Masochists, Martyrs, and Victims

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I’ve been going through old files of articles and clippings, trying to simplify my life.  While younger people talk about productivity and greed, I look at the yellowed and dusty results of having produced and saved too much that has nowhere to go, except the trash.  The exercise is gratifying and humbling, because I used to know and care about many more things than I do now.  There are remnants of lost causes, one of which was my career. 

 

I re-read ‘The Masochistic Personality,” by Stuart S. Asch, a psychiatrist who claims a difference between the sexual masochist and the personality type.  The former gets his kicks by being dominated and abused by a certain type of person.  The personality type is not specifically sexual but courts disappointment or humiliation.  The term is derived from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, a 19th century Austrian novelist who wrote about sexual gratification from self-inflicted pain.  Some psychiatrists believe self-mutilation is also one of the traits.

           

The article focuses on the personality type, which has been dropped from the official list of psychiatric diagnoses, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), although the term retains historical and descriptive usefulness.  Asch says masochists desperately seek approval and love.  The masochist is strongly self-critical, having introjected an abusing authority figure who approves of self-punishment for forbidden sexual or aggressive thoughts or behavior.  Masochists will abase themselves repeatedly or in ever more humiliating gestures to obtain the approval or extract guilt from the unloving, rejecting love object.  They tend to blame fate for their repeated failures.

 

Asch mentions animals, who apparently develop more intense bonds to an adult that inflicts pain in early life.  Indeed, in human beings, there seems to be a pattern of stronger attachment to an abusing parent.  Genetic theories have contributed.

 

Asch doesn’t discuss sadism, with that term attributed to the Marquis de Sade, who wrote in the 18th century about people who experienced sexual pleasure by inflicting pain on others.  Sigmund Freud attributed this to fear of castration, which leads the sadist to act out his fear on others.  In my view, masochists and sadists need each other, and each carries traits of the other, like two sides of a coin.  The metal that binds them together is blame.

 

The coin of blame buys religions, lawyers, governments, soldiers and toys. Everything from religion to law to parenting holds self-sacrifice as a noble standard, in the name of loyalty, duty, or spiritual progress.  Society at large reinforces the sado-masochistic power struggles that have become the “norm” for Western beliefs.  To falter brings guilt and, often, punishment. The ominous “they” are blamed for universal problems that “we” feed into without acknowledging “our” contributions.

 

I read with the distance of time and recuperation from the world of medicine.  There is such rigid judgmentalism built into the discipline that patients become guilty just by being patients.  I can already hear the screams of protest from my former “colleagues,” who are masochists for putting up with this arbitrary system of classification known as the DSM-V  and who collude with such an inhumane approach in the name of scientific objectivity. 

           

Moreover, psychiatry as a discipline errs by not addressing the generalized ills built into the national psyche.  For psychiatrists as a group to diagnose and presume to treat the individual effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), for instance, without addressing the causes of PTSD—primarily war--is abhorrent.  To attempt or pretend to treat symptoms of substance abuse or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or even depression, without delving into society’s contribution to the problems is, to me, an abdication of responsibility that puts the profession to shame.

 

What does this have to do with masochism?  Maybe nothing, except that by taking such a narrow view, the institution of medicine begs to be punished, as though it knows it’s wrong but will continue unchecked until something or someone puts a stop to it.

 

The victim role is the hardest to give up.  It's easy to blame someone else when things don't work out.  The masochist holds grudges and denies his role in his own trajectory.  He will find or create a controlling sadist to manage his life for him.  Power struggles ensue, with each blaming the other when things go wrong. Unfortunately, healthier choices are overlooked in this struggle, one that erodes self-respect and mutual trust.

 

Drug use going up?  Suicide rates rising?  All manner of psychiatric and physical illnesses swelling like a pregnancy?  Violence increasing?  Fear and anger seeking catalysts to ignite them into something cataclysmic and definitive?  Look for someone and possibly many people or groups to blame.

 

A retrospective analysis of “The Masochistic Personality” reveals more about psychiatry’s limitations than its strengths in understanding human nature.  Perhaps psychiatry’s move from early, descriptive interpretations to the codified DSM, its increasing reliance on medications, technology, and “scientific,” measurable results, under the pretext of objectivity, renders it less human and compassionate, and thus less relevant to real life.

 

From the beginning of my studies in medicine and in psychiatry, I noted the preoccupation with pathology.  What a difference from astrology, which shows the dynamic interplay of strengths, weaknesses, and how perception often determines the difference.  Oriental belief in qi gives a similar picture of dynamic patterns, with a concentration on health maintenance.

 

In contrast, the Western love affair with trouble, under the guise of reason, logic, sequential, and binary thinking, that shows in its approach to medicine, is like putting blinders on to see only a narrow range of information and to deny everything outside the limited field.

 

No one else attempts to diagnose society at large, but I see unsettling correlations between Freud’s anal stage of psychosexual development and the current sado-masochistic world we live in.  Have Americans been unable to mature beyond the “terrible twos,” the age at which Freud claimed toddlers learn sphincter control and appropriate use of power?  Successful negotiation of this stage leads to good boundaries, healthy respect for self and others, and the ability to tolerate a degree of frustration. Shame and doubt mark those who fail at this task.  They are prone to power struggles with internal and external authority figures throughout life.

