.

I won't give money if I think a plea is 99% likely to be a scam (unless it's a particularly amusing plea, in which case I'll occasionally give money for the entertainment value even when I know it to be a scam), but I'll persist in giving a small amount of money even if I think something is 75% likely to be a scam and only 25% likely to be legitimate. Not that I commonly think in terms of exact probabilities such as these, of course, but just as an illustration.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2009


I too think this is a case where the mods should investigate the original post a little. Maybe it's a dead end, and I would never, ever want to compromise the anonymity of any "anon" poster who sincerely sought help here. But since the information exists, how could it hurt for a mod to chime in and say "yeah, this came from someone we have reason to believe is sincere because of her prior posting history or long-time membership" or "no, this came from someone newly signed up and we can't vouch for the poster's relationship to this community."

Some clarification here, because this (thankfully, I guess) apparently isn't something that comes up enough for our MO in these situations to be embedded in the oral metatalk tradition as it were:

- We don't know who anonymous questions are submitted by under normal circumstances.
- We can figure it out when we need to, by doing a little bit of behind-the-scenes gruntwork.
- When something is sketchy or there's a lot of public speculation that a question might not be on the level, we do just that.
- If we don't find something hinky—which is the case 99% of the time—we generally let things be.

So: eyebrows went up and I looked into it. I found no indication that the person who submitted this question was a prankster or a fraud. That doesn't prove conclusively that this wasn't some aberrant first-time journey into public fiction by an otherwise apparently trustworthy person, but the same is true for every single question posted to AskMe and we accept as part of the implicit trust of this places social contract that that is not the case barring really compelling evidence to the contrary.

The question of announcing an identity is a non-starter. Someone found fucking with the site intentionally like this would no longer be welcome here, and that's about the end of the story as far as that goes.

In the mean time, take stuff on good faith. I understand a lot of people are either leaning toward or absolutely set on the idea that this question is a hoax. I cannot tell you that you are wrong, but I can tell you that if you feel that way you need to stay out of the thread itself for damned sure. Metatalk and the contact form are both available for metacommentary and expressing concerns about this sort of thing, but as much as possible the core benefit of the doubt needs to be extended to AskMe. It's fine to not comment if you can't manage that re: a particular question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:50 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


If I were the mod here I'd apologise (even if I felt uncomfortable doing so) for my tone, and try to negotiate an understanding.

You realize ikkyu2 essentially said mathowie bore some responsibility for a person's death, and when jessamyn called him on his bullshit, pulled a 'I'm sorry that I'm not sorry,' routine, right?

I get that many people like him and value his contributions to AskMetaFilter, but, just to give another perspective from someone who also considers himself part of this community, I was actually disappointed that more people didn't counter and challenge his vile and disgusting comment - one of the few that have genuinely shocked and offended me. That it seemed people were willing to watch the angel fly by and give him a free pass on such egregious bullshit simply because he's normally a decent guy with good AskMe responses was a far greater 'failure of the community' in my eyes.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:53 AM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I guess I saw him as a good man upset and in pain, and the good training I've got in re. mental health stuff, largely from askme, caused me to read his comment and see it as a manifestation of his pain, not his character.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:58 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


also - we all bear responsibility for other people's deaths, if only in indirect ways.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:59 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Out of respect for soulbee and her family, I think we should keep questions about the manner of death out of our grief process.

I hear you, and I certainly don't need/want to know one way or the other, but it seems that if this assumption is part and parcel of ikkyu2s slag of this community and what a piece of shit it is, it seems kind of relevant. Only in that maybe ikkyu2's wrong about this one, and needs to get over himself.
posted by tristeza at 8:00 AM on January 19, 2009


How people deal with their pain can be indicative of their character.

we all bear responsibility for other people's deaths, if only in indirect ways

We'll have to agree to disagree on that one, or perhaps save it for the next 300+ MeTa.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:01 AM on January 19, 2009


Armchair psychology on a guy who left because he hates armchair psychology. Lulz, I haz them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:03 AM on January 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just chiming in with my take on the veracity of the AskMe post. As a great man once said, "I believe virtually everything I read. I feel that makes me more of a selective person than someone who doesn't believe anything they read."
posted by theroadahead at 8:09 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Out of respect for soulbee and her family, I think we should keep questions about the manner of death out of our grief process.

Agreed. I think it's disrespectful to speculate about someone's passing. She wasn't a public figure, she wasn't someone in a news story; she was a member of our community. I hope allkindsoftime never reads this thread.
posted by desjardins at 8:11 AM on January 19, 2009


>>It's just a website, you know

>No, sorry, that doesn't work. ...

Disagree with his take on this situation all you like but snarking on his grave and trotting out the "it's just a web site" canard is bullshit. If you want to give advice to suicidal people it's not just a site anymore.


I think you are misreading what I wrote, and conflating what I said with the many much harsher comments (eg "don't let the door hit you") that were made. (And I think you'll find that I'm not a frequent provider of "advice to suicidal people" -- it's outside of my competency and outside of what I think this community does well.)

I don't think acknowledging that this is a community, and remembering that it is just a website, are contradictory. My point is that when I start getting all worked up about something here, I take a break -- ten minutes, or a day, or a few days. And I focus on all the great things in my immediate life -- work, family, friends, and so on. Otherwise your blood pressure goes up and you end up doing the public flame-out, which is undignified and immature.

For example, I strongly disagree with two recent moderator decisions: to keep the question linked in this MeTa thread, and to delete the rectal porn thread the other day. Both were, in my eyes, wrong decisions made for the wrong reasons, and were decisions that were actively harmful to the sense of community here. I even went so far as to write up a long and impassioned email about this to tell the moderators in great detail why they were wrong... but you know, it's not my site, it's not my decision, and it's not worth my getting all irate about it.

So I let it go. I still think those decisions were wrong wrong wrong, but in the actual context of my life, this is small potatoes.
posted by Forktine at 8:26 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


That it seemed people were willing to watch the angel fly by and give him a free pass on such egregious bullshit simply because he's normally a decent guy with good AskMe responses was a far greater 'failure of the community' in my eyes.

It seemed more like he was lashing out in anger, so no one was taking that BS seriously. If he wants to put his big boy pants on and come back and talk about it, fine, otherwise, yeah, take a break and chill out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:28 AM on January 19, 2009


I hear you, and I certainly don't need/want to know one way or the other, but it seems that if this assumption is part and parcel of ikkyu2s slag of this community and what a piece of shit it is, it seems kind of relevant. Only in that maybe ikkyu2's wrong about this one, and needs to get over himself.

I think that we can safely say that *no matter how* soulbee died, ikkyu2 was hit hard by it and used it as an excuse to slag the mods. End of story. We do not need to speculate as to the details of her death, the only really relevant factor is that ikkyu2 used it as an excuse to mouth off.

We shouldn't use that as precedent to dig any deeper into her passing, but rather focus on the fact that a member of community got upset and left.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:32 AM on January 19, 2009


If you feel the protocols here are inadequate, I understand, but I haven't yet seen you offer an alternative suggestion for how mental health (or for that matter, physical health) questions should be handled (aside from not handling them at all).

Miko, fwiw, I think ikkyu2 did attempt this here. At least, in that thread I believe he said that health questions shouldn't be out of bounds, but that answerers should keep their comments within certain guidelines.

On the question of community responsibility, could someone explain to me in what way online answers to health questions are different from lay answers to such questions IRL? My friends and I (nearly all on medication of one kind or another, for anxiety, depression, ADHD, you name it) swap stories and suggestions all the time. The general assumption, of course, is that this is information to be used in consultation with a doctor. That framework generally seems to hold true in askme as well, and is in fact one that is heavily reinforced and underlined in just about every health question. So unless discussions about health ought to be outlawed or heavily moderated at the watercooler, as someone said in one of these threads, why the extra burden of responsibility here?

All I'm saying is that discussions and advice about health matters didn't start with the internet. Lay people have been helping each other in this way since the beginning of time. I can see how ikkyu2, as a doctor, might really agonize over bad advice. But there really is a difference between his giving bad advice professionally (and a patient's taking it) and a poster on askme doing the same. The difference is the user's responsibility to consider the source. If your doctor misdiagnoses you and you are messed up as a result, that could be medical malpractice. If your coworker misdiagnoses you and you take his advice--well, that's kinda on you, is it not?
posted by torticat at 8:58 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I note that occhiblu's account is also recently been disabled. Hmmm.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:02 AM on January 19, 2009


occhiblu's been gone (and missed) for quite a while.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:05 AM on January 19, 2009


occhiblue has been gone for a while, but can be found over at metachat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:07 AM on January 19, 2009


That it seemed people were willing to watch the angel fly by and give him a free pass on such egregious bullshit simply because he's normally a decent guy with good AskMe responses was a far greater 'failure of the community' in my eyes.

I think it's only because people have some sympathy for what he's going through. What he said about the mods is so obviously not true that it's not even worth arguing about. I'm not a big ask metafilter reader, so I don't have any personal stake, really, in whether he comes back or not. But as someone has had more than one friend commit suicide, I can really see why he would want to take a break from the community for a while. He's already a doctor, I'm sure he deals with death daily for a living, why bring more of it into your life un-necessarily? I can see the thought process here.

He clearly needs time to work this out.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


occhiblu's account has been disabled for over a year if I recall correctly.

For what it's worth Forktine, I mostly agree with you. I would have preferred, if I ran the world, to have kept the rectal porn thread and to have probably deleted this one. It's a messy balance trying to separate the practical -- people should be able to ask questions about porn here -- from the realistic -- tons of people had a strong reaction to that thread and thought it shouldn't be here. Our guidelines-based approach to site moderation means we're more likely to try to make the best of a bad situation.

