Directions

I wasn’t going to write this blog – and I didn’t. It’s just a Twitter rant. But it’s a clarification, certainly an important part of antisocialization theory.

 

  1. Sorry for teasing, if anybody was. I’m afraid this trailer signified the end of my output for now. Anyway, like a lot of it, I’ve already laid this idea out before. But rather than send you back to an earlier, dumber me, I’ll give it to you in point form, Twitter style. /more

(This referring to a teaser tweet from a few days ago with the following text)

Well, I’m almost sixty.

I guess it’s time I stop all this infantile radicalism and start spouting some long-winded lullaby about some stupid middle of some boring road. Have we met? LOL, you’ve met me now! I can’t imagine anything that would capture me better than that with all the time and ink in the world.

How about some compromise between Man the Rational Animal and Man the Meaningless, lost in relativism and adaptations to adaptations to we don’t even know what anymore?

Shouldn’t need our teeth for that. Grab your cardigan, put the kettle on for a nice Ovaltine and watch this idiot finally stop trying to tear the world down for some rebuild that he should have know since statutory adulthood was never coming.

(Then on to Point Number two)

 

  1. The point of antisocialization theory is that our punishments schemes and abuse push our personalities in a DIRECTION, and perhaps that direction is the opposite direction to where our schemes push our behaviour for the most part, meaning we LOOK better, but we FEEL worse. /mo
  2. There’s a lot of stuff to say and fight about there, but for now, this: abuse produces more crime, and discipline produces more effective armies, and so the DIRECTION pain drives our personalities in is towards fighting, violence, defensiveness, aggression. /more
  3. “Abuse,” when I say it in these contexts, includes punishment and discipline, because those things include the use of abuse. But, addressing this question, we have a PRINCIPLE, a near species-wide behaviour, that pushes us in a particular DIRECTION, so – /more
  4. – so determining initial conditions, like some “human nature,” with its connotations of innateness, isn’t either the point, possible, or necessary. We know what DIRECTION we’re swimming. We know where we’re TRYING to go, where we are working to TAKE our natures to. /more
  5. So much for origins and innateness, but also the more nuanced position of endless relativism, of adaptive fictions and constructed realities – again, maybe we can SAY we don’t know which way is up or which DIRECTION we’re swimming, but look at us: /more
  6. When you see all the salmon struggling in the same direction, maybe they don’t have a clear idea what it is, or maybe they wouldn’t tell us and give away their ancestral homeland to us predators, but they’re all swimming the same DIRECTION and so we can glean it. /more
  7. You must know where I see us all swimming to: strength, discipline, and never-ending war and strife. This adaptive behaviour works for the last group standing, I suppose, and we’ll be down to that soon enough if we don’t see where we’re trying so hard to get. /done

 

you ever get tired and sad and give up and try to beg off and NOT write something brilliant? SMFH. 🤓🤣🤣🤣

 

Jeff

May 4th., 2019

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Abuse, Driver of Inequality

School: Children’s Boot Camp

 

I was powerfully moved by the description I read in the Nurture Assumption of what Rich Harris termed something like the “eternal children’s group” and especially by the description of the Yanomamo children’s group, described by an anthropologist – Mead? Or maybe the fellow who has come under such scrutiny lately about it? – the description being that in a little hunter/gatherer/warrior group, the boys teach each other to fight, and the boys who don’t or won’t fight are abused until they do or until they are killed. Even under the shadow of the general bad attitude anthropology has sometimes had, I’ve been to school: this may have been cherrypicked, but it’s not outlandish. Perhaps the scandal is in labelling some group of brown folks in this way – I don’t mean to say all hunter/gatherers are warriors, I only mean to reference the ones that are. Of course the point is us, Canada has a military.

I grew up in the context-free West, west of west in white Canada all the way out on the Pacific, and I thought parents raised children in some way, certainly most of us do and as parents we try, but this is a fairly new bunch of ideas, childhood and parents spending a great deal of time administrating this childhood. It seems this children’s group may be the more aboriginal and evolved situation, and so it seems we learn our important lessons from one another in childhood, not so much from Ma and Pa – and we are abused, usually in the same sphere.

