Redefinitions 11 – AST VS Popular Memes, Racism

Still having problems finding a way into AST for folks, this will be attempt number I don’t know any more, another series, I suppose. The plan is to keep them short and manageable, hope to make the point with a barrage from many angles. I’ll start with the definition for AST – here’s the first, it means Antisocialization Theory – and then how it alters the narrative of a number of topics.

AST redefines everything, but we’ll try to show how, specifically, for this list of ideas:

human nature

social life

punishment

abuse

anger

empathy

relatedness theory

evolution

strength

resilience

Oh, forgot some (and this will be a feature):

racism

trauma and healing, psychology

attention

culture, tradition

control

Redefinitions – 11. Racism

AST, a definition:

AST is the theory of our hurt, the human science of not deterrent and socialization, but of abuse, punitive and otherwise, and our antisocialization, which long word means exactly what it sounds like it means: to have been made antisocial. It is about the dark side of our social control, the stuff we supposedly don’t want to happen, beyond that the person maybe did what they were bloody well told.

The AST Theory of conflict states that the failures and ostensibly unintended consequences of our rough control are deeply and vastly consequential in human life, and its author can get very expansive, imagining it to be the post powerful and destructive force driving us.

The central idea is that structures and ways of being within the human social group – laws and punishments, ordeals, etc., –  add up to pain and trauma for the individual, while laws prohibit simple reactive violence and simple revenge, and so the individual is “charged” with bad feelings, antisocialized and looking for a fight they are allowed to have. The group’s leadership – administrators of the law – can then exploit this reservoir of anger, point it at someone and allow the citizens the “freedom,” not an accident and not irony, we are always seeing this, to deflect and unload their frustrations.

AST asks you to note, that our own people frustrate us, and exploit our frustrations at will in this system, using us to abuse some Other, some human group in a war or a pogrom, or an apartheid. That is what I call the AST theory of conflict, weaponized by our own, to be discharged in some group conflict.

Hmm. Not sure if that will be the one I use every time, but I like it for our first few entries:

AST, “Racism”

Honestly, see the above.

I see Critical Race Theory as a subset of Antisocialization Theory, I see racial violence and inequity as antisocialized people seeking an outlet among an out-group, and although there has been some peace and multiculturalism here and then, it has mostly been a fairly safe bet to take it out on an obvious, visible Other.

Racism is AST, it is earning a load of bad feelings among “our own” people, family, work, social structures and burdens, and designating some visible Other as a legitimate target upon which to unload them. This dynamic is real, rather biological in that it is driven by pain, and it doesn’t matter as much as we hope it does if a somewhat tortured person is educated; they still need an outlet when put under pressure. Why would an education help that?

It’s not education that makes people racist either, people put upon and abused don’t need to be told, they will actively seek a legitimate target. The liberals think the parents teach it, they may, but they don’t have to, all they have to do is abuse, and racism is sort of automatic. Violence becomes automatic, and race signals “other” to an angry mind.

Of course, in the way that CRT is anathema to racists, so too is AST to everyone.

In the good cop/bad cop analogy, the good cop (Mom, to the cis?) spanks the kids to teach you manners and to not break things and such and the bad cop (Dad, to the cis) may admit violence doesn’t teach etiquette but tells you the secret: it makes you strong. I agree: strong enough to start patrolling your borders, looking for trouble. Strong enough to hold a charge. If you’re too “strong,” though, if you can’t hold it in until the next war, there are always wars at home, crimes to do, racism to perpetrate. Many of the strongest spend time in prison.

When you’re just right, the Goldilocks effect, you wait for the war. When you’re just right, perfectly antisocial, your deflective violence happens in broad daylight and your peers love you. You’re a stand up guy, for the criminal gang that is “your people.” You “support the troops.” And the cops. That’s AST.

 If AST is what drives us to war, then CRT is the always war at home. I assume the racists have it harder at home, they can’t hold it in and their war never ends. CRT is mostly that there are ways for racists to deflect on both sides of the law, some go to prison, some run the prisons, overly antisocialized, pushed too far, and melting down in public, to cheers for their antisocial policies. Isn’t he strong.

There’s a war on, don’t you feel.

Jeff

May 1st., 2022

Redefinitions 2 – AST vs Popular Memes, Social Life

Still having problems finding a way into AST for folks, this will be attempt number I don’t know any more, another series, I suppose. The plan is to keep them short and manageable, hope to make the point with a barrage from many angles. I’ll start with the definition for AST – here’s the first, it means Antisocialization Theory – and then how it alters the narrative of a number of topics.

AST redefines everything, but we’ll try to show how, specifically, for this list of ideas:

human nature

social life

punishment

abuse

anger

empathy

relatedness theory

evolution

strength

resilience

Oh, forgot some (and this will be a feature):

racism

trauma and healing, psychology

attention

culture, tradition

control

Redefinitions – 2. Social Life

AST, a definition:

AST is the theory of our hurt, the human science of not deterrent and socialization, but of abuse, punitive and otherwise, and our antisocialization, which long word means exactly what it sounds like it means: to have been made antisocial. It is about the dark side of our social control, the stuff we supposedly don’t want to happen, beyond that the person maybe did what they were bloody well told.

The AST Theory of Conflict states that the failures and ostensibly unintended consequences of our rough control are deeply and vastly consequential in human life, and its author can get very expansive, imagining it to be the post powerful and destructive force driving us.

The central idea is that structures and ways of being within the human social group – laws and punishments, ordeals, etc., –  add up to pain and trauma for the individual, while laws prohibit simple reactive violence and simple revenge, and so the individual is “charged” with bad feelings, antisocialized and looking for a fight they are allowed to have. The group’s leadership – administrators of the law – can then exploit this reservoir of anger, point it at someone and allow the citizens the “freedom,” not an accident and not irony, we are always seeing this, to deflect and unload their frustrations.