I don't think the rectal porn thread was going to avoid a MeTa thread whether we left it or deleted it, once we'd made the decision to approve it. This question was similar. We try to err on approving as many anonyme questions as we can but sometimes this means presuming no ill intent from the poster which may be more forgiving than what the community decides is likely.

ikkyu2 has asked us several times to reconsider our approach to medical/mental illness questions. It's definitely something we've had many discussions about. We have similar discussions with MeFite lawyers about legal questions and so far we've been comfortable with the balance we've been able to strike but it's clear that some people are not only not pleased with our approach but it makes them very angry and/or upset. I appreciate the strong emotions that come from people caring deeply about a topic, but with a community this size, there are likely people on BOTH sides of the issue with equally strong feelings and just that fact that a topic is really important to some people is not enough of a reason for us to undo nearly a decade of evolving policy.

I'd like to think we're not keeping our heads in the sand over this but are trying to assess what's better for individual people and what's best for the community. I'm sad if ikkyu2 decides he can't be part of this, but I think he's speaking in anger -- as he's done before, which itself requires its own sort of damage control -- and frustration. This time of year is rough for people in the northern hemisphere and compassion is warranted now more than ever, in my opinion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Out of respect for soulbee and her family, I think we should keep questions about the manner of death out of our grief process.

I apologize for that, however, it's clear that from his presentation of the issue in this thread that at the very least ikkyu2 is pretty fairly convinced that she took her own life and I was simply trying to address his reaction within the framework of a similar situation in my own experience that was handled very differently because there was the kind of professional support available that one should have as a clinician handling this kind of situation.
posted by The Straightener at 9:22 AM on January 19, 2009


Wow, what a strange thread... and I'm sorry to see him go, too, although I disagree about the advice issue.

The truth is, you can get just as horrible mental health advice from so-called professionals as you can from anonymous people on the internet. at least here, you get somewhat of a range.

This is not to say that there aren't good professionals out there, only to say that, for example, in many states you can call yourself a therapist or counselor with no training whatsoever. So you can get therapists who practice completely bogus therapies and who give advice that is even more harmful because it comes with the imprimatur of being professional.

Even when there are licensing exams for addiction counselors, say, they can often be passed by simply having "experience" of recovering from addiction (no high school degree, no training other than working at one facility with one belief about addiction). And given that half of people who have addictions also have serious additional mental health problems, this is pretty horrifying because these people think they know what they are doing and do not.

If you go to an MD or PhD, you might do better-- but then again, you can also get someone who is completely out of touch with the latest evidence.

So, I think patients need to inform themselves about options and one good way of doing this is asking meta-filter. If you take the word of metafilter as the word of God, you have more problems than even a professional will be able to help anyway....
posted by Maias at 9:31 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


The truth is, you can get just as horrible mental health advice from so-called professionals as you can from anonymous people on the internet. at least here, you get somewhat of a range.

True story. Just as I testified (I feel like I should have a choir backing me up when I say that) that AskMe has provided me with excellent medical advice, I have received some HORRIBLE advice from therapists.

When my marriage was ending, I went to see a marriage counselor. I think that he would be the only person in that room to disagree with the sentiment that he made things WORSE, not better. He said a lot of things to me, and to my (now ex) spouse that were flat out insulting, not to mention IN NO WAY HELPFUL.

I've seen excellent therapists, and I've seen therapists who were surprised that I didn't show any gender confusion issues even though I am a woman who is sexually attracted to other women. THERAPISTS. Who believe that being queer means you have GENDER issues.

No profession is totally free of idiots. I respect therapists, but I am slow to jump on the "see a therapist!" bandwagon because in my own life, I've definitely had the clean-up from a bad therapist add to my list of problems.

AskMe is totally a mixed bag, but that's what you'd expect from strangers on the internets. I would definitely place AskMe in the category of "Way more helpful than not."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:37 AM on January 19, 2009


It's definitely something we've had many discussions about. We have similar discussions with MeFite lawyers about legal questions

Hah. So there *is* a cabal after all! I knew it!

What seems confusing is that some people, ikkyu2 among them, seem to be referring to facts not in evidence. I assume their statements are accurate, but I've no idea of knowing if this is the case or not.

Presumably, these are cabal members too and that's how they know this stuff?

When my marriage was ending, I went to see a marriage counselor

Come on, you can't fool me now, grapefruitmoon. I saw your photograph here last week. Fourteen year old girls can't get married.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:01 AM on January 19, 2009


Out of respect for soulbee and her family, I think we should keep questions about the manner of death out of our grief process

Speaking generally and not about the particulars of this death, the above is bugging me more and more as I consider it. There shouldn't be anything particularly shameful about a suicidal death, and we shouldn't be asked here in MetaTalk to buy into the notion that there is.
posted by mediareport at 10:18 AM on January 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think that maybe part of the problem is that there was only one doctor here,

There may be numerous doctors on site, but they may be choosing not to reveal their occupation.

For docs, giving internet advice remains a risky proposition. If they err and cause harm, they become lawsuit fodder and risk their licenses:

"There is no duty to respond to an unsolicited message or plea for assistance. These email scenarios do not approximate 'Good Samaritan' scenarios where a physician might reasonably believe there is a duty to provide assistance in an emergency. In fact, in the United States, 'Good Samaritan' statutes provide qualified immunity for health care providers who have chosen to give unsolicited assistance at the scene of an accident. Generally the statute's definition of 'scene of an accident' is narrow and would not include responding to a request for help through email."

Although the above-cited article dates from 2000, it concludes by suggesting that physicians respond to health-related inquiries in a manner similar to what is being suggested for the community-at-large -- recommend the querent seek in-person medical assistance:

"However, if the physician is unable to refrain from engaging in such a dialogue, he should be extremely circumspect in his responses, avoid engaging in differential diagnosis, and steer the patient to his or her own physician or an appropriate medical center. In the final analysis, this is not just an issue of potential liability, but of the judicious practice of good medicine."
posted by terranova at 10:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


There shouldn't be anything particularly shameful about a suicidal death, and we shouldn't be asked here in MetaTalk to buy into the notion that there is.

I don't believe that respecting privacy around the manner of one's death indicates that certain methods of death may be shameful. There are legitimate reasons to desire privacy besides avoiding shame.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:35 AM on January 19, 2009


There shouldn't be anything particularly shameful about a suicidal death, and we shouldn't be asked here in MetaTalk to buy into the notion that there is.

Oh, I agree with this. Were a MeFite to commit suicide, the same respect and courtesy should be given to someone who had a heartattack. The thing is, we don't know. And we honestly don't need to.

My concern for respect for soulbee's family has nothing to do with suicide and everything to do with the fact that the manner of death was never disclosed, which, given the friends she has in the community seems totally purposeful. It does not seem like an oversight that suicide was neither confirmed nor denied. For that reason, I think it's best not to assume anything and out of respect, to just accept that she died. However that happened doesn't matter to anyone outside her family, unless they choose to share it with the rest of us. The amount of respect her memory deserves is the same regardless of HOW she died. If someone did reveal the cause, of their own free will, the amount of respect owed would remain the same were it suicide, accident, disease, etc.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:37 AM on January 19, 2009


Out of respect for soulbee and her family, I think we should keep questions about the manner of death out of our grief process

In this case, it seems relevant. Ikkyu2 apparently feels that he (and we) could have saved her from suicide. If she didn't kill herself, that's moot, no?
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:40 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ikkyu2 apparently feels that he (and we) could have saved her from suicide. If she didn't kill herself, that's moot, no?

Given that no information was disclosed in her obituary thread, I don't think we will ever have it confirmed. ikkyu2's reaction of blaming himself (and the community) is all about his own grief process. Sure, it might help to understand where he's coming from if we did know, but we're not going to and I feel it's disrespectful to soulbee's memory and her family to continue speculation on something that we know nothing - and will know nothing - about.

My perspective is this: No matter how she died, she was a wonderful and respected member of the community. No matter how she died, ikkyu2 feels some sense of responsibility and anger. No matter what we find out, this isn't going to change. Finding out she committed suicide to me is analogous to finding out that she was gay, or transgender. It really doesn't matter and doesn't change a thing about who she was as a person and as a member of this community. There's no reason to respect her any more or less for it, but if her family doesn't want to disclose that information, we really should just leave it alone.

I think that any of us would want the same courtesy extended should any of our family members meet a tragic end.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:49 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


In this case, it seems relevant.

It is relevant to that question. However, assuaging ikkyu2's guilt seems less important than respect for soulbee and her family in this instance. If the price of not inquiring into the manner of soulbee's death is losing ikkyu2's advice from this community, I think that acceptable (and not because I don't value ikkyu2's participation here).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:52 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jess: ikkyu2 has asked us several times to reconsider our approach to medical/mental illness questions. It's definitely something we've had many discussions about. We have similar discussions with MeFite lawyers about legal questions and so far we've been comfortable with the balance we've been able to strike but it's clear that some people are not only not pleased with our approach but it makes them very angry and/or upset. I appreciate the strong emotions that come from people caring deeply about a topic, but with a community this size, there are likely people on BOTH sides of the issue with equally strong feelings and just that fact that a topic is really important to some people is not enough of a reason for us to undo nearly a decade of evolving policy.

For what it is worth, I think you guys have struck just the right balance and that was no easy feat. These are very difficult issues.
posted by caddis at 10:52 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for that report, Jessamyn. It's good to know that whatever is going on here frontstage is getting the attention and discussion of the mods behind the scenes. You guys do an amazing job, as I've said a few times in this thread. And of course there will just be cases where the community is divided, often into more than two parts, but decisions need to be made. We are bound to disagree over many things; the thing that makes a community function is managing disagreements fairly. And you guys definitely do that.

Makes me much happier to know the matter of how medical questions are dealt with has been run by MeFi's counsel, too. I'd hate to open the site one day to find it closed by a lawsuit.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2009


If the price of not inquiring into the manner of soulbee's death is losing ikkyu2's advice from this community, I think that acceptable

I'll disagree and leave it at that.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:56 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, what if her husband read the book?
posted by carsonb at 10:57 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You realize ikkyu2 essentially said mathowie bore some responsibility for a person's death, and when jessamyn called him on his bullshit, pulled a 'I'm sorry that I'm not sorry,' routine, right?

