Visceral Disgust

lordofflies“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”

Lord of the Flies
William Golding

whitewomenWe know emotions often Trump logic. But I doubt most of us realize the extent to which irrational emotions, many of which are barely on the level of awareness, can take the driver’s seat. An article in Alternet, Why the Majority of White Women Voted for Trump by Kate Manne (discussing a book by the same author, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny), has alerted me to the way emotions barely acknowledged can overcome reason.

selfloathingIt seems that many women suffer from self-loathing. Of course, it’s well known that misogyny is deeply embedded in Western thinking. Conscious misogyny can be fought with reasonable arguments, isolating the base premises upon which it is based and refuting incorrect assumptions. But unconscious misogyny eludes any conscious attempt to combat the assumptions people hide from themselves.

grubsWhen one thinks honestly about it, the physical world is pretty damned disgusting. Or, at least, we have been socialized to feel that way. Babies feel no disgust but they are soon taught to loath the sight and smell of poop and other substances that come from their own bodies. The secrecy of bathroom activities speaks eloquently of the shame all Westerners (and probably dialother cultures) carry all their lives. Disgust with oneself is acknowledged in all the advertisements for deodorant, toothpaste and myriad other products that disguise our nature and project an idealized but false image. “Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everyone did?” Not only do we need to conform to the image offered in commercials, we fear the likelihood of offending other people should we fall short of that image.

fearvaginaIn the presidential race, Trump invoked disgust for Hillary’s body (not her politics). “One such (example, kia) was Donald Trump, who didn’t want to ‘even think’ about Clinton using the restroom during a debate commercial break in December 2015.” Hillary’s health became an issue. We are all dying. When we die, our bodies will rot and stink. We all know this. As small children, we used to giggle about it. “The worms will crawl in and the worms will crawl out.” Adults, who are usually closer to death than kids, don’t like to even think about it. One of the reasons people are disgusted by old age is that the inevitable decline we all have to face is more obvious in the elderly than in the young. The cosmetic industry makes a fortune in helping people retain the appearance of youth as long as possible. That is true of both genders but more prominent in women.

disgustedWomen who grew up carefully hiding any signs of menstruation, body odor and bad breath might feel embarrassed at the sight of one of their own exposing her secret mortal weakness to the world. Hits too close to home.  This kind of disgust for women’s bodies is, no doubt, behind slut shaming and the double standard in general.

I voted for Hillary. I wasn’t thrilled with her politics but it was better than what Trump offered. It never occurred to me to think about her health. She is personable and strong. The article says,

hillarylessevilMy sense is that people in liberal and progressive circles were not generally as proud to vote for Clinton as President Obama, despite their very similar policies and politics, and the fact that each was or would have been (respectively) a history-making president, from the point of view of so-called identity politics. More than that, I think there was an atmosphere on the left that led to moral defensiveness about a vote for Clinton—as if voting for her meant complicity or complacency vis-à-vis the admittedly terrible effects of some of her (I agree) misguided foreign policies. But most of these policies were also Obama’s. Yet, somehow, they often seemed to do less to damage his reputation—and didn’t turn a vote for him into a moral liability on the left, was my impression.

obamadisappointsI was proud to vote for Obama the first time he ran. As president, he was a whopping big disappointment. Not only was I not proud to vote for his re-election, I didn’t vote for him. Of course, living in a blue state, I know Obama would carry the state regardless. If I had been living in a swing state, I probably would have voted for him but with the same reservations I had when I voted for Hillary. For me, it was all about the politics: not the gender, age, or race of the candidates. This is a race for the office of president, someone who will materially effect my own life. Why can’t most people see that?

politicsincommandA slogan of a group I respect is POLITICS IN COMMAND. I shake my head in dismay at the people who vote for the person instead of for the agenda that candidate represents. That’s one reason I think Tina Taylor is wrong in her belief that eliminating psychopaths from political office would fix what’s wrong with this country. Sure, people in office can betray their constituents and break their promises. But a focused, committed constituency can withhold future support for any politico who doesn’t at least give them some of what they promised. I know people who actually voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger because he was the “terminator.” Hello! That was a movie role. It wasn’t even him. I wonder how many sheeple voted for Reagan because of some movie role they saw him in.

fanaticsTrying to combat the senseless, the irrational with logic is a thankless task. But those who manage to use it for their own ends have harnessed a powerful beast.  There’s a truism that for every action, there is a good reason and the true reason. Disgust for life in the physical world is almost universal. It is probably the real reason for religion. We aren’t really of this messy, impermanent universe of entropy. Everything is running down. The food we eat is perishable, decaying. It continues to rot in our intestines and comes out as stinky shit. But God is perfect and unchanging. The tenets of most religion is just as irrational as the rest of man’s thoughts. It only goes to show how far man is willing to embrace the absurd rather than be meat on the compost heap.


Addendum

I just came across a UTube channel called ABitofBrit. I liked it because it defended Taylor Swift against the stupid attacks on her for being white. But Brit showed a right-wing agenda. Here is another video where she reveals herself as a full-blown right-wing bitch.

If this video expresses the mind-set of women who voted for Trump, it is every bit as obnoxious as anyone would expect. Yes, Brit. There really is something called white supremacy. And, yes, Brit. Muslims really have the right to exist and speak their minds. And, yes, Brit. There are plenty of right-wing terrorists in this country right now. People like you prefer to call these white terrorists “mentally disturbed” or some other term that disguises the real nature of white, right-wing terrorism. Brit thinks Trump is wonderful because he spoke of jobs. Has he delivered any, Brit? She says the women in the Women’s March “are not the majority.” News flash! You Trump besotted bitches are not the majority. Hillary got the most votes.

Anyone can make a mistake. Trump conned you with his fake populism. He used your resentment of what you consider “the elite.” But, guess what. Trump is just as elite as anyone. And he hasn’t helped the working class one little bit. His tax plan would seriously harm working class people in favor of billionaires. This is populism? Why can’t you just own up to the fact that you’ve been had?

You called the women who marched on Washington “useful idiots.” Well, guess what. Useful idiots are a hell of a lot better than USELESS IDIOTS!

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Redemption by Blood

cleft-palateFrancis Dolorhyde was severely damaged from the moment he was born. “He was born with bilateral fissures in his upper lip and in his hard and soft palates. The center section of his mouth was unanchored and protruded. His nose was flat.” He couldn’t feed so the nurses and doctors just left him to cry his little life out. “His crying on the first day was not as continuous as that of a heroin-addicted baby, but it was as piercing.” He was ignored for the entire first day of his life. On the second day, a black cleaning lady saved his life. She fed him with a dropper. Once he survived, the medical staff condescended to give him a rudimentary operation that enabled him to feed. They showed him to his mother but she screamed when she saw him and she left the hospital alone.

smiletrainlogoI’m not big on empathy. However, I have reacted to this story with genuine empathy towards this character. I actually shed real tears over his plight. And I donated money to The Smile Train in honor of this fictional character. I’m not sure why. I am not physically disfigured. I’m really the kind of superficial bitch who responds to most cases of disfigurement with disgust and dismisses the person as a freak. Go figure.