AST asks you to note, that our own people frustrate us, and exploit our frustrations at will in this system, using us to abuse some Other, some human group in a war or a pogrom, or an apartheid. That is what I call the AST theory of Conflict, weaponized by our own, to be discharged in some group conflict.

Hmm. Not sure if that will be the one I use every time, but I like it for our first few entries:

AST “Social Life”

On the one hand, I am a contrarian and everything rings wrong to me, and no-one will say the thing I try to debunk, things unsaid are more difficult to disprove. In this light, knowing it’s weak at this stage of our lessons, I say: we think “social,” means the positive thing, perhaps “prosocial.” It’s the generic word, it encompasses all things, prosocial things, antisocial things, and neutral things, I suppose, asocial stuff, but you might not pick that up in casual conversation.

Antisocial is a problem, prosocial is rarely spoken, we use “social,” for that, social, in it’s street level, social sort of use and meaning, means positive interaction, our social world is our community, friends and family, like that. Being social is interchangeable with being sociable, generally. Again, it is always my sense, my interpretation of a social meme that I am forever trying to critique, and I lose everyone right there, I think, no-one will take the responsibility for a conflation like this, not enough to defend it, and certainly no-one can promise to change such a vague thing.

Will you allow it, may I continue, making my case against “we think “social” is all good?”

LOL – it’s the court of the internet, silence indicates assent and I’m not listening, Princess Bride meme.

But there’s the dark side to being social, we are prosocial to our friends and antisocial to enemies and probably strangers. To “be social” is to draw the line and arrange people on one side of it or the other. It is to choose, to . . . loaded word, discriminate, meant literally and technically, generically, not the specific meaning today in our current conversations about racism and hate. The sorting function. I mean, it’s the thing, the same thing, the very thing, and if we could stop it all, we’d stop that too.

There is another conflation, a smaller one I need to mention, about the term, “social creature,” and variants. I think when we talk about the wildebeest or a herd animal, it means the positive thing, “social creature” for herds seems to mean they all get along, except you know, for the rut and whatnot. For us, it’s all of it, we are more properly a “group social” creature, perhaps, get along with some, in conflict with others. For the group social animal, “social,” means all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Cool?

We are having trouble separating things, our social life is structured with the group problems, structured around the situation, the conflict, and our lifestyle now requires the out-group, the enemy, and our best prosocial morality is predicated on an evil, antisocial Other. The movie trope is true: lacking a real enemy, like after Cyrus’ foes were all assimilated, not sure he did this, but we do – we create them, out of thin air. Every moral lesson needs a bad guy.

In this sense, it is AST’s position that our rough controls, the rules (threats) and punishments make us more antisocial, better adapted for a life of conflict. AST is ironic, or rather life without it is, in that the deterrents we apply to make us “good,” are weak, virtual things, while the threat and abuse of actual punishments make us “bad,” all day long, antisocial. I think the social consensus no-one has to defend is that yes, this is what we do, to be strong, to defend from other nations, yes, this means life and that is our foundation for our morality.

I get it.

But they tell the same story. Yours is a one-group morality and has zero control on war. Causes them all, in point of fact. Look how in its extreme versions, it shows up as a death cult instead.

There’s a genetic component, environmental control of genes that help in the event of an abusive environment, so called fighting genes or something similar. AST’s position is that we have hacked these genes, providing the environment to control the genetic choice – through discipline, through the ritualized abuse we call spanking.

This looks like a positive feedback loop to me, select a gene, activate it, select it again . . . which I worry is also the AST Theory of Conflict, that this feedback loop goes to thermal runaway in the world every ninety years or so. Ouch. Sorry.

Jeff

April 29th., 2022

Redefinitions 1 – AST vs Popular Memes, Human Nature

Still having problems finding a way into AST for folks, this will be attempt number I don’t know any more, another series, I suppose. The plan is to keep them short and manageable, hope to make the point with a barrage from many angles. I’ll start with the definition for AST – here’s the first, it means Antisocialization Theory – and then how it alters the narrative of a number of topics.

AST redefines everything, but we’ll try to show how, specifically, for this list of ideas:

human nature

social life

punishment

abuse

anger

empathy

relatedness theory

evolution

strength

resilience

etc.

Oh, forgot some (and this will be a feature):

racism

trauma and healing, psychology

attention

culture, tradition

control

Redefinitions – 1. Human Nature

AST, a Definition

AST is the theory of our hurt, the human science of not deterrent and socialization, but of abuse, punitive and otherwise, and our antisocialization, which long word means exactly what it sounds like it means: to have been made antisocial. It is about the dark side of our social control, the stuff we supposedly don’t want to happen, beyond that the person maybe did what they were bloody well told.

The AST Theory of Conflict states that the failures and ostensibly unintended consequences of our rough control are deeply and vastly consequential in human life, and its author can get very expansive, imagining it to be the post powerful and destructive force driving us.

The central idea is that structures and ways of being within the human social group – laws and punishments, ordeals, etc., –  add up to pain and trauma for the individual, while laws prohibit simple reactive violence and simple revenge, and so the individual is “charged” with bad feelings, antisocialized and looking for a fight they are allowed to have. The group’s leadership – administrators of the law – can then exploit this reservoir of anger, point it at someone and allow the citizens the “freedom,” – not an accident and not irony, this word choice, we are always seeing this – to deflect and unload their frustrations.

AST asks you to note, that our own people frustrate us, and exploit our frustrations at will in this system, using us to abuse some Other, some human group in a war or a pogrom, or an apartheid. That is what I call the AST theory of Conflict, weaponized by our own, to be discharged in some group conflict.

