Archive for the philosophy Category

Best post I can offer right now

Posted in mental health, personal, philosophy, rants with tags , on March 13, 2014 by theweirdphilosopher

I come here. I start a post. I stop writing after five words because I don´t know why I would want to post my thoughts on a blog written by a person who has nothing much to do with myself. The person who has been writing this blog – she simply isn´t me anymore. I´m not her anymore, and I don´t have her largely imaginary problems.

Well. Okay, maybe that´s unfair. But this blog doesn´t really offer room anymore for the feelings I have and for the things that prey on me. I don´t really have a place for that anymore and this bugs me. I want to communicate my thoughts and experiences, but I no longer want to do so in the context of mental health issues. I feel so disconnected from the vast majority of my posts on here. Even now I´m trying to create room for what I really want to talk about, instead of actually getting to talk about it.

Could it be that many people only feel drawn to mental health issues or define themselves as mentally ill because it allows them to talk openly about their emotions? Could this, even when they actually are ill, be part of what stops them from getting well? The threat that if they get well they can´t dwell on their inner experience anymore? Am I not myself constantly looking for a justification to talk about myself, analyze myself, muse on psychological questions? But why does it take a justification? Shouldn´t it be enough that it´s sort of well written? Isn´t it silly how much of a taboo it is to talk about ourselves, yet we are so addicted to it that we make up all sorts of dumb excuses to do it anyway? Like: “I´m only analyzing myself in detail because I hope it will help me become a better person/get rid of my illness?” It´s not even like we don´t believe in those stories! But if we absolutely need a justification, should we maybe try to find better ones? Some that don´t require we stay ill forever so we get to talk about ourselves and be taken seriously?

When I try to write a blog post on here I feel like I´m locked inside a story of which I no longer am the protagonist. It´s someone else´s story I´ve been trying to live, and I´m growing very, very tired of it. Even resent it, as it is the story I deemed more worthwhile than my own. And not just the story – the person. I presented myself as a person I thought was more valuable than the person I really am. I don´t like that person anymore. Hell, I don´t even like that kind of person when I encounter her in real life. I used to think that´s unfair, but is it, really? Is anyone entitled to being liked by me?

Is this meant by the sanctity of feelings? That you cannot demand people stop having a specific feeling because it is immoral to feel that way? Is it really immoral to demand for someone to have different feelings about a subject? I have contrary intuitions on that. I´ll need to think about that when I´m less tired.

 

 

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My fundamental error

Posted in personal, philosophy with tags , , on January 26, 2014 by theweirdphilosopher

I feel distraught. I feel a strange mercilessness towards myself; like I will no longer let myself get away with something that was a larger part of my life than I realized.

I think it is all that writing advice that I read. So much about what to keep in mind for the benefit of your audience. I looked over my blog from a distance and I saw how much I ramble and how incoherently I write. And I wondered why it ever occurred to me to publish that. It seems like nothing that belongs in front of an audience. Did I simply lose sight of the fact that there is a difference between a real and an imagined audience? Between a panel of imaginary judges and actual readers?

I think what really makes me qualify as unbalanced is the carelessness with which I put things out in the open that have no business being there. When I started this blog I didn´t want to wait anymore until I had something to say that would benefit an actual audience. I simply longed to be somebody, to have some sort of identity. My model was a fellow blogger with a series of mental disorders who had won several awards for the way she was writing about her life. It actually is an amazing blog. I was just very much mistaken in believing I could create, leave alone be something similar. In trying to do so, however, I merely managed to show just how incredibly fragile my ego is.

Some philosopher said that Homer wouldn´t have written the Iliad if he had been an Achilles. I have often wished to be the character of a novel more than to be the author. A blog seemed to be a fairly easy way to achieve that. Unfortunately, though, even as a blogger I don´t get to decide what history I come with or what dark truth is lurking underneath my confusion. Despite the ease with which people claim identities for themselves nowadays, you don´t become an Achilles by slapping a label on yourself and defining your voice as representative of said label. I cannot resolve my fundamental disdain for myself by treating identities as nothing more than a convenience.