 

A culture carries its own karma.  I don’t understand the blame game.  I don’t blame anyone or anything for what we have created, because blame only perpetuates the problem, at the expense of solving the problem.  Not to avoid the problem but to understand that anyone could have created it, and everyone can learn from it – this is the challenge.

 

 

Comments

opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 1:55pm
Wow! You are doing what my wife is doing except the stuff she wants to chuck out is all my stuff.
I don't know about this masochistic personality. I guess we all want to be appreciated though. I was lucky to have been brought up by very loving parents. I feel pretty stable emotionally though I probably have all manner of psychological traits that I avoid analysing. Interesting isn't it?
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 1:56pm
BTW - there's a place at the Digital Tavern. Pull up a seat and take a drink. I'd sure like to hear some of your personal tales.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:13pm
Opher,
Seems most people our age are in a divestiture mode.  Spouses don't seem to appreciate each other's stuff enough.
 
You do seem pretty balanced, from what I can tell.
 
I just noticed this Digital Tavern and will have to check it out.  Thanks for the invitation and for your comment.
George N Romey Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:32pm
We since the dawn of advertising have been told that the key to happiness and success is "stuff."  So people put their money into "stuff" rather than experience.  Then they turn 65.  The kids are gone and there they are with all of this "stuff."  They begin to wonder why their lives were filled with more fun, adventure, interesting experiences, etc.  Because they spent money on "stuff" as required by the masters of the universe.
 
I've never owned a home or had tons of furniture and appliances.  I've put my money towards "experiences" and think I've had a better life instead.  "Stuff" doesn't go with you when you get put in the ground.
 
Ultimately we really need little "stuff" to get by.  A closet and a couple of dressers, a bed, a few appliances, a tablet (don't need an non portable tv or phone anymore), maybe a car (and not one that costs $35k.)
 
The healthcare industry is the premier pusher of "stuff."  More so as you get older because apparently if you aren't taking 40 types of pills you will immediately die.  There's very little healthy about our healthcare system.
Stone-Eater Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:42pm
Katharine
 
Wow. Goodie. Gotta decide if I'm a masochist (I reject all sorts of "authority" I didn't choose myself as such, therefore I'm not).  And I'm not a sadist either, since I don't need people "under my thumb" to enforce my ego.
 
I go along with George on
 
I've never owned a home or had tons of furniture and appliances.  I've put my money towards "experiences" and think I've had a better life instead.  "Stuff" doesn't go with you when you get put in the ground.
 
I'm one of 8 billion. And I'm conscious on that. No need to exaggerate in any direction :-)
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:45pm
George,
You are saying what I wanted to say about how consumerism feeds into the sado-masochistic dynamic.  I even wrote a paragraph about it and deleted it, for fear of getting too long-worded.  Same with the health care racket.  Advertising is geared to make you feel doubt and shame about your life, as well as fear, in order to sell you "stuff" and propaganda.  
 
Remember it was a point of patriotism during the 2008 recession to spend money, to stimulate "the economy"?  
 
The anal-retentive society we have created also leads to hoarding (symbolic of greed).  Getting rid of "stuff," then, symbolizes release of negativity.  
 
Thanks for your insightful comment.
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 2:47pm
Thank you Katharine - I'm sure there's many on WB who think differently about my stability!
I'm also sure that you've got a few great tales that would be great for sharing.
George N Romey Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:07pm
Katharine one thing about technology I love is you are able to avoid advertising.  I don't have to watch ads on my tablet.  I no longer have to look at any ad.  The few times I see them I don't even take them in.  I might be clueless to the latest fad or "must have" product but what I don't know won't hurt me. I watched Joe Rogan (who I highly recommend to you) interview Elon Musk last night.  Even Musk thinks social media has completely distorted how people view themselves and its all fake anyway.   I hate shopping malls.  I'm not even very fond of grocery stores.  If I need something I'd much rather buy what I NEED and I WANT on line and never interact with a human being.
 
Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, etc.-its all for the suckers.  Years ago they bought snake oil, today they click on Facebook.  The stupidity and naivety is still there, only the method has changed.
Jeff Michka Added Sep 13, 2018 - 3:45pm
Gee, Geo R....for some one has in the past claimed an extremem dislike of Jeff Bezos and Amazon, 'zon like merchants  provide and fill a need of yours, "what I NEED and I WANT on line and never interact with a human being.  So which is more important to you?  Buying what you want and need or never interacting with human beings?  Got to agree with Facebook and Twitter being for suckers.  Also agree with Musk's statement you quoted about social media being a false distortion of how people are.  Perfect, meeting all social metrics, airbrushed to perfection, all in the "name" of being connected, to what, but never to a "fault."
The Burghal Hidage Added Sep 13, 2018 - 5:26pm
Blame the Germans :)
opher goodwin Added Sep 13, 2018 - 7:04pm
I blame religious extremists.
 
