Thursday, February 23, 2006

When Losing is Winning
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

February 23, 2006

The more I learn about personality disorders and passive-aggressive personality types, the more I understand how they see themselves and the world they inhabit. It is not what you or I might consider reasonable. But, to them, it makes sense. It also creates an impossible dilemma, namely, that losing equals winning. This is how it works:

Let’s call our subject Adam. Adam is highly passive-aggressive, and is also highly resistant to counseling. Adam’s capacity to initiate his own self defeat is greater than his counselor’s capacity to motivate or encourage him to succeed. In Adam’s view, he will always win because he is the only person on Earth who is allowed to have control over himself, and the only control he can exercise is to cause his own defeat. Adam is convinced that other people are trying to overpower him, but he will not allow them to defeat him. Therefore, he defeats himself before they get the chance. In Adam’s mind, other people are trying to overpower him, and his only hope is to escape their control. Adam can’t oppose them because they will crush him, so he seeks to escape. By escaping, Adam quits, fails, and loses. By quitting, failing, and ultimately losing, Adam thwarts his opponent’s attempts to overpower him. Like Masada, Adam cuts his own throat and deprives his opponents of their desired victory, what he feels is their desire to dominate him. Escaping domination is winning, in Adam’s mind. But, escaping is also quitting, failing, and losing. For Adam, losing is winning. Also, like the inhabitants of Masada, Adam seems to value nothing more highly than escaping. He is able, though not always willing, to surrender anything of value if doing so will secure his escape. He is willing to lose everything in order to win escape.

That’s Adam’s story. The two main choices for the passive-aggressive types is either escape or control, but under no circumstances is cooperation an option. Think about how this may apply to politicals.

Many leftist lunatic Democrats (what Hugh Hewitt calls the “fever swamp” Democrats) appear to be willing to lose everything, including their dignity and the trust of the American people, in order to escape what they feel is President Bush’s attempt to overpower them. It may seem far fetched to suggest that Bush hatred is really escapism, but, I think I may be on to something here.

The Bush haters don’t seem to have we would call a positive agenda, and seem to be united only on the idea of defeating Bush. This fits the escapist model. They obsess on the object that they feel threatens them. It haunts them. It eats at them. It disturbs them. It drives them to drink. Their only recourse, as they understand it, is to either escape the perceived threat (numerous promises by lefty radicals to leave the country if Bush won have gone unfulfilled, darn it) or to control it (they seem to think that name calling and screaming obscenities gives them control).

Many mental health professionals consider the obdurate behavior of their clients to be a form of communication. When clients act out by resisting, complaining, blaming, and so forth, they are in fact communicating valuable information about themselves. Political analysts may want to follow the lead of the mental health community and consider the crazy behavior of the lunatic left for its informative value.

Reasonable people understand that losing is not winning. People who are gripped with fear can convince themselves that losing is winning. In their minds, they win by changing the rules, changing the goals, or by just dropping out, anything to maintain the feeling that they really are in control.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Developing “Mommy Deafness”
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

February 14, 2006

I heard a story some time ago from a young woman who was talking about a time when her mother nagged her into an absolute stupor. Mommy nagged and nagged and nagged and nagged, and the young woman, who was about four years old at the time, thought, “When is this going to end?” At that point, the young woman described a kind of curtain descending over her face, a sort of “I can see your lips moving, but I can’t hear a word you say” state of numbness.

I call this developing “mommy deafness”.

It’s not the only time I’ve seen it. In one case, I witnessed a young boy actually cover his ears with his hands every time his mother spoke to him, and he got a look on his face like a cannon had been shot off too close to his head.

In fairness to the mommies in these stories, I understand that they are good people with the best of intentions. However, they tend to get a little wound up, and they don’t seem to know when to stop. Also, they don’t tolerate any “talk back”. No one is allowed to converse with mommy when she’s in “nag” mode. Mommy nags; you shut up and take it.

Severe aggravation, helplessness, and an inability to speak out seem to contribute to “mommy deafness”. In listening to people talk about these situations, I get the impression that they decided that since they had nothing to say, all they wanted to do was endure the nagging long enough to get away and go do something fun.

“Mommy deafness” may be related to attention deficit problems in many children and adults. I can imagine that if this reaction becomes reflexive that the person with such a condition may have trouble staying focused in school, following orders, listening to other people, and many other attention related activities especially when stress levels rise. I can imagine that someone in this situation may have trouble reading, staying with the plot of a television show, or remembering to stop at the drug store on the way home.

I think that “daddy deafness” may also be a problem in some families. But, I think of “mommy deafness” as more prevalent because mothers are more prone to nagging, whereas fathers tend to bully. Nagging can be ignored; bullying can’t.