When I was reading to children at a local kindergarten, they often pointed to the pictures in the books, yelling: “That´s me!” – “That´s me!” and, if the desired identity was already taken, they would compromise: “Okay, then that´s me!” Sometimes, of course, they would also quarrel. You got to be the coolest girl in the other book, now it´s my turn! Having to compare myself to five-year-olds is not very flattering, but I did have a similar take on reality for an uncomfortably long stretch of time. On some level I did believe that you could make yourself a certain kind of person just by saying so. And this is also, ultimately, what was behind my ability to believe I had amnesia. It was not my reason for doing so, but it enabled me to do so.

Reality itself still seems incredibly unlikely to me, starting with the idea that I could possibly have erred so much. Yet at the same time I feel that by understanding my error I´m making an experience that transcends the fundamental gap between me and the thinkers I admired most. I always knew I was wrong in some way, and now that I can see my foolishness, I have a lot more respect for myself.

Reality, however, has some far darker truths to offer, and I´m not sure if I will be capable of accomodating my self-image to them, too. Unfortunately, though, I feel like a lot more than just my self-respect depends on that. This reality is the experience and the history life has to offer me, and if I fail to take them, I will forever be a person of no substance.

Maelstrom

Posted in personal, philosophy with tags , , , , on January 6, 2014 by theweirdphilosopher

Chapter 1

Demoralisation: To believe you have no right to call others out on their wrongdoings (or to utter any moral opinion at all), because you yourself have done things that were wrong. One of the weapons most frequently used in any kind of argument where peoples´ self-worth is at stake.

The problem with this weapon is that it is not purely evil. Making people reconsider their own ability to conform to moral standards can stop them from being punitive, unforgiving and judgemental towards others. But where is the line between that and opening the floodgates for legitimizing all kinds of reprehensible actions?

Given that this is a subject of plenty of movies, I can hardly be alone with my own struggle against demoralization. In movies, however, the evil the demoralized person is faced with quite conveniently is so massive that it is possible to feel entitled to fight it despite being not a laudable person oneself. Also, the quiet voice in his head that tells him otherwise will be personified through The Villain, whom the demoralized person “mustn´t let win” (this is typically a line said by the supportive friend, colleague or lover). Giving in to demoralization and depressing thoughts becomes a moral evil itself, which is why the protagonist is justified in feeling good about himself again. In fact, he is very much supposed to, because otherwise evil will prevail.

There are attempts at interpreting real life that way, too. The easiest example is the way some abuse survivors see themselves getting well as “the best possible revenge”. Not everybody has a bona fide villain in their life, though. Other than themselves, I mean. The lack of an evil, sadistic genius who is responsible for all those problems and complications can be the most demoralizing thing of all.

Not that this isn´t just another typical narrative. The paranoid, vengeful guy who believes everyone is after him, only to realize sometime late in the movie that he is merely trying to run from taking responsibility for the tragedies that happened in his life. Can we maybe go beyond this hackneyed plot twist, though, and ask ourselves how on earth we are supposed to know which of those two anti-heros we are?

The ultimate answer pop-culture has for that is the phrase “but deep inside we know”. Unfortunately I suck at that, so it´s of no great help to me. Also, I find it highly illogical to ask someone to “just look into their hearts” when we are living in a world which accepts that emotions can actually prevent us from looking at stuff realistically. This concept is rather popular, so apparently it hits a nerve with quite a lot of people, but for me it is useless.

Chapter 2

I always feel the presence of a villain hovering above me, giving me reasons why it is not okay to be who I am. I know that he cannot be real and that he must therefore fulfill some psychological purpose for me, and I guess this purpose is that my need to fight him is the only thing that can justify remaining the person I am. Having to prove a point against a superior force idealizes my being me and turns it into something worthwhile, which it might not, in fact, be.

