yey him, yey us. August 29, 2012 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I just wanted to highlight 1) how cool it is that the schizophrenic programmer of Losethos has chosen to contribute to the thread about his operating system, and 2) that in response (almost all) the members of this site treat him with an admirable level of respect and genuine curiosity.
posted by leotrotsky to MetaFilter-Related at 9:57 AM (96 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

It's cool, yes. That said it's a bit of a mod headache so I just wanted to say that we are very very appreciative of people being mostly decent to losethos there and will request that people also be decent in this thread also if we're going to leave it open. It's a really tricky sort of situation and we appreciate people's understanding.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I too would like to thank the mods, the community and Terry. This has probably been one of my single favorite threads on MetaFilter.
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


As I said in thread, over my head, but absolutely fascinating.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Certainly more productive than reddit.
posted by public at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2012


Thanks so much for letting him be.

He's really pretty polite. Sort of by definition everything he says is on topic, right?

It won't establish any sort of precedent - and I'm sure if Lady Gaga showed up on a thread about her we'd let her ramble a bit too (wait, we don't do Lady Gaga threads any more? what happened?)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:09 AM on August 29, 2012


For a while after he first showed up, I thought that things were going to go badly. I'm glad that the mods let him be long enough that he actually started to engage instead of doing the weird free-association thing that he seemed to be doing at the start. The thread went from weird to interesting and I'm glad for that.
posted by asnider at 10:15 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, it's shaped up into a pretty decent sort of conversation about the nitty gritty of the project itself, which is nice. I nixed a couple of comments earlier in the thread, I appreciate people making the effort to not slip into sort of lazy/jerkish lulz for the most part.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2012


Mutual respect is a rare starting point - one of the reasons why the discussion is going so well here. We started out curious, rather than dismissive or cynical. We were looking for a reason why this was interesting, rather than ragging on perceived rough edges or picking fights over personality or ego issues, and boy, we found that reason and then some.

I'm happy MeFi was able to give this guy a platform to show off his tech, it's very interesting, and the philosophy behind it, an experimenter's platform like the old C=64 that lets you dive into the hardware, is very cool.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2012


"How do you measure how much work God does in a random event?" is the first sentence of a book I desperately want to read.
posted by theodolite at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2012 [20 favorites]


That's an amazing thread. I'm impressed with Losethos himself, who has been explaining things that are WHOOOSH wayyy over my head, but from what I can gather sound absolutely brilliant, and the patience and persistence of those engaging with him, who are puzzling out the nuts and bolts of Losethos, because that's made me understand how significant his work is.

A standalone operating system, coded from scratch, with a flight simulator, drawing programs, etc., that lets you play around with it and create your own stuff? Just wow.

The man is a genius.
posted by misha at 10:32 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wanted to add something, because I feel like it is important, though other might disagree.

The only thing that really disturbs me about these threads is that in both of them, Terry Davis is only referred to as a "schizophrenic programmer" and not by name. I feel like both threads would be better served if they were amended to say, "Terry Davis, a programmer who is schizophrenic."

I know it may sound nitpicky, but the man is more than just one-dimensional. Schizophrenia is what he has, not what he is.

Anyway, carry on.
posted by misha at 10:39 AM on August 29, 2012 [70 favorites]


When he says something like:

You want me to do a USB driver. I don't want to. Doesn't thrill me. I want to get people to worship God with songs.

God says, "all embracements amiss exhortation definitely potter's manufactures
searches serves worshipper only sweet-attuned groaned"


1. I feel like people are starting to push him a bit here. Don't think we should force on him anything he doesn't want to do.

2. A more "meta" question: I REALLY wonder whether he is talking about God as in the traditional sense (Christian mythos, or whatever). Whenever he speaks about it, his "communication" from God is a series of random words generated using the Bible as the key (I'm guessing). I wonder if that's his hook to keep himself 'connected' to something in the real world.
posted by mysticreferee at 10:43 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think it’s nitpicky, misha. I do some medical writing, and one of the first things I learned was to write "a patient with cancer," and not "a cancer patient," because the patient isn’t defined by the illness; the patient is a person who happens to have an illness.