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 7:40pm
Katherine a splendid article. I particularly enjoyed the terrible two analogy. I have long felt this nation was just entering its teenage years. So today's society would be in its infancy. 
Jeff Jackson Added Sep 13, 2018 - 8:16pm
Nice article Katherine. My mother is a hoarder, as was my father. My mother lost everything in the Great Depression. When you lose everything, especially at a young and impressionable age, you always have the fear in the back of your mind that it can happen again. I inherited that trait of hoarding, and I have, of late, been getting rid of things. While it is difficult, I do seem to feel better after I do it. In the case of my mother, at an advanced age, she doesn't own it anymore, it owns her.
Things happen based on control. She owns things, and she has control of them, or so she thinks. They own her and control her, but the basis of the hoarding was control. At least that is my take on it. And yeah, I have some psych training, but not psychiatrist training.  I missed an "A" in clinical because that anal-retentive prof wouldn't spot me 10 points. Hee hee.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:33pm
Stone,
I wondered if I was a masochist, too, because I've walked away from so many successes.  In retrospect, it might appear I've therefore failed a lot, such as throwing away my lucrative career.  But I lived in constant fear of being blamed if something bad happened on my watch, and since the system itself is so crazy, that possibility was always imminent. 
 
However, is it masochistic to stand on principle, to refuse to buckle to false authority?  Is it masochistic to trust people who turn out to be unreliable?  To hope for integrity or honesty?  Sometimes, the problem really is them.  
 
I try to avoid power struggles.  Nobody really wins.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:35pm
Opher,
I'm about to look at other people's stories and have been pondering my own.  It is a nice idea.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:47pm
George,
You seem to have an ambivalent attitude about technology.  I avoid the computer except for writing, research, and lately, WriterBeat.  I still enjoy 3-D Humanland, like the grocery store or the coffee shops, from time to time. 
 
I like polling cashiers about what percentage of customers use re-usable bags.  I like studying other people's food choices and am shocked by the quantity of junk food people buy.    I've advised other shoppers on what brands to buy.  I talked one woman out of Orville Reddenbacher popcorn and into the store-brand popcorn in a flexible plastic bag. I ask shelf stockers if the new tariffs have affected availability of produce from Mexico.  You can't get this information on line.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 9:56pm
Jeff,
I think social media has a large component of fad built in.  It will settle down, I suspect, when people begin to realize how much of it is pretense.  I'm not an expert on social media, but aren't most users millennials, or in their twenties?  Young, anyway?  Isn't fatuousness an affliction of youth, in any case?  Even before social media (BSM), young people as a "cohort" weren't known for depth.  I could be way off-base here.  What do you think?
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 10:00pm
Burghal and Opher,
Blame the air we breathe.  Air is addictive, doncha know.  As soon as you finish one breath, you want another.  Withdrawal is fatal.  If it weren't for air, we would have no problems.  Therefore, air causes all our problems.  QED.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 10:07pm
Ric,
I like that terrible two analogy myself, and it goes much farther than what I described in the article.  As cultures go, I think of the US as being very young, the Europeans middle-aged, and the Orientals older, maybe wiser, and possibly jaded.  It has to do with history, in that the Europeans have a long history of rocky inter-connectedness and have had to adapt.  Orientals have been less connected but are strong on tradition and ancestor worship, for instance. 
 
Just a superficial impression, based on limited knowledge. 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 10:14pm
Jeff,
Both my parents were hoarders, too, and I do believe growing up in the Depression made them fearful of not having enough.  I'm still dealing with their stuff, which is one reason I'm trying to save future generations from the down-side of inheritance.  All those broken, out-of-date, dusty, mildewed, bug-infested, and corroded things that "I might need someday." (My mother's words, whenever I tried to help her dispose of excess.)
 
I'm not sure it was control but it was comforting to have all the closets and cabinets jam-packed, like a squirrel with lots of nuts. (Although I've never interviewed a squirrel so can't say for sure.)
 
Thanks for the compliment and the observation.
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 10:43pm
Katherine I have moved so much in my life that it is natural for me to cleanse and purge. 
Ric Wells Added Sep 13, 2018 - 10:48pm
Actually I just counted them up. I've moved 23 times in my life. Packing unpacking and throwing away seems very natural to me.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:29pm
Ric,
I used to move a lot, too, and at one point could fit everything I owned in my car.  Then my parents died and I inherited property and stuff.  By that point I had my own house full of stuff, much of which my parents had given me.  
 
There are times I just wish it would all burn down, but as long as I have pets, I need a place to keep them.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:34pm
Another thought provoking article Katherine. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:34pm
Katharine 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 13, 2018 - 11:56pm
Thanks, Jeffry.  I like provoking thought.
Mustafa Kemal Added Sep 14, 2018 - 12:30am
Katharine, interesting, although I didnt really follow the relationship
between cleaning out and masochism.
 
Masochism has recently come onto my radar in a serious way. Do you see much of Jungian or Freudian projection there? I know of an example which is also heavily narcistic.  That just sounds strange.

And when I read
"Everything from religion to law to parenting holds self-sacrifice as a noble standard"
it made me think about how much is embedded in myself.  Mmmm
 
Regarding stuff,  after 25 years of maneuvering I finally got my wife to agree on a stuff policy: any item of furniture that comes into the house has to correspond with one that goes out. The result is that our yard is full of furniture. 


A long time ago I built a very large storage shed and it is now completely full of stuff, and useless. I keep my winter clothes somewhere else and hope for a fire. Recently a mexican woman gave me hell for throwing out some useful clothing and I told her that if she didnt stop harrassing me she would have to take all the stuff in the shed home with her. That shut her up.
 
