Saturday, October 17, 2020

Lucy Kross Wallace Awakens from Wokeness

Lucy Kross Wallace… remember the name. She is a student at Stanford, obviously of superior intelligence. She has written a long and highly engaging essay on her transformation, from woke autism advocate to normal young woman. The article appeared on Quillette. (via Maggie's Farm) I am happy to share some of it.

Wallace opens by describing her high school life, infested as it was by social justice warriors. One understands, in reading this, that today’s American high school students are not being trained for tomorrow’s jobs. They are being trained to be useless layabouts and antifa rioters:

I knew a few social justice campaigners in high school. They were advocates, they liked to remind the rest of us, and they were endowed with holy outrage and an acute awareness of inequality and a passion for tolerance that never quite translated into actual kindness. They wore t-shirts that bore slogans like “The Future Is Female,” they crusaded against “oppressive” dress codes, and they confronted a patriarchal grading system. They were practised in the art of derailing conversation with accusations of heteronormativity or cultural appropriation. The battles they won (“We can wear tube tops now!”) were triumphs of resistance, while those they lost only accentuated the ubiquity of the inequity du jour. No matter how petty and irrational their grievances became, these students eluded criticism from peers, teachers, and administrators alike. Nobody wanted to take them on. After all, who wanted to argue with the pursuit of justice?

After graduating from high school, Wallace did not go directly to college. She checked herself into a series of psychiatric hospitals around the country. For the most part the doctors did not have a clue about what was wrong with her. It is a sad commentary on today’s “science” of psychiatry-- the profession that has claimed the ability to diagnose the president.

In time her doctors discovered that she suffered from autism:

I spent my gap year in psychiatric hospitals all over the western half of the country, being treated for an array of mental illnesses and symptoms that no one seemed to understand. A few weeks after I was accepted to colleges no one thought I’d be well enough to attend, I received a diagnosis of autism. It soon became clear the professionals’ misunderstanding of my condition had hindered my recovery. The treatments I’d attempted and failed tended to be unsuccessful with autistic patients, and the symptoms that had baffled so many clinicians made sense in this new diagnostic context. I was transferred to another hospital where the doctors had experience with patients on the spectrum. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, I was discharged by the middle of August, just in time to start my freshman year at Stanford—and my foray into advocacy.

In many ways she had been victimized by the mental health profession:

For most of my life, I had taken my intense introversion, obsessive thinking, and social clumsiness as evidence that there was something deeply wrong with me. Many of the adults around me seemed to agree. I spent most of my adolescence undergoing treatment for a vast constellation of psychiatric symptoms, and I was used to having every morsel of my behavior and cognitions dissected and pathologized. I was too rigid, anxious, obsessive, and compulsive. I didn’t socialize enough. I spent too much time on my schoolwork, procrastinating and panicking. My faults were meticulously recorded in medical charts and psychological assessments, an ever-growing inventory of ways in which I needed to be fixed. If I took my medication and put enough effort into treatment, the doctors informed my parents, I would perhaps one day reach that mythical state of recovery, wherein I would enjoy slumber parties and trips to the mall and the consistent achievement of developmental milestones. What a relief that would be for my family, for everyone, for all of my faults to be erased.

The autism diagnosis clarified the issues and her to something called the neurodiversity movement-- a version of what R. D. Laing and David Cooper had promoted as the ultimate explanation for schizophrenia-- psychotics did not have a problem; they were living testimony to society’s faults. We did not have to cure them. We needed to cure society. 

Naturally, the Laing message appealed to many schizophrenics at the time. Many stopped taking their medication and ended up performing some ghastly actions.

Wallace continues:

The autism diagnosis had finally persuaded my parents and doctors that these goals were unattainable, and led me to the neurodiversity movement. There, I encountered the unexpected and exhilarating notion that autism was not a disorder to be treated, but a way of being to celebrate. You can’t fix what isn’t broken. Nothing about us without us. Autistic people are the real autism experts. These slogans gave me the confidence to embrace the parts of myself I had despised for so long. I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t want to make eye contact, that I could flap my hands during a lecture if I wanted to, I could rock back and forth as much as I liked, I could eat meals alone, go to bed early, and turn down party invitations. In short, I could be perpetually, decidedly atypical—and that was okay.

I soon stumbled across the social model of disability, according to which, individuals are disabled not by medical conditions or specific diseases, but by a society that refuses to accommodate them. This theory neatly accounted for every painful experience of my past with just one word: ableism.

So, Wallace bought the woke narrative of victimhood and oppression.

This was my first intoxicating taste of empowerment born from victimhood. I was vindicated; exuberant. None of it had been my fault. All my doubts and self-hatred and guilt could be laid to rest. I had been the victim not only of circumstance and misfortune, but of oppression. The problem was simple, the solution equally so. I didn’t have to change—society did.

She was seduced by the narrative. It offered something that treatment and that everyday life did not. It offered a place within a historical movement. She could see her condition as a way into the revolutionary vanguard:

The implicit dichotomy underlying the social model, which divides the world into victims and perpetrators of ableism, gave me a binary choice. I could notice the ways in which I was privileged, assigning myself to the dominant group, or I could continue to concentrate on my misfortunes, convincing myself that I was innocent and helpless. I would play a constant game of sorting the world into good and bad, dominant and dominated, oppressor and oppressed. I would drift further and further from objectivity. I would grow obsessed with the injustice I saw all around me. And I would label myself the victim every time.

