Do You Struggle with Disability Blindness?

I have a disability, but it isn’t obvious. In fact, in order to see it, understand it, and especially to accept it as a legitimate disability requires some training, and most people currently lack such training. To the extent that a given person — yourself, for example — might lack such training, it could appear that I have no disability at all.

If, indeed, you are such a person, here I would like to suggest that your own inability to see my disability is equivalent to a genuine disability in and of itself, although one which can be corrected simply by training you well enough to see my disability.

We might call this kind of impairment Disability Blindness.[1]

My own disability is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD, autism), and in my case at least it is so difficult to recognize as such, that most likely you wouldn’t see it even if you could observe me closely for 53 years, which is how old I was when I first got diagnosed. To exacerbate the problem, autism is fundamentally a communication disability — a fact which appears to contradict my well-developed writing and speaking abilities. A legitimate question for a skeptic to ask here would be, “How on Earth could someone who writes and speaks so well be said to have a communication disability?”

I know. It seems impossible. I, too, was skeptical at first, although not about my symptoms, of course, which are obvious to me and everyone who gets close enough to witness them, but rather about how best to explain those symptoms. And yet, believe it or not, and according to the experts who diagnosed me, those symptoms are best explained with a diagnosis of ASD.

Autism is not the only disability that can have the characteristic of being difficult to see without proper training. Pretty much any psychiatric disability (e.g. Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, etc.) can have this attribute, as do a number of physical impairments such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and migraine headaches. It is common to refer to these difficult-to-observe disabilities as being “invisible”, but in my opinion this is a poor solution to the problem it’s supposed to solve because it suggests that these disabling conditions are somehow invisible even to those who struggle with them, or perhaps even to the medical experts who diagnose them. This, in turn, might suggest that these so-called “invisible” disabilities may not actually exist at all, and moreover that those who struggle with them are somehow only pretending to have the disabling condition, perhaps in order to manipulate the sympathies of others and to unfairly benefit from a public perception of being disabled.

To my view, a more elegant solution to the same problem is this idea of Disability Blindness, which can be seen to afflict a great many people and come in as many varieties as there are disabilities that are difficult to observe without adequate training. For additional examples, consider that many people lack the training required to detect heart murmurs, even with the help of a stethoscope. Many people lack the training required to detect emphysema, even with the help of a chest X-Ray. Multiple-sclerosis, diabetes, high-blood pressure — all of these disabilities and more can seem perfectly invisible to the untrained observer, as can Autism Spectrum Disorder — at least in my own case, although I suspect many other autistics will recognize this basic problem.

Please let me know in a comment below if you are such a person.

When reasoning about disabilities, it’s imperative to remember that having a disability is not equivalent to being disabled by it. Being nearsighted, for example, is really only disabling when the near-sighted person isn’t wearing corrective lenses. Leg paralysis is only disabling if the paralyzed person lacks the wheelchairs, ramps, automatic door openers, etc. required to enable mobility. Environmental factors (a.k.a. “accommodations”) such as the existence of corrective lenses, automatic door openers, etc. can make all the difference between whether or not someone who has some disabling condition is actually disabled by the impairment in question.

In my own case, and although I wouldn’t want to speak for all autistic people here, I can tell you that a major environmental factor that heavily impacts my own ability to function is whether the people I interact with struggle with this impairment I’m calling Disability Blindness, which is to say whether they have the training required to see for themselves that I am actually autistic. To the extent that they do have such training, then I function quite well — much as any near-sighted person would while wearing the right corrective lenses — but to the extent that they don’t, then I am actually quite vulnerable to becoming completely incapacitated — just like what happens to near-sighted people when they take off their glasses. In fact, in much the same way that it’s hazardous for near-sighted people to drive without their glasses, for me it’s actually hazardous to interact with people who are Disability Blind. The general rule here can be stated, thus:

I have a disability, but I am not really disabled by it unless you are prevented from seeing it by some sort of Disability Blindness.

Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think in the comments below!

 


[1]I have also suggested this idea of Disability Blindness elsewhere. For example:

Also, for more on the idea of disability and especially autism as a disability, please see Autism Is a Disability; Penguins Can Fly.

 

 

Hate Mail from That Disability Claims Investigator, Part 1

I have received intensely negative feedback from the Disability Claims Investigator I was addressing in my recent 3 part series Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability?…. He has provided this feedback in the form of comments on some of my posts as well as via private emails to me. Here I wish simply to present his harsh and fiercely critical comments as he offered them to me, and in part 2 of this post I will respond to them.

I should tell you that he has explicitly asked me to delete his various comments from my blog and to not disclose any of the remarks he’s made to me in our private communications and which I’m about to disclose against his express wishes. I am choosing to disregard his wishes because I believe his comments provide a revealing glimpse behind the scenes of the Disability Insurance Industry, have great value to the general public, and that therefore sharing them with you here is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It also has great relevance to the troubles I’ve had with MetLife, and in particular a significant public health hazard that I’ve described as The MetLife Meat Grinder.

Note: In addition to his professional work as a disability insurance claims investigator (for a company that is not MetLife), it also happens to be the case that I have known this man for more than 30 years, although we’ve never been close, and at various points in his commentary he gets certain facts wrong about my biography as well as my various misadventures with MetLife. I will address these factual errors as part of the remarks I will make in part 2.

Here is what the man has stated to me (with no corrections to grammar, punctuation, etc.):

In a comment on a post he wrote:

Hi Dan… You’re not disabled. You’re just obsessed and angry. Counseling after work hours with medication adjustments as needed would be appropriate. Why would you sneak into a workplace with a camera if it wasn’t for secondary gain? Sorry you got arrested….

In another comment he wrote:

You have no boundaries. At what point does your radical ideology end? When you’ve killed someone? As I’ve stated to you privately, seek immediate inpatient treatment for your anger issues. Stop dragging the autistic community down your hole of irrational thought.

And also:

Dan – This is the absolute last time I’m going to comment on your posts. You’re a complete fraud. It’s my opinion whether you like it or not. Not only are you a complete and utter fraud, you have a great deal of hate and disrespect for people. Its dangerous and I dont think you’re safe to be around. Therefore I will reiterate what I said. Keep at least 5 miles distance from my residence, my family and my place of work. You’ve done a fantastic job of researching autism spectrum disorder and I applaud your thorough knowledge of the disorder. You’ve unsuccessfully used your knowledge to make false claims against your former employer. You unsuccessfully applied for disability benefits. No I’m not a robot, ignorant or naive. Apparently I’m not the only person who thinks your claims of disability are bogus. Otherwise your claim would still be approved. You asked for my advice without giving full context of your situation with your employer. Had I known in advance I would have blocked your calls. You see Dan, someone with your intellect can easily research a psychological condition, go to a doctor, tell them what they want to hear listen to your tall tales of misfortune and assign you a diagnosis. Doctors generally support their patients. Do you want me to prove this to you? Easily done. As I recall several years ago, you learned how to count cards and you were ejected from a casino for this. Or is this another fabrication on my part? You’re a high level functioning individual and also a person with no respect for others. You crossed the line when you entered met life illegally. You disrespected people’s safety for your own selfishness. People like you are a true danger to society. I know you will delete this post. I just hope others learn from your dishonesty.

