Go To- Bell Let’s Talk: Mental Health – Part I, Part III – Internet of Things, Part IV – Privacy
Alexander Graham Bell would be very proud of his invention if he knew how the telephone inspired new inventions in the telecommunications industry. After the invention of the telephone there came television and its developments, then around WWII the computer and then came the wonderful invention of the World Wide Web and the internet. These inventions basically took its inspirations from the telephone and its infrastructure. We now have yards and yards and yards of television and telephone cables connecting each household to a cable and telephone connection to provide daily news and entertainment to families in each household. The World Wide Web was first used through the telephone line to connect each household’s computer enabling them to communicate with each other. These inventions have drastically changed the way we humans talk and listen to each other. We can send notes, pay bills, play games, listen to music and watch TV all through the internet. In fact the internet is so widely used and depended upon that it has significantly reduced and is some cases fully replaced the regular door-to-door mail services. No more tying notes to the legs of birds to fly their message to an intended recipient! No more smoke messages and no more kings dispatching their couriers on dangerous missions just to deliver a letter.
Now Bell has certainly taken the lead in absorbing these technologies ensuring Alexander Graham Bell’s invention did not fall to the waste side. Bell now absorbed into its business model the concept, architecture and infrastructure based from the simple telephone line and merged internet cable, DSL, Fiber optics, even satellite so that households may benefits from one simple cable line all three services of telephone, internet and TV. But what does this have to do with mental health? These are new modes for which we communicate (talking and listening) we can now do it faster and talk to people across the planet like as if they are next door. Clusters of business models began to form such as emails, websites, text messages and social media are all forms in which we communicate and with these devices and services our personal stresses in response to its use have heighten some in positive ways and others for worse.
Let’s take for example stalking and bullying. Bullying used to be a silly activity saved for the bad boys and girls in schools and play yards but now technology has provided the means to take stalking and bullying to a whole new level. Now you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to harass your target. Imagine the stress of a teenager who is the brunt of cruel tricks and harassment, getting bullied in school is bad enough but also having to deal with these stressful circumstances in the privacy and comfort of home and mobile devices is certainly disconcerting.
Online abuse is no less real than offline abuse; nor can it be ignored. More than half of the women (55 per cent) who had experienced abuse or harassment experienced stress, anxiety or panic attacks as a direct result, 68 per cent felt a loss of self-esteem or self-confidence and 66 per cent felt powerless to respond to abuse or harassment online. Laura Bates voiced her concern that the psychological impact of online abuse continues to be downplayed and unacknowledged. She said: ‘The psychological impact of reading through someone’s really graphic thoughts about raping and murdering you is not necessarily acknowledged. You could be sitting at home in your living room, outside of working hours, and suddenly someone is able to send you an incredibly graphic rape threat right into the palm of your hand.’ When talking about mental health through the use of telecommunications bullying and stalking is only the tip of the iceberg.
Bell Let’s Talk Big Data and Behavioral Science
Absolutely central to all forms of behaviorisms is the idea of “conditioning”. We learn something because it’s immediately followed by a “please effect” known as “reinforcement”. This was American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher, Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) Skinner’s own contribution to behaviorism, and it led to his argument that human beings could be trained through conditioning to engage in socially responsible behaviors and refrain from irresponsible ones. We are already conditioned by the circumstance in which we live presently which happens randomly and in a haphazard way. But what if psychologists and psychiatrists, with the backing of the government of course, were allowed to condition the general population to behave in (non)violent or anti-social ways? [Political Psychology, 2014]
We already know all sorts of behavioral social experiments are being conducted through the internet on unsuspecting individuals that would leave you preferring authentic human-to-human connections rather than spending time online only to find that you’ve been deliberately isolated and segregated because you don’t fit into some “category” that is socially acceptable. People with high neuroticism are excellent candidates for these types of experiments especially for neuro-technology’s brainwave monitoring devices that employs the use of “neuro-nanite” chips that is meant to alter brainwave activity in unison with social engineering attacks and social conditioning propaganda video games as it provides rich data for those who are susceptible to emotional triggers.