I get that many people like him and value his contributions to AskMetaFilter, but, just to give another perspective from someone who also considers himself part of this community, I was actually disappointed that more people didn't counter and challenge his vile and disgusting comment - one of the few that have genuinely shocked and offended me. That it seemed people were willing to watch the angel fly by and give him a free pass on such egregious bullshit simply because he's normally a decent guy with good AskMe responses was a far greater 'failure of the community' in my eyes.


Unfortunately, like most communities on the internet, the good aspects of community are outweighed by the bad- tribalism, increased sanctions on the outsiders, decreased sanctions on the insiders, the "how dare you try to improve the community, if you don't like it you can leave"-ism, members who begin to think they are "special" and are owed something in return for their important contributions, and who further can't be bothered with following the rules they demand the rest of the community follow. And the tendency to demand perfection from the "government". And the tendency of "the government" to get burnt out with the bullshit and make weird decisions.

I'm sorry if ikkyu2 believes he had anything to do with anyone's death. Worse, I'm sorry he thinks the operators of this site were somehow culpable. But, this is just a website. The same way a morning coffee klatch, supper club, book club, fan club, group therapy group, whatever, are just what they are. All we owe, and can expect from, each other is participation.

Now, for the conspiracy. I suspect ikkyu2 is a phoney. There is an odd thread running through his/her comments that makes it hard to believe a neurologist has time to half the stuff he/she claims to do. There just aren't that many hours in the day. And frankly, an unbelievable level of "doctor arrogance," so unbelievable that, to me, the odds tip in favor of it being someone playing a part.

If not, he/she needs to grow up and realize the world doesn't revolve them. Really- someone died because YOU couldn't read their mind from 4000 miles away? And had YOU deigned to put forth more effort, this person wouldn't have died? I doubt this person's death had anything to do with ikkyu2, no matter how much he wants to think it does.
posted by gjc at 10:58 AM on January 19, 2009


just fyi, he's not a phoney, he is actually a neurologist, multiple members of the site have confirmation of this.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:08 AM on January 19, 2009


If not, he/she needs to grow up and realize the world doesn't revolve them. Really- someone died because YOU couldn't read their mind from 4000 miles away? And had YOU deigned to put forth more effort, this person wouldn't have died? I doubt this person's death had anything to do with ikkyu2, no matter how much he wants to think it does.

The amount of heart and care that has to go in wishing one could have done something to help is commendable and central to what makes humanity good. I don't really see reason to beat up on a guy who clearly is upset because he cared about a person and wishes he could have helped.

Ikkyu2 said some stuff in his thread that was mean, but he has many times in the past done much that was commendable. It now seems like the reasons behind his outburst are clear and relate to very personal, sad issues. We can avoid be assholes here.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


nice try with the rerail, though, carsonb. Give it another shot at around 600 or so.
posted by nanojath at 11:19 AM on January 19, 2009


ikkyu2 is not a phony, as I and several others here can attest for certain, and that you'd say so pretty much diminishes the rest of your Draconian critique of the site and its community, gjc.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:36 AM on January 19, 2009


And frankly, an unbelievable level of "doctor arrogance," so unbelievable that, to me, the odds tip in favor of it being someone playing a part.

Clearly you are not socially acquainted with very many doctors.
posted by desuetude at 11:36 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, and two more words:

Drew Peterson.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:36 AM on January 19, 2009


Scott Peterson?
posted by carsonb at 11:43 AM on January 19, 2009


I have epilepsy. I have seen many neurologists. I see neurologists on a regular basis.

I do not have his medical license information, true, but everything I have read that he's posted on this site confirms that - for better or worse - ikkyu2 is a neurologist.

If you don't believe it, you simply haven't hung out with enough neurologists. (Which, y'know, isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on the circumstances of said "hanging out.")
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:45 AM on January 19, 2009


ikkyu2 is not a phony, as I and several others here can attest for certain, and that you'd say so pretty much diminishes the rest of your Draconian critique of the site and its community, gjc.

Actually, gjc's points about the pitfalls of communities was a fair assessment - I'd quibble with him about the degree to which MetaFilter is afflicted, but the fact that you characterize the criticisms regarding community insularity and popularity as "Draconian" without challenging ikkyu2's horseshit about admins "...permitting hateful, racist, sexist, classist crap to fester here on a daily basis..." could be construed as proving gjc's argument.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:47 AM on January 19, 2009


Yes, Alvy, I should be clearer that my point was that I too quibble with him about how MetaFilter is afflicted with said sins. Because in my opinion, it's a lot less afflicted with tribalism than anything equivalent, because it values individual contributions and expertise and reputation so much more than most.

Sorry, gjc's thoughtless snark about ikkyu2 being fake ticked me off. Just not necessary.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:56 AM on January 19, 2009


I got saddled with "do whatever you can for him, please" by a friend's mother when I was in high school. He's in prison working off a three-year sentence, and I'm on the other coast now.

Did I not do enough? Almost certainly. Was I given enough-- shit, was I basically enough, at 15, to do enough? Almost certainly not, and it took me years to realize that no responsible adult would've put me in the position of being a seriously troubled kid's keeper, no matter how mature I seemed for my age.

Sometimes we're not enough, and we all have to figure out how to cope with that. I would hope that ikkyu2 makes use of his offline community and finds a way to make peace with his current pain without letting it embitter him further-- because it'll be a stone bitch to do on his own, and it'll fuck him up pretty good long-term not to do it at all.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2009


Also, I didn't challenge ikkyu2's comment about the admins because it referred to an episode I did not follow in detail (indeed, as you will not above, I had forgotten it even happened) and did not have time to review in detail, so I don't quite get your point either. It hardly confirms gjc's points that I called him on a claim I know for a fact is bullshit and didn't bother to wade in to a clusterfuck about which I had no first hand knowledge of who did what to whom.

"Tribalism" is a weak charge to make against a functioning community. Would you suggest we *not* give more benefit of the doubt to long term members, members who make many substantive contributions, or people we know have significant and valuable real life experience over, say, a relatively new member? Tribalism is inherent in any community. This particular tribe is pretty damn accepting of a wide range of people and opinions as long as they are expressed in substantive and peaceable ways, I'd say. And I don't think it's any worse on the internet than in any community, mutatis mutandis (you have to allow for the destructive effects of anonymity, which it is one of the hallmarks of MetaFilter that it limits).

Maybe "draconian" is strong language for gjc's critique -- I simply meant it was applied with a broad and stereotyping brush and as a lead in to a patently false accusation about someone who is no longer here to defend himself and whom many of us like personally. But I think critical ideas get a fair hearing here most of the time, and so do criticisms, and that is perfectly reasonable to cut someone you know who's done things you respect more slack than someone you don't. If that's "tribal," get me down my war paint.

It's not as if there is no prior criticism of ikkyu2, including his apparently offensive comment, earlier in this thread. Pardon those of us who didn't choose to pile on when someone decent blew a gasket. It does happen. And when it happens to you (you in the abstract) you might hope that some people would refrain from repeating the same criticisms others are making just for the sake of pounding you into the cyber ground.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:08 PM on January 19, 2009


Maias, I favorited that so hard, I heard a knuckle crack and my left mouse button creak in protest.

I've had doctors, guys with M.D.s from non-shady places, flat up tell me things that later research I performed in the library proved to be not-true. The idea that, when it comes to issues of physical and mental health, the only allowable response is "see a doctor/therapist" ... that just sticks in my craw. It's great if people say it, but the concept that it is the only thing which "should" be said is not only not going to happen, it's a pretty icky idea in what it has to say about people as a whole.

And I can't emphasize enough your comment about range, which is typically more important than groupthink and consensus. It helps the poster realize, "The vast majority of people are suggesting I'm paranoid. Not all, but most." Sometimes a little dissent is more convincing than lockstep agreement.
posted by adipocere at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's worth remembering too that a neurologist is not the same as a psychiatrist, and ikkyu2 not only could not have stopped soulbee's death (we assume) but he may not even have been exceptionally qualified to try.
posted by Rumple at 12:26 PM on January 19, 2009


Oh, and two more words:

Drew Peterson.


Drew Peterson's a neurologist?
posted by scody at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hah. So there *is* a cabal after all! I knew it!

I wish it were possible for a bunch of people to simply get together for a social chitchat about lawyerish questions and other matters over a carafe or two of the finest wines known to humanity without everybody getting all cabal this and cabal that all the time.

Maybe you'd get off Our case if We abandoned the pointy white hoods?
posted by the Cabal at 1:15 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, Drew Peterson is a NewUxorologist.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2009


I suspect ikkyu2 is a phoney.

Haha. So now that we've chased away the talent, we're left with typical batshitinsanse internet conspiracy theories. Whats next? Kevin Trudaeu-esque answers to medical questions?
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:44 PM on January 19, 2009


the only allowable response is "see a doctor/therapist"

Users rely on AskMe in much the same way that people have relied on folk remedies and advice for centuries, and many times it serves them well. I have seen it on AskMe many times. To say that every person who comes with a headache must be told to go to a doctor to confirm they don't have a brain tumor is falling prey to the same legalistic rhetoric that have come to accompany every bottle of aspirin. That message on the bottle of aspirin is not given out of any genuine concern, but disclaimer. And, while I respect ikkyu's position of professional concern (as much as I can forgive his inadequately professional conduct given the origins of his anger), it strikes me as much as a disclaimer as it does "necessary" advice.