Then in a private email to me he wrote:

You were able to work for 12 years. As I recall this was with Chubb Institute. You’ve supposedly had undiagnosed autism your entire life. You claim your autism currently disables you. Autism does not worsen with time. Depression comes and goes. At the most you are having depressive symptoms. This is not a permanently disabling medical condition. Depression is treated with medication and psychotherapy. Once the medication has been adjusted and your symptoms are controlled, you are no longer disabled. Leave me out of your fraud scams…

In another email he wrote in response to a question I had posed previously:

Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish you dick!.. you dragged me into this mess you created. I wanted nothing to do with EEOC complaints, lawsuits, pending court appearances and whatever other nonsense you’ve created. I wanted to simply help you with your appeal for temporary disability benefits because I thought for once I’d give a try and put a good foot forward because you’ve always creeped me. But NO. You turn around and fucked me over with your petty bullshit, your arrogance, your self entitled attitude about your so called autism. In 20 years of disability claims there’s not a single person on my entire appeals team who has ever evaluated a claim for autism. That speaks volumes that your claims are misdirected and politically motivated. You can’t fool me Dan. I’ve seen everything you post. Your just an angry activist type of person with a vendetta against your employer. You’re not disabled. There’s nothing you can say or do to change my mind so dont try….

In another email he wrote:

…You have the nerve to claim disability and flaunt your arrogance which is highly annoying and false. There are zero disability claims for autism here. None. Get over your anger and get on with being a responsible person. Further emails will be addressed in the same manner. There’s nothing you can say or do to change my opinion

And from another email:

I dont even know what you stand for. Anger? Hate? Fraud? Terrorism? You’re bizarre. You and your father have always thumbed your nose at me for what? Because I work and dont make excuses? Go fuck yourself

And from another email:

You mention several times in your blog of people’s ignorance of your autism. You are hypocritical in your statements in that you’re ignorant of people’s boundaries. You have no respect for people’s boundaries…I mentioned to your psychiatrist that I’m fearful of your ability to travel to NJ or PA. I mentioned your comments about Adam Lanza, how you identify with Adam Lanza. I said I dont feel safe that you’re not incarcerated or that you have yet to voluntarily admit yourself to a mental illness treatment facility…Your behaviors, your comments, your violations of people’s boundaries are a danger to the public…Please voluntarily admit yourself to a mental illness treatment facility so that we may not live in fear that you may harm yourself or others…If you do not do so I will call the Cary PD again and request that you be involuntarily committed. It’s your choice Dan.

Then in another email he wrote:

You’re in full denial. I understand [your sister] is taking steps to ensure you check yourself in for treatment. I’ll let her take over at this point. I would also suggest a polygraph analysis to get to the root cause of your lies / fraud.

Also, after I asked him what sort of evidence might change his opinion of me, he responded:

I’d need to review the rationale for your disability denial. 20 appeal analysts in disability claims, most of us with 20 years of claims experience, masters degrees and not one of us has ever seen a disability appeal for autism. There was ONE. But it wasn’t approved for autism it was approved for depression. And it probably got paid to avoid litigation costs 

Part of his anger at me was due to his perception that I had betrayed his trust, and when I asked whether deleting his comments from my blog would make us even, he wrote:

You dont owe me anything. I simply didn’t want to get involved with something like this. You called me for advice. I had no idea (because you didn’t tell me everything) that all of these other things were going on. It would have been important for me to have a full understanding of your legal situation before giving an opinion. As a disability claim manager I look at the entire picture, not just the medical picture but the potential to use disability for secondary gain.

[Continue with Part 2, in which I attempt to a line-by-line response to the above…]

Warning: This Blog Just Might Scare The Shit out of You

This blog is not for everyone and reactions to it vary widely. Some seem to love it, which makes me happy, but some seem to hate it, which, in fact, also makes me kind of happy.

Hey, you can’t please everyone, right? If you’re a writer and nobody hates your writing, then you’re doing something wrong.

But at least a few people have felt deeply disturbed and even frightened by what they’ve read here, and if you are, or eventually turn out to be such a person I would like to offer you this by way of reassurance:

Among other things, at the very least this blog for me is a creative outlet. Although definitely not a work of fiction, my writing is best viewed as an artistic interpretation of whatever I happen to be writing about. For better or worse I use a lot of imagery and metaphor, sometimes I make mistakes, and in some cases — especially for the sake of a laugh, but also to achieve other kinds of reader experience — I take what we might call “bold artistic liberties”, by which I mean that I lie outright, and so it’s important to realize that absolutely nothing in this blog is meant to be taken too seriously, which you are definitely doing if you feel in any way deeply disturbed or frightened by anything you read here.

