July 14, 2010

"Nobody will understand what went on in this house to drive my dad to this level of insanity"

noor almaleki.jpglet me take a shot


An article in Marie Claire making the rounds via Jezebel and wherever binary political judgments are favored.

This is a version:

Around the sprawling, sunbaked campus of Dysart High School in El Mirage, Arizona, not many people knew about the double life of a pretty, dark-haired girl...

At school, she was known as a fun-loving student who made friends easily. She played tennis in a T-shirt emblazoned with the school mascot -- a baby demon in a diaper. She liked to watch Heroes and eat at Chipotle. Sometimes she talked in a goofy Keanu Reeves voice. She wore dark jeans, jeweled sandals, and flowy tops from Forever 21. She texted constantly and called her friends "dude." In other words, she was an American girl much like any other. 

But at home, [she] inhabited a darker world.

I'll fast forward to the end: her father runs her and her 43 year old female friend over with his Jeep in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant.  He then swings the Jeep around for a second pass.  When he's done, he flees to Mexico.

No need to speculate on Mexican illegals; lesbians, drugs or mental illness, or other go-to media explanations.  In this case, everything you need is right there in the title:  An American Honor Killing.  Yeah, they're Iraqi.


II. 

The fact that the Almaleki family is from Iraq is integral, by which I mean incidental, to the story.
 

But honor killings in America are a chilling new trend. In Texas, teen sisters Amina and Sarah Said were shot dead in 2008, allegedly by their father because they had boyfriends...25-year-old Sandeela Kanwal was allegedly strangled by her father for wanting to leave an arranged marriage... Aasiya Hassan, 37, was murdered in perhaps the most gruesome way imaginable: She was beheaded [by her husband]... for reportedly seeking a divorce. And this past spring, 19-year-old Tawana Thompson's husband gunned her down in Illinois, reportedly following arguments about her American-style clothing.

None of the people in that paragraph are Iraqi.  The Saids are Egyptian.  Kanwal and Hassan are Pakistani; Thompson's husband was black and a convicted drug dealer who killed her, their 7 month old and two nieces, 3 and 16, apparently on the advice of voices in his head.  If you can spot what they have in common, call me.

"They're all Muslim, dummy."  Oh, the religion takes precedence over everything.  So that's why Iraq and Iran get along so well.


III.

No, I didn't turn Left at the internet, I am not gunning for a spot in The Chronicle of Higher Education [sic.]   Of course it has to do with their being Muslim, but not in the easy way the article wants it to be.

First Law of Media: offer the reader the opportunity to debate the conclusions, but force him to accept the form of the argument. 

You get to argue about whether Islam allows honor killings: "religion of peace!"  "No, religion of hatred!" or whether this is generalizable to all Muslims, as long as you accept their premise that she did something that deeply offended her father and Islam.  Put it in the article with an apologetic cop-out:


Although honor crimes aren't officially sanctioned by Islam, they're associated with predominantly Muslim countries
They're not associated with Muslim countries, that's what they're called when they are associated with Muslim countries.  When they're associated with rich black guys, they're  called OJ Simpson.


III.

An aside: if you're going to argue about something solely on the basis of your personal prejudices, at least pick the side whose consequences support your worldview.  So a practical reason why you don't want this to have anything to do with religion is that it is very easy to make the explanation for a murder become the excuse for it as well.

Imagine that by calling this an honor killing, you make it impossible to give him the death penalty because the defense can argue that this is really an anti-Muslim political show trial. I realize that sounds far fetched. 

[Arizona Republic:] "An open process provides some level of assurance that there is no appearance that a Christian is seeking to execute a Muslim for racial, political, religious or cultural beliefs," (public defender) Little wrote, referring to [prosecutor] Andrew Thomas' Christian faith.

The debate stopped there. On Tuesday, [prosecutors] filed a motion indicating prosecutors would not seek the death penalty... a spokesman for the County Attorney's Office declined to comment on the decision.
In law, like in anything else, you get what you pay for.


IV.
 

The problem with the "Muslim honor killing because she turned her back on traditional values and wanted to be more American" logic is that she was already an American, Americanized, eyeballs deep in Americana well before he killed her.  Nothing in the article suggests that her life was ruled by a strict Muslim code.  The father recently became an American citizen; the kids went to regular schools, texted, MySpaced, listened to Oasis (why?), worked at Chipotle.  This is her brother's profile on Facebook:


noor maleki's brother.jpg

I guess it's possible an Iraqi "fundamentalist" could wear U.S. Army camo pants because  Sharia law doesn't preclude irony, but a more likely reason is he isn't a fundamentalist.  Just guessing.

But the article insists that this is about straying from her expected Muslim path.  e.g., in her senior year, 2007:

Noor would hint at threats from her father to send her back to Iraq (where, he said, she would "learn to be a good girl"), but no one really took him seriously.... Friends say her father had had enough of Noor asserting her independence and talking to American guys, so he and her mother tricked her into traveling to Iraq, telling her they needed to visit a sick relative. Only upon arrival did Noor learn of the real reason for their trip: to marry her off.

This is a typical paragraph from the article, all which try to paint the picture that her Dad wanted her to be a certain Muslim way, she didn't, and so he killed her. 

...by May 2008, the family was in full crisis. Noor's father had found a photo of her with male friends on MySpace, and he didn't like it. The situation became so heated that she started talking about moving out. One day, when Noor took the family car to visit a cousin, her father reported it stolen. When she learned what he'd done, she left the car on the side of the road and walked away. According to police records, her father wanted to file criminal charges against Noor to "teach her a lesson," telling police she was "disgracing the family" and that it didn't "look good" that she was moving out. Eventually she did move in with a friend. But after repeated run-ins with her father, and after learning that her mother was casting "spells" on her host family, she gave up and returned home.

...And in the spring of 2009, Noor got her own apartment... The next few weeks brought happier times... To pay the rent, Noor worked at a local Chipotle; she'd also begun attending Glendale Community College.

When Noor's parents learned where she was working, they started showing up and insisting that she move back home, so she got a job... as a hostess at Applebee's. They turned up there too, leaving her no choice but to abandon that job as well. With no source of income, she was forced to return home once more.

There is nothing in those paragraphs that would explain what would enrage the father so much as to want to kill her; or, put differently, all of these things already happened and he didn't try to murder her.  What here requires him to kill her?

V.

If you need cognitive anchor for interpreting this article, here it is: people routinely scrutinize every word of a New York or Washington Times article for bias, yet an article in Marie Claire is taken to be the whole story.

VI.

The moment you say,  "wait a second, this is for Marie Claire readers?" you start to see the sentences differently.  They are phrased in such matter of fact, Marie Claire simplicity that you miss that they are asinine.  You buy into them immediately.

The final blowup came that summer. In June 2009, longtime family friend Amal Khalaf awoke to find Noor sleeping in the family's van, parked in the driveway. Noor said her parents had hit her; Amal, a mother of four, took her in. To Noor's family, this was the ultimate indignity: Their daughter had chosen to live with another Iraqi family instead of her own.

Why would living with another Iraqi family be the ultimate indignity?  I'm not even clear why it would be an indignity at all, but the ultimate?  Worse than moving in with a Jewish boyfriend?  But on passive reading "living with a different Iraqi family" somehow makes sense and you stop there.  You don't think to ask if there was not something else that was enraging about it, you go along with the Marie Claire, "she offended her father and his values of Islam" theory.    And there was something else but the article barely mentions it, let alone explores the intricacies of it.  6 pages, 5000 words long, and this is all they say:


It's unclear whether a wedding actually took place. Some friends say she only attended an engagement ceremony; others tell me they believe she did get married, albeit against her will. Still others say Noor was given a choice of five brothers, but her parents didn't like the one she chose, so the wedding was called off. Noor's parents, in police documents, maintain that a marriage did, in fact, occur. Whatever the case, Noor returned to Arizona a few months later without a husband, and moved back in with her family. She missed her younger siblings, friends say, and her parents needed help caring for them.


Why didn't he kill her when she when she first started talking to boys?  Why didn't he kill her when she started wearing American clothes at age 4?

The answer is: they lived in America for 16 years, where that behavior doesn't shame him.  He may not like it, but there is no one who would look down on him here.  Shame is exposure, and as long as all these behaviors stay in Phoenix, no one knows what "s/he's" done.

It all fell apart because he sent her to Iraq. When he committed to the all-in, hail mary plan of sending his daughter to Iraq to get married, where she either rejected five men as unsuitable(!) or worse, got married to one of them and then went on cavorting with men in the U.S. (!!!!)...

... never mind what Allah thinks, now everyone in Iraq knows what kind of a man he is.


VII. 

The article doesn't mention any such communications; it barely references the marriage.  The article wants it to be about a woman finding herself, and struggling to separate from her father.  In other words, it's a domestic abuse story that they package as a honor killing story.

If you are an immigrant or of immigrant parents then you'll know:  that man was in daily communication with people in Iraq thanks to the stupid internet and mobiles. He was better connected to some Iraqi 3rd uncle than he was to his next door neighbor.  And, especially after his daughter returned, those communications were torture.  Explaining what went wrong with his daughter, why she wasn't being honorable, why he couldn't control her, how it was his wife's fault, his sons' faults-- in short, constantly on the defensive about how he couldn't keep his house in order, constantly subject to the criticisms and patronizing responses of an extended family that is so much a part of his identity and so little a part of  hers.

Not only was he ashamed, but worse, she was not ashamed at all.  She didn't even care what they thought!   How could this animal not understand that how relatives In Iraq she never met viewed her was far more important than any internal sense of self-worth?

And more practically, how do you explain to her "husband" and his family, back in Iraq, that his daughter is an adulteress?

That's got to be frustrating.


VIII.


This is what her brother wrote on Facebook:


What grabs the most attention from this situation is the fact that this is a Middle Eastern family. This happens quite often in the U.S., parent(s) hurting or killing their child(ren). The "Freedom of Speech" given to you guys, have made you all senseless, arrogant, mindless pricks. Everyone just talks, and has NO IDEA what they're talking about. The media, has drawn this image that Noor, RIP, was a saint, and my Dad as the Devil. Don't believe the reasoning behind this as "Too Westernized." As I have said before, me, my two younger sisters, and my three younger brothers are all "Westernized." Goes with the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." One of the biggest problems with society is that they believe whatever they see on the tube. "Too Westernized" has absolutely nothing to do with this. I'm not advocating what my Dad has done.
Another thing people don't understand is the fine line between Islam and Iraqi Culture. Iraqi Culture is misconstrued and manipulated form of Islam, that is strict on every level, and much harsh on women. 
This wasn't an "Honor Killing." Media just pulls fiction out their asses. This wasn't planned.
You guys be careful what you say, that's my father you're talking about. And my father is a loving man. He loved Noor. That may raise eyebrows, and you guys are asking "Why would he do this if he loved her?" He lost his mind. Nobody deserves this, and this never should've happened. And nobody will ever understand the kind of pain my family is enduring.
As I said, the only reason this situation grabbed attention for so long is because where my family comes from. Nobody will understand what went on in this house to drive my dad to this level of insanity. You guys keep talking, your words mean nothing to me. I know what happened, I know the truth.
I lost MY sister, and am losing MY father.


IX.

Go back to the asinine statement of living with another Iraqi family being the ultimate indignity.  In fact, that statement was dead on though I doubt intentionally so.  If she had moved in with a Jewish boyfriend he would have been horrified and enraged, but moving in with the Iraqi Muslim family was immediately worse because-- and this is the entire point-- now everyone in Iraq is going to know.  And since those people are his whole identity, he's screwed.

This is why discussions about honor killings get mired in a nonsensical theory debate about whether Islam promotes this.  Even if it did, the part that requires the violence isn't some internal sense of right and wrong or "against Islam", but exposure to other human beings who will look down on them.  

He doesn't care that she's Americanized or even an adulteress.  He cares that people are laughing at him. 

This is narcissism, and here I do not hesitate to spell it out explicitly.  The obvious is that he sees her only as an extension of himself, only as she impacts his own existence and not as an independent entity.  He's not better than her, she's just not a fully formed character, she's an extra.   But the more telling and scary part of the narcissism is that he thinks that by killing her, he has not merely stopped her but fixed things, erased his shame, as if it never happened.  As if the people back in Iraq aren't still snickering, as if human nature and reality are subservient to the magical thinking of a man who believes a Jeep can alter what God already saw.

X.

Two constants in stories about honor killings. First, some ridiculous multicultural idiocy that honor is extremely important in such societies.  The word is incorrectly used, because it means different things to West and East.  Honor in a western sense something earned (even by dynasty), like a hero might have.  It is internal, and while honor can be tarnished it had to be acquired first.  No one would say that the Chrysler mechanic downtown is honorable, you'd just say he's a good guy, etc.  But the word "honor" as it applies in "honor killings" denotes an absence of shame.  Honor in that sense is a baseline, under constant threat of exposure and entirely at the discretion of everyone else.

Partly this is a function of education, partly of culture, partly of religion, but inevitably the result of shaky identity that draws its strength in the way other people see them.

The second constant is the shocked surprise that the mother or brothers helped the man get away with it (or commit it.)  Why would that be surprising?  If his family didn't understand, if his family would be shocked and horrified and appalled at what kind of a man would murder his own daughter, then he wouldn't be doing it.  Again, he's not doing it out of internal sense of justice, he's doing it to alter how he is viewed by others around him.


XII.

I am aware of the obvious links between honor killings and Islam and I am aware of the various arguments concerning the extent to which this is cultural, tribal, religious or educational.  I don't care.  Practically, when you link honor killings with Islam, you make it impossible to stop them because either a) people are thrilled at the chance to attack Islam, which allows the rebuttal, "oh, you just hate Islam!" or b) people are too nervous to attack Islam, so it goes unchecked.