orphanageFrancis, left a virtual orphan by his mother’s abandonment of him at the hospital, ended up in an orphanage where he was abused by the other children. At the age of five, he thought his name was “cunt face.” That’s when his grandmother took him to live with her. She didn’t do this out of kindness. She had a grudge against her daughter and took Francis in order to make him a tool of revenge. The daughter had married a politician and Granny Dearest brought Francis to his political events where she introduced the child to everybody and made sure they knew he was the son of the candidate’s wife. He lost big.

grandmotherLife with Grandma wasn’t nice. She cared for his physical needs but gave no love. One night, five-year-old Francis had to pee urgently. He called for Granny. His speaking ability was very poor. His cries sounded like “Aayma! Aayma! He sounded like an infant goat. He called until he was tired. ‘Mleedse Aayma.'” He couldn’t hold it forever so he wet his bed. Fearfully, he managed to navigate the dark, bumping into the the doorknob, injuring his eye. Finding her room, he climbed into his grandmother’s bed, warming himself against her body under the covers. “I’ve never seen a child as disgusting and dirty as you. Get out, get out of this bed.” She did change his bed and clean him off and dressed his injury. Then, she positioned scissors around his penis and threatened to cut it off, promising she would do so if he ever wet the bed again. “You can find the toilet in the dark and you can sit on it like a good boy. You don’t have to stand up. Now go back to bed.” For the rest of his life, Francis peed sitting down. That’s one of many dysfunctional features of the way he learned to cope with life.

QueenFrancis had one friend as a child. A black maid called Queen Mother actually liked him and called him “Possum.” He had a little playmate with whom he shared the sight of each others genitals. Queen Mother saw them and took it calmly. “Look here, boy, you want to see what’s what, well now you see…help me catch that rooster.” Unfortunately, Grandmother also witnessed the scene. She ordered him upstairs and said, “take your trousers off and wait for me while I get my scissors.” He thought Queen Mother had ratted him out and lost the ability to trust his only friend. Grandmother never came to carry out her threat. He never stopped waiting for the thing he dreaded.

lovekillWhile he rejected Queen Mother, he now Loved his Grandmother. That was the first manifestation of psychosis in Francis. I think the psychiatrists call it “reaction formation” when the dreaded foe becomes an object of worship. His “private parts” were evil. He had to protect Grandmother from the sight of them. He relieved his anxiety by performing a ritual sacrifice, killing a chicken with the Queen Mother’s hatchet.  Afterwards, “Francis, scrubbing himself at the chicken-yard pump, had never felt such sweet and easy peace. He felt his way cautiously into it and found that the peace was endless and all around him..” He was never suspected.

When Grandmother became too senile to function, her daughter, Francis’ mother, took him to live in her home with her three kids, Ned, twelve, Victoria, thirteen, and Margaret, nine. Ned beat him up, blaming him for his father’s electoral loss and the family’s poverty. He slammed his face into a mirror. Francis took it stoically, showing no emotion.


reddragonFrancis’ life improved when he joined the army. The army gave him training in photographic work in the darkroom. They also provided surgery to improve his face. Even after the surgery, he never looked at his face in the mirror. He did examine his body which he built up. At age 40, he came upon the Blake painting of The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. He became obsessed with the painting. “At a time when other men first see and fear their isolation, Dolarhyde’s became understandable to him: he was alone because he was Unique.” This was the beginning of his grandiosity. He was becoming the Dragon. He went to Hong Kong where he had teeth similar to noonanthose of his grandmother, designed to fit his mouth. His regular set of teeth was made to fit the “tortuous shape cast to fit the twists and fissures of his gums. Attached to the plate was a soft plastic prosthesis with an obturator on top, which helped him close off his soft palate in speech.” The new set of teeth were for killing. He had come into his destiny, a serial killer “Becoming” the Red Dragon. He picked his victims from home movies sent to the company he worked for to be put on videotape. He was chief of the department processing home movies.

Francis read in his newspaper of choice, The Tattler, about FBI investigator, Graham, consulting with Hannibal Lecter about the murders.

Grandiose

On his way home, traffic was really slow.

bitchesincarTwo women in a convertible were in the lane besides him. They wore shorts and blouses tied across the midriff. Dolarhyde looked down into the convertible from his van. They seemed tired and bored squinting into the lowering sun. The woman on the passenger side had her head against the seat back and her feet on the dash. Her slumped posture made two creases across her bare stomach. Dolarhyde could see a suck mark on the inside of her thigh. She caught him looking, sat up and crossed her legs. He saw weary distaste in her face.

She said something to the woman at the wheel. Both looked straight ahead. He knew they were talking about him. He was so glad it did not make him angry. Few things made him angry anymore. He knew that he was developing a becoming dignity.

The music was very pleasant.

The traffic in front of Dolarhyde began to move. The lane beside him was still stalled. He looked forward to getting home. He tapped the wheel in time with the music and rolled down the window with his other hand.

He hawked and spit a blog of green phlegm into the lap of the woman beside him, hitting her just beside the navel. Her curses sounded high and thin over the Handel as he drove away.

Gross. But he had thought himself gross all his life. I see that scene as a sign that he had overcome shame through the power of his new identity.

He wrote Lecter a fan letter in which he gave Lecter a way they could correspond in code. The FBI got a hold of the letter but Lecter had destroyed the instructions for the code. Francis approached a newsstand where the new issue of The Tattler was bundled for distribution.

The newsstand operator squatted in front of his shelves arranging the Tribunes. He had enough else to do. The day guys never did their share of straightening.

A pair of black zippered boots came into the corner of his vision. A browser. No, the boots were pointed at him. Somebody wanted some damn thing. The newsie wanted to finish arranging his Tribunes but the insistent attention made the back of his head prickle.

His trade was transient. He didn’t have to be nice. “What is it?” he said to the knees.

“A Tattler.”

“You’ll have to wait until I bust the bundle.”

The boots did not go away. They were too close.

“I said you’ll have to wait until I bust the bundle. Understand? See I’m working here?”

A hand and a flash of bright steel and the twine on the bundle beside him parted with a pop. A Susan B Anthony dollar rang on the floor in front of him. A clean copy of the Tattler, jerked from the center of the bundle, spilled the top ones to the floor.

The newsstand operator got to his feet. He cheeks were flushed. The man was leaving with the paper under his arm.

“Hey. Hey, you.”

The man turned to face him. “Me?”

“Yeah, you. I told you—”

“You told me what?”

Usually a rude merchant can fluster his customers. There was something awful in this one’s calm.

The newsie looked at the floor “You got a quarter coming back.”

…. There was a time when he would have apologized for disturbing the man and never come back to the newsstand. For years he had taken shit unlimited from people. Not anymore. The man could have insulted Francis Dolarhyde: he could not face the Dragon. It was all part of Becoming.

Powerful and Ruthless

loundsThere are certainly features of narcissism here. The “false self” rehabilitating the shame of the despised and abused hair lip. But the Dragon’s grandiosity, power and cruelty soared to prodigious heights. The Dragon found the remarks by Graham and Lounds in the Tattler offensive. He surprised Lounds in a parking garage with a piece of cotton filled with chloroform. Dolarhyde glued Lounds to an old wheelchair. Lounds woke up, thinking he was in a hospital. When he realized he had been kidnapped he didn’t want to see his kidnapper, knowing that he ability to identify him would make the kidnapper afraid to ever release him. But the Dragon said, “When I turn you around, open your eyes and look at me. If you won’t open them yourself, I’ll staple your eyelids to your forehead.” His speech revealed the extent of his grandiosity:

greatbecomingBefore Me you are a slug in the sun. You are privy to a great Becoming and you recognize nothing. You are an ant in the afterbirth.