Hmm. Not sure if that will be the one I use every time, but I like it for our first entry:

AST and “Human Nature”

First – fooled ya, there’s no such thing, AST doesn’t have that. AST needs a reason that humans do bad things, while “human nature” would seem to state that no matter what horrors we perpetrate, no explanation is required: of course genocides. Whaddayamean, “why?” “Human Nature!”

“Natures,” – “essences,” aren’t a thing, not a meaningful actual thing. It’s a made up premise from thousands of years ago. I mean, sure it’s the foundation of all human society and law, but that doesn’t make it true, that’s just the twin fallacies of consensus and tradition. I have a speech about language and neural pathways, that your neural pathways don’t change every time you learn a new word, that mostly new words only re-label old paths – and “genetically determined” or “genetic legacy,” is the new label for “human nature,” which perhaps is a new label for Original Sin.

This function makes it hard to change. We know about things that grow and change, so we surely have a circuit to understand evolution, but I guess it’s not yet the superhighway the “human nature” one is? It’s hard to change, our thoughts want to use the main road or something.

“Genetic legacy,” is antithetical to evolution, it’s used where “human nature” would be used, when it’s time to say “that’s just the way it is,” – when evolution is supposed to mean nothing “is” the way it is for long, everything is becoming something and stopping being something else, ‘natures,’ and ‘determinations,’ are exactly not the point. An evolving creature doesn’t make excuses about what it “is,” it actively adapts, it reaches for the next thing to be. That’s what happens when a real creature adapts to actual reality.

It’s not so clear that’s us, I admit. But the false binary, formerly “human nature,” vs the blank slate is now presented as “genetics” vs the blank slate, and they have their proof, it’s not a blank slate, I get it, there are specific genetics in place – my answer is, yes, not blank, yes, an operating system – still not a “nature,” still not a static thing, still not an excuse! And there is environmental control of genetic options! Even if the genesuite was static (it’s not), are every one of its options “just the way it is?”

The language is not bad, but the thought isn’t up to it.

AST doesn’t need to bust the “natures” myth, Darwin did that, or he tried, we’re still trying. Like I say, change is hard. The problem is, it’s never busted, no-one loses it, “human nature” is our last idea, still there, underneath all of our education, the last stop as our minds trail off, faced with evil we cannot otherwise explain, “bah, human nature.” AST doesn’t stop at rhetorical roadblocks, AST has a rule, no “human nature.” You must explain the behaviour, with science, here on earth, no matter that it’s evil, of course, especially because it’s evil.

AST hates to make threats, but “human nature” seems to keep producing global violent meltdowns and insists there’s nothing for it, don’t even try. That myth is just going to let us kill everything, ourselves not least. You need AST. OK, that’s not enough to get anything, but that, I’m afraid that really is “just the way it is,” LOL.

More to come.

Jeff

April 28th., 2022

Forced Idealization, Updated

Having a lot of thoughts just now, discovery, and some folks that seem to speak my language a little, having insights. Almost moved on before I got this one down:

That kids idolize or idealize their parents isn’t automatic.

That’s abuse too. And simple mental arithmetic. A scenario.

A child is doing something a caregiver doesn’t want, or not doing something the caregiver does want, perhaps the child is very young, preverbal, and so the parent resorts to simple pain deterrents, or fear, a raised voice, a slap, or perhaps the chid is verbal and the parent is just that sort of a person – but generally in psychological conversation and I agree, younger is more important, more causative, more impressionable, so perhaps it’s a baby, simply trying to move about out of its dirty napkin during a change, which would cause a terrible mess, and the caregiver uses a sharp word or a look, maybe a slap to turn the child away from its idea.

Perhaps not the best example to say it’s an argument, that rolling about is the baby’s “idea,” and it’s an argument, but inasmuch as it is, and surely better examples happen every day, in so much, the infant has an idea, maybe a feeling, surely both, and the caregiver has another idea, another feeling, surely both and they’re in conflict: that’s what it is, or what it was, until the caregiver turned it into a fight, with perhaps mild but still threats and violence.

The baby’s argument is “wrong,” and the adult is having no more, and making their argument the policy, and their argument is the world they both live in now. And the baby has an internal problem now, an internal conflict.

There are bad feelings, and we sort of address those in many conversations, but my insight last evening was the baby’s reason, the baby’s logic – how does it deal with the forced situation, that it is already wrong in the world? It wants to be right, needs to be right, especially with Mom, and the path to getting right with Mom, the only logical path to anyone being right, to there being any sense in the world is to accept, OK, I’m wrong, but Mom and Dad are right . . . this is very much a forced play on the child’s mind. Sanity, continuance, demand that they move their sense of self away, give it away to the caregivers.

I always cringed when I heard or read that, that our idealization of our parents causes our problems, and now at last I’ve sat down with a pencil and worked it out.

Of course, like everything, it’s ball-busting, blame the child, blame human nature, blame anybody but the brute who forced it. As though we all just willingly ignore our own inner voices in favour of our parents, why, because they are just so impressive?

Of course not. Come on.

Jeff

April 21st., 2022

UPDATED

I am asking Twitter, trying to ask the world here – is my premise true?

Is our parental idealization considered to be automatic, a cause rather than an effect of our troubles? It occurs to me that I can think of at least one psychologist on my side of this with me, and of course it’s another weirdo, don’t get me wrong, I loved them: R. D. Laing. The disaster has already happened.

If  so, if R.D. and I are wrong and alone, and most of the world of psychological help is rolling along talking as though it was your choice to idealize your father (and so your fault when reality disappoints), then I have a question – why? What’s the rationale – evolved? Again, I’m still three years old – why?

