Sophie's choice

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by EmmZ, May 3, 2008.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Hi IntellectualEmpath,
    Welcome to Sciforums!

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    The issue you raise seems to becoming more common.
    I know of many families ( including my own ) facing similar or variations to what you describe for your own family situation.

    To me, part of the solution to the vexation, is also, like "Sophie's Choice" a question of "responsibility".

    Claiming responsibility is also claiming control. Control over a situation like this is not possible. So why feel responsible?

    At some point in time you will be forced by circumstance beyond your control to allow society to help you, as it must. ( if anything to protect itself from circumstances beyond it's control ) It is not just your child's sibling that is potentially in harms way, but those in the society generally.

    Having a grandson who, apart from being incredibly smart ( 4 school years ahead of his class -especially Math and science) and fundamentally a beautiful heart, launches into an irrational and severe aggression as soon as his boundaries are breached, can be extremely challenging.

    Even at 11 years of age his behavior can be quite threatening. It is anticipated that as he grows in physical size he will be even more threatening, intimidating with potentially lethal consequences. By the time he makes 16-ish, presuming that his behavior maintains it's medico-socially expected trend**, he will probably enter the juvenile justice system for the first time and eventually be institutionalized by society and not his family.

    ** So far this year , with an awful amount of support through special needs schooling etc, his behavior has radically improved. So there is hope that he may see adulthood with out falling foul of society in general. Learning to have insight, anger management and self restraint by unconventional methods seems to be working so far.

    One key I have found was during a long conversation with my daughter which I shall recount in brief below:

    "Do you feel your son is special, extraordinary and deserving of the effort?"
    "Yes , he is extremely smart, loving and incredibly sensitive"
    "Then why are you attempting to force him to be "normal"?"

    "Un-normal is not the same as ab-normal" qq-2006

    Welcome to sciforums and best of luck!
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I am lucky. He is ADHD, so very high functioning on the ADS (autism disorder spectrum). He and his brother are actually living on their own together, in a condo we were able to buy for them. Only occasionally do they need separation so they don't kill each other (the furniture is another matter).
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  5. IntellectualEmpath Registered Member

    Thank you for your thoughts on the matter! I hope your grandson is able to function in society and does not end up incarcerated. I keep punishing myself for not being a good enough mom for a special needs child, or for not being a good enough MH clinician who should be able to "fix" my own child, or for not making millions so I can place him in the best school in the world for his needs. My Type A personality and verbally abusive childhood get in the way of accepting the situation. It feels horrible thinking that I am choosing the safety and security of one child over the same for the other. I have heard horror stories about residential.
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I don't remember as many cases of all these contemporary disorders, 3-4 decades ago. It can't be genetic since genes don;t change that fast. One possible social cause may be the feminization of culture, and the movement away from a masculine based culture, beginning in the 1960's.

    In a general sense, maternal love is traditionally, unconditional, while paternal love is traditionally, conditional. A mother will love her child no matter what. If you are feminized and have a child with potential behavior problems, how does unconditional love give that child any sense of proper direction, since they will get the same love reaction in all cases? What tends to happen is the child will learn to take the path to the same unconditional love, in a way that optimizes their ego, even if this is abrasive to others. If I get a food pellet, whether I study all night or goof off, why not take the easy path, since the food pellet has no condition other than what I set for myself. Unconditional love allows a young child to be in charge of their own behavior, even though they are not qualified to take a productive path.

    Back in the day, when culture was more masculine, love was much more conditional. All paths of behavior did not lead to the same warm and fuzzy food pellet. This distinction helps to instill the ability to differentiate, and provides a foundation for logic and critical thinking. The child cannot just default to the path of ego centricity, even if abusive, if this means no food pellet. There will be an opportunity cost, that they will weigh in terms of their choices.

    You can see this in affect, with the left in the USA. When you discuss immigration, the left will not differentiate between criminal and hardworking immigrants and legal venus illegal immigrants, since it sets conditions of unconditional love. They will lump all together, as immigrants. This will encourage criminal behavior in those predisposed since you get the same food pellet for crime, as for working hard. The catch and release program; unconditional love, causes the criminal alien to take the path of least resistance; more crime. This is based on the hope, unconditional love, will soften the criminal's heart, but it does not. It makes them harder since love is free and has no conditions. The political right is more masculine and sets conditions, with the deportation of bad seeds one of those conditions. The bad seeds need to make a choice and if they violate the condition, there is a nasty food pellet to eat.

    If I had a smart child, who had temper tantrums, I would introduce them to a larger child who is much tougher. I would tell him/her, if you become abusive and out of control, I will call him up, and he/she will put you in your place. I am setting conditions for the future. I am not attacking my child. I am saying if you place you hand in the flame it will get burnt. It is matter of fact. If he violates the agreement, there is a nasty food pellet he must eat. It will not take too many repetitions before a smart child learns to take a new path. This sounds heartless, but if the child find a better center, this is love in the long term. It is not short term thinking like unconditional love.

    The Trump presidency is more masculine and will start to set conditions that will be helpful for overcoming the downside of unconditional love. Don't get me wrong, children who are basically good and who lack self esteem can benefit by unconditional love. But children who are self centered and bad, are reinforced by it. One needs to make this distinction to take advantage of both. This requires conditional love come first; define who gets each type of love.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Good grief, wellwisher, once again you manage to turn a conversation on to one or more of your few pet subjects, this time the feminisation of society, and your continuing agenda against the left.
    There may be a sliver of relevance in some of what you have posted, so let's just stick to that...

