Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Neuroscience and society: Emotional harm?

Here is an effort to quantify emotional harm:

“Two potential legal applications are advanced in this paper: (1) that science can provide empirical evidence of what it means to suffer emotional distress, thus helping to validate a claim that has always been subject to greater scrutiny; and (2) that this evidence may allow us to move away from the sharp distinction between how physical and emotional injuries are conceptualized, viewing both as valid types of harm with physiological origins.”
I find this "move away from the sharp distinction" stuff appalling, because – if accepted - it will surely become an instrument for tyranny.

Look at it this way: If a street perp breaks my arm trying to wrench my backpack away, I must wait hours in the triage line at the local hospital to get my arm reset. I can have whatever opinion I want, but my arm needs expert resetting regardless.

But, speaking of "emotional injuries": If I won’t leave the house for eighteen months because of that incident, even though I live in a generally safe neighbourhood or, if not, am free to move – it’s not the same thing, okay?

Sure, I would need help, but mainly psychological help with learning how to assess risk and take normal precautions. That's a choice, whereas getting a broken arm set is not.

The perp may be a miserable SOB who deserves to do time, but he is not directly responsible for my inability to cope.

Hence the law’s reasonable distinction between physical and emotional injuries. It's a question of how much control we have over how much we suffer. But, of course, those who do not believe in the existence of the mind or of free will would be attracted to views of the type noted in the abstract above.

My view: Instead of changing the law, how about free, non-violent self-defense courses for women? I’ll dig deep for that. I think non-violent self-defense courses should be part of a normal education anyway, like drownproofing and fire safety. We feel better about ourselves when we learn to access all the self-protection strategies available to us.

More "Neuroscience and society" stories. (Note: You must scroll past this story first.)

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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