Mustafa
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 14, 2018 - 4:51am
I'd offer that many of these dysfunctional behaviors can be acquired through unfortunate circumstances and then propagated to offspring through generational curses. 
 
Something's not right if a man or woman wants to be harmed for sexual gratification. It's dysfunctional. (Or enjoys punishing themselves.) 
 
3 generations of women on my mother's side strongly dislike their mother, ran out and married as a teen to an older man, had a girl, then divorced. Child grew up to hate her mother then did the exact same thing 3 generations in a row (I'd argue this is example of generational curse of repeating a dysfunctional behaviors). 
Cullen Kehoe Added Sep 14, 2018 - 5:17am
Doug Plumb Added Sep 14, 2018 - 3:10pm
Opher re "I blame religious extremists." You are the most extreme religious extremist I have ever met up with.
Doug Plumb Added Sep 14, 2018 - 3:16pm
Katharine, increasingly people are blaming the worlds problems on mental illness, and mental illness on diet. I agree with George, check out Joe Rogan - interview with Dr. Jordan Peterson on his experience with the carnivore diet. His quite sickly daughter got on it too and she is on the show too. The carnivore diet seems to be killing the illnesses that were previously attributed to genetics in the Peterson family. Peterson was a diet dumb doc, a shrink no less, citing no scientific evidence. He now talks about his experiences and they are quite eye opening. Rogan has other docs on there and those interviews are the only ones of Rogan's that have really captured my attention. They are great - all of them - many of them.
So what does this have to do with Masochists, martyrs and victims? Maybe everything.
 
FacePalm Added Sep 15, 2018 - 6:44am
Katherine-
An interesting article.
My psychiatric/psychological expertise is limited to "psychology today" and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"(maybe with a freckle of "Be Here Now" thrown in), but i see both masochism and sadism as being in a minority of any population.  The motivations for being either could be as complex as you describe(or moreso), or simply for the perverse enjoyment of either receiving or delivering pain to another. 
 
The consideration of these things make me wonder, though; if it's true that we'll reap as we have sown, is hell the masochist's heaven?  Would heaven be the masochist's hell?  i ponder these things from time to time...haven't reached any definitive conclusions, though.
 
IME, not a lot of people seem to want to "go deep" as to understanding themselves OR growing; i think that quite apart from either of those sexual extremes, many-if-not-most prefer to assign blame rather than accept responsibility, however slight, for what's happening in their lives(or has happened, or MAY happen).
 
i can remember being a teenager and couldn't WAIT to "grow up" and "become an adult."  Got to 18, looked around and said "Hey!  Where are all these adults i heard about?"
 
One of the things i discovered along the way is that one certain measure of adulthood is the degree to which you accept responsibility for your choices in life and where they've led you, rather than casting aspersions or blame upon "another."  To me, that's the real dividing line between childhood and adulthood, whether you're 8 or 80.  However tempting it may be to claim "Not my fault!  YOUR fault"(or "circumstances!" or "bad experiences!" or excuse-du-jour), however much temporary comfort that may bring, at some level, one knows they're lying to themselves...and dishonesty never leads to a good place over time.
 
Self-sabotage often happens, as well; some are quite literally afraid of success, afraid that the excesses they've indulged in while relatively poor could literally become overwhelming-if-not-deadly, like someone with a crack habit who wins a lottery.  Few have prepared themselves for success, or can even define it - which makes for rather elusive(if not illusory) goals, i suspect.  That said, i think that most of us define "success" for ourselves at a relatively early age, and will continue the behaviors that get us what we want(however healthy or UNhealthy those choices - and what they bring us - are, in truth), until they no longer get us what we want, or our desires change.  i've personally found this to be true, that when we wish to change ourselves for the better, we will consider just what the word "success" means to us, then re-align our goals and purposes toward that end...i just happen to think that adulthood means choosing goals that provide the greatest benefit for the greatest number, personally.  i think i got some of this from Jung, whose analysis seems to hew closer to the truth than those of Freud, who seemed to think that ALL things were related to the sex drive.  Anyway, from what i remember of Jung, he said that there are 4 adult stages: Athlete, Warrior, Statesman, and Spirit.  In the first, we find out how high, how long, how much, how often - basically, testing our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, often in relation to another.  Then, some of us move on to the Warrior stage when we enter a competitive workplace, where the skills we learned in the Athlete stage are applied to earning a living; the attitude is roughly summed up as "What's in it for me?"  Those who move beyond this stage go to that of Statesman, where the focus shifts from "What's in it for me" to "How can i help you?"  In the last stage, "Spirit," it is alleged that the motivation shifts to as pure a Love as can be humanly managed, with the added advantage of being able to easily shift to any of the previous adult stages in order to be able to "meet someone where they are," so to speak.
 
i was briefly in sales - hated it - but one of the things i learned is that the vast majority of purchases are made emotionally, then later, we use our vast brain power to rationalize our emotional decisions to ourselves.  The "good salesman," therefore, can create emotional states in his intended victims - er, clients - which motivate the customer to buy.
 
i seem to recall Einstein being quoted as saying "There are only 2 things which are Infinite; the Universe and human stupidity - and i'm not sure about the Universe."
 