What would become of me if you took the belief in that villain away? It wouldn´t make sense to me anymore who I am. I would see nothing glamourous or romantic in it. I´d probably be ashamed of the deluded defiance that made me be proud of staying me for so long. My self-image would be turned on its head. Instead of automatically assuming future greatness, I would have to come to the conclusion that I am a mess. Someone who should be glad if he will at some point manage the daily challenges of staying sane.

Another classical narrative. At worst labeled “inspiring”. I guess I should be prepared to answer to why I believe I have the right to devaluate so many peoples´positive emotions. The expected answer, of course, is not an actual rationale based on persuasive arguments, but an explanation what horrible emotional screwed-up-ness makes me do such a horrible, screwed-up thing, along with the admission that I probably need to change. Since I made the mistake of being clever, no one is going to believe me that I honestly don´t know, so we´d better come up with something; something really incriminating.

Chapter 3

My rational mind, that which carries my original sense of normalcy, tells me that there is a way out of this and that it is okay to be who I am. I don´t think, though, it refers with these statements to all my states of mind and all the things I´ve done. It very stubbornly seems to ignore some of these, particularly those which make me feel very afraid of myself.

My treacherous heart, on the other hand, is full of them; and inside of it lurks the insidious notion that not only am I a terrible person, in order to ever stop getting into situations which will lead to anxiety, guilt and fear of exposure, I need to break with my personality structure and accept that what I become after that will not be under my control.

Revoco

Posted in health, mental health, personal, philosophy with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I´m coming to the conclusion that narcissism has essentially become worthless as a concept and that it should be abolished as a psychiatric term. I´m not saying this to deny the interpersonal misbehavior and the hard-to-trace abuse going on in some families, workplaces and relationships. I just think “narcissism” is a fairly meaningless explanation for those phenomena. To begin with, it is an awfully broad term. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists can´t even agree whether everyone possesses it to a certain degree or not. That´s not a question that can be decided based on empirical testing. It is a question of how you define narcissism, and if there is still any dissent regarding the frequency of narcissism in people, then it´s because there is no clear, agreed-upon definition. Without such a definition, I don´t see why patients should be freaked out by having such a stigmatizing word attached to their self-concepts.

Then, narcissism can mean one thing and it´s exact opposite. Narcissism implies arrogance, selfishness and thinking highly of oneself. It is also claimed, however, that deep down narcissists are even more insecure than everyone else, that they have no self-esteem, and, ironically, people-pleasing is also described as narcissistic behavior. In some accounts I don´t even see the difference between narcissistic and anxious-avoidant PD. If you want to, you can cast every kind of behavior as being narcissistic in nature. The reason why anyone even accepts this twisting of words and the nullification of their meaning is that we are already used to it from one hundred years of psychoanalysis. Apparently, in the murky puddle called “the unconscious”, at its core everything is the same. I just wonder why we chose to call it “narcissism” then.

Another thing I often read is that mentally, narcissists are six years old. This reveals a strange hostility towards children, and it is even stranger when such a hostility comes from people who claim to have been narcissistically abused as children. This hostility, too, however, is far from new. The idea that children are selfish, sulky, aggressive and narcissistic, though, might have given rise to exactly the kind of cruel child-rearing methods so many children of “narcissistic” parents shudder to remember.

On one website I read even more bizarre claims, such as: “Narcissists frequently look surprisingly young, maybe because they don´t mature emotionally.” Or: “Narcissists have strange eating habits, they have an eating disorder called pica!” That disorder indeed can be found in the ICD-10, but I just wonder where the hell such claims are coming from. To me, it sounds like this is merely a mechanism of establishing “narcissists” as a specific group of people among which individual differences don´t matter since they are erased by the overwhelming common traits.