The first step in preventing these murders isn't targeting the potential murderer, but everyone else around him.  You don't debate the cultural aspects or the nuances of Muslim theology because those are red herrings, and treading carefully on cultural sensitivities makes it that much easier for the son of a potential honor killer to say, "I don't condone it, but I understand, and you don't, you're not Muslim."

Change the form of the argument.  You have to make the narcissistic honor killing a thing of even greater shame; you have to speak their language.   Don't say it's wrong-- they don't care if it's wrong-- don't say it's against Allah, don't say it's tribal, don't say it's a backwards practice, none of those things matter.  Say it is a sign of weakness and impotence.  Keep repeating that they aren't signals that you were strong and steadfast in your faith, but signals that you so petty and unfocused such that you had to resort to this.  Remind them how stupid it is to think that people are now going to forget that you're the father of a harlot and you're a cowardly murderer.  No Iraqi will send his sons over to the U.S. to marry your other daughter, and for sure no American will.  Keep saying that, not so the potential murderer hears it but so the kids hear it.

You might think that the American internet is the obvious place to do this, but it's not.  Consider Metafilter, the online forum where no topic is too controversial for an opinion grounded in either reason or expletives.    What did the community that fears neither God nor the NSA have to say about this case?

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is awful, but we've had posts discussing honor killings in general and specific incidents before and I'm not sure what good is going to come from this one.-- [moderator]

That's why it's going to happen again.

---


Another Honor Killing, this time in Iraq.








Comments

i'd hit it...... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 6:09 PM | Posted by randy: | Reply

i'd hit it...

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -55 (75 votes cast)
IA that the only way "honor... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 6:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

IA that the only way "honor killings" will stop is if the perpetrators are brainwashed to believe they do not accomplish their goal of appearing the way they wish to appear.
Unfortunately there is no way to accomplish this brainwashing, as they have no respect for us or anyone/anything which is not central to the muslim world.

It's like when barbara bush tells teenagers to just say no to drugs... it's kinda ridiculous, someone so radically unhip and uncool attempting to alter the peer minded thought process of teenagers.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (6 votes cast)
nice one!... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 6:21 PM | Posted by randy: | Reply

nice one!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 2 (2 votes cast)
>Change the form of the arg... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 6:22 PM | Posted by Alex-5: | Reply

>Change the form of the argument. You have to make the
>narcissistic honor killing a thing of even greater shame

Brilliant! You should write a small guide on communicating with nacissists if you ever have spare time!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 15 (15 votes cast)
what is the solution to nar... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 6:32 PM | Posted by andon: | Reply

what is the solution to narcissism?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 2 (6 votes cast)
Wait wait wait. So is the i... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 6:39 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

Wait wait wait. So is the idea behind narcissism that the person can't HELP that they've let their identity become so caught up in outside perceptions that they don't care who they hurt? Whenever you call something a "disorder" the impression is given that this is some complex that happened to them. That's one of my problems with the whole self absorbed behavior as disorder theory.

I take it this is not necessarily the intent. Most people simultaneously seem to hate narcissists as if they are choosing to be self absorbed to the detriment of others, however at the same time consider them to have a disorder that they can't control unless they get help. If it's not the narcissists fault they are a narcissist then how can they be held accountable for their actions?

Is it his cultures fault that he became obsessed with his image and killed his daughter? Or did he have a CHOICE to obsess over his image above the very life of his own child?

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You've fallen prey to the e... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 7:08 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Tom: | Reply

You've fallen prey to the exact thing Alone is talking about here. You're accepting a predetermined argument, and just debating the conclusion. Why can't becoming a narcissist be out of a person's control while fixing it is their responsibility? If you suck as a person, regardless of how you got to that point, it's on you to fix it -- though, of course, I'm going to go ahead and guess that sociopaths don't think there's anything wrong with the way they behave.

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always brilliant, alone. de... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 8:18 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

always brilliant, alone. def narcissism and not the culture or religion. it's silly (and a shame) that such things are used for excuses in situations like these.

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Topic suggestions for alone... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 8:24 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Topic suggestions for alone:

1) Please analyze mel gibson. What hte fuck is wrong with this guy? Narcissism m8?

2) Please analyze hollywood stars who support roman polanski. The man clearly raped a child. Are these people sociopaths?

THX IN ADVANCE.

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If you suck as a person,... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 9:30 PM | Posted, in reply to Tom's comment, by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

If you suck as a person, regardless of how you got to that point, it's on you to fix it

Great line.

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Excellent -- thanks for mak... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 9:49 PM | Posted by Chiara: | Reply

Excellent -- thanks for making me think about this in a way I never have before. I think the distinction between western and eastern ideas of 'honor' is incredibly valuable.

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Well, no wonder people don'... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 10:29 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Well, no wonder people don't want to be parents anymore.

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i want to hear Alones thoug... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 10:30 PM | Posted by randy: | Reply

i want to hear Alones thoughts on Mel Gibson because i think there isnt anything wrong with him at all.

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People who support mel gibs... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 11:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

People who support mel gibson should automatically be denied drivers licenses and they should have their income tax (assuming they work) raised 10%. And a file should be started in government records.

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Thank you, Doc. No... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:16 AM | Posted by A.: | Reply

Thank you, Doc.

Now, how can we make a few billion copies of your post and hand it out through out the world?

I third the suggestion of a post on Gibson - he reminds me SO much of my father.

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Fucking.Genius.</p... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 3:14 AM | Posted by Rudd-O: | Reply

Fucking.

Genius.

You've done it again. Excellent post.

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To the person who wrote the... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 3:19 AM | Posted by Rich: | Reply

To the person who wrote the original post:

You're splitting hairs over something that needn't be overly-analyzed. You suggest that the Marie Claire writer got it wrong, but all you're doing is offering a different viewpoint while arriving at the same conclusions.

God forbid you might care what others think of you!

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People are narcissistic to ... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 3:51 AM | Posted by anonymous1: | Reply

People are narcissistic to varying degrees and will often hide their narcissism behind things like honor killings.I don't think there is a cure for narcissism and hence no cure for honor killings.

I am puzzled why people can't separate Mel Gibson's bipolar illness from his personality.Whoopi Goldberg said that from her experience he wasn't a racist and I think that counts for something.

It seems to me like people are obsessed with political corectness and can't wait for someone like him to screw up.As a female and someone who has a mood disorder I didn't like what he said, however he sounded like he was manic.His girlfriend/wife sounded unusually calm about his tirade--almost like she was waiting for him to screw up as well.

If there is anyone who makes a case for medicating bipolar disorder,it is this man.His entire career has been destroyed from these recordings.

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Shame on you!How d... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 9:00 AM | Posted by Hossenpfeffer: | Reply

Shame on you!

How deceitful for a member of metafilter to assert that a moderator's deletion reason reflects the opinion of the entire site, especially when there was a MetaTalk thread debating the merits of the deletion, here:
http://metatalk.metafilter.com/19563/Honor-killing-deletion

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Tentatively: could there be... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 9:24 AM | Posted by R. Kevin Hill: | Reply

Tentatively: could there be a relationship between narcissism and religion itself? We use these hand-waving expressions "religion" or "culture" as if we were talking about speaking French as your native language, but it's not as if these aren't a psychodynamic phenomena in their own right. "The creator of the universe is staring at me everywhere, judging my thoughts" could conceivably be relevant to how one conceptualizes the self and its relationships to others, big and small. I have no idea which way the causality runs though.

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"'The creator of the univer... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 10:36 AM | Posted by Matt: | Reply

"'The creator of the universe is staring at me everywhere, judging my thoughts' could conceivably be relevant to how one conceptualizes the self and its relationships to others, big and small."
Possibly but it doesn't matter. The problem here was the *shame*- honor killings are shame avoidance- and very people get shamed by God. He doesn't call you up and ask why you can't control your daughter: you call *him* up and ask him why you can't control your daughter.

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Alone's response: I didn... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 10:54 AM | Posted, in reply to Hossenpfeffer's comment, by Alone: | Reply

Alone's response: I didn't know about that the meta talk thread (I didn't even know there was such a thing as meta talk.) That said, the point wasn't to indict Metafilter as a community of cowards, or the moderator specifically, but to illustrate just how easy it is to back off from this topic. And the reason it is easy is because it _appears_ to be about Islam, so everyone gets nervous. But it isn't about Islam, it happens to coincide with it but I hope I made clear in the post that the operative psychology is shame avoidance in the eyes of other people, and not a moral or internal ethical conflict. I look forward to your all caps emails.

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Sorry, my caps lock key is ... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 11:42 AM | Posted by Ben: | Reply

Sorry, my caps lock key is broken. :)
I'm just finishing Hirsi Ali's 'Nomad', and one of the arguments she makes is that Western values prize individuals, whereas (Middle) Eastern ones prize 'the clan'/community. Although there are a bunch of problems with her argument, it might make sense in relation to narcissism/shame avoidance.
If you focus on yourself, your own self-estimation, your own independently derived values, your aesthetic preferences (but not your starring role in your own mind film), the opinions of others and their assessments of your shame/honour status won't be such a big deal. If your peers/clan/community get to determine your worth, in practice or just in your nightmares, singing 'sticks and stones' to yourself will provide little consolation.
If you buy this, the narcissistic freak out is just an intervening variable, because the causal chain would look like: Islam's reinforcing group values/conformity > shame > hard-working teenager gets run over. Cultures of narcissism would still be a problem, but Quranic Allah-worship/People-magazinian celebrity-worship would be the agarrific petri dishes.

To paraphrase the late Cobain (sorry): Just because you're politically correct doesn't mean the Bible/Quran thumpers aren't out to get you.

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It appears that things like... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 12:36 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It appears that things like honor killings and these other gruesome "wonderful community leader killed entire family" stories come back to NPD. Your explanations are clear and make sense. Which leads me to:

Does Islam bring out the NPD in someone who was NOT prone (so if they lived in a place where there is a more "I don't care what you do" culture, this person wouldn't develop NPD)?

OR do Islamic cultural norms provide a dangerous template to justify murder for someone who already had NPD?

I guess a follow up question(s) is: Is NPD inevitable? Genetic vs. learned?

It seems like a bit of self-awareness is necessary to overcome NPD (or to get to a point where people don't flee when you walk into the family Christmas dinner party) and yet, that's the problem with NPD isn't it - the delusional thinking?

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I was the anon that threw o... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 1:06 PM | Posted, in reply to anonymous1's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I was the anon that threw out the "whats wrong with mel gibson?" question... and I, too, assumed he might be manic given that he had previously admitted he had bipolar disorder.

However I have since come to the following conclusions:

1) Mel Gibson is probably a fake manic depressive... as is so popular in hollywood and music today, Mel probably has either a very very mild bipolar disorder or no bipolar disorder at all. If mel gibson was genuinely manic depressive he would never have been able to acheive as much as he has, for as LONG as he has, without sooner or later it being known that he was in a serious depression or a manic state. He may, however, have cyclothymia or bipolar II but that shouldn't cause the insanities he is spewing fourth on that tape.

2) Even if we assume mel gibson is hypomanic on the tape, hypomania generally doesn't cause being a racist, antisemetic, sexist asshole. These are deeply held beliefs he's demonstrated before. This isn't a new thing.
Other than the fact he sounds like a crazy mofo, his speech makes sense, is at a normal rate, he's just very enraged and spewing hateful things.

3) It DOES sound like mel gibson is both drunk and enraged. I do find it easy to believe he has an alcohol abuse problem. And I don't think it is sufficient to blame a mood disorder, given he is clearly not manic, and only mania should cause psychotic crazy thinking. Hypomania is not excuse enough even if he were hypomanic.

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From what I have read narci... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 1:16 PM | Posted by anonymous1: | Reply

From what I have read narcissism is more prevalent in men,however women are the ones often selecting for this trait in men.Women are more attracted to someone who appears more confident and preoccupied with social status.Perhaps if women stopped selecting for this trait then it might be less prevalent.

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Damn women-always encouragi... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 1:51 PM | Posted, in reply to anonymous1's comment, by David: | Reply

Damn women-always encouraging narcissists. Great example of blaming the victim. Nicely done.

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Perhaps its men who have be... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 1:56 PM | Posted, in reply to anonymous1's comment, by Felan: | Reply

Perhaps its men who have been selected by women that tend to develop increasing narcissism, thus if women stop selecting for this trait then it will be more prevalent.

I don't really think this but I don't really think if women stopped selecting for confident men preoccupied with social status narcissism would decline.

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I don't always agree with y... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:00 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

I don't always agree with you, Alone, but I very much appreciate your critical thinking skills. Thanks for this post-it really made me take a look at how I unconsciously (lazily?) accept the form of the argument. Conflating honor killings with an arranged murder completely misses the point.

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Can you (or anybody) explai... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:21 PM | Posted, in reply to Alone's comment, by RC: | Reply

Can you (or anybody) explain how to make words and phrases appear as italics? That way I won't have to continue using capital letters to denote (non-yelling) emphasis.

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Re: "however women are the ... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:32 PM | Posted, in reply to David's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

Re: "however women are the ones often selecting for this trait in men.Women are more attracted to someone who appears more confident and preoccupied with social status.Perhaps if women stopped selecting for this trait then it might be less prevalent."

I don't think that person was blaming women, David. People DO need to do a better job of picking partners. Far too many people, like my mom, could not/would not see past the obvious veneer of someone with NPD. If you are going to marry someone, I would recommend taking the time to get to know them. Certain things will set off red flags - a sense of entitlement and clear episodes of anger set off by things like having to follow rules are examples.