I had the same reaction as you did to the phrasing you mentioned.
posted by Shepherd at 10:47 AM on August 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


I agree, and would rephrase if I could.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:53 AM on August 29, 2012


Terry Davis, a programmer *who has* schizophrenia.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:07 AM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


He signed up today. There are currently 152 comments in the thread and he's made 57 of them. Oh wow.
posted by zarq at 11:15 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not really threadsitting, tho, he's just communicating in ways he best knows how, and he's responding to people's questions and comments with a good deal of grace. He's definitely not fitting into the vibe of the site, but the site is fitting itself to him. Even if it's for just that thread, I think that's OK.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:18 AM on August 29, 2012 [20 favorites]


Whenever he speaks about it, his "communication" from God is a series of random words generated using the Bible as the key (I'm guessing).

I find that's also true of a lot of professional clergy. (This is not a LOLXians thing--I am absolutely serious, and it's not limited to Christian scriptures, cf. exponents of Gematria.)

This, to me, is a fascinating thing about people living with schizophrenia and the way those of us who haven't experienced schizophrenia perceive them. It's so hard to define exactly where the boundaries are. And this isn't an R.D. Laing thing; I think that people with schizophrenia face enormous challenges and it's callous to try to write their issues off with misty-headed "but don't we all hear voices?" blah blah. I simply continue to wonder at how hard it is for people to understand other people's experiences of daily reality when they vary from their own.

I honor Mr. Davis for embarking on such an ambitious project and for having the focus and energy to do so much with it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:22 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, no. Didn't say he was. He's been very responsive and polite, I agree. I just noticed his profile stats when I added him to the wiki and was kinda stunned. I've never seen anyone comment so prolifically here before.
posted by zarq at 11:27 AM on August 29, 2012


What a cool thread.

God said 640x480. Realism is over-rated.

Enlightenment, it will be mine.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:28 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the sense of possibility he gives off in terms of re-defining the world, the word, "God" and the interconnectedness of everything, that's a thrilling thread.

The programming stuff though is way over my head, and I imagine over that of others, but I think it's incidental to something much more comprehensible...or more universal anyhow.
posted by Skygazer at 11:29 AM on August 29, 2012


Tell you what, in probably in the likely list of potential offenders in responding to the guy. All the god stuff is pretty....something. But I gotta say, the guy is so obviously smart and talented and different that even this militant atheist is able to just be confused and leave it there, because the material is so interesting.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:30 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone dispel, what he means by the FBI & CIA having ruined "green pastures"?
posted by Skygazer at 11:31 AM on August 29, 2012


Not dispel. Illuminate is what I mean, of course...
posted by Skygazer at 11:31 AM on August 29, 2012


I know just enough about the programming stuff to know that it's very solid, albeit it unconventional. His explanations are technical and assume a lot of knowledge, but they are pretty much completely comprehensible.
posted by gilrain at 11:32 AM on August 29, 2012


Skygazer, he seems to believe that the movement from very free, close-to-the-metal computing systems to more abstract, closed systems has been peroetrated by the FBI, CIA, etc. rather than just market forces.

It's very analogous to the complaining you hear about the major software companies moving toward "walled gardens".
posted by gilrain at 11:34 AM on August 29, 2012


To be clear, I think the green pastures he's referring to are hearkening to the time when it was easier to tinker with any part of your computer you wanted. More specifically, he really misses how it was when he was young tinkering with a C64, and he blames various external forces for how that's changed.
posted by gilrain at 11:35 AM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Phillip K. Dick would love this guy...whew...
posted by Skygazer at 11:37 AM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, it's more specific - New PC's have locked down firmware, Secure Boot, to prevent the hardware from running "unauthorized" software. Ostensibly it's to prevent piracy, but it's also a vendor-lock in for Microsoft. They won't sell you a license unless your hardware is locked to their OS - he believes this is supported by law enforcement because they have back doors into Windows. It also means you can't program "on the metal" the way OS experimenters like Davis have been.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:37 AM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have goose pimples.

I read the thread thinking I'm in a Gibson book.

You all have been so warm and sensitive.

Metafilter rocks.
posted by infini at 11:39 AM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Girain: To be clear, I think the green pastures he's referring to are hearkening to the time when it was easier to tinker with any part of your computer you wanted.

Thx Gilrain, that indeed makes perfect sense. So MUCH seems to have become closed off and proprietary and robbed of it's sense of freedom and potential to "play with" these last 30 or 40 years...

I totally agree with him, then...

But then again he says Linux is the devil??
posted by Skygazer at 11:40 AM on August 29, 2012


Skygazer: But then again he says Linux is the devil??

