AST– A Better Metaphor, Part Five. Unintended Consequences

OK, the blog I decided was part four for logical order, I wrote that a month or two ago, but I wrote part three over the last few days. Things took a sudden turn for the dark there, I’m afraid, so if you saw the one about what we think we think about ourselves before and have also just come here with part three freshly in mind, I apologize for it, especially for the emotional slap at the end. That was uncalled for, but what can I say? I’m not editing it out, it’s me. I am uncalled for. It probably cost me most of my potential buyers there, though. I don’t know why I do it, why I must make listening to me even harder than it is, why I so badly need not only to be appreciated, but at my worst.

I’m sorry. This one will be different, I think.

I know I’ve turned the common wisdom over with this, the causality goes from ‘discipline to make us civilized humans as opposed to wild animals’ to ‘abuse to make us crazy and violent beyond how we are may have been in the wild,’ and sure, that’s on the dark side of the spectrum, but let’s turn it over a bit, try some different angles. AST is a giving the devil his due sort of idea, but what if we take it on and then argue, see if this devilish idea can survive giving God his due.

I’ve said the point of human adult on child violence isn’t that the child learns better how to live indoors and not break dishes, that it is rather the effects of abuse that made us tougher and more successful than the other apes and other human species, but we do mange to get on indoors and not break things, and we do show more emotional range than may be required if war and conflict were all there was to being human, don’t we? So the existence of the meme may guarantee the ‘consequences’ get dished out, but looking at it the other way ‘round, the sense of the meme kind of insures that we spend a lot of time driving our kids and speaking to them, giving instructions and commands. From AST, in the coldest, economic, evolutionary psychology terms you could say these are primarily excuses for the abuse that we need to compete with the abusive neighbors and their kids – but all those lessons, perhaps a sort of unintended consequence of our warrior code was that all that teaching and talking took on a life of its own. All that learning may have been of less immediate, survival level importance than the antisocialization lessons, but we have studied and we have learned because by the metaphor by which we are raised, we know what happens when we don’t get our homework done.

AST describes the same world, but the causation is flipped: they didn’t give us the strap to teach us math, they challenged us with math so they could give us the strap! Bad news is, we got the more visceral, biological lesson, and we’ve been antisocialized. Good news is, we learned math. Oh, no, I know, it sounds dark again, and just backwards, same world with a bad attitude, but it’s not. From the existing place, the metaphor of consequences, things don’t make sense. From the existing place, the metaphor of consequences, all we understand is the part about the math and we don’t understand what it is we do and how we create ourselves in a violent vision of how we need to be. It means we can never really understand abuse or conflict, and that’s a bit of a big deal. I’ll try to make the case in the next part. For now, we’ll let this one stand as having said that our human civilization seems to be a secondary effect, a sort of unintended consequence of our self-antisocializing ways, and of course, I don’t think anyone thought becoming technical and civilized was a goal, I don’t think Bill Hicks’ version has been positively peer reviewed. I think science assumes our bizarre behaviour to be an unintended consequence of something or other – so maybe it’s of this antisocializing thing.

It’s not out of line with the general idea that we are the most complex challenge we face and so that it is we that have been the evolutionary pressure that produced this large bubble of a brain and skull, is it?



March 10th., 2017

Here’s the whole series:

and a bonus nipple-twister:

38 thoughts on “AST– A Better Metaphor, Part Five. Unintended Consequences

  1. Benjamin David Steele March 10, 2017 / 8:35 pm

    Nearly all of humanity’s societal development has been unintended consequences. No one really knew what the long-term results would be for developing art agriculture, permanent houses, cities language, writing, alphabets, numeracy, etc.

    People invent something or act in a new way. It catches on because it is useful for some purpose. Add enough of these things together and civilization follows without anyone having intended it.

    Your theory has some resonance with Derrick Jensen. He writes about the relationship between trauma and civilization. A key motivation for him is having been abused as a child. His early books go into great detail about the psychology of abuse, trauma, victimization, silencing, etc.

    Also, your theory sort of seems like a variety of my symbolic conflation. You are arguing that what appears to be the real reason isn’t actually the real reason. I take this further by arguing that this is a purposeful misdirection, not a mere misunderstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff/neighsayer March 10, 2017 / 8:48 pm

      Oh, it doesn’t hurt my idea that it’s purposeful either, that’s exactly it. Yes, mine’s an example of yours, I do think so. Of course, I think mine is THE example, the original, but that’s not really important, it doesn’t kill it because it’s not either. ‘Misunderstanding,’ yeah, that’s weak, my bad. I’ve probably fallen into the habit of soft-soaping it, worrying about talking to parents too plainly.


