Psychology as Abuse, Part #3 – Some Sort of Progress

. . . in my personal antisocialization, I mean.

I think I finally got some bit of therapy, finally heard something, and funny story, it wasn’t my therapy, in fact it was historical therapy, or maybe even historical fictional therapy. It was the film, Jimmy P: Psychoanalysis of a Plains Indian, and what I think was supposed to be a turning point for Jimmy, when the therapist tells him, excitedly, “You can’t fight with women!” – I think that may be my problem too.

Don’t anybody tell the ladies on Twitter, OK?

Needing to fight more with women, that is not going to play well over there. But I’m the sort that lets them kill me instead, and I’m sure they’re not going to love me for making killers of them either, are they? Like I have sort of let my ex take so much of my life away, and I let her use my daughters to do it? Surely, I have failed in my responsibilities as a father to see such a thing happen on my watch. I mean, I begged for fair treatment, but that doesn’t work with the Americans and doesn’t seem to work with anyone. It’s a good life if you don’t weaken and I dropped the ball for everyone by weakening, I get it. I sort of get it. I get it, but I disagree.

I tried to live as a pacifist, I did live that way, but pacifists learn quickly, people do not automatically reciprocate for that. You’re supposed to be a strong pacifist, peace is supposed to start with no-one being allowed to abuse us ourselves first. You hear this? Abased, pathetic game theory? You all remember from five seconds ago, I’m talking about my loved ones, the ladies who had been my wife and daughters? It’s a good life if you don’t weaken with them too?

Twisters, sisters of Twitter, I am not advocating for aggression, I am talking about a choice and/or inability I have about rising to the level of self-defence.

I’m going through some medical stuff about hyperthyroidism, and had some bloodwork, part of which was looking at testosterone, and I was nervous. I mean, I know things aren’t so simple, if I needed testosterone, it wasn’t going to be Jekyll and Hyde, I wasn’t going to get super aggressive, but I worried about it. The endocrinologist offered therapy for it, but she also said that I’m in the normal range, the bottom third of the normal range she said, and I don’t know if she thinks that’s bad, I guess, because she’s talking injections, but it sounds OK to me. I’m still very sad and still gaslit to oblivion and not really seeing my way back to any real world yet and the last thing I want to do is start skin-popping testosterone. Good Lord. “Not that simple” isn’t quite the same as “not true,” is it?

I have fought back in life, I have gone on the offense, mostly inappropriate jokes, trying to be shocking and outside of the box, all largely unconscious until pretty recently. Anything I do consciously, anything I advocate for has all been feminism and pacifism, but I confess, I am an open wound, and I have been touchy and hurt and I do often feel under attack. The Not All Men urge is strong with this one, because I feel I have tried so hard, structured my life around it. When a feminist or just a female soldier in this war of the sexes gives me the dirty look or comment about what a pig I am or probably am, I have in the past tensed up terribly, felt awful, not known what to do, basically been reduced to some early childhood humiliation reaction . . . and pretty much always gotten over it and gone back for more, always and forever, me, begging to be seen as not that.

So let me tell you about last evening.

It’s about a friend and his lady, and when I quit Facebook just the other day, I gave them my Twitter handle and this blogsite, so I’ll forgo my usual love of the dysphemism and not try to bludgeon anyone with anything, but I know my Twisters will get it. Power was out here yesterday, all over, bit of a hurricane. I went out for dinner and got myself invited to my buddy’s place (with power) for the hockey game and went home to the dark afterwards. It was the first time I’d met his lady of maybe a year now.

I mentioned the proportional representation referendum we just had here in BC and that I was sad it hadn’t passed, and she responded that she had just put the package straight into the recycle bucket, that she didn’t care about that sort of stuff – and this is where I would tense up, normally. I had just told her I cared, I was sad, and her answer was, “I don’t.” At this point I’ll allow she’s talking about politics, not addressing me saying I care about it, just she doesn’t care about politics. Yes, we’re all white folks.

I normally would have started some internal conversation with myself and begun the process of tensing up, leading to sadness, but maybe I forgot myself, I had just met this person, but I just calmly said, “I mad at you, now.” Accidental outside voice, maybe.

She doubled down, of course. “I don’t care about that. It doesn’t matter, they’ll do whatever they’re gonna do.” So now I think she’s gone the next step, I’m sad, nothing, I’m mad, at her, personally, nothing, she doesn’t care about that – and still not meaning me and my thoughts and feelings generally, but maybe any feelings I have about this stupid politics business.

So I have opinions. I know maybe what to talk about and what not to talk about when I go there in the future, but I remained myself, remained calm, didn’t argue, either with her or with myself, and let it go. That’s a good sign, because that every woman on Earth could push my buttons with a word was not a tenable situation, strangers and everything. That was crazy. Me meeting a complacent white woman who doesn’t care about politics shouldn’t be a surprise or a shock, and it wasn’t yesterday, finally.