It is the safest response for sure, both in terms of being able to avoid feeling personally responsible when the recipient of the advice does something harmful, and any potential culpability afterward. I dont' think ikkyu2's position can fully be captured within this dynamic though, it's coming from an honestly offered professional discourse that takes its methods very seriously and looks askance of information coming from outside of its credentialed circle, for reasons of effectiveness and integrity as much as culpability. And I can respect the articulation of the flaws of an information and advice system that relies on a post-fact moderation of asynchronous communication by a (relatively) open cohort of participants. This is not a perfect advice system, and it most certainly isn't perfect medicine. But to indict the entire system because we have discovered it has weaknesses is, in my mind, the least productive response. If the entire advice-seeking public could afford to see a doctor/therapist for every symptom/delusion under which they suffer, we would have a better society, but this simply isn't the case. In the meantime, between the poles of "screaming into the wind" and "seeking qualified medical advice EVERY time," we have AskMe.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I suspect ikkyu2 is a phoney.

It's bigger than that. This site is only pretending to be Metafilter. Total spoof. I found the real one in Wikipedia.
posted by terranova at 1:55 PM on January 19, 2009


So now that we've chased away the talent

Not really, no.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suspect that Ikkyu is a dead Japanese poet.

Pretty sure, actually.
posted by everichon at 2:11 PM on January 19, 2009


I'm sorry to see ikkyu2 go and hope he finds a way to participate here again. I originally added, "maybe a way that doesn't depend upon his ability to help others," but I wonder if that would have any interest to him. If that's the driving passion of his life, and if he can't do that on Metafilter, I can understand it feeling like a waste of time. Or worse, if he fears he may be actually harming others or seeing harm occur that he can't stop, then I can understand him needing to stay far away from Metafilter. If "ability to truly help (or at least stop harm)" is the standard for his success, a standard by which he thinks he failed, I have to respect that standard and his desire to leave the site. I wish it were otherwise (and don't agree with the attacks on the mods) but respect it. Apologies to ikkyu2 if I'm jumping to conclusions or misunderstanding; I'm just typing as I try to make a little sense out of his departure.

I do see a lot of posts in his history that are more about just having fun, so maybe there's a way for him to participate in the future.
posted by salvia at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2009




Ha, no, he's not a phony, ffs. I contracted for him IRL, got paid a piece of that big fat doctor money.

After this, I checked in with him as such. He's written about his decision to button on his rarely-used blog, and said that I could put it here if I liked. I understand where he's coming from, and maybe his written description will help others to do the same. To me, it really is a bummer (when anybody leaves, honestly) and I can be relied upon to pester him to come back, but I honestly don't know what the odds are of that.

I'll be sniffing noobs for faint traces of besocked ikkyuness, though.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:43 PM on January 19, 2009


"as such," meaning as a friend. Somehow the "I consider him a friend." was lopped off by my horrid unfixable trackpad with tap to click HALP. On non-preview, who cares? I was beaten to it anyhow!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:44 PM on January 19, 2009


Thank you for posting ikkyu2's comments, Ambrosia Voyeur. His reasoning seems sound to me. I am sorry to see him go and wish him best of luck.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:04 PM on January 19, 2009


(I guess I should technically be thanking anastasiav... for some reason the longer comment registered with me and that was the link I clicked. Thanks to you both, then.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:05 PM on January 19, 2009


That's an excellent explanation from him, clear enough. It does still nag at me, though, why there can't be guidelines for web communities (maybe not for here, given that there was sort of an attempt, but a general standard) - because there are such guidelines in other places where laypeople discuss mental health - schools, workplaces, camps. So it's not as though doctors never participate in the creation of the guidelines. But it's a question that can rest until one day I meet him and we talk about it, and above all I can respect just not feeling that's a major personal project. Sometimes it's great when people can take something that's a bugbear for them and turn it into a solution, so I thought it was worth suggesting.
posted by Miko at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2009


Tangentially related: Schizophrenia and bipolar may be the same disease. Disclaimer: features a quote from my former doc.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:13 PM on January 19, 2009


I can't believe people are still seriously discussing the idea that the poster is paranoid or a potential murder victim.

One of the biggest weaknesses of ask.me relationship questions, I realised a while ago is that people bring their own baggage to the party. In particular there are always responders who are:

a) Working out their own issues in their answers. They aren't really answering the asker's question, as such, they're talking about their own baggage via the forum ask provides.

b) Falling into that category of people so hopped up on their own misogny or misandry that ask is a forum to vent about how bad women or men are, specifically though giving advice which, again, has less to do with the question and more to do with their own issues. They can always believe the worst of women or men, or the best of the opposite gender in the question. They wade into questions with a bunch of gendered strawmen they then hack, slash, and set on fire.

i think it's interesting that no one has suggested that it might be the husband who made this post in an attempt to see whether his so far unsuccessful attempts would be taken seriously if his wife complained about them - or whether these might be potentially good ways to get rid of her, if he hasn't tried them yet

You, sir, have the most delightfully twisted mind I've encountered in a while. Assuming you're throwing that out there for amusement value. If not, perhaps I have some UFO pamphlets I could interest you in...

is there any good reason to have life insurance when you are young and have no children?

My wife and I got life insurance around the time we got married (OMG I AM TRYING TO KILL HER!) for what might seem, unless you've thought about it, quite significant chunks of money: it basically boiled down to covering the costs if one of us died, and letting us not have to work for a year or two afterward. I chucked extra on my policy because I wanted to make sure she could get a house, on top of that, since I we had a big income disparity at that stage of our lives. The premiums were so cheap you could get a solid chunk of insurance for bugger all money, and make sure the person left behind had time and space to grieve without worrying too much about money.

I'll close up shop here.

That did not wendell.
posted by rodgerd at 3:36 PM on January 19, 2009


hmmm. I read Ikkyu2's explanation on his blog, and while I can understand his logic, I still don't see why he had to quit the site. Couldn't he just ignore all the mental-health-related stuff? I mean, hell, there's a whole slew of topics that I've put on my "block list" simply because I don't like the way they're discussed here. Doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the rest of the site.

I can only assume Ikkyu2's departure is some sort of boycott or protest, which basically means flameout/drama/hissyfit. I mean, good luck trying to influence people that way. You'll be quickly forgotten, although occasionally linked to when people want to illustrate "what happened the last time we talked about this."
posted by Afroblanco at 3:48 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That did not wendell.

Can we please put this one to bed? It wasn't all that funny originally and by now it's really desperately leaden.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:57 PM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


"So: eyebrows went up and I looked into it. I found no indication that the person who submitted this question was a prankster or a fraud. That doesn't prove conclusively that this wasn't some aberrant first-time journey into public fiction by an otherwise apparently trustworthy person..."
posted by cortex at 1:50 AM on January 20

So cortex, just for the sake of clarity, which of the following criteria does the person who asked the question fit into?

a) Is what you would consider to be a long time member
b) Has a long and detailed posting history
c) Is a new(ish) member with no real posting history but has not yet presented herself as being a prankster

Please tick as applicable.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:01 PM on January 19, 2009


"[In reference to the 'wendell' meme] Can we please put this one to bed? It wasn't all that funny originally and by now it's really desperately leaden."
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:57 AM on January 20

Agreed. I've been advocating for using godawful as a replacement. And I'm gonna keep on advocating until this catches on! So in this instance we could say;

This whole thing has been godawful.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:08 PM on January 19, 2009


Just for the sake of clarity: not going there, kind of hoping you're joking here, can't really tell, and, to repeat, no.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:09 PM on January 19, 2009


My question to cortex was clearly godawful!

Sorry.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:13 PM on January 19, 2009


I was struck by this part of ikkyu2's response to Miko's suggestion:
Such a standard already exists de facto. The standard is clear: it is "don't do it." The hundred or so doctors and lawyers who are familiar with what I do on MeFi have been unanimous in greeting it with, first, stunned disbelief, and then exhortations, often loud, to quit doing it. These are not people who hate health or lack compassion; they are highly ethical, brilliant professionals and the unanimity of their advice has made an impression on me.
The thing is, you can't say, "don't do it." It's going to happen regardless, if not here then elsewhere. Saying "don't do it" is sort of like having abstinence-education instead of sex education. People have always -- always -- asked their peers for advice, including health advice and mental health advice, for good or ill. And now, in this new millenium, we ask our peers on the web. To say otherwise is simply denial.

I have confidence in the mods here. AskMe is not on auto-pilot, and it has successes as well, as we saw upthread. Knowing that the Internet is a channel that troubled people will use to seek solace or assistance, regardless of what professionals advice, I'd rather also know that standards for screening questions (and answers) were vetted by some professional standards. In the absence of that, the mods are doing a great job.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:14 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I agree with almost everything ikkyu2 said: people give a ton of bad advice to mentally ill people and that advice might do harm. But I think he drastically underestimates the value of a free forum like AskMe. Maybe it is because of his job and he is predisposed to that evaluation, in the same way that lawyers tend to have conniptions over the legal questions on AskMe. It's natural to value your own sandbox.

Cars kill tens of thousands of people in the USA every year, but their value is inestimable. A relatively lightly moderated AskMe gives bad advice to people with no way to filter that advice (the mentally ill) but the cost of heavier moderation is not at all trivial, and ikkyu2 doesn't recognize that.
posted by Justinian at 4:14 PM on January 19, 2009


but the cost of heavier moderation is not at all trivial, and ikkyu2 doesn't recognize that.

No, but he's done what he can do which is that he's choosing not to contribute. He tried to change the system, and it wasn't possible, so he's backing out because he feels ethically obligated to do so. In any situation you always have the option to leave if you don't like what's going on. Doesn't somebody advocate that anytime there's a flameout? Why should it be different if the person comes to that decision on their own? It's still a totally valid choice. You don't have to participate in anything that you consider to be amoral. (I think, once again, that Gandhi might have said something like that.)

Much as I'd like to see him come back, his convictions on this are pretty strong and he'd be a fairly lousy doctor, not to mention a lousy MeFi contributor, without them.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:21 PM on January 19, 2009


What's wrong with "This will harm my cortex"?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 PM on January 19, 2009


I kind of agree with ikkyu2, which is one of the reasons I tend to avoid the more personal AskMe threads. On the other hand, I see three problems with his position, just off the top of my head:

1) You rarely know for sure if or when you might be dealing with a genuinely mentally or emotionally ill user online, so limiting potentially harmful interactions can be a guessing game, at best.

