Can't Sit Still

Monday, September 26, 2005
One of the most debilitating side effects with which psychiatrists afflict their patients is akathisia, an uncontrollable restlessness which is a regular consequence of treatment with certain drugs, especially the classic neuroleptics like haloperidol, though it can be seen even with widely used antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac).

The word akathisia is derived from the Greek kathizdô, sit down, and if you append the "privative alpha" (Greek a implying negation) as a prefix and fiddle with the suffix you get something meaning can't sit down or can't sit still.

Since 9/11 I have been afflicted with a kind of mental akathisia.

Somehow within days of September 11, 2001 I stumbled on my first blog, Charles Johnson's amazing Little Green Footballs, and I was off and running.

Here were peers -- many of whom I disagreed with and some of whom I thought were deranged even compared with myself -- but some of whom seemed able to express thoughts I was beginning, in my inchoate and desultory way, to grapple with.

Thoughts like, Why don't we hate them?

(I know, I know: this is supposed to read, Why do they hate us? But you blog sophisticates know what I mean.)

In the peripatetic manner of blog readers I drifted from Little Green Footballs to Roger L. Simon. (Perhaps this was inevitable: note the rhythmic similarity in the two titles, both two hexametric feet, dactyl spondee!) And at Roger's place I found the kind of community of virtual blogging entities among whom I could feel at home. That urbane and genial host seemed to attract a following of articulate, thoughtful and tough-minded types, many of whom suffered fools (myself), if not gladly, at least patiently.

And so this persistent restlessness of mine, this mental akathisia, found at least a partial point of repose. But I am mindful of a criticism often leveled at virtual communities, a criticism with merit, that we are in danger of becoming echo chambers, preachers to virtual choirs of a gospel we all accept. And I am worried about the political red-blue divide in our wonderful country. (A former blue, I am now red enough to be purple.) Helped along by a much better thinker, I have started to think about our democracy. A task for which I am ill-equipped.

A psychiatrist who thinks he can say anything useful about democracy is mad.

(Mad, I tell you.)

Did Winston Churchill really say, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter"?

If not, he really should have.


flenser said...

Welcome, Jamie! I'm glad we got you. How many stock options did Rick have to offer you anyway?

I'm pretty confident that whatever other problems we run into, an echo chamber will not be one of them.

Do you have any interest/expertise in group psychology? If you look in our September archives I had a post, "The Wreck of The Medusa", which I thought might interest you.

Rick Ballard said...


MHA works the positive inducement side. My associates (Salvatore e Vincente) and I operate from a multicultural perspective focusing on the serenity that can be found by being a part of a loosely cooperative community deeply involved in traditional methods of personal interaction.

Capisci? Se no, forse ci vuole una visita.


Greek, poetry, pyschiatry and politics in your first pass? Guess I'm gonna havta rework my "How 'bout them Dawgs?" post. I doubt that this will be an echo chamber. There may be a general agreement as to ends (for the most part) but I really doubt that we all come anywhere close to agreeing on means and priorities.

Jamie Irons said...

flenser and Rick,

Thanks for noticing my little post!

flenser, I'll look up your "The Wreck of The Medusa"...


I'll try not to echo excessively... But I nearly always agree with you!


Jamie Irons

terrye said...


My mother displayed symptoms of something called tardive diskinesia I think.

I do know what you mean.

I worry about the same thing in regards to our country.

We don't just disagree on politics or philosophy in this country, we disagree on facts.

It would seem that facts would not be in dispute, but not so.

I hope for some mythical creature, like the once and future president to come along and give us common voice.

But I don't like those people very much and there is a part of me that really does not care.

But I know I should.

Every one thinks the Civil War lasted four years. If you study the century following the war however, you know it lasted much longer than that.

I think Americans have always been divided to some extent and I don't think the current divide is really all that much worse.

We are just more vocal about it.

flenser said...

"I'll try not to echo excessively... But I nearly always agree with you!"

Jamie Irons, a closet Burkean? The mind reels. Veritably reels in fact.

Rick, has he gone thru the secret initiation rite yet?

Rick Ballard said...

Not quite yet, it's proving a bit difficult to assemble the correct number of neo-Whigs for the ceremony.

truepeers said...

So is that a gentrified version of ADD? :-).... I suffer something too; my first post is still lingering. Great to see yours.

Knucklehead said...

Welcome Jamie! I don't expect we've got much danger of echo chambering here. We have Terrye to keep us all, ummm..., circumspect. Relative to the full scale of stuff on the web we may occupy a fairly narrow band but achieving diversity of thought does NOT require the participation of loons.