This makes some sense by social relatedness theory, your tribal cousins will have more leeway to abuse you for their warrior ends than your parents, who are presumed to protect their genetic progeny, not aggress against it. Interestingly, if in the industrial world, adults are taking a bigger hand in trying to direct childhoods, some of the discipline and indeed over-discipline we see would seem to indicate an ability to work around our feelings of relatedness and what it entails. I hope it’s not indicative of any sort of genetic shift, not a capability we are selecting for, but perhaps. The usual workaround we have employed, prior to adjusting our natures about it, perhaps has been simply to punt the kids back into the children’s group, send them off to school. Then the boys can teach one another to fight as always, and failing that, should it be necessary for the adults to intervene, they are unrelated professionals, also not biologically worried about hurting our kids.

In this way, we learn to fight, in this way we are harmed, scarred, and hardened for battle. Antisocialized.

There are class implications in the other sense too, rich and poor.

The kids sent the furthest, into the hands of the least caring, are the children of the richest and the poorest, aren’t they? Boarding schools in other countries for the richest and “Residential Schools” for the poorest, the north American aboriginals, sent a million miles from their families and culture. (If the phrase “Residential Schools” doesn’t register, Google it along with “Canada.”) The social science results are already in about the difference between being rich and “having problems” (generic “being antisocialized”) and being poor with problems. The rich have resources, buffers. A rich antisocialized criminal may get a friendly judge, a rehab program. A wealthy destroyed child can be hidden in the basement, whereas a poor one needs to get out there and get a job and find a whole lot more trouble.

An antisocialized would-be warrior who is poor and bound for gang life and prison perhaps, lives his life out in the subordinate social group, his antisocial crimes generally harming poor folks and not tolerated by the dominants and their police, while an antisocialized would-be warrior from a wealthy family may simply carry on his family’s predatory capitalism, even wars, and his crimes maintain his social group at the top of the order. Abuse all, inequality grows. All are abused, all are miserable – but some get to drive the bus and some do not. All are tossed into the sea; the rich can purchase water-wings.

 

Jeff

April 27th., 2019

About the Abusive Ape Theory

That is not going to be the final name for this idea – but maybe. It does put me ahead of the Aquatic Ape Theory in the dictionary of good ideas that got ignored, so there’s that. The one I really like is Murphy’s Law of Nature, but I’m saving the filename and the title for when I finally get it down in a form that works for anybody. I still like Antisocialization Theory, too – I swear to you, this idea works in all jargons and disciplines, but the Abusive Ape Theory might be the label that most hints at the idea within.

Quite a few of the primates abuse each other, of course. I heard Sapolsky say he would never choose baboons for friends, that they are total jerks, and chimpanzees show the same sort of hierarchical structures with structured lines of abuse to match. Other social predators seem to do this, lions and hyenas and wolves – these self-abusing species are a fearsome list indeed! It may be too soon to suggest it about dolphins and crows perhaps, but there are hints that these creatures may have a dark side for one another too. I can’t speak to social insects, or fish, but folks are studying them, perhaps we will see. I think it’s safe to say that the species who treat one another with violence are not otherwise or generally docile, with the possible exception of the Tasmanian devil, which apparently when plucked from the melee for tagging and health checks by researchers are calm and easily handled. There’s always one, isn’t there? Well, scavengers, not predators, maybe, the devils, but there are probably some social hunters that break my rule.

I don’t care. Rules are rules, the fact that it is possible to break them doesn’t invalidate rules generally, despite what the NRA trolls would have us think. The rule: nasty, dangerous, aggressive social creatures are nasty, dangerous, and aggressive to each other, too.

It would appear the two go together in social animals, predation and abuse. Certainly they both employ the same skillsets and share many of the same rules, and fighting is fighting – and this is where the Abusive Ape Theory would like to direct your attention: abuse is not “prosocial behaviour practiced on in-group members” as opposed to the antisocial behaviours we use on the out-group. Abuse is antisocial behaviours practised on the in-group. Saying, “well, at least you’re not dead,” while it does make the experience of abuse sound relatively benign from some scientific distance, calling a beating “prosocial” is not explanatory. These are antisocial forces at play here.

