Psychopathy and Religion

atheistPsychopaths are individuals and, as such, are probably represented in every religion. But, because we are more rational than most people, we are probably represented most prominently among atheists. I live in a heavily Christian country where atheism is so heavily stigmatized, no atheist has ever been elected to a very prominent position in government. A number of folks actually think atheism is “evil” (since believing in Christ is the paramount virtue). Psychopaths are also considered “evil” by a great number of people. Satanism is kind of an anti-religion although it now enjoys status as a religion which enables satanists to have chaplains in the army and such. Needless to say, Satanism is also considered “evil,” perhaps even more evil than atheism or psychopathy.

michelleI have long been aware of “satanism’s” existence in the world. I thought different things about it at different times. During the “satanic panic,” I read Michelle Remembers, a chilling tale of ritual abuse that turned out to be the product of a false memory. The media and I really wanted to believe these horrors went on if only for their sensationally scary value. Of course, we abhorred it but we secretly wanted it to exist so we could enjoy abhorring it with shudders and chills. But the sensational stories all proved to be false. The only real Satanism turned out to be a few legitimate, above-ground organizations that didn’t even worship the devil, much less perform sacrifices. Still Christianity made Satanism seem pretty verboten anyway. Christianity was “good” so Satanism must be “evil.”

styxI recently saw some videos by Satanists that have gotten me thinking. The one shown below is by a really cool, rational and intelligent guy named styxhexenhammer666. His views are an exact mirror of my own. That made me wonder if I was a satanist without knowing it. Styx was raised as a Christian but he managed to free himself from that insanity. He has, he says, always been drawn to the darkness (which is not the same thing as “evil”). I, who was raised without religion, have always been drawn to the “darkness.” Whatever seems morbid or somehow averse has always fascinated me. I attribute my proclivities to psychopathy. Styx does not. In this particular video, Styx explains why the god of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is evil. He is not alone in this belief. Many of the early Gnostics believed the same thing. It’s really not hard to prove. An infinite, all-powerful deity creates us, finite in power and understanding but with a soul that will exist forever. Then he judges us and either rewards or tortures us for all eternity for what our limited, finite intelligence led us to do.

 

Styx is a Satanist, but an independent one. He is a member of neither the Church of Satan nor the Temple of Set. However, he holds both organizations in high esteem. Nicholas Schreck, who married Zeena Lavey, daughter of Anton Lavey, founder of Church of Satan, was (or still is) a member of Temple of Set and The Werewolf Order. In some videos, he comes across as super-grandiose, to the extent of being downright cartoonish. Yet in other videos, he shows himself very intelligent and reasonable. Zeena Schreck is now a Buddhist, albeit of the dark variety, Tibetan, of course. She has given a class in the Kali Yuga, the age of Kali, a Hindu goddess who represents the awesome and terrible aspects of nature.

zeenanicholasStyx and Schreck seem to agree that Satanism is libertarian in it’s political direction. As such, we can see another similarity between Satanists and Psychopaths. Although we’re not all libertarians by any means, libertarianism seems to fit psychopathy particularly well. The lack of empathy and individual quest for pleasure and other good things make it a good match. James Fallon is a libertarian, one who is honest enough to admit that the policies of libertarianism can lead to real hardship of people who presently depend on government benefits in order to get along. Nicholas Schreck has stated that Satanism is not for the masses. It is elitist. He disavowed any concern for the well-being of anyone who is “weak.” He only cares about the strong, among which he apparently numbers himself. Libertarianism isn’t identical to Social Darwinism but it is close. Schreck’s views are so socially Darwinist as to remind me of Ayn Rand. She called her philosophy Objectivism. laveyLots of labels distinguishing fine points of a philosophy that is pretty much all about survival of the fittest. Schreck’s fundamental principle is that Nature is the guide to what furthers survival of our species. This basis of “the good” led him to some singular views. He also is down on homosexuality (not for moralistic reasons but it’s “not natural”) and rock music (it leads to self-destruction). As such, he gave the impression of a rather tight-assed, haughty individual. In reifying nature, Schreck aligns himself with Anton Lavey (although Lavey didn’t diss homosexuality and he embraced rocker, Marilyn Manson). Michael Aquino, of the Temple of Set, was more focused on the individual separating himself from the Universe. “The Black Magician … rejects both the desirability of union with the Universe and any self-deceptive antics deigned to create such an illusion.”

Styx, who regards Nicholas Schreck as a “mentor,” seems much more down-to-earth and reasonable. He clearly believes in ethics based on a sense of everyone having the right to be free of arbitrary harm. It isn’t clear whether Schreck’s disdain for “equality” would include disregard of the rights of the “weak.” Probably, he wouldn’t harm them but just wouldn’t hurt them either. In this respect, his views are a lot like those of Ayn Rand.

noreligion.jpgComparing myself to the Satanists, I find I am freer than they are. They still need to justify themselves by following a system of ethics that they can defend. To harm another without good reason is “wrong,” according to Styx. I agree it is wrong. But I have done so and don’t feel guilty about it. I realize I don’t want any religion because even one that isn’t burdened by irrational traditions feels like a straight jacket. Setians worship individualism. I already have it. Yet, my own form of mysticism would probably clash with the Temple of Set’s goal of being an “isolate intelligence.” I believe we are all one in a metaphysical sense. But, if we are all one, doesn’t that come to the same thing as being “isolate?” If all is one, there is no other. Rather a tricky point but I think it resonates.

thelemamemeStyx sees Satanism as aligned with Universal values. Although he doesn’t use those words, he actually preaches the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That is compatible with the law of Thelema, “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” What misleads people about the wording of this law is that one’s true will is aligned with the Universal will.

All these labels. All these meanings. What we are left with in the end is individualism. The phrase that resonates with me is still “I am alone. There is no god where I am.”


Links

Isolated and Trapped

Lucky Otter wrote a blog about the importance of mirroring by a mother of a baby’s emotions. This is a famous experiment demonstrating how lack of affect and recognition by a mother can put her baby into a tailspin.


A couple of You-Tubers, Nina and Randa, who usually vlog about veganism, made a “scary” video (probably for Halloween) called The In-Between (with someone named Maddie; it is recommended seeing it on Chrome for 360 degree vision), with a story about a girl finding herself in a strange place with nobody to communicate with is eerily reminiscent of the above video. She sees a girl being dragged away and she mentions it to the room at large. She realizes nobody’s listening. She stops talking. But then she tries to talk to these girls at the receptionist desk. They give her the typical corporate glad hand. “Please accept our sincere apologies on the behalf of the establishment.” “Would you like to take a seat?” “Make yourself comfortable.” The point is these “responses,” however courteous they sound, are not responsive to her need. There is not even a sign that they understand or acknowledge what she is trying to communicate. Just like the baby who is trying to get his mother to acknowledge (mirror) him.