I wouldn't marry someone I know to be an alcoholic who won't get himself into AA. Likewise, I wouldn't marry someone will a defined psychiatric disorder who lacks self-awareness and refuses to be introspective...let alone see a shrink and make any kind of progress. If more people behaved this way - demanded better partners - narcissists might become extinct because the people who are intrinsic to their lives wouldn't allow them to continue that way. It might not CURE the disorder, but it might help 'em lock it up a little bit!

Think of the CHILDRENNN! No one in their right mind should reproduce with someone with untreated NPD. I am the product of such a union (so, I'm glad my mom wasn't of her right mind) but the heartache, disappointment, frustration and near-death experience is worth contemplating before a women gets knocked up by a person with NDP.

It's just common sense. Most people aren't tricksters, it's just that people ignore the signs for lots of reasons. I blame those people for their ultimate divorce and effed up kids just as much as the disordered person.

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You bring up excellent reas... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Gretchen's comment, by David: | Reply

You bring up excellent reason why not to marry certain types of people ... as a long time recovered addict, I certainly agree with you. But the point is ... nobody "made me," or encouraged me to become an addict. And it was my responsibility to do whatever I needed to do in order to change that dysfunctional behavior. Anonymous1 writes: "Perhaps if women stopped selecting for this trait then it might be less prevalent."

Do you really think a male narcissist is going to agree to become involved with a female who calls him on his bullsh*t? No, its the other way around. He's not going to stop being a narcissist. He's going to chose a woman who doesn't call him on his bullsh*t. In any case, the responsible party cited here is the father. Period.

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Put the lines you want to q... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:45 PM | Posted, in reply to RC's comment, by David: | Reply

Put the lines you want to quote in between >.
Example:

Can you (or anybody) explain how to make words and phrases appear as italics? That way I won't have to continue using capital letters to denote (non-yelling) emphasis.

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"I don't really think this ... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:46 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"I don't really think this but I don't really think if women stopped selecting for confident men preoccupied with social status narcissism would decline."

It might.

Selecting for financial security/success and confidence is evolutionary biology. This is "normal". Just like men are biologically programmed to appreciate certain traits of youth and health in a woman (men are shallow b/c it gave them a better shot at getting their genes out in the swimming pool of life). NPD is a brain disorder.

These two things manifest themselves similarly but the difference is that NPD people are full of shit. They're actors. They're not REALLY confident - which is why they have to act super confident. My fiance is a confident person but he's humble (might not whip out an "I'm sorry" as quickly as might behoove him sometimes, but he's no jerk!). My father had/has NO confidence, yet went on and on about past accomplishments - all of which were heavily embellished. His business was nearly bankrupt, yet he managed to keep my mom in new cars and bragged to her sisters about something pricey he bought. It's an act - the end goal is to APPEAR the same, but the methods are different and the reality is different.

If we collectively demanded people with NPD cut the shit that MIGHT force them to change, or again to lock it up and stop being obnoxious pains (or stop killing people...). Simply having his wife leave him or his kids cut him out isn't enough - b/c everyone else believes/puts up with his act. We need to, like, brand them or something on the forehead! YES, that's it!

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I put this up - I keep forg... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

I put this up - I keep forgetting to enter my name!

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Sorry for the truncated fir... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:51 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

Sorry for the truncated first line. I'm stuck here because the code disappears when I give it's example. So here's a link that will take you to an html page which shows you the format: http://www.w3schools.com/TAGS/tag_blockquote.asp

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"Do you really think a male... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:56 PM | Posted, in reply to David's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"Do you really think a male narcissist is going to agree to become involved with a female who calls him on his bullsh*t? No, its the other way around. He's not going to stop being a narcissist. He's going to chose a woman who doesn't call him on his bullsh*t."

I agree 100% - but if NO ONE put with with his bullshit then what?

I am not sure how we (society...ugh okay sorry to pull out the collective here) would accomplish this but if it was possible then an NDP would have no choice but to change somehow.

It is a bit apples to oranges to compare addiction to NPD. People who are addicts have a physical dependency, right? Also. You say the behavioral change had to come from YOU. It can't hurt addicts to have families who don't enable their habits. YOU made the change, but, say, your mom stopped giving you drug money and your wife took your kids away. You very well might go on a bender, nearly die, "hit rock bottom" and realize you have a choice then make the right one.

The idea is to force self-reflection. Kind of like breaking an alpha dog who is "untrainable". I have no idea what is done to those dogs but afterward they're fairly docile. I'd LOVE to witness a complete break in my father - but it'll never happen b/c like you said, he just finds new people to buy the bullshit.

PS: if my lack of swear editing offends, I apologize. But I feel we're all adults and have good enough reading comp to see through the asterisks. I swear in real life. It adds to my womanly charm.

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It seems just about everyon... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 2:57 PM | Posted by RB: | Reply

It seems just about everyone has these qualities you call narcissism if you really look closely, but not all people happen upon a situation where these qualities result in something like an "honor killing."

So if everyone has it, when do we stop calling it "narcissism" and start calling it "human nature?"

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I didn't define it. I'm not... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Posted, in reply to RB's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

I didn't define it. I'm not a shrink. Don't listen to me; I merely speak from my butt. But you might be inclined to listen to these peeps:

http://allpsych.com/disorders/personality/narcissism.html

Only one person I know is actually like THAT. My dad. We don't talk.

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It makes sense that people ... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Posted by Joseph Bergevin: | Reply

It makes sense that people defer to the form of an argument. Our culture is based on the idea of experts. No one's opinion is of merit unless it's been sanctioned, which provides no incentive to think outside your own expertise. It's more productive to be told what to think than to derive one's own theory. Who's going to buy an argument with a source of "you?" Doing that just makes you a crackpot.

Ideas are seen as money - there's some authority that mints them. You want them and readily accept that you can't make them.

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Interesting take on this ph... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 3:54 PM | Posted by John H.: | Reply

Interesting take on this phenomenon. I think this type of herd mentality is prevalent in other strong religious cultures, as well. Just my opinion, but this seems more about conformance to a generally unreachable/unachievable standard than it is about shame or the unforgivable "sin". And couple that impossible standard with a weak self-image and desire to be seen a certain way by others, and you have the formula for all sorts of irrational, bizarre behaviors. Such as "Christian" parents disowning their pregnant teenage daughter. (Kicking out YOUR CHILD for a simple mistake?!?) It's about being seen as upholding the "right" standards. Oh, and when the church says to hate gays, killing a few of them doesn't seem so barbarous anymore, does it?

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"So if everyone has it, whe... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 6:28 PM | Posted, in reply to RB's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

"So if everyone has it, when do we stop calling it "narcissism" and start calling it "human nature?"

I think people get confused because shorthand for Narcissistic Personality Disorder is "narcissist". Sure, we all have some degree of narcissism (or self love or self esteem) but people with a NPD have narcissistic disorder. So, yes, we can all be selfish, cover up insecurity with some form of bravado, feel inappropriately entitled, put on a fake front to impress someone or use others - but someone with a NPD does these things as their regular modus operandi and feels no remorse when their actions hurt others. So the distinction is between healthy narcissism and unhealthy/malignant narcissism, and someone with a NPD is the extreme of the unhealthy scale.

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Re: Mel Gibson. His family ... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 6:47 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Re: Mel Gibson. His family is nutty as pecan pie. His father is a notorious religious figure in Australia who's obsessed with reviving Catholicism as it was a couple of centuries ago (and promoter of conspiracy theories). Mel's first wife was hidden away somewhere far from Hollywood essentially being a breeder (since she's also religious, having 7 kids and staying away from the rest of her husband's life may have been her choice).

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Matt:I don't pretend... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 8:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Matt's comment, by R. Kevin Hill: | Reply

Matt:
I don't pretend to understand the phenomenon, but look: God doesn't teach you to ring up God, people do. Assume that people have some degree of proneness to shame (it would make sense evolutionarily for pack hunters to be sensitive to how they stand with/in the pack). Mightn't a culturally created trigger that one was constantly exposed to that pushed the "the Other disapproves" button all the time affect how that button functions, and thus how it functions in relation to ordinary social cues? What I guess I'm speculating here is that one form of shame-management available in secular/individualistic societies is *privacy*. But if you think an Other is watching *anyway*, you don't have the resources to develop a thicker skin as it were. And then you are more vulnerable to what concrete Others say, your neighbor for example.

I'm not sure there's anything in this, but if you read some first person literature about, say, Catholic experience, this vulnerability to shame comes up, linked to social authority figures constantly insisting that you are being watched... by God. It is a kind of training in shame. I don't have this experience myself, but I think I recall this in Joyce, and in Mary McCarthy.

So my claim was not that people are shamed because of what God thinks as opposed to what their neighbors think. They are simply more prone to shame in relation to any social stuff they care about, because the idea of an all-seeing God with a lively interest in your "reputation", if deployed a certain way in a social environment, enhances vulnerability to shame. And this is without the very communal dimension of call to prayer, synchronized, etc.

Or not. Just speculating. I just find it odd that people say things like "it's culture" as if this was some sort of psychologically inert thing, like a language, or a set of opinions, and had no power to shape the very emotional-psychological processes that we're talking about here.

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The entirety of this discus... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2010 10:18 PM | Posted by AndrewAtor: | Reply

The entirety of this discussion focuses around Mel Gibson, completely derailed from the topic of Honor Killings. Like so many magazines and online drivel collumns, you've all become prey to the re-argumentation instinct.

NDP, Bipolar, Schizo, ODD, whatever. It's a function of the prisoner's dilemma of moralistic escalation to the point where one personality will either accept the reasoning of the other or the other will enforce the authority from which their voice expels. This is why our pattern recognition processors or Perception Realty Processors, brains, whatever will constantly and consistently find a philosophy to back up whatever direction they find their morality currently engaged.

Let's take two populations, one that sticks together with other people, and another that prefers the company of themselves. Is it crazy to want to be by oneself? Is Alone truly alone or does he just hate all of us to the point where he prefers rum to patients. Patience with patients is derived from rum and the dopamine which it provides your brain with the luxury of enjoying. It's that or actually talking with other people. In society. As it exists today. Under the social constructs that we call reality. With liberty and justice for honor.

This girl's father made the choice a long time ago that he would rather cling to the instincts of his chosen tribe than integrate into the world around him. Maybe he just needed more alcohol to find his own instinct instead of relying on the instincts of others? Maybe Perception Manipulation of Modern Times re-inforced his loosely held opinion of his daughter being an independent entity with an identity completely devoid of his opinion (which is not to say input. People are, if nothing else, a process). Speaking of process, service, and honor, it might come as a surprise to the rightfully enraged victim of stupidity that is the brother mentioned in the article that his father truly acted on love.

Yes, love. Mawuage iz wha bwwing ussth togetthhhuuuh, todaayy. An institution so fucked and failed that even my iPhone auto-corrects veiled to bowels as if the shit geyser of irrelevance that spews forth from ever-lasting bondage is something to be honored and respected due to the sanctity of its sex being behind closed doors instead of a $5 pay per view event. Oh wait. The Bachelorette exists. Never mind. Advertising and wasting your time looking at people shilling shit you'd never want to buy or associate yourself with if you weren't stuck in a societal prisoners dilemma of truth or dare with ones appearance and identity is an excellent way to spend one's time currency.

What I need to see happen in order for me to not immediately hate everyone that comes to the defense of the kid's probably inevitable melt-down and rage is for everyone here to remember the words: If you suck as a person, it's your job to fix that. Granted I'll come to his defense with a bong, some happy pills, and a handle of Gentlemen's Jack, but that's because I'm a humanitarian. If this does not spark a national debate on memewarfare you have all failed as students of mercantilism and fourth generation warfare.

No one with NPD needs to go to Rehab, they need to keep doing worth that ensures they get to keep drinking. In which case, I hereby challenge Mel Gibson to the game of drunken asshole. He can handle the Jews and I'll handle the southern whites, blacks, the general location of the middle east and we'll throw in the Orient for shits and giggles because we all know how much they love being called Orientals.

-Written but not reviewed for errors in grammar, thought, diction, or narcissism.

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I think you need to stop bl... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 12:11 AM | Posted, in reply to Gretchen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think you need to stop blaming your parents for your present unhappiness. The therapists must love you$$$. You simultaneously find a way to blame your father and your mother in one fell swoop. This is what's wrong with our society today - adults who still think and act like entitled children. Ironically you are more like the sort of person alone is trying to describe than you seem to realize. You sit around entitled to happiness, to wholeness, to confidence, you wonder why you don't have these things... here's a clue. Stop thinking of yourself as the child of a NPD and a silly woman, and start thinking of yourself as an independent adult woman and then maybe that's the very first step to you feeling a sense of wholeness. Once you accept you are an adult and responsible for yourself you can work on what you need to do to feel a sense of power and worth and that validity you feel you were cheated out of by your "NPD father" whatever that means.

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.. You are assuming narciss... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 12:22 AM | Posted, in reply to anonymous1's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

.. You are assuming narcissism is primarily genetic, biological. I happen to agree with you (I very strongly disagree with the idea that PDs are caused primarily by trauma). However, many would disgaree. It is far from accepted that narcissism is an innate trait, yet you speak as if it were fact.

.. Men who demonstrate the operative traits that amount to "narcissism" usually are found in higher rank in society. In the environment we evolved in it would be a good idea to reproduce with them. In the modern world none of this is particularly true (and today we aren't rapidly proliferating our genes the way a successful hunter or agriculturist might have) but our genes are still oriented in a way that women are attracted to aggressive, selfish jerks when logic suggests this is foolish on a personal level.