And that is a great mistake. Due to the diversity of conditions, symptoms, feelings, behaviors and character traits that can gain a person the narcissism label, a great variety of people will be labeled as narcissists. And to imagine that all these people might somehow associate with themselves and their own biographies the stories of narcissistic abuse circulating on the Internet…! So that´s what I did to everyone who ever loved me? Without realizing it, maybe even thinking I was in the right?

Here is another strange thing: On the one hand, apparently you can consistently wrong and abuse people without even realizing it. On the other hand, though, you are fully responsible for it and you had evil intentions all along. How does this work? It´s a complete reversal of logic. Again, that´s the theory of the unconscious. A theory which, for all I know now, is wrong.

It makes me sad that I spent so much time trying to pin this concept to my family. Whatever their vices, I was looking for a blanket explanation that made them the villains and absolved me from all the guilt I felt. At the same time, I myself was already struggling with having had this concept attached to my own self-image. It is part of why I needed someone else to be the villain so badly in the first place.

It also makes me a tad angry how long I´ve struggled with this concept. How long I tried to clear my own name. There should have been no need for that. When reading through my blog now I realize just how hypocritical I often was. All my complaints about other people wrapped in “buts”. “Of course I know that…, but…” Never owning my true opinion, always exacerbating my own insecurities, always saying “I feel this, but of course I know the truth is different from that”. Then, last autumn, I was desperate enough about my occupational situation to try to write down what I wanted. I was criticized for it, and there again was that word: “narcissistic”. More than anything else, I felt I was being treated unfairly, and for the first time in years I actually stood up for myself. Without but or apology. It proved to be a turning point.

Shortly afterwards, I managed to come out to myself as who I was without ever leaving my own side. I held that person I was by the hand and stood by her. It is something I never consistently managed to do throughout my blog before. Allowing myself to take my own side had always depended on a certain version of events which made sure that whatever I was, I could definitely not be found guilty of any of the traits associated with narcissism. Those version of events was not in all cases false, but it was incomplete and it could only gain me an incomplete sense of security.

One would believe that taking your own side is easy. In fact, it isn´t. As long as you don´t take your own side, people will forgive you a lot of things on the premise that you judge yourself the way they do. Athena even made that premise explicit. Her respect for me depended on me judging myself and trying to improve. At the same time she spoke of unconditional love. It might not have been a lie, but it is humiliating to be loved without being respected.

Taking your own side can be very similar to siding with a poor football team being beaten five-nil. You force yourself to stand by someone or something you want to turn away from because it embarrasses you. Even something you don´t know how to justify. About a year ago, one of our main players was involved in a scandal that abhorred us all, but the loyalty our club is famous for forbade us to openly distance ourselves from him. That´s taking your own side. It is just that hard. The fact that it is so hard, however, is also a small moral comfort. It is a new kind of courage which can help you overcome some pits of demoralization.

That criticism from a fellow blogger showed me how much my unofficial identity as a child of narcissistic parents limited me. It would in no way allow me to be who I really was or to pursue my dreams. Also, though, it was a reminder how silly I really think the condemnation of what is colloquially called narcissism is. I don´t see the point of condemning peoples´yearnings for fame or attention. I don´t see how such condemnations could ever be anything other than hypocritical and self-righteous. As long as people aren´t harming anyone, and the mere wish to be famous doesn´t, why can´t you just live and let live? Why is  it impossible to just once spare people shame and ridicule?

This touched right upon my core values. Live and let live, don´t judge what does no harm. And those are values I constantly find violated by the way the term narcissism and also other psychiatric diagnoses are flung around both by experts and laymen. It is something that has kept on sickening me even throughout those confusion-ridden last ten years, and I´m grateful for that. It shows I was never gone completely.