Meeting one who doesn’t care a damn about me and my ideas and feelings, that shouldn’t have been one all these years either, but it was, every damned time, I’m not sure what to say about that, what the hell it means yet, but . . . it was. It really was.

It really has been.

And yesterday she said to me, straight to my face after I had made a statement of my feelings, “I don’t care about that,” and for once, I don’t care about that, maybe the first time ever. What she cares about and doesn’t care about ain’t right, to my mind, but it’s her, it’s not me. And you know what, maybe it’s been all of them, all my life, and not me always the other times either. Back to psychology, maybe it’s not all women either, just the ones I find myself around, by choice or by inaction. Today, I feel I chose the ex because I couldn’t see she wasn’t ever able to love me, because of the women who raised me who never had a chance at giving or receiving real love – because of abusive men, of course.

We deserve this shit.

But I don’t. Not anymore.

LOL – first time ever, and straight to “not anymore!”

We’ll see if I can do it again, I’ll get back to you.

It felt good, I mean, it didn’t hurt like it usually does, but I never wanted to shut anyone out. I never wanted to hold anyone away like that, “I don’t care about that,” that being whatever another human being cares about, I never wanted to spend my life saying to myself about the people around me, “the hell with her, it doesn’t matter what she thinks,” that doesn’t sound like a life to me. This feels necessary but evil to me. It’s exactly what I talked about in Part One, that I am learning that other people are simply choices, that I made a blind, compulsive choice of a spouse because of not understanding my own childhood and life – and to make better choices in the future, I suppose, by learning to understand that life.

One small step on the road to recovery, on the one hand, I guess.

One step further away from childlike openness, I’m afraid. I’m sorry to report, I didn’t miss the pain and the turmoil with this little conflict, but this is exactly the process that ends up costing us joy, and even if I am enjoying the benefit of this sort of learning right now, it still confirms my Murphy’s Law view of things, that healing, that maturation is nothing but antisocialization, that this is a good life if you don’t weaken, if you don’t let them hurt you, if you don’t sweat the small stuff.

Meaning of course, other people.

I’m sensitive. I have always heard that trope like just exactly that, you tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff” and I will not get involved with you, you have just let it slip, no-one matters to you, and all I have for folks who say that is goodbye. I never had a problem setting that boundary when someone makes as clear a declaration as that. Psychology is subtler, I’m supposed to feel more, have more positive feeling for the people who are blindly or intentionally hurting me or everyone with their own lack of feeling – not “don’t feel,” just “feel along with these unfeeling people.”

I could have framed it positively, like a million other stories of personal discovery, which, well, there’s the joke already, “million” and “personal.” I’m finding my boundaries, my centre, like that, and if that is true, then I have a far better chance of retaining it, if I can rebuild the concept from reality when I forget. I try not to “memorize” anything. If it’s real, you’ll see it in the world and won’t have to carry it around yourself. I may not like it, being antisocialized, learning not to care, but if it’s the only way and the closest thing there is to the truth, then I trust I will settle on it. I have a sort of calm sea in a way, and if it’s true, it will float to the top whether I like it or not. So if it’s good, like the way most folks talk about this stuff, then I’ll be getting the benefit even if I disapprove of the whole stupid game, because I am still a player. My general prognosis will probably improve with this . . . this hardening, and I may need some of that to survive much longer.

Even if it’s a moral failure, which I also think.

It’s not right, to my mind, that it is me making this adjustment, not right that any adjustments be made in this direction, that anyone get tougher, that I get tougher, that I feel less, that I care less, that I learn not to talk about certain things. What would be right, would be changing the abusers of the world, getting them to feel more and care more, stopping the pain at the source. I’m not saying it’s doable, or practical, or that I have a way, but I absolutely am saying that for all those practical reasons we are doing it all completely backwards.

I mean, I understand, it’s only myself I have access to, we have the best chance for change with ourselves . . . but just because this is the part of the tree that you can reach doesn’t mean this is where the apples are! The logic of therapy is like a classic joke, like “I know his father is the psycho and he makes him wear the chicken suit and live in the yard and demands eggs of him, but one hour a week, we’re gonna work on helping him remember he’s a person. The poor, sick fellow thinks he’s a chicken! His father? Oh, he won’t come in, not interested.”

I know there are positive tales, and lots of positive press to match.

There is also this however, the victim-treating which has a portion of victim-blaming and victim-shaming – “So, what are you gonna do about it?” – which doesn’t get nearly enough press, by an order of magnitude. And so, it’s sort of natural, that the undiagnosed meanies run the world and the sad victims are the sick ones that require treatment, it’s easy to see, viewed this way, that the treatment is to convert the sad victims into happy meanies. I mean, it’s the undiagnosed, active participants in the world choosing what needs to be done, not the folks suffering the downside of it all, sitting medicated at home or in hospitals, after all. We gotta get you up and moving – and fighting and soldiering and selling and hustling – that’s the cure, apparently. To be clear, that’s all pretty aggressive and it isn’t saving the world.

But that’s what’s supposed to save you!