Well, he complained that Linux was too complicated, targeting too many different architectures, to tinker with effectively. That may be where that sentiment came from. (And didn't he just say that Linux was for atheists?)
posted by gilrain at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think he was making light of Linux being an all in one solution that can do everything and run on various platforms, I don't quite understand either but his solution does exactly what he wants it to do and nothing else. Linux isn't that and it's (in his words) 2 orders of magnitude more verbose based on lines of code, that's alot of code and God maybe wants him to K.I.S.S?
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:45 AM on August 29, 2012


Latest:


The CIA is annoying in my delusional reality.
posted by losethos at 11:40 AM on 8/29

He acknowledges his "delusional reality".

Pardon me if this is insensitive, but wow, this is fascinating.
posted by mysticreferee at 11:45 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


As long as things remain respectful I would love to see a light touch on the thread.
posted by boo_radley at 11:47 AM on August 29, 2012


The only thing that really disturbs me about these threads is that in both of them, Terry Davis is only referred to as a "schizophrenic programmer" and not by name.

The cynic and paranoid schizophrenic in me is far more disturbed by the feeling in this thread of being on the other side of the glass so to speak, listening to doctors discuss what, to them, are obviously the delusions of a crazy person.

Personally I am extremely uncomfortable reading the liveblogging of someone's insanity, and doubly so with the judgments of the "sane", however sensitive. Isn't it customary to alert participants in a thread to the existence of a MetaTalk discussion? Are we trying to avoid genuine madness from spilling over into this very reasonable discussion of Crazy People?

Very difficult for me to even type this, physically speaking, so I probably won't say anything else...nevertheless, the point stands.
posted by Lorin at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Today I learned that I cannot distinguish the conversation of a programmer with schizophrenia from that of a programmer without schizophrenia.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:49 AM on August 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


Lorin: Isn't it customary to alert participants in a thread to the existence of a MetaTalk discussion?

This Meta was linked in the thread.

I do feel like we're verging closer to gawping, though, for some reason. Maybe because the discussion isn't about his programming, anymore.
posted by gilrain at 11:50 AM on August 29, 2012


Some days I don't understand anything.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:51 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get what Lorin's saying and understand. I was on the fence but I guess I'll take my question there since it's maybe a better fit and not intentionally insulting or inflammatory.. He's answered other questions with aplomb so far.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:52 AM on August 29, 2012


This Meta was linked in the thread.

Oh, I see that now. Curse that small text!
posted by Lorin at 11:52 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, I mean, to some extent I'm fine with a metatalk thread to say "hey, this is cool that this guy joined", but as just an adjunct running commentary on the actual thread it feels like not such a great idea.

I'm not sure what there is to do for that other than to maybe just suggest people take stuff that they'd feel comfortable making part of the conversation over to the actual thread and maybe putting the kibosh on stuff that they would not be so comfortable with on that front? I realize that may be a bit of a buzzkill for the chatter over here but it is kind of an odd situation here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:53 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you, cortex.
posted by boo_radley at 11:57 AM on August 29, 2012


I'm seeing this thread as a sort of Concordance and see nothing wrong with it. There's a heck of a lot of programmer-speak over there, as well as theological speak (and plain gibberish) and this can clarify things and make the original thread much more valuable (and I already think it's an astonishing thread, that deserves clarification).
posted by Skygazer at 11:58 AM on August 29, 2012


I don't object to closing this MeTa, but as long as it's open I'll add a vote of thanks for the light-touch moderation in this case. As somebody with absolutely no programming background, the thread is an interesting read for me. The programmer's comments have helped me to appreciate an FPP that otherwise I wouldn't have understood.
posted by cribcage at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


He acknowledges his "delusional reality".

Pardon me if this is insensitive, but wow, this is fascinating.


Psychotic breaks in people with schizophrenia are usually accompanied with a particular kind of feeling---a delusional atmosphere. The sufferer knows that he or she is experiencing a break. They are usually able to keep beliefs about "the real world" and convictions about "the delusional world" reasonably well partitioned.

Louis Sass's Paradoxes of Delusion is a short non-technical book that is worth picking up if you're interested in the "two worlds hypothesis" of delusion.
posted by painquale at 12:01 PM on August 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


He is talking about god hurting people for him now, though. Starting to trip an internal alarm, for me.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:06 PM on August 29, 2012


(though I have no idea what that alarm means. This is a new one for me.)
posted by lazaruslong at 12:07 PM on August 29, 2012


Louis Sass's Paradoxes of Delusion is a short non-technical book that is worth picking up if you're interested in the "two worlds hypothesis" of delusion.