While reading my blog you should definitely read critically and with a measure of skepticism — good practice when you read anything, really, and especially anything you read on the Internet. If I tell you something that appears to be factual and you need to be sure that it is, then definitely don’t just assume that it is: don’t be afraid to fact-check me, and especially if you ever find anything that seems like an error, please tell me about it in a comment or via my contact page.

Most importantly: nothing in this blog is meant to be used as evidence in a court of law. When I set out to write a post, although I do generally strive to tell the truth, I definitely do not “solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.

It’s a blog, for crying out loud, not a sworn affidavit.

On the other hand, if you merely dislike, find annoying, or perhaps even hate my blog, then, well, like I said, I think that’s a good thing.

Hey, what can I say? You can’t please everybody.

Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 3

Note: this is part 3 of a 3-part series. For background and context, please see part 1 and part 2.

Hello Mr. Claims Investigator,

…Finally, thank you for giving me another and totally independent example of what I wrote about in my post How to Malinger: Lesson from an Expert. Recall that you stated in regard to whether my autistic obsessions constitute a legitimate disability:

I’m no psychiatrist but I’m not seeing impairment here…

[emphasis added]. Precisely, Mr. Claims Investigator, you are no psychiatrist. And at least in your case I believe you might even be sincere when you say that you don’t see my impairment. After all, why would you? Would you recognize a heart murmur if you heard it through a stethoscope? Could you recognize pneumonia off a chest X-ray? Could you distinguish between Schizophrenia, say, and Autism Spectrum Disorder?

No. Absolutely not. You have no training or qualifications to perform such tasks. And the same reasoning applies to why you are “not seeing” impairment in my case. And your choice of idiom is revealing: you say you’re “not seeing” my impairment, which, presumably, you would wish to explain with the hypothesis that there may be no impairment. But there’s actually an alternative hypothesis, which is that you yourself are suffering from a kind of impairment — an inability to “see” certain kinds of impairments in others: what we might call disability blindness.

And like a colorblind driver who cannot tell the difference between a red traffic light and a green one, and whose colorblindness thereby causes accidents to other drivers, it would seem that you simply cannot tell the difference between a true disability and a fake one, which means that for 18 years (by your own count), you have almost certainly denied disability benefits to countless people with legitimate disabilities that you were simply untrained to see (unless you were actually trained to not see them). For 18 years, Mr. Claims Investigator, whether you realize it or not, you have proudly made your living in no small part by exploiting your employer’s psychiatrically disabled disability claimants, arguably among the most vulnerable people in our society.

My friend, it’s not because you don’t see a disability, or perhaps because you pretend not to see it that it somehow ceases to exist. Just because you cannot see it,  or refuse to look at it, does not mean it isn’t there.

I’m not saying that human beings never fake or exaggerate disabilities. Perhaps you are even faking your own inability to see my disability (I don’t seriously believe that, but it’s possible, and it would be quite profitable for you and your employer to do so), but I am definitely not faking the disabling nature of my autistic obsessions (or my social incompetence). I know for a fact that I’m disabled. I know it because I suffer the consequences of my disability every day of my life as I have for the last 5+ decades. Yes, yes, I know I can give the appearance of being hyper-competent with tasks that are suitably relevant to my obsessions and which historically have accomplished nothing useful for anyone — things like this blog, for example (would you, yourself, pay me to write it?) and for another online example see the independent scholarship that I did several years ago on The Good-Regulator Project (which never earned me a dime and which costs me about $200 per year to keep published on the Web) — but to answer a question you asked me: no, I have never left a job for reasons that weren’t directly related to my disability. I have never, ever been able to earn a living in any sustained or consistent capacity because I’m often too busy obsessing uncontrollably about stuff that nobody wants to pay me for.