This is an argument against any who still hold with ideas about group dynamics, that we treat the out-group and strangers badly and treat the in-group well – that is going too far. It may sound like opposites, but this is only a fixed disparity and not an inverse proportion. We treat the in-group badly and the out-group very badly – that is the truth of the function, and those two boats rise and fall together on the same tides. The harder things are at the border, the harder things are at home, and vice versa. This because as all of us good scientists know, this is not Psychology Today after all, there is no nurture; this because as we all know but somehow cannot process, there is abuse.

I expect this line of talk finds some resonance among the psychology-minded people – but I am coming to believe that the evolutionary scientists are blind to it. Punishment is a conscious selective pressure we apply to reach our conscious goals, they say, it wouldn’t be pressure if it didn’t hurt – but I don’t hear any more about the hurt, same as when talking to a parent about spanking. They only care when the hurt is avoided, when the deterrent works and the behaviour is modified – they can’t seem to care about the hurt. This is technology, applied science: the by-products do not interest them.

By-products like arsenic and carbon dioxide and pain.

It is exactly this non-caring that abuse has been proven repeatedly to produce, basically the most replicable finding in social science – blind to it, completely. I swear, I have asked a few real luminaries, famous science authors, what about the pain, the trauma, and they appear to not understand the question and direct me to read their explanations about modifying behaviour, like any hockey mom. We shouldn’t be allowed to do anything in the world until we’ve had our psychotherapy, and maybe especially we shouldn’t be allowed to direct humanity’s accumulation of knowledge, either as a parent, pundit, or world-changing scientist.

Really, we can bring this conversation right home, right back to the farm where we grew up or the one on television where we think we did, it’s a straight up, old time cliché gender role thing: Mom says you need to learn something, but when Dad is giving it to you in the woodshed, he confides that everything may not be not right about that, but that this will toughen you up.

From what I have been able to glean, biologists are on the Mom side of this ideological rift, behaviour regulation and ignoring the collateral damage, and I am your Dad, telling you the awful truth.

I won’t hit you, though!

Just because it’s the truth doesn’t mean I endorse it. Awful truths need to be changed or destroyed. As I told you all a few weeks ago, you are tough enough, by an order of magnitude. I don’t want to be thickening your calluses or pissing you off any further.

There is an irony, sort of, or it would be if that isn’t just exactly how these things work, that Mom is about the world of surfaces and things, conscious behaviours in this conversation, while Dad is about the psychology, the nurturing, the changing of personalities, whereas in an adult secular conversation we associate nurturing and psychology more with the ladies’ side of life and men with things, money, cars and footballs.

This, I guess, because among the uninitiated, there is nurture, so everything is backwards.

The Abusive Ape Theory is about your Dad’s truth, and it will take up between a quarter and a half of every pie chart showing our knowledge about ourselves, when we get one right, because, one more time, as I said a year ago in one of my favourites,

Abuse is in our DNA.

Maybe that’s the label I’m looking for.

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2019

 

That old fave: https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/07/03/biology-buries-the-lead/

I know. I spelled it right in the text, LOL

People of Earth, Part 2 – Conservatism

Well, you haven’t exactly been quiet, but you haven’t been @ing me about it, so I’ll take it. If you recall last week’s episode, we were talking about what a tough, stubborn, psychotic hammerhead you are and that if you’re not, it’s all you dream of being anyway, like that’s everybody’s answer for everything and not the whole bloody problem. So this week we’re going to back up one step and go over your stupid head to the whole warrior society.

The fact that you all think this stuff, worship this toughness, that means this is what you are allowed to think, this is what everyone is allowed to think, and in fact it’s assumed: you don’t actually have to articulate it to yourselves, and that is a test for a core belief. With this unarticulated but assumed at your cores, all you have to do to access this meme, to leverage it, is nothing. Passive voice, vague insinuations will lead you to what you believe in your sick heart, and harmless rhetoric turns wordlessly to violence, to the fight. What can you do in the face of a world of threats, known and unknown, but hope to be stronger?

Warrior society is human society, because if one human group goes warrior, the rest go warrior or they’re gone. Many, many peoples are gone, and many not just yet, so qualify it thus if you must: viable human societies are warrior societies.

That is the same idea in different words: if you wish to be a viable human group, in this bunch of groups, you worship toughness and there are no late starters. This is a hard truth for the hawks and the Nazis of the world, the players in the game of theory, or theory of games – but it was only a hard truth in our aboriginal state of much smaller groups, wasn’t it? This is a group-level truth and it represents our limitations, the place where ideas of universality go to die. The warmongers who would convince us of this level of truth are simply making a living off of their insight and stalling human progress towards the global problem solving we need to be doing.