Thank you for that.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2012


I was afraid that clicking on that FPP discussion might have led to a Time-Cube type scenario and I am so grateful this site has grown light years beyond that point, at least here.
posted by availablelight at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2012


Runs on a Time Cube

Third comment out the door. Not that I am judging. I thought something very similar.

Same world, different planets. Here is someone that literally doesn't share the same reality as me and knows it.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:21 PM on August 29, 2012


Time Cube? What am I missing?
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:28 PM on August 29, 2012


He is talking about god hurting people for him now, though. Starting to trip an internal alarm, for me.

As we've said, we appreciate that people are interested in what is going on but we need people to pretty much not do the usual meta-commentary on stuff that they usually do over here. I appreciate that you're coming from every good place, but take this stuff to email if you don't mind?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:30 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


An infamous FPP that was basically, LOL LOOK A SEVERELY MENTALLY ILL PERSON WITH A WEB PAGE IS SEVERELY MENTALLY ILL. Followed by other similar posts.
posted by availablelight at 12:32 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I vote to close this up.
posted by HuronBob at 12:38 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am extremely uncomfortable reading the liveblogging of someone's insanity, and doubly so with the judgments of the "sane"

Speaking for myself, I make no judgments, and I am very sketchy on what I would consider "sane" vs. "insane". As someone who has experience with mental illness, I kinda think that, much like sexuality, we all live on a continuum.
posted by misha at 12:40 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Roger that, jessamyn. Sorry!
posted by lazaruslong at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2012


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness. No sir, I don't like it.
posted by Justinian at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like the words accepting and welcoming. I'd ftfy if I knew how to html for strikethrough.
posted by infini at 1:01 PM on August 29, 2012


As someone who has experience with mental illness, I kinda think that, much like sexuality, we all live on a continuum.

I agree. That all ended up sounding a lot harsher than I meant it to, but it was hard to put succinctly without becoming (more) ranty.
posted by Lorin at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Justinian: Really? I don't get that at all. Seems like an artist who is, admittedly a little farther down the unique scale/continuum that misha mentions, discussing his work/passion.

I mean, no one is antagonizing or prodding him, just asking polite questions and giving technical commentary from what I can see. How could it go better?
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2012


I am super grateful that the FPP seems to have stabilized. It's been highly instructive for me and I hope for others as well, and not just about OS architecture. I also really appreciate misha and others sharing their thoughts on mental illness in general. This is something of a blind spot for me, so it's quite helpful to witness such a constructive discussion and get some insight from others on the sort-of "meta" topic.

I grew up being told that my maternal grandmother was "crazy" and "psychotic" and not to be trusted. It deeply affected my relationship with her. And while there is no clinical doubt that she has suffered from various forms of mental illness throughout her life, it wasn't helpful for me (or her) to view and treat her simply as mentally ill. Recently I've tried a new approach, engaging her as an actual person, while keeping in mind that there might be anomalies that I need to parse carefully when she's talking. I've learned a lot, not just about her, but about my dad, his childhood, some of my family history. It's been really great.

I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness. No sir, I don't like it.

I'm not sure I fully understand what this means, but I appreciate the caution. Big online communities like MeFi have a way of amplifying things and we should remain cognizant of that.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Justinian, I get your wariness, completely. It's easy to get someone with schizophrenia wound up, but shutting that thread down might be even worse...
posted by Skygazer at 1:07 PM on August 29, 2012


I'm interested in the way that thread went versus when the subject [or commenter, now] of the FPP isn't introduced as having mental illness.
What I mean is, there's one open, "benefit of the doubt" (wrong phrase, but I can't think of the right one) reaction given once everyone understands the gentleman has a mental illness. But without that explication, people tend to get nasty (too harsh a word thank what I'm going for here).
Sort of like how that "weirdo" doing "weirdo" things in the hallway of your high school was given a hard time/mocked/ignored, but becomes accepted when it's understood that he has an illness (mental or physical).
I'm interested in why we react this way when we don't know the "reason" for someone's behavior. Why we don't give someone different the space being given here.
[That's without judgment. I'm genuinely interested in the difference, and implicate myself.]
posted by atomicstone at 1:19 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm interested in why we react this way when we don't know the "reason" for someone's behavior. Why we don't give someone different the space being given here.