The door is wide open for these types of human experimentation to take place, for as of today there are no firm rules on what brain information can be gathered from people and with whom it can be shared with. It is called data-manipulation turned psychological warfare employed by data-analytics firms. This is a story that brings social psychology, data-analytics, mass data-harvesting by employing military psychological warfare techniques and strategies on a civilian population. “It [brought] psychology, propaganda, and technology together in this powerful new way.” says David Miller about the Cambridge Data Analytical scandal, a professor of sociology, an authority in psyops and propaganda. He says “it is an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open about where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”
Social Engineering Attacks
SEA is the art of gaining information and restricted privileges by directly exploiting the human psychology of those in possession of these resources. In particular, social engineers frequently employed to gain access to computer systems networks and confidential data. A competent, social engineer customizes each attack to a specific person taking advantage of the person’s culture, knowledge, training, state of mind, beliefs, and biases. An exhaustive list of all possible exploits is infinite…Locate and “explore” the full range of your “emotions”, strengths and weaknesses then “exploit” them and what you get in terms of reaction you “extract” the data. It’s an emotionally exhausting technique that heavily relies on and works best when the subject is in complete social and economic isolation and exclusion (including sleep and food deprivation). This becomes almost necessary to effectively employ the various manipulation and brainwashing tactics meant to exhaust the subject’s emotions and perception of reality. Otherwise, it would not work as effectively if the subject had the social and economic means to seek support to help them stay anchored in reality.
Ultimately, the objective to confuse the subject by using the power of suggestion and brainwashing techniques meant to induce the subject to question his/her reality, beliefs (religious or not), romantic inclinations, sexual identity, self-esteem, social standings, thus manufacturing a sense of confusion and hopelessness almost to the point of suicide. Depending on the capabilities of the AI or as a result of lying, in addition to trial SE attacks such as lying, befriending, blackmailing, hypnotizing and forming romantic relationships, the AI (machine learning) could utilize a number or more advanced strategies.
This is all part of the process designed to exploit and wear down the subject’s psychological and emotional defenses so they’d become receptive and malleable as a form of [re]conditioning and/or [de]radicalization “treatment” or to cause psychological harm in the hopes of destabilizing the subject’s mental state – a ‘dumbing down’ process – designed to make individuals passive and controllable, stripped of their personality and identity features that make them the unique individual that they are. All things considered, under these conditions, it is easy to see how the mental state of a person could become stressed and unstable.
These techniques no doubt have been developed from effective harassment and cyber-bullying techniques, in which case, the perpetrators are motivated by hate expressed through forms of racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism, ableism, classism, jealousy, revenge and religious intolerance to name a few, however using these techniques in a clinical setting – for whatever the reason – is just as effective.
Bell Let’s Talk Bill C51 Anti-Terrorism Bill vs Political Dissent
In the case of political dissent, finding “persuadable” voters is key to any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people with high neuroticism, by finding emotional triggers for each individual voter. It was through Facebook that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals to collect psychological insights by obtaining its vast data-sets and “harvested Facebook data (legally) for “research purposes” and published pioneering peer-reviewed work about determining personality traits, political partisanship, sexuality and much more from people’s Facebook “likes”.
“Adjustment to society” is a common term used in psychiatry as a criterion of mental health. Those who behave in ways that are unacceptable to society are given a choice to “convert or overt”. The goal is to encourage behavior so that they can re-define their place in the community, adjusted to its norms and mores. Psychiatrists were once called upon to urge the powers that be, especially governments, to modify the social and political activity to strive for an improved society. Since psychiatric illnesses has its roots primarily in economic political and cultural inequalities, it is here psychiatrists decided to operate more accurately.
December 2016, the Liberal government tabled a discussion paper asking for feedback on proposed changes to the Conservatives Anti-Terrorism Bill C51 entitled the National Security Green Paper. Under the subsection ‘Prevention‘ the concept of “radicalization to violence” is discussed outlining it “as a process whereby a person or group of people adopts a belief or ideological position that moves them toward extremism, violence and, ultimately, to terrorist activity.”