It is in your nature to do one thing correctly: before Me, you rightly tremble. Fear is not what you owe Me, Lounds, you and the other pismires. You owe Me awe.

loundsflambeHe made Lounds read a speech into a tape recorder. Then he bit Lounds’ lips off. He taunted Lounds with the lie that he had the lips on ice in a thermos so they could be restored to his face. He drove him to his office and said, “I told you one fib. I don’t really have your lips on ice.” Then he poured gasoline on Lounds and set him on fire. “Do you like being Graham’s pet, Freeeeedeeeee?”

Reprieve?

rebaFrancis had one chance to be normal. He meets a blind woman, Reba, who would be unable to judge him for his face. He has his first intimate encounter with a woman he didn’t kill. He has a sweet and short-lived affair with her. But a picture of his grandmother “speaks” to him in a hallucination and demands he kill Reba. In a rather far-fetched scene, he steals the original painting from a museum and eats it. This gives him the freedom to choose whether to kill or not to kill. Unfortunately, she gets the mistaken idea that she is two-timing him.

loundsonfireAs he believed himself betrayed by the Queen Mother and lost all trust in her, he stopped trusting Reba. His ego was too vulnerable to take a chance. His core belief was that he was unlovable. It was safer to stay alone relying only on his strength. Lecter had given him Graham’s home address through the code they used. Graham had grievously insulted him in the ill-conceived plan to make Graham a target for a sting operation. Instead of taking the bait, the Dragon tricked them all by going after Lounds. True to form, he murdered the pet of his target first. Now that they were closing in, he used Reba to fake his death. Everyone thought the case was over. Graham and his family returned to the house on the beach.

The Red Dragon surprised Graham and his family in their very home where they felt safe. Graham prevailed but with serious injuries. Francis Dolarhyde died. His final crime was brilliant.

manhunter.jpg

Movies

A deeply injured human being had risen from the ashes of his shame and self-loathing to reach a pinnacle of dark godhood. Two movies have been made from this book. The first, Manhunter, was very 80’s in it’s style. The film left out the entire story of the faked death, letting him die for real. Graham returns home and happily reunites with his wife and son. The Red Dragon more ambitiously covers the complex end of the story. Unfortunately, the director does something I consider really stupid and which harms the character of Francis Dolarhyde. In that film, Francis’ scrapbook includes the sad story of the time he wet his bed at age five. Bullshit! The grandiose Red Dragon would never put such a story in his album. The album was to glorify him. Even more ridiculous, Dolarhyde pees his pants while Graham imitates the Grandmother (as if he would know what she said). Weak, folks. Very, very weak. Furthermore, while making a brave attempt to stick to the storyline of the book, they couldn’t resist putting in a happy ending.

Here is the way the book really ended. While exiled from their home, Molly and Willy stay with the mother of Molly’s dead first husband. Something changed in both mother and child, a memory resurrected.

Graham and Molly wanted very much for it to be the same again between them, to go on as they had before.

When they saw that it was not the same, the unspoken knowledge lived with them like unwanted company in the house. The mutual assurances they tried to exchange in the dark and in the day passed through some refraction that made them miss the mark.

Molly had never looked better to him. From a painful distance, he admired her unconscious grace.

She tried to be good to him, but she had been to Oregon and she had raised the dead.

….

Molly packed suppers and they fished and they built fires, and none of it was any good.

After Dolarhyde attacked them in their home, Graham is in the hospital. “He could hold Molly a while with his face. Until they finished fixing it anyway. That would be a cheap shot. Hold her for what?

Lecter summed it up with his letter to Graham.

Dear Will,

Here we are, you and I, languishing in our hospitals. You have your pain and I am without my books—the learned Dr. Chilton has seen to that.

We live in a primitive time—don’t we, Will?—neither savage nor wise. Half measures are the curse of it. Any rational society would either kill me or give me my books.

I wish you a speedy convalescence and hope you won’t be very ugly.

I think of you often.

Hannibal Lecter

hannibal_lecter__quote_from_red_dragon_by_nicisthedoctor-d63s1lg


Links

Is Graham a Psychopath?

fallon2James Fallon, the neuroscientists who discovered his own psychopathy when he saw an MRI scan of his brain, shares with me a love of Thomas Harris’ books featuring Hannibal Lecter. Silence of the Lambs is well known but fewer people are aware of a prequel to that famous novel, The Red Dragon, which has inspired two movies, Manhunter (1986) and The Red Dragon (2002). Dr. Fallon discussed the characters with particular reference to Manhunter. He considered the character of Will Graham, the detective who solved graham1the crime, a “pro-social psychopath.” According to Fallon, “Graham recognizes that he has the same urges and lack of interpersonal empathy as Lecter. Although he is not a murderer, he is, in fact, a psychopath, or at least a near-psychopath, what I like to call Psychopath Lite. He might score 15 or 23 on the PCL-R, just under the 30-point score cutoff for full psychopathy, but other than that, you might think him completely normal. When my wife, Diane, and I saw the film in 1986, she pointed to Will and said, ‘That is you.'” Perhaps it is because I rely more on the book than on either movie, but I have a very different view of Will Graham.

graham2I see Graham as an empath. His unusual gift is the ability to project himself into the mind of the killers he is tracking down. He knows their thoughts because his empathy gives him the ability see the world through other people’s eyes. His ability to empathize is not limited to knowing the minds of killers. For example, when talking with his boss, Jack Crawford, “heard the rhythm and syntax of his own speech in Graham’s voice. He had heard Graham do that before, with other people. Often in intense conversation Graham took on the other person’s speech patterns. At first, Crawford had thought he was doing it deliberately, that it was a gimmick to get the back-and-forth rhythm going

crawford“Later Crawford realized that Graham did it involuntarily, that sometimes he tried to stop and couldn’t.”

It is mentioned in several places that Graham finds his ability to known the inner worlds of killers painful. On Page 8, Crawford tells Molly, his wife, “he has the other thing too. Imagination, projection, whatever. He doesn’t like that part of it.”

molly“You wouldn’t like it either if you had it, ” said Molly. Psychopaths are notoriously comfortable with our psychopathy. Finding excursions into the mind of another psychopath would probably not bother Graham were he one, himself, not even if he were “pro-social.”

Graham killed a man once in the line of duty. He did it to save a life. The perp, a man named Hobbs, had been in the process of cutting a girl’s throat. Had Graham not shot him, the girl would have died. Despite the blamelessness of what he did, the mere willywillfact of killing someone got him deeply depressed.

“Willy, the business with Hobbs, it bothered me a lot. You know, I kept it on my mind and I saw it over and over. I got so I couldn’t think about much else. I kept thinking there must be some way I could have handled it better. And then I quit feeling anything. I couldn’t eat and I stopped talking to anybody. I got really depressed. So a doctor asked me to go into the hospital, and I did. After a while I got some distance on it. The girl that got hurt in Hobb’s apartment came to see me. She was okay and we talked a lot. Finally I put it aside and went back to work.”

“Killing somebody, even if you have to do it, it feels that bad?”

