'I'm Sure That You Think You Don't Want Help'

Over at The American Spectator, reason contributor Shawn Macomber reviews Scott Stein's satirical novel Mean Martin Manning, which imagines a not-too-distant future in which nosy social workers are empowered to forcibly improve crotchety shut-ins:

Pitney [the social worker] is there to make Manning [the shut-in] eat his vegetables, both literally and figuratively. If Martin Manning isn't renouncing the things or behaviors she believes he should, he isn't progressing. And if he isn't progressing, he certainly isn't improving. Failure to improve clearly places him in noncompliance with the rules and regulations of a life-improvement zone, however content he may erroneously believe he is.

"I'm sure that you think you don't want help," Pitney tells the shut-in when he tries to opt out of her non-optional assistance. "That's standard. In fact, not wanting help is one of the signs of needing it. Yours is a textbook case."

Last fall in reason, I interviewed Stein about his book.

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  • ||

    WOW!!! first .... better than sex

  • ||

    no wonder everybody tries to be first...I've gone mad with power. Hmmmm... I guess I should say something substantive...hmmm
    nothing.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Sir, I need this as a credit to pass high school. Please comply.

  • TallDave||

    Ah, the nanny state, Stalin in a nurse's uniform.

  • ||

    Ah, the nanny state, Stalin in a nurse's uniform.

    Now it was a Nurse in a Stalin uniform, then I'd have to ah, go to the restroom for a moment
    -K

  • Episiarch||

    This reminds me of Jack Williamson's The Humanoids.

  • ||

    "That's standard. In fact, not wanting help is one of the signs of needing it. Yours is a textbook case."

  • ||

    "That's standard. In fact, not wanting help is one of the signs of needing it. Yours is a textbook case."

    That bastard wrote a book about me!

    Where's my check?

  • ||

    Pitney must die!

  • Warty||

    Hitchens talks about how he imagines that, in 1948, someone gave Kim Jong Il a Korean edition of 1984 and asked, "do you think we could give this a go?"

    Someone, somewhere, will read this and think that life-improvement zones are a marvelous idea.

  • ||

    Warren | July 30, 2008, 1:19pm | #

    "That's standard. In fact, not wanting help is one of the signs of needing it. Yours is a textbook case."

  • Warty||

    Er, Kim Il Sung, I guess. Whatever.

  • ||

    Scott Stein, as Caseworker Alice Pitney, used to comment here from time to time. It was pretty damned good trolling.

  • Guy Montag||

    Someone, somewhere, will read this and think that life-improvement zones are a marvelous idea.

    I think you used the wrong tense.

  • ||

    Now it was a Nurse in a Stalin uniform, then I'd have to ah, go to the restroom for a moment

    You're into chicks with mustaches? Diff'rent strokes, I guess...

  • Caseworker Alice Pitney||

    You're all textbook cases. And I wrote the textbook, so watch yourselves.

  • Ska||

    What, you don't like Hispanic chicks?

  • Guy Montag||

    In Soviet Russia the textbook writes you?

  • short, fat bastard||

    Give me a greedy, self-motivated bastard any day over an empathic, do-gooder, nanny-stater.

  • ||

    Britain seems perilously close to that right now.

  • ||

    I work in a building full of therapists and social workers and they really do think like that.

    Oh, and I've seen the textbook, it's called the DSM-4 and every person on the planet is in it.

  • economist||

    When I was in high school I got similar crap from a guidance counselor after a rather unpleasant exchange with my English teacher (In my defense, I wouldn't have said she was "spewing bullshit out of every hole" if she had bothered to get her facts straight in our little argument in class), so this isn't that shocking to me.

  • Guy Montag||

    economist,

    Must not have been a very good English teacher. Looks like a perfectly crafted statement to me.

  • ||

    You're into chicks with mustaches?

    Uniform, not costume/disguise/what have you. Jeez, pre-vert.

    What, you don't like Hispanic chicks?

    That made me smile.
    -K

  • anon||

    "What, you don't like Hispanic chicks?"

    I'll take Salma Hayek any day of the week and twice on Sunday, mustache or not.

  • ||

    Thanks for the link, Caseworker Pitney. I'm going to spend many work hours there. And I'm pretty sure I need help...

  • ||

    Just plunked down my $15 (plus $4.50 for shipping). I'm looking foward to a good read and a few laughs. Maybe throw in a wry smile.

  • Cassandra Sanchez||

    It isn't too late to join our campaign to get Mean Martin Manning to run for president.

  • TallDave||

    This reminds me of that famous case where a psych researcher had himself comitted to evalaute the system and couldn't prove he was sane enough to be released. When he took notes, it was called "aberrant writing behavior" or some such. IIRC, he finally had to get some colleagues to write and explain the situation before the hospital would let him out.

  • ||

    Hi Alice! I missed you. Though I'm still in denial here.

  • Guy Montag||

    TD,

    I believe that was a small class of graduate psych. students who all got admitted easily, but experienced various levels of difficulty in getting released.

    One was writing their thesis and the writing behavior comment was noted about them.

    The professor did have to go to great lengths to convince the staff to release one of the students.

  • jtuf||

    Wanted: Social workers to help with a research study to determine the effects of heart surgery on noncompliant patients. This study will require about 30 subjects, um, I mean research assistants. Yeah, don't worry. You guys will be the research assistants...

    I would never want to actually do it, but the poetic justice would make for a great film.

  • ||

    Yeah, that sort of reasoning is great. John Norman always argued that any woman who claimed she did not want to be the slave of a strong man was obviously denying her true self.

  • ||

    TallDave | July 30, 2008, 3:48pm | #

    This reminds me of that famous case where a psych researcher had himself comitted to evalaute the system and couldn't prove he was sane enough to be released. When he took notes, it was called "aberrant writing behavior" or some such. IIRC, he finally had to get some colleagues to write and explain the situation before the hospital would let him out.



    Think I read about that. The other patients all figured it out before the 'doctors'.

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