The story ends when they tell her that her room is ready. It turns out she has died and is waiting for a new body to incarnate into. Good Halloween fun.

Reparenting a Psychopath

stoneDr. Michael Stone said, on the British TV show, Psychopath Night, “Psychopathy is like diamonds. It’s forever.” He was voicing the opinion of most professionals on the subject of psychopathy. A dissenting voice has come from David Bernstein, appearing in a video which has recently been included in a blog by Lucky Otter, Down the Rabbit Hole. Dr. Bernstein claims that a cure has been discovered. His school is called Schema and the particular technique is called Reparenting. Schema isn’t married to Reparenting. Both have existed independently of one and other. They have been brought together in Holland where they are practiced on some prisoners in their penal system.

bernsteinWikipedia defines Reparenting, “as a form of psychotherapy in which the therapist actively assumes the role of a new or surrogate parental figure for the client, in order to treat psychological disturbances caused by defective, even abusive, parenting.” According to Wikipedia, “Schema therapy was developed by Jeffrey E. Young for use in treatment of personality disorders and chronic DSM Axis I disorders, such as when patients fail to respond or relapse after having been through other therapies (for example, traditional cognitive behavioral therapy).

ickI’ll be frank. The very concept of reparenting gives me the Icks. Dr. Bernstein makes a big thing of arguing that psychopaths have a vulnerable side. Huge surprise! I already know I have a vulnerable side. Do I want to expose it to a therapist? Not really. But some people just love the idea of people like me surrendering to empaths and becoming empathic. Dr. Bernstein keeps emphasizing in his speech how hardassed his patients were. The more of a badass, the greater the victory. This reminds me of certain Chick Comics in which a hard-as-nails gangster softens up and “accepts Christ.” Dr. Bernstein begins his speech by describing two such badass psychopaths who break down into tears. He seems to be attached to the image of a psychopath crying. But they had both become seriously ill before they cried.

evilI have to ask myself, “What’s wrong with me the way I am?” My answer is, “Not a damned thing.” Yes. That’s very grandiose of me. I love being grandiose. Grandiosity works. Why should I become somebody else? Because society thinks I should? Because Lucky Otter thinks we are evil? “But sometimes they can be caught when their mask is momentarily down (usually when they’ve been called out–or caught), and it’s here when we see the emptiness and evil inside them.” I never fail to be surprised when people think it’s alright to call other people “evil,” especially based on the expression in our eyes.

Lucky Otter is a nice person. She really wants everyone, even psychopaths to be redeemed.

“God, please show these broken people who have made so many bad choices and act out toward others–usually because as children they were shamed for their own vulnerability by abusive caregivers or parents–that they do not need to rely on primitive defense mechanisms, abusive or aggressive behavior, or a “false self” in order to survive and be happy.   Please show them the beauty of their own inner vulnerability and that being sensitive can be a great strength and is never a weakness.   Please lift the scales from their eyes and show them that the things they have learned to believe about themselves and others are lies–and the truth is the opposite of what they have always believed.  Please remove the fear and shame  keeps them trapped inside cold, dark walls that separate them from their own vulnerability and the light of your grace.   If there’s a glimmer of their original soul left in them, please help that spark grow like a mustard seed within them and burn away the darkness that surrounds it.”

bethsuccessShe has blogged about Beth Thomas, a child considered psychopathic, although children aren’t supposed to be called psychopaths, who was “cured” by something called Rebirthing. (Rebirthing? Reparenting? There seems to be a theme.) The picture of grown-up Beth is supposed to show how psychically healthy she is. To me, the face shows a lot of anxiety. My own blog about this is called Tough Love Success?  For those who consider us evil, I guess the nicest thing they can wish for us is that we can have a personality make-over. Since so many blogs are devoted to writing us off the face of the earth, I guess this is an attempt on the part of an NT to find us acceptable.

So why does it give me the “icks?” Because I love myself the way I am. Beyond my grandiosity, I actually view myself as a work of perfection. (A work in progress? Sure. But even the process of my development, with changes and all, is an underlying shining diamond. Thanks, Dr. Stone.) Aleister Crowley wrote, “Every man and woman is a star.” I don’t accept the idea that I am sick or “broken.” Sure, my path is a lonely one, a path not much traveled. But it is my own and it is stellar.

tightropeThe patients of Dr. Bernstein and his team are convicts doing hard time. Those who can’t be “helped” by psychiatrists are sent to a place where they are given up as hopeless. They will probably never get out. That certainly helps explain why they allow themselves to be “reparented.” Do they really break down to be remolded into a more acceptable model? I don’t know. It’s not as if we aren’t capable of crying for an ulterior purpose. Dr. Bernstein reminds us of a shrink who discovered to his consternation that a patient who had been “making progress” under his care had actually been making a chump of him. He found that out when he read the man’s diary. Dr. Bernstein’s successes can be of the same sort. I think he realizes that.

If I were facing hard time in prison, I would probably accept “reparenting” if that were the price of a possibility that I might some day be free. But I wouldn’t feel good about it. I don’t want a conscience. I don’t want to feel guilt and shame. Above all, I don’t want to be like everyone else. As a psychopath, I am able to see things they can’t see. To me, they are often blind. I don’t want that. I don’t want to become a little child again and go through a lot of messy pain. I don’t feel guilt so I don’t want to do penance.