Sooner or later I fail at everything I try, my friend, and which might earn a steady paycheck, and I do so in no small measure because of my autistic obsessions (and my social incompetence too, an analysis of which will have to be done elsewhere).

 

 

 

Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 2

For background and context, see Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 1

Hello Mr. Claims Investigator,

…Next, I want to thank you for finally resolving your double standard with regard to your own gullibility. Recall that at first when you asked if I were “homicidal” or “suicidal” you displayed total gullibility when I said “no”.

In particular you wrote, “…Well if you want to deny it then there’s nothing I can do. If you say no, I’ll assume it’s no…”

Like I said: total gullibility, as if human beings are utterly incapable of lying about their darkest thoughts and impulses.

But you’re not always so gullible, correct? For example, you are decidedly not gullible –fiercely skeptical, in fact — when I tell you that my autistic obsessions effectively disable me for any task that requires focus and concentration and which is not suitably relevant to my presenting obsession. Yes, in that sort of situation, suddenly human beings are all liars and cheaters — malingerers, am I right?

Yes, when it comes to any sort of disability that doesn’t require hospitalization — a scenario that is not a matter of life and death — suddenly in that sort of situation you become the most serious and dedicated of critical thinkers. In that situation, absolutely nothing escapes your scrutiny.

Recall that my question to you was, “So, if it’s a matter of life and death, you give me the benefit of the doubt, but if I tell you that my obsessions effectively disable me, suddenly you’re ‘not buying it’? Why the weird double standard?”

But it’s really not so weird at all, when you think it through. No, that double standard of yours makes perfect sense when you consider the “secondary gains” associated with each side.

For example, the secondary gain of your eager gullibility on the one hand follows from the fact that a life or death scenario implies a potentially lengthy hospital stay which in turn means an automatic approval for the disability claim and an expensive benefit payout to the claimant. So, anytime a claimant answers “no” to the questions about suicidal or homicidal thoughts you’re highly motivated to snatch up that kind of answer quickly and without question (total gullibility). In response to those suicide/homicide questions a “no” response puts the claim in the realm of deniability, which offers you and your employer an irresistible secondary gain.

On the other hand, once you’ve gotten the claim into the realm of deniability, being totally gullible becomes expensive and now the secondary gains can only derive from the fiercest sort of skepticism, which you manifest with such robotic commitment and consistency that even when the expense of the claim (mine, for example) will be paid by your employer’s competitor (MetLife), you just can’t stop yourself from trying to prove that my autistic obsessions are not a “legitimate disability“.

Holy crap, amigo! Why do you care one way or another if my disability is legitimate? What’s it to you anyway? It looks to me like you’re on some sort of automatic pilot.

But at least you did finally resolve your double standard, and I definitely appreciate the effort you made to do so. I think you went in the wrong direction to resolve it, but at least you picked a direction to commit to. As I understand it, you resolved your double standard by committing wholeheartedly to skepticism and by choosing to staunchly disbelieve my utterly sincere and truthful claim that I am neither homicidal nor suicidal. And as proof of your newfound commitment to total and relentless skepticism you then called the Police Department in Cary, NC to confess to them your wholly irrational fear that I might actually travel 500 miles to your house in order to harm you or someone in your family, and to petition them to rescue you from your childish imagination run amok.

Luckily the Cary Police are not as delusional as you appear to be.

But at least now your apparent delusions are internally consistent, which is surely a good thing. Honestly, I think you resolved your double standard totally bassackwardsly. Instead of intensifying your irrational fears as you did by acting unreflectively on them (like a coward, really), I think you could have and should have chosen to resolve the double standard instead simply by granting me the same benefit of the doubt regarding my disabled status as you were so readily willing to grant for my utterly sincere and truthful claim that I’m neither suicidal nor homicidal.