There's a good explanation of the sociology behind grouping behaviours (creating us versus them, etc.) in Pascal Boyer's - Religion Explained that you might find relevant.
posted by odinsdream at 1:26 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big ups to the Mods here for being sensitive to this unique situation..
posted by Skygazer at 1:31 PM on August 29, 2012


Justinian: "I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness. No sir, I don't like it."

I would tend to disagree with you.
posted by boo_radley at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness. No sir, I don't like it.

The thread is about his hobbyist OS, which is pretty amazing and FPP-worthy without the schizophrenia angle, and it's more or less stayed on topic. And beyond that he's given more direct insight and answers to technical questions in that thread than I've seen in pretty much any other post where the subject has signed up for the site. We all have various issues and if it doesn't get in the way of interacting with people on the site then I don't think it's harmful to anybody. Having a conversation with someone about a hobby project isn't tantamount to enabling them.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:52 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


How could it go better?

I don't know, it's just a feeling I have. Most people are ignoring the elephant in the room and those who aren't seem to have gotten (appropriately probably) deleted for addressing it in a jokey or mocking manner. This is somebody who needs serious help.

I strongly disagree with the "this is just somebody a little further along a continuum." That's just feel-good platitude. There are real and serious mental illnesses out there, and they aren't just quirks.
posted by Justinian at 2:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


> This is somebody who needs serious help.

So... he shouldn't be allowed on MetaFilter? I'm not understanding how that would help him or the site.

I too am uncomfortable with this self-congratulatory MetaTalk post, but am impressed with how the thread has gone on the blue.
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness. No sir, I don't like it.

Yeah this may have been something where my own experience as someone with family members with Serious Mental Illness influenced my "this is okay" decision. Both cortex and I talked this over with Matt this morning just to make sure it wasn't a TimeCube like thing, but along with babysitting that thread and being pretty present here, we feel that it's going okay.

The thing about people with Serious Mental Illness that they are out and open about is that it's not really like alcoholism where you have to agonize over whether you're the one keeping the person from hitting rock bottom [if that's a therapy modality that you agree with] by continuing to hang out with them or whatever. The guy has a mental illness whether he has people to talk to or not. He has a mental illness whether he's famous on the internet or not. The OS he's made is a real thing that people think is cool and/or interesting and are talking about.

While there are certain standards we require people to try to stick to in order to comment here and interact here, there's something to be said for having ways for people of varying neurotypicalities to be able to interact with each other in an environment where that isn't the only dominant theme to the interaction.

I am not discounting that this guy should get some serious help if he doesn't have some. I wish my cousin had gotten some better help, and sooner. At the same time I don't see this thread or that one as being "Hey, isn't it interesting what mental illnesses are like when we don't treat them?" which would be something I was more concerned about. I appreciate that people are being reasonable with this fairly unusual situation.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:15 PM on August 29, 2012 [24 favorites]


Our alternatives are (a) open season on shitty lulzy "poke 'em with a stick" hijinks or (b) banning people who cop to mental illness and display odd behavior. One's a non-starter; the other's something that ultimately may happen in a given case if it becomes an issue where they just can't manage to get along on Metafilter in the contexts they're trying to even after attempts to intervene, but is something we'd rather try and work with someone on to avoid.

I've been worried about how that (and then this) thread would go all day. It's been going actually pretty okay I think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:17 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I too am uncomfortable with this self-congratulatory MetaTalk post, but am impressed with how the thread has gone on the blue.

I guess. For once I don't feel like I have all the answer which is a little unusual, since I am usually obviously correct on all matters.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


If any of you have had conversations while on acid, it's not really that different. He has something to say, and I am glad we are giving him an opportunity to say it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:10 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


cortex: "Our alternatives are (a) open season on shitty lulzy "poke 'em with a stick" hijinks or (b) banning people who cop to mental illness and display odd behavior. One's a non-starter; the other's something that ultimately may happen in a given case if it becomes an issue where they just can't manage to get along on Metafilter in the contexts they're trying to even after attempts to intervene, but is something we'd rather try and work with someone on to avoid."

It's perfectly plausible that he wouldn't be able to get along with folks here, too. He has been banned from OSNews and Something Awful. He was banned from reddit twice. His account at Hacker News has been wiped, but I remember when he was active over there. On at least one site, OSNews, I know he was kind of abusive to other people when he was active. But I also know that many folks over there respected his accomplishments.

FWIW, I'm glad you all tried to work with him and treated him gently. I think that's a win all around.
posted by zarq at 3:22 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


... there's something to be said for having ways for people of varying neurotypicalities to be able to interact with each other in an environment where that isn't the only dominant theme to the interaction.