But the world generally acknowledges Einstein as a genius.  Few ever speak about his brother, Frank.  He was a monster.
 
And i think that's my definition of success; to be able to bring a smile, however temporary, into the life
FacePalm Added Sep 15, 2018 - 6:44am
...of another.
John Minehan Added Sep 15, 2018 - 9:00am
"There are remnants of lost causes, one of which was my career." 
Great sentence. 
John Minehan Added Sep 15, 2018 - 9:10am
'More so as you get older because apparently if you aren't taking 40 types of pills you will immediately die."
 
. . . and, even if you take the  "40 types of pills." you will still ultimately die, anyway.
 
That's the reassuring thing about life, we know how the story ends. 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 11:17am
Folks,
Lots of good comments since I last signed on.  Between these and my own ongoing thoughts, I have reached some insights, not specifically related to masochism or sadism, but more generally about human behavior and how I experience it.  I am my own best guinea pig, so if it seems self-involved, it's because mine is the only experience I can really know.  
 
One of my problems with psychiatry is its preoccupation with labels.  In layman's terms, a diagnosis is just a label or stereotype that focuses on specific traits to the exclusion of others.  For instance, in referring to narcissism, as so many people are doing today, are we talking about a character trait or a behavior?  To presume to know intent or motive by seeing a behavior implies that the observer can read minds.  Behaviors are motivated by many conscious and unconscious factors that are often in conflict with each other.  Does sadistic behavior make a sadist, or is it circumstantial?  
 
By assigning a label, you risk stereotyping and pigeonholing a person into a rigid construct that prevents exploration of other facets.  It's called "projective identification," meaning that people get the behaviors they expect by subtly manipulating self or others into situations that stoke them.  For instance, someone with chip on shoulder, who is spoiling for a fight, will use any perceived insult to fight.  
 
More later, as this seems to be a loaded subject, with many ramifications across the board.  More specifically . . . 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 11:35am
Mustafa,
The relationship between cleaning out and masochism may be far fetched, but George Romey and Jeff Jackson provided clues.  You probably know how political I am, and I see a strong sado-masochistic flavor in our government.  It seems to encourage self-destructive behavior, such as going into debt, buying junk, wasting resources and stirring up conflict at home and abroad.  Consumerism has become a patriotic duty, but Americans are conditioned to prefer cheap over quality, and no longer expect to get value for their purchases.  If it breaks, throw it away and get new.  The masochistic component is that people fall for this and for myriad laws and taxes to support the police state with its arbitrary and erratic enforcement.  
 
Getting rid of stuff is an exercise in purging excess, and it requires lots of decisions.  As you've noticed, stuff tends to cling to you.  I might have offered that woman her choice of things that would otherwise be thrown away.  Some people put things like furniture on the street with signs saying it is free to anyone who wants it.  The Salvation Army and Goodwill have become picky about what they will take.  Craig's list is an avenue but requires a lot of work.  In other words, getting rid of stuff is a job in itself, which is why some people have trouble moving the process along.  Heavy things, for instance, require help and a large vehicle.  
 
That people continue to allow themselves to be conned into buying cheap products that don't work the way they're supposed to, or call for more laws to further reduce their freedoms seem masochistic to me.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 11:49am
Mustafa,
PS, about self-sacrifice:  I hold there is nothing noble in suffering for its own sake.  My mother made it clear her wifely and motherly duties were burdensome for her, and it was clear she resented them.  But what she wanted for us was not what we wanted, which was a more relaxed and happier mother.
 
Did Jesus dying on the cross really benefit anyone?  It seems Christians have used that to deny responsibility for their own "sins," so the "sins" continue.  Original sin and all that.  "The Devil made me do it."  
 
Without getting too far into religious discussion, I might add that the Garden of Eden story, with the concept of "original sin" makes mankind guilty just for being human, so sado-masochism is built into the whole monotheistic tradition.  Is mankind doomed to be punished forever merely for breaking a rule?  Or is the punishment for trying to hide the transgression?
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 11:59am
Cullen,
I agree that many behaviors are learned.  For instance, my father was a product of his times and believed men were rational and women emotional.  Therefore, men were smarter and superior to women.  Because he scorned emotion, he did not show it, but he enjoyed provoking my mother, sister, and me.  There was a lot of arguing, but because I respected him and wanted his approval, I wanted to be emotionless, like him, so suppressed my anger.  I "learned" that men couldn't be hurt, because they had no emotions.  Looking back, I realized the sado-masochistic component, but that didn't make him a sadist or me a masochist.  I realize now that because he felt unable to express emotion directly, he had to experience it vicariously by enraging the women in his family.  He would then sit back and snicker at how irrational women are, satisfied that he had proved his point, once again.
 
Much of the maturation process involves un-learning what we pick up almost by osmosis as children.  Since most children in our society don't have much experience outside their own families, they presume their families are typical of society at large.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 12:27pm
Cullen,
I just read the article on your link and agree with a lot of what it says.  However, as stated above, I believe the monotheistic tradition fosters masochism, because of the myth that we are forever guilty, no matter what we do, so we need an intermediary like Jesus to save us from ourselves.
 
