Offenders as Victims
Inspired by a
Twitter conversation with
“Writing an article about language and stigma and identity and policy, and it is apparent that we tie people to their worst moments: felons, offenders, thieves, murderers, rapists. We locate their humanity in the worst things they ever did.
And we do the same for survivors.
Though, instead of locating their humanity in the worst things that they ever did, we center the worst things that have ever happened to them.
And, as someone who occasionally identifies as a survivor myself, I think there can be some kind of power in that.”
Me, now: this is the part I managed to address above. Identities are always the point for an overly social animal. Survivor, ex-con, these are identities, they identify you as having had the disease, but also the treatment, like a thief is a thief, but an ex-con is a modified one – AST suggests a broken one.
Back to him:
“But, something’s been occurring to me writing this article. One thing that struck me very early on is that the same shame that I’ve felt as someone who caused harm as an ‘offender’ is the exact same shame I’ve heard when talking to survivors.
I suppose I find myself wondering if it isn’t just the flip side of the very same coin, and the interesting and unexpected ways that plays out in our policy.”
my mutation’s take – we’ve been abusing each other so long, all bad feelings must be a punishment, every suffering must be deserved, control is what pain is for, to humans. I’ve got a country music theme on my mind these days where the guy is singing the blues about
all the damage he’s done, like what matters about it is that he feels bad, it hurt HIM – same theory, I guess, if he has a bad feeling must be a punishment . . . ?
. . . right, so that’s the offender feeling punished, shame?
G H-S again:
“I think that there’s a distinction between guilt and shame. Guilt, I think, in the context of having wronged another, is good — it means to feel bad about something a person has done.
Shame, otoh, I think means to feel badly about who oneself is vs an action”
Me, now: . . . and now I want to try again to develop that second idea – it’s what I was supposed to be working through the first time.
It doesn’t need much, I don’t see how I’m going to stretch it out a blog.
Offenders as Victims
Ah, topical too, that.
Much of the world of illusion public bullshit we hear has some tiny kernel of truth that they are leveraging. I am going to “redefine” guilt and shame here, but I’m not feeling combative today, the existing definitions are not wrong, I just focus on certain connotations, offer a complicating counter stream to the dominant definition – ah, there’s something! The dominant definition belongs to the dominant mode of thought and the dominant culture, doesn’t it? And from a different cultural perspective, down in the trenches in some culture or other, not seeing it all from above, that’s what we – sorry, I – call “wrong.”
So I don’t think I’m sweeping away the normal way of looking at it or destroying the dominant culture. I know that mostly, guilt is self-regulation, a sense that we know we’ve “done wrong,” and I know that shame is, as the person above says, about being regulated by others. A sense that we know we “are wrong.” I know and agree in a normal, social way and even with the rationale. But we all know it’s the dominant culture that is driving the whole world off a cliff, right?
So I offer other definitions. Call it a thought experiment.
Who needs guilt when there is a human being every six feet willing to beat me back into line? I’ve been suspicious about it my whole life that supposed “guilt” is nothing but learned fear of reprisal. You learned it; it’s “internalized;” it’s “something you’re doing now,” that’s guilt: gaslighting. I’ve been here thinking this for a long time.
Shame is about who you are?
Isn’t the point what that means, that who you are therefore needs abusing? Again, the dominant culture gaslights for dominance: we are going to hurt you because of who you are. “Shame” is you knowing you deserve it. Again, their abuse, your “shame.” It’s part of you. You were wrong to be born a whatever and you’re wrong to feel bad about it, that stereotype, “self-hating” member of the subordinate culture. Shame is bad. If you have that, well, you could be a better person, all we’re saying. Shame drives people towards evil, donchaknow.
Sorry, strike all that verbosity, same tack as before.
Who needs shame in a world of racism and every possible form of hate all around? Not our hate, your “shame.”
Psychology would seem to serve this purpose, gaslighting for the dominant, competitive culture, sorry, G H-S. Everything that happens to us is now a fault in us that needs fixing, a broken part of us. No wonder analysis carries shame and guilt with it, it deals in it, sells it. Whups, getting a little shrill. OK, on with it. In my context , what does offender guilt and shame look like?
Well, guilt is clear, I think, or already offered my correction above.
Offender shame. I thought I saw something, what was it? Oh, right, what pain is for.
We are an overly social species, we seem able to prioritize something about ourselves beyond even survival, to look at the current state of affairs, and we have a way of anthropomorphizing everything, like everything has a goal and a purpose. I mean, even God has goals, evolution is always having to shake off accusations of goals and intentions. It’s how we view things, I suppose it must have been all language was for in the beginning, to share intentions, that book I’ve been ranting about said that, so maybe there is no speech without that framework.
With this in mind, I submit – OK, re-submit, in longer form – that we think pain is for something, intentional, so that pain, any pain at all has this aspect, why was it directed at me? – yes, even internal pressures, like if guilt and shame are what we all think they are, even these. If they hurt, why, what’d I do? I think we experience internal pressures like these exactly the same way we experience the external ones, we feel subject to all of our feelings, feelings are things that happen to us, involuntarily. This, I think, is when an aggressor or an offender feels shame, the suffering side of himself, feeling put upon by his own by his own guilt and/or shame, suffering under it as though we were more than one person – again, internalization is gaslighting, shame is internalization – a learned an expectation of hate, nothing more.
It’s not a created thing, trying to exist, it’s buried and mis-labeled thing, trying not to. If shame is “bad,” it’s because the social hatred that creates it is bad.
Depends on your point of view, right?
When it’s slowly killing you, shame is “bad.” When you’re being a good soldier in order to avoid it, it’s “good.” Depends who you ask. And to solve this longstanding riddle, we have to make up our damned minds, good, when we’re using it, or bad when we’re feeling it? You can’t have it both ways.
I’m in the second camp, obviously. What I see, is if society shames you so bad you break, whether you invited it by committing crimes or not, then psychology will work to convince you that the scab of your shame is of your own creation and another one of your crimes and that you must fix that as well. You must do your work to overcome your learning from your punishments – I mean after you finally learn the initial lessons, of course.
You shall learn these, the hard lessons of the control and your punishments, and then you may go free. If you want to free and happy, however, there is more work to do and you must un-learn it. You’ve done your time, paid your debt, but now, because of who that made you, this ”shame-based” person (Bradshaw’s definition of that was less specific than this blog, I think), you’re still not right and society still doesn’t want you – I think there is shame in this, do it all, it’s never enough. It must be who you are.
To repeat, certainly the new issue of your shame is absolutely about who you are, who you became. The previous section said the other bit, that it always was.
They only have you to work with after all, not “society.” If you can’t stop the cause, treat the symptoms, and fair enough, sort of. In real life, when living rather than thinking, I too settle for the lesser of two evils. I always preferred thinking for that reason! (Writing, I mean writing. I couldn’t think my way through a four-way stop if I couldn’t write it down and look at it first. You should have seen the days spent trying to work out a three-way light switch before I sat down and drew it out! Keeping it positive, I’m gonna say it was “adorable.”)
Yeah, my attitude still bites.
I do think guilt and shame are gaslighting terms, the magic words that transmute our hurt into some problem we have, internally, rather than obvious scars and bruises received from others. But again, I can still speak your language about it too.
If that was it, it’s less than I wanted, but it’s not nothing.
Aug. 8th., 2020