By the time I delivered it, I saw a world dominated by an inescapable, sinister force that posed a threat to the very wellbeing of every disabled person, including me. As ominous as this tableau appears, it was also incredibly seductive. Who wouldn’t want to be the hero working to defeat such unthinkable evil? Living in fight mode was electrifying. Zealotry imbued my life with intensity, every moment brimming with vivid symbolism and apocalyptic meaning. I was on fire, and at the same time, I was fragile. I never would have admitted it, but I think that beneath all the slogans and bravado, I knew how precarious my worldview really was, how quickly it would collapse under scrutiny or rigorous analysis.

To ward off the ever-present threat of reason, I hid behind an ever-growing sense of defiant helplessness. I continued to extend my repertoire of victimhood, learning to soak up other people’s indignation and to nurture borrowed resentment. I had built my identity on the paradoxical symbiosis of empowerment and inability. My victimhood absolved me of agency and therefore, blame. Everything was someone else’s fault.

And then, George Floyd died under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis. And wokeness invaded Wallace’s world. She offers an arresting picture of what was happening on the Stanford campus at the time:

Mid-June, the academic year came to a premature halt in the wake of George Floyd’s death. I pored over lists of required reading for allies: 40 bail funds you should support, 120 brilliant YA novels by black authors, 3,934 things you can do to make up for your internalized white supremacy. I contemplated a major in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, signed petitions, and dutifully absorbed messages of self-hatred and complicity. I attended Stanford’s Black Lives Matter vigil, led by an organizer who added an unnecessary “s” to the term “folx” and wore a brittle, venomous expression. She began her remarks with a warning: “If you don’t feel comfortable here, you might ask yourself why that is—and whether you are part of the problem.” Her words stung, and I drank them in eagerly. I was there to repent. I took a certain perverse pleasure in self-flagellation. So, by way of atonement, I donated to bail funds, seduced by the reward of finding myself “on the right side of history.”

No longer was she a victim of the oppressive capitalist patriarchy, or some such. Now she was atoning, flagellating herself, punishing herself for the sins of everyone who was ever born with white skin.

I spiraled deeper into self-loathing, unable to shake the accusations of racism and bigotry from my mind, crippled by the guilt I had initially embraced. The harder I tried to atone, the more hopeless I became. “I just want to be a good person,” I texted a friend midway through June. “I’m just trying to educate myself about injustice. I don’t know if I can keep up. The bar just kept rising.” “Read this,” she responded, forwarding me a link to New Discourses.

We see how young people were drawn into this madness. It is not a pretty picture. And yet, she had a wake-up call. The madness brought her clarity:

With all of this laid out before me, I could no longer ignore the fact that my obsession with justice hadn’t made me a good advocate; it had made me unbearable. My prolonged and pointless exercise in hubris had left me exhausted and miserable. It boiled down to this: did I want to keep living this way, or did I want to change? I chose the latter. I decided to stop fighting for justice, to swap vague and grandiose aspirations for the loose ends of everyday life. I no longer want to rid the world of ableism, but I do want to be kind to others and memorize Russian verbs and gain followers on my blog and return library books on time and get more people access to mental health first aid training and remember my friends’ birthdays and listen to indie rock and research psychosis and brush up on my French… and none of this fits into a neat dichotomy of right versus wrong or good versus evil.

She concluded:

There were no lurking demons or plots against me, just genetic misfortune and a broken healthcare system and well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful clinicians. I am neither hero nor villain. The understanding that most things aren’t about me, that at the end of the day, I don’t matter much, has come as both a disappointment and a relief. I’ve let go of the need to seek out constant verification that I am oppressed and disadvantaged. My sense of humor has returned. I’ve come to recognize the greatest irony of my forays into activism: In my quest to draw constant attention to my developmental abnormalities, I ended up acting in the most developmentally normal way possible.

An impressive journey, an impressive writer, an impressive mind:

Over recent months, in moving away from autism advocacy, I’ve rediscovered my sense of self. I am unafraid to speak my mind and stray from the crowd. I can be alone without feeling lonely. It certainly doesn’t take victimhood for me to know who I am, and I would rather demonstrate my character through action than stifle it with slogans.


trigger warning said...

Impressive young woman. I wish her the best. It appears she's finally been deprogrammed from the Grace of Victimhood cult.

"For the most part the doctors did not have a clue about what was wrong with her. It is a sad commentary on today’s 'science' of psychiatry..."

It's useful to remember that statistical analysis of interdiagnostican agreement among DSM-V adult diagnostic category diagnoses, as measured by Cohen's ϰ (kappa), showed that only two diagnoses, PTSD and Major Neurocognitive Disorder (dementia), reached the usual criterion of statistical reliability: ϰ ≥ 0.7. For children and adolescents, only one - autism spectrum disorder (ASD) - reached 0.7. ASD is a catch-all category for youngsters with communication/interaction difficulties, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors, and [heh] "symptoms that hurt the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life" (NIMH).

R D Laing was a silly psychiatrist, but a middling-good poet. "Knots" has some pretty good parts.

whitney said...

I don't know. Now she has a gig writing for quillette and is looking for a way to monetize her new-found anti wokeness. What comes to mind for me is she's probably another grifter and you should never trust a traitor

Stuart Schneiderman said...

She's a college student-- how about giving her a break.

whitney said...

Maybe I am being too harsh but her rapid transformation has brought her a much larger audience than when she was writing in the Stanford Journal just a couple months ago.