Actually it is shown in studies that women's attractedness to men fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle - during periovulation when estrogen is high and unopposed (this is the only time women are fertile) women are attracted to men with signs of high testosterone/masculine faces and deeper voice pitch... during the luteal phase when progesterone is high (as might be the case in pregnancy) women do not express this preference and favor signs of agreeableness and less extreme masculinity in men - The sorts of traits that would make a man a good husband or caregiver to children.

Or in other words, when women are ovulating, they seek out the assholes (who have the makings for NPD) and the rest of the time they want to pair up with the less insane, more stable and supportive and cooperative guys. Which, from an evolutionary perspective, makes complete sense. Men cannot know who's genes are inside of your womb. The genes you want are the man who's got the core personality traits for success, which often is related to NPD.


.. I doubt this is out of the conscious control of women, any more than it is under the control of men to be attracted to young women with nice skin and full lips and such. It's likely biologically driven, innate.

.. Let's assume all of this is true... that NPD is mostly an innate disorder and it has evolved due to women selecting men with the personality traits that amount to success (confident, motivated to achieve something/status, not particularly sensitive or cooperative and primarily interested in themselves).
And, lets assume my argument is also true: that this is biologically innate in women as well (women are simply more sexually attracted to these kinds of men).

Given we are dealing with two primarily biological phenomena here, it is no less reasonable to ask men in general to stop being such selfish subclinical (and clinical) narcissists, than it is to ask women to stop being sexually attracted to them.

Why not just socially condition men to denounce their tendency toward selfish antisocial thinking/behavior? If we were to do that, you would be up in a fit, as would probably alone and every other covert "macho guy". Because we already ARE doing this in schools, and there is a subset of men who is pretty pissed off abut how pussified we are trying to make today's men.


The real issue is this: you're upset that you're not one of the narcissists that is winning, that women are attracted to and find fascinating. You're upset that there are jerks out there who are arrogant and self centered and women are fascinated with them.
IN reality you're not that much different than this guy, the only difference is you don't express those personality traits as strongly as HE does, and so women do not find you quite as attractive. More of a quiet nerdy type probably, keep to yourself and such.

I really find it ironic, the "nice guys" who whine that women like "jerks" (jerks = narcissists). Whiny aggressive "nice guys" are invariably failed narcissists, hardly nice guys. They're usually extremely aggressive and selfish but they lack the social skills or other skills to put their narcissism to use.

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Oh and if your father had "... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 12:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Gretchen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh and if your father had "no confidence" odds are he wasn't a real narcissist since NPD people generally do 100% believe they are very special people.

Your father sounds more like a pathological liar, conman or something... if he KNOWS it's a lie and he doesn't really think he's special (i.e. no confidence) he cannot be a narcissist.

The more you talk the more you come across as a narcissist, at the very least, you sound like an entitled brat. Bragging about your fiance, admonishing your father, almost as if everyone in your life is there just for *you* like they hardly matter at all. "Waaaa my father wasn't wealthy enough" and "My fiance now IS a successful man so there!"

I mean, ugh.

I usually hate on the people on this blog who call others narcissists but man, you are making me a hypocrite today. You sound so much like a shallow entitled child-woman.

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I think mel would fight you... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 12:32 AM | Posted, in reply to AndrewAtor's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think mel would fight you for the blacks. He wouldn't give you that so easily.

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My cultural label is more a... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 12:51 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

My cultural label is more appropriate than any other ?

Pretty much no one likes getting laughed at, not everyone turns into a violent killer because of it. Is this something that can be reduced down to one cause ? Besides, narcissism may have caused the actions, but the actions are backed up by cultural beliefs.

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I was merely speculating on... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 1:53 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by anonymous1: | Reply

I was merely speculating on a evolutionary level about narcissism and I have heard about the fact that women's attraction changes over the menstral cycle.

I don't know to what degree narcissism is biological or environmental.

I certainly don't blame the victim in this case.

I actually am a female so I don't think you are right about me being a failed narcissistic male--although maybe a failed nerdy narcissistic female.

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Excellent post. All domesti... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 3:13 AM | Posted by Sonya: | Reply

Excellent post. All domestic violence is about a man trying to escape his shame which he blames on his wife/daughter/whatever. But it's not necessarily narcissism. Have you read any of Stosny's work?

As for you folks talking about evolutionary psychology...take it from an evolutionary biologist, you are talking out your ass. You're talking about a process that will literally take tens of thousands of years and will only take place IF a) narcissism is genetic and b) women not only select non-narcissistic men but also have significantly more children than the women who select narcissistic men and c) isn't recessive and d) doesn't raise fitness when heterozygous. Then sit back and wait a few millennia. Not really a real world solution.

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Go troll somewhere else. Al... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 11:25 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

Go troll somewhere else. Also, provide your name or something - stop hiding behind the Anonymous. It's very childish.

Where did I talk about myself or being unhappy *anywhere*. My father tried to kill me because I told him to stop hitting my mother - then when I stopped talking to him after the incident he told me he was going to kill himself and that it would be my fault. I no longer speak to him because he is a really bad person to have in my life. I find that to be a neutral statement - it's not meant to be loaded at all. Those are just facts: where did I say anything beside that? I am very happy, independent, hard working person and enjoy mild success for a 25 year old. I blame my mother for her part in their failed relationship and for the effect it is having on my younger siblings. I blame my father for his part. Their relationship was a toxic element in our (me/my siblings) lives and it still does. He has been diagnosed with NPD. It makes him hard for anyone to handle - which is why he "shrink shops"...so he'll never get better!

You're a cad, and a coward; please go pick on someone else.

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A <a href="http://www.flori... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 11:36 AM | Posted by Dylan: | Reply

A local doctor recently committed suicide after being accused of nearly beating his wife to death. The reason? Yep, you guessed it: she confronted him about an affair he was having. Wrong move on her part, as we all know narcissists don't react well to confrontation.

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"Bragging about your fiance... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 11:37 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

"Bragging about your fiance, admonishing your father, almost as if everyone in your life is there just for *you* like they hardly matter at all. "Waaaa my father wasn't wealthy enough" and "My fiance now IS a successful man so there!"

- I'm proud of my fiance: his success is his own, of his own hard work and determination. Together, with our combined work, we're supporting ourselves and paying off his loans. He and I are not wealthy but any measure but we live within our means and I am very proud we've pulled this off, considering most 20-somethings I know live at home and can barely finish school. Yes. That's very entitled of me - having a job and paying a mortgage off at 25.

- Admonishing my father: Yes. Again. He strangled me b/c when he was hitting my mother I yelled at him to stop - how dare I challenge his authority to hit someone. I am a brat for stopping him! The bruises he left on me...well you're right. I should have worn them proudly, seeing as how I needed to be put in my place. Believing a father shouldn't physically beat up his kids is...entitled?

Please crawl back under your rock, stop making up stories and stop trolling. Your ad hom attacks are incredibly creative and you are a master at twisting words to suit your hobby of ripping people down for no reason.

Oh and please do better research. Per the DSM IV
"Prognosis is limited and based mainly on the individual's ability to recognize their underlying inferiority and decreased sense of self worth."

NPD's DO have a legitimate sense of entitlement/superiority/grandiosity...and yes, they DO really believe it. BUT. It's all born from a deep down feeling of worthlessness. Most don't recognize this inferiority exists because they've worked so hard for years to bury it under bragging and facade-building.

But I suppose you'll just tell the DSM IV it doesn't know what it's talking about.

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Sonya: I said that female p... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 11:51 AM | Posted, in reply to Sonya's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

Sonya: I said that female preference for providers, and men's preference for a certain body ratio and a slim, healthy woman, is based on evolution. This is pretty established, well known stuff.

What I said about women picking non-NPD people was to help phase out this behavior from a social perspective. Of course it would take thousands of years to *biologically* phase out traits. But if we socially didn't put up with certain behaviors surly the effects (if any) would occur more quickly. Example: 200 years ago anti-black attitudes and slavery were prevalent. Collective attitudes today (I HOPE?!) don't look very similar. Women can vote - that would never have happened in the 1700s! Yet today, to prevent a woman from voting would cause an uproar. Society changes much more quickly than biology. My argument had nothing to do with breeding-out this trait in people (especially since it seems that NPD is a nurture behavior over a nature behavior).

We need to pick better spouses and that will guarantee a better outcome for kids. That's my main argument sorry if it was lost!

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This is perfectly normal be... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 1:50 PM | Posted by someone: | Reply

This is perfectly normal behavior among Muslims, whether they're living somewhere in the Islamic world or in the heart of Western culture. There is nothing anyone can do to unfuck their minds and turn them into civilized people. The only thing we can do is keep as many of them as possible away from us and make the Western world inhospitable to Islam.

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Dude, I feel sick after rea... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 2:38 PM | Posted, in reply to Dylan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Dude, I feel sick after reading that story.

This my friend is a classic example of a narcissistic psychopath. Of course he's a fucking physician how stereotypical.

You picked a waaay better example than alone has picked in the past.

His wife confronted him with his bullshit, so he figured "better kill her to preserve my face and $$$" and then he failed, so realizing what lay before him (shame and loss of esteem in the community not to mention probably losing a lot of his $$$ in divorce) he simply decided to kill himself.

That's just scary. Ugh.

Whore nurse + narcissistic psychopath physician are going to hell for sure.

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Gretchen, just wanted to th... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 3:01 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

Gretchen, just wanted to throw out some support for you lady! I must say, finished with school and paying off a mortgage is pretty damn impressive for anyone. Not that it determines being a good person or not, but it's wonderful, and not that many people are able to accomplish it at all much less within the four years we are allotted. I'm sort of a trouble maker and don't necessarily agree with the current construct of mental health/illness... but regardless this anonymous person is being unreasonably cruel.

I see it as legitimate to debate a diagnosis, or the definition of NPD and all that, but to put you down for discussing your thoughts on an abusive father is BS.

Something tells me this anonymous is a man. (Do you beat your kids and tell them to stop whining anon? Is that what this is really about?)

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Thanks for elucidating the ... (Below threshold)

July 16, 2010 5:52 PM | Posted by skeptic: | Reply

Thanks for elucidating the meaning of honor in cultures similar to Iraqi culture.

What do you have to say about what the victim's brother is trying to communicate? It appears that the people who knew the man most, cared about him the most felt that he was not suffering from an illness/pathology/'narcissism'/madness. He was moved to madness by the situation that would be explanable based on what he was going through. That it is explanable does not make it excusable.

Her moving into another iraqi home is probably a great explanation but I doubt it is because 'now everybody knew'. Everybody already knew. I think it is because it threatened his image of himself as the righteous and strong/brave defender of the shared values of his culture. Probably the one thing he was using to defend against all his other failings. And then his own society snubs him. In this culture, taking in someone else's daughter requires a deep conviction of being on the moral side, and thus in effect calling the father immoral and insulting him. It also is a straightforward challenge to his manhood.

Now, this is a challenge that he is not brave or honorable enough to face, his fantasy is destroyed. This triggers the rage and it was directed where you would expect it to (not where it probably should have been by a brave man), only the magnitude was unexpected, both by everyone around him and likely himself.

Having a false sense of power/moral character can be and is often a defensive posture. A behavior of a middle eastern man when his honor is shattered need not have anything to do with narcissism. Finally, nothing in the history presented in the article tells us anything about this man's character; so why this jump into discussions about his narcissism?

...form of the argument....conclusions?!

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Re sonya : I agree it is ri... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 12:38 AM | Posted, in reply to Sonya's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Re sonya : I agree it is ridiculous to try to "breed out" narcissism.
I think it is much more interesting to think about the psychology behind such a suggestion. Why ask women to change their sexual preferences (which are largely biological) when instead you could just ask men as a whole to denounce their tendency toward pathological and subclinical narcissism (which is also largely biological)?
Even if it were possible to do either of these things, it's clearly much more immediately beneficial to ask men who exist TODAY to simply denounce their tendency toward selfish uncaring status-seeking behavior as that actually has a shot in hell of working.
But, either way, it's silly. Women will always find narcissistic males more attractive (while not all narcissists are attractive to women, narcissism IS a prerequisite for sexual success for a male, as narcissism is strongly associated with high esteem in society, special skills, power, and other such things that generally suggest the man is fit and his genes are winners)... and males will always be more narcissistic in general, both in terms of "healthy narcissism" and pathological NPD and subclinical NPD. This disorder is 3xs as common in men. It is not an accident. It is a male condition. Females can have it, but such females are probably male stereotyped in personality (focused on having personal status power and professionally driven or such). On the other side you've emotionally out of control, hypersensitive illogical "borderlines" a condition 3xs as common in women.
It's like, girls can *get* autism, but it's so much more common in boys, to the point where there must be something about being a boy that makes autism more likely. So it is with NPD and BPD...