Wonderful. Excellent idea, nicely stated. I'd give you all my favorites, but I think you have them disabled, no?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:22 PM on August 29, 2012


Justinian: I see where you're coming from, I guess we're just looking at the 'elephant in the room', as you put it (I don't see his behavior as necessarily the 'problem everyone should address but is not' this turn of phrase implies but I see what you're saying) from different directions.

Most people are ignoring the elephant in the room and those who aren't seem to have gotten (appropriately probably) deleted for addressing it in a jokey or mocking manner.

I don't know anything about deletions because I didn't see them disappear but I agree with you that anyone getting their lulz on should be deleted and talked to, perhaps harshly if they aren't OK with treating people with problems in a civilized manner.

This is somebody who needs serious help.

Ok, now... um... maybe? But we're not his medical team nor should we attempt to act as if we know more than what we really do. MrsEld deals with this kind of thing (diagnosis, treatment, and behavioral modification of clients) and even she is reluctant and always applies extreme care when diagnosing people with anything for fear of applying a label and the subsequent treatment in an incorrect and potentially damaging fashion. We're people on a forum he's joined (with the added bonus that we may actually have the ability to interact with different people in a civil manner, there are worse places he could be). [on preview zarq covers my feelings on this pretty well]

I strongly disagree with the "this is just somebody a little further along a continuum." That's just feel-good platitude. There are real and serious mental illnesses out there, and they aren't just quirks.

Sure, of course the DSM can point out a mental disorder and allow you to file away a person's symptoms under a certain header and, thus, help them in a fashion that's scientifically the most 'optimum'. However, as I just stated, we're not the people in the best position to do that, so, yea I'll settle with applying what you call a 'feel-good platitude' in lieu of a label that may have some ugly stigmas attached to it.

Not trying to come across as combative here nor am I picking apart your comment in a flighty manner, apologies if I appear that way, I tend to err on the verbose side so forgive me my trespasses as I forgive the people that knock on my door early on Saturday mornings.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:34 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most people are ignoring the elephant in the room and those who aren't seem to have gotten (appropriately probably) deleted for addressing it in a jokey or mocking manner. This is somebody who needs serious help.

Oh, I didn't realize that that meant he wasn't allowed on the Internet! SOMEONE TAKE GRANDPA'S KEYS AWAY.
posted by liketitanic at 3:44 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, but seriously, grandpa ingeniously cheated on his last two eye exams at the DMV. True story.
posted by gilrain at 3:55 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


True story.

Shoot, I'm listening.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:03 PM on August 29, 2012


He developed really bad macular degeneration and lost most of his vision. He did avoid driving at night, because he literally couldn't see any of the other cars. He continued to drive during the day, though, since he could still see the other cars as blurs, and he'd lived in his city so long he didn't need signs.

When his license was coming up for renewal, he decided to case the DMV first. He hung out there for a day, just observing what was required of other people while pretending to wait in lines and whatnot. He determined that the vision test, reading out a standard letter chart, would be completely impossible -- even the first line was incomprehensible.

He figured they probably don't change those charts very often... so he memorized other people's recitations of the letters. When he went the next day for his actual appointment, he repeated what he'd memorized and, sure enough, got his licensed renewed with no restrictions.
posted by gilrain at 4:19 PM on August 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


This is somebody who needs serious help.

He might already be getting help; he seems to be pretty self-aware of his own illness.
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy - He's definitely not fitting into the vibe of the site, but the site is fitting itself to him. Even if it's for just that thread, I think that's OK

I agree with this comment, and alot of others actually. My brother was diagnosed several years ago (when he was 17) with schizophrenia. And yes, hanging with him generally requires us to sort of adapt to him, in some respect. So, on behalf of someone who has experienced schizophrenia first hand, thank you for showing respect, grace, and patience.
posted by foxhat10 at 6:16 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


er...well, after actually reading through some of the comments...thanks to MOST of you.
posted by foxhat10 at 6:29 PM on August 29, 2012


This is somebody who needs serious help.

I'm very confused by what is meant by "serious help" and what that would entail.

For example, although I'm a huge fan of medications to help treat different mental illnesses, all of the evidence we have in the field (one I am a part of - most of my clients are my clients because of their schizophrenia) is that medication for psychosis doesn't somehow remove the "mental illness". It instead hopefully increases the person's functionality so that they can form lasting relationships with others, maintain a form of housing, and meet there basic needs all without being a danger to themselves or others. This doesn't actually translate to "make delusions go away".