      • Benjamin David Steele March 11, 2017 / 8:04 am

        There is no doubt that parenting/childrearing is a core issue for any society and its attendant social order. Part of the underlying issue of abortion is that those who are against it often hold a belief that it is the social and moral obligation of women to be mothers. As the perceived keystone to the nuclear family, parenting is the defining role in the moral imagination of modern conservatives, around which everything else revolves. Family is where the social, political, and biological meet in its most powerful expression. Theories around biopolitics cover some of this territory.


    • Jeff/neighsayer March 10, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      This very symbolic conflation does indeed exist elsewhere than in child-rearing, namely in criminal justice, where from looking at it, it would appear that the prison industry thinks that an hour of positive education time is worth a hundred hours of negative punishment and deprivation, and that with that, people should be repaired and redirected. Interestingly, I think the army knows the truth, that hardships make better soldiers.


      • Benjamin David Steele March 11, 2017 / 7:59 am

        Yeah. The entire ‘justice’ system and the incarceral state is all about social order. There has been much ink spilled over that. And many theories proposed to understand it. On the face of it, our criminalizing and imprisoning so much of the citizenry makes little rational sense. Most prisoners committed non-violent crimes that wouldn’t lead to prison time in most other countries. Whatever the purpose, it obviously has little to do with justice or even, in a simple sense, law and order as it ends up furthering the conditions that destabilize society. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff/neighsayer March 10, 2017 / 9:10 pm

      Jensen, huh? Yeah, I think a lot of people have intuited it and talked about it, psychology folks, but I’m hoping to connect the dots with less intuition and more science. I find all of this psychology stuff is like that, it’s like having a political POV, there are believers and non-believers but no test for proof and no real proof, even of successes. It’s nothing these days if you can’t find a gene for it or something, and that’s the point if I ever get there: there are a ton of epigenetic effects for tough environments and abuse, and we have learned that we can bring the abuse and set these epigenetic modes of operation for our kids, and so for ourselves, that it isn’t all accidental.


  2. tabbyrenelle March 10, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    Hi Jeff, check out the book by Peter A. Levine, phD called In an Unspoken Voice (how the body releases trauma and restores goodness) Tell me what u think about the Somatic approach with army vets and child abuse… once you get a feel for it. Which U will. He also wrote Waking the Tiger, Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes and Trauma Proofing Your Kids
    your work is intellectual and you need more body connections to heal what yer talking about.
    peace and keep writing. believe in your work. Belief does have it’s place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff/neighsayer March 10, 2017 / 11:23 pm

      I hear you and I know what you’re saying, but abuse is more than a personal problem, it also needs to be a public one, that’s my public mission, trying to get some science going regarding abuse, like biology. I think the gentle parenting movement needs its own science; so far, bio-science seems to be set against parenting, like science has never applied itself to parenting. I think even child sexual abuse is not remotely rare and needs to be a public issue, with public solutions. I get the personal work, personal story idea, but it can’t be the only thing or we’re just sweeping it under the rug as always. Here’s the new one on that topic, if you like –

      thanks, t.



      • Benjamin David Steele March 11, 2017 / 7:28 am

        I agree with you about abuse and the larger context. It is far from a mere personal problem. That is part of why I articulated my own theory. This goes back to the mix up of issues, of the apparent issue not being the real issue. I argue that the real issue always is social in nature, specifically social norms in terms of the social order.

        So, to effectively deal with such issues, they have to be fully confronted at a social level. But obviously the personal is part of the social. The point being that, for problems such as this, the social frames the personal. That is why these problems are so pervasive and why the framing of them is so compelling.


      • Benjamin David Steele March 11, 2017 / 9:15 am

        One of the main problems in our society is how individuals get scapegoated. And generally the individuals who get scapegoated the harshest are those who are victimized the most. The harm they endure, the suffering and struggle they experience is portrayed as a personal problem that they must deal with personally.

        This is seen with poverty, unemployment, lead toxicity, mental health, and much else. It’s similar to how a corporate lobbyist group created the crying Indian commercial to push government policies about personal recycling in order to avoid the real issue that most waste is produced by corporations, not individuals.