To make it political, I believe this arrangement is what conservatives are defined by conserving; the progressives will say it’s their own power and the conservatives will say it’s institutions and so civilization, but I believe the word is fluid and really references this unconscious or unstated reality of the warrior society. That this is the definition explains why there are two ways for a thing to be, conservative or radical and little room between the two, because fighting is something you either do or don’t do. You warrior or you don’t – and you do, so mostly conservatives rule, with or without free elections. When a socialist or an actual liberal politico says the ultimately vague “do something,” their supporters can insert all manner of compassionate programs – but it’s vague so as to also access what the conservatives mean when they say it.

When a conservative says, “do something,” though, you know you’re in warrior society. You know they are talking about hurting someone. Generally, this is what is meant by “rhetoric,” someone subtly and unindictably leading you to your own warrior instincts. Isn’t it about time someone did something about it?

How would you like it, Trump starts saying somebody needs to do something about you?

I keep bringing myself back to this, through some sort of grammatical algebra, I feel I’ve shown that every verb is a battle and every noun is an enemy: my opponent is never going to do anything! That’s enough, right? You get the picture, or at least the feeling?

So conservative is default, sort of, humans stuck in the very middle of time, fighting their eternal wars, nurturing their eternal genocidal dreams, as God made it, world without end . . . and as such it is self proving and perpetuating, and the fact that so many just  feel it in their bones is exactly the same as so many young men feeling it in their bones to join the army or the police or the skinheads and fight for something. I’m telling you, I know it feels right. I’m saying the fact that it feels right is so wrong, a terrible wrong foisted on all of us and you not least. Please, sixteen to twenty-five is a very volatile time, try to ride it out. Your feelings, those feelings are bad news, “natural” or not. So, conservatism is closer to the human default, the warrior society – humanity 1.0, the basic, proprietary package that comes with your hardware, with rudimentary, bare-bones versions of all the good apps. If it feels right, well, it sort of is what you were made for.

This way of looking at life explains why conservatives seem to be stingy regarding education for the masses, since their platform mirrors the human default mode of operation.

For the rest of us, those who maybe aren’t winning in warrior society, or those who are but remain unsatisfied, that’s just not good enough. We have seen some glimpse, somehow had the insight that things can and must be improved. Some of us would like a rest and to try not doing anything for a change, see what that’s like.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 4th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/01/14/people-of-earth/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/06/people-of-earth-part-3-liberals/

AST and Me, an Introduction

I have no education, high school and reading. My family was very into popular psychology and self-help stuff, Alice Miller was all the rage in the years before I had my kids, childhood abuse stuff. We had plenty of abuse ourselves, sexual stuff.

The psychology wasn’t enough for me, I felt like things were simpler or maybe just worse than that mindset seemed to think. I saw no clear line between “punishment” and “abuse” is the main thing; I had an insight, that if they look the same, maybe they are the same, despite that the person doing it said they were completely distinct. Don’t they all, right?

I went into marriage and child-rearing with just that simple view and determined I would not punish or discipline and therefore would not be revisiting my abuse on anyone. It looked very good, for a very long time, it really did seem that things were backwards from the way people talk, that whooping your kids causes the bad behaviour and not the other way around. It was exhausting having toddlers and never taking the short cut of hurting or scaring them, but things only got easier after that and we had no behaviour issues at all. Life looked idyllic.

(Things went bad for me when they were grown, but I think that is a personal psychodrama, stuff aside from discipline or the lack of it.)

When my youngest of the two daughters was seventeen, I read a few Pinker books, the Nurture Assumption, and the Sapolsky book, the Zebra one, basically discovered biology, and it blew my mind, as it can do, as it famously did to Trivers, I like to think. I also like to think, ‘like Einstein,’ I had two streams of info that needed to be reconciled, ‘Blank Slate’ psychology and biology, nurture and nature.

I had spent years defending my ultimately coddling child-rearing and was amazed at how my ideas weren’t getting through to the people around me and the parents online, amazed at how what looked identical to me – discipline and abuse – couldn’t apparently be seen by most people, at all. I argued, don’t do that, because it damages them . . . and at some point, it struck me.

