Monday, 25 June 2007

I Am Sometimes Somewhat Color-Aroused

I Am Sometimes Somewhat Color-Aroused

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Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog and MyLeftWing

I am, at certain times and under certain circumstances, skin-color aroused. I offer myself and the facts of my case NOT as a perfect example of how to cope with color-arousal but rather as evidence that color-arousal exists and, perhaps, to offer some clues as to what can be done about it in cases where it becomes problematic.

Some people insist that they are “color blind” “or do not see color.” When someone says this to me, I ask them to tell me what color their car and house are. If they say, “my car is red and my house is green,” then I ask them how they know that. If they tell me, “I have eyes, I can see,” then I have learned two things about that person: (1) The person is NOT color-blind, because if they were they would not be able to perceive the color of their car and house and (2) the person is a “liar.” They misstate facts about their own biology “color-blindness” for the purpose of creating a false impression or maintaining a false self-image of themselves.

As a matter of biology, a person who is truly color-blind cannot perceive the difference between hues of red and green and yellow. But two colors they CAN clearly distinguish between are black and white. People who cannot distinguish between black and white are not “color-blind.” They are simply “blind” and can see nothing at all. The concept of “color-blindness” as to skin color is part of the fantasy world of color-aroused ideation (I can’t see color) and behavior (lying) in which too many of us spend too much of our time.

The biology of our natural world depends upon the existence of color in so many ways that to deny the existence of color, or to endeavor literally not to perceive color is a symptom of insanity. Colors tell us whether a tomato is ripe enough to eat or unripe enough to give us a severe stomach ache. Colors help us to distinguish between a harmless fly and a bee whose sting could cause a painful welt or even a fatal allergic reaction. We cannot dispense with the perception of color and it is not necessary to do so.

Although bees are yellow, most of us are sufficiently sophisticated in our perception and observation that we are able to distinguish dangerous yellow bees from harmless yellow butterflies. Even when the colors are virtually identical other cues enable us to distinguish between these insects. But, we are only able to make this distinction if we do not generalize about the harmfulness of a “color,” engaging instead in a more close observation and analysis of other characteristics in addition to color. A person who has a generalized fear of everything that is little and yellow has a “phobia.” Phobias can be mentally disabling if they are sufficiently pervasive and extreme.

As I said above, I am aroused by skin-color. When I perceive my own skin-color and that of others, I am aroused to ideation (thoughts) and emotions (fear, anger, envy, jealousy, hate, sadness, mirth, etc.) and this ideation and emotion sometimes become manifest in my outward behavior. Although I experience color arousal and I sometimes observe it in others, I cannot tell you what THE symptoms are of color-arousal. As with any inquiry into a person’s mental functioning, only interviews with the individual, a review of the individual’s history and close observation can lead to an understanding of that person’s ideation, emotion and behavior.

Were this not so, we could simply refer to a textbook to learn the stereotypical symptoms of a medical condition and dispense with all doctor-patient interviews. Physicians would have no need to talk to, observe or tests individuals at all if all symptoms could be understood stereotypically, with reference to one comprehensive and unchanging universal list. Instead, in medicine, diagnosis starts with the individual "signs" (what the patient describes) and "symptoms" (what the doctor observes) and works outward, rather than starting with a definition and working inward.

As I said, I cannot tell you what THE symptoms of color-arousal are. The symptoms are as varied as there are people and skin-colors. What conceptually makes the symptoms similar across various individual cases is only that the the symptoms include ideation, emotion and behavior that are aroused by the perception color of one’s own skin and/or the color of others’ skin.

For example, when I see a white man walking with a Black woman, I sometimes am aroused to have specific ideation that leads to peculiar emotion and behavior. My ideation is that “that white man ought not to be walking with that beautiful Black woman. Why don’t I have a Black woman as beautiful as she? This is terribly unfair!”

I am NOT reporting this as “model ideation” or as “universal ideation.” I am reporting it merely as MY ideation at some times and under certain circumstances, for the purpose of offering ONE example of color-aroused ideation. However, from discussions with other Black people, I know that there are other people who are sometimes aroused to this ideation by this particular stimulus or cue. Black Woman Struggles with Color-Aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior, with a Bi-Chromatic Couple Cue

Is my color-arousal "benign," "mild," "moderate" or "extreme" in this case? Don't you need to know how and whether I act upon my ideation and emotions in order to form an opinion about that?

Consider the case of woman I interviewed whom I will refer to here as "America." "America" says,
"When I see them, [a bi-chromatic couple] my first thought is 'here we go again, another Black man lost to white woman.' Then my second thought is 'Why does this man feel that a Black woman is not good enough for him,' and then comes the anger and irritation." Black Woman Struggles with Color-Aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior, with a Bi-Chromatic Couple Cue
America experiences skin-color aroused ideation, thought and (if you read the case, you will discover) color-aroused problematic behavior.

Also see, Skin-Color, Urban Murder and Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECA): "The Elephant That Wont Go Away"

Bi-chromatic couples are a stimulus that arouses that particular woman's color-aroused ideation, emotions and behavior. With color-arousal, we experience ideation (thoughts) and/or emotions and/or behavior in response to a “stimulus” or “cue” – skin-color.