2) Given that needy users will continue to ask questions and interact with the community, often in ways that are not clear-cut or obvious, if the most experienced, clear-headed individuals opt out on principal, the neediest among us will be left with nothing but noise.

3) And if we shut these threads down for fear of ever saying the wrong thing, that will mean there is one less place for them/us to go.

I'm not saying I have any answers to those dilemmas. Just that they concern me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:32 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


IRFH: it's especially concerning if the result is to push more people towards Yahoo Answers.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:39 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope the mental health discussions don't shut down. They have helped me immeasurably. I am a much more stable and healthy person than I was when I first started interacting on the site, and the honesty and openness in AskMe is owed some credit for that.
posted by batmonkey at 4:40 PM on January 19, 2009


I can't believe I read the whole thing.
posted by klangklangston at 4:46 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Boy, the timing of this post couldn't be more apt.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:55 PM on January 19, 2009


I can't believe I read the whole thing.

Did you?
posted by jamjam at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2009


The thing is, you can't say, "don't do it." It's going to happen regardless.

I thought he was talking about advice he was getting from other doctors re. his participation. In that respect, I think he *was* correct insofar as you don't get many doctors offering free medical advice over the net.

I also think, in regard to AskMe, there's an issue is that because it's moderated, and has a fairly high prevalence of smart professionals contributing, you may be more inclined to give it more credence than you would a group of random assholes posting in an unmoderated forum. I think others have already spoken elequently here about the difficulty someone with a serious mental health problem may have in evaluating the quality of the advice offered, and choosing between a range of widely differing opinions.

A relatively lightly moderated AskMe gives bad advice to people with no way to filter that advice (the mentally ill) but the cost of heavier moderation is not at all trivial, and ikkyu2 doesn't recognize that.

Do we have clear information one way or the other about the respective outcomes here? I don't think we do, and that we're really just guessing, or drawing on our own values/prejudices about the costs and the benefits. For every person who pipes up and says 'AskMe helped me', there may well be ten more who believes they got bad advice that hurt them and they simply left and didn't report their problems. We just don't know.

Aside from his ungenerous comments about the mods, I found myself heavily persuaded by his comments on his LiveJournal. Given that a central tenet of medical ethics is the exhortation to 'first do no harm', his continued participation would have been validating a forum that be believed had the potential to be harmful -- and I can absolutely see how he'd draw that conclusion. Given that, his withdrawal seemed less like a hissy fit, and more like an inevitable decision that was probably somewhat overdue.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:16 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Boy, the timing of this post couldn't be more apt.

For what it's worth, we contacted mediocre directly and he's okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:17 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read ikkyu2's explanation, and while I'm glad to hear that his departure doesn't seem to be indicative of any deeper issues of depression, I did find this...

To those of you who insulted me, well, you publically insulted a person.

...to be revealingly blind to the fact that mathowie -- who ikkyu2 feels free to publicly blame for a suicide that we don't even factually know to have happened -- is a person, too.

So while I, too, hope he comes back to Metafilter one day to share his medical expertise, I hope he brings with it a sincere apology to Matt et al., as well as a little more humility in a general and a little less contempt for those who happen to disagree with him in particular.
posted by scody at 5:22 PM on January 19, 2009 [13 favorites]


"Did you?"

Yeah!

For what it's worth, we contacted mediocre directly and he's okay."

I know it makes me a bad person, but I couldn't help but giggle over the juxtaposition of "mediocre" and "okay."

Hope the dude gets the help he needs. He's just kinda at that stage where he realizes that he fucked up and now needs to undertake the (overwhelming) job of un-fucking up, something that most people have to do sooner or later, and that there's not a tremendous amount of advice for aside from, well, you don't have to stay fucked up if you don't want to, people will help, and it's going to be OK.
posted by klangklangston at 5:48 PM on January 19, 2009


I think it's very telling that ikkyu2's explanation for his departure still does not address a core issue that's come up in every single one of these discussions about medical advice on AskMe over the years. torticat stated it above:

All I'm saying is that discussions and advice about health matters didn't start with the internet. Lay people have been helping each other in this way since the beginning of time.

It's a key point. To the best of my knowledge, ikkyu2 has never directly addressed this criticism, not even in his many responses to other points in his "AskMe-screws-the-pooch" MeTa from December 2007. About halfway through that thread, pardonyou? raises the same point:

People always have and always will ask family, friends, and neighbors about these issues. Why make AskMe less useful than the backyard fence?

ikkyu2 comments 8 more times in that thread after pardonyou's directly relevant question, but never once addresses it. This is a consistent pattern in pretty much every discussion on this topic. To me, it's the core point that punctures all - and, seriously, I mean ALL - of ikkyu2's outrage at MeFi.
posted by mediareport at 6:10 PM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


My participation was an experiment on my part...

Publish data and thoughtful analysis, or it didn't happen.
posted by johnjoe at 6:19 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sad to see ikkyu2 go, but I won't feel oh-so-horrible about offering "trust your instincts" to anyone in that (hypothetical) situation. Perhaps I should have screamed GET A THERAPIST, but at that point it was called out as sort of scammy.

Yes, my experiences dictate how I answer questions. I've also worked with the mentally ill, mentally retarded and physically handicapped for 17 years and have enough little letters after my name and enough get-kicked-when-you're-down experiences to answer, if you think someone is trying to kill you, listen to your gut.

I stand by that 100%.

Double fucked if this was all some jokey bullshit.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:37 PM on January 19, 2009


Ha, I should quickly clarify that if you have a history of paranoia or mental health problems, a recent traumatic brain injury or anything that would impair rational thought, and any other disclaimer I could make in this situation, you should see your health care provider immediately and take general precautions.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:47 PM on January 19, 2009


Wow. AskMe has been an...interesting place the past two weeks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 PM on January 19, 2009


For what it's worth, we contacted mediocre directly and he's okay.

Glad to hear it, thanks!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:50 PM on January 19, 2009


"People always have and always will ask family, friends, and neighbors about these issues. Why make AskMe less useful than the backyard fence?"

At a guess, because of The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. When you get medical advice from family, friends and neighbours, you get that advice knowing if these people can be trusted and that as friends and family they're likely to have some degree of actual concern for your medical maladies. Plus they know they're likely to see you again, in person, so the chances of them telling you to do something harmful is mitigated by the fact there could be some kind of retribution for what they've said.

But as The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory aptly demonstrates, anonymous strangers don't share the same conditions as family, friends and neighbours, and many of these people could potentially have actual malicious intentions.

In short, I see your point, but I totally see where ikkyu2 is probably coming from.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:53 PM on January 19, 2009


So is ikkyu2 opposed to all medical advice giving on Metafilter, or just advice on mental health related matters? Does anyone know? Does it even matter?

ikkyu2 has never directly addressed this criticism

It's possible that some people believe that there's a qualitative difference between advice over the fence from your neighbour and advice from somewhere like AskMetafilter. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's more than possible -- many people in this thread have attested to what they regard as the superior advice-giving power of the hive mind.

If you ask your next door neighbour whether you might be suffering from tertiary syphilis and what you should do about it, when they tell you to bury a toad in the garden, at least you *know* that they aren't a doctor, and that you should take their advice with a grain of salt.

If you ask Ask Metafilter the same question, most people will tell you to see a doctor. Some people might tell you to bury the toad. Other people might tell you that the best cure is sleeping with a virgin. As the poster, you get to pick and choose the answer that best meets your prejudices and/or value system.

I see it as being a little bit like Wikipedia. 95% of the time, AskMe will be good enough for your purposes. The 5% of the time when it isn't, it could result in terrible disasters. I'm not a big AskMe user, but I'm sufficiently aware of my own limitations to stay out of that kind of thread. And while you obviously get a lot of thoughtful and useful answers, I do see a lot of people who either don't appear to struggle with doubts about certainty and often express a degree of certainty with regard to the advice that they issue that appears to me to be completely unwarranted.

flabdablet's responses in the thread in question are a good example of this, IMO.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:57 PM on January 19, 2009


If Metafilter strikes you as nothing but a random gathering of anonymous strangers you're doing it wrong.
posted by Justinian at 6:58 PM on January 19, 2009


Effigy, AskMe's guidelines are about as good a counter to the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory as you're likely to find online. And "actual malicious intentions" have never really been a serious point in this debate. In short, I doubt the GIFT is relevant here.
posted by mediareport at 7:00 PM on January 19, 2009


Publish data and thoughtful analysis, or it didn't happen.

And remember that in science, a negative result is still a result.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2009


The problem I have with ikkyu2's reasoning is that I think he's confusing a public forum with a private practice. I concur with mediareport; he's never effectively answered the question of what's different about an Internet community and the back fence.

The one difference I'd offer is that an Internet community is very, very public. Ask a question on AskMe and it's in Google for everyone to see and take advice from. OTOH, it also means people in the know could answer, where it'd just be rude if some doc leaned in to a coffee shop conversation to tell off someone for suggesting that acai could help someone's depression.

But, ultimately, his view reduces to "no medical questions ever." There's just too much of a chance that someone will try to armchair diagnose. But not only is that just denying the reality on the ground (people will still be asking those questions somewhere on the Internet) it also sets a poor precedent for future controversies. It implies, as well, there's only one answer to medical questions, which isn't exactly true.

On a personal, legal level, maybe he needs to stay out of these questions. But the problem is the questions will keep coming, and even if you stop them from coming here, they'll go somewhere else. At least there's give and take here, mostly.
posted by dw at 7:08 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"If Metafilter strikes you as nothing but a random gathering of anonymous strangers you're doing it wrong."
posted by Justinian at 12:58 PM on January 20

Oh please. While some of us might be able to identify a dozen or so members by name at the drop of a hat, how many of the 40,000+ members here do you know as well as you do your friends and family?

