AST is a beautiful idea.
I’ve been keeping that part a secret, I’m not sure why. Really, AST is beautiful, full of hope, a ray of light for the future where none was perhaps deemed possible, a truly unexpected miracle of light and hope in a dark world.
This is not easy for me.
I will rail all day on your corner about how the world is burning down but to offer hope, to say something positive? That seems to me to deserve the utmost care, that is not a thing to be undertaken lightly. But I think it’s time to start to roll that vision out and see what it looks like.
Please enjoy this year’s stuff on abusewithanexcuse.com – the “Better Metaphor” series, etc., it’s the foundation of my idea, but the language, the subject matter are all on the dark side of the human equation (that being central to the theory, that, just like with the fictional “Force,” the dark side of life is where the power is), which is kind of all stick and no carrot for the reader. It was a positive urge that began my search, and I really have found my answer, but the answer finally came to me during a very difficult time in my life. It’s my idea, and it has a big bright side, but I haven’t been able to see anything but darkness myself for this whole last year. My apologies and my praise for those few readers who have been able to follow me on this train of thought despite the thick pheromonal cloud of anger and sadness that surrounds me. Some small group of followers have been able to allow me to speak to them despite the cloud, which is something few manage in real life. Anonymous and theoretical as you are, I thank you, I needed that.
The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.
So enough of rehashing the dark side again.
I repeat: AST, antisocialization theory is a beautiful idea. AST says that not only are we not born sinners, but that we do not even stand in judgment of ourselves as such. It says that we believe ourselves to be conceived sinless. Do you know, I used to hear talk like that and brush it off as either religion or psychology, and considered either vector for these sweetness and light sort of ideas to be baseless, simply wishful thoughts? I’m sure you do know, I imagine that is your present thought also. But it’s true. It’s the only belief of ours that can make sense of our behaviour.
Not only that, but AST is the only theory that explains the nurture assumption, the only idea that proves the power of the nurture side of the eternal argument. As such, AST has the potential to bring psychology back to science and to bring biology back to humanity. I know everyone shares this dream, that the caring basis of psychology not be left out of the exploding world of the bio-sciences. I don’t think we all want it this way, or from me – but we all want it, right?
AST has it that we are not eternally failing at controlling our base impulses for war and other violence – it says that we have succeeded in reinventing ourselves as this thing, this deep roots of war creature. It says that far from being helpless to our genes and our base natures, that we are in fact self-actualized creatures, that we possess the power to create ourselves in a vision of what we need to be, that we have done it already and so we can again. This is one hundred and eighty degrees away from where the life sciences appear to be taking us, but it’s not a conflict, only a misunderstanding. AST comes to this happy vision by finding room within a scientific look at human beings for choices, for free will, for our inner life. AST is empowering – not your usual scientific theory, to be sure.
. . . better?
Sorry, I’m a little stuck, not sure how to end it. Like I said, being positive, offering hope, this is hard for me. Offer doom and you’re wrong, great, but sell hope and something goes pear-shaped? Scary. But, if you have the cure, if you might have the cure, then I guess you’re stuck with it, take a chance or go to your grave wondering if you’ve let all of humanity down, those are a grandiose person’s choices. To put it out there is to invite exposure (and treatment), but to not is to protect one’s delusion, a comfortable, ineffectual madness that fears critique.
I’ll risk it, finding out I’m wrong, finding out I’m crazy, starting all over yet again, all of this I risk for you, for all of you but for no one or few of you, on the chance, on the small chance that I really have stumbled upon something that can make things better for all of us. God knows I’m trying, LOL.
April 28th., 2017
I honestly don’t see you or your ideas as dark. You are just human, as you grapple with all too human realities.
I automatically look for the possibilities in what others consider darkness. That is often where the best or at least among the most interesting possibilities are to be found.
Just speak truth as best as you can, is what I say. Let others judge as they will. One of the worse sins is to be boring. And your ideas are far from boring.
You don’t need to end anything in a particular way. You’ve offered your own way of looking at human potential, what we could be based on what we are. It’s not a conclusion but an opening. That is a good thing, even if some prefer simple answers.
This is how I see nurture. It’s not just about parenting. There is no nurturing, in the fullest evolutionary sense, without extended family, neighbors, teachers, community, culture of trust, a healthy environment, etc. Nurturing is the whole package, the framework of all else. Or failing that, the harm and undermining of all else.
Nurturing itself is an opening, in that it opens us up to seeing the world with new eyes. No one nurtures alone, as no one is free alone. To turn to a worldview of nurturing is to be reminded of what it means to be human. It’s the simple insight that, Humans need humans.
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Thanks, B., that’s nice. I thought it would be funny last evening to Tweet at a bunch of scientists “I got a grand unifying theory of abuse. $20.00 obo” and my website. Not so much as a LOL back.
