Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have is mine own,
Which is most faint."


In the Times Judith Lichtenberg examines altruism, in particular the fact that it seems impossible to isolate pure unselfishness, uncontaminated by all self-interested motives (even if only the often unconscious satisfaction of having done good). But she argues that altruism is no less desirable, individually and socially, for all its imperfections; indeed, a flawed, all-too-human altruism is the best we can hope for in this world, that is, at all.

It seems to me that the wish for unsullied altruism is parallel to the fantasy of an absolute free will, untrammeled by ambivalence, weakness, or material considerations. The totally free and altruistic act would, of course, be the act of God, not of human beings.

That seems like a fine note upon which to end this blog, which has now run for more than two years and 400 posts. A blog has no natural ending apart from the demise or sheer exhaustion of its author. I find that I have said all that I have to say in this format, and nothing would remain here but the recycling of old themes and, of course, gawking at the baubles of the Web as they flash by. I have arrived at that definite point marked not by ambivalence or by frustrated block, but by dispassion--it is time to move on.

If Emerson was right that life consists of what a man (sic) thinks about all day, then this blog has been a reasonable record of the past two years of my life. Many posts have been tossed off, but many have been thoughtful, carefully wrought and even alarmingly personal, especially to any perceptive readers out there. It has been a transitional time, befitting a blog I suppose.

Other projects await. I will need to prepare for a Grand Rounds presentation a few months hence (a late echo of the academic life), and I am getting closer, finally, to starting a private practice, which will take considerable doing. Any additional post here in the future would be a link to a possible different kind of blog, a more professionally discreet and decorous one that might support a practice.

Thanks to readers--be well.


Lizardo Cruzado said...

I'm going to miss your blog. Thanks for everything.

Retriever said...

Will miss the blog, but wish you well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for enriching the blogosphere.

And be nice to your clients!...only the interesting ones, of course...oh, I was just kidding, you know!....yes, I believe all traumatised individuals are created equally...err...no, not really; life is inherently unjust, and living is the process of righting existential imbalances via the redistribution of cruelty and kindness. Yes, I thoroughly believe this.

adrian JB said...

Thanks greatly. Good luck.

It's been helpful to me beyond measure. Particularly what you once referred to as an 'epistemological quagmire', and the detailed examples that have arisen, helped limit expectations of what my psych can help me with, and that degree of realism is itself enabling.

Delia Lloyd said...

So sorry to see you go. I only discovered this blog a few months ago but always look forward to your posts. Best of luck in all that awaits you...

Delia Lloyd

Novalis said...

Thanks to all, and yes, Anon, "Life is unfair" is as good a motto as any for this business. But civilization should be about minimizing unfairness (within reason). And I am nothing if not nice (smile).

Anonymous said...

Though I only recently discovered Ars Psychiatrica it quickly came to be one of the few whose posts I looked forward to, and I would read other blogs first in order to savor the best. Best wishes in your new adventures, and many thanks; I'll console myself by dipping into the archives.

#1 Cuz said...

I have, as always, enjoyed reading your thoughts.

Dr X said...

Thanks so much for the past two years. I've always found your posts to be very thoughtful and thought-provoking. Best wishes, Dr. X

Novalis said...

Thanks again and adieu--for now.