“Willy, it’s one of the ugliest things in the world.”

remorsePsychopaths don’t get depressed or remorseful over things we’ve done, even things that are seriously “wrong.” I can’t imagine a psychopath, even a “psychopath-lite,” getting so strung out over a killing that wasn’t even ethically wrong. I would think this alone could put the question at rest.

In my blog post, Thomas Harris, Part Two, I touched on another thing that showed Graham for what he was. Dr. Bloom, the psychiatrist, explained Graham’s psyche, “… what do you think one of Will’s strongest drives is? … It’s fear, Jack. The man deals with a huge amount of fear.” Fear is something psychopaths don’t have much of. Bloom goes on to say…

fear1“Fear comes with imagination, it’s a penalty, it’s the price of imagination…. What he has in addition is pure empathy and projection,” Dr. Bloom said. “He can assume your point of view, or mine — and maybe some other points of view that scare and sicken him. It’s an uncomfortable gift, Jack. Perception’s a tool that’s pointed on both ends.”

empathy1 Clearly, Thomas Harris considered Graham to be an empath. His ability to know what killers were thinking didn’t come from his similarity to those killers. He could empathize with anyone. He could feel guilt, depression and fear.

lecter1Hannibal Lecter liked to play with Graham’s head and nurture his worst fears. He kept harping on the notion that Graham was just like him. When Graham visited Lecter in prison to try to get his help in catching the killer he was after, Lecter said, “You just came here to look at me. Just to get the old scent again, didn’t you? Why don’t you just smell yourself?” As Graham is leaving, Lecter issues one last sally. “The reason you caught me is that we’re just alike.

When a plan the cops set up to try to trap the suspect misfired, a man Graham hated came to grief instead. Lecter used this occasion to guilt-trip Graham.

lecter5A brief note of congratulations for the job you did on Mr. Lounds. I admired it enormously. What a cunning boy you are! … You know, Will, you worry too much. You’d be so much more comfortable if you relaxed with yourself.

We don’t invent our natures, Will, and I’d like to start by asking you this: When you were so depressed after you shot Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbs to death, it wasn’t the act that got you down, was it? Really, did you you feel so bad because killing him felt so good?

guiltygrahamThe book goes on to say, “Graham knew that Lecter was dead wrong about Hobbs, but for a half-second he wondered if Lecter might be a little bit right in the case of Freddy Lounds. The enemy inside Graham agreed with any accusation.” That’s an enemy that doesn’t live inside psychopaths.


 

Links

Green-eyed Monster

greeneyes

Jealousy

When I had my personality assessment, they told me I was almost a narcissist. Only two things kept me from meeting the profile.

  1. I was self-aware. Strange, isn’t Sam Vaknin, the most famous narc in the world, self-aware? Whatever.
  2. I wasn’t jealous. I true narc is not only jealous of others, s/he thinks others are jealous of hir.

It’s true. I am not the jealous type. Not that I never experience jealousy. But it’s not something that troubles me often. Taylor Swift’s latest video deals specifically with that green-eyed monster.

She sings, “You’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much…. You ruined my life by not being mine.” I’m just not like that. My life doesn’t need anyone to “be mine” in order to be good. I have also never minded actual lovers fucking other people. I have trouble understanding why people feel that way.

beatlemaniaThere’s one genre where people adore someone without expecting hir to belong to them. I’m talking about fandom. I have a friend whose entire life is based on adoring stars of her choosing. She started with the Beatles. For years, it was Brad Pitt and now there seems to be a series of objects for her adoration. It’s like a form of Bhakte Yoga. This form of yoga is about worshipful devotion to the chosen god. Groupies are often satisfied to get laid by their faves. There seems to be a hierarchy of greatness among the objects of their worship. I, myself, only felt that way towards Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. There is little to no thought of monogamy in this kind of attachment.

wealthThose who want an exclusive relationship seem to think the whole magick of a partnership is destroyed if another party muscles in. Like I said, I don’t feel that way. I also don’t feel particularly jealous of those who have more than I do in the way of material goods. I can envy them their good fortune and wish I had whatever they have. But I don’t harbor ill will towards them. On the other hand, I do think the extremely uneven distribution of wealth is an outrage. It’s about fairness rather than personally wishing I had whatever. In fact, if I could suddenly get rich, I probably wouldn’t wish so much for fairness. {shrug} Is this jealousy?

Simon Sez

Psychologist George Simon thinks psychopathy should be called a “character” disorder instead of a personality disorder because we are bad people with a bad character. So imagine my surprise when I read that this same man has said we are born this way.

psychobrainSomeone on Quora asked Athena Walker if she thought she was “evil.” She replied, “… for being born?” It’s pretty clear that moral judgements can only exist in the realm of choice. The growing belief among scientists that psychopathy is a condition one is born with would seem to preclude the possibility that we can logically be blamed for what The-Guilty-Innocentwe are. Parents of psychopaths welcome the idea. My own mother gleefully informed me that some doctor reassured her that I could have been just born that way, so it wasn’t her fault. Simon is also aware “all this might come as welcome news to those exasperated parents who used to blame themselves and who we used to blame for raising monsters….” Of course, they still provided the genetic material.

causeeffectNevertheless, Dr. George Simon, the man who insists psychopathy be called a “character disorder” instead of a “personality disorder,” thereby injecting morality into the traditionally neutral field of psychology, has declared himself an advocate of the nature (as opposed to nurture) in the etiology of psychopathy. Of course, everything has a cause. Whether someone was born with a particular brain freewilldetermstructure or developed a personality as a result of trauma, s/he is “that way” as the result of a cause. Morality is implicitly connected to the assumption of free will. Wikipedia defines Free Will as “the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.” What is presupposed, is the existence of something called a “will” which is identical to our self. We have a will which is independent of the chain of causality. The causeless cause is what people call God. The belief in free will implies that everyone is (a) God.

Golf BallA strict belief in determinism (nothing without an outside cause) makes moral responsibility difficult if not impossible. Inanimate objects have no will and no responsibility. If I throw a ball, the ball isn’t responsible for where it goes. If it breaks a window, that is unfortunate but not a sin on the part of the ball. I might have been evil to have thrown the ball but the ball has no way to express volition so it cannot be an agent of nietzschebadevilmorality. Nietzsche articulated the dichotomy of good/bad and good/evil. The former is about the worth of something (to the person evaluating that worth). So fruit can be good if it tastes good to the person eating it and promotes his health. Bad fruit would be that which is either unpalatable and/or poisonous. There is no expectation that the piece of fruit would have the ability to be other than what it is. The dichotomy good/bad is amoral. The second pair of values is what falls under the rubric of morality. A man who chooses to do things we consider morally wrong can be evil. Poisonous fruit can never be evil. It just is what it is. And it’s “bad” fruit (from our human standpoint).

freedomresponsCriminal jurisprudence (and religion) assumes that people have free will. There are exceptions for those who suffer from severe mental illness which can rob them of the ability to make a choice. If a psychotic doesn’t know what he’s doing, in murdering someone, for example, his lack of understanding makes a moral choice impossible. Likewise, if someone is acting under an irresistible compulsion, he couldn’t help himself and is exempt from moral judgement. Such people are separated from society for the protection of society not for punishment. They are exempt from punishment but also lose civil rights. Freedom is responsibility.