The damage is the point.

What we call crimes and misbehaviours are basically just war behaviours, and all the “negative outcomes” associated with “abuse” would be positives in a war situation. Violence, mostly. You want that in your soldiers. (I don’t want that. Those books were mostly ones that the alt-Right love. I am not with them.)

From a parenting POV, from psychology, all the negative outcomes of abuse are accidents or something, people “losing control,” “going too far,” while the good outcomes are supposed to be from conscious, controlled discipline. Well, the kids can’t always tell the difference, and my biology insight was, their genes and their hormones probably can’t either, and so biologically there is no difference.

So now I think the abuse, and the effects of abuse are the true function, and all the “discipline” talk is one of Trivers’ self deceptions.

We discipline our children, to damage and desensitize them, to make troopers of them. The “accidental” negative outcomes are our biologically evolved strategy to make ourselves tougher, in the arms race of our group conflict. At the extreme end, we abuse and torment to make amok men and berserkers, and at the invisible end, we beat our future accountants to make sure they vote for a “strong” leader.

The biology, of course is our responses to abuse, in real time, as well as some Lamarckian evolution, that we have alleles triggered by abuse – and we pull those triggers ourselves. We also select for them.

So this is my global, grandiose thing.

The damage IS the function, in fact Murphy’s law applies, right? Do something sweet for kids, they won’t grow up how you want, but abuse them, and you will see changes. “Nurture” as a real function, is damage. We can change people – but only in one direction. It’s only positive nurturing that no-one has been able to find.

I’m grandiose, I feel I’ve found nurture when no-one else has, and I feel that if this Murphy’s law of nature is true, then it sort of proves our “innate” selves to be good and kind and our nastiness to be an overlay we apply almost consciously. Or at least enhance almost consciously.

My detail arguments aren’t comprehensive, I know, I only have answers for stuff that was in the Nurture Assumption or such. It’s this overview I feel is something. I have tried to be honest, tried to account for everything I’m aware of in the world, and I think this idea fits into the world generally, I don’t think there are famous scientific principles I’m violating with it . . . on the other hand, such a sweeping thing becomes unprovable for all sorts of other reasons . . .

Where I’m stuck is of course, what to do with this knowledge? It’s rather large to change. Any family that stops it is maybe going to see their kids chewed up and spit out. I am worried about my own kids this way. All I can seem to hope for is to get it out there and hope the world recognizes it and slowly all starts to change.

If it were possible to do anything about it, I would think this idea – I’ve been calling it Antisocialization Theory – would be the first best idea humanity has had, since ideas about evil human nature took hold, at least. I wonder if this isn’t the Fall right here, that we discovered the magic power of abuse.

Jeff

Feb. 3rd., 2019

 

AST – The Part I Forgot to Tell You

 

The Nature VS Nurture debate is settled, or at least fragmented into many smaller, more sensible questions, and it’s pretty much all Nature, I do not wish to argue the point – but I wish to answer the untreated side of the question, the “wrong” side, the nurture assumption. Not just that, though, not only why we make some assumption about influence, but what is it that we do in our attempts to influence. Just because your attempts don’t “succeed,” don’t make your kid love the things you hope they will, doesn’t mean they don’t do something.

Is that implicit in the victory of Nature?

That our nurturing, if it doesn’t make number one son want to take over the store, then must do nothing at all?

That is where abusewithanexcuse.com and “Antisocialization Theory” come in – I don’t think I’m really arguing with anyone, I just think I’m working in this area here, this corner just past “the nurture assumption is wrong,” where everyone turns back. This is where I see that parents and children alike spend all day long trying to influence children and everyone else, by all sorts of means and methods and to suggest that “they’re wrong” to try, because the nurture assumption is wrong is something no-one ever said to any parent anyway, even if we talk about it on paper. I am saying what we do all day in the attempt matters and that is where the helpful science would be.

This is where the book by that name had left me: the nurture assumption isn’t true, people spend all day every day working away at an assumption that isn’t true . . . for nothing? Thousands of years, and no-one noticed, no exhausted parents noticed, all that work and it’s for nothing?