I have a lot of clients who get hours of case management, skills training, and therapy a week, who are on medications and meet a minimum of once every three months with a psychiatrist - all of which I would assume constitutes "serious help" - and they still have delusions.

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that "serious help" means "bye bye schizophrenia", and I'm baffled by that assumption - and the concurrent unspoken implication that someone with delusions is somehow in need of either serious help (which was left very undefined) or being cordoned off from interacting with society in general. In the case of the latter, I personally think that does a lot of damage - both for people who end up viewing schizophrenia as this strange, dangerous thing and for people with schizophrenia who end up increasingly isolated because of something literally outside of their control.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:46 PM on August 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness.

This is strange language. Is interacting with someone who is mentally ill encouraging mental illness? What is being referred to as mental illness in this case? behavior we don't like?

I guess the question is to what extent the mod's change the guidelines to accommodate someone who is reportedly "mentally ill." Since no one here is probably "qualified" to assess someone with mental illness over the internet, it is probably best that the guidelines not be changed much, but that the mods do what is reasonable to help stay within them.

I agree that this work is wonderful artistic expression, even if that was not the intention and it is somewhat the product of mental illness.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:15 PM on August 29, 2012


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness.

Many people have posted in AskMe about coping with depressive episodes of varying severity. I don't know how many MeFites have schizophrenia, but I have an impression that we have a few regular posters who do. Several people who post here have at some point in their lives been hospitalized for the treatment of severe mental illness. So this isn't anything new, really. If a contributor' isn't significantly disrupting the function of the site (breaking the guidelines), and he or she isn't demonstrably an immediate danger to him/herself or others, I think we should err on the side of extreme caution in terms of policing participation on the basis of apparent delusionality or mental health.
posted by gingerest at 8:55 PM on August 29, 2012


gilrain: "Well, he complained that Linux was too complicated, targeting too many different architectures, to tinker with effectively. That may be where that sentiment came from. (And didn't he just say that Linux was for atheists?)"

That's pretty ironic, considering that Linux's (very early) origins were actually quite similar to those of Losethos. Linus Torvalds was a bored kid who liked to tinker with his computer during the long Finnish winters.

Coincidentally, I also share Terry Davis' concern about computing platforms becoming more and more closed. Honestly, I'm pretty impressed that his OS is as far along as it is, considering the amount of low-level interaction that he does with the hardware (some of which I would have thought to be impossible on modern hardware).

I genuinely don't know of any other individual developers who have the base of low-level knowledge necessary to tinker with, interact with, and write an entire OS on top of the full spectrum of "bare metal" PC hardware, much less one who's doing it in 2012. It's like someone transported a tiny bit of the 1980s hacker culture into 2012 -- it's awesome, and pretty impressive.

I'm not sure why everyone's getting hung up on the schizophrenia. He created a functional operating system as a pretty raw form of artistic expression, whilst using some stupefyingly difficult and archaic engineering knowledge to do so. This seems like a much more notable thing to be talking about.
posted by schmod at 9:29 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've been fascinated with this thread the entire day but it ended up just making me sad.
posted by dereferenced at 9:46 PM on August 29, 2012


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness.

People in that thread are asking Terry Davis, the creator of an operating system, about that operating system, Losethos. Questions are touching on how exactly he created the system--which necessarily includes everything from his work process to the architecture behind the system itself. That may mean that, for you, the questions skirt uncomfortably close to his mental illness, but I don't think anyone is really pressing him on that.

Still, you see having that discussion as "enabling" or "encouraging" him? That's...very frustrating to me, honestly, your perception.

Is there anyone in there telling him, "Hey, stop taking your medication"? Anyone advocating violence or self-harm? Nope.

Does he himself deny he has some issues? Nope. He's referred to his delusions with what seemed like good-natured humor to me. He's indicated, frequently, a frustration with the CIA and closed operating systems. Okay, we don't buy into his reasoning on that. But his frustration is not all that different from the frustration I see here, all the time, over the draconian way Apple keeps control over their own OS.

Admittedly, it takes a bit more effort to interact with him in that thread than we're used to. Well, you know, he has some stuff that makes it a bit more challenging for him to interact with us here, too. I'm opting for cutting him some slack for that. I can't really explain or understand how his mind works exactly, but from our perspective it's like we're talking to someone who is simultaneously carrying on another conversation on his cellphone. It's an annoyance, but so what?