tribalhuntersDr. Simon hypothesizes that psychopathy is a holdover from an earlier time in human history when psychopathy traits were favorable to survival. “There was a time – back in our more primitive days – when two of the factors we now think of as highly problematic: fearlessness and the capacity for the remorseless perpetuation of violence, were the very qualities the tribe valued most in its dominant leaders. The truth be told, psychopaths probably helped us survive and get to where we are.” napalmAnd where are we? Today, of course, we are civilized. Oh, yeah? A world which has seen the Third Reich, the bombing of Hiroshima, two world wars, to mention only a few examples of barbarism is more evolved than it was in the days of tribal living? Even the behavior of children in a modern classroom shows the cruelty and aggression of modern man. What kids do to each other reflects the society they are growing up in. I don’t care how many anti-bullying programs a school creates. Kids learn better and faster by observing adults than by listening to their preaching.

preditorSimon says psychopaths are “natural predators, but there are no wild beasts to slay. So, as Hare notes, they’ve become intra-species predators (which is why in both of my books I suggest that the most appropriate descriptive label for these personalities is ‘predatory aggressive’).” So why are so many children forming their own societies with pecking orders, cruelty and competition? Psychopaths are thought to only be bulliesabout 1% of the population. The average child is neither a psychopath nor “callous unemotional” (the psychiatrically approved word for children with these tendencies).  They can be cruel but they also have consciences. They are capable of empathy and emotional attachment. It must be comforting for NTs to project all their bad stuff on psychopaths. Simon repeats the same tedious lines blaming us for all the ills of the world. But, as a professor in the movie If said, “perhaps it isn’t a matter of evil dictators but whole populations of evil people like … ourselves?”

factoryfarmTrue. We don’t need to slay wild beasts. We raise the beasts in factory farms. Civilized, I suppose. But not kinder or gentler. Have we really evolved beyond tribal society? Look at Donald Trump and his supporters.

Simon says, “Some have suggested that psychopaths might rightfully be considered a different species because they’re so different with respect to the critical attributes that most of us think define us ‘human.'” Hello! A species breeds within it’s own kind. While animals of different species occasionally made to produce offspring, those offspring are infertile. Even Simon discards this ridiculous theory.

My own view:

iammygod.jpgI believe in the links of cause and effect. Everything has a cause. Whether it’s biological or environmental or (as Dr. Kevin Dutton suggests) epigenetic, it has a cause. But I also believe in free will. As I mentioned above, the belief in free will actually makes us godlike. To be able to make choices that are not mechanically determined by other things (which would strip us of all responsibility) is to be a first cause. What an awesome thought. Ironic that all the religions and laws accept this heretical viewpoint.

Sure, psychopathy has a cause. We didn’t choose it. It was given to us along with our eye color, intelligence, ethnic identity and economic position. But, as individuals, we do have free will. I realize that’s an act of faith. It’s also an every day experience that most of us accept intuitively. As a corollary to the belief in free will, I accept responsibility for my choices.

myfreedom


Links

 

Freedom from Reality?

Things fall apart —The center cannot hold

truthistruthEpistemology has always fascinated me. How do we know anything? I have blogged before about the distressing tug of war between verifiable truth and the anything-goes free-for-all in today’s United States of America. We know of the pressure to teach creationism in public schools along with Darwin’s theory of evolution. We know about the shrill voices denying the reality of global warming. Our president is a denier of global warming. But the anything-goes mania far exceeds even those disturbing trends.

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fakenewsPresident Trump has introduced a new concept: Fake News. We used to have a consensus of sorts no matter how viciously it was attacked, we knew what it was. Now, for the first time in many years, racism has become respectable. Denizens of the right-wing fever swamps are being taken seriously, not as the threat to sanity that they are but as a possible source of truth.

laroucheLyndon LaRouche is a lunatic whom I first encountered when Jello Biafra (of the punk rock band, The Dead Kennedys) ran for Mayor of San Francisco. At a candidates night, a representative of LaRouche spoke as one of the candidates. She told the audience that Episcopalians are behind the drug epidemic. “And by drugs, I mean marijuana!” She biafraformayorshouted. A bunch of us punk rockers were there to support Biafra. His campaign was rife with ironic absurdity. But these people were truly absurd with no sense of irony at all. The event took place in a very hoity toity neighborhood so there were lots of very proper WASPS present that night. The nut job pointed to them and said, “You know who you are.” I was shocked that an outfit this insane would actually be organized enough to have a web site. But here it is. Somehow, I am not surprised to learn that they support Trump. That figures.

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SamSam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited wrote the first scholarly book about narcissism. As a narcissist himself, he decried the lack of psychiatric literature on the subject and provided what had previously been lacking. Although not a psychiatrist himself, he was able to contribute enough sound information and theory to give him a well-earned respectful audience. Lately, he has thrown in his lot with Lyndon LaRouche. laroucheflyerEven a luneball like LaRouche is demanding and getting a place at the table. Vaknin’s lately has declared Obama a “malignant narcissist.” I don’t know which is more disturbing: that Vaknin has joined the ranks of the American Right or that he is throwing reality to the winds. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to see Sam Vaknin siding with the right-wing since he is an Israeli who has never publicly spoken out against Zionism. All sorts of people have jumped aboard the Trump express. Marxists are declaring that everyone who isn’t of their brand of communist revolution is equally evil — a supporter of capitalism. Trump might even be a styx666little bit better if only because he is an outsider who will rock the boat. Styxshexenhammer666 of UTube has been an intelligent critic of Christianity. Who would expect someone so seemingly rational to start preaching Trump-esque talking points ad nauseum. I get how people can get so sick of the status quo and the establishment that they will welcome anything different.

wakefieldI, myself, have been a spirited critic of consensus. I have some views that are outside the big tent. For example, I am a skeptic of the gospel of vaccination. I support Dr. Andrew Wakefield. I have debated the pro-vaxxers and discovered, to my dismay, how intolerant and fanatical they can be. I was even attacked by someone with autism for being a hater. According to her, by opposing the MMR vaccine, I am saying it’s better to be dead than autistic. See, the revised consensus is that measles virus is deadly so not vaccinating a child with the MMR vaccine is condemning hir to death. So absurd. I was a kid before that vaccine was forrestmareadyinvented and I got measles. Guess what? I’m still alive. Forrest Maready of UTube is a tireless spokesman for anti-vax skepticism shows an episode of the Brady Bunch in which the kids had fun with measles. I was too sick to have fun with it. I had fun with chicken pox since I wasn’t too ill and my sister had it at the same time and we were both home from school together. Anyway, I have noticed that, aside from some natural living purists, most anti-vaxxers are right-wing politicos. Liberals are almost exclusively pro-vax. Dr. Wakefield was chased from his native England and is now practicing in Texas. I guess it’s good for me to deal with the cognitive dissonance in acknowledging that the right sometimes really is the voice of freedom.