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yeah, I ain’t battling N vs N anymore; that is not the question I’ve asked or answered. That was “what is punishment?” so it’s not what is nature, what is nurture, it’s become more like how is punishing nurturing, kind of thing. That first Boutwell thing referenced one of their papers that had them identifying corporal punishment as a heritable trait on the genetic side, and sure, but they somehow have no room for free will in their science and it bugs me no end. LOL
“AST comes to this happy vision by finding room within a scientific look at human beings for choices, for free will, for our inner life.”
– of course, isn’t new, this is where Dawkins and Dennett have taken us. Mine is one concrete (!) example of their meme idea, I think . . .
and one BDS, of course.
Like you, I’m concerned about punishment and how it relates to nurturing. But my focus is on how environments are involved in this. High rates of poverty, inequality, segregation, incarceration, mistrust, etc create the conditions of punishment. They aren’t only the expressions of an oppressive social order but the way it is maintained through social control.
That connects to my view that freedom is an expression of relationships, not individuals. It’s why I repeat such things as markets aren’t free. People are free but they are specifically free in relating to one another. A market can only be free to the extent that everyone involved in and impacted by the market can act freely in relation to everyone else.
Otherwise, without such freedom, punishment grows like a malignant tumor… or, if you prefer, like a mind virus. But mind viruses take form not just in the mind but also in the physical and social world. We are, after all, embodied minds inseparable from our shared reality. The more we seek freedom within individuality the further entrapped we become within fear, oppression, and punishment. Freedom isn’t a limited thing that can be possessed by limiting it to others, and yet this belief is the demented basis of our society.
The tricky part is this. The best place to hide unfreedom is behind rhetoric of freedom. That unfreedom is within us, as we go on seeking freedom elsewhere. We are lost to ourselves because we’ve become dissociated from our social condition. Shared freedom can only be found in our shared fate, but our society tells us the lie that anything shared is worthless or dangerous. And if you act contrary to this mind virus, this society will punish you.
and I’m going after it from the other end, I imagine the initial environment’s abuse as basically creating all the other troubles, like I imagine an unabused person may not be able to justify anything he’s asked to do in terms of allowing a lot of lead into our water systems, stuff like that. If a lack of abuse may not automatically make us care about the billions of our fellow humans, at least it could make us a ll a little smarter, increase our odds of ever fixing anything. But, back to the first point, you see all the stresses of the world creating the conditions for abuse and punishment . . .I’d say exacerbate, maybe rather than ‘create,’ and I see it the other way around, but really, again, we’re looking at a single phenomenon. That’s some sort of issue in evolutionary theory, sorting out which is the environmental cause and which the adaptation, when evolution says they both came into existence together . . . it means causes and effects are interchangeable in living systems, I think.
uh, sorry, can’t spend any time or energy thinking about what seems to me to be the utterly empty American concept of ‘freedom.’ That word belongs in the pile with soul, divinity, consciousness, evil, add your own.
I’d agree with it being a single phenomenon. Trauma is an evolutionary adaptation to conditions of stress, conflict, and uncertainty.
Abuse, in a sense, fits within a normal range of human behavior. What we perceive as abuse is a way of parents and other authority figures to get children to behave in certain ways in potentially dangerous situations.
You can see that with families in poor, violent neighborhoods. Maybe abuse is common in that kind of environment for a good reason. It’s similar to why poor kids physically grow up more quickly, as it is the body’s defense against threat.
I’d argue that it’s not a maladaptation. What is abnormal is when such less than optimal conditions become a permanent state of a society, as happens when the social order is built on inequality, segregation, and mistrust.
The important factor for us now is that we have choices. Unlike ancient people, we have immense power to both choose our behaviors and create the conditions that support certain behaviors. What is most abusive about the conditions and behaviors of high inequality is that none of it is necessary.
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I’m going to go in an entirely different direction, one i dunno if you have encountered before but it has to do with how people talk to each other, understand each other, and not just superficially resolve conflicts, but deeply resolve them by meeting each parties’ needs. I realize that likely no one reading this comment is going to watch a three hour video, not even one that starts with a song that explains everything, but here is the link anyway: https://youtu.be/l7TONauJGfc.
NVC or what is known as “Non-Violent Communication” a la Marshall Rosenberg, does not , empahtically not simply mean communicating without violence…i.e. Without fighting. That is why it is also called NVC so people dont confuse it with simple non-violence. NVC is a system — learned and practiced until it becomes second-nature — of communicating and of LISTENING to people in such a way that all conflicts become easy to resolve and the most amazing thing is truly punishment is no longer needed, or even felt to be needed, not even by any supposed “wounded party.”
This was so amazing to me that i have watched this single 3-hour intro video 4 times and then sought out others with Marshall talking, because i believe his system of NVC has the potential to cure, to heal so many evils and tragic wrongnesses in our world, if only people would take the time to learn how to put NVC to work in their lives. The problem is, it takes a lot of work and practice, and is not easy…i am still — a year later — just a novice! But i believe this is the way or at least one way for the world to heal from centuries and millennia of institutional and social and “geneticized” abuse. I know of no other…not so far. And it has healed me, and continues to heal me, which proves a great deal.
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