I hold that everyone has a sense of right and wrong, and our biggest problems come from denying inner wisdom, either through expediency, doubt, weakness, or desire for approval from others.  For instance, children are taught to be dishonest from an early age.  They get basic needs met, as well as approval, for certain behaviors and get punished for others.  They also learn a lot by observing how others, like their parents, behave.  They get mixed signals, such as "I'm spanking you because I love you."  We incorporate a lot of "should" and "shouldn't" feels.  Fact is, any feeling is legitimate, with no "should" or "shouldn't" attached.  It may be wrong to act on some feelings, but denying them ultimately leads to worse trouble.
 
In adulthood, the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves and accept from society cause untold grief.  Rather than propitiate the relentless gods, it seems reasonable to question their authority and break some of the arbitrary rules and strictures we trap ourselves in.
 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 12:41pm
Doug,
This is the very thinking I'm trying to combat.  "Blaming" mental disorders for the world's ills is akin to discounting the world's ills by deciding they are "brain diseases," therefore incurable.  "It's not my fault," the thinking goes.  "It's all those other sickos who are causing the problems."
 
Some people believe that taking responsibility for one's own life is too hard, but that's to deny free will.  Taking responsibility forces people to make conscious decisions and accept consequences.  It is ultimately freeing.  
 
I've checked out Lorraine Day, and her story is interesting but not completely convincing.  Her categorical idea that her cancer solution will work for everyone, if you buy her $200 package, just sounds too facile for my tastes.  I'm not so thrilled with Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson, either, although they are the rage.  I'm enough of an empiricist to believe isolated examples, or small subgroups, of seemingly miraculous successes may be worth further investigation but do not necessarily prove anything in themselves.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 1:04pm
FacePalm,
You bring up a basket of ideas that all deserve more elaboration, so I hope these will continue to come up over time.  I've always been interested in symbolism and dreams, as well as psychic phenomena.  I was reading Freud and Jung at age 13 and decided then I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but didn't want to go to medical school.  I finally landed in medical school at age 35, after exploring other options.  By then, though, Freud and Jung had been abandoned by psychiatrists, even though there was a strong Freudian analytic contingent at Emory, and many analysts were my supervisors.  Jung was virtually ignored, and is generally claimed more by psychologists than psychiatrists.
 
Psychiatric training and practice has distanced itself from its founders and is now focused more on medications, technology, and brain chemistry.  There is a strong push (and funding) to look at genetic factors for the purpose of developing drugs and other treatments to ameliorate them.  From my perspective, and maybe only my perspective, this is a huge mistake.  You can train a monkey to dispense drugs, or do brain scans, but no monkey or machine can tell anything about the psycho-dynamics of any individual, that is, what makes him tick.
 
I agree that Freud got stuck in his idea that sex and aggression were the basis of all behavior.  I read recently that the break with Jung came over Jung's belief in psychic phenomena, including a demonstration of his own psychic abilities in Freud's office.  Jung himself wrote that they disagreed over the so-called "collective unconscious" and "archetypes," including a spiritual component to human consciousness.  
 
I've had a similar experience of wondering where all the adults have gone.  I agree that taking responsibility is the mark of an adult.  To be a fulfilled adult may mean learning to enjoy that responsibility.  I also agree that "success" in any day means bring a smile another's face.  
 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 15, 2018 - 1:08pm
John Minehan,
I liked that sentence, too, sad though it is.  I still hope to get value from the investment, by disseminating what I believe I've learned from the whole experience.
 
Yes, death is a given, but the time and manner are not.  It becomes a matter of appreciating what we have while we have it and developing what we have in the here and now, or so I believe.
Doug Plumb Added Sep 15, 2018 - 1:39pm
re "I'm enough of an empiricist to believe isolated examples, or small subgroups, of seemingly miraculous successes may be worth further investigation but do not necessarily prove anything in themselves."
 
I'm not suggesting that they prove anything. I know nothing about biology but have listened to a lot of ideas that make sense outside of biology and in the context of the political landscape. I had no idea Lorraine Day was selling anything. To many people talk about Bolshevism for it to be dismissed. My reading of law and religion makes me more qualified to speak on that than anything to do with biology. There is a wide spectrum attack and its not co-incidence. It has a clear goal - Babylonian world government. Christians wont go along so they must be eliminated - this is fact, not supposition and this war has been going on since the beginning of time. Now they have the technology to create and manage public opinion, as well as life itself. Nothing has changed in 3000 years. "Nothing new under the sun"
Doug Plumb Added Sep 15, 2018 - 1:46pm
re "This is the very thinking I'm trying to combat.  "Blaming" mental disorders for the world's ills is akin to discounting the world's ills by deciding they are "brain diseases," therefore incurable.  "It's not my fault," the thinking goes.  "It's all those other sickos who are causing the problems."
 
To an extent, the Left is right. The truth in politics is somewhere between absolute rationalism and empiricism. Some kid that gets autism can probably safely blame vaccines. A bomb that falls on Palestinians is not the fault of the Palestinians. I'm not responsible for the reduction of my IQ that has inevitably happened due to fluoride in the water.
It is my responsibility to fix the problem, for that it has to be understood. I have to somehow get it out of my brain. I have no idea how.
Everyone, almost everyone, will lose their jobs as a result of AI. Its coming, no one knows when. According to the Right, everyone who doesn't work should be allowed to starve. This kind of absolutism is as bad as the left and doesn't prepare us for the future in any way.
FacePalm Added Sep 15, 2018 - 4:50pm
Doug-
Don't know if this'll help, or not, but i've read that what the body needs - craves, really - is bio-available iodine.  However, when it can't get that, it'll take bromides or other "bad halogens" like fluoride.  The best bio-available stuff i've found so far is "survival shield x2."  One drop daily is all the body needs.
 