My friend, I am philosophically, ideologically, and demonstrably opposed to violence: I have no history of violence; I have no interest in violence; I own no guns nor weapons of any kind. I don’t even play violent video games. I wish you no harm, Mr. Claims Investigator, but in any case it is not me that you fear. Rather, you fear your own ignorant misunderstanding of me. I am not your misunderstanding of me, sir. Your misunderstanding of me is entirely a figment of your own imagination, over which I have no control. If you cannot even control it yourself, then I urge you to follow the same advice you keep giving me: seek medical attention.

To be continued…

[Note: when part 3 is published I will post a link to it here.]

 

 

 

 

Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 1

Background

Yesterday I was contacted by a professional disability-insurance claims investigator actively in the employ of a billion-dollar, multi-national insurance company that is not MetLife.

Apparently the man has been reading my posts about my misadventures with MetLife (for example) and in the process has developed some intensely negative opinions of me which he felt compelled to share yesterday. The upshot of his position is that he thinks I’m only pretending to have a disability and that all of my efforts vis-a-vis MetLife amount to nothing more than an elaborate attempt at fraud.

Of course, the guy gets paid a tidy sum by his Insurance Company employer to think exactly that sort of thing and probably does so robotically about every disability claim that he encounters or even hears about, regardless of the merits of the claim itself.

In any event, he and I had an illuminating exchange via Text yesterday, and today I have a few follow up comments and questions that I wish to share with him and the rest of my readers.

Hello Mr. Claims Investigator,

To begin with, I really think that you and I must each mean something very different by the word disability. You stated yesterday that you think I have a “hate filled obsession” with my former employer (MetLife), to the point where you repeatedly advised me to check myself into a mental health facility, but at the same time you also made it clear that for you none of that indicates that I have a “legitimate disability”.

For my part, although I don’t actually hate anybody or any company, including MetLife, and I am certainly not any sort of danger to myself or anybody else, I do totally agree that I have an abnormally intense obsession with what roughly a dozen MetLife employees did to me (and indirectly my family) last year.

But what I don’t understand is how this abnormally intense obsession is not a “legitimate disability”, as you put it. To begin with, my lifelong tendency to obsess abnormally intensely about particular topics fulfills a cornerstone diagnostic criterion of the modern definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is usually recognized as a disability.  Here is the relevant passage from the DSM-V:

…Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by…[h]ighly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus….

[emphasis added]. Furthermore, although while obsessing about something I do retain a great deal of control over my overt behavior and can therefore perform quite successfully any highly practiced activity like brushing my teeth, dressing myself, or taking out the trash, unfortunately when it comes to any activity that demands mental focus and sustained concentration and which falls outside the realm of my obsession I am utterly useless — totally unable to function.

That last condition is critical, because if the task in question is somehow suitably relevant to my obsession, then in that case I have absolutely no problem focusing and sustaining concentration, and in fact can often exhibit superior performance on the task. That can happen quite easily provided the task in question is suitably relevant to my obsession. But if the task is not suitably relevant to my obsession, then in that case my performance can be severely degraded. For any task that is not suitably relevant to my presenting obsession I can manifest an abject incompetence.

Again, how is that not a “legitimate disability”?

[Note: there’s also another whole dimension of my autistic disability which is my inability to effectively manage the complexities of interpersonal relationships, but we didn’t actually get to that yesterday, so other than mentioning it in passing, I’ll leave a deeper analysis for a another day.]

Continue with Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 2

Is MetLife’s Code of Conduct Recklessly Incoherent Bullshit? — An Open Letter to MetLife CEO Steven A. Kandarian

Hello Mr. Kandarian,

Is it possible that MetLife’s so-called “Code of Conduct” is recklessly incoherent bullshit?

I ask this question because I believe my own apparent failure to understand the Code’s “guidelines for appropriate business conduct and ethical decision-making” has brought relentless woe unto me and my family, not the least of which is now the threat of a criminal conviction and all that goes along with it (fines, possible jail time, etc.).