Links

Wait Your Turn

grand
Yes, I am grandiose. That’s a problem for someone living in this society, especially when that person has left-wing views. We are supposed to be equal. We progressives are supposed to be humble. But I’m not.

queuingWhen I taught English in Germany, one of the books I used was called Oh, These English, a humorous look at English ways. One chapter was devoted to The Queue. A more American way to saying this is “Waiting in Line.” The text assured us that the English love to queue up. If there are only two people at a bus stop, they will form a  queue. A single man will form a queue of one. A man in a queue is a fair man. This makes perfect sense, of course. If everyone can’t access something at the same time, there has to be an order in which people can access it. Everyone grabbing for it at once, the way people storm the doors of the subway trains during rush hour in New York is brutish and uncivilized. The strongest and most aggressive will get in first. They will get the best seats and the polite, timid and weak will be left with whatever is left over. Is that fair? There are also rules preserving seats for the handicapped since they usually wouldn’t be able to fight their way to these seats. Again, this seems civilized and fair.

telephoneSo what is my problem? Why do I hate to have to wait my turn? I do accept the premise that queuing up is the fairest way. But these days, it seems I’m having to wait for everything. Can’t talk to someone who’s on the phone. And people are always on the phone. I saw a comedy about this once. A man wanted to propose marriage to a girl but, every time he tried to pop the question, the phone rang. So, at the end, he solved the problem by calling her up, himself. What is it with the phone? Why does it pr-empt face to face conversation. Because the person calling can’t see what’s happening at the other end so he needs to be answered first? I guess. But when do people who are actually present physically get a chance?

trafficlightsThen there’s traffic lights. They are controlled by computer. Our movements are controlled by machine. Does anyone else cheat by crossing against the light like I do? I can see if a car is coming. These lights are on a pre-set length of time regardless of what is happening. Why can’t they have traffic cops? To eliminate jobs.

And what happens when you have to make a call to any kind of corporation? You hear a computer with a “human” voice, pretending to be a person. Now they have voice “recognition.” You are encouraged to speak to the computer which is supposed to understand what you say. I’m sorry. Computers are light-years behind real human beings in the ability to understand the complexities of human needs. They never seem to understand me. Then they say, “I didn’t get that. phonefrustrationPlease repeat.” But they never do “get it.” So we are presented by a list of options. None of the options ever seem to match my needs. A single operator can understand immediately what I’m talking about. But you have to go through so much shit before you get to reach the operator. Companies don’t want to pay human wages. Computers save money. With all the unemployment, shouldn’t real people do a lot of this work? (One exception is Google, which is amazingly skilled in grasping context and meaning. Go Google!)

dogbertBut back to trying to communicate on a phone. Technical support or customer support are torture devices. Not that all technical support people are bad. Some are really helpful. Hewlett-Packard has some brilliant technicians. But you have to go through so much before you reach one. They want to know if you are a business or a person. They want to know your name, if you have a case number, even the serial number hidden in the back of your printer. Personally, I don’t like to recite my name to a computer. It reminds me of Emily frogDickinson’s poem:

I’m nobody. How about you?
Are you nobody too?
How awful to be somebody
How public like a frog
To tell you name the livelong day
To an admiring bog.

numbersMaybe it’s my grandiosity. I am heartily sick of telling my name and spelling it out. And how about numbers? There are so many damned numbers. We have Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, customer numbers, birthdates, zip codes. Ugh! And then there are passwords. I have so many damned passwords. I write them down to remember them but it doesn’t help. My “user name and password” never match. I’m forever creating new passwords.

Outsourcing is another source of frustration. Did you ever reach a help-person whose accent is so thick you can hardly understand them. They live god-knows-where. They have no connection to our situation. But I guess they save lots of money for the corporation. That’s globalism. The United States is turning into a Third World nation. That’s where politics comes in. But politics involves meetings which I find tedious. The worst is those whose decisions have to be made by consensus.

people.jpgWhen you look at all the complaints, there is really one term that covers all the situations: Other people. There are too many people getting in the way and too few providing pleasure or help. James wrote an excellent blog explaining how psychopaths view other people. People who are not providing entertainment or information and aren’t an actual threat are just unimportant. This represents “most people on the planet.” Since there are so many of them, they are a nuisance. They are in line at the check out stand. They are on the phone ahead of you while you are listening to canned music, waiting for your turn.

socializedmedicineI think one of the reasons Americans are so phobic of the word “socialism” is that it represents being one of the crowd. I think many of us are pining to be treated as individuals without “other customers” always being ahead of them. In a small town,  you go to the store where the proprietor knows you personally. He has time for you and  you don’t have to wait. But the choices in a small town are terribly limited. The price of the plethora of options is being part of the crowd. People are always trying to get a more advantageous position. That’s why those who have an advantage guard those advantages so jealously. White and male supremacy are clearly, not only unfair but tools to keep the oppressed masses from rising up against their oppressors. But I think this is one of the reasons Americans fear “socialized medicine” so much. They know blacks have such a wretched time with clinics for the poor. They are afraid socialized medicine would put those blacks ahead of them, at least some of the time. They don’t want to lose their advantage.

tickytacky.jpgBut how do we give up our advantage when, even with a relatively privileged spot in the 99%, we are driven so mad by the constant frustration that comes with being a number, a cipher instead of a person. The solution of uniting to take power collectively looks like more of the same. Still relinquishing our SELF interest. Let’s face it. We want to look out for number one. And we are EACH number one to ourselves. Selflessness? Sacrifice? These words turn my stomach.

pigsheadIn Lord of the Flies, when Simon “hears” the speech of the pig’s head, “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! . . . 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 the way they are?”

Why aren’t I rich?

money

Stalked by the Devil

handIs the devil stalking me? Has someone placed a malevolent spell on me?

Going through shit that doesn’t even deserve to be documented. But so much, so many times. I guess I had better go through the highlights at least. I have had series of financial problems that really weren’t my fault. I know.  Psychopaths think nothing is their fault. But my story explains it all:

obama-china-and-cyber-espionage-2Several months ago, I was presented with my rent bill, double in size. Turns out I had never been credited with the prior month’s payment. Investigation showed my rent check had gone to someone else’s account. That happened the very next month again. Things were ok with the rent for a short while until the time, they lost the check entirely. I put a stop pavement on the lost check and suggested Courtyards eat the $31 charge for the stop payment. OK. But next month, the $31 magically reappeared on my bill. They say it will be alright. Hope so.

Meanwhile, other funky occurrences have intruded upon my live. Twice now recently my fly.jpgdebit card was compromised and I had to get new ones. I find debits on my account I didn’t make. I have to go without a card until I can get a new one. This story by Katherine Mansfield explains how I feel.

The Fly

Katherine Mansfield

‘Y’are very snug in here,’ piped old Mr. Woodifield, and peered out of the great, green-leather armchair by his friend the boss’s desk as a baby peers out of its pram. His talk was over; it was time for him to be off. But he did not want to go. officeSince he had retired, since his … stroke, the wife and the girls kept him boxed up in the house every day of the week except Tuesday. On Tuesday he was dressed and brushed and allowed to cut back to the City for the day. Though what he did there the wife and girls couldn’t imagine. Made a nuisance of himself to his friends, they supposed….Well, perhaps so. All the same, we cling to our last pleasures as the tree clings to its last leaves. So there sat old Woodifield, smoking a cigar and staring almost greedily at the boss, who rolled in his office chair, stout, rosy, five years older than he, and still going strong, still at the helm. It did one good to see him.