There are great swathes of science speaking in the other direction, self preservation and Dunning Kruger Syndrome both say that we automatically think more highly of ourselves, that the mental gymnastics we do is to protect and promote the self, that we must think well of ourselves in order to deserve our share of the mammoth, better than someone who settles for life (or death) without a share.

But the very first thing we do in life is give all that up to our parents?

Perhaps that’s my overreach, perhaps to idealize is not to give up oneself. I think that’s in the balance of this debate too: if it’s built in, then maybe not, but if it happens how I suggest in this blog, then it is more self splitting than it is idealization.

But I’m asking. Someone educate me – do they say why we idealize, if it’s automatic? Let me guess, game theory, we are dependent upon them for life, we will go off and get ourselves eaten if we are allowed to do what we want? I don’t like those answers anymore, but rather than credit it with a detail argument, I’ll just ask: does it get better when we grow up?

Automatically? Or not until therapy? Aren’t we here talking about it because it’s a big source of our problems rather than our safety? Also – this safety adaptation would not seem to protect us from our parents, would it? Rather the opposite, so I’m not buying it. I’m afraid I’m stuck with my dark side, AST explanation, and it’s all very sad but at least it’s a step closer to reality.

Jeff April 24th., 2022

AST Genes

AST is conversion therapy for NT people, and they all believe it will work for anything, because it does “work” for them – poor definition of “works,” as always, of course, but it does something for them, it sets those epigenetic options. For the NT, abuse is indeed a stimulus with a predictable (if misinterpreted and unconscious) result.

The ABA argument, it’s my argument about spanking and police, same for same, except complicated by the fact that the abuse does seem to “work” for the NT, to the NT. I worry that the ND seem to agree with the NT about that, that the NT’s system “works” for them, and only fails the divergent, and I am certain that this is not the case (or, again, that “works,” means something we could all live better without).

So now I’m thinking that AST is a behaviour and a genesuite, just one not everyone has, but it’s one that is self protective and self-propagating and seems destined to drift through the entire population rather than be selected out, a successful mutation. What do they call one that saturates, that leaves no organism untouched, I forget, is there a name for that? I worried AST was one such when I thought it was universal, before neurodivergence entered my mind and the equation, and now, perhaps I worry less, and it seems the whole world will end before this saturation would ever be reached anyhow. But no, AST perhaps doesn’t require saturation, it has a strategy for the “non-compliant” (sorry, horrible term, “their” term, AST’s term – I know, another three letter acronym’s term, ABA’s. I don’t say it as a cop or a nurse, AST’s “strategy,” not mine) already, same strategy it has for everything.

Not an endorsement.

Perhaps there is some room between, I keep coming up against this with AST, that I am describing something that is both “biological,” and “behavioural/cultural”, the space between, where these things interact, meaning not all common problematic genes drift to saturation, that in the space between random and universal, perhaps there is sometimes a control mechanism, even for a trait that violently imposes itself upon the world?

AST is the control.

I have said, it’s both, genes, and the environment, which, we control our environment, so “environment” is “behaviour” to AST, it is both, genes and behaviour, that it is in the behaviour . . . phase? Aspect? The behaving time, no, just in the behaviour, in the behaving that we get to attempt to exercise some free will and make adjustments. Ah, I guess it’s been some time since I’ve spelled this out for myself, but it was always the point of AST, that if we behave less violently, we will become less violent, if people generally get less rough with one another, with their kids mostly, the next generation will grow up less prone to violence. AST simply endeavors to prove the old adage that violence breeds violence and tries to make it matter to people – even your violence. Even your dear old mother’s violence breeds violence.

Is all this not contained in the phrase “there is environmental control of genes?” Imagine knowing this soundbite and ever saying again, “Bah. Human nature.” Folks are very compartmentalized.

I’m having this odd idea, all genes aren’t selfish, not as selfish, perhaps most are selfish in an enlightened, sustainable way, but that our fellow Dr. Dawkins has perhaps been reading mostly the AST genes, I mean, if he has managed to explain our unsustainable human ways with genes at all. I hate to throw out work, perhaps it only wants a bit of a tweak, and to be said from a different angle, in a different context. I’m having a lot of random thoughts as neurodivergence makes its way though my mind, into all the places – one just now, that if the AST genesuite is not present or available in the autistic, is it in there still anyway, inactive and not activatable – as some of that “junk DNA” we hear about? Is one individual’s junk maybe working in another? A known thing, in general DNA terms, I guess?

I suppose if AST is a genesuite, then the NT world will frame this as the divergent lacking something, but I assume they have searched for autistic genes and come up empty – I wonder if anyone has thought to turn the search over, look for the gene that makes the difference in the NT, my AST genes, which probably include things they have called “warrior alleles,” among an unknown number and types of others. Perhaps one or more of those sort of alleles that have been suggested could be viewed as markers for AST, correlations. Over my head, of course. That would be too easy and too clear, that is not real life in the world of genetics, I don’t think.

And anyway the point isn’t to find the evil gene and weed it out, the point is to stop activating it, and perhaps identifying something about these genes will help us see when we’ve managed to set the option the other way – but if we never learn any of the details and simply stop with the forever socialized abuse, stop intentionally choosing the bad option, that will solve the problem.

I only worry that it needs a gene to make people see it, some sort of proof from the microscope. Again, it’s obvious to this now obviously divergent mind, as soon as I learned of the environmental control of genes, having already had some insight about punishment and abuse being identical, there it was, I don’t know how humankind suspends their disbelief about it, but again, that’s the whole point, most folks don’t see the simple logic in it that I do, we are so different, you and I, we really are.