Of course, I do realize that the Code itself might be just fine, and that my failure to understand it nothing more than a unique consequence of my own idiosyncratic manifestation of Autism Spectrum Disorder. But given that I might not be the only person to find this document dangerously confusing, and of course, on the chance that it might just be equally incomprehensible for everyone, here I wish to explain why I strongly suspect it probably is just that, or as I’m inclined to put it: recklessly incoherent bullshit.

To begin with, on page 2 of the Code you personally exhort MetLife employees to “…read, understand and abide by our Code of Conduct and raise awareness of issues that may undermine the public’s trust in our corporate integrity,” [emphasis added].

Then on page 4, all MetLife employees are charged with the “…responsibility to…Disclose or raise concerns about any potential violations of law or policy, or any other potential issues….” [emphasis added].

Now, the way I see it, for the past two years or so I have attempted in various ways to fulfill this Code-mandated “responsibility”. More specifically, I have tried to raise awareness on a variety of issues, not the least of which is a psychologically damaging procedural artifact I think of as The MetLife Meat Grinder, meat_grinder_MetLife_your_brain_750x500by which I mean MetLife’s systematic, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities (Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.). But despite my persistent efforts to raise awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder and other “issues that may undermine the public’s trust in [MetLife’s] corporate integrity”, I must tell you that the company’s reaction toward me has been not just ungrateful, but in fact quite fiercely retaliatory, and thus precariously out of sync with the company’s glossy promise to not retaliate against attempts to fulfill this “responsibility”.

As boasted in MetLife’s Code of Conduct:

Our commitment to non-retaliation

We do not tolerate retaliation for making a report in good faith. MetLife prohibits employees from engaging in any form of retaliation against anyone for raising concerns regarding a violation of any law, rule, regulation, internal policy, this Code, or about unethical activity….

Code of Conduct, page 6

Yet despite this boast, MetLife fired me illegally last year, subsequently lied to EEOC investigators about why I was fired, tried to bribe me with $37,000.00 to keep my mouth shut about what had happened, most recently requested and was granted a No Contact Order against me, and is now pressing criminal charges against me, all in what looks to me exactly like retaliation for my numerous Code-mandated attempts to raise awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder and other issues.

Did I get that right? Am I overlooking something?

Actually, I’m pretty sure the source of my hapless misunderstanding of the Code can be traced back to one particular sentence, found on page 6, and which I find especially baffling, thus:

“We do not tolerate retaliation for making a report in good faith“…

[emphasis added]. Now, really, what’s baffling for me about this sentence is that I have no idea what is meant by this phrase “in good faith”, although I do think it’s safe to say at this point that MetLife as a company has somehow decided that my many reports have definitely not been made “in good faith”, and also that in such a case retaliation is not only tolerated, but for me at least to be pursued with fanatical zeal.

That much seems obvious, but what isn’t obvious to me at all is who judged my numerous reports as being not “in good faith”, and by what criteria was this judgment made? Was there any sort of objectivity involved in making this judgment? Was my “faith” evaluated against some sort of checklist?

Was the Bible consulted? The Hadith? The Code of Hammurabi? The I Ching? This can’t possibly be a religious thing, can it? Did you all somehow figure out that I’m an atheist and decide to persecute me for my lack of religious belief? I don’t seriously believe that, of course, but then what?

Why have my attempts to report The MetLife Meat Grinder (and other issues) been judged by MetLife as being made in not “good faith”?

Here I wish to submit for your consideration that there is no rational answer to that question. Here I wish to propose that the aforementioned judgment of my “faith” as not “good” was made for no rational reason at all — that it was in fact made whimsically, nonsensically, wholly arbitrarily. Here I will publicly suggest that the human beings who judged my utterly sincere reports did so impulsively, thoughtlessly, and with great and continuing negative consequence to me and my family.

To be clear: I’m not claiming here that these individuals are actually as incompetent as they appear. On the contrary, I think they did what they did because the Code itself is confusing, by which I mean recklessly incoherent bullshit.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”