They assert the following points that “it is not a crime to be a ‘radical’, nor to have ‘radical thoughts’ or ‘ideas’. But as a society, the goal must be to prevent violence of all kinds, including violence committed in the name of radical ideologies or beliefs, and activities that support such violence such as facilitation and financing.” To this degree, they are trying to better understand how and why violent radicalization typically takes root.
This type of concern and what to do about it is reminiscent of what came out of the Soviet (and American) halls of mental institutions between late 60s- early 80s. In the book, Psychiatric Terror by Sidney Bloch the use of psychiatry as a political weapon in the Soviet Union namely through the labeling of sane dissenters as mentally ill and in need of ‘compulsory hospitalization’ and ‘treatment’. Reports began spilling through in the 1960s of how a substantial number of human rights activists, nationalists, religious believers and would-be emigrants, almost all mentally healthy in the eyes of their families and friends, were being declared insane by psychiatrists and there upon confirmed compulsory for indeterminate periods to psychiatric hospitals.
The authors show how communists (dissents) ideology had facilitated the rise of psychiatric school which views political dissent and other types of non-conformism as mental illness: and how a regime which is afraid of its own people and rules through a rigid and uniform bureaucracy – to which all doctors belong – had given this school a virtual monopoly. In doing so they follow a specific formula. First the dissenters would be charged with an “anti-Soviet” offence and declared ‘not responsible’ so as to discredit their convictions on the basis of insanity and ordered by the court for these “sick people” to receive compulsory treatment in a psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period of time. Rather than receiving appropriate care, the dissenters encountered brutal and punitive “treatment”, including diagnostic therapy that use medications to alter the brain in an apparent effort to stamp out their ‘non-conformist behavior.”
The tools and methods of psychiatry are perfectly suited to this social function. ‘Labeling’ and ‘classification’ are two essential ingredients. “To classify another person’s behavior is usually a means of constraining him…” No matter the type of psychiatrist involved with the dissenters, the Soviet approach to psychiatric diagnosis is the concept or variation of schizophrenia which is a critical help in labeling dissenters as having a ‘mental illness’ while psychopathy, particularly of the paranoid type, is the alternative pigeon hold for dissenters but less commonly used. In diagnosing a dissenter you’ll commonly hear “…overvalues his own importance and may exhibit grandiose ideas of reforming the world or offer new inventions of outstanding significance.”
In similar cases it was transparent that the role of the psychiatry was to “medicalize” a political question and by doing so to “depoliticize” it, is very interesting. It is important, however, to see that it was not so much that the Soviet protesters were being punished for their protest, although they themselves clearly believed they were. Rather, the State seemed concerned to invalidate a social and political protest by declaring the protesters to be invalids, sick, in need of care and protection to cure them of their delusions that there were any blemishes on the features of the Soviet state. Forensic psychiatrists were asked to diagnose the “disease” of the Soviet protesters who are not behaving very differently from their counterparts in the West. [Not in Our Genes, rev.2018]
“Labels like social engineer and behavioral controller are commonly used to depict the psychiatrist role (referred to as radical psychiatry)”. No matter the type of psychiatrist involved with the dissenter, the Soviet approach to psychiatric diagnosis was particularly the concept of schizophrenia, is a critical help in labeling dissent as mental illness. The focus is mainly on schizophrenia for it is the diagnosis that has usually been applied. [Psychiatric Terror]
Once inside their hospitals it did not prove so easy to achieve release. The experimenter’s claims to normality were disregarded and most found themselves treated as mere objects by nurses and doctors and released only after considerable periods of time. A pseudo patient who took notes in one of the hospitals for instance was described by nurses as showing “compulsive writing behavior”. [Not in Our Genes]
The most frequently used phrase are; “paranoid, reformist delusional ideas” (a variant includes “paranoid delusions of reforming society or re-organization of the state apparatus, “critical attitude towards his abnormal condition” (or situation), “moralizes” (or opinions have moralizing character”), “over-estimation of his own personality” (or “over inflation of his capabilities), and “poor adaptation to the social environment”. Two or more of these criteria are usually combined in the case reports on dissenters.