Wistfully, admiringly, the old voice added, ‘It’s snug in here, upon my word!’

‘Yes, it’s comfortable enough,’ agreed the boss, and he flipped the Financial Times with a paper-knife. As a matter of fact he was proud of his room; he liked to have it admired, especially by old Woodifield. It gave him a feeling of deep, solid satisfaction to be planted there in the midst of it in full view of that frail old figure in the muffler.

redcarpet‘I’ve had it done up lately,’ he explained, as he had explained for the past how many weeks.

‘New carpet,’ and he pointed to the bright red carpet with a pattern of large white rings. ‘New furniture,’ and he nodded towards the massive bookcase and the table with legs like twisted treacle. ‘Electric heating!’ He waved almost exultantly towards the five transparent, pearly sausages glowing so softly in the tilted copper pan.

But he did not draw old Woodifield’s attention to the photograph over the table of a grave-looking boy in uniform standing in one of those spectral photographers’ parks with photographers’ storm-clouds behind him. It was not new. It had been there for over six years.

‘There was something I wanted to tell you,’ said old Woodifield, and his eyes grew dim remembering. ‘Now what was it? I had it in my mind when I started out this morning.’ His hands began to tremble, and patches of red showed above his beard.

Poor old chap, he’s on his last pins, thought the boss. And, feeling kindly, he winked at the old man, and said jokingly,

‘I tell you what. I’ve got a little drop of something here that’ll do you good before you go out into the cold again. It’s beautiful stuff. It wouldn’t hurt a child.’ He took a key off his watch-chain, unlocked a cupboard below his desk, and drew forth a dark, squat bottle. ‘That’s the medicine,’ said he. ‘And the man from whom I got it told me on the strict Q.T. it came from the cellars at grantsWindsor Castle.’

Old Woodifield’s mouth fell open at the sight. He couldn’t have looked more surprised if the boss had produced a rabbit.

‘It’s whisky, ain’t it?’ he piped feebly.

The boss turned the bottle and lovingly showed him the label. Whisky it was.

‘D’you know,’ said he, peering up at the boss wonderingly, ‘they won’t let me touch it at home.’ And he looked as though he was going to cry.

‘Ah, that’s where we know a bit more than the ladies,’ cried the boss, swooping across for two tumblers that stood on the table with the water-bottle, and pouring a generous finger into each. ‘Drink it down. It’ll do you good. And don’t put any water with it. It’s sacrilege to tamper with stuff like this. Ah!’ He tossed off his, pulled out his handkerchief, hastily wiped his moustaches, and cocked an eye at old Woodifield, who was rolling his in his chaps.

drinkThe old man swallowed, was silent a moment, and then said faintly, ‘It’s nutty!’

But it warmed him; it crept into his chill old brain he remembered.

‘That was it,’ he said, heaving himself out of his chair.

‘I thought you’d like to know. The girls were in Belgium last week having a look at poor Reggie’s grave, and they happened to come across your boy’s. They’re quite near each other, it seems.’

oldmanOld Woodifield paused, but the boss made no reply. Only a quiver in his eyelids showed that he heard.

‘The girls were delighted with the way the place is kept,’ piped the old voice. ‘Beautifully looked after. Couldn’t be better if they were at home. You’ve not been across, have yer?’

‘No, no!’ For various reasons the boss had not been across.

‘There’s miles of it,’ quavered old Woodifield, ‘and it’s all as neat as a garden. Flowers growing on all the graves. Nice broad paths.’ It was plain from his voice how much he liked a nice broad path.

The pause came again. Then the old man brightened wonderfully.

jam‘D’you know what the hotel made the girls pay for a pot of jam?’ he piped. ‘Ten francs! Robbery, I call it. It was a little pot, so Gertrude says, no bigger than a half-crown. And she hadn’t taken more than a spoonful when they charged her ten francs. Gertrude brought the pot away with her to teach ’em a lesson. Quite right, too; it’s trading on our feelings. They think because we’re over there having a look round we’re ready to pay anything. That’s what it is.’ And he turned towards the door.

‘Quite right, quite right!’ cried the boss, though what was quite right he hadn’t the least idea. He came round by his desk, followed the shuffling footsteps to the door, and saw the old fellow out. Woodifield was gone.

For a long moment the boss stayed, staring at nothing, while the grey-haired office messenger, watching him, dodged in and out of his cubby-hole like a dog that expects to be taken for a run. Then: ‘I’ll see nobody for half an hour, Macey,’ said the boss. ‘Understand! Nobody at all.’

‘Very good, sir.’

headinhandsThe door shut, the firm heavy steps recrossed the bright carpet, the fat body plumped down in the spring chair, and leaning forward, the boss covered his face with his hands. He wanted, he intended, he had arranged to weep….

It had been a terrible shock to him when old Woodifield sprang that remark upon him about the boy’s grave. It was exactly as though the earth had opened and he had seen the boy lying there with Woodifield’s girls staring down at him. For it was strange. Although over six years had passed away, the boss never thought of the boy except as lying unchanged, unblemished in his uniform, asleep for ever. “My son!” groaned the boss. But no tears came yet. In the past, in the first months and even years after the boy’s death, he had only to say those words to be overcome by such grief that nothing short of a violent fit of weeping could relieve him. Time, he had declared then, he had told everybody, could make no difference. Other men perhaps might recover, might live their loss down, but not he. How was it possible! His boy was an only son. Ever since his birth the boss had worked at building up this business for him; it had no other meaning if it was not for the boy. Life itself had come to have no other meaning. How on earth could he have slaved, denied himself, kept going all those years without the promise for ever before him of the boy’s stepping into his shoes and carrying on where he left off?

And that promise had been so near being fulfilled. The boy had been in the soldieroffice learning the ropes for a year before the war. Every morning they had started off together; they had come back by the same train. And what congratulations he had received as the boy’s father! No wonder; he had taken to it marvellously. As to his popularity with the staff, every man jack of them down to old Macey couldn’t make enough of the boy. And he wasn’t in the least spoilt. No, he was just his bright natural self, with the right word for everybody, with that boyish look and his habit of saying, ‘Simply splendid!’

But all that was over and done with as though it never had been. The day had come when Macey had handed him the telegram that brought the whole place crashing about his head. ‘Deeply regret to inform you …’ And he had left the office a broken man, with his life in ruins.