I accept the negative expression of it, with caveats: parents do not create the traits they say they are trying to create in their children. I do not accept that their trying all day simply does nothing and doesn’t require a positive explanation, what it does do, why we do in fact do it. This is the question I am answering, the question Antisocialization Theory answers. I didn’t know I was looking at one of the smaller, more sensible debates around Nature VS Nurture, I hadn’t heard terms like “directed evolution,” or “conscious evolution.” Those couple of alt-Right science bibles I read were still laughing at Lamarck – which, come to think of it, sounds very close to just laughing at evolution now, doesn’t it?

Both those expressions go too far. Directed by whom? Conscious – a whole species, this one? But it’s close. I think I am a sub-category of the Directed Evo crowd, maybe.

 

Jeff

Jan. 29th., 2019

“Codified”

It’s a self-deception, where we tell ourselves one thing while doing quite another, Boston Strangler style, or just a matter of the situation deconstructualism has described, that we only think things the mind can see, ideas that we have a line to, like sight, and many thoughts are out of reach behind something or over the horizon and never come into view – but it’s not as clear as it seems: our rules aren’t the point.

The point is simply that we have them. Not in the usual, conservative headmaster speech sort of a way; I’m agin’ them, but we have them and like it or not, that is a point, specifically, my point, today.

The Ten Commandments really weren’t the point. It wasn’t the rules that were codified that way, so much as the penalties, and more so, the idea of penalties. Doesn’t “codified” have an aspect of hiding the message, of code? Well, the rules themselves, they are not coded, they are explicit. What is coded, perhaps, is the rule behind the rule, that the rule is a reason to hurt someone. Punishment is assumed. We may debate the rules, change them from time to time, explicit modifications of discrete  wordings.

“What should the rule be?” is open for debate sometimes.

“What should the penalty be?” is also a debatable, adjustable thing, a topic for talk.

But these questions require specific, concrete answers, and one answer, “nothing,” seems to be behind something or over the horizon. It’s a rule, that we have rules and penalties. That’s what you codify, the rules that are not up for debate or modification.

So it’s a rule that penalties are levied, while the rules themselves are somewhat fluid . . . so no rule is “hard,” even “Thou shalt not kill,” is suspended when said killing is now a penalty and not an offence. But that penalties are levied, this is “hard,” this is unquestionable. Anybody feeling this? Feeling what is the constant in this equation? The punishment is unquestionable, no-one debates, “punishment, yes or no?” – this rule is unwritten and therefore un-editable. Almost no-one, anyways. It’s visible, if you look. I hope I just made you look – you see it now, right?

Unfortunately, if a couple of big, musky hominids like you and I can see it, there is probably more to it than that too. At this level it’s still the headmaster’s bastions of civilization speech, right, rules sort of are civilization? The very best sort of lie is a “hidden truth,” by way of some Tom Sawyer-style duplicitousness, and the only essential part of this rule is that somebody gets hurt. I’m sure there is another layer to this onion, but this layer is novel to us. Let’s stop and have a look around, we don’t even know where the next layer after this is yet. We need to spend some time, get oriented and acclimatized to a world where everything they told us we do to control our animal selves controls our animal selves in exactly the wrong direction.

Rules, those are written down explicitly, and litigated endlessly.

Abuse is what has been encoded in our sacred texts and our lives, and what we are thus unable to litigate. Hmmm. In lieu of an actual objective, maybe short and sweet is the best thing I can add at this point.

Cheers,

 

 

Jeff,

Jan. 19th., 2019

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/

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

Safety and Security and Nature Metaphors

Sure, in that order, too.

Safety, I want to say is a state of not having to worry. Safety would be the certainty that one could fall asleep out of doors and wake up intact, so, in a time and a place where unreasoning predators have been banished, and the human beings around you practice a live and let live attitude and have enough to eat that you are not seen as a resource they must exploit. Some lucky few in the history of our species have enjoyed this state, mostly the wealthy and well guarded, to be sure. I think this is my vision of the liberal utopia, and while it’s mostly been a privilege item, I believe this is the liberal vision that we hope to extend to all people.

Something like that. I want to define safety as again, not even having to worry, because all who can touch you are friendly or at least reasonable.