Jeff

April 11th., 2022

I suppose this is a continuation of this one, in the personal blog:

Psychology as Abuse, Part #2

I’m a suspicious sort. It’s taken me a long time to develop these complaints, so while I try to write conversationally, this little rebellion has been building for decades. I feel it’s going to be my way back to move forward, like I gotta be me more, not less.  I need to stop telling myself I’m paranoid and wrong and say this stuff, if it’s wrong, hopefully it’s harmless, but really, erroneous conclusions aren’t the kind you avoid for decades and are still there waiting for you when you’re finished running. The fact that psychology is just one discipline of many all crammed into the patriarchy and the warrior society isn’t all that’s wrong with it.

There is something wrong with it that I want to explore here with you in real time, and I haven’t nailed it down yet – in fact, I forgot all about it yesterday, that’s why we’re here again – but it’s something I want to answer with “yes, damnit, we are our brother’s keeper.”

We are social animals. We know that we are, that it is fundamental to us, so much so that we know if we raised a person alone, in an even less human version of the Truman Show or something, that if this person never saw another human in their whole life, that humans were the biggest factors in their life still, and that human society did to them whatever that does to a person. Alone in a rocket ship to Mars, we are social creatures and that one interaction – helping us into the rocket – is the interaction that is our life. We are our brother’s keeper, even if we don’t know him, even across the void of space. We are literally keeping millions of our brothers in prison, an odd circumstance if we aren’t supposed to be keeping our brothers at all.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, of course they know this, of course they know it is our interactions that are life and that have the power to make or break us, it’s their business all day long to sort through it, but they don’t have society to work with, often as not they don’t even get our parents or our spouse to work with, all they got is us. I’m sure the task looks like trying to put a cow back together after its interactions with the cattle industry sometimes, except it would be closer to say that it looks like coaching the cow to put itself back together.

When we start to focus on the individual and their part in the interactions that have harmed them, because again, they are the ones we’re talking to, and we start to think about it in terms of choices, as per yesterday’s example –

I’ll break a case down, someone I know – well, half the people I know, as you’ll perhaps agree: a woman, neglected, with or without corporal punishment to boot, by her father, father is detached, unavailable, woman discovers a pattern, later in life of blindness to this sort of treatment, choosing the same sorts of men, always suffering the neglect, with or without ‘corporal punishment’ until, with psychology she sees the early unmet need, becomes more conscious of the issue and is safer from making the same choice next time. A classic psychology success story, I think, not to mention a near ubiquitous one. I think many women and many feminists are familiar with this meme, and it’s an example that defines the popular idea of psychology quite well.

– there’s some dehumanization going on there that I’ve never been comfortable with, and I’m getting less so. If the people in our lives are our “choices,” we are not accounting for their agency, their humanity, or their potential to learn or change. I’m liking this idea less these days, because for me to place my life in this template, I must decide my wife of twenty-five years is nothing but a poor choice of mine, some unconscious animal one can’t talk to and has to work around like any inanimate hazard. This, while simultaneously believing the opposite about my own self, or I’m not in some psych’s office having this conversation at all.

I’m seeking help with my mental health, and I can’t get in the door without taking on this self deception. I suspect one needs a counsellor that’s smarter than oneself. Of course, they know this too, but what are they going to do? We are all they have left to work with. I went to counselling at the very same community health office that my ex and my kids were going to, with the idea that they might be able to see both sides and help us all, but no, privacy laws, I am probably a dangerous stalker. So, we’re all in the same building, our counsellors share a manager – but my ex is just a prop in my own little psychodrama and I in hers, and we each need to figure out for what self-destructive reason we either are coming apart or whatever self-destructive reason we chose each other in the first place. We’re not here to talk about other people, we’re here to talk about you.

They have access to the actual people we are both there to talk about, but no. Psychology deals with our internalized versions of one another, apparently that is more to the point. Real people only complicate things; our stories are irreconcilable, so I guess our counsellors’ stories would be too.

So, yesterday was all about power and the patriarchy using psych sciences as a weapon for conformity, about turning our own experience of abuse into some bad choice we’ve made, about guilt, that many other aspects of life mean this guilt is there, whether we intend it or not. Today, it’s about what framing things as a choice that way does not to our self-worth, but to our sense of other-worth. We are guilty, we have made poor choices, but the ‘others’ in this model are objectified, they aren’t apparently making choices, aren’t apparently able to. Acceptance becomes the goal, because while we are charged to change and grow, the people around us are posited as natural forces or something, exempted.

Everything takes me back to the warrior society, OMG, I didn’t want to think this! That objectification, that dehumanization that we must do in these therapies, this is antisocialization, and the counsellors are cleaning up after the parents, trying to get these sensitive, hurting people to start thinking of other people as things at last, because they never learned it from their childhood beatings, and I’m back to Bluebeard again: you’ll never get any killin’ done, you go around thinking of people as interactive, changeable things all the time. Or any healing either, I guess.

I know, it’s all we can do, that sort of troubleshooting where you have to take these sorts of perspectives, run scenarios, ‘what if you knew, for sure, that your dad was never going to change, never going to hear you,’ and work with that, I know it. I’m not sure you can do that sort of black box exercise with human beings when you are one, it seems like a conundrum – which of course is just what I was looking for when my head went on the fritz, more conundrums.

Thanks for nuthin.’

 

One year today. One year since the last vestige of mania imploded on me and I couldn’t work anymore. Two years, I may as well make this my anniversary, since it was obvious I was in trouble, I can’t believe it, feels like twenty. I can barely remember them, my girls, my ex, my cats, my life.