Six years ago, six years…. How quickly time passed! It might have happened yesterday. The boss took his hands from his face; he was puzzled. Something seemed to be wrong with him. He wasn’t feeling as he wanted to feel. He decided to get up and have a look at the boy’s photograph. But it wasn’t a favourite photograph of his; the expression was unnatural. It was cold, even stern-looking. The boy had never looked like that.

inkpotAt that moment the boss noticed that a fly had fallen into his broad inkpot, and was trying feebly but desperately to clamber out again. Help! Help! said those struggling legs. But the sides of the inkpot were wet and slippery; it fell back again and began to swim. The boss took up a pen, picked the fly out of the ink, and shook it on to a piece of blotting-paper. For a fraction of a second it lay still on the dark patch that oozed round it. Then the front legs waved, took hold, and, pulling its small, sodden body up, it began the immense task of cleaning the ink from its wings. Over and under, over and under, went a leg along a wing as the stone goes over and under the scythe. Then there was a pause, while the fly, seeming to stand on the tips of its toes, tried to expand first one wing and then the other. It succeeded at last, and, sitting down, it began, like a minute cat, to clean its face. Now one could Imagine that the little front legs rubbed against each other lightly, joyfully. The horrible danger was over; it had escaped; it was ready for life again.

flyininkBut just then the boss had an idea. He plunged his pen back into the ink, leaned his thick wrist on the blotting-paper, and as the fly tried its wings down came a great heavy blot. What would it make of that! What indeed! The little beggar seemed absolutely cowed, stunned, and afraid to move because of what would happen next. But then, as if painfully, it dragged itself forward. The front legs waved, caught hold, and, more slowly this time, the task began from the beginning.

He’s a plucky little devil, thought the boss, and he felt a real admiration for the fly’s courage. That was the way to tackle things; that was the right spirit. Never say die; it was only a question of… But the fly had again finished its laborious task, and the boss had just time to refill his pen, to shake fair and square on the new-cleaned body yet another dark drop. What about it this time? A painful moment of suspense followed. But behold, the front legs were again waving; the boss felt a rush of relief. He leaned over the fly and said to it tenderly, “You artful little b…” And he actually had the brilliant notion of breathing on it to help the drying process. All the same, there was something timid and weak about its efforts now, and the boss decided that this time should be the last, as he dipped the pen deep into the inkpot.

dyingflyIt was. The last blot fell on the soaked blotting-paper, and the draggled fly lay in it and did not stir. The back legs were stuck to the body; the front legs were not to be seen.

‘Come on,’ said the boss.’Look sharp!’ And he stirred it with his pen in vain. Nothing happened or was likely to happen. The fly was dead.

The boss lifted the corpse on the end of the paper-knife and flung it into the waste-paper basket. But such a grinding feeling of wretchedness seized him that he felt positively frightened. He started forward and pressed the bell for Macey.

‘Bring me some fresh blotting-paper,’ he said sternly,’and look sharp about it.’ And while the old dog padded away he fell to wondering what it was he had been thinking about before. What was it? It was… He took out his handkerchief and passed it inside his collar. For the life of him he could not remember.

It’s awkward to be a victim. It gives too much power to one’s adversary.

Stigma and Psychiatry

jessicakellyJessica Kelly, Psychogendered, asked, “Is psychopathy a mental illness, or is it – as some would say – merely a defect in personality or character?” The way this question was posed indicates something important in our culture’s approach to psychology. Before psychology, before science, there was morality. There were good people and bad people. Some people were even evil. The reasons people were the way they were wasn’t important. We had free will. What we were was our responsibility. Psychotic people were probably possessed by the devil. They were kept in asylums where they wouldn’t interfere with the lives of “decent folks.” The conditions in which they were held were cruel in the extreme but that didn’t seem to matter in those days. Life improved tremendously for these inmates when their condition became recognized as an illness rather than a sign of evil.


The concept of mental illness was a major turning point in the way people with conditions such as schizophrenia were treated. Instead of being possessed or evil, they were seen as sick, victims of a disease. Over time, the concept of mental illness expanded to include snakepitmore kinds of behavior that society didn’t quite accept as right and proper. People who were “difficult” now found themselves vindicated as they were increasingly considered sick the way people with diabetes or appendicitis are sick. Nobody blames sick people and now victims of mental illness wouldn’t be blamed either. At first, people were either neurotic or psychotic. Later on, more forms of “mental illness” were “discovered.” Today, we hardly ever hear the word “neurosis.” We hear a lot about personality disorders, developmental disorders and mood disorders.

While we have tried our damnedest to separate science from morality, psychiatric antistigmaconditions have never managed to free themselves from moral stigma. People are still people and, as such, tend to judge. Conditions that are now considered to be disorders are those that cause some problem for society or, at least, clash with accepted social values. Advocates of people with stigmatized conditions can talk forever but society clings to it’s original judgmental view of people who don’t fit the idealized mold.


addictiondiseaseAddiction is now called a “disease.” So are problematic personalities and even learning difficulties. While it’s nice that alcoholics and addicts are not condemned as often and as harshly as they used to be, the “cure” for addiction still involves free will and discipline on the part of the “recovering” addict. S/he must accept certain dogmas which started in the 12-Step movement and have been adopted and developed further by professional organizations such as Hazelden. While considered victims of a disease, addicts are still expected to play an active role in their recovery.

Let us examine the concept of disease as a model for rehabilitating the image of people’s whose behavior isn’t quite acceptable. It is much easier to define physical health and it’s opposite. We all know what a healthy body looks and acts like. Behavior is dependent on our “values” which is a philosophical question.

laingWhile the medical establishment has built up an elaborate edifice of dogma, there have always been the mavericks who challenge those dogmas. Even schizophrenia has come under the scrutiny of Dr. R.D. Laing. More radical critique have come from Dr. Thomas Szasz, whose book, The Myth of Mental Illness, attacked the very concept of psychiatry. There is a movement behind these intellectual critiques. The Ex-Patients’ Movement: Where We Have Been and Where We are Going is but one of various groups that have taken issue with establishment thinking (and institutions).