        It’s a way for those who benefit most from the social order to defend the social order. But it generally becomes a way for anyone in society to avoid digging deep into uncomfortable issues that feel too overwhelming. And there is no doubt that the problems we’ve collectively created have become overwhelming to the extreme.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff/neighsayer March 11, 2017 / 9:30 am

          sorry, Benjamin, I on my phone and I thought I was talking to Tabby . . . he’s a pop psych guy, on the personal story side


      • tabbyrenelle March 11, 2017 / 6:57 pm

        I don’t believe I ever said it was just a personal issue, Jeff. I understand public awareness. Besides that exposure tho, the issue becomes about how to recover and every individual is different. The books go into why some people can handle trauma and live healthy lives while others become crippled by trauma… It doesn’t hook you on a doctor, it liberates people and give them control back. It’s coping skills and it goes far beyond your intellectual/theoretical and straight into the practical. The events themselves are going to happen to people, how we cope and recover is contained in the somatic because it is a body-connection without having to continuously revisit the pain… It’s something you’d have to fully read to understand why I am recommending it. The personal accounts are for example and they get repetitious, for a reason…
        In terms of addressing overall societal and human abuse and making it a public cause, I am totally cool with that. Telling you about somatic healing is in fact being part of public awareness. The more people understand what the biological, physiological, thinking ruts are and the more they know it can be cured and not be labeled as a “mental disorder” or be cursed for like, the better for the public.
        Thanks for the link. I’ll read it when I can. 🙂


        • Jeff/neighsayer March 11, 2017 / 8:33 pm

          I’m sorry, I know you didn’t. I’ve been living in denial forever so I hear stuff along that line from everywhere, and I’ve been resisting. I’ve had a life event, lost the wife and kids, a divorce and a breakdown, and I’m getting some help, maybe I’ll get there this time, but me and help are in a bit of a Mexican standoff still. My sticking point is that when I say “I have a problem” then the wife will never have to say she has one. My girls are 18 and 22, the wife and I are mid-50’s.


          • tabbyrenelle March 12, 2017 / 3:06 am

            I’m sorry to hear about the divorce Jeff. You didn’t lose your kids… tho… those problems can be worked out with your daughters if you have ’em, and they’ll want you to.
            Just read the somatic stuff and take it at your pace. It’s not gonna hurt you and it’s nothing like other therapies. It’s one that works…
            Of course you’re resistant. That’s natural… and so feel it. be with it. be aware of it. Feel how your body feels when you are resistant… what gets tense… where you hold pain… and don’t think… just feel the energy. It eventually passes and sometimes crystal clear moments of stress come up and you know where your real wounds are and you can actually understand your own patterns/reactions… and that’s your work. And it’s worth it.
            Let your ex do her own work. You both have separate work now… but maybe you’ll find friendship later. Or peace around your kids… and realize there is no blame. There is no real ego…
            We can talk more if ya wanna…
            I’ll leave it here for now…
            You’re a good person Jeff. Just keep at it.
            luv, tabs

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jeff/neighsayer March 12, 2017 / 7:19 pm

              yeah, the somatic thing sounds cool, and I think someone on my list of counselors is into it. Yeah, it’ll all work out, but it all has to finish falling apart first, I think . . . thanks


              • tabbyrenelle March 12, 2017 / 9:02 pm

                Nothing has to fall apart completely Jeff. You start where you are. with resistance, with doubt, with pain, whatever. Just start. You don’t gotta break everything to begin again. You don’t gotta go rock bottom. If you do it, it’s a choice… and You make it harder. You best get on yer good foot. You got one and I see thru U.


            • Jeff/neighsayer March 12, 2017 / 7:21 pm

              LOL – I never would have put it together – did we fight as Kate and get along as Tabby? LOL again.


              • tabbyrenelle March 12, 2017 / 9:03 pm

                I met U as Katherine in a waaay long time ago. we did not fight. We spoke. U best investigate me before you continue Jeff. This ain’t a one way street and I been generous. I like you. That’s why I bother. but… make some effort… and don’t be blind sided. Ok?


                • Jeff/neighsayer March 12, 2017 / 9:11 pm

                  no idea what you’re talking about but you’ve scared me off. Don’t worry, I won’t pester you.


                  • tabbyrenelle March 14, 2017 / 12:08 pm

                    What do you mean you have no idea what I’m talking about. You just told me you lost your wife and kids and had a break down… and I’m telling you to Somatic read books that can assist you.
                    But whatever… if you are afraid… that’s the fight or flight that Peter A. Levine addresses.
                    go ahead and follow your boundaries and muse(s).
                    You didn’t pester me. You remembered me for a reason and I was willing to communicate honestly with you.
                    My apologies for not replying sooner. I haven’t been online til now.
                    peace Jeff.