It makes me uncomfortable to see the word “narcissism” in so many search requests that lead people to my blog. It comes second only after “maladaptive daydreaming”. I wonder what I wrote back then, what people who come to my blog read, it makes me uneasy that they could think I´m still behind statements and ideas I no longer support. I´d like to put a disclaimer over all entries before last November, but it seems pointless. They were part of the road that led here, and I don´t feel confident to judge if there might have been a shortcut to enlightenment. Actually, I have better things to do with my life, and I consider that good news. I just hope that people out there don´t stumble into the same trap I was caught in, and I wish they didn´t get this image of my family as a bunch of villains. It is hard to decide whether I should delete some posts or not. The thought that I could erase parts of what I did seems undeservedly kind to me. It doesn´t seem as honest as I´d like to be. I don´t want people to have a better opinion of me than I deserve. To think of me as more wise and balanced than I am. Besides, where would I start? What would remain of this blog, and how much sense would it still make? I don´t know. Maybe the greatest disclaimer always lay in the name, anyways.

Possible truths.

No definite judgements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Language and robbery

Posted in health, mental health, personal, philosophy with tags , , on May 11, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

A lot of things are changing for me and I realize that on the fringes of my consciousness there are thoughts which are still too big for me. It is not a psychological blockade, it is an intellectual one. There are hunches, fragments of sentences, but ultimately I cannot put them into words yet, leave alone into clear statements. Still, every failed attempt at expressing such foggy thoughts acquaints me with them and ultimately helps me to gain clarity.

I´m finding myself thinking about language quite often lately. What I wrote in my last post was written in absolute confusion, but it laid the foundations for a small sense of clarity. And here is what comes to my mind:

I´ve several times read in one form or the other the sentence: “The way we understand ourselves nowadays is determined by psychological concepts.” When I tried to describe how I have lost the ability to freely express myself because I wasn´t sure anymore if my use of words corresponded to psychology´s use of words, I was starting to understand how the statement above applies to me – or what it means at all.

It appears like understanding ourselves depends on our ability to put our inner experience into words. At least this is what talk therapies rely on, and long before they came into existence there were diaries, literature, philosophy and discussions. So the tendency to seek understanding by putting thoughts, feelings, hunches into words seems to be fundamentally human. Feelings and mental processes, however, are abstract entities. We can only guess what is really happening inside of us, what is causing the observable phenomena, and even those phenomena can often just be described in metaphors. “Feeling empty” is a typical example of such figurative language.

Since we are talking about abstract entities who only give evidence of their existence through other things happening, these entities we talk about are mere concepts. The Ego, Id and Super-Ego are no concrete, observable instances somewhere inside of us. They are a model of explanation for observable phenomena.

Back in high school I despaired in my physics class because I didn´t understand the concept of force. I could memorize the formula, but I simply didn´t know what mental image to form of force. What was it, physically? If anybody had told me that “force” is not a known physical entity but something that must exist since the results are visible , and as such can be measured, I might have been much less confused. “Force” was nothing that could be independently observed, it was what the cause caused and what effected the effect. If damage to an object was what could be observed, force was what explained it.

The problem with psychology and putting inner life into words is that the explanandum itself is not directly observable. We cannot talk about it without relying on abstract concepts. The dominant concepts used today are those developed by psychoanalysis and other insight therapies.

Those concepts categorize people according to diagnoses. Laymen are not competent to diagnose others or themselves. Therefore, every self-conception that relies on diagnostical concepts is an act of hubris. This soon extends to symptoms, too. They way in which you describe symptoms determines which diagnosis will be given. If you are familiar with symptoms and diagnoses, you´ll easily feel like you´re being manipulative when describing yourself as “depressed” or as “feeling empty”. Unfortunately, though, those are the words you have learned to use for describing how you feel, precisely because the psychotherapy movement has such a strong influence on how we conceptualize and describe our inner life. We are forced to diagnose ourselves each time we talk about our feelings, but the jargon we´ve gotten used to is also a more or less scientific jargon, and it is a jargon that the psychologist, psychotherapists and doctors in question regard as their jargon, and the use of it as their privilege. Laymen are not allowed to define what depression is, only doctors and therapists are. Therefore, we now need experts to tell us “what we really feel”.