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Gretchen,I'm not tro... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 1:10 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Gretchen,
I'm not trolling. And don't say I'm picking on you. I really am trying to help you here.
You need someone to tell you this: you need to grow up and take control of your emotions. No therapist will tell you that... they will keep indulging you and reaffirming that your upbringing was horrendous and allowing you to take no responsibility for your emotional wounds. If you want to feel in control of yourself, you need to realize this: You are acting in a weak way, now get over it. It wasn't that bad. I don't know what happened, but if you are here today alive you need to get over it and work on shit now.
I'm serious. There are SO MANY people like you in the world today. You remind me of myself when I was in my late teens early 20s... you remind me of my siblings today.
I am two years older than you, we are almost peers. So don't pull the "I'm just a little girl" card, because at 25 you are a full grown woman. You are in your mid 20s now.
You know what cured me of my embarrassing habit of blaming my parents for shit? Going into nursing. When you do something which isn't about YOU, and when you see the suffering and problems other people put up with, it really really really makes you appreciate the fuck out of your life. Even as imperfect as it is, you learn to see the good in things.
I mean, on one hand, you can sit there and say "My mother is a dependant who refused to stand up to my father. She ruined my childhood with her depressions and never standing up to my father. My father is an alcoholic, extremely paranoid, with a severe anxiety disorder who went on rages all the time. My grandparents were lunatics in mental hospitals. My uncle offed himself. It is because of all this shit that I am a fucked up person. I have depressions and craziness and all this baggage now. Fuck you all".
You can *totally* do that.
But at the end of the day, guess what? You still have to sit with your useless ass. Sitting around doing nothing, helpless, hopeless, out of control.
And you'll be a stereotype of a psychiatric service using loser.
There is a lot of power in looking at yourself and saying "this shit sucks. I suck. I suck a lot in the way I blame my parents for myself, and the fact I consider myself a child of my parents even though I'm in my fucking 20s. I am a fucking adult, I am totally self reliant and self sufficient and my parents tried their best as fucked up as they were".
Say that over and over again until it clicks. One day it will click.
And do something with your life that is meaningful, and you will lose the need to be a self piteous asshole who whines about the past.
See the good in your parents. I don't know how *awful* they were, maybe they truly were horrendous human beings (it happens sometimes, very rarely someone's parents are truly demons), but more than likely they were fucked up people with a lot of problems that tried their best. Did your mother not love you at all? Did she not keep you safe and feed you and clothe you? Your father, as fucked up as he is, he couldn't have been all awful.
If you are still living at home off of their dime, it couldn't have been all that bad.

One more piece of advice: tomorrow wake up and give your mother a hug and tell her that you love her. She deserves to hear that from you. Tomorrow she could die, and she'll not know her child loved her, because all her child did was whine like a baby about being wronged even though the bitch was 25 and living at home off of her $$$.
Anothe rpiece of advice: Forgive your father. See him as he is, try to understand why he is, accept it, forgive. Don't forget, you need to learn these lessons, but understand it and let the emotional intensity die.
Spending all your time hating your parents is only going to make you stay in an infantile dependent emotionally out of control state. There is a great deal of power in accepting what happened, trying to see it from another side, and understanding why it happened. It loses the emotional intensity, it loses the severity, it becomes nothing more than something that is, along with many good things that are.
One more thing. Being diagnosed with something means bullshit. I've seen three mental health professionals and have received three different diagnoses. I've come to the conclusion mental health is largely bullshit. Mental illness is real, but the profession is a load of shit. The diseases are made up, arbitrary, the medicines are generalized and even when they work somewhat the side effects are ridiculous. I've decided psychiatry is something one should only engage in when they are absolutely mentally bankrupt... meaning, they have zero other options left because they are floridly psychotic, manic, or catatonically depressed. There are many relatively normal imperfect people using psych services with half assed diagnoses... as long as the insurance/medicare /medicaid is paying out the doctors and therapists don't care at all.

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You know I'm not saying you... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 1:28 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You know I'm not saying your parents were right, I'm sure they did suck in a lot of valid ways.
Your father strangled you (btw, stop being dramatic AGAIN, he probably didn't come even close to killing you) because he was hitting your mother? My father punched me in the face and gave me a massive bruise on my eye. He threatened to kill himself at times in front of me when I was a preschool child. I could play this game with you.
I apologize I misread your post, I thought you said you were still living at home. If most 25 yr olds you know barely finish school and live at home I would suggest most 25 yr olds you know are fucking losers. AT 25 one should be working on their own at a well paying job well past school. I had a severely fucked up adolescence and even I was working full time at 25. And I lost *years* of my life being fucked up as hell.
I find it *very* hard to believe you have a full time job and are self sufficient. Everything about what you have written reeks of helplessness and dependency.
NPDs REALLY DO believe they are great people in some way. If you talk to a big time narcissist, there is not a shred of doubt in their entire being that they are truly very very special in some way or many ways. It's fascinating to witness it.
Again, if your father made it clear that he didn't think he was special, if there were times where he was self deprecating and ego dysphoric ( not in a manipulative attempt for sympathy or attention or a temporary blow in one isolated area of their life) it really doesn't sound like your father is NPD. People with narcissism can get dysphoric and down on themselves but htey never lose that sense of being special and entitled. It's the *specialness* that defines a narcissist. It is always with them. They ALWAYS feel fucking special, that's what makes them such monsters.

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Someone, this is perfectly ... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 9:53 AM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Someone, this is perfectly normal behavior amongst lots of Christian sects too (and it's not uncommon in Hindu culture either, the "honor killing" exists across religions, it's codified narcissism or a codified excuse for acting out narcissistic rage). The point is that insane men with NPDs use religion as their excuse, non-religious people with NPDs just use something else as their excuse (the IRA is out to get me is no different than the devil is out to get me for all intents and purposes). Mel Gibson and his insane father are perfect examples of that and their drug of choice is Catholicism. Anything that affirms the narcissistic belief that the person with the NPD is special and the center of the universe (with all other people as merely supporting actors) is going to appeal to them. People with NPDs are actually quite easy to con and manipulate, they're not as clever as the folklore has it, they're just ruthless, put all their energy into manipulating others and will do things the rest of us wouldn't to get their way.

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It's not just women selecti... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 10:12 AM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

It's not just women selecting for men with NPD, it's also men. Men make these kinds of guys their leaders and put them in positions of power. We're all attracted to the high level of certainty that men with NPDs display - particularly in times of uncertainty or crisis. (There was an interesting study that showed both men and women tend to see people with NPDs as leaders in times of crisis due to their certainty, whether they're actually good leaders or not.) Straight men may not want to sleep with others guys with NPDs but many will bend over for them and give them power (rather than deal with the consequences of confronting the narcissist). A

In the Gay community NPD has reached epidemic proportions and that's all motivated and generated by men for men (and I'm by no means saying all gay men have NPD, I'm just pointing out that Gay culture became saturated in consumerism and about narcissism, with the accompanying rejection of all things Gay that don't support the narcissistic image of the uber man...meaning that many of the very people who truly fought for gay rights have been sidelined and devalued by the very community they helped create).

Just an aside about the nature vs nurture debate going on here - it doesn't make sense in terms of what we currently know about neurobiology. It's nature AND nurture, the brain (and mind by extension) is still developing during the first five years of childhood so how one is parented will determine how one's brain/mind develops. And what happens during development in the womb is also part of nurture. So, while genetics matter so does environment. There really isn't the distinction between something being "psychological" and being "neurobiological" as people think (unless your concepts include religious notions such as a soul that is separate from the body). Anything psychological is necessarily also biological, and vice versa. You treat the mind, you're treating and shaping the brain (change the mind and you change the brain). If you treat the brain you will shape and treat the mind (change the brain and you can even dramatically change someone's personality).

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Anonymous that's talking to... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 10:43 AM | Posted by rox: | Reply

Anonymous that's talking to Gretchen: I agree with a lot of what you said, specifically that the reality is that most parents are imperfect and that the reality is that most of us were in fact loved by our parents even if they were fucked up. The reality is that the good times in most of our lives are in much greater quantity than the bad times.

I also think that when you deal with abuse you normalize it in order to live your life. While normalizing is GREAT because it allows you move on and accept things as they are and look for the good; it also cuts you off from having normal empathy for people who are experiencing or have experienced abuse.

While under average levels of stress sympathy can be healing, in situations of severe trauma sympathy can be overwhelming and crippling. Seeing someone as broken and traumatized can get in the way of allowing them to move on and function and live a normal life.

So I get where you are coming from so far as offering a way of being that you found worked better for you. But I'm also seeing a lot of self loathing for the person you were.

You are asking someone to forgive a father who was cruel to his children and physically violent to his wife.. and possibly to his children now. That's a lot to forgive, however I do believe in forgiving people who are all manners of messed up.

Could you consider forgiving yourself for struggling and being "fucked up for years"? Is it possible you were trying your best? Is it possible, you didn't actually suck at all during that time but were just a normal person putting the pieces of your life together and figuring out how to live a fulfilling life?

It seems like all that you're writing is mostly about yourself and has very little to do with this Gretchen person who you have identified as being like your past self and took out all the pent up guilt and loathing you've been carrying on.

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Anonymous - "NPDs REALLY DO... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 12:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Anonymous - "NPDs REALLY DO believe they are great people in some way. If you talk to a big time narcissist, there is not a shred of doubt in their entire being that they are truly very very special in some way or many ways. It's fascinating to witness it.
Again, if your father made it clear that he didn't think he was special, if there were times where he was self deprecating and ego dysphoric ( not in a manipulative attempt for sympathy or attention or a temporary blow in one isolated area of their life) it really doesn't sound like your father is NPD. People with narcissism can get dysphoric and down on themselves but htey never lose that sense of being special and entitled. It's the *specialness* that defines a narcissist. It is always with them. They ALWAYS feel fucking special, that's what makes them such monsters."

I agree but that "specialness" can just as easily be constructing an identity as a "special" victim that feels entitled to unlimited and unconditional sympathy, service and attention. (The case of the woman who pretended to have cancer is a good example, some hardcore drug addicts are another.)

However, angrily rejecting compassion simply because one's parent with a NPD used your compassion or empathy to manipulate you as a child doesn't mean one has actually healed from childhood abuse. (It's very common for people with NPD to do this, they abuse and then try to get the abused child to comfort them and treat them as the victim even though they're the abuser.) Being abusive by not feeling or expressing empathy and compassion may feel empowering but that's only because one has switched into the abuser role. One is still very much being controlled by the parental figure with the NPD and in reaction (and replaying the childhood script but just taking on another role). Attacking people who are being open about their vulnerabilities and abusing them FOR being vulnerable is exactly the kind of scornful, hostile behavior you see from people with NPDs....particularly trying to grandiosely trying to frame the abuse as helping someone. If you truly wanted to help, you'd be sharing instead of talking down to others abusively. Anger can be a necessary stage in separating oneself and getting over abuse, but abusing other people means you're just stuck in the binary victim/abuser loop but on the abuser side now). What would happen to your current image of yourself as powerful and having overcome your past if you experienced empathy for both others who have been victimized and your younger self instead of scorn that's explained to oneself as "tough love" or "for their own good"? And why the competition and dismissal of someone else's suffering as not as "special" as your own? (Seriously, you're not the only one with a parent with a NPD, it's not that uncommon. It's just varied in how intensely it plays out and not all parents with NPDs are going to look and behave exactly like your own, or mine did for that matter.)

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Perhaps genetics supplies t... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 1:56 PM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by moodindigo: | Reply

Perhaps genetics supplies the rage,lack of insight and grandiosity of NPD. The culture dictates where or how to direct it.In other words culture could shape genetics.

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"The point is that insane m... (Below threshold)

July 17, 2010 7:13 PM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by someone: | Reply

"The point is that insane men with NPDs use religion as their excuse."

Their behavior is rooted in Islamic culture.

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So, are the women in rural ... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 12:32 AM | Posted by David M. Allen M.D.: | Reply

So, are the women in rural China who kill their own baby daughters because of China's one child policy all just narcissists? Or are honor killers only narcissists because they are male?

These phenonmena are due to collectivism, not narcissim.

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David - That's a good quest... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 8:39 AM | Posted, in reply to David M. Allen M.D.'s comment, by brainchild: | Reply

David - That's a good question but NPD isn't dependent upon being male or female, it's about one's image of oneself being disrupted and then trying to control one's feelings through controlling external things (such as killing the person who is challenging your self/social image). If one wanted to bring up cases of matricide that related to perfected self image and failure then it makes more sense to compare "honor killings" to women who kill their children due to post-partum depression (lack of ability to bond with their infant, belief that they're the only person who can look after the children - even though they can't do so themselves - and seeing killing their children as the best solution to their crisis). The idealized images we have of motherhood as being instinctual and not learned behavior obviously drives this kind of dynamic (and obviously not all women who suffer from post-partum depression actually kill their children or are suffering from a NPD...I'm just pointing out that a woman with a NPD is more likely to think killing her children is the way to go when one is having a crisis about not being able to cope with being a mother...it's for their own good....)

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Also, why assume that it's ... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 9:13 AM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

Also, why assume that it's only the mothers involved in choosing to abort a female fetus or kill a female newborn in China? The fathers are just as likely to be involved in that kind of decision and act. And this kind of sex selection goes on in the US too (as does the option to create "designer" babies if you're affluent enough).

Women can have NPDs but a woman in a very hierarchal patriarchal society or group - be they Fundamentalist Christians or Muslims, or ones who have reverted to fundamentalist beliefs because they affirm their grandiosity, this can include new age beliefs which are very attractive to people with NPDs - will express is by aligning with and supporting a powerful male or authority figure. Of course, the consequences of a woman not supporting authority in this kind of culture is being stoned to death or whipped so there's a lot of incentive to conform and even align oneself with authority.

It's also worth remembering that a lot of immigrants lose status when they move to North America. You usually have to be pretty affluent to immigrate to North America (as opposed to being a refugee) and a lot of immigrants go from being doctors to cab drivers. The move is usually made out of a desire to increase status but the result is lowered status in the larger community. This can lead to clinging to the culture and immigrant community where previous authority/power is still recognized so a loss of face/respect within the smaller community is the final loss (particularly because it becomes clear one can't even look after one's own family and is a failure on all fronts). In this case the daughter was made responsible for all the father's failings and her being able to integrate and succeed in North American society, and preferring it to the one where he still has power, is a another huge affront to his authority and self image...her success magnifies his failures and devalues him).