People with “personality disorders” and conditions such as ADHD are less likely to find personalitythemselves in institutions where they lose their civil rights. Perhaps that’s why there is less organized resistance to psychiatry. Far from forcing “treatment” on people with personality disorders, psychiatrists are prone to avoid even treating such “patients.” That is especially true for people with Cluster B, the so-called “dramatic cluster” of personality disorders. Of this group, people with Histrionic, Narcissistic and Antisocial Disorders are usually happy to ignore psychiatry. Only people with Borderline Disorder usually seek treatment because they suffer the most. But psychiatrists are usually averse to treating Borderlines. They, in turn, are actively fighting their plight with movements such as Make BPD Stigma Free.

antisocialMost psychopaths, which psychiatrists call people with ASPD, Anti-Social Personality Disorder, are probably the most adverse to “treatment.” Most of us do not believe there is anything wrong with  us. An exception is Jessica Kelly, mentioned in my opening paragraph. She hearkens back to when “mental illness” was the alternative to being a bad person. Psychopaths are all-too-often considered bad or evil. Even psychiatrists who supposedly have moved beyond that kind of moralism psychiatry was supposed to eradicate often judge us in moralistic terms. I suspect one reason so many people can’t let go of their judgments is that we are, as Robert Hare puts it, Without Conscience. At the same time, we are hyper-rational which makes us calm and matter-of-fact even when discussing subject matter most people find volatile. Whatever the reason, the magic blanket which so successfully shields other “mentally ill” from judgment doesn’t seem to cover us. There are even books like People of the Lie by Dr. M. Scott Peck who unabashedly mixes Christianity with science.

psychopathtestThomas Sheridan, one of the most active haters of psychopaths has expressed fear that psychopaths would soon get away with crime on the grounds that we are mentally ill. Nobody really gets away with crime on that basis. Read The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. England has hospital/prisons for criminals with mental illness diagnoses. These places are prison. But you can’t always get out after serving your term.

Let’s face it. Moralism has never been superseded by science. Calling something “mental illness” doesn’t remove the moral stigma. Instead, the mental illness labels become stigmatized. No label is more stigmatized than psychopathy or ASPD. Whether we call it “mental illness” or a “personality disorder,” the label will be toxic. What is a personality disorder anyway. What is a disorder? It’s something wrong, something that shouldn’t be. Something that doesn’t work properly. In psychiatry, a “disorder” is something society doesn’t like. Robert Hare, who has called us “social predators,” has more recently said, “Psychopaths are not disordered. They don’t suffer from a deficit, but they’re simply different.”

stupidityWe are going to have to live with stigma. Correcting the judgments of psychiatry won’t do it. The DSM no longer called homosexuality a disorder. But homophobia lives on. Blacks are equal by law in the United States but are still discriminated against. “Jews need not apply” no longer graces want ads. But antisemitism is a lot harder to eradicate than such overt signs of it. Stigma will last as long as human stupidity which I expect to last as long as we live.

BORED

boredcatIt is well known that boredom is the nemesis of the psychopath. This blog has been a great antidote to boredom for me. But I still suffer from it in between posts. I refuse to write empty posts just for the sake of posting. And such empty posts would not alleviate boredom. Well, here’s a topic I boredpsycan sink my teeth into.

So what is psychopathic boredom? The worst kind, I’m told. I wouldn’t know as I don’t have a standard of comparison. But it seems to get worse with age. Fewer diversions. I have energy that wants a direction. When, all too often, there is nowhere to direct it, I am tormented, like an animal in a cage, pacing as I’ve seen lions do in zoos.

boringlecWhat do other psychopaths experience? I find that few of us really talk about this. One who does is Jessica Kelly. “Imagine that you are stuck in a lecture hall listening to a boring presentation on a topic that you have no interest in.  Now, imagine that that presentation will never end until you die.” Zhawg calls his boredom a “need for inspiration.”


boredpsychopathNon-psychopaths have had more to say about our boredom than we have. Claudia Moscovici,  at psychopathyawareness, made some observations which I can relate to. She says we focus really intensely on our goals but we lose interest in whatever goal we have been pursuing. She quotes Cleckley as saying, “The psychopath shows a striking inability to follow any sort of life plan consistently, whether it be one regarded as good or evil. He does not maintain an effort toward any far goal at all.” Of course, this can be a professionsdescription of where our boredom leads us rather than an explanation of why we get bored. And not all psychopaths give up an interest that quickly or easily. Some pursue careers at which they excel and stick to them throughout their lives. But others, like me, never have a specific life-path. I always took my life a day at a time. Claudia provides an explanation for those who don’t stick to anything for the long haul. “Going to medical school, maintaining a good job, nourishing a relationship, all take hard work, which may not always be exciting. Psychopaths prefer instant gratification and effortless results.” It’s true that I would rather be a racing steed than a drayhorse. Excitement wins out over tedium every time. Andy McNab was successful in his career because it demanded the kinds of challenges a psychopath enjoys.

boredkillerAccording to Adelyn Birch, psychopaths get bored easily because we have shallower and fewer emotions so we need “stimulation in order to feel anything.” But she claims we can only satisfy our need with “victims.” “During these times, the psychopath goes on an aggressive pursuit for more. Since they have no conscience, they are uninhibited in their search for relief.” Sure we need stimulation but there are other ways to get it than “victimizing” people.


beherenow.jpgYears ago, I came up with a strategy for dealing with pain. I focused on the pain itself, asking myself what, in the sensation itself, is “bad.” The more I focused, the more the sensation receded. I had discovered a way to make the pain disappear. The trick is you can’t allow yourself to think you are trying to make it go away or it doesn’t work. You have to be honestly focusing on the pain and trying to be as conscious of it as possible. I developed a philosophy to go with this strategy. I believe that what makes suffering is not the sensation of pain, but the effort to flea from it. Therefore, freedom from pain consists of being totally in the moment, in present time. Acceptance of whatever is happening at that moment is free of suffering. This goes with a lot of yoga and Eastern religion where being present is the key to enlightenment. It is enlightenment.

faceyourpainBoredom is a form of pain. Why not banish it the same way? This technique requires a lot of discipline. I can’t always achieve it. One must stop thought. Thought is like that pacing lion. One popular technique of meditation is the mantra. Think about what a mantra is. It’s a repetition of a word or phrase. I heard a story of a man who was “gifted” with a genie who would do whatever the man told him to do. Trouble was that the genie was so efficient, he finished every task really quickly and the master was burdened with the task of finding more things for the genie to do. Desperate, he went to a guru. The guru told him to order the genie to climb up and down a ladder over and over. That’s the mantra. It’s still a kind of pacing but it also shuts down other activity like thought. It’s a kind of mindlessness. I like to just focus on a single spot in my sight. Whatever it takes.