Most laymen today know various ways in which insight therapies categorize and explain our misery. When trying to understand their own mysterious misery they inevitably come back to those explanations, and when describing their feelings they use jargon which doctors and therapists want for themselves exclusively. First, a theory and jargon is imposed on us, then we are declared incompetent to use it. That way, our inner lives and our feelings are disowned. They are something we can no longer expect ourselves to make correct statements about. Parts of what we perceived as ourselves are now something alien, dark, something that has a life of its own which we can neither control nor understand on our own. We need the help of experts for that. Part of our identity is disowned and laid into the hands of mental shamans who might or might not feed it back to us.

Feeling in analogies, and what are feelings anyway?

Posted in health, mental health, personal, philosophy with tags , , on February 25, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I´m not sure but could it be that I don´t understand what feelings are? I´m actually asking my readers here because I don´t see how i could answer this question myself.

When I talk about how I feel, is what I talk about what you would describe as feelings? Or could it be that I´m always talking about beliefs and thoughts? Do I often say things like “I feel like I am actually a bad person”? And is that anything other than “I wonder if I believe or should believe that I´m a bad person”? Is that a feeling?

Maybe I only understand feeling in the way some people say “I have a feeling it might rain today!” Feelings as intuitions, possible truths, assumptions which you have without being able to pin down why. I feel like I´m caught in a cage made up of such assumptions and I´m using my mind as a rasp to wear down the bars. But here I´m doing it again. “I feel like…” I only ever feel in analogies. What I´m saying is “in my mind my situation resembles the situation of a person who…” It is a way to communicate because it evokes images and feelings in others. But that´s not very straightforward, is it? I can talk about feelings without knowing exactly what it is that I feel. And once I ask myself how I know what a person in a cage would feel like my confusion is complete.

When I did that mind in the eyes test I solved it by thinking of different situations. “That person looks like a person who is annoyed at his friends´ idiocy.” I identify feelings by putting them into the context of a story. Give me a picture of a person and I´ll tell you a story about her, but don´t expect me to just say “she feels sad/angry/happy”. I might be able to judge that somehow, but I´ll feel like I have no real information. Like I´ve said nothing of significance. Without a backstory and lots of information, those words don´t make sense to me.

I wrote a few months ago how conversations between me and Dr. Stoneface played out. He asked me how I felt. I answered with a complicated analogy or picture. He tried to put it into a conventional emotional term. I couldn´t agree with him for the life of me. The best way to describe the feeling I had in such moments is “just NO”. I guess “just no” is not a feeling, but maybe it will help others understand what kind of feeling I had. I guess it´s more of a feeling than the analogies my mind produces. It could be interesting to look for more such reactions in me.

My reaction to what I write right now is somewhere along the lines of: “Tricky!” If it was said out aloud, it would be slightly amused recognition, like when you see through someone´s tricks but it entertains and somewhat moves you how hard he tries and how sophisticated his attempts are. Yes, another analogy. I take this as a signal that I´m trying to achieve something else by writing this. Like I´m trying to cheat.

Do feelings tell you the truth? If I feel like I´m cheating, am I cheating? The typical answer to this seems to be that if I feel like something is wrong, there probably is. My typical reaction is that I look for something until the feeling stops and there is a sense of satisfaction. But is that an indicator of truth? It is, once again, an analogy. “I feel like I´m cheating.” An intuition. Maybe it doesn´t come from my heart but from my head. Maybe something about my argument is shaky and that makes me uneasy. Maybe I feel uncomfortable because I´m not sure yet of what I write here and yet I make tentative claims. Maybe my claims aren´t tentative enough. Yes, I believe it is an intellectual discomfort. I have no idea, though, how I came to that belief. It just was there. And you can guess how uncomfortable THAT makes me. Do I have any arguments to support my claim? No. Just a vague – feeling. And do feelings tell the truth?