Another issue on which I am at odds from the Left is transsexualism. I certainly have transkidsno problem with people living the way they choose and changing their own bodies (at their own expense), I refuse to drink the cool-aide that insists that people can really change their genders. In this, the feminist movement is an ally. They don’t believe men can become women and won’t accept them as such. My reason is just about what is real. The extent to which people are forced to use the pronoun a tranny insists on strikes me as a form of gaslighting.

antisemOh course, we Americans have always celebrated our right to free thought and free speech. But freedom from government coercion isn’t the same thing as freedom from people just dismissing your opinion as ridiculous. For centuries, some things were just known to be, not only wrong, but toxic. It took a long hard struggle to relegate the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the garbage dump of history. It’s alarming to see it resurrected along with holocaust denial. As the Holocaust museum antisemispokesmen say, “The denial or distortion of history is an assault on truth and understanding.” Amen. It is true that Israel has been using the Holocaust as a weapon against anti-zionists, calling criticism of Israel a form of covert antisemitism. That claim is bogus. It is easy to separate opposition to Israel’s national policies and hatred of Jews (who are not all Zionists or supporters of Israel). Israel’s political propagandizing does not make antisemitism OK.

blacklivesThere is a trend for raising objections to what people call political correctness. The concept grew out of leftist consciousness raising groups who struggled with determining what is the truth. They ironed out a party line (or movement line) after much hard work in separating truth from falsehood. Of course, nobody should be forced to accept a line. Everyone needs to work out hir own opinion. But opposing an idea just because it is politically correct is just as dogmatic as forced acceptance of that idea. Trashing a group like Black Lives Matter whose only purpose is to oppose the murder of black people by cops egregiously as being politically correct isn’t so much an expression of free-speech or free-thought. It is a move to narrow such areas of freedom.whenfascismcomes

It’s no secret that our country is lurching towards Fascism. Students of history have a valuable opportunity to see how this happens. A poster I have seen says, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Now that it is closer, we can add that it will also come as an assault on truth.


Links

Disorder

Neurosis_-_Times_Of_GraceRemember when psychiatry was all about neurotics and psychotics? Now personality disorders are the big thing. People used to be “normal” or be suffering from “mental illness.” Now disorder has replaced illness or disease. But just what does it mean when someone is said to have a personality disorder?

disorderThe word “disorder” has a number of meanings. If a machine breaks down, it is out of order. So what is this order that the machine is out of? Order exists when things are arranged in a rational manner. When they are randomly placed, it’s disorder, otherwise known as chaos. The Free Dictionary defines it “In a state of disorder and confusion; higgledy-piggledy; unable to agree, at odds.” Another meaning of the word “order” is command. The person in charge tells everyone what they are supposed to do. Order is rationally and meaningfully structured.

derangementThe medical world has it’s own definition of disorder which it sees as “a derangement or abnormality of function; a morbid physical or mental state. For specific disorders, such as the psychiatric disorders, see under the name, such as anxiety disorders and personality disorders.”

Then what is a disease? All Nurses says, “Disorder and disease are mentalillnessused interchangeably in clinical settings, but as what i(sic) have observed, disease is used more on the physical while disorder is very frequent in psychiatric/psychologic. Syndrome- characterized by the consortium of a group of signs and symptoms that occur together in a disease. You may also check out med dictionaries so you can confirm.” Disease can be broken up into “dis” and “ease,” lack of ease. Disorder is lack of order. The nurses define disorder as “a disturbance of function, structure, or both, resulting from a genetic or embryonic failure in development or from exogenous factors such as poison, trauma, or disease.

personSo what is this “personality” that can become disordered? Gordon W. Allport defines personality as “The dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought.” So personality is organized, a system having order. Therefore, a personality disorder must be a disruption of that organization. Wikipedia defines personality disorders as “a class of mental disorders characterized by enduring maladaptive patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience, exhibited across many contexts and threeclustersdeviating markedly from those accepted by the individual’s culture.” It doesn’t seem to mean a lack of order so much as a clash with what the “individual’s culture” expects. The very fact that these “disorders” can be arranged into groups, called “clusters” and given names and descriptions of characteristic behavior and inner experience for each “disorder” suggest that there is order in each of these critiquephenomena.

Of course, it’s the human mind that seeks order everywhere. Even disordered things are made orderly in the minds of those who define them. One could say that all order is a product of our minds. As Kant showed in his Critique of Pure Knowledge,

In other words, space and time are a form of perceiving and causality is a form of knowing. Both space and time and conceptual principles and processes pre-structure experience.

Things as they are “in themselves”—the thing in itself or das Ding an sich—are unknowable.                                                    Wikipedia

personalitydisIf people with personality disorders were really so lacking in order or structure as to confirm to the original meaning of the word “disorder,” could they function as well as they do? Could they be classified as rationally as they are in the DSM-5 (although there is still much room for criticism of that structure)? I think “disorder” in the context of personality means something society disapproves of. Or maybe this only applies to Cluster B. People in Cluster C certainly seem to be suffering. They fit the criterion for dis-ease. I don’t know if people in Cluster A are suffering. Their cluster is the “weird” one. They live in their own alternate universe (although not enough to be considered psychotic).  Whatever the situation, society, as represented by the committee of the American Psychiatric Association that wrote the DSM, has declared people in the ten designated groups of the disordered to be considered abnormal.

psychopathmaskSince Psychopathy is not named in the DSM, room is left for the possibility that it isn’t even a disorder and, therefore, not abnormal. Cleckley wrote The Mask of Sanity. But that the DSM allows us to suggest we are sane and normal, after all, and still be consistent with the cannons of the DSM. Of course, most of us are still antisocial as defined by the DSM so we can still be called disordered anyway.

Whatever. All personality disorders have their own structures, all are ways of coping with the situations people with those disorders are in. Therefore, all are kinds of order. I call them alternate orders. Some work better than others. That’s the most one can say about them. As alternate orders, they are ways of distancing oneself from Society as a whole. And I think this is a good thing.

Are All B’s Badasses?

histrionicsI had just finished writing about the stigma attached to Borderlines and discovered, quite by chance, that HPD is not only stigmatized but charges made against Psychopaths and Narcissists are also being made against Histrionics. PsychCentral warns visitors to their forum for HPDs “Conversations here can be triggering for those who have suffered abuse from HPDs.” Abuse? From HPDs? Wow! I guess all Cluster Bs are personas non gratas.

 


TGeorge_K._Simonhere is a man named Dr. George Simon who has a lot to say about what he calls character disorders. Posting on the PsychCentral forum for HPDs, someone wrote, “‘Are we codependents better persons than the HPDs’? Dr George Simon says we definitely are!!!” Better? Since when does psychiatry judge people as better or worse?

Who is Dr. Simon? Well, he is primarily a writer with several books published. He isn’t a psychiatrist. The “Dr.” attached to his name is for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology which he earned at Texas Tech. He has written In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance and The Judas Syndrome. He has also written a song called America, My Home! which he calls Anthem For the Millennium and he has been interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on Fox News where he complained about our “permissive” society. I think this is enough to identify his political perspective.

AngryIt seems Dr. Simon is more concerned with morality than psychology. He rejects the term Personality Disorder for certain people, preferring to call them Character Disordered. He states “By definition, character reflects the moral dimension of personality.” The DSM doesn’t have a category for “character disorders” only Personality Disorders. Simon explains, “So what exactly then is personality? The term itself derives from the word ‘persona,’ which is Latin for ‘mask.'” The DSM sees personality as “an enduring pattern.” A personality disorder is “An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior the deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture.” A disordered personality can cause problems for the person with the disorder and for people judgingdummieshe/she encounters. At no time does the DSM judge the morality of individuals. Another doctor, this one an MD, Dr. Scott Peck, actually wants to add “evil” to the DSM. He considers evil to be something objective, something that can be seen and measured scientifically. His book, People of the Lie, promotes this trend of mixing morality with science. I see, not only a dangerously muddled confusion of concepts, but a slippery slope that can lead to theocracy. The United States is already moving in that direction as the bible thumpers grow increasing powerful in the field of politics.


dianeWhat does all this have to do with Histrionic Personality Disorder? Wikipedia made an interesting observation about a relationship between HPD and ASPD. (Diane Downs immediately comes to mind.)