This place has its valued personalities and contributors, I grant you, but by and large yeah, this place is a gathering of anonymous strangers and acknowledging that does not mean you're "doing it wrong."

"Effigy, AskMe's guidelines are about as good a counter to the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory as you're likely to find online."
posted by mediareport at 1:00 PM on January 20

And yet we still felt the need to question if the original question that started this whole godawful mess was someone gaming us. And we all know that the crazy responses do still occassionally get through, despite some excellent moderation on the part of jessamyn et al. And given what I said above, yeah, I think the GIFT is pretty damn relevant a reason to take what AskMe says with a grain of salt.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:12 PM on January 19, 2009


his continued participation would have been validating a forum that be believed had the potential to be harmful -- and I can absolutely see how he'd draw that conclusion.

Thank you for this insight, PeterMcDermott.

His reputation here is such that the mere potential that ikkyu2 might contribute to a medical question thread, or even only that he might be reading it, gave an added weight of credibility to every answer of any medical question, in my opinion. When he concluded, finally, that such answers were doing more harm than good, perhaps he felt he had no choice other than to withdraw.
posted by jamjam at 7:36 PM on January 19, 2009


I stand corrected. Hey, I was just putting it out there

However, further comments bring up an interesting point: ikkyu2's blog post contains a nice justification as to why he left. Good for him. It also contains what I think are his misconceptions:

1- that he can determine when someone is mentally ill over the internet
2- that such a person is therefore probably incapable of discriminating good advice from bad.

I think the combination of those two, combined with someone who takes their profession seriously, are guaranteed to eventually cause a meltdown.

As always, the advice given here on any subject is guaranteed to be worth exactly what you paid for it- darn near nothing. CAN it be better? Heck yeah, that's why we are here and not on yahoo answers.
posted by gjc at 8:05 PM on January 19, 2009


His reputation here is such that the mere potential that ikkyu2 might contribute to a medical question thread, or even only that he might be reading it, gave an added weight of credibility to every answer of any medical question, in my opinion.

Surely, that would be completely undermined by the total absence of credibility that my presence lends to everything around here. Not to mention that other guy. I forget his name; you know who I'm talking about.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:11 PM on January 19, 2009


A different take:

His reputation here is such that the mere potential that ikkyu2 might contribute to a medical question thread, or even only that he might be reading it, gave an added weight of credibility to every answer of any medical question, in my opinion.

It also led to a lot of thread-shitting. How can you have a conversation about a topic when every time you try to figure something out, some know-it-all comes in and shuts it down with their valuable opinion? Not saying that ikkyu2 has ever given wrong advice, just that the tone becomes stifling.

When he concluded, finally, that such answers were doing more harm than good, perhaps he felt he had no choice other than to withdraw.

See, I just don't answer questions when I feel like my answer won't be helpful.
posted by gjc at 8:11 PM on January 19, 2009


It also contains what I think are his misconceptions:
1- that he can determine when someone is mentally ill over the internet


Interesting, because my reading is the exact opposite -- his concerns are based on the fact that he actually *can't* determine when someone is mentally ill. Can't use a whole range of diagnosic skills based on observation. Often can't interrogate the poster, asking for further information.

With such limited access to information, offering medical advice must seem pretty hit and miss, even at the best of times. And I imagine that a doctor must also think -- If I've got all these anxieties about the appropriateness of the advice I offer, how can all these other jackasses, whose knowledge and skills are far more limited than mine, go dishing out quasi-medical advice, willy-nilly?

I do think that what such a point of view ignores is the value of shared experiences -- something you do see an awful lot of on AskMe. I know that the stuff that I notice tends to be less the stuff that says 'You have condition X. See a doctor now', and more of the stuff that says, 'I used to feel like that at some point in my life and it had such and such an impact. I eventually did Y, and the outcome was Z.'

That kind of thing seems to me to be a fairly useful use of the site, and I find it much less problematic than the amateur remote diagnosics that you see there from time to time.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:43 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


How can you have a conversation about a topic when every time you try to figure something out, some know-it-all comes in and shuts it down with their valuable opinion?

So what, you don't like it when experts post here about their field because it ruins the chat?
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:34 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Saying "don't do it" is sort of like having abstinence-education instead of sex education.

This a very succinct analogy for what I think is the paramount concern. More information always trumps no information.
posted by Miko at 9:43 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think every member of this community (mentally ill, or not) needs to have a caveat emptor policy, which I think MeFi does. I think of this site as a casual advice service/community, and personally, I enjoy reading the stories and hearing the good and bad advice. Makes me think, I learn a lot, and sometimes share my thoughts. (see, right now I'm sharing that everyone ought to buy into this caveat emptor policy).

Lastly, I think there is a difference between an 'expert' and a 'know-it-all', and perhaps this is what gtc meant. One adds to the conversation, the other shuts it down.
posted by anitanita at 10:17 PM on January 19, 2009


This place has its valued personalities and contributors, I grant you, but by and large yeah, this place is a gathering of anonymous strangers

See, I think this is completely wrong. The idea that the place isn't just a gathering of a bunch of anonymous strangers is the foundation of the rules. The light-handed moderation. The trust of users until they show they don't deserve it. The, yes, higher expectations in terms of discourse and such than at most internet hangouts. That's what you get when you don't treat everyone like a bunch of random internet anonymous fuckwads.

There's a HUGE middle ground between "bunch of anonymous strangers" and "know someone as well as your family". Otherwise there would be precisely four people who didn't qualify as anonymous strangers in my worldview which is clearly ridiculous.
posted by Justinian at 10:53 PM on January 19, 2009


Hey, here's an updated thread from RelationshipFilter that ended well.

It's interesting to note how many of the comments that were favorited turned out be wrong. I mention this only as reminder (to myself too!) that there are real people behind all these questions and a bit less of the harsh might be good for the site.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 AM on January 20, 2009


So what, you don't like it when experts post here about their field because it ruins the chat?

What about when they're wrong? There have been times when ikkyu2 posts incorrect information about subject matters he is not an expert in, but his reputation as an "expert" gives the false information legitimacy. It's a general problem of trust for many answered questions on AskMe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:34 AM on January 20, 2009


So, again, are you saying having experts around is a negative? You know that's nonsense.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:44 AM on January 20, 2009


So what, you don't like it when experts post here about their field because it ruins the chat?

So, again, are you saying having experts around is a negative? You know that's nonsense.


I could have made my point in a more nuanced manner...

What I meant to say is going into a thread and using the expert tone and sort of unquestionable rhetoric, it shits on the thread by dissuading further people from offering their opinions and the questioner from clarifying and/or considering alternate answers.

Made up example:

Q- My hard drive is making a funny noise, help!

X- What kind of noise?

Y- I'm an MCSE, I see this all the time. Your hard drive is experiencing heat related failure. Back up all your data NOW and have the Geek Squad sell you a new one. I'm surprised it works at all.

Z- Yeah, what kind of noise is it?

Y- Look, I already gave an answer. Do what I said.

X- How do we know what the problem is until we explore the problem further?

Y- I don't know why anyone is questioning my answer, what's the point of having experts around if nobody will do what I say?

How is that helpful? The expert solution may well be correct, but the process of drilling down the root cause and looking at the breadth of offered solutions is useful to the readership as a whole, as well as future people who might search for similar keywords. The value of experts isn't in question, it's the tone.

(For the interested, in my made up question, the asker had a loose bracket in their "hard drive" (mistaking the whole computer as the hard drive) rattling against one the case. Had the expert not shit on the thread, they would have found the real solution without going to the Geek Squad...)
posted by gjc at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2009


It feels like a long time ago:
when answering a question do you say "Well I am a doctor and I think this"? Personally, I think that is kind of childish. If your advice doesn't stand on it's own merits then you need to write better answers. Also, if the person you are talking to needs to hear your credentials to take you seriously you probably don't want them taking you seriously.
posted by Chuckles at 2:45 AM on July 16, 2005 [+] [!]
I notice andrew cooke's comments in that thread. Another expert who couldn't handle the way AskMe gets administered -- for entirely different, and probably contradictory reasons to ikkyu2's.
posted by Chuckles at 8:57 AM on January 20, 2009


made-up examples! you can prove anything with made-up examples.

i get the point about the know-it-all tone throwing a wet blanket over a thread, but i think that example was precisely the opposite way around. one of ikkyu2's gripes, if i understand correctly, was that it's difficult or impossible to do the requisite drilling down, especially for anonymously posted questions.

in that sense, the true expert would've been the one saying "hang on, don't jump to conclusions. how do we know what the problem is until we explore the problem further?" whereas the hack would be the one jumping to the single answer that seems most obvious to them, without any further investigation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2009


So, again, are you saying having experts around is a negative? You know that's nonsense.

The problem is in automatic trust put in self-proclaimed "experts" who comment on subjects they know little or nothing about. You don't think that's a negative? You know that's nonsense.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 AM on January 20, 2009


"Jessamyn in particular is a person with good judgment, and she is a professional librarian who was appointed as a site moderator by a Jrun programming expert. While these are impressive qualifications, and I value them, they do not especially privilege her opinions about mental illness."

That statement by ikkuyu2 is incredibly rude. As for the rest of his explanation - some of it makes sense, but some is just ludicrous. He links to crazymeds.com as misinformation, when he clearly said in his "rules":

"GOOD uses of AskMe Health include asking for people's own experiences with symptoms, illnesses, procedures, or treatments, or their own reactions to diagnoses or things their doctors proposed. Also GOOD is asking for general information about an illness, disease, procedure, symptom, or drug. GOOD is also asking how to carry out medical advice ("My doctor said I have to be gluten free, what can I eat?!?!?")

BAD is asking for a diagnosis or asking for specific treatment advice."