Links

Fairness

Is unfairness an affront to reason?

fairnessGoogle defines fair as: “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.” Just is defined as: “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” So the former word is more about rules and standards and the latter about morality. The word, morality, in this context implies universality while rules and standards suggest a sport or game. As a psychopath, I am sometimes shocked at how much a specific example of injustice can bother me. Fellow blogger, James, wrote A psychopath’s take on morality, sorting out morality or ethics, this thing that seems to occupy so much of the lives of those living in any society, moralityin other words, everyone. For many people, “morality” is whatever tradition says it is. For these people, rules and morality are the same thing. If a girl breaks the rules by getting pregnant out of wedlock, she has behaved “immorally.” Psychopaths tend to think more logically (not that only psychopaths are logical). We are more likely to work out our own idea of what is right and wrong by applying universal standards then appealing to religion or tradition.

knife.pngAs James pointed out, murder is the most universally condemned act. However, “murder” doesn’t apply to killing in battle or even court appointed executions. (Some people try to extend the definition of “murder” to include abortion, killing animals and other taking of life. But it seems clear to me that the reason murder is condemned is not the fact that it ends someone’s life but the fact that it is destructive to social cohesion. A society can’t bond very well as a united, functioning institution if people don’t know whether their fellow citizens are apt to kill them at any time. We have rules to make us feel secure in our social  unit. The same is true of stealing and other actions that violate our area of safety. As James pointed out, some acts are allowed in some societies under some conditions but not in others. Rape, for example, used to be allowed within marriage but now it is forbidden. As long as the rules are clear and predictable, we feel safe.

genocideThe more pluralistic a society, the more complicated and debatable the rules may become. The United States of America is extremely pluralistic and has a complex, often morally confusing history. As a people, we generally condemn genocide. I don’t think this word was used before the Nazi’s were brought to trial for “crimes against humanity.” It means “violent crimes committed against groups eichmanwith the intent to destroy the existence of the group.” We felt very righteous while Eichmann was being tried for this crime. But our history contains some flagrant examples of the same thing. Our founders practically wiped out the indigenous population to make room for ourselves. “We” also kidnapped and enslaved people from Africa. Slavery has long been a controversial subject, some defending it and others condemning it. The anti-slavery people won. Makes sense since one of the main points of morality upon which the American Republic was founded was that “all men are created equal.”

eagleWe have never really had equality in the United States. Defenders of the righteousness of our society say that only “equality of opportunity” is guaranteed by our principles. But we don’t really have that either. It’s generally conceded that our society is become more unequal economically. The 1% is richer than ever and the middle class is daily losing ground. The infamous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, has compounded economic inequality with political inequality (not that there was ever equality there either) by letting the rich pour as much money as they wanted into political campaigns. We still have one person one vote (supposedly) but the ability to massively advertise for one candidate over another makes the race unequal. Frankly, I don’t understand why blacklivesmatter.jpgvoters are so easily influenced by advertising. Can’t they think for themselves? But be that as it may.

We still have a lively discussion of issues, ethical or otherwise, in this country. Black Lives Matter has brought the oppression black people in the US to the fore as an issue that is getting attention. Of course, there was some extreme shit going on before the organization was even founded.


unequalAll of the above is only an introduction to the real topic of this blog post. Why would someone without empathy or a conscience care if someone not oneself is being fucked over? Clearly, some things are unfair. What’s it to me if I’m not the victim of the injustice?

As a rational being, I looked to the universe I lived in for order and consistency. What good can logic do in a chaotic universe? I guess one can create one’s own little island of safety in the midst of chaos. One can try to guard it and keep the insanity at bay. To an extent, this is the actual situation. Although even the craziest world has some kind of rational which makes some kind of sense if one knows how it works. I know there is policemanthe way the world is supposed to work and the way it really works. We are taught that we live in a fair world. “The policeman is your friend.” I didn’t know if he was or wasn’t because I had had no encounters with one. When I was arrested, it was nothing like I had imagined. Not only were our keepers acting in accordance to an orderly set of rules. They were like thugs. Even so, the news of cops shooting unarmed black people and getting away with it shocked me. It seemed there was a veneer of civilization spread over an abyss of nihilism. Power is the only consistency. Those with power run things no matter how they got the power. They can do whatever they want as long as they appease the ones with more power. And everyone keeps up the facade of a fair, orderly world.


I don’t obey the rules since they only exist to make things look fair when they are not. I logic.jpgpresent the facade of being part of the “fair,” rule abiding world. I find my islands of sanity within the whirling tides of lunacy. Not everything is based on the cynical use of power. Many people are just oblivious the reality and just go through life with blinders on. They are controlled by the people of power through emotions and sentiment. Their emotions are powerful. You learn to channel them in the right direction and stay out of the way. It’s a very alienating.

Part of me really wants society to be what it pretends to be. I argue about politics, present rational arguments on my Soapbox. I used to be an activist, going to marches and demonstrations, even getting people to the polls. I am burned out on that. I still see ryanturkpeople who continue to believe they can change things. I’m impressed with their good intentions and energy. But I don’t see them winning. No matter how absurd things get, nothing ever changes. Today I read about a  boy who was arrested in Virginia for taking a container of milk in the lunch room of his school. He is being prosecuted for stealing. He was actually entitled to the milk because he was on a program but facts don’t matter.

There are many more I could talk about but this wasn’t meant to be a political blog. Since I know the score and know better than to expect the world to be fair, why does it still bother me when I see a spectacular proof that it’s not. Because unfairness is a stunning affront to reason, itself. I always felt like I was surrounded by crazy people. I never liked it. I still don’t. I play the hand I was dealt but I don’t have to like it.

between a sleep and a sleep

Existence & Non-existance

babyfaceOne of my earliest memories was lying in bed suddenly realizing the extraordinary fact of my own existence. Of course, I already knew I existed but I hadn’t, until then, grasped the awesome implications. Ayn Rand said, about her impending death, “I will not die. The world will end.” So birth must mean the creation of the universe. The world begins and end with every person (and animal, too, I guess). This death we are talking about is a ceasing of consciousness. When we are in a deep sleep or lose consciousness, we experience this (if nothingness“experience” is the right word). What “exists” without consciousness? There isn’t even any time. You can be “out” for a minute, an hour or a month. It will not register as any time at all. When I went under general anesthetic for surgery, I remember counting backwards and suddenly I had a bandage on my abdomen and was told it was “over.” It felt like a miracle. I knew I had to go through an ordeal. I had to have my appendix removed. But the ordeal happened without me being present. Or, as Ayn Rand would have it, none of it “existed.” The surgery, the doctors, even the entire universe, ceased to exist, at least to me. Another time, I hanged myself. My rope broke after I had already lost consciousness. I became aware of cartoons and then the fact that I was lying on the hard concrete and I remembered what led up to it. The striking thing was that, although the idea of death, meaning non-existence is usually fraught with  significance, my first awareness after returning from this “little death” was complete indifference. How could I be indifferent to this extraordinary gift of consciousness.

