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March 30, 2009

Crime and Punishment

Just by chance, as I was driving to the local suoermarket this afternoon, I happened to catch the last two minutes of Jacki Lyden’s interview of Atul Gawande, a young Harvard academic surgeon with a wide variety of interests. His subject was one I’d become increasingly aware of and developed some suspicions about, but had yet to focus on: America’s increasing reliance on imprisonment and our (obviously) abusive use of solitary confinement.

As soon as I had the chance, I googled Gawande and found that he'd just had a long article on the subject published in the current New Yorker. Fortunately, his riveting article is online and I’ve just finished reading every word.

Suffice it to say that his analysis is based on an impressive amount of personal research and dovetails with many of the conclusions about human cognition and emotions that my study of pot smokers has been leading toward. Even more remarkably, we have arrived at similar conclusions about the emotional and cognitive weaknesses now being exhibited by both the American polity and its political leadership.

The bottom line is that his opinions tend to confirm my clinical suspicions that we’re in a rapidly deteriorating situation that calls for lot more intelligent analysis, a lot less denial, and some urgent corrections.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 30, 2009 08:10 AM