15 August, 2009

Social Anxiety is the Psychological Version of AIDS

Michael Crichton's Sphere, which I recently read during a power outage, spends a good amount of time discussing the implications of human contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial life form - including how that life form would communicate, and the effects its presence/existence may have (intended or accidental) upon humans. For example, it might naturally emit a gas that's poisonous to humans, thus potentially killing us without realizing it (although hopefully if the life form is intelligent, it would be smart enough to anticipate that and prevent it from happening). Communication-wise, it's interesting to speculate that the alien life form may view the world in such a completely unique way as to make communication between us virtually impossible.

All of this is very interesting, but the point I wish to make today regards a statement in the book that was made about AIDS. AIDS was described as a particularly troubling disease because it transcends the "accepted" manner in which diseases interact - it is caused by a virus that attacks the way the body defends against viruses. That's got to be some form of breaking the fourth wall. Anyway, in a flash of inspiration, I applied that same exact idea to what I've been saying about social anxiety all along - it's a disorder that attacks a person's ability to ask for help. Thus, social anxiety is the psychological version of AIDS.

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