Security is best stated as the proposition that it’s a good life if you don’t weaken, meaning that the only measure of safety available in the world doesn’t rise to my definition above, because any safety requires the ability to fight. Security I define as détente, as deterrent, a peace only possible because we can damn well war as good as they can, a peace and safety where we’re afraid of our own, our fathers, our leaders, because their first priority becomes antisocialization, making sure we can fight. True safety under this arrangement of deterrents is only possible when all your enemies are dead, and so that is always the extreme dream at the far end of thought for those whose livelihoods depend on keeping us “secure.” I’m sure all involved are conscious of the self-perpetuating nature of this game, that our defenders are their attackers and vice versa, but what way is there to get off of this wheel?

One way to view the many nature metaphors we hear, capitalist and anti-capitalist imaging about wolves and sheep being almost all that come to mind, it’s so prevalent – might be as a form of nostalgia, meaning we often look to nature or to the past for solutions, it being very good and Earthy wisdom that there is nothing new under the sun, that things weren’t always so strange and bad as they are today, and things were “better back then.”

I haven’t pondered the conservatism of that attitude, the details of why we think it so much, that the past was better – but that’s where I want to stop the world and get off of that train of thought and onto a new one.

I think morality, a better life, the possibility of getting off of the security hamster wheel, these things aren’t in our past, and I don’t see as the other critters that walk, swim, crawl, etc., have a roadmap to them either. It’s something I say in nearly every blog, I think, but I’m trying to dedicate this one to just this proposition: we need to invent this good stuff. No, we didn’t just have it a minute or a few centuries or millennia ago, and no, the chimpanzees aren’t going to teach us what “altruism” is. This stuff only exists in our heads; if we want to see it in real life, we have to invent it, we have to envision it, plan it, build it, make it all happen.

The utopia, nobody’s utopia is going to be found in our animal past. It’s not hiding somewhere to be uncovered, it’s waiting to be built. The search for the “roots of altruism” is driving me spare. To explain it with costs and benefits is to explain the very opposite: altruism is doing something for someone else, by definition, and all these definitions alter the experiment, like quantum stuff. The choice to do something for someone else is invisible, just in someone’s head, a fleeting thought that comes into existence and fades out without a trace, as thoughts do. Steven Pinker said as much somewhere, that much of what humans do they do with this free-floating “thinking module” that can apparently be applied to any sort of problem, including hypothetical and future situations that no particular evolutionary past might explain. Surely this module of the brain evolved for material purposes, but it’s what does math and all sorts of abstract stuff that isn’t all mission critical for every human, and this is the part that we must use to create our moral world, any utopia at all, ever.

Now, I know there’s a lot of thinking, a lot of philosophy says we can’t.

I also certainly understand that asking seven and a half billion people to simply do better is no answer at all. I’m not arguing against people not knowing everything and making mistakes and screwing up their lives and maybe the lives of many others before they learn more about things, that is clearly as inevitable for us as it is for all else that walks, swims and crawls through the muck. I think I’m in the big game, in the conversation, and I’m arguing that at least our educators and public figures could stop with forever siding with our baser selves, could stop with forever with this nature nostalgia, with this myth that we ever did figure out how to live and just forgot or something. With this myth that somehow whatever we’re already doing and have forever until yesterday is somehow supposed to change things for the better. A return to a natural state is not the goal, it can’t be, Elon Musk wants to go to Mars, for one thing, and if I had to guess who was going to get their way, him or me, well.

If we try to build a moral world, a rational world, the most good for the most people and the least evil, it ain’t back in the garden.

I think we’ve proven that we can destroy this place, so it seems less impossible that we could manage it, doesn’t it? No-one would have dreamed we could accomplish that a few centuries ago, and look at us and our bad selves, now right at the precipice! We could if we understood enough to want to, if we understood that this nasty ape “following his heart” is really what got us here, that being “social,” and reinforcing one another’s natural evolved feelings is not the path to the utopia but the eternal path to war.

It is my personal stance that the “unreal,” invisible world of our thoughts is where some rationality may be found, and that morality will require rationality, but that we must learn to separate the social from the cerebral. One example of such would be not ever saying things like “my country, right or wrong.” It’s the right or wrong part we need to start focussing on. Not so much the “my” bit, the social part. Being social is what makes us secure, of course it is.

But it doesn’t make us safe.

 

Jeff

Nov. 28th., 2018