It is crucial to distinguish between ideation and emotion on the one hand and behavior on the other hand. When I personally see bi-chromatic couples in public, I may comment upon it later to my wife, but I NEVER comment upon it or otherwise communicate by ideation or emotion or behavior to the actual couple. This is because my other ideation with respect to bi-chromatic couples includes a belief that they have a right to stroll with, date and marry whomever they want, no matter how I feel about it. I also believe that individuals ought not be confronted about their most personal lifestyle choices by strangers in public. I also know that confronting strangers in public is potentially dangerous and I wish to avoid those dangers.

So, there are aspects of my color-associated ideation that arouse me and other aspects of my color-aroused ideation that restrain me. I believe that this balance between arousal and restraint is an important difference between those who grumble over color-stimuli in their environment and those who eventually kill or maim others when aroused by skin-color stimuli. (See the cases of Douglas Williams and the woman I have called "America" below for examples of what can happen when individuals experience but fail to exercise control over their color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior.)

Some people will conclude that because I am color-aroused, I am “racist.” If so, they will have missed the entire point of this discussion. Unfortunately, some people will miss the entire point here and so they will learn nothing at all, even if the read all of the words I have written. Particularly with respect to matters involving skin-color, such people show an overwhelming preference for simplicity, even to the extent of being unable to learn anything new at all. Their preference for simplicity in “calling-out” the perpetrators of “racism” actually mirrors the simplistic stereotypical thinking of the “racists” themselves.

In fact, the stereotypical and simplistic thinking of symptomatic of color-arousal often affects both those who are perpetrators of “racism” and those who say they vehemently oppose it. Their simplistic and reductive thinking itself is a symptom of color-aroused ideation, and this reductionism is almost inevitably manifested in their emotions and behavior.

When people say “you’re a racist,” they are demonstrating the preference for simplicity that mirrors the stereotypical thinking of the racist (“all Blacks or whites or Asians bad”). There is nothing simple at all about human ideation, emotion and behavior. It is inevitably complex, depending as it does upon personal history, learned thoughts and behavior, personal choice, present environment, circumstances, stress, etc.

Compare our thinking about “racism” to our thinking about another human behavior, for example, the behavior of the financial markets. To describe the financial markets, we have individual names for every “product,” “practice,” “movement” and “trend.” We have highly-paid consultants to work with individuals to help us understand this language and these concepts and to help us maximize our financial behavior and manage their “risk.” We speak about “bull” and “bear markets,” “fluctuations,” “balloons” and “risk adversity.” The vocabulary increases with the increasing complexity of our society and our understanding of financial concepts.

Meanwhile, to describe “racism” we have only one word: “racism.”

If we know very little about “racism” and find it impossible to discuss the topic usefully and meaningfully with each other, part of the reason is our insistence upon an infantile simplicity of our language.

Even toddlers may know the difference between a “horse” and a “pony”, a “cat” and a “kitten.” And yet we have no words in our vocabulary that would help us to readily distinguish between a “racist” who won’t see all-white films and a “racist” who drags strangers behind a pickup truck or rapes them because of their skin color. Are they really “all the same” or does our simplistic thinking on this point mirror the thinking of the racists themselves who say that “whites are all the same” or “Blacks are all the same”? Shouldn’t we have some words to distinguish between big “racists” and small ones? Otherwise, don’t we show ourselves to be even less sophisticated than our own children?

Are we really more simple-minded than even our children are? Personally, I believe there are some very important practical differences between people whose color-arousal is manifested most extremely in a choice to marry someone of their own skin color and, on the one hand, others whose color arousal is manifested most extremely in a choice to kill a stranger, unprovoked.

In emergency psychiatric medicine, “dangerousness” is one of the first characteristics of a patient that interests a psychiatrist working in an emergency room, and for obvious reasons. Don't Ignore D.L. Hughley's Symptoms of Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECA)

If the patient is “a danger to himself and/or others” than that needs to be addressed before any other aspect of the patients condition can be. Will he attack the interviewing doctor? Will he jump out of a window or impetuously swallow medicines laying on a table nearby? One purpose of emergency psychiatry’s vocabulary and terminology is to help doctor and nurses determine these facts and convey them quickly and precisely to others. The bald words “racist” and “racism” simply offers no insight whatsoever into the “dangerousness” of any particular individual. Therefore, these words fails the most basic test of practical utility for helping us to avoid and prevent the dangers presented by people who have extreme color-aroused disorder (ECA).

I believe that it would be useful to expand our vocabulary beyond the word “racist” to describe and distinguish between these two behaviors. And we must certainly ask ourselves why our vocabulary for defining and describing the financial markets is so rich while our common vocabulary for describing color-arousal is composed of one single word. We must ask ourselves why we prefer it this way.