I have a couple of thoughts going on in my head now. I thought about writing. I think I don´t just express my feelings through analogies, I also express them through stories and sort them out with the help of daydreams. It´s not so much expressing and sorting out, maybe, than it is exorcising. I have a feeling of existential loneliness, I write a story about the last man on earth, the pressure is gone. This may be why I cannot stop writing, but at the same time I cannot plan to write. I don´t think I could make writing my profession. I need something else to occupy my mind. Something that is my life. Writing just happens. My writing gets better when I don´t think.  I always had the strong feeling that I cannot “just” be a writer. I need another job, and one that gives me something intellectually. I used to distrust that feeling and try to convince myself that I want to be “just a writer”, but I will forever fail at that. Now, see, that was another instance of me feeling. A stubborn idea. Or maybe just another intuition.

I might have been dealing with these intuitions the wrong way. It´s like this: I have plenty of them. Plenty intuitions, assumptions, possible truths. And to those I react with something that could, in the most primitive sense, be described as pleasure and displeasure.

Instinctive assumption: “I need to find a profession where I feel at home and at ease, besides being a writer!” Reaction: Somewhere between pleasure and displeasure, either burning hope and yearning or fear, despair and frustration.

Instinctive assumption: “I have a personal vendetta going against psychotherapy and therefore all my thoughts about it are distorted to fit my agenda!” Reaction: Extreme displeasure. Impotent rage, despair, nagging feeling that it´s true.

What can my reactions to these assumptions tell me about the assumption? In the first case, the answer might be that very much depends on me finding such a profession and realizing this plan. Actually, my reaction might tell me that this is my life dream, my implicit conception of the right way to live, and that I should try to realize it. Which is all fair and well if you can also tell me how to overcome the terrible fear that I´ll fail.

What does my reaction tell me about the second assumption? You know what reaction I have to that question right now? Kind of “ugh!” Not that again. I can´t be arsed right now, so I won´t discuss it. The simplest answer might be that my reaction tells me I need to look into the subject. It´s something that is important to me and therefore ignoring it is pointless, even though I´m getting on everyone´s nerves with it, including my own.

Listening to your feelings seems to be a remarkably simplistic strategy once you´ve figured out what feelings are. I´m not sure I can get used to this. I don´t like to base my decisions on feelings. But reason can be quite misguiding. There are good arguments for many life choices, after all. I´d like to have arguments that go beyond “I felt like it”, but maybe “I feel like it” is the most important argument sometimes.

I don´t like things that cannot be reasoned for, against or with. I could probably give you good reasons for that, but in its essence this dislike, ironically, is a feeling, too. When someone tells me to “listen to my heart”, I´m like “ick! go away!”. Yeah, “like”. Like a five year old boy who´s supposed to give Auntie a kiss. Feeling in analogies works for me. It makes for good writing, or at least the best writing I can do. It means, however, that I´ll never get rid of my daydreaming. I need to take care, though, that I don´t believe in my analogies. I might feel like someone has beaten me numb, but that doesn´t mean that at some point in my life I have physically experienced such a thing. The line between analogy and imagination blurs easily. Since I feel in analogies, I can easily transfer my own feelings onto situations I have not physically been in. It has been torturing me for years whether or not I´m right about how people in these situations feel. It´s probably why I took the empathy test and why I took it so seriously. This leads way too far right now, though.

I´ll try to sum up what I figured out about myself today:

1) I feel in analogies. I always feel like [insert drastic or not so drastic image].

2) I´m not really motivated to change how I perceive my emotions. Whenever I come to the conclusion that it would be impossible anyway I feel strong relief.

3) I enjoy looking for just the right analogy. Finding it has me go all like “hell yes!” It´s almost physically satisfying.