HPD and antisocial personality disorder

Another theory suggests a possible relationship between histrionic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Research has found 2/3 of patients diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder also meet criteria similar to those of the antisocial personality disorder,[10] which suggests both disorders based towards sex-type expressions may have the same underlying cause. Women are hypersexualized in the media consistently, ingraining thoughts that the only way women are to get attention is by exploiting themselves, and when seductiveness isn’t enough, theatricals are the next step in achieving attention.[14] Men can just as well be flirtatious towards multiple women yet feel no empathy or sense of compassion towards them.[10] They may also become the center of attention by exhibiting the “Don Juan” macho figure as a role-play.[14]

Some family history studies have found that histrionic personality disorder, as well as borderline and antisocial personality disorders, tend to run in families, but it is unclear if this is due to genetic or environmental factors.[15] Both examples suggest that predisposition could be a factor as to why certain people are diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder, however little is known about whether or not the disorder is influenced by any biological compound or is genetically inheritable.[15] Little research has been conducted to determine the biological sources, if any, of this disorder.

icravesinHPD behavior does show up in people with the “darker” Cluster B disorders. Jim Jones, Adolf Hitler and Joan Crawford seem to fit this description. I, myself, have plenty of Histrionic moments, as my partner will attest to.

Yet we have no Love Fraud about people with HPD. Such web sites usually only talk about Narcissists and Sociopaths-Psychopaths. They don’t even mention BPDs although I’ve heard this crowd will often ostracize anyone who admits to this condition.

The more I look at it, the more these Cluster B “disorders” seem to hang together and melt into each other. The spectrum does seem to run from Borderline to Histrionic to Narcissistic to Antisocial (Psychopathic). The Borderline end touches on Cluster C with it’s anxiety which the Antisocial end is closer to Cluster A, detached and eccentric.


Links

Stigma and BPD

‘One GP told me I wasn’t ill, just a bad person’

Imagine being told by a doctor that you are “just a bad person.” Of course, psychopaths are told that all the time, not usually by shrinks, although even some shrinks call us “evil,” but by Hollywood, folks next door, even former friends. People with Borderline Personality Disorder are severely stigmatized as well. Just finding a therapist can be daunting as many refuse categorically to treat people with this disorder.

Of all the Cluster B “disorders” those with Borderline seem the most prone to suffer. Psychopaths have detachment. Narcissists have their “false selves” to protect them from the “thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.” Histrionics feel lots of emotion but their experiences with such are normally short-lived and “superficial.” Borderlines have described themselves as someone missing a layer of skin — exposed with no effective protection.

Blogger, James Renard said something that rings true. “You’re right about the overlap, but that also means that the polar opposites (I would say the continuum goes Borderline – Histrionic – Narc – Antisocial) are very different from one another. And Antisocial shares some similarities with Cluster A, while BPD is similar to Cluster C.” Yes, the antisocial/psychopathic detachment does slide into Cluster A while the emotional agonizing of Borderline is something like Cluster C. Borderlines blackhole2are ultra emotional, like Histrionics who, in turn, attract attention like Narcs. Down the Rabbit Hole notes, “All ‘Cluster B’ means really is the person has a weak, fragmented or nonexistent sense of self.” But Psychopaths also have a “weak” or, I would call it a fluid sense of self so we can be whoever or whatever we need to be in a situation. I’ve also heard Borderlines mention feeling a void inside themselves. But Lucky Otter also senses such a void inside Psychopaths.

I’ve described this look before–I’ve seen it on my mother’s face and it gave me nightmares for weeks. I saw it once on my ex’s face when he was drunk and angry. It’s not so much a demonic look (which has a sort of life to it) as a dead, lifeless look that is far worse. It’s a malignant look that makes you want to get away from them fast. Like there’s nothing inside them except an vast and endless black void of nothingness. It’s like standing at the precipice of a black hole, and what can be more terrifying than some nameless void that can suck you into itself–and can even swallow light?

….

I don’t think evil is the opposite of good. I think evil is the opposite of somethingness–evil is pure black nothingness. Here are some examples of the dead, reptilian eyes of known psychopaths and malignant narcissists.

bpd_stigma_freeWhen I was a very small child, I sensed a void that threatened to engulf me. Was this a Borderline experience or a psychopathic one? I do have a memory of a classic Borderline behavior when I was a teenager. I wrote my boyfriend a letter in my blood. Really. But such Borderline manifestations vanished many years ago. I’m closer to death than ever and I can’t bring myself to really feel much anxiety about that. Is there life after death? I think so. But…whatever… I have no desire to embrace religion or therapy.

Borderlines live with a lot of pain or so I’ve been told. They want help but many shrinks don’t want them as patients. While some shrinks think this condition is untreatable, others say it is the easiest to cure. Perhaps those who find it “untreatable” are the ones who lack the competence to do the job and are blaming the patients for their own inability.


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An Unpopular Opinion

even for a psychopath

psychoclarityAs a psychopath, I believe I have the ability to see with greater clarity issues that most people find fogged-over with emotion. There are opinions which are practically banned from polite conversation. Some of them, such as pro-racism, are banned but, since I agree with the consensus, I don’t mind. But with others, I resent the heavy-handed way almost everyone I know just makes objective discussion all-but-impossible. Psychopaths are heavily demonized, for example, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. With doctors analyzing ourpathology,” and haters saying we should all be killed, it was clear that the world needed to hear from actual psychopaths. I have noticed that a group that’s even more universally hated than psychopaths is that called “pedophiles.” I cannot speak for them but I can give my point of view with is more open-minded than that of most people. I also include links to where they can speak for themselves.


understandWhen I started seeking-out other people who identified as psychopaths, one discovery I made about them is how pan-sexual many of them were. I ran into many bisexuals and sadomasochists. It made sense to me since I’m both of those things. I figure that, since we have less rigid identities, and fewer moral hangups, of course we would be free to explore our libidos wherever they led.

That’s why I was surprised to run into instances of thinking that was both rigid and conventional. Some groups I belong to insist on the freedom to transgress the lines most people dare not cross. I think these are sometimes offered as challenges to see how immune each of us is to emotional reactions. In a world where anything goes, one not only has the freedom to be or say whatever. The rest of the group has the same freedom. So, one might say we are free to do anything except judge each other.

disabledBecause of this radical freedom, I was surprised, nonplussed, in fact, by what seems to be a fairly stunning exception to the anything goes rule. About a week ago, someone posted the following link: Why I Masturbate my profoundly disabled son. I thought it was beautiful and courageous, if productive of yucky images. But there were a lot of judgements by people I know. Some objected to it because it was gay. If the mother had jerked her son off instead of the father this person would have been more comfortable. A more common objection was that this disabled man was like a child. Of course, since he is unable to speak, how would we know how mature or developed he is? Some of these people likened the father’s act of mercy to child abuse. The fact that this man had erections which his father saw when he changed his diapers and the fact that he showed obvious signs of happiness and gratitude for the relief he was afforded didn’t count with these people.

