Re: PHIL: Extropy, Boundaries and Suicide

Anders Sandberg (
28 Feb 1998 18:49:48 +0100

Michael Lorrey <> writes:

>SInce 'mentally ill' is only defined by psychologists as a state where
>one's perception of reality differs from the mainstream, I think that
>this is not a criteria worth considering. By this definition, everyone
>on this list is quite insane.

I think you are misrepresenting psychology here. Mainstream psychology
has no accepted definition of the "mainstream" or "normality" people
are supposed to conform to (many of the suggested definitions are very
wide, and it should be remembered that Freud even denied the existence
of normality), and most definitions of mental disorders have little to
do with comparisions to a normal state and are instead defined from a
classification of their symptoms (as revealed unto mankind in the holy
DSM-IV :-).

The important question is of course when a state should be regarded as
a mental disorder or not. Modern psychology is aware of cultural
differences here (just look into any modern clinical psychiatry book),
but there are many states that are obviously undesirable even from the
perspective of the patient. A more general definition would be to say
that something is a mental disorder if it impairs a person's ability
to live a normal life - this is where the "normal" appears - but in
most cases this is a very basic "normal" like "able to interact with
other people, able to distinguish reality from imagination, will not
hurt himself". It can be abused, but usually it is fairly clear if
somebody can function or not. Where to draw the lines is widely
debated in psychiatry and psychology today, it is not a tacit

As for this list, I haven't noticed much insanity here. Most
extropians seem to be able to do reality-testing, so they are not
delusional. The paranoia level seems fairly normal for the internet in
the 90's. No obvious mood disorders as far as I can see, quite the

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y