4) Writing about stuff or staging conversations with imaginary allies in my head does more for me than talking to actual people. At least I´m much more comfortable with it. It´s so incredibly me.

I doubt this is in any way coherent, so if it doesn´t make sense to you, it´s not you, it´s me.

 

Weaponry

Posted in health, mental health, philosophy, science with tags on February 20, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Since apathy didn´t work, I will now try reason.

1.) Haley makes it clear that the entire point of psychoanalysis is that the patient can´t get it right. This means that I´m not really inadequate and stupid. I was set up for failure, but I am none.

2.) This technique punishes every kind of human behavior. Therefore, I don´t need to be particularly flawed or vulnerable to be punished by it. The punishment has nothing to do with me in particular.

3.) Haley gives a couple of typical patient reactions, and I´ve seen similar lists in other books on psychotherapy. This indicates that the number of possible reactions is relatively limited. Therefore, it would seem that the choice of behavior is not particularly unique to the respective patient and doesn´t say much about his personality.

Comparison 1: There are three possible reactions to life-threatening situations: Fight, flight and freeze. If you categorize people according to those reactions (ethical concerns set aside, I mean, how are you going to find out?), you´ll get groups which are still very mixed otherwise.

Comparison 2: One hundred people are supposed to choose between three kinds of ice cream: Vanilla, chocolate, and banana. Of those one hundred people, 51 choose banana indepently of each other. Each of those 51 believes this choice is particularly unique to him and an indicator of his very own personality style. The researchers observing the experiment know, however, that more than half of the subjects chose banana and that, other than this, they barely have anything in common. The psychoanalyst who was invited, too, believes that the choice of ice cream is the only meaningful way to describe human beings and comes to the conclusion that there are only three kinds of personalities.

4.) If all possible reactions are punished, the fact that your behavior is punished doesn´t mean it is pathological, evil or otherwise undesirable. If all behavior is punished, the fact that you are punished shouldn´t discourage or otherwise bother you. You may calmly walk away, knowing that psychoanalysis cannot show you whether you are normal or not since it has the same effect on everyone.

5.) In order to prevent people from calmly walking away, psychoanalysis cultivates the myth that there is a way to get it right, but that it is hard to explain and you cannot understand it without undergoing thorough analysis. Please mind that this is how cults work. Such a promise gets people hooked on the hope that one day they´ll stumble onto this right way and get their therapist´s approval. Remember that one person´s approval is not very strong proof that you are doing or thinking the right thing.

6.) If the behaviors people choose in psychoanalysis aren´t particularly unique to them, they don´t say much about who they are. Essentially, this means that ironically you don´t learn all too much about yourself in psychoanalysis. This, of course, also means that people who have been analyzed don´t necessarily know themselves better than people who haven´t.

7.) Psychoanalysis is a borderline situation that can be rarely found in real life (that is: outside the treatment room). As such, it provokes behaviors which the patients will likely not exhibit in real life, especially regressive behaviors. At best, therefore, it can teach the patient how he reacts (emotionally and otherwise) to the analytical setting, and it would seem like the range of reactions is too limited for any reaction to be unique to or specific for a certain patient. It might be an interesting experience for morbidly curious people, but claims that what surfaces in such a setting is who the patient “really” is seem unfounded. Remember that “really” in this context and terms like “true self” have never been properly defined.

Summary: How we react to the analytical setting does not say much about us personally. Therefore, we don´t need to let it affect our self-image, leave alone self-esteem. The negative effect it has on the latter nonetheless stems from the fact that due to the therapist´s manipulation we persistently experience feelings of inadequacy, confusion and impotent rage. Psychoanalysis is designed as a constant blow to the ego.  Those feelings, however, are not indicative of any tangible, relevant inferiority or inadequacy on our part; nor are they proof of the therapist´s hypothetical superior knowledge. They are merely the result of a few simple, but effective rhethorical tricks to which there are no answers yet.