 

Jeff

Feb. 24th., 2018

Psychology as Abuse

Feminism, in its present, barely conscious state, isn’t going to work out, and further to that, psychology, in the same state, is fuckin’ bullshit.

I’ll break a case down, someone I know – well, half the people I know, as you’ll perhaps agree: a woman, neglected, with or without corporal punishment to boot, by her father, father is detached, unavailable, woman discovers a pattern, later in life of blindness to this sort of treatment, choosing the same sorts of men, always suffering the neglect, with or without ‘corporal punishment’ until, with psychology she sees the early unmet need, becomes more conscious of the issue and is safer from making the same choice next time. A classic psychology success story, I think, not to mention a near ubiquitous one. To be clear, none of that was the ‘bullshit’ part, I’m with all of that, within that conversation. I think many women and many feminists are familiar with this meme, and it’s an example that defines the popular idea of psychology quite well.

I’m sorry! This ‘meme’ idea, it seems to me to be a definition of consciousness, isn’t it, to recognize, name, and classify thoughts, and then further to address their viability, and guess their functions in the world, as an exercise in a sort of biology? Psychology, in this sort of equation, is the dominant meme in my western world about how to solve many of our personal problems.

Of course, if the conversation is a feminist one, or just an old-fashioned man-hating session, then we might see it a little more simply: a woman, neglected and/or beaten by her cold and/or violent father (and/or surrogates) finds every man she ever gets to know intimately to be the same sort of dickhead, until with the help of someone who will talk to her, she realizes that the first one was lying, she never deserved any of it and she starts to make a serious, more informed try at escaping from this sort of abuse.

Now, despite that the Venn diagram of fucked-over women and ‘women’ are the same circle and that even feminism and psychology have massive overlaps in their demographics, I’m sorry, I see a conflict, and I’m going with the second story, because I hear a simple victim’s truth in the second one. What I hear in the psychology story is a lecture from a parent, a teacher, a priest. In the second story, again, a simple, painful truth, and in the first, the finger of blame: it’s not a series of awful men, it’s the woman’s choices – you know “psychology” like this was concocted by men, don’t you? Worse, it’s an evil, misogynist bait and switch, because if one man in a thousand won’t beat you, then we’re talking about you, about your bad choices. This should make you sick to your stomach if you’re a man who can hear it, it does me. Of course, for the ladies, this is what do you call it, Friday.

I know, ‘Tuesday’ is the joke – but it’s Friday. I know the positive story too.

In the first story, it’s her life, and this puts the power to change it in her hands, it’s not her fault, but her opportunity, it’s not of her creation, but it is her problem and no-one would benefit so much from its solution more than her, and no single person has as much power or chance to solve it, I know, and I have an answer prepared for that.

If it were any sort of level playing field, if the woman or the woman child in question had a chance, if all those other associations of mine were not already in place, the parent, the priest, if pretty much everything else in the woman’s life didn’t also tell her everything is her fault and her responsibility to fix, then maybe the “positive” side of that story wouldn’t be a lot of evil, misogynist bullshit, just like the “psychology” it supports.

As it is, it’s one more bait and switch from the warrior society.

So, again, I’m with the second story. We can try to apply psychology to explain all those dickhead men, that sounds a little more useful and a lot more moral. There’s a point to be remembered about psychology: as things stand today, it’s only practiced on victims. This is a massive weakness of psychology as well: there is no test for truth, so psychological “health” is whatever seems to be average; it’s an automatic status quo conformity machine. Again, when all men beat their wives, psychology will treat the victims. I think it’s a matter of piling on; one suffers trauma, and then one must repair the damage oneself, someone else’s way, and almost on someone else’s schedule too. It’s our “opportunity” and “we have the power” and we had bloody well better show we’re “trying,” or else.

Women and feminism figure huge for me, but psychology pulls that shit on all of us. I’m a man, but it’s all my “opportunity” too. If I didn’t before, there’s nothing like a man finding himself in the subordinate position to help him understand something about feminism, and the sympathy I maybe once had for writers and practitioners of psychology I have now shifted to their subjects – or objects, as the case may be – people, victims. Like me, sigh. Again, if you hear a hundred words, it’s the inclined playing field I would ask that keep your attention on. Psychology has great insights, lots of good stuff, and I know it’s trying, it’s one of the ideas that would benefit all of humanity for all of humanity to absorb it.

It may do more harm than good when it puts its thumb on that balance, when it takes the higher end of that sloping moral pitch of responsibility and blame, is all I’m saying, and it’s a tendency to do just that, that’s sort of the human game. I think if we can use some of those great insights looking upstream, towards the abusers and the abuse, we’ll see a lot less collateral damage, and maybe change the world for the victims instead of trying to change the victims’ minds to match the world created by the un-diagnosed abusers.

Just sayin’, as the kids say.

 

Jeff

Feb. 23rd., 2018

The New Naturists

The Old Naturists

 

I’m not as sure of this as I’d like to be, but the ‘Nurture’ side of the argument is the newer idea, right? It’s modernity, some analogue of science. It’s an increase in complexity in our understanding, the suggestion that not only are things what they are, but they are also what we make them. At least that’s how it looks from today, with the framework of progress superimposed on it. If we really thought in the past that we were simply as God made us, then that might be difficult to reconcile with any sort of strivings for change and success anyone ever had at it, so clearly even Christendom leaves us some ability to direct ourselves – even Jesus gives us the choice to believe or not, to choose the light or the darkness. The framing of that choice shows us that Nature ruled the world in Christendom, though: our choice was to deny our sinful natures or not. It would seem to have been the enlightenment, Rousseau and his ilk who were the early Nurturists, who suggested that our evil was not inherent, that we create it with our interactions.