Curiously, when i websearched "bad halides," i also came up with Lauren DeVille, who recommends sea salt as opposed to Morton's iodized, esp. if you can find iodized sea salt - but from what i've read, most iodine in salt is not very bio-available.  Anyway, she says that avoiding bread products(which apparently once used iodine in their processing, but now use bromine, instead) and most processed foods while salting with sea salt/supplementing with iodine will drive out the bad halides, in time.
 
Katherine-
Glad to provide some "food for thought," so to speak; did you like the Frank Einstein joke?
 
i've read many religious scriptures, both "approved" and "unapproved;" one passage i'm recalling goes something like "judge no man before he dies, for by the manner of his death will his life be known."  Don't know how true that may or may not be, though.  i've grown wary of absolutes(and absolutists) over the years, as IME, just ONE exception to the arrogant "rule" these haughty people promote quite invalidates the premise, like saying "all leftists hate America."
 
It's akin to a saying i read fairly recently: "Love those who seek the truth; beware those who have found it."  RIP, Ryan Messino.
FacePalm Added Sep 15, 2018 - 4:54pm
Doug-
One other thing; apparently, tests have been done which show that when iodine is present in appropriate amounts in the food/water supplies, the IQ jumps by up to 15 points, whereas the exact opposite is true in re: it's lack.
 
From what i've read, fluoride was added to the water supplies in concentration camps, as it allegedly made prisoners more tractable and less rebellious.  Apparently, this theory ties into the NWO/OWG cretin conspiracy somehow.
Doug Plumb Added Sep 16, 2018 - 7:49am
I use sea salt, but I've been warned against supplements by an older internal medicine doc 20 years ago who took the hyppocratic oath (I always ask). I was diagnosed and successfully treated for Graves disease, a thyroid disorder.
I agree they are trying to get our bodies to absorb the wrong substances in place of the right ones. I know we are short of minerals in general, I supplement with kelp. I trust that the minerals haven't been extracted from it.
They now spray vegetables with fluoride. I soak my veggies in tap water, assuming the fluoride concentration in veggies to be much higher than tap water. I drink non fluoridated water.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 16, 2018 - 4:25pm
Doug,
I don't know what to believe anymore.  I figure everything is contaminated and trust my body to filter out the baddies.  I do drink well water, but it is transported through PVC pipes.  Our GMO food is full of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, all grown on depleted soil, and now you say sprayed with fluoride too.  Helicopters drop malathion to kill mosquitoes, along with butterflies, fireflys, and who knows what-all.  
 
Seems like world government is the aim of many people, but I don't believe they will ever achieve it, or it will be short-lived.  People are just too stubborn to submit for long.  Also, the control-freaks can't get along with each other.  Imagine a world full of chiefs and no Indians.  Who would clean the toilets?
Katharine Otto Added Sep 16, 2018 - 4:35pm
FacePalm,
I didn't get the Frankenstein joke until you called my attention to it.  Haha.  :)  <--A smile on my face.
 
I strive for open-mindedness, which means I believe everything and nothing.  But I've always been willing to listen with intent to understand.  Apparently, this is rare.  
Ward Tipton Added Sep 17, 2018 - 11:34am
The softer "sciences" ... or more accurately subjective arts of psychology ... and most notably psychiatry, are often ... though certainly not always, pursued by individuals who are already insecure and/or troubled and seeking to quantify and label themselves in order that they can then fit into a neat little category somewhere. 
 
The whole psychiatry pushing drug industry is just ... beyond frightening. I had a cousin who was doped up because the doc's brains could not keep up with his ... so of course they presumed it was his fault and drugged him ... said getting rid of those drugs was tougher than giving up smoking. 
George N Romey Added Sep 17, 2018 - 3:42pm
Katharine most of what you hear is slanted to someone's pocketbook.  Listening to most news organizations mount to listening to a bunch of 5th graders at recess on a playing field.  Sometimes if for example I'm in an airport (I'm back traveling) I'll watch CNN for laughs.  The Russians are coming to "get us."  We'd better get to a doctor because god knows what we might be infested with.  Little issues in life, better get massive counseling.  I've just been through 5 years of s$$t although at this point nicely recovering.  In the end it was only my faith in myself that got me through.  
 
The entire "help system" is based upon forcing people into never ending dependency.  One day when I have a few hours I'll write about my recent six months living in the shelter system.  I'm only coming to terms with but one thing I do know is that very few in the "system" had any real interest in me becoming self sustainable again.  In fact I had to "cheat the system" to stay sane and come back to independent living.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 17, 2018 - 4:38pm
Ward,
My mother said the same thing, but I never saw it that way.  Psychiatrists do go through medical school, so have a medical background, but I would contend the entire medical profession (these days) is composed of insecure intellectuals who wear the role like armor against the world, with their scalpels and prescription pads as weapons.  There's a lot of justification for hating doctors, these days, but they also allow themselves to be used by government, pharma, insurance, and the media to push unhealthy agendas.  
 