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One thing worth noting, the... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 9:59 AM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

One thing worth noting, the father who commits an "honor killing" that is sanctioned by his culture may kills his wife or daughter (if he can't control her by sending her back to the country of origin) but he isn't compelled to kill himself because he believes killing his wife or daughter has remedied the embarrassing situation. A man who doesn't have this kind of cultural sanction for his actions is likely to kill himself as well as his entire family because our culture no longer officially sanctions killing wives and daughters when they're embarrassing (or refusing to be controlled and subservient to the man who "owns" them). Killing others because one is embarrassed about how one looks, which is essentially what this is in some ways, is a last ditch attempt by the person with NPD to control themselves via controlling others (it's what they learned how to do).

I'd suggest the son believes his father's actions are "understandable" probably saw his sister's urge for independence as the cause and not just the trigger. By being "out of control" the daughter is made into the problem by the father and family..."if she just did what she was told and stopped telling dad he was nuts then he wouldn't have been nuts". "Honor killings" are really "control killings" which is why they're just the same as when someone with a NPD who isn't religious does these things. If someone from a secular society thinks they can get away with killing their family or a family member by blaming the victim, they're less likely to kill themselves as well.

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Anon - While I totally unde... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 10:49 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Anon - While I totally understand seeing a parent with a NPD as being a "monster" (after all, what is "evil" other than a lack of empathy for others anyway?), it's contradictory to say that you see and accept your parents as people but still see your parent as a "monster" instead of seeing them as a person who behaved in a monstrous and harmful way because they're fucked up (one can understand causation and forgive, even have compassion, without condoning behavior).

That said, it may be entirely necessary for you to see your parent as a monster right now, I'm not trying to negate your feelings or perspective because your parent probably did act like a monster (most people with NPDs do). You just seem like someone who's been working hard to overcome the damage done and pain of having a parent with a NPD - and made good headway that you are justifiably proud of - but who understands some concepts intellectually but hasn't managed to actually get there emotionally yet. Which is also understandable, unraveling the behaviors learned from being the child of someone with a NPD can be very difficult...but if you are someone with functioning empathy and the ability to be empathetic and you're struggling to change behavior, image how difficult it is for someone with a NPD. None of us with a parent with a NPD escape without narcissistic disruption of our own, it's the nature of the beast. That and having to learn healthy boundaries so we can be truly compassionate towards others and not just projecting our own needs or narrative onto them.

What I've found useful is to consider the upside of having a parent with a NPD (yes they exist). As adults, it's up to us to learn how to be our own good parent (as opposed to seeking it in others, which is what people with NPDs do...though this is a common strategy because of our cultural misunderstandings about "love", we even believe that owning a certain car or dress will bring us "love", this is the narcissistic aspect of our culture). Also helpful is a good therapist to help us change behaviors that keep us reenacting childhood traumas and realizing that there are people out there who can help us do this (and that we can ask for and receive help, being our own good parent means getting this kind of help when we need it).

So, while your anger is entirely understandable and not unreasonable as a defensive mechanism against your parent, it doesn't actually make you stronger than other people...just angrier. Stepping outside of the cycle of abuse doesn't mean changing positions, it means finding/learning a completely new way of behaving that doesn't mirror either parent. Obviously you can take or leave - and agree or disagree - what I say since I'm just sharing my perspective and experience (as someone who's been through the angry "they're evil" stage and found that is also a trap, and is in their 40s in case you think age/experience count here). What's been true in my situation may not be valid in yours but I'm sharing this in case it's something that is useful to you and because I can recognize elements of my own experience in what you write and how you write it. Of course, I may simply also be projecting onto you and symbolically reaching out to my own younger self. Anger can be used in very constructive ways but rage is always about a narcissistic wound...learning the difference between anger and rage is extremely important for people who grew up with a parent with a NPD.

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The reason why it's importa... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 11:29 AM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

The reason why it's important to learn the difference between anger and rage if one grew up with a parent with a NPD is because anger is about the present moment and rage is about projecting the past onto the present. Anger allows us to know when a boundary is being crossed and learning appropriate boundaries is part of what all people with a parent with a NPD miss out on as children (because people with NPDs don't have healthy boundaries themselves due to the same thing being done to them as children). Rage and anger *feel* quite different. Anger is our friend if we listen to it and then act consciously to change the situation we find threatening (or realize there is no real threat). Healthy people experience anger and act on it (or don't if it's not appropriate to act on it). Being enrage is a defensive reaction and is almost always out of proportion to the situation. It's possible to be angry and still act in a compassionate way (to see the other as an individual). When we're enraged we're always responding to a past event - it's all about us really and not the other person. This is another area where being responsible for one's own feelings is important. Just because our parent felt entitled to release pressure via unleashing their rage, and this gave them power over us, it's not actually a way to empower oneself in any meaningful or lasting way (even if it feels good to release our rage at ourselves, our situation or our parent). And when we release our rage on others, and feel entitled to do so and as if it's "for their own good", then we're running the risk of just adopting behaviors our abusive parent used on us. There really are other options than being the victim or abuser, the key is stepping outside of this cycle into unknown (to us) territory.

And, to be clear, I'm not proposing myself as an authority here, just sharing what I've learned from my own experience and observations. Not everyone is going to see or deal with these things how I have (not because I'm special, or superior to anyone, just because we all have our own unique perspectives and ways of coping and understanding because we're all unique people with unique needs...apart from the common human need to be loved and seen for who we really are...warts and all :-)

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Brainchild,I don't... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 2:50 PM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by David M. Allen, M.D.: | Reply

Brainchild,

I don't agree with you. I don't think narcissistic personality disorder exists in highly traditional cultures because it requires a higher level of "self" development than is present there. (The children of immigrants from traditional cultures have their feet in two different systems, which creates many other problems besides honor killings).

As a westerner, it's hard to understand that the concept of a self apart from the culture is almost unknown in a traditional culture, although that is changing because of increased exposure to Westernized concepts of individualism everywhere.

When in rural China (just a few months before before the more Westernized Chinese produced Tienamen Square demonstrations, when the government literally had to import battalions from the countryside because they couldn't trust the ones in Beijing to kill their fellow countryman), a woman came up to us and started practicing her English because she was studying to be an English teacher. We asked her if she liked teaching English.

"No, I hate it," She replied. We asked why then did she do it. She said her block cadre had told her that that's what she would do.

"Couldn't you have said no?"

She looked at us like she had no idea what we were even talking about. It wasn't like she had considered saying no but decided it was too dangerous or fruitless. It literally had never occured to her that she might have a choice. We might as well have asked, "Why didn't you find a gun and blow the block cadre members away?"

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"They're not associated wit... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 3:18 PM | Posted by Bloix: | Reply

"They're not associated with Muslim countries, that's what they're called when they are associated with Muslim countries. When they're associated with rich black guys, they're called OJ Simpson."

It's very common in the West for a husband or boyfriend or former husband or boyfriend to kill a woman who has started to see another man. But it's virtually unheard of, now and in the past, for a father or brother to kill a woman for an unsanctioned sexual liaison. And it's certainly not expected. Banish her, refuse to see her, disinherit her, take her children away - yes, in different cultures all those things have been expected. But kill her? No. .

Are you aware of any society that is not Muslim in which the murder of a woman by her immediate male relatives, as a response to a sexual relationship, is a cultural norm?

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David - It's missing the po... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 3:31 PM | Posted, in reply to David M. Allen, M.D.'s comment, by brainchild: | Reply

David - It's missing the point to trying to say that someone who immigrated to North America as a means to increase their status (and possibly to escape aspects of a "highly traditional culture" they didn't like) and raised children in this culture (not in isolation like most highly traditional religious cultures in North America - be it the type of isolationism practiced by Orthodox Jews or that of Christian Fundamentalists or Mormons) is equivalent to a Chinese peasant. Or that all Chinese people are the same for that matter and that something as modern and "western" as communism didn't influence "traditional" Chinese culture. I'm not sure where you get the idea that people from Persian or Arabic cultures are innately collectivist.

I also wouldn't underestimate the influence of Chinese communism on rural Chinese culture, identity and conformity. it's kind of interesting that you don't even seem to have considered this in your desire to see "traditional cultures" as all being the same instead of there being a diversity of perspectives that are unique to each culture.

I certainly don't assume everyone from my own culture perceives the world or themselves and others the way I do and it's obvious that they don't ;-) I also extend the same respect to people from other cultures. And, ultimately I try to understand individuals within the context of their lives and environment.

It seems to me that you're trying to stretch reality to conform to your theory here. Though I obviously have my own biases based upon my own observations. Hey, we're both human ;-)

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Bloix - Generally they were... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 4:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Bloix's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Bloix - Generally they were characterized as "crimes of passion" under European laws that only changed as a result of women's liberation and the change of laws that no longer saw women as objects to be owned by husbands. (We're still working on changing the cultural beliefs in real world terms since "honor/ego/control" killings go on in our culture today too.) European culture (and by extension North American culture) has a long history of sanctioned killing of uppity women too, we shouldn't be too smug because these changes were hard fought for and we haven't really won yet. Doesn't the Christian bible advocate stoning to death as a punishment for adultery? Fundies of all kinds like killing people they can't control.

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And David, does it occur to... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 4:17 PM | Posted, in reply to David M. Allen, M.D.'s comment, by brainchild: | Reply

And David, does it occur to you that the Chinese peasant you talked to looked at you that way because you didn't have any idea of what you are talking about? You are aware of what happens to dissenters in China? And that plenty of North Americans simply do what's expected of them and unquestioningly bow down to authority was well? (Much as the mass American identity is as the heroic rugged individualist this isn't the reality of who most Americans are, unquestioning conformity certainly happens here too.)

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I'd also suggest looking at... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 4:36 PM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

I'd also suggest looking at the statistics for how many women are killed by their spouses in North America each year if you think this is only something that is a cultural "norm" elsewhere. Through a lot of hard work over almost a century now, women (and the men who love us) have been changing this bit by bit. We've changed the laws but we haven't totally changed the behavior or the mindset that sanctions this kind of thing in our own culture.

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Brainchild, we haven't chan... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 4:57 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Brainchild, we haven't changed the law - even today crime of passion is a defense to murder and can used to plead for manslaughter instead- but it's a different phenomenon than the honor killing. I'm not aware of non-Muslim cultures that sanction such killings by close male relatives. Since it is a distinct phenomenon, it makes sense to give it a name. Honor killings and crimes of passion may be related, but they're not the same and it doesn't help to explain anything to pretend that they are.

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Different names, same actio... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 5:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Different names, same actions and same results from my perspective. It seems like denial to me to think this only happens in Muslim countries. Besides, the guy being discussed lives in the US and obviously the way he was acting wasn't sanctioned by his cultural group here (since another family from his immediate cultural group took in his daughter) or his family - there was no brother helping to kill his sister.

While "crimes of passion" may not always be the same as "honor killings", "honor killings" are exactly the same as killing someone because they make you look bad in public and you can't control them. They're both about controlling someone else so that you look good to strangers and can maintain a false social image (and to protect an internalized idealized image of oneself that diverges from reality...it's a kill the messenger strategy).

And it's worth noting that the father in this particular story ran away after running his daughter down so this fits just as well into a "crime of passion" defense as a "traditional values" one - he clearly knows that neither American society at large, his immediate family nor his immediate cultural group of American Muslims actually sanction or approve of him killing his daughter. (And since he's not returned to a Muslim country he's not expecting sanctuary there either.)

But, yes, it's extra pernicious when there's a social construct that supports this kind of behavior - be it Christian or Muslim fundamentalism. And this kind of thing happens in Hindu culture as well. And in North American culture. We may frame it differently but it's still men killing their wives/daughters because they can't control them and they're not affirming their false image of themselves. That said, most older versions of religions have this kind of thing written into them - blaming women for men's lack of control and punishing them for "making" men lose control. All in all, fundamentalism of all stripes is pretty much a codification of disordered narcissism (being the "chosen" people, authoritarian and claiming that one person's word is actually the word of god, I'm special and chosen by god so I can kill you and it's not a sin, etc).

I'm not arguing that oppressive fundamentalist regimes are the same as secular North American society (though they are incredibly similar to Fundamentalist Christian sects here and their internal regimes). Nor that oppressive Chinese communist regimes are. I'm simply saying that the same things happen here and it's about the same thing on a psychological level - control and "saving face". In the same way we may have some anti-discrimination laws here but Gay teenagers still get murdered simply for being gay (by groups of people, not individuals). So, we don't have state sanctioned killing of gay people but we do have segments of our society that believe going out in groups and killing gay people is socially acceptable behavior. And the US is still all weird and religious about gay marriage. Of course most Christians don't go about killing gay people or killing their wives or daughters for "sinning", but neither do most Muslims.

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Brainchild - of course ther... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 9:55 PM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Brainchild - of course there is a variety of different levels of differentiation from the collective within all cultures nowadays because of media and other forms of exposure to individualistic ideas. This is especially true in urban areas and among the upper classes in third world countries.

People in India are starting to marry for love, but there are still a lot of arranged marriages. This sort of change is happening all over the world. The forces of individuality have gradually become more prominent over the forces of togetherness as human culture has evolved, but it doesn't do it at the same rate everywhere or even for every family.

I was talking about the mode of a bell-shaped curve within each culture. Religious Fundamentalism is a form of collectivism, so the level of differentiation even among Americans varies widely.

Chinese communism had very little to do with Marxism, by the way, but was more an advancement of collectivism to a somewhat less collectivist stance. It was no big cultural shift. It was funny hearing the Chinese president on CNN International at a party congress a few years ago talking about the "capitalist phase of communist development." Marx would roll over in his grave.