During that time, while these ideas were being tossed about, the Nature side of the argument in Europe and European societies elsewhere was held most strongly by the church: if we don’t have specific natures, then we don’t all need the church’s cure for it. These were the Old Naturists, and their stance was Man is Evil by Nature, and if he were to direct himself without God’s laws, all that Man produced would be evil. If Man turned away from God, the Devil was already inside him and ruled him. There are still plenty of these sorts of Naturists around, but they may not be the only variety of them anymore.

 

 

The Old Chestnut

 

 

Ideas of Nurture appear to have derived from the evolved human psychological faculty, our ability to “read” one another, to glean other peoples’ intentions and motivations. This explains why psychology seems obvious to so many of us, because of course we’re able to understand some of what’s going on in one another’s minds, we need to. The workings we perceive in those minds and in our own are clearly changeable; if minds cannot be changed, why develop complex language? The ability to add to one another’s information (or misinformation) and alter their calculations would seem to be the definition of the Nurture idea. And it really happens, people tell each other things, people learn, people change their minds with enough time and evidence. Not every time, sure, but we do. ‘Nurture’ as such, is a real thing in the world.

Of course, ‘Nature’ is too, and like so many things, the old debate is always increasingly polarized. There have been famous grandiose pronouncements from the Nurture side of the house, declarations like the big three from Pinker’s book, the Blank Slate (also the title), the Noble Savage and the Ghost in the Machine and others, Watson’s claim to make whatever professional he wished to out of any child, all of which are regularly trotted out today to show the error of the Nurturists’ ways – but the Nurture principle is not really destroyed just because it doesn’t destroy all others. Just because there is more to life than the Nurture idea doesn’t mean there is no Nurture, the same as everything else in the world.

The Nurturists are still in the debate, despite their sometimes jingoistic denial of any human Nature at all, due to the innate belief in our natural psychology most people share, and in that sense they always will be – but this rift has biology and psychology on divergent paths. That situation is all too common in matters of human affairs, but intolerable to science and to true understanding.

 

 

Today’s Naturists

 

The above mentioned atheist fallacies that the enlightenment produced to replace the old world order of church and king – the blank slate, etc. – were loud, flashy, provocative ideas, and to some folks they were worth checking out. There have been famous failures, famous human rights violations. What they are today, though, I think, are strawman arguments. It seems today that all that is required to win the ancient debate is to show that any trait varies more with the presence or absence of a genetic connection more than it varies with some environmental factor, or rather, I suppose, with all the environmental factors we can reasonably vary within the law. Any measurable facet of Nature would seem to disprove any Nurture, which, perhaps I should just give it up: sure. Nurture has not yet been measured.

Rumours that it has actually been measured but in fact lacks dimension have been exaggerated – like all other negative propositions, like the existence of God. Of late, the Real Sciences have been giving the Nurture-based attempts at science like psychology the gears for their famous failures, for their lack of evidence. Of course, finding objective evidence for subjective processes is probably an impossible task in the first place, a setup for failure.

I recently saw a film that convinced me I’d been naïve regarding the existence of antisemitism as a real, distinct thing, its own species of racism. I mean, I knew it, but I must not have, because the experience of the film – The Woman in Gold – really drove the point home and I have a changed understanding of that phenomenon now. That is Nurture in action, isn’t it? Is it not an actual Nurturing event because there is no evidence other than my say-so? Nurture operates subjectively. There may indeed be no way to objectively quantify it – it hasn’t changed my understanding to the point where I might provide evidence, such as some sort of financial support for Israel, or write something pro-Israel, nothing concrete – but twenty such steps, if life somehow arranges them for us, and we have reversed ourselves completely. Some number of steps along that road and my voting habits can change.

Nurture is a stealth operation. No evidence for each of many steps in the execution – but people do change their minds, we do learn. Perhaps that is the question that should be asked in this discussion. Is our inner life not a real thing, does our inner life not have its effects in the real world? What may be the New Naturists’ Bible, The Blank Slate, is all about that it does, that those three toxic atheist ideas have had huge effects on the world, not all desirable. So how has the geneticists’ objective evidence somehow shifted the point from the importance of the subjective world to ‘give us some proof or step aside?’

Does the Nature VS Nurture argument mean it’s like “Highlander” for scientific disciplines? There can be only one?

I think the Nurturists bought into it, is what it is, at least to some degree. Some of them must have gotten overly excited about the twin and adoption studies, they maybe thought they had a chance, thought they were going to be able to compete on that playing field, numbers and graphs. Of course, we all want objective success for psychology, for a potential cure for our hurt. But Nurture stepped into Nature’s home ground with some piss-poor assumptions with which to build their evidences, and they got their asses kicked. The geneticists had real numbers; it was hardly even a battle. Now the narrative (written by the anti-narrative explanation of life people) is that social science has lost the war. Of course psychology, the subject of which shares its subjective nature with religion, can also never be killed objectively – but I too search for the Holy Grail, the connection to objective science from psychology.

Everyone knows of times when they themselves had an inner life experience that changed at least their inner life going forward and many will say they’ve had ones that changed their lives objectively as well, and so psychology can’t ever die. This apparent divergence however, the perception that a good and thorough search for objective support for evidence of parental or environmental influence has been done and the hypotheses of social science have been debunked and the implication that psychologists are pushing ahead regardless of having been disproved – this is a clue about the New Naturists over and above their limited, disciplinary point of view. First of all, the scientists railing against the blank slate tainted psychology paradigm are failing at science: they’ve accepted the classic psychology studies’ data as valid data, bugs, bad assumptions (blank slate included!) and all. Apparently the geneticists don’t know what was wrong with those classic studies today anymore than the psychologists who did them at the time, because they’re comparing data, as though they’ve signed off on the conception, assumptions, and parameters of the old studies.

