Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not. Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority.Einstein was not an anti-authoritarian. He never got kicked out of school or fired from a job for disrespecting authority. He followed all the rules to get his doctoral degree and various professorships.
His theories rarely challenged conventional wisdom. His famous 1905 papers were directly in support of the leading theorists of the day, Lorentz, Poincare, and Planck. In later life he refused to accept the new theories of quantum mechanics, when younger physicists were challenging authority. But attacking authority? Not Einstein. He was even an apologist for the authoritarian government of the USSR.
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