Developing “mommy deafness” is a way of learning to “tune out” the world and to reflexively ignore stressors. It is unconscious and may take training to learn to overcome.

When the mind becomes overwhelmed with input, it automatically shuts down the input systems. In severe cases, this becomes dissociation. I think of “mommy deafness” as a kind of mild dissociation, an automatic shutting down of input systems to prevent overload.

The dissociation process may become more acute as the mind anticipates stress. As the person begins to associate normal activities with previously experienced intense stress, the input system will begin to shut down earlier and earlier in anticipation. It may become so severe that the person may be unable to process normal input. This may result in emotional withdrawal, a sense of feeling misunderstood, social isolation, anxiety, resentment, reflexive hostility, substance abuse, and a host of symptoms associated with personality disorders. No matter how hard you try, you end up feeling that you just can’t get through to them.

Severe dissociation is fairly easy to spot. But, “mommy deafness” may be impossible to recognize, especially if the symptoms don’t have a significant detrimental effect on the person involved. I can imagine how “mommy deafness” may develop into habitually disregarding input even without significant stress.

I can also imagine how “mommy deafness” can result in sloppy performance at work, inattention to detail, and difficulty in tending to personal hygiene and house keeping. If you become deaf to your inner nagging voice, you have lost a significant motivator.

People who have never developed “mommy deafness” may have extreme difficulty understanding people who have. Comments like “you have a bad attitude” and other senseless judgments tend to provoke “mommy deafness”. It’s just more nagging.

I think that it is counterproductive to engage in nagging with people who have developed sophisticated defenses against nagging. All the literature I have read on the subject suggests the same thing. The professionals suggest that you should slow down the process, validate the other person’s position (e.g., “I hear you saying such and such. Did I get that right?”), and then ask the other person for permission to affirmatively move from the problem to the solution. People with “mommy deafness” tend to reflexively ignore instructions, rescuing, or schooling (irrefutable reasoning from the facts) as just more nagging. Without thinking about it, their “mommy deafness” kicks in, and communication effectively ceases. They stop listening, and they will tell you one way or another to shut up and go away.

Your voice is important. Give yourself permission to stop stifling yourself.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hurried Writings 4
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

February 10, 2006

Knowledge can be thought of as intellectual wealth that can be translated into material wealth.

Tolerance is not the contrary of prejudice. Prejudice is unjust discrimination. The contrary of unjust discrimination is not a complete lack of discrimination; instead, the contrary of unjust discrimination is just discrimination, also known as fairness. Being tolerant of everything to avoid the sin of unjust discrimination results in unreasonable tolerance and unwarranted exposure to risk and harm. You put locks on your doors. That means that you are justly discriminating against people who would unjustly steal your stuff. You are justly discriminating against potential injustice. How much harder can it be to justly discriminate against actual injustice?

Speaking of actual injustice, many countries in the Middle East have come under the control of governments that use the religion of Islam as a political tool. The counter to using any religion for political ends is to address the political matters involved and to leave the religious matters for another day. For example, the recent Danish cartoons flap: Imams in Iran do not have legal jurisdiction outside Iran. They may issue as many death threats as they like, but they have no authority to enforce such threats. It is the responsibility of the government of Denmark to ensure that Danish cartoonists are not attacked by Iranian agents. There is nothing religious about this. It’s a matter of law.

I’m typing so fast, my fingers are starting to smoke.

And speaking of not very smart people: The Europeans have not yet figured out that the governments of some Middle Eastern countries have learned to play the victimhood card with astounding aptitude. Countries like Egypt, Syrian, and Iran have learned that they can extract phenomenal concessions from European countries by playing the role of victim. Europeans seem to be all riddled with guilt of past (long past) colonialism. The Moslem countries then accuse Europe of further offenses (such as exercising their right to free if not somewhat repulsive speech), and then they demand appeasement. Get it? I’m offended! See how violent I am? My violence is an expression of the depths of my hurt feelings. Now give me something for free! This is how toddlers behave. It may seem perceptive to suggest that Moslem governments stop fomenting violence among their own people for the sake of intimidating the Europeans, but it may be more worthwhile to suggest that Europeans stop feeling guilty for the sins of the fathers.

There have been no Paris-style riots in Philadelphia with “Moslem youths” (or any other “youths”) rampaging, burning, shooting, stabbing, or raping because the Philadelphia police know how to put a stop to riots. There have been riots in Iran recently because the government of Iran staged the riots. There were riots in Paris last year because the French are not competent to govern themselves.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

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