“He expresses with enthusiasm and great feeling reformist ideas concerning the teaching of the Marxist classics, revealing in the process a clear over-estimation of himself and an unshakable conviction of his own righteousness…”
“…delusional reformist ideas and an absence of criticism towards his own condition and the situation which has developed…”
“His political thinking is grossly contradictory. He minimizes his actions and does not comprehend their criminal treacherous nature…”
“He considers himself to be a political figure of world-wide significance who will be defended by the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations.”
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPPs”) are when Big Resources (private or public sector) sue Little Resources (individuals, non-profit organizations) in order to silence them. Read BCCLA’s Blog: anti-SLAPP
A criterion dominant in all three reports is the dissenter’s conviction that society or the state or Marxism-Lennism must be changed. This “reformism” is arbitrarily labelled by the psychiatrist as delusional in character (i.e. the dissenter manifests false beliefs and holds on to them with unshakeable tenacity). The case reports showed no evidence of any serious examination by the psychiatrist of the dissenter’s criticism to determine whether or not he/she is delusional. Rather they frequently twist and distort his views to make them appear symptomatic of illness. Thus the dissenter’s belief that supporters in the West would speak up in his defense is a form of the delusions of grandeur as quoted above. Similarly in Grigorenko’s case report, his views on human rights are distorted, paranoid and made to appear grandiose. All his energy and activity is ‘devoted’ to the fight for the ‘truth’ and the creation of conditions which would exclude injustice from the life of the community.”
“As we saw when Gorbanevskaya’s interpretation that she was sent for psychiatric examination after her arrest to avoid an awkward trial at which she could make a defiant speech, is reported by the psychiatrist in such a way to suggest that she was paranoid” is sure she was sent for diagnosis” so that there would be no noise”; “because it suited the public prosecutor”. Her interpretation was soon to be correct.
Indeed the clinical reports available are full of blatant distortions of many kinds clearly designed, in most cases, to buttress a diagnosis of schizophrenia. …The dissenters whose cases are well documented have not advocated some extraordinary scheme for changing the entire society but have been operating within an internationally recognized movement for the promotion of human rights for Soviet citizens. These are not bizarre confused thoughts of madmen but rather the political and social views of a group of people closely involved with the realities of their society. On the contrary many dissenters clearly believe that their campaigns to achieve basic human rights for Soviet citizens will necessarily be protracted and frustrating. They understand well that their movement is small and subject to constant erosion through arrest, exile and compulsory hospitalization.
In the end, there was much pressure on the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) to censure Soviet psychiatry and boycott professional meetings organized by the Soviets. The WPA finally passed an appropriate resolution in 1977, and the Soviet Union subsequently withdrew from the organization.
Advocate, Radical, Terrorist
Back to present day, 2019. The clandestine nature of the internet has proven to be a useful tool to recruit new members into terrorist’s organizations and it makes an ideal venue for recruitment because it is easily accessible and difficult to monitor and control. It also permits speedy and anonymous communications with large numbers of people and possesses an immediacy that allows disparate people in different parts of world to come together in an intimate space and to engage in a free (and initially anonymous) exchange of views and ideas.
The government has a difficult task of determining whether an individual is expressing their right to freedom of expression or if they’ve passed the threshold onto radicalization and poses a potential threat. This is where B. F. Skinner’s mass ‘behavior modification’ through conditioning becomes handy because citizens tend to soften their words or don’t participate when they know their online activity is being monitored by the government. It’s difficult as it is to worry about online predators trolling your communication to satisfy some self-serving need (especially for women), we now also have to worry about the government observing our activities. In my opinion individuals should worry more about harassment from online trolls and predators than they do from the government. The government is looking for something specific for the sake of national security and is more likely to ignore such online chatter than from predators or someone who has a personal vendetta against an individual and is seeking to silence them. Regardless, individuals shouldn’t have to suppress their creative expression for the sake of their government nor for anyone else for that matter.
The government is asking us to place a great amount of faith in our law enforcement and national security systems. Yet online monitoring may address the symptom but not the cause. De-radicalization programs and online monitoring is counterproductive. Many people act out for various reasons and is mostly likely harmless. Therefore, we must think not only about who might get prosecuted, but also the expression that is getting chilled because of the threat of prosecution.