That is my clue: no improvement in the science, and no desire to improve social science. These folks are saying “psychology has done as good as it ever can and they haven’t proved anything. Let it go.” That is sort of an incurious attitude, coming as it ostensibly does from scientists, who are normally rather sensitive to the closing of avenues of study.

If we consider that psychological disciplines began from a positive place, from a repair point of view, that it began as the study and search for the cure for some our more extreme subjective hurts, we know it’s something we hope would work out. Adding to that the obvious subjective importance of our narratives, the data and the causal relationships by which we understand our lives that is the Nurture principle‘s subjective apparent proof of existence and we may have to wonder. Who wants to win the argument against Nurture? And why?

 

The New and the Old

 

Of course Pinker laid it out: the toxic, pure reason sort of ideas that seemed to arrive with atheist science, the blank slate, etc. He tells of how it’s destroyed social science and delayed better science, and he tells of some horrific communist experiments, breaking families up, that resulted. That’s all well and good, and politically those ideas created nightmares, and they certainly stained social science and all of that, just as he says. Who am I to argue with him? But that isn’t enough to explain anti-nurture sentiments. Just as there is more to any religion than it’s most radical, fundamental sect, Nurture generally is not the enemy of Man because blank slate extremists would take things too far. Further to this idea, that blank slate paradigms do not represent the Nurture principle, I must add that blank slate paradigms took over some politicians’ minds, some governments, and some universities – but not the world generally. Blank slate ideas may be the unreasoning ancient, incumbent evil to be fought at the universities – but there are sure to be a whole lot of Naturists lining up behind the geneticists that never went to school and never gave the blank slate a second thought.

In fact, it may be the older kind of Nurturists lining up in front of the geneticists too, there may be funding from the larger world’s incumbent rulers, the churches and their associations. A lot of money still flows where the churches think it should, and in issues like this, the original polarized debate almost, there are only two sides. Nurture is psychology and atheism. Religion, with all of its inertia and ties to the ancient world of God-kings and emphasis on bloodlines and inheritance, is naturally aligned with the geneticists, on the Nature side of the argument.

Be careful where you place your resources for “science.”

Ancient forces have them pitted against each other, and the “winner” here is not the new kid, as he may want you to think. He may not be working for himself. Nurture is real, so psychology needs a hand up – not to be finished off or shut out of the conversation.

 

Jeff

April 5, 2016

 

I Need a Literary Agent

I want to write a popular science sort of a book.

I’m in the market for a literary agent with some social science background.

I have this idea, but it’s sort of between genres and I think I need help developing it before I could even know who to try to sell it to. It’ll be along the lines of the Nurture Assumption, that sort of subject matter, if you’re familiar with that . . . any thoughts?

A perusal of the last several entries in this blog will also give you the subject matter, but the groping in those blogs has produced an unexpected, full blown socialization theory and maybe more. You’d never guess from all my previous writing where it’s brought me.

Anything would help . . .

 

thank you all in advance

 

Jeff

Punishment as Bullying

The world runs on authority, on force. The army, the police, schools, corporate hierarchies, parenting, parenting, parenting. Family structure. Punishment and discipline is a system by where we control unwanted behaviour by force, and punishment, which, punishment is defined as dishing out unpleasantness to the misbehavers in order to motivate them to change their ways.

 

This is pretty much a definition of bullying. The bully punishes the victim. The bully justifies this punishment by listing the victims’ misbehaviours, or the victims’ families’, or race’s, or faith’s misbehaviours.

 

This is punishing behaviour, this is bullies doing what adults do, doing what the police do, I mean the bully’s behavior is very close to that, closer than any of us would like to think. I’m saying the bully feels he is doing what he sees around him, that in the parlance of some schools of psychology, the bully is getting his power back, after some authority figure has taken his power from him.

 

So, parents and schools going to the bully kids and telling them to stop is a joke to these kids. They see it as just more ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ which it is. I, for one, would love to see someone ask the kids if I’m right about that. Don’t take my word for it. Ask the kids. Better yet, we need a mole, someone who can infiltrate the kids’ group and get a real answer. They don’t trust us.

 

Parents don’t think they are bullying. We have a consensus about what is acceptable punishing behavior, and we really cannot seem to draw parallels with what we see as our legitimate punishments and other similar behaviours. If we can’t, if we won’t see how bullying is an extension, an extrapolation of our punishing ways, then there is very little hope that any of our conversation about bullying, any of our attempts to combat it will get any traction, very little hope of our ever solving a problem if we refuse to understand it in the first place. Surely, someone has noticed that speeches that don’t acknowledge this difficult truth have not had any dramatic effect on the bullying phenomenon? I think any approach that doesn’t include this idea would be considered empty and hopeless, at least to any group that lives under threat or reality of punishment – like our kids.

 

Long and short, if we adults don’t stop ‘bullying’ kids everywhere, we will never stop their bullying, that should be obvious. I don’t know why it isn’t.

 

Many nations have outlawed corporal punishment, in Canada, we are in the process of outlawing it, and I can see the next step, that we will someday realize that the damage caused by punishing behaviours generally outweigh any benefit, and when we all stop anything like bullying, so will our kids. Until then, we will fight this bullying thing in vain, fighting fire with fire, and modeling it and propagating it as we do.

 

So now, there will be programs, task forces, plans and research, all government money spent to figure out this embarrassing problem, and if we don’t try to stop people from the use of punishment – corporal and otherwise – on our kids at home and everywhere else, we are wasting all those resources. And that is a sad, cruel joke, one that the adults don’t understand, and only our kids are laughing about. Not in a good way.

 

Jeff

 

Jan. 22, 2016