The Archetypes of Discretionary Malpractice

The war that occurs within the soul when emotion and reason come unfettered leads to discretionary malpractice. Depending upon the degree to which the individual suffers from a failure to practice discretion and reign in the usurpations of the head and the heart, the inevitable malady of the soul manifests differently.

The soul can either be overrun by the indefatigable aloofness of reason’s diktats or the turbulent ravings of passions anarchy. In the case of the latter, the individual gains an exaggerated sense of his importance in the world. In the case of the former, he is drawn ever inward, till he gains a myopic vision totally unmoored from the complex relationships which govern the world.

If misapplication of discretion trends towards the emotional- if man overindulges his heart and allows it to think while his mind grows indolent- the individual will be given to shirking blame. Since he does not think, does not look for the source of his failures so he might learn and avoid repeat mistakes in future, his survival instincts tell him the fault lies not in him but in others. Once his need for self-preservation is assured he begins to think towards his betterment. This is only natural- a need to thrive is the second law of survival. Without cogent thought, the emotional man can only see others as the impediment to his attainment of greater goods. Since he must necessarily ally his interests with morality, he increasingly transfers the spectres of evil into those around him. Even the smallest disagreements, if the stand between him and his need, become severe transgressions until he reaches a stage where any conflict, regardless the weight of the matter at its heart, becomes an all-consuming monomania which can justify any end. The sword- this is the inevitable end for the zealot who coddles the heart.

Conversely, one whose head governs too autonomously must suffer a fatal sepsis of the soul. Unlike his opposite, the extreme rationalist does not set himself up against the world; he believes he is its savior and undertakes a responsibility far beyond that which natural law allots him as a birthright. The man who takes rationalism to an extreme is a reductionist- obsessed more with the process than the conclusion. He puts so much emphasis on facts that their context is lost; all the claims and counterclaims on which he relies to arrive from A to B are caveated and set in parameters, leaving broader truth butchered and stripped of context. Thus, his inevitable end- a desire to serve truth- is transferred to process, enslaved to a flawed science and not an end. In his phlegmatic zeal for order, the reductionist loses himself. He believes in the infallibility of his process and any who disagree stand against reality itself. They become an impediment to it. And without the compassion that makes a person recognize that the rights they hold dear must be respected in another, any means are justified. It is just another strain of barbarous morality- right makes might. It is the opposing doctrine which the monomaniac, who believes his might can enforce right, adopts. But they share one trait- the ability to justify any action in their pursuits, no matter how tyrannical.

The war that occurs within the soul when emotion and reason come unfettered leads to discretionary malpractice.

There are less extreme version of these blunderers, though their only substantial difference is the magnitude of their actions. Reason has the astrologer whose obsession with very specific facts gives him tunnel vision. He does not seek broader illumination; his odd discipline divorces his study from the ability to integrate his conclusions with the larger world. Like his more extreme brother, he believes in the superiority of his processes, but he is not so far gone as to be able to justify any action. Some tiny shred of compassion remains. He is isolated, but not because he has actually removed those whose differing opinions seem to threaten his warped worldview; he merely avoids them.

Similarly, the herald- an overly emotional man whose obsession stops just short of monomania- shares all the characteristics of the zealot’s delusion but the final divestment of reason which allows him to sophistically justify any action. His obsession manifests itself through a brand of doomsday prophesying that offers only its own hysterics as proof. He, like his overly rational counterpart, has just enough balance in his soul to believe that he can convince others of the rightness of his vision.

Then there are those whose soulful affliction is not so great as to be a cancer upon their reflective powers. There are both emotional and rational maladies that know their own illness. Whether this is a better or worse fate than to be unaware of one’s own insanity is an entirely different philosophical matter. Certainly, the polemicist, who juggles reason and emotion as adeptly as a joker juggles his clubs, does not care. His only concern is his self-betterment. It is a preoccupation which expunges ethics from his conscience. He is a master rhetorician, or perhaps more accurately, a master sophist. The fears and hopes of others are rich marks for his conjuring tricks. It is these he exploits, wearing a mirrored expression of grief or outrage as the moment demands, playing his audience like a marionette. Though his interests and sympathies seem to be allied with theirs, he really directs their every movement. He has only one weakness: he needs them, needs their passion and sense of altruism, naïve though it is.

His analytical counterpart, on the other hand, suffers from an isolating myopia. Like the fabled hermit, he closets himself off with his books, but he is not so wise, for his wisdom is stratified, carefully classified and catalogued, just like his understanding of the world: 1 to 2. A to B, cause and effect. And, like his more extreme brethren, this process becomes tautologous. Each part takes on an absolute life of its own, there is no notice of the relativity between absolutes. He is like a surgeon who saves not the whole patient but the nervous system and considers it a success because it has a wholesome purpose of its own. But unlike the jester, the hermit shuts himself off from the world and is closeted by his macro knowledge of a micro subject. He cannot arouse enough passion to care for the opinions of the world or what his insights might bring to it.

Lastly are those who practice discretion conscientiously but have a natural inclination that makes their soul list ever so slightly to either emotion on the port side or reason on the starboard side. They understand their predicament, can see the manifestations- always painful- of the symptoms, but something within their gut intransigently prevents them from modifying their behavior. These are the poor souls caught between their individual vision, guided so firmly by their unwavering moral compass, and the disinterest of the world. These are the idealist and the prophet.

The soul can either be overrun by the indefatigable aloofness of reason’s diktats or the turbulent ravings of passions anarchy.

The idealist suffers a chronic case of affectation. His vision is indefatigable- it underlies everything he does because he is convinced absolutely of its merits. His work is a labor of love; he believes it advances his cause. As a result, life is a constant trial. Every rejection, every offhand dismissal, every revulsion cuts his soul to the quick. And these wounds do not heal. For though he lives in the world, depends on its tempers for his success, he is not of it. He is of a world of his own making- a perfect Ideal that is real to him in all but corporeal form. And the contrast between this and the reality he finds may drive him to insanity, for he is an eternal optimist- he never loses faith in the inevitability of his vision coming to be. He cannot lose faith, for his whole character is immersed in it. Often, the two merge and he cannot separate himself from the Ideal. This is his greatest sin.

The prophet too is a slave of his own vision. But his perfect world is not made up of “could be” and lofty ideas, but what reason dictates should be. He sees facts and figures, extrapolates and analyzes them and, like a true student of science, follows them through to their inevitable end. And, like the idealist, he cannot bear the difference between this world and reality. He understands the reason for the discrepancy- the pull to cheat rational self-interest, to find the quickest, easiest path to reward- and knows his protests are in vain. But devotion to reason does not make this any less painful. He cannot tolerate the denial of the obvious or the practical- it churns in his gut, making him uneasy and nauseous. It is a physical reaction borne of an emotional impulse that draws him into the fight against the irrational. And this he must do in every instance, whether it be a case of poorly grounded public policy or the ignorant quip of a loved one. He does not change his comportment; he does not consider whether he offends others. Nor does he understand anger directed at his brutal honesty. His first love is truth and he considers it a service to his friends and family to help them see it.

Malpractice