                    • Jeff/neighsayer March 14, 2017 / 1:45 pm

                      Ah! Never mind, I see my error. I thought I heard some internet threat in this – “U best investigate me before you continue Jeff. This ain’t a one way street and I been generous. I like you. That’s why I bother….” maybe because you just told me you have multiple names online. Now I get it – you ain’t usually free, was that all that meant? Yeah, I wasn’t looking for you to ply your trade, I thought we were just talking. I can indeed get what you don’t want to give away free for free, I presently have three counselors and I’ve always had two or three semi-pro psychologists right in the family, so no, put down the damn clipboard and talk to me or don’t. The subject doesn’t have to be my denial. I can get that. I’d be damned if I’d want to deal with that all day long and then again in the evenings for free too, no shit.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 3:02 am

                      No… I’m not saying anything about my “brand”
                      I was just talking to you, Jeff and if you understand anything about dialectical thinking you can just take this as a language gap.
                      I offered you a book… about somatic therapy. I never told you what to do… so GOOD LUCK with your shitty attitude.


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 8:54 am

                      I hadn’t ben in touch with your blog for I dunno how long, btw. You came and invited me for my feedback. I supported your writing and encouraged you to keep doing it. I recommended a book that is helpful to people who have gone thru trauma and child abuse is in it as well as veterans, holocaust survivors etc. and it’s effective therapy.
                      I never showed of a clip board or an internet threat to you in my life.
                      If you were interested in my work you would hover over my icon to see three blogs and who I am. I have an a.k.a music warlord persona.
                      I gave you the heads up on that because I spoke to you on other blogs about depression and also feminism.
                      You invited me here to insult me.
                      To pick a fight and find ways of proving how women abuse you. I offered you only info and support. You ask for things.
                      I don’t ask for anything.
                      respect Jeff…
                      but you are making your own messes and blaming others.


                    • Jeff/neighsayer March 14, 2017 / 1:47 pm

                      talking ABOUT your trade interests me though


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 3:03 am

                      Nevermind Jeff.


                    • Jeff/neighsayer March 15, 2017 / 11:36 am

                      I just told you that I had made the error and what it was, thinking I’d sensed some internet troll threat or something, that was me taking responsibility and telling you what I got wrong and that I no longer think that. Then I made a second guess at why you were giving me “You best” anything, also wrong? Fine. Stay mad, do what ya gotta do.


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 1:38 pm

                      In terms of employment (which yer almost all asking me how I make money… greedy bastards and gold diggers) I do catering, care-provision, preschool sub teaching, art workshops for people of all ages… art therapy workshops, I also paint interiors ( I worked for interior designers) and do some carpentry ( I took shop class ‘cuz I wanted to know HOW) I designed a wheel-chair ramp for a disabled person (because I took architectural drawing), I painted and mixed colors for the contemporary CONCEPTUAL american artist Jeff Koons in NYC (my work gots his name on it and is in the Guggenheim) and I worked at the Pollock Krasner Foundation which gives grants to working artists in NYC also (international artists) so google those or sumpin’, I help edit for writers sum times too… I designed a summer art camp, directed and taught at it in Chicago (for preschool kids), and I helped ban the drift-nets when I worked for a congress woman so that’s why yer tuna cans have them dolphin safe labels. We also protected the spotted owl and helped form a manageable forest industry rather than adhere to crappy clear cutting… I do set designs for theatre and have done some film set dressing, costuming, boom and slate work, etc. and so forth…


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 2:05 pm

                      I’ve also been currently standing with the Lakota tribes in the DAPL standoff.
                      I have access to the indivisible guide against Trump if you actually wanna help anyone other than yer own pity pot. lemme know. I’ll grant U a link.
                      I am helping sell indie comics for Work Force Comics by Michael Archie.
                      I am part of the women’s international forum. I am someone to respect, Jeff and GUESS WHAT????
                      I gave U the time of day.
                      I ain’t no aristocrat. I came from blue collar roots, sexual assault, rape, white supremacy and KNOW WHAT?
                      I survived. Better than that… I got SOMATIC healing.
                      U best treat me with respect if YOU ever talk to me again. capeche?


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 2:07 pm

                      so the real question is what R U doing for anyone other than YOUR self?


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 2:13 pm

                      You do what you gotta do Jeff…
                      but when U do it…
                      KNOW yer an asshole.
                      I worked from nuthin’
                      and YOU SUCK


                    • tabbyrenelle March 15, 2017 / 2:57 pm

                      in FACT go to yer family therapists and yer pro therapist and present to them what a jackass YOU R. Go ahead… tell ’em… no clip board required. Just let them no yer an asshole right off the bat… and give ’em my links if they need to have a pow wow.
                      U contact me again and U best be reverent.


        • Jeff/neighsayer March 11, 2017 / 1:39 pm

          sorry, Benjamin, I on my phone and I thought I was talking to Tabby . . . he’s a pop psych guy, on the personal story side


      • tabbyrenelle March 11, 2017 / 6:58 pm

        I’m not familiar with John Lee… I’ll have to look him up.
        talk to ya later!


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