It took me a long time to come to terms with this.  I was idealistic.  I believed in the power of the mind and found joy in self-discovery.  It was my hope to set people free through psychiatry, but I found myself swimming against the current.  I had to set myself free instead.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 17, 2018 - 4:45pm
George,
I just noticed a new post by you but haven't read it yet.  It's about time you rejoined us.  For what it's worth, I know by your recent birthday that you are going through what's known in astrology as your second Saturn return.  This is when Saturn in the sky comes back for the second time to the place it was when you were born.  It is significant for major changes in your life, a pruning, of sorts, and a re-assessment of where you've been and where you're going.  
 
You are so right about the shelter system and the mental health system generally.  I'm looking forward to reading your account.  I've worked in so many areas of the public mental health system and seen the same things over and over again that it is discouraging.  I can see why so many people get discouraged and feel hopeless.  
Ward Tipton Added Sep 18, 2018 - 1:12am
I have to say that I noted it when I was in University ... initially I had thought I wanted to be a psych and history major ... yeah ... I have always been weird ... but funny thing, those two courses are also why I dropped out of Uni. Who knew you could be labeled a rabble rouser for telling the truth even back in the days when Universities really were fighting to be "bastions of free speech" ... at least if you were speaking against the man ... 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 18, 2018 - 12:21pm
Ward,
It's a hypocritical world, and the Powers That Be are all in on it.  It's probably not conscious with most, but think about how children are taught to lie, to be "polite" or not to hurt feelings, from an early age.  We are taught what we "should feel" and what we "shouldn't feel" so learn to repress or deny unacceptable feelings.  Fact is, feelings are legitimate and will generally resolve themselves if allowed to flow.  Problems come when people act on strong aggressive feelings, but even this is often the result of having denied them too long.
 
I could go on and on about this because no one else seems to be saying it.  My disappointment with psychiatry--one of them--is that it has fallen into the rut of hypocrisy, too.
Ric Wells Added Sep 18, 2018 - 12:36pm
Katharine (I finally got it correct). In a strange way I personally feel the downfall of society in America can be partly traced to when we started handing out participation trophies or medals so we didn't hurt anyone's feelings. There are winners and losers in this world. Competition is a fact. To take this a way from our youth is yo deprive them of a vital part of growing up and survival. I know this is somewhat of a simplistic view but the ramifications have been enormous.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 18, 2018 - 3:35pm
Ric,
The participation trophies and medals may be symptoms of the illness, but I believe the illness itself comes from the inherent hypocrisy.  Did anyone ever die from hurt feelings?  I haven't interviewed them, but I suspect the kids themselves know the truth, and that may hurt their feelings more.
Ward Tipton Added Sep 18, 2018 - 9:28pm
I once had a room mate who was gay ... and living in a small town, most people presumed we were lovers ... though I must admit, I did like some of the girls who wanted to "cure me" or "fix me" ... hey, I was barely into my twenties ... 
 
My daughter is being brought up in a society where homosexuality is very common and not hidden, though certainly not "in your face" either. She is being raised to understand that there are good people and bad people and nothing more. If they are good people, personal aspects of their lives are inconsequential, and if they are bad people, personal aspects of their lives are inconsequential. She is also learning much to her chagrin I think, that the world does not revolve around here and there always has to be room for compromise, as this world cares little what we as individuals "want". 
 
The ongoing efforts at "Group Identity" are tactical maneuvering designed specifically to divide we the people. 
Ric Wells Added Sep 18, 2018 - 9:50pm
Did anyone ever die from hurt feelings? Did anyone ever die from a broken heart. It's been said they have. 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 18, 2018 - 10:04pm
Ward,
The group exerts a powerful influence on those who want to belong.  Insecure people depend on the group identity to shore up their own self-esteem.  Going against the group and getting ostracized can break a person.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 18, 2018 - 10:08pm
Ric,
People can die from almost anything, probably.  So let's give everyone on the planet a participation medal for daring to live.  It does take courage.
Ric Wells Added Sep 18, 2018 - 10:09pm
Good one. Katharine.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 19, 2018 - 3:10pm
Thank you, Ric.  I do believe participating in life takes courage, more so if you are actively involved.
Doug Plumb Added Sep 22, 2018 - 12:46am
re "Imagine a world full of chiefs and no Indians.  Who would clean the toilets? "
 
I would be quite happy cleaning toilets if the bastards didn't steal my pay. I would have much rather spent the last ten or fifteen years of my life studying engineering and math. My plan was to be a self made mathematician, owner of a half decent bicycle and serious swimmer before all this shit awoke me.
I'm just glad it all lead me to Kant.
Doug Plumb Added Sep 22, 2018 - 12:50am
Actually my favorite job is to be a janitor for about 30 hours a week. Lots of excercise, time for contemplation. If it could afford me a decent computer and a decent bicycle, I could be quite happy.
Katharine Otto Added Sep 22, 2018 - 9:21pm
Doug,
You have to be in decent physical shape to be a janitor.  Cleaning is good exercise, and I find it therapeutic.  Very calming.  Mind is free, and when you're done, you have something to show for it