Individual activism can prove to be helpful to push government to release those legal documents, for example, and offer opinions that re-define the law instead of being redefined behind closed doors. Allowing this enormous surveillance practice to become the norm would lead to mistrust between the individual and the State, collective conformity and complacency out of fear of being targeted as a radical, terrorist and a potential threat to national security. We cannot succumb to the temptation of criminalizing free expression. Creativity, expression, opinion, and art are not the same as terrorist propaganda. For if we do criminalize free expression, through its “chill” effect will undermines one of the chief freedoms of a democratic society: the right of every Canadian to free speech and free expression.
Furthermore enabling the government to remove online content and even delete websites from the Internet – directly undermining our Freedom of Expression, and Freedom of Thought, Belief, and Opinion. We should remain diligent in curbing information sharing powers that allow Canadians to be targeted for engaging in activities of protest, advocacy, and dissent, or artistic expression, chilling activity on and off the Internet. Canadians should never be targeted for exercising their right to free expression.
Chill of any speech has serious consequences for democratic life, and impacts on security and public safety. Criminalizing extremist views alienates these individuals from their communities. Even worse the impact of moderating and silencing these voices has a chilling effect that can drive speech offline and underground. Diagnosing someone as a potential threat can cause harm and threatens their democratic rights and freedoms. Human rights activist, Mohamed Fahmy was quoted saying, “People won’t be deterred by bombs and war anymore, and we need education and engagement with civic society groups.” Get into a curriculum, any curriculum to introduce new ideas and ways of thinking (i.e. tolerance and democracy) to counter radicalization.
Therefore, how can we differentiate an advocate vs a radical vs a terrorist? Should we be worried and more importantly; when should we be worried?
In keeping with our theme of “Let’s talk Mental Health”, here is what we know. Family members and friends are often the first ones aware of an individual who is being bullied on one side of the spectrum all the way to the first steps down the path of radicalization to violence – and may be in the best position to steer them away. Radicalization to violence, even bullying, is often driven by “narratives” that reduce local and global events to a few simplistic ideas. It frequently takes place within networks and communities, both physical and virtual (the Internet often plays a critical role). Radicalization to violence can be incited through bullying by friends, mentors or other influential individuals. Association with radicalized people can influence others to adopt a similar perspective.
Want to maintain your mental health when it comes to online activities? I seriously suggest that you disengage or seriously limit your time on social media(s) with artificial connections and pay more attention to making and sustaining more human-to-human, heart-to-heart connections. It will save you a lot of heartache and a lot of headaches. Yet when we are engaged with our social media activities, we want to pay attention, even in the most, remote of ways because so much of who we are and what we do is reflected in our online activities. Citizens need constant reminders of what’s lurking within our social media platforms and become more informed and knowledgeable about how our data and online communications are being captured and used for purposes other than what we intend. For those who are digitally naive will soon find themselves falling into a potential trap of either having their account surveillance because their online expressions are too vocal and/or being targeted by a social engineering attack aimed at learning and gathering more information about you.
“…This is one of our greatest challenges in the digital era.” says Katrina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions “If we are not exposed to different viewpoints our ability to contribute to the democratic process by exercising our critical sense we will not be good citizens because we will not have our visions broaden and this will prevent us from participating to contribute in an enlightened way to democratic life and the consequences are that democracy is undermined….In many ways we have become the new arbiters of information and have an important responsibility to facilitate respectful and informed public discourse just like government and private corporations have a public responsibility to contribute to a healthy democracy, social media platforms must begin to view themselves as actors in shaping the democratic discourse and protecting our democracy from those who would seek to harm it.”
Part III of: Bell Let’s Talk where we will discuss the wonderful and relatively new invention of the Internet of Things (IoT) what it has done can do for us in areas of physical and “mental health”.
Go To- Bell Let’s Talk: Mental Health – Part I, Part III – Internet of Things, Part IV – Privacy
Become The Change We Need
Did you like my story? Well let’s do something about it and become the change we need for those suffering from mental health stresses.