We can't physically do anything about that--we can't hear the other end of that conversation, and Terry is in front of a keyboard somewhere, not sitting in a room with us. But even if he were, how would you suggest we interact with Terry so as not to be "enabling" or "encouraging" him?

Maybe you think we just shouldn't interact with the mentally ill at all?

Yes, it can be scary or threatening or uncomfortable to be around someone who is ill like that. Imagine how it is for that person, though! And you know, lots of illnesses are scary and uncomfortable for me, personally. But that's just as much my issue, isn't it, as the other person's?

I don't usually do the hypothetical thing, but I think it has its place here, so: if Stephen Hawking came on Metafilter, and we engaged with him, and the timeline got a little muddled in the thread because he required a machine to first put his thoughts into text and then transmit that text for him, would you say we were enabling and encouraging him by taking that into account?

Of course not, because he has a known physical issue that requires that we interact with him a little differently. Would we give up on communicating with him because of that? I'd sure like to hear what he had to say.

Substitute 'mental' for physical in the above analogy, and we are dealing with a very similar situation right now.

I don't have an issue with that.
posted by misha at 10:33 PM on August 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Maybe you think we just shouldn't interact with the mentally ill at all?

Yes, clearly what I was saying was that we should treat the mentally ill as pariahs and shun them.
posted by Justinian at 11:59 PM on August 29, 2012


Yes, clearly what I was saying was that we should treat the mentally ill as pariahs and shun them.

Sarcasm aside, what did you mean and what is the "serious help" in question? How are you defining "enabling mental illness"? I am sincerely confused by your point of view.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:35 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that thread is coming really close to enabling and encouraging serious mental illness. No sir, I don't like it.

I don't like the idea that engaging in good faith with a mentally ill person 1) enables their illness, 2) encourages their illness, or 3) precludes them from getting "serious help", whaterthehell that means.

He made A Cool Thing. People are talking to him about his Cool Thing. Do you think that interaction is going to make his illness worse? What makes you think he's not already getting "serious help"? As a mentally ill person myself, I'd appreciate an explanation of what you mean here.
posted by MissySedai at 6:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Justinian, as a professional hole digger myself, I am going to suggest you quit digging.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no such thing as too much digging. It is good exercise.
posted by Justinian at 11:30 AM on August 31, 2012


Yes, clearly what I was saying was that we should treat the mentally ill as pariahs and shun them.

This appears to have been said in irony, but in my experience it's closer to accurate than ironic. I'm one of the only ones of my peers (Master's Program aimed at doing therapy) who worked with people with persistent mental disorders like schizophrenia, and the other person stopped within a couple of years. Some of my peers responded to the idea of working with people who have schizophrenia with shock, and I heard, "you're so strong, I just couldn't do that" and similar ideas more often than I was comfortable with.

I get a similar reaction from a lot of people who find out about my clientele - a general attitude of bemused horror at the idea of helping people who have persistent mental disorders, combined with a sort of weird praise for me as if I was somehow fundamentally different from most humans, who of course wouldn't dream to spend time with people like my clients. Most of the people I interact with when my clients are around behave well toward them, but that's at least in part because when they don't they get the stink eye and correction from me - I have had people hand me the change when my clients pay to purchase something, who then behave in a very confused way when I direct them to hand the change back to my client who, you know, PAID.

By and large, my clients are pariahs, are often shunned, and sometimes they do things which will cause them to be shunned for reasons I don't completely understand. Schizophrenia is a punch line to a lot of people, and it's relatively common to use the term "crazy" for people one disagrees with, and wax lyrical about how someone is "insane" or went "off their meds" without thinking through what that implies about people who actually take meds.

This includes their families. Most of my clients have little to no contact with their families. Part of my job is sometimes bridging the gap of understanding to try to increase the tolerance for the way my clients are so that their families can have more realistic expectations and build sustaining relationships. That is never, ever easy. Even worse are the clients completely estranged from their families, though; I've seen more tears than I would ever want to on that front. The holidays SUCK.

I would seriously urge people to learn more, perhaps volunteer with a local day program and get a sense of the wide variety of human cognition possible; to build comfort with people who can go a little off into their own worlds now and then. Sometimes I think of my clients as people who live in the remote parts of the map, where it says, "There be dragons." I've found surprising treasures when I was able to let go of my own need for explanations and appreciated their points of view and maps of the world.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:14 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


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