Expressing a job preference is not the same thing as being a political dissident. That woman "knew her place" and she was fine with it. Her preferences were not important. I was a subversive for her and introduced the idea of personal happiness being as important as group cohesiveness. If you think some cultures aren't on average more collectivist than others, try teaching assertiveness training to the average guy in say, Saudi Arabia. Or even to a first generation American Chicana from the lower classes. Good luck with that.

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Brainchild - of course ther... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 9:55 PM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by David M. Allen, M.D.: | Reply

Brainchild - of course there is a variety of different levels of differentiation from the collective within all cultures nowadays because of media and other forms of exposure to individualistic ideas. This is especially true in urban areas and among the upper classes in third world countries.

People in India are starting to marry for love, but there are still a lot of arranged marriages. This sort of change is happening all over the world. The forces of individuality have gradually become more prominent over the forces of togetherness as human culture has evolved, but it doesn't do it at the same rate everywhere or even for every family.

I was talking about the mode of a bell-shaped curve within each culture. Religious Fundamentalism is a form of collectivism, so the level of differentiation even among Americans varies widely.

Chinese communism had very little to do with Marxism, by the way, but was more an advancement of collectivism to a somewhat less collectivist stance. It was no big cultural shift. It was funny hearing the Chinese president on CNN International at a party congress a few years ago talking about the "capitalist phase of communist development." Marx would roll over in his grave.

Expressing a job preference is not the same thing as being a political dissident. That woman "knew her place" and she was fine with it. Her preferences were not important. I was a subversive for her and introduced the idea of personal happiness being as important as group cohesiveness. If you think some cultures aren't on average more collectivist than others, try teaching assertiveness training to the average guy in say, Saudi Arabia. Or even to a first generation American Chicana from the lower classes. Good luck with that.

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rox - I have empathy for pe... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 11:53 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

rox - I have empathy for people with imperfect upbringings. I have zero empathy for a 25 year old woman who thinks of herself as the child of her parents and writes "THINK OF THE CHILDREEENNN" and goes about life with a victim complex. There are way, way too many 20, 30, 40, and older year old people who mentally are ruminating on their childhood as if they have no responsibility for anything in their present life. FACT: after 18, your life is totally your responsibility. It is YOUR responsibility to sink or swim, regardless of what your parents did or did not do. Sitting around at 25 in a mental headspace of an injured adolescent is not funny and I don't have sympathy for you.
I mean everyone gets down from time to time, everyone thinks of a painful memory and relives it, but it is quite another thing to write "I am the child of an NPD" and tons and tons more along that same vein... when in fact you are not a child you are a 25 year old woman, when in fact YOUR LIFE AND YOUR FEELINGS ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AND NO ONE ELSES.
And the killer of it is, we're not even dealing with *severe* abuse... incest rape and near-death beatings. We're talking about the low grade abuse that is actually pretty common in a lot of people's background. We're talking about small potatoes in the grand scheme of life and pain.
Sorry. Get over it. Typical spoiled american with typical self pity.
I've had more than my fair share of pain. I have an organic mood disorder with terrible depressions that attack me for no reason. If anyone thinks depression is fake or psychological, I WISH you had my mind, really truly do. I've had lots of emotional abuse and some physical abuse. I am always sitting close to pain, it seems. I'm not complaining, it is simply a fact my life has had a great deal of painful things in it. The only way to get on with yourself is to accept it all, to OPEN YOUR EYES AND REALIZE there are people who have it much worse, and pain exists with good things too.
Out of curiosity rox do you consider yourself to come from an adverse childhood? This topic seems strangely important to you.
I do forgive myself for my past, I only wish more people could reach where I am in my life and stop whining about the past and realize: hey it's not that bad, compared to like, what a WHOLE lot of other people have to deal with on a daily basis and have no control over.

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Oh, and it says a lot about... (Below threshold)

July 18, 2010 11:55 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh, and it says a lot about the (lack of) intelligence of the blog readers when David M Allen's comment is 50% thumbs down.

That is a very, very good point he made - collectivism is a big part of why these things happen. And in a collectivist society, a concept of a self outside of the group is unheard of, making an argument for narcissism as a driving motivation pretty fucking ridiculous.

Yet the idiocy others spew incessantly is thumbs up. Buh?

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Speaking as someone who has... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 2:03 AM | Posted by Joanne: | Reply

Speaking as someone who has spent the past 6 years working in the protection of women from so-called 'honour' killings, I'd say David Allen's observations are very much to the point: the reasons behing 'honour' killings are not accessible through individual psychology. The important distinction for us as an agency that provides protection for both domestic violence and HBV is that a woman confronted with HBV (honour based violence) is at risk of violence and murder from a collective, which may include brothers, sisters, cousins, a whole large extended family. The murder of Ghazala Khan in Denmark is a case in point - nine of her relatives were sentenced for playing a part in her murder. Or indeed the stoning to death of Du'a Khalil, who was publicly stoned to death by over 100 men in Bashiqa, Northern Iraq.

One thing I hear time and again from potential victims is 'If they kill me, they will be real men.' We need to look at gender relations, and masculinity within classical patriarchal societies to find the cause - as well as the economic relations of non-consensual marriages, which, more than any form of religion, correlate with HBV. Almaleki had six younger children - if Noor's 'misbehaviour' had been widely known within his community he would have been unable to broker advatageous marriages (from his perspective) for the younger children.

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I'm really sorry if you can... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 11:07 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

I'm really sorry if you cannot read, Anon. Where am I *blaming* or having out of control emotions...? ("Think of the childrenn" was sarcasm, and it's allowed. Lighten UP dude!! Would you knowingly make a baby with a crack addict? I hope not! Likewise: don't marry someone who has a personality disorder and not enough self recognition to work on treating it) I have been on my own supporting myself for years and will being going back to school soon - which I'll pay for myself. I help my mom with my younger siblings when she needs it. When I was in college I commuted from home and paid for my car insurance and helped do things at home to help with the car payment. Maybe you resent the fact that I wasn't beaten to a bloody pulp and got *any* help from them? (Note: Financial assistance when you're in college doesn't override cruel behavior).

The fact you told me I was dramatic when I said my father strangled me speaks volumes about you. Moreover, I could be lying about everything - maybe I don't even know my dad! Maybe my dad is Bill Clinton. You just can't possibly know the facts of what happened. I'm not even talking about my interpretation of what happened: You simply weren't a fly on the wall. You don't. Know. What. Happened. By making a mockery of what I have said you're constructing a new, wrong, argument against a false premise.Whether my dad merely poked my mom with her finger or was pummeling her with all 250 pounds of his strength isn't up for discussion. You have to argue based on what I present b/c you can't possibly know anything more or less. Go take some logic classes.

My mother was an imperfect parent but she raised me with love, discipline and dignity. She is awesome. I held her responsible for her part in my parents' bad relationship, and for staying with someone who was violent, because she WAS responsible - but only to help us all understand what happened and move on. She and I are very close and have a great relationship. My father is still a raging, ego-maniacal liar. He never showed weakness - you mentioned that NPDs *really* believe their well-crafted, false persona. He DOES believe it. But the NPD can stem (as in, originate/be caused by) from a feeling of worthlessness (so maybe he felt worthless when he was 10 years old so over the years learned that if he presented himself a certain way it would make him feel better. Over the years the fake-self became what he was.) The violence began when we started to assert ourselves and realized he was lying about everything.

I don't talk to my father; not because I cannot forgive him for being a shithead when I was growing up or b/c I am dramatic, but b/c he's STILL a shithead. He'll still berate me for no reason and tell me I'm a "fucking loser whore and Fiance will leave you because you're not good enough!" (I'm engaged; have a steady job and college degree - I'm not sure how he defines loser or whore). He has NPD, as diagnosed when he was committed in a mental institution for threatening suicide (he wasn't really suicidal, just threatening b/c he wanted attention).

There's nothing more either of us can say since both our words are falling on equally deaf ears but you're really misconstruing everything I've written. I'm embarrassed that I am even giving into your posts: clearly you've struck a sensitive nerve.

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Brainchild and rox: I enjoy... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by Gretchen: | Reply

Brainchild and rox: I enjoyed your input!

I was afraid I came across as whining (internet, as we know, doesn't allow proper tone communication) but I truly just wanted to share my story b/c it's still a very fresh wound (I am kind of helping negotiate my parents' divorce b/c they refuse mediation - ugh, lame! It's dragging through the courts and I am trying to keep them both reasonable.). I thought I had something to add and my personal experience allows me to relate with certain behaviors and events differently than others. Thanks for recognizing that!! I wasn't even looking for empathy, but I'm still confused about how I am an overgrown, parent-blaming child.

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"The Last Psychiatrist" spe... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 11:51 AM | Posted by Lightness: | Reply

"The Last Psychiatrist" spends so much time trying to pick apart the Marie Claire article, it's hard to figure out what his point is: Is it that honor killings aren't tribal, cultural or Islamic, but merely narcissistic? That seems, sadly, simplistic. Perhaps he needs to read the story even more closely to understand the nature of these crimes. As Noor's father says himself in the story, he is from a tribal society in Iraq, and a daughter should not leave her father's home; women are the property of their fathers, husbands, brothers. He himself says it's a matter of family "honor." But whatever you want to label these crimes, I say good for Marie Claire for bringing them to light, when the rest of the media seems afraid to do so. The story is sparking a much-needed discussion and a petition to Congress, so that is an honorable pursuit. The Last Psychiatrist's time would be better spent signing the petition to fund shelters for women than trying to dissect this important article.

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Joanne - Thanks for chiming... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 1:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Joanne's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Joanne - Thanks for chiming in. Agreed on many points. My mother (a GP/psychologist) helped a number of women (and their children) escape from this kind of culturally sanctioned abuse and control (the families were trying to kidnap the woman and children to take them back to the homeland where they could isolate and have greater control, using Sharia law of course, it's a common tactic...murder is the last resort and it is motivate by rage about not being able to control someone they see as an extension of themselves). That said, my mom also helped other women escape from exactly the same kinds of circumstances of abuse (whole families trying to paint the woman as insane and take the children, it's done differently by North Americans but it still happens...just with less larger culture approval, unless they can make the woman look like a 'bad' mother...our courts are full of this kind of thing).

The point I'm trying to make though is that calling this particular attempted murder an "honor killing" doesn't fit the bill of what you're describing. There was no support from other family members for the murder, there was another family from the same ethnic group/culture who took the daughter in and he fled to Mexico. And it's still about feeling entitled to kidnap or kill someone because you don't like how they make you feel or look.

Also, just because a culture sanctions this kind of behavior doesn't make it any less pathological. Whole society's can be pathological, it simply gives people license to behave pathologically and be rewarded for it. We do it with CEOs all the time, our culture is not free of this pathology either. It's pathological in our own culture as well as others. "Normal" does not equal "healthy". Spousal abuse is pretty normal in our culture, we still recognize it's pathological behavior (well, some people do others just think it's normal and how love is!)

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Lightness, men in North Ame... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Posted, in reply to Lightness's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Lightness, men in North America with NPD feel the same way about their families - they own them, they are simply objects to be used and if they displease the 'owner' by challenging his image of himself as "honorable' - meaning due unconditional respect and admiration no matter how they behave or what they do to others - they feel entitled to do whatever is necessary to "save face" (including killing one's wife and children). It's all about control and "honor" (aka social reputation, false/idealized self image as all powerful, etc).

My impression (which could be wrong) is that Alone was pointing out that these incidents in North America are often given the rather grandiose name of "honor killings" (instead of them being honestly being called murder, which they are). While it may be culturally sanctioned in countries under the most oppressive versions of Sharia Law. I know plenty of Muslims who don't condone this kind of thing or consider it a part of Islam. Islam has it's fundies just like Christianity and, like in Christianity and other religions, it's the Fundies that promote the "father/man as good" meme to support their own narcissism. Our own culture isn't out from under the influence of religious notions that promote and support this idea. I'd suggest that much of the "I'm a victim of feminism" men's movement (as opposed to the drum circle style men's movement)is a reaction by those who feel entitled to certain things - like sex, ego affirmation, their children they abused, etc - simply because they're men and exist.

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Agreed that Western culture... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 2:25 PM | Posted by Joanne: | Reply

Agreed that Western culture is not free from forms of abuse and aggression which are considered acceptable.

However, I think this crime does have a collective profile: Almaleki's son's statements do indicate support for his father, as do statements made by the mother, coupled with their support for him when he was a fugitive: http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?q=node/4568. There is definite complicity here. In fact, Noor's brother's defensive statements are eerily similar to Waqas Parvez's - Waqas, of course, was found guilty of taking part in the HK of his sister Aqsa Parvez.

Let's be honest and admit that no-one can authoritatively give a diagnosis to a person with from a magazine article.

However, I can tell you from firsthand experience that an Iraqi man whose daughter brought 'shame' on the family name in this fashion can expect to suffer extreme social sanctions from relatives. This can run to broken windows, constant harassment, exclusion from the social and financial life of the community..etc etc.

If this information were to get back home, it's not just unmarriageabiliy for his children - and we can see that he desired to arrange back-home marriages for his children - but also for all their cousins and wider family. I estimate that within Middle Eastern honour killings, uncles are the prime mover, often much more so than fathers, and pressurise them into murder.

Obviously, the existence of another Iraqi family with a different modus vivendi doesn't say a lot about the existence of 'honour' within Iraqi society. Half of my colleagues are Iraqi women who have dedicated their lives to oppsosing the whole concept of 'honour' - however, more than half of our clients facing HBV are also of Iraqi origin. In Iraq, the murders of women recieve reduced sentences under the penal code (Article 111 from memory) with the exception of the Kurdistan region which reformed this law (in 2003/4, again from memory).