    Perhaps, just maybe, we have gotten better at identifying the issues?
    And maybe, just maybe, there are more effective and efficient ways of letting everyone cope with them than threats of bullying to keep them on the path of being normal.

    Given that we are talking about mental disorders here, psychology has progressed quite a bit in the past 40 or so years. Autism, for example, was really only used to describe infantile autism for those who exhibited quite severe and specific traits, whereas now it is understood to be a spectrum of conditions. So more people are identified than before, where there may actually be no increase in prevalence.

    Furthermore, even if you want to look at social reasons for increases in such, is it not more likely that people are simply looking to better understand why they or their child are seemingly different from the norm? Maybe as an excuse for themselves, "it's not us parents to blame, he's got autism," who knows.

    But rather than help everyone in the spectrum, or anyone with differences, you seem to condone bullying and threats of bullying to keep a mentally challenged child in line? Seriously?
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Oh for Pete's sake, really?

    You've got a hammer, everything is a nail.
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Has this discussion shifted from the philosophical Sophie's Choice dilemma to the real-world issue of the rise of autism spectrum disorder?
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    but we are not talking about mental disorders here.. we are talking about a vexatious dilemma which the thread OP refers to as "Sofie's Choice".
    IntellectualEmpath has posited a real time, real life variation of the same dilemma IMO
    The same dilemma can be applied to issues like Euthanasia, suicide, female reproductive rights ( abortion ) and a whole host of similar intractable(s)... IMO
  12. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yes, yes, the thread is about Sophie's choice, but my point is that wellwisher referred to "contemporary disorders", and given what IntellectualEmpath had raised, the disorders in question that wellwisher was responding to are of the mental variety.
    So when I said that "given that we are talking about mental disorders" it was simply to put wellwisher's comments into the proper context, not to assert that the thread was now solely about mental disorders.

    Hope that clarifies, although I really shouldn't have to explain what I thought would be rather obvious.
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    oops! My apologies Sarkus, I could have been more clear myself....My comment was directed at wellwisher as I agree in the main with your posting... (I mistakenly took a quote from your post instead of wellwishers bad)

    edit: And I think I just confused the issue even more... must have got the "wellwisher" bug.. eh...
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    If we take the German Guard who was attempting to force Sophie into making a life/death choice between her two children, out of the picture and replace him with an actor called "Circumstance" does that change the dilemma?

    In the case mentioned by IntellectualEmpath is it not "circumstances" that could be deemed to be the villain and therefore, is it more appropriate to apportion responsibility to "circumstances" and not assume responsibility of oneself?
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member


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    Nay problem.
    No, not really. The scenario is when one is simply presented with such a choice; the manner in which the choice arrives is unimportant, although could clearly give context to the nature of the decision.
    You see similar choices presented in films (common in superhero films) where the protagonist is given a choice of saving their love-interest or saving numerous innocents. It's probably more an ethical trolley-problem but the principle remains the same, I think.
    The villain of circumstance certainly puts one in the position to have to make the choice, but circumstance can't make the choice. And guilt is over the decision made, for which you would be responsible.
    I can imagine, though, that there are a number of techniques that might help assuage any guilt: some might simply try to look at it in a cold, calculating manner and gain comfort that the choice they made was the lesser of two evils; some might look to transfer the guilt as you suggest. Never having been in that position myself I can't say what might work, if anything at all, but I'd like to think that there would be help out there (group meetings etc) to help one cope with the inevitable feelings of guilt.
    An unenviable position to be in, for sure, though.
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Yes I guess it is... having reviewed a quick wiki on the subject leads me to believe I would be in a "no action" category. That to take action would necessarily include complicity in the outcome.

    In the trolley thought experiment I would not pull the track switch, as I would by doing so, be complicit in the death of the alternative single victim.
    In Sophie's choice the issue is actually easier because there are no guarantees that the Guard holding the gun isn't gong to kill all any way even after you do as he says and choose between children.
    Again though I would place the responsibility on the guard and not take or make any complicit action decisions.

    I do understand that this is a classic vexation in the field of ethics and no doubt much time has been devoted by many over the years to coming to a founded solution.
    Suffice to say that I am not qualified or knowledgeable enough to entertain a serious discussion about it.

    "Under some interpretations of moral obligation, simply being present in this situation and being able to influence its outcome constitutes an obligation to participate" ~wiki
    However I will suggest that the argument that "non-action" breaches a moral obligation innate to the situation by merely being human and being in a position of opportunity can be found to be flawed, if only by declaring the deliberate and culpable nature of the "refusal to decide" or accept the forced obligation. To deliberately walk away from the presumed moral obligation as a "higher" however more commonly repugnant morality is involved.

    If in the trolley situation the single much loved person alternative to 5 strangers changes nothing as to me the highest moral position is to deliberately refuse to choose thus avoid assuming responsibility that isn't mine to assume.

    Perhaps a toss of a coin (chance) would be sufficient...
  17. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    On further consideration tossing a coin may be the highest moral action to take, if indeed action was morally required. IMO
  18. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    I would make a decision & toss a coin. Then claim that the coin made the decision, so the child to be murdered did not die thinking that I made the choice.

    A typical parent would favor one child over the other for logical and/or emotional reasons. However, it would be cruel to allow the unfortunate child to live for even a short time knowing that you favored the sibling.

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