CrazyMeds is (mainly) records of personal experiences with various drugs - so how is that different from what he outlined above? How is it different from me asking someone at the office about what their experience was on X drug was, since they mentioned they had used it, and my doctor wants me to try it? Answer : It's not. It may be misinformation, but I recognize it that possibility, and proceed accordingly. The "lay web" has no lock on misinformation and misdiagnosis, as mentioned above - there are many of us who have received incorrect, potentially dangerous information from our in-person medical providers. At the end of the day, WE are responsible for our mental and physical well-being - it's our responsibility to process what we're told or have read.
posted by HopperFan at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the problems you are all raising, as are the problem ikkyu2 raised, are simply problems of discourse in any community. The false weight of mistaken experts is a problem in any community. The danger of bad advice is a problem in any community. How do you propose to solve these problems without resorting to banning all discussion?

That seems to me the crux of the issue. If we want to exchange information through talk, how can the communitiy mitigate the influence of misinformation? If the danger of some misinformation outweighs the danger of no good information, shouldn't the site just shut down? Does the danger of misinformation in fact outweigh the availability of good information?

Again, there's nothing about what happens here that is endemic to a website. From a pragmatic view, I believe the site does much more good than ill. But it's not essentially different from a water cooler, a library, a newspaper advice column, a group of teenage friends, a Bible study group, a self-help seminar, a row of barstools, a hair salon, or any other place in which people might exchange information. Some will be good, some bad. The chances are, the more information that's shared, and the more perspectives included in the respondent pool, including some from experts when available, the greater the likelihood that some good information will be included as well. From that point forward, only the reader's critical thinking can be a guide to how the advice is implemented (or not). And I can't support the idea of alternatives that insist people's thoughts after being exposed to information is somehow the site's responsibility. That, to me, would be awfully paternalistic and anti-knowledge.

We owe it to our communities to be as responsible and as kind as we can in sharing what we know. Perhaps our community values here should include more humility and more qualification of our statements. But misinformation and recourse to poorer resources only thrives in a vacuum. Whatever solutions we offer here should result in information available on Ask that is at least as good, and hopefully better, than the information easily (and perhaps even mor readily) available elsewhere.
posted by Miko at 12:58 PM on January 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Of course there is bad advice, and there is also good advice and it is the responsibility of the person asking the question to sift through all the advice and assess their situation in light of it. Trying to shield them from bad advice will not succeed and will all too often end up shielding them from good advice as well. ikkyu2's version is quite paternalistic. I hate that and as a patient I do not want my doctor shielding me from outside information. Your doctor is your best source of information but doctors are not infallible. A well informed patient will get better care from their doctor than an ill informed one who leaves it all up to their doctor. This is just as true for mental illness as for mysterious pains.
posted by caddis at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2009


While these are impressive qualifications, and I value them, they do not especially privilege her opinions about mental illness.

At this point I might as well call shenanigans.

Speaking as a person gifted with bipolar awesomeness, and always taking plenty of time to discuss such matters with anybody else I meet similarly gifted, or else gifted with other kinds of mental awesomeness, here's the more-or-less general consensus:

We do not especially privilege doctors' opinions about mental illness. In fact, the best way I'd put it is that doctors are tolerated as a vaguely useful but necessary evil.

Your average GP is next to completely clueless; non-psychiatry specialists rarely any better, and for the most part, all but the very best & most dedicated psychiatrists are simply pill-dispensing machines, who run through DSM-IV checklists for a diagnosis, prescribe the current medications in vogue for that diagnosis, and ask a standard set of questions to check how the meds are working. All self-reported stuff, that a patient really could more or less do themselves by typing answers into a computer program: "have I been sleeping less? - hm, Y...is my libido up or down...hm, up..."

Honestly, 99 times out of 100 I'd prefer to hear opinions from a decent social worker, counsellor, therapist, patient, family member or friend of a mentally ill person than from a doctor. Seriously, doctors generally know jack shit about it, outside of the DSM-IV & lists of indicated meds.

They don't know how the ilnesses actually function, and nor do they know how the meds operate, just that something happens to work, but maybe one day the science might eventually catch up & explain why. And being constrained to operate within their own manual & pill & questionnaire framework means that they almost always lack the general day to day experiential & existential knowledge of how gifted people actually behave & live their lives.

Anyway, that's my 2c & my self-reported 2c from just about anybody I've ever spoken to about such things.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:46 PM on January 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


There's no possible way that this is anything other than someone fucking with AskMe and medical advice, as a spin-off of this MeTa. Is there?
posted by carbide at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2009


From the livejournal entry: Bottom line, it was all me. You don't get the good without the rest.

I'm personally okay with this, the way it worked out. I found ikkyu2 an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable member of our community. He also had a bad temper and would often combine helpful answers in AskMe with spleen venting to the point where we'd have to manage heavily flagged answers that were equal parts informative and insulting. This created a morale problem.

I don't think I'm being dismissive of his real concerns by acknowledging this as true. On the other hand I don't think that unless we changed the rules of the site to suit his outlines of the way he thought things should run he'd see us as taking his concerns seriously.

I don't think that being a librarian or running a large website (mathowie as "Jrun programming expert" really?) has the same amount of gravitas as being any sort of doctor, but I also don't feel that MeFi has a privileged position in the giant "places people go to get their questions answered" arena, something I do know something about. It's a messy mostly-unquantifiable universe, how people get the information they need. On balance, I'm comfortable with the role MeFi serves and ikkyu2 isn't so it makes sense that he'd make the decision that he did.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:13 PM on January 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


OK, I'm convinced by the Miko/Jess position now. See that's the problem with this place, you're all so goddam persuasive. How is anyone supposed to make these hard decisions about life and stuff when everyone who posts here is so compelling -- even when they argue diametrically opposing positions?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:29 PM on January 20, 2009


Me too, Peter. Sigh.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:16 PM on January 20, 2009


I'm comfortable with the role MeFi serves and ikkyu2 isn't so it makes sense that he'd make the decision that he did.

Glad to hear this. I hope he comes back to continue the other sixth of his contributions, comments on MeFi and MeTa. And non-medical contributions on Ask, too, for the love of Pete. AskMe drives me bonkers too, but not in a way that leaves me feeling professionally and legally vulnerable. (Also to be noted is I'm pursuing one of the most hookers-blow-and-mental-illness careers I can think of.) Anyway, this is one case where I hope he sneaks back in and remains brilliant, cloaked and well-behaved, and I know he well can.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:18 PM on January 20, 2009


Cannot. Resist.

MetaFilter: pursuing the most hookers-blow-and-mental-illness careers
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:01 AM on January 21, 2009


I so want to know what a hookers-blow career is. I mean, I can imagine but I don't want to discredit Ambrosia Voyeur's profession with my own perverse thoughts. Not that hooking or blowing is perverse (extracts oral impacted foot) but you know, I just gotta know.
posted by Kerasia at 4:04 AM on January 21, 2009


Apologies to you ikkyu2, for apparently projecting onto you at the size of cinemascope. Your thoughts are understandable but less so is this idea that impatience or contempt (and yes, occasionally to the point of being an ass) is an integral part of the package. The idea that we owe special care and caution to advising mentally ill people is bigger than you or any of us, and presenting it with mean and unfair jabs unnecessarily undermines it and should be beneath you.

This is personal to me and so I’ve no doubt my perspective has flaws. I’ve mentioned in places that my mother was chronically ill most of her life and recently died; her death certificate says “kidney failure” but what really killed her was intractable schizophrenia. That’s why she was prescribed drugs so toxic they destroyed her kidney function and why she was so poor that her substandard care kept her off the streets (mostly) but little else. The stigma of mental illness leads directly to social policies and bureaucracies and institutions so cruel that if you haven’t experienced them directly, you literally cannot imagine them. Once the money is exhausted, a person with mental illness that does not respond to treatment is effectively dead; before it’s official they spend years, sometimes decades, suffering unspeakable assault and deprivation and pain. The social workers know what I’m talking about, and so does someone like ikkyu2. Outside of prison there is no uglier life to be had in this country.

So having experienced the cost of serious mental illness that closely I can’t watch people asking for help receive poor advice and even outright mockery without serious fear, even anger. I think ikkyu2’s attitude on this point speaks well for his commitment to a population a lot of clinicians in his specialty just sidestep altogether. My mother had some extremely poor care but occasionally she also had doctors (and nurses, and caretakers) with extraordinary compassion. They couldn’t save her but sometimes they made her life better and it certainly meant something to her, and to the people who loved her, that they tried.

I have no power over what people do in AskMe but just in case it makes a difference: if you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to answering questions about mental illness you should feel obligated to give them a pass. Sharing experience, your own or what you’ve witnessed, can be a powerful comfort or even a practical help. Attempting diagnoses is never, ever appropriate, not even for the clinicians here who are the last who need to be told that, given how difficult it is to accurately diagnose a person with mental illness in general practice.

I also have no power over what people do on the front page but I have to say it leaves an exceedingly bad taste in my mouth to recognize some of the same people advising respectful silence about Soulbee’s death – a person who freely and bravely admitted here that she was struggling with mental illness – from threads openly mocking obviously mentally ill, or should I say “batshitinsane” people. My mother missed the Internet by a single generation and I’ve no doubt that she would have used it to research her condition, and perhaps might have even put together a page cataloguing her delusions in amusingly coded html. I’ve also no doubt that for every one of those pages that’s provided light entertainment here that there are stories painful as Soulbee’s, and friends and families’ suffering as powerfully. If no other hard fast policy can come out of this, I’m asking the moderators to please delete such posts outright.

One last word about community. Some people form such profound bonds here, from deep friendships to romantic partnerships, even marriages – to serious professional connections and collaborations – as well to help that goes significantly beyond what anyone would expect from a true stranger. I’ve yet to reconcile that with the casual way we sometimes dispose of people with whom we disagree, or the casual way people sometimes just…vanish. I’m not even talking about ikkyu2 at this point. I don’t even know how to articulate what I’m talking about, because at this point I’m just tired. But, yes, compassion is always warranted. It doesn’t always save us but it’s the only thing that even comes close.
posted by melissa may at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2009 [15 favorites]


incredibly helpful and knowledgeable member of our community. He also had a bad temper and would often combine helpful answers in AskMe with spleen venting to the point where we'd have to manage heavily flagged answers that were equal parts informative and insulting.