The exception to the non-judgemental attitude that pervades our psychopathic group is, you guessed it: pedophilia. I have argued for a nuanced approach to the subject. There are pedophiles who forswear acting on their desires for the sake of the children. One would think that these, of all people, would be held blameless. No such luck. Here is a response (not from my group) to such benign people:

People are sexual beings from day one. I remember my own childhood. No, I was not molested but I was sexual. Obviously, there are age differences in what acts are safe and which are harmful. A grown man fucking a small child could physically harm her (or him). But most pedophiles (I’m told) go for acts that don’t involve intercourse. When I tried to make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual interactions, I was told there is no such distinction. If it’s a child, then it’s rape. I dworkinspeechnotice a tendency for people to rhetorically equate one thing with another thing. Andrea Dworkin was a great one for that. “Pornography is rape,” she declared. Such reductionism is handy when one wants to condemn something by equating it with something already considered worthy of condemnation.

Not all pedophiles take a hands-off approach. They believe they can have a loving, OscarWildeconsensual relationship with a younger person. Of course, there’s a difference between sex with an underage teenager and sex with a pre-pubescent child. The former is called Ephebophilia and only the latter is really defined as Pedophilia. One can credibly argue that teenagers are biologically ready for sex and that prohibition of sex between a teen and an adult is really OK and only demonized by an uptight society. As Pat Califia (now Patrick) points out in Public Sex, many of us had our first sexual experience with an older statutoryrapeperson. I know I did. My first full-blown sexual relationship, at age 17, was with a 38-year-old man. I would call my status at the time I met him “semi-virginal.” In other words, I had been poked and my hymen was gone but I had never really had full-on sexual intercourse. So I think of him as my first lover. Come to think of it, the other abortive experiments I had before that were also with adult males.  One of my pet peeves is the way sex between a minor an a major as called statutory rape. The word “rape” is highly prejudicial and not indicative of what really happened. If we must make under-18 sex verboten, at least call it something less prejudicial than rape.

Public Sex defends sex between adults and people of all ages. She (now he) mostly publicsex.jpgspeaks from the standpoint of the gay world. Of course, the gay liberation movement has made no bones about the fact that any underage-adult relationships is anathema. NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) has been banished from all official (and most unofficial) activities of LGBTQ organizations. The initials, of course, stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer. Lots of tolerance for all except pedos. It’s understandable since homophobia used to take the form of assuming all gays were pedophiles. The movement had to protect itself from that stigma. They have been successful. One never hears that kind of attack anymore. However, Califia reminds us of the little-known fact that the original founders of the LGBTQ movement were boy-lovers.

The fact that many of the founders of the gay-liberation movement were (and are) boy-lovers has well-nigh disappeared from the official history of our rebellion. The very term “boy-lover” is rarely heard in gay discourse. True, there have always been political disagreements within our community about the age of consent and cross-generational relationships. But the decade of FBI harassment suffered by the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) probably has more to do with the mainstream gay movement’s drawing away from this issue. It is a serious and terrifying thing to confront such a powerful institution. So perhaps it was inevitable that the Stonewall 25 patcalorganizing committee would vote to exclude all organizations advocating the repeal of age-of-consent laws from its June 26, 1994, march. A group called the Spirit of Stonewall (SOS) formed to protest this ban, and has invited NAMBLA to march with them. I was proud to be among the people who signed SOS’s petition for inclusion of all gay organizations in the Stonewall anniversary celebration.

Public Sex

Copyright 1994 by Pat Califia

Pittsburgh, PA

pp. 31-32

This reminds me of the way the feminist movement has tried to read tessadomasochistic women from the movement. Also, the way we, in the world’s first sadomasochist liberation organization, TES, used to debate how best to present ourselves. Some wanted to stress how ordinary we were. As one member put it, we are just “regular working slobs.” I’d rather be seen as a freak than a slob, thank you. Maybe it’s inevitable that groups trying to get acceptable will want to present themselves as squeaky-clean as possible. Califia didn’t agree with this tactic. Public Sex has a large section dealing with the kiddie-porn scare. “The kiddy-porn panic is one of the biggest con games ever run on a gullible public.” ibid, page 30. One of the architects of the movement is Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, director of New York’s Odyssey House. This name is known and not loved by many junkies who have experienced the toxic corruption of this lady. As with the drug “epidemic,” the threat of kiddy-porn was ginned up into a lot more than existed in reality.

woodyFreud is known for the idea that children from 5 to 12 or 13 are in a latency period of development where they are asexual. Califia disputes this claim. I am reminded of a scene in Annie Hall where the main character, Alvie Singer, is seen as a kid in school, getting heat for kissing a little-girl classmate, “Oh, Alvie,” she cried. “Even Freud speaks of a latency period.” “Well, I didn’t have one,” said Alvie. Of course, Woody Allen is now under accusation for child-molestation.

abuseAny discussion of pedophilia needs to address the real problem of sexual child abuse. It happens and it is indefensible. The biggest red flag is the problem of power-imbalance. Children have a deficit of power in relation to adults. That is especially true of parents and teachers. It’s hard for a child to say “no” to these people who have so much control over the child’s life. If we acknowledge the possibility of a consensual relationship between a child and an adult, we must also acknowledge the difficulty of assuring ourselves that a relationship can be consensual where power is so unequally distributed. I would tend to consider relationships with parents and/or teachers out of range of claims that the kid consented. I haven’t seen much discussion of this problem in either Califia’s book nor in any other pro-pedo writings. It’s a serious problem and needs to be addressed for these advocates to have credibility.

kidsliberationSince the arguments for normalizing adult-child sex are framed in an anti-ageism, kid liberation paradigm, it behooves us to see what actual kids in a kids liberation movement have to say. Unfortunately, such organizations don’t usually exist for long. Kids grow up, after all. As kids, they lack the resources to build an organization. I could only find one at this time, The Freechild Project, which is included among the links. (Full disclosure: This organization seems to have adult leadership so it’s not really a complete kids’ liberation organization.) They do address, and condemn sexual abuse, which they define as forced and unwanted contact.

In Conclusion:

I think the subject of infra-generational sex is complex. I don’t completely agree with those who present it as healthy and problem-free if only the puritans would get their sex-phobic hands off. I also don’t agree with those who demonize pedophiles. Their hysteria on the subject only makes it harder to deal with the complexity of it all. Califia sees the nuclear family as, itself, sick. I would certainly welcome alternatives if they exist. In the meantime, stop the hate and start thinking.


Links

Addendum

And the crazy just keeps on coming. Now the guardians of childish purity are going after anatomically correct dolls. Change.org now has a petition to Ban Child Sex Dolls. A doll that doesn’t de-sex the human body. As if showing the truth of what we really look like makes a doll a “sex doll.” These dolls are “perfectly legal,” shrills the Puritans. What’s wrong with them? “These child sex dolls can normalize a pedophile’s behaviors, emboldening them to harm children, as is often the case with those who view child pornography.” Good grief. A pedophile is attracted to children without the encouragement of an anatomically correct doll. These dolls are not life-size blow-up dolls. They are made for children.

Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Pychopathic