Afterlife

neardeathOf course, not everyone believes that death means the end of consciousness, or “the soul” as some call it. They believe that life continues after death but in another form. There is evidence to support that belief. I’m talking about near death experiences. These experiences generally follow a pattern. The person experienced going through a tunnel and coming out at the other end to light. He sometimes meets others, a mentor or loved ones who had died before. There is a bridge and, if he crosses the bridge, he will never be able to come back. He decides it’s not time for him to die and he goes back into the body where he is told he was clinically dead for a while. Others explain away these experiences by hypothesizing that stimulation to the brain causes “hallucinations.” It strikes me that these “skeptics” are driven by a desperation to prove these things don’t happen.

Whether life continues after death or not, the idea of just stopping forever is pretty daunting to most people. Strange, feeling that way, the same people can embrace the “little death” of sleep or the disruption of normal consciousness afforded by many drug highs.

Psychopaths in Heaven?

devilpsychAs a psychopath, I wonder if death would be different for me than for other people. On a page that is simply entitled Psychopaths do go to Heaven, Someone called The Oracle wrote, “If we believe some NDEs, some describe having seen their all life pass before their eyes. This moment could probably define the final state of mind. It would also mean, that psychopaths (including our elites) will feel no remorse as they don’t differentiate between Good and Evil. They will die peacefully in their sick mind.” Despite the judgemental tone, I feel pretty OK about this opinion. Yes, I am beyond good and evil. My “sick” mind is at peace with itself.

Another writer, itscocobaby, opinioned, “I have often wondered about this myself..but I have come to the conclusion that they will end up alone in the afterlife..if their is one..the psychopath’s world it’s ME ME ME it’s all about me..they never shared anything in life why would they share anything in the afterlife? On C2C right now is a program about psychopaths and it’s pretty shivainteresting..” The closest I’ve ever come to a NDE was an acid trip in which I realized the oneness of everything. This isn’t so much a belief. It’s a certainty, one I don’t expect anyone to share just on my say-so. But it’s what I know. If we are all One, then I will be alone, we all will. The One has no other to relate to. But it is complete. Just a little mysticism but it satisfies me. Yes, itscocobaby, it is all about “me me me.”

The overmench replied to The Oracle, “I hope the elites are given a conscience in the afterlife.That would be hell for them.”

So conscience is a punishment? He’s probably right. Maybe empaths and NTs are being punished by god and that’s why they are that way. And psychopaths are rewarded by being conscience-free.

I believe I have come closer to the cosmic than many and death will only bring me the rest of the way and the transition will be natural and easy.

infinite

“His speech is a burning fire;
With his lips he travaileth;
In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes foreknowledge of death;
He weaves, and is clothed with derision;
Sows, and he shall not reap;
His life is a watch or a vision
Between a sleep and a sleep.”
— from “Atalanta in Calydon” Swinburne

New Age Claptrap

The circular nature of religion

newage1New Age philosophy is a fusion of various currents of thought. Theosophy is a big one. A characteristic of Theosophy is the view that it is universal, that is, it applies to everyone. It is divine. As such, it resembles the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It looks to “divine teachers” for revealed truth. But it also flirts with occultism from such groups as the Golden Dawn, the Qabalah  and Rosicrucians. In addition, it takes a lot from Hinduism. Because our culture is fundamentally Christian in nature, these various thread were given a Christian twist. For example, Karma, the Hindu version of cause and effect, has been given a moralistic turn in the West. If you do something bad, you will get bad Karma and bad things will happen to you. This is and isn’t how Hindus use the term. Sure, Karma will affect your next incarnation and you are likely to be born as something you abused (one reason many Hindus are vegetarians). But the idea of sin and punishment isn’t really emphasized.

newage2There is no “bible” or dogma for the New Age so everyone is free to his or her take on things. However, despite the freedom of thought, the ideas of New Agers are remarkably similar and harmonious with each other. I detect two currents, one embracing the “oneness” of the universe. New Age thinking is recognizable as such. “Thou art god,” proclaims the hero of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This sums up a major difference between the New Age and Christianity. We are all god or potentially god, meaning we are thouartgodultimately responsible for “our reality.” This has enabled a trend to laissez-faire political-economic policies. It can lead to blaming the victim and discourage social justice movements. There is something solipsistic about New Age philosophy. If everything is One, then it is all perfect. “It is what it is,” is the cliche of the hour. The New Age is generally about tolerance and peace and enlightenment. But it has been used to justify darker currents. Charlie Manson, for example, can say everything is love, including murder. Organizations like the Church of Satan and Temple of Set have claimed the New Age (to the consternation of most New Agers).

goodevilThe other current is the old Abrahamic duality. There is good and evil. Many New Agers use the word “Karma” interchangeably with their conscience. Anything that might make them feel guilty is likely to bring on “bad Karma.” Of course, Karma can also represent the “we create our own reality” viewpoint. Thus, you can find yourself blamed for misfortunes. “It’s your Karma,” can be a high cosmic viewpoint or it can be a callous dismissal. A “friend” once wrote off my drug bust caused by her possessing drugs in my presence as my “Karma.” At the same time, she was very paranoid about every karmatime I reminded her on the phone that they were “her drugs.” So I pointed out that if she got busted by cops listening to our phone conversation, it would be her Karma. See how solipsistic? A sword cuts both ways. The idea that we create our own reality is supposed to encourage us from taking total responsibility. But it can be used, instead, as a way to evade the responsibility fighting injustice.

job1Most New Age ideas aren’t really new. In the Bible, Job’s “friends” blamed him for his misfortunes (caused in reality by God’s wager with Satan).

Job 4:7–20 (NRSV)
7 “Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?
8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents.
15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear.
20 “See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers.

godsradarIn the novel, God’s Radar, a Christian tells the new recruit, “God will never let a right-thinking man starve.” Pretty much the same thing. The charitable explanation is that people want to believe they live in a just universe. The cynical explanation is that people want to lay back behind “I’ve got mine” and not concern themselves with those who don’t have. Since Christ preached to “love thy neighbor as yourself,” one would think a Christian would believe himself obligated to care for the less fortunate. But there are sufficient ways around it in theology.

Whether it’s said in the context of Christianity or the New Age,religion stands to help people accept death, disease and even injustice. It is also a dandy way to avoid the need for empathy.