And when we rid the world of lazy, whining crybabies and everybody is a healthy, magnificent fearsome warrior, then things will be better, right? Funny, I extrapolated this from a minority take on nice, non-violent psychology and therapy and I’ve come immediately to the toxic masculinity that MRAs and the dudebros of the world profess. Again, psychology is subtler, but if we think we’re supposed to be warriors, then that is what psychology is going to teach, to make you a healthier, better integrated warrior.

I have a problem with that.

It’s all backwards and the harder we try, the worse we get, with this view of ourselves. I don’t want your stupid cure, I want my open heart and mind back. I want to go back to the garden.

 

 

Jeff

Dec. 22nd., 2018

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2018/02/23/psychology-as-abuse/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2018/02/24/psychology-as-abuse-part-2/

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Original Piety

As opposed to original sin, I mean. It’s not about piousness.

Fight or flight is an important choice, clearly important enough to find a central place and a lot of real estate in the decision-making organ.

It occurred to me today, that whatever decision we make when faced with this choice, we hope we are clever and make the smart choice, the right choice, and when we have made it through the crisis, then we know that we indeed have – I mean in a biological conversation. Perhaps if we find ourselves alive after a battle but regret perhaps having killed many folks to insure it, perhaps we suspect moral issues, but if our grandchildren are discussing it, at least they know we made the “right” choice, or this conversation doesn’t happen.

For good or ill, there is a lot of wiggle room when you’re talking about binary judgments like good and bad, right and wrong, all four of those words can mean almost anything. Goose VS Gander, Us VS Them, Friends not Food . . . indeed these value words can mean their own very opposites and we know that and we don’t even blink; we navigate, somehow. That’s exactly where I see trouble, and exactly what I am hoping clear up a little.

OK.

A creature that more often hangs back, or runs, we call cautious.

One that more often fights, we call aggressive.

This was today’s idea: a cautious creature values caution as wisdom, and if you ask an aggressive creature what constitutes wisdom or intelligence, he will tell you, “aggression.” I’ve said it elsewhere, as creatures, we exist in the second category.

I am, however, no determinist!

Behaviour is not a gene, and aggression, I repeat, is a choice, and we choose to encourage aggression, we are that aggressive creature who says that, “aggression is the smart choice.” The best defense is a good offense, right? Wait!

This is not a purely Nurture argument.

We encourage it in Nature, in our hardware.

Punishments, pain, deprivations, inequalities of stress and work . . . these sorts of abuse are not Nurture, not “just talk,” just data, none of that. They operate on our bodies and on our genomes. I’m saying, even as they find genes “strongly correlated” with aggression, that these alleles are not as God created them six thousand years ago, there is no hardware aside from behaviour and choice, “Nurture” changes our Natures.

We have some leverage on our Natures.

Maybe I can guess your loudest objection: there is no damned Nurture. Right? Nurture  all you like, our nasty Natures remain as they are, right?

Fine.

There isn’t in the positive way that modern liberal types might like, I’ll give you that. But let’s back up a step – I like doing that, it costs one a sense of progress, but it seems diligent, feels like building a solid base – and ask one more time, what is Nurture? For today’s talk I think it’s an attempt to direct – redirect, or misdirect, perhaps – our Natures. Is that fair? An attempt to teach something we’re doing, that perhaps isn’t simply in line with our Natures? Something we choose to add to our toolkit and our lives? Stuff we’re not born knowing?

Ooh, I feel really close to something.

I think that stuff is the mean and ugly and nasty and all those kinds of things, I think that is the stuff we’re not born knowing. For evidence, if not proof, I offer that Nurture exists just fine if you simply stop insisting that it must be something positive. If you doubt the power of Nurture, abuse some children and see how many are unaffected along a vector of mean and nasty and all that.

That makes for an aggressive creature.

Now this is all fun theory and all, I love to live thinking I’m negotiating with God about Life and figuring out what we are and what we’re up to, what could seem more important? I think this conversation is where the action is, and I pray that if I affect the world in any way that it is in this conversation right here. Having said that . . .

The Nurture I describe, this antisocialization, this negative Nurturing, this isn’t theoretical at all. This is the world, look around you. And so, this mean, nasty, ugly thing is not our Nature, but what is produced through the power of Nurturing, which has been defined as consisting of exactly that which is not in our Natures.

This is not us.

This is something we think we need to be, and evolution says that at some point, we really did need to be this, so we became it – but evolution and everything else says we need to be something different now. And we absolutely can, because as I’ve just shown, this is not our Natures, this mean, ugly, nasty father-raper is not us. Morally, it’s worse, of course! That we work so hard to become him, apparently by choice . . . morally, we are not looking good in my paradigm here.

But there is nothing determined about it; we never could have gotten here in a deterministic world, and that is where the most realistic hope for us and this world I have been able to find seems to be.

It’s all upside-down and backwards to everything we usually say on the subject, but human beings are upside-down and backwards and we require that sort of an explanation.

So there it is.

 

Jeff

Dec. 9th., 2018