Let us discuss “dangerousness” in the context of color-arousal, using myself and my color-aroused ideation in response to bi-chromatic couples as an example along the spectrum of dangerousness in color-arousal. In Practice Guidelines for the Psychiatric Evaluation of Adults, the American Psychiatric Association says, in a paragraph entitled “MENTAL STATUS EXAMINATION,”
The purpose of the mental status examination is to obtain evidence of symptoms and signs of mental disorders, including dangerousness to self and others, that are present at the time of the interview. Further, evidence is obtained regarding the patient’s insight, judgment, and capacity for abstract reasoning to inform decisions about treatment strategy and the choice of an appropriate treatment setting. Thus, the mental status examination is a systematic collection of data based on observation of the patient’s behavior while the patient is in the psychiatrist’s view during, before, and after the interview. During the mental status examination, the patient might also mention past symptoms and signs, but these should be recorded under the history of the present illness.

Responses to specific questions are an important part of the mental status examination (71, 72), particularly in the assessment of cognition. Consequently, in recording the findings of the mental status examination, it is useful to include examples that illustrate the clinical observations. For example, it would be preferable to note that the patient exhibited poor judgment in precipitously attempting to remove his intravenous line rather than simply describing the patient’s judgment as impaired. Practice Guidelines for the Psychiatric Evaluation of Adults.
Practice guidelines are necessary precisely because “some are sicker than others.” While it should be readily apparent that some people who are color-aroused are also dangerous, it should be equally apparent that NOT all people who are color-aroused present an immediate risk of physical injury to themselves and others. CNN: Workplace Shooter Described as an “Angry” The case of Doug Williams, a white color-aroused worker in a Mississippi Martin Marietta plan, is a case in point:
MERIDIAN, Miss., July 9 “When he overheard a black man complimenting a white woman a couple of years ago on the factory floor, Doug Williams stepped up to the man and, using a racial slur, angrily told him blacks had no business being with blond women, witnesses recalled today.

When a black colleague complained last month that the white protective shoe-covering Mr. Williams was wearing on his head looked like a Ku Klux Klansman’s pointy hood, and his boss at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant a few miles outside of Meridian told him to take the bootie off his head or go home, Mr. Williams went home, company officials said today.

On Monday, Mr. Williams, 48, told his father he was ticked off that he would have to attend an ethics and sensitivity training course the next morning, the authorities say. A few minutes after it began, Mr. Williams left the room, returned from his pickup truck armed to the teeth, and began blasting away at close range at people who had known him, and known of his quick temper and simmering hatred, for years.

In less than 10 minutes, the authorities said, five people were dead, including at least one who had been offended by the bootie stunt three weeks earlier. An additional nine were wounded, at least one trying to wrest a shotgun away from Mr. Williams, as he stalked through the plant floor, shooting at some people, letting others live, following no discernible pattern. WhitePrivilege.Com, CNN: Workplace Shooter Described as an “Angry,” CNN Transcripts
Although some people have called me a “racist” at MyLeftWing, all they really know about me is that (1) I write about issues of skin-color, (2) I support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president, (3) I object to all-white movie casts and prefer color-integrated movie casts, (3) I have participated at three majority white blog sites and been banned from two (4) the fondling of blonde hair in public reminds of me of the white male supremacy paradigm. Many of them have also observed that I engage in constant dialogue with white people, I refrain from swearing at white people and Black people even when they swear at me, and I am an immigration lawyer in retirement.

Are these the characteristic symptoms and personal history of someone who shoots his co-workers because of extreme color-arousal? Does it matter? If we don’t know, wouldn’t it be interesting to study this topic enough to find out?

Do the characteristics I have described in myself, when taken alone, make me "extremely" color-aroused? If so, what qualifying adjective should we use to describe Doug Williams (above) who shot his co-workers and then killed himself because of extreme color-arousal? If we call my known symptoms and his equally "extreme" then doesn't the word "extreme" lose all value as a descriptive adjective?

Clearly, because Doug Williams' ideation, emotion and behavior led to his murder/suicide, we must consider his behavior to be at the extreme end of the spectrum. But, in medicine, the words extreme and "severe" have meaning only in relation to the words "benign," "mild" and "moderate." The insistence that all color-arousal is equally extreme prevents us from distinguishing the color-arousal that is really extreme enough to require diagnosis and treatment. The insistence that all color-arousal is equally extreme banalizes the murder suicide of Doug Bowman and deters those who are less color-aroused than Doug Bowman from acknowledging their color arousal and seeing what they can do about it.

As for me and my case, is there any additional information that readers or psychiatrists would be needed to make a diagnosis of the level and degree of my color-arousal as compared to the level and degree of Doug Williams' color-arousal? Of course we need more information to achieve even a barely adequate understanding!

For example, isn’t there a practical difference among “bad drivers” between people who occasionally run yellow lights and people who habitually drive while drunk? If bad drivers and their behaviors were “all the same,” then why would we have different penalties for different infractions of motor vehicle laws? If we carefully distinguish between various kinds of “bad driving,” does it really help us to predict and prevent the consequences of color-arousal when we group every color-associated ideation, emotion and behavior into one undifferentiated “racist” mass?

People who are not interested in answering these questions or in studying the problem of color-arousal with this level of specificity really have no business “diagnosing” others with “racism” or any other mental illness. Simplistic thinking is not useful and it stands as a barrier to the real scientific inquiry that can lead the way toward prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of Extreme Color Aroused Disorder (ECA).

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