I think of this situation as "the poisoned well", and I'm generally surprised the extent to which people are willing to argue for keeping a poisoned well just because it has a lot of water in it.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:24 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


A poisoned well only provides poisoned water. A cranky AskMe poster can still provide helpful answers.

I’ve yet to reconcile that with the casual way we sometimes dispose of people with whom we disagree

Yes.

I'm also struck by how posters with little record of providing useful answers here feel they are entitled to cry good riddance to someone who has been such a prominent and helpful (if abrasive) member of the community.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:45 AM on January 21, 2009


A poisoned well only provides poisoned water. A cranky AskMe poster can still provide helpful answers.
I don't think you're actually disagreeing with me here. The water from the well will technically hydrate you, but it's bound up with bad stuff you don't want. In the same way, when helpful answers are inextricably bound up with strife-sowing, contentious behaviour, you are technically getting helpful answers to your questions, but there's a point for everyone (I think) at which the resulting sickness, or dysfunction of the site, is too much to be acceptable. The only thing that's really arguable is exactly where the point is, and that's like angels on a pin, or whatever - the only really good answer to that kind of shit is screw it, let's have a beer, the correct amount of angels will end up on the pin whether we hash it out for unending hours or not.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:17 AM on January 21, 2009


I'm also struck by how posters with little record of providing useful answers here feel they are entitled to cry good riddance to someone who has been such a prominent and helpful (if abrasive) member of the community.

I had no idea my worth was directly tied to how many times I tell people not to eat that sandwich and DTMF, thanks for the heads up!

I thought I had mentioned this here already, but apparently not; it is important in situations where people are discussing 'community' to appreciate that for some people 'community' begins and ends with their contact list, others the particular subsite they frequent, and for some, the whole of $.metafilter.com. One's definition of 'community' in turn informs their criteria for judging who is a valued member of that community - and while that's a completely understandable and valid way to do manage one's relationships, it is equally important to understand that not everyone else's 'community' will share the same space on the definitional spectrum as your own, and in fact, they may be a little ticked off at being told they're second-rate as a result of that.

I agree that 'Good riddance' isn't a constructive or particularly healthy sentiment to express but the implication that folks who've said it are akin to peons (The derogatorily generic "posters", rather than MeFites, members, or even commenters, all of which hold stronger connotations of belonging, IMO) tossing clods at the aristocracy ("...a prominent and helpful... member of the community.").
It may not be the most apt analogy for what you're saying - and admittedly, verging on the semantical - but that's how I take it, and it's fairly off-putting.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a q:a ratio to goose.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:51 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alvy, I pretty much meant the guy who's been here a month telling us all how glad he is to see the back of ikkyu2. That got right up my nose.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:09 PM on January 21, 2009


You should really examine your sense of self worth. Also, DTMF.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:10 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


well.com is so 1990s.

is poisonedwell.com available?
posted by Rumple at 12:51 PM on January 21, 2009


(this will not poisoned well)
posted by Rumple at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


not everyone else's 'community' will share the same space on the definitional spectrum as your own,

Quoted for truth, and advisable to remember when developing relationships on the site. After all, my schools were communities, and my workplaces are communities, and my volunteer groups are communities, and I haven't always been dejected or saddened when someone from those communities leaves. I'm not sure that MeFi should be expected to meet a different standard than other voluntary communities. People have all different kinds of relationships within communities: some become friends, some become adversaries, some fall in love and sometimes forever, some fall in love and then out, some wander through casually, some relate to others mainly as jester/joker. The definition of "community" is narrow and simple: people who have something in common. Within communities, you can develop all kinds of relationships - but we don't all share the same relationships with one another, so we can't all be expected to feel the same way about a given individual.
posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on January 21, 2009


Yes, it is common sense that we relate to each other differently in communities, but then there are larger community mores that transcend individual users. It is difficult to talk about this while respecting the privacy of other people or acting like I’m playing inside baseball but in this situation it’s like having a neighbor I’ve always had a cordial relationship with, who has met people I know who speak highly of him, and who’s even helped me out in a neighborly way a time or two get quite a bit of good riddance to bad rubbish treatment. That treatment is something most of us reserve for people who prove irredeemable, not someone who has shown themselves useful and good who has flaws or bad days, or even is just someone to whom we've previously been indifferent.

In any event, far more important to me is that as a community we do better on the subject of mental illness. We have no business handing misinformation out to sick people, much less mocking them for sport.
posted by melissa may at 2:17 PM on January 21, 2009


Your note about the mores is absolutely true, too, melissa may. This is one of those moments in which MetaFilter has a discussion to clarify and adapt those mores, as has been done over countless sensitive issues in the past. Those who take up the cause and get involved in discussion about it will define the site's direction in that regard.

I'm also sorry that there are some people being ungracious about ikkyu2's departure, but just as in the neighbor analogy, there may be some people in the neighborhood that he simply never developed as good a relationship with as he did with you and with many others, or who, for whatever reason, felt insulted by him - because he didn't have the same relationship with all members of the site. Some of those people are undoubtedly wrong about him, some are simply impassive about the issue one way or the other, some appreciated him but still acknowledged difficulties, some just didn't know him very well, and some are just cranks. All kinds of people are here - I see this difference in opinions about any specific member as an inevitability in a community as large as this one.

I wouldn't set too much store by anyone who has only nasty things to say - that tells you more about that person's character than about the departing member or the community at large (the majority of whom don't even know this has happened). There have also been very appreciative things said, some here, many more I'm sure directly to him through personal contact, and not just today, but over the years. Personally, as I've said I will really miss ikkyu2 for his caring and his fearsome intelligence, and because he spent some time in conversation with me a few years ago over a personal matter, and I found it incredibly helpful in moving my life forward. Yes, he's been a help to many and enriched the life of the site and many are saying so. It's also okay if some people feel differently, though, and if there's anything to be learned about framing answers so they aren't "prickly," well, that's valuable to the community as well.
posted by Miko at 2:41 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the clarification and apologies for my unnecessarily adversarial tone, CunningLinguist.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:46 PM on January 21, 2009


Just over a week ago I thought hard about whether I'd respond to the 'is my husband trying to kill me' post. There were some excellent answers there, so I let it go.

I run a few online groups for survivors of enmeshments with pathological narcissists and sociopaths and am familiar with both the fear of one's life being in danger around a person who is usually covertly malicious and devious and the reality of it. Yes, it's the stuff of tv shows but it may also for some people be all too nasty a reality. There are times when sociopathic types are dramatic and in spite of that are set free by the courts or prisons. Quite astonishingly.

As Martha Stout has written in The Sociopath Next Door, malicious, deliberately criminal people of a sociopathic caliber, can also appear quite docile, affable and loved by many. The Talented Mr. Madoff is just such an example.

flabdablet may well accuse everybody who considered the author of the original post to have possible good reasons as being insane. But the statistic is 1% to 4% (1 in 25 people) of the population has Antisocial Personality Disorder and is capable of such criminal deviousness.

All things considered I thought the replies in the thread were quite wonderfully a hive mind of well-roundedness. The majority of the comments included the suggestion to see a therapist. Some doubted the intent of the poster. Some talked about canceling the life insurance.

And I don't think the commenters who responded respectfully and thoughtfully in the way they did deserve to be ridiculed by flabdablet.
posted by nickyskye at 10:12 PM on January 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


ikkyu2, When you posted the way you did in the Soulbee thread, it sounded like you were having some sort of a meltdown and your despicable, deliberately hurtful comment in this thread makes that plain.

Maybe you have failed at something in your work and are dumping on MetaFilter or you are reacting to somebody else's failure and transferring that fear-frustration onto MetaFilter? Whatever your motivation is, your scapegoating mathowie and MetaFilter, projecting that this community is or has been callously indifferent or reckless, is inappropriate and, imo, emotionally abusive. Your nasty, verbally sadistic Dark Side came out. What the hell happened to you?!

Reading what you said above made my blood boil. It still does after a week. How dare you GUILT TRIP and denigrate mathowie for offering a democratic, generous, free community in which advice, community, support, information, opinions, experience, ideas, suggestions are offered. For the record, if I believed everything my doctors had told me over the years, instead of asking around for opinions from non-doctors, I'd be dead many times over.

Soulbee was NOT leaning on Metafilter over seeing her doctors. She was already seeing doctors. Already taking meds. It was NOT WORKING. So she looked for additional support. And she got it. There is nothing wrong in that whatsoever. Whatever it was, it was not enough.

If doctors and all their lab results were infallible there would be no need for malpractice insurance. People can and do find answers on the web for countless medical and psychological problems all the time. Just one recent example: The Fifth Avenue office oncologist I went to a year ago told me not to worry about the lump on my neck, maybe see a general surgeon to have it biopsied, if I wanted to worry my pretty little head about it. If I'd believed the well trained, fancy-education doctor I'd be untreated for the thyroid cancer. Instead, I asked non-doctors and got much better advice. Go to a head and neck cancer doctor and see what was suggested. Sure enough, I had a CT scan, there was the thyroid cancer. Now treated due to the life-saving advice of non-doctors.

I run two large online recovery groups with over 1000 members, who are for the most part struggling with ongoing chronic depression and I know for them that having an online community where issues can be talked about is in many cases life saving.

There is no cure for depression. It's something that is attempted to be managed. One of the treatments for it, the main treatment, is the imprecise art of talk therapy. Talking things through. Your arrogance in thinking that you, as a doctor are capable of irrevocably fixing somebody's long term, severe depression with your doctor magic, is just that, it's magical thinking.

It's one thing for you to be deluded about your prowess as a doctor but it's quite another to blame others hatefully. Not ok.

I think you owe mathowie and the MetaFilter community, especially those who communicated with Soulbee, an apology.
posted by nickyskye at 11:06 PM on January 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


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