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And, to be clear, women wit... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 2:38 PM | Posted, in reply to brainchild's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

And, to be clear, women with NPDs also feel entitled to have all their needs and desires filled simply because they exist (and to release their rage on people who don't do this for them). It's not just men who do this kind of thing, women just do it differently.

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Joanne - What I'm obviously... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 3:33 PM | Posted, in reply to Joanne's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Joanne - What I'm obviously failing to communicate is that men with NPDs do exactly the same things to their children and their families often go along with it if the mother does. (In the specific case being discussed, it's a child and not a spouse who was killed.) It's not at all uncommon in wealthy families where the father has a NPD that the wife is just as invested in keeping up a public image. If that means sacrificing a child for disrupting this image, they'll do so and back up the father. Now, it's more common to use psychiatry for this function in North America and it's also done on the pretext that the child is out of control...once again, it's all about control and protecting a public image. Kids kill themselves to escape this kind of trap, particularly if the psychiatrist buys into the parent's version of events. If a wife isn't complicit and tries to leave this kind of husband, he's likely to try to destroy her through the courts if all else fails. The more socially and politically powerful the husband, the more resources he has to control and punish the wife. The dynamic within the family really isn't that different. Women trying to escape this kind of marriage - who are often being threatened with their and their children's deaths if they leave, and often have no access to money or any form of community support and are purposely separated from friends and family who could offer support - don't really have social support. And the higher up the food chain you get, the more likely it is that the person with the NPD will be socially supported and the wife vilified.

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Gretchen said: "Maybe my da... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 3:57 PM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

Gretchen said: "Maybe my dad is Bill Clinton." That would be ironic, because I believe TLP is actually Bill Clinton.

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Joanne - I'm in no way tryi... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 4:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Joanne's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Joanne - I'm in no way trying to minimize what Iraqi women face - like I said I learned all about this from my mother who helped women get away from these kinds of family situations. And, yes, all women who are abused are in a better position in North America than in Iraq (as is anyone who diverges from the authoritarian script that's all about image and control). I just think you underestimate how very similar dynamics - including ones where one person is scapegoated because they try to break away or threaten the fake family image - play out in our own culture. Men with NPDs often go into a control frenzy when their daughters reach adolescence and become sexual (whether they are actually having sex or not) if they can't keep them as chaste little girls or daddy's little girl. It's not a protective frenzy, it's a possessive one - or rather a protective frenzy geared towards protecting the father's image. The cover story is that it's for the child's good and they're the problem. The person who tries to break away and tell the truth about what really goes on in the family so that it's impossible to maintain the facade anymore is a threat that needs to be silence by any means available - Sharia Law, psychiatry, murder as the last stage in protecting the man's "honor" aka ego and position of absolute power over others.

I also agree that the idea of "honor killings" needs to be counteracted. That's why I'm suggesting that calling them murders, which is what they are, is important. Why do you support the way that the abuser has framed the action of murder by using "honor killings" instead of "family sanctioned murder" or simply "murder". Also,

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You're not failing to commu... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 5:22 PM | Posted by Joanne: | Reply

You're not failing to communicate it, you're failling to demonstrate it. You have no evidence of Almaleki's behaviour - nor do I, but I do have knowledge of many simillar situations. If you had made the same argument but used Muzzamil Hassan as your example I would have absolutely agreed: he is a serial abuser and there were no indications of collusion or coercion to kill from his community - and the story was transformed by the media into a case of 'honour' killing, with plenty of ignorance and xenophobia on display, because he is a Muslim and because he killed his wife in a manner which is commonly associated with radical Islamist terrorism. But I'm just not buying it here.

It's true that coverage of recent cases has focussed on the supposed 'Americanisation' of victims - which is definitely part of the whole bogus East/West binary, and a failure to apprehend the nature of 'honour' - there is no written 'honour' code, it's not about what's in the Qu'ran or the dictates of Islamic modesty. What is 'honourable' is what the male/elder dominated collective says it is, it's purely conventional. It's much less connected to religion than most people think - at the end of the day, it's connected to maintaining the value of women as a commodity, and maintaining the extended family's reputation for producing women who conform to their roles, whether this is be in India, Iraq or medieval Italy.

However - counteracting the ideology of 'honour' shouldn't fall into the field of cultural relativism - not because a girl killed by her father and family is somehow worse than a woman killed by her husband, but because unless Western countries which have populations where this kind of violence is considered licit apprehend the danger facing women they will not be able to protect them. Here in the UK (where you may be aware there are 12 'honour' killings per year, over 10% of domestic femicides) Banaz Mahmod (also of Iraqi origin) approached the police six times to report that her family intended to kill her; she was disbelieved, and eventually gang-raped, tortured and garotted by hitmen paid by her uncle. As an agency that works closely with police, we have very different procedures for dealing with women facing violence from a partner from women facing violence from a whole family: we know the family will go to extraordinary lengths, have a huge networking capacity, may collectively pay for a hitman, send female relatives to infiltrate domestic violence shelters... We need for 'honour' as a motivating force behind family violence to be understood by public officials and policy makers for the sake of all potential future victims.

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Joanne - Fair enough and I ... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 6:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Joanne's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

Joanne - Fair enough and I agree that playing armchair (or internet) psychiatrist using the media as a guide is obviously just us sharing our opinions (and experiences, we both obviously both have some knowledge of these situations even though we're coming to different conclusions).

"It's much less connected to religion than most people think - at the end of the day, it's connected to maintaining the value of women as a commodity, and maintaining the extended family's reputation for producing women who conform to their roles, whether this is be in India, Iraq or medieval Italy."

Yes, we entirely agree upon this and I have been saying the same thing. Where we differ is that you don't seem to believe that women are viewed a commodity in our culture (or men for that matter). The difference is we can opt out here and have changed our laws to allow women to do this (with much social resistance along the way and on ongoing backlash). This dynamic is also at work within North American and "modern" societies, particularly segments where status and conformity is everything, although it looks different on the surface and many people just accept it as "how things are". The stuff that goes on behind the doors of some mansions isn't different and the reasons aren't either. We haven't finished with objectifying each other, we've just become a slightly more equal opportunity about it.

Anyway, whether we end up agreeing or not, I appreciate you sharing your perspective and experience, and discussing this.

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My opinions and our slightl... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2010 6:36 PM | Posted, in reply to Joanne's comment, by brainchild: | Reply

My opinions and our slightly differing perspectives aside, let me just say I have great respect for the work you're doing and I agree that it's much more difficult when a woman is facing reprisals from an organized network. And it's definitely a failing if the police fail to take this kind of thing seriously - no matter who the woman is who's seeking protection. I think we actually agree on a lot more than we disagree about.

I guess the bee in my bonnet is that I see these things happening in our culture too, just in a different form. I don't say that to negate the incredible difficulty and danger faced by women being hunted down using Sharia Law or "honor" as an excuse. I do understand your very practical reasons for making this distinction. My objection is not so much in terms of how and why you're making a distinction now that you've explained it, but in how the media makes a distinction so as to distance these kinds of acts and portray them as something that only those "uncivilized" Muslims do. I realize that's not what you're doing :-)

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<a href="http://www.chron.c... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 10:42 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7119369.html

woman kills her two children because they were not "normal."

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And one of the comments abo... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 11:04 AM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

And one of the comments about the story is....

"Somebody should have told her that we don't do that over here."

But, of course, we do....we just like to pretend that it's random here but cultural elsewhere. When a religious fanatic in North America kills their child by stuffing pages of the bible in their mouth or "exorcises" them of their "demons" it's because they're insane and not due in any way shape or form to culture or cultural beliefs (yeah right) but when an immigrant does it it's about "culture" and not the individual. It's an interesting in/out group dynamic and double standard.

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In response to anonymous: T... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 3:13 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

In response to anonymous: The reasons I am interested in adverse childhoods are complex but involve being adopted at birth in order to avoid an adverse childhood. Interestingly my siblings who were raised my biological father all had amazingly successful upbringings despite being raised in a "low class" environment. I don't believe that infant adoption is necessarily "the best thing" for a woman who is single and low income. Not because I don't think it's important to have a father ( I DO think it's important to have a father) but because the reality is that in general, most families are skrewed up, each it's own special way, whether low income and fatherless or not.

The middle class has it's share of ingrained unhealthy family values, just as the lower class have their own ingrained unhealthy family values. In truth, the reasons a child struggles may have less to do with what the exact dysfunction their family offers, but rather their specific personality type and how that dysfunction plays out for the child. The middle class are pro's at pumping out over-parented fucked up wrecks of human beings just as the lower classes are pros at pumping out abused neglected under parented wrecks of human beings. Somewhere in the middle is the average family with an average level of dysfunction.

The reality is that on average most of these parents love their kids to pieces and are just trying to care for them as best as their value systems, mental illnesses, cognitive abilities and educational levels will allow. I believe whole heartedly in working hard to understand your parents limitations and learning to love and accept skrewed up people who may have been trying their best to love you.

Thousands of years of our existence as humans were spent parenting kids without parenting books, therapy, psychology our any of the fancy gizmos we have that we think will make our kids perfect (and don't). It used to be, "Obey me or I will bang you with this club and stop feeding you." And kids tended to obey or not survive childhood. And many of us obviously survived and thrived to pass on life to generations to come. And the reality is that our apelike ancestors probably loved their children in a way that is equal to the way we love our kids today. Our emotional natures have been in place for many thousands of years (if I understand evolutionary theory correctly and if evolutionary theory is in any way correct.)

And the reality is that kids who lived their lives obeying or risking getting clubbed and going hungry probably spent MOST of their time foraging for food and playing and being happy like most kids do today (albeit a bit more on the running from predators and avoiding starvation and the elements end of things). Whether or not home life is hell has less to do with the exact parenting blunders being made and more to do with whether or not kids are getting to spend at least some portion of their time being loved and enjoying being.

The kids I know who grew up to be tortured ruined souls went through things like being tied to chairs and forced to pray to god while being beaten and sexually assaulted, being locked in the basement and commanded to bark like a dog in order to be thrown scraps of food etc. While I honestly think that people who have gone through such things can in fact spend a good portion of their time being happy, they will often understandably fail to understand how to interact with other humans and often will not be able to hold jobs well, not to mention may have impaired intellectual abilities do to repeated head trauma, not to mention lack of human interaction during key developmental periods.

Just because a person doesn't develop to the same potential as other humans doesn't mean they are miserable all the time. It is important for people who've faced these sorts of things to cut themselves some slack on their lack of academic, career, or social success as compared to their peers. Not to mention give themselves a pat on the back if they HAVE made similar successes as their peers.

I don't see anything wrong with people avoiding reproduction with NPD's, drug addicts, violent people etc. I'm not totally sure I see what's to argue about that, so you're only argument is that Gretchen shouldn't have mention that growing up with an NPD was difficult. You then when on to mention that you've gone through worse... and suffered deeply with mental health issues which is to say, why mention what you've been through at all? Is mentioning that something in life was difficult for you a sign that you've thrown your hands up and are living off the system and are a wailing complaining sympathy addict?

Things can be difficult and not be the end of the world. Life is difficult for most human beings. Existing with the knowledge of coming death is it's own existential dilemma. The best thing any of us can do it get our basic needs met, try to care for ourselves nutritionally and physically as best we can, and attempt to find people who will tolerate us and allow us to have some amount of intimacy and interaction.

Really most talk and even intellectual pursuits amount to not much more than intellectual masturbation, and if any of here wanted to prove we were "better than others" we would shut up and go about being good people. But, hey, masturbation is fun, not so? So what they hell. Why not talk about difficult pasts and ideas about how to make the future better for other humans? What gives?

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I have to wonder if the mot... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 8:37 PM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I have to wonder if the mother herself had some kind of mental disability related to autism.

It is grossly abnormal behavior to just kill someone because they are not "normal". Clearly autistic people aren't murderers, but I wonder if a touch of autism could make one more inclined to engage in antisocial behavior. After all some people think hitler, the austrian daughter rapist joseph fritzl and other such monsters may have been autistic spectrum. Just saying.
It's odd to have two autistic children and then the parent also show evidence of being socially fucked up. That's very "coincidental".

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I just wanted to say unlike... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 8:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Joanne's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I just wanted to say unlike everyone else in this thread, you Joanne are doing extremely important work for humanity. Rather than sit on a computer and criticize, analyze, or justify behavior you are actually helping real people and you are trying to correct a long standing social injustice against women in major parts of the world. It is ridiculous to think of the contrast between a bunch of pale skinny desk jockies with venti starbucks coffees calling everyone a narcissist (hello nail, I am a hammer), arguing with someone like you. I mean, it just ridiculous and borderline offensive.

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Marie Claire...really?... (Below threshold)

July 26, 2010 9:24 PM | Posted by meistergedanken: | Reply

Marie Claire...really?

Oh well - if you're reading it, IT'S FOR YOU.

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I think that a big part of ... (Below threshold)

July 27, 2010 6:41 PM | Posted by Foobs: | Reply

I think that a big part of the issue is that the logic that leads to our actions and the logic we use to justify our actions (including to ourselves) is often very different. People either tend to be naive (believing the justification) or cynical (believing the justification to be an intentional lie). Change the cultural context and I'm inclined to think that you'll change the justification a lot more than the action. That doesn't mean the person is lying, but that we are often pretty clueless as to why we do what we do. This is also why it is important to focus on what we do, which has at least some solidity to it. The justification is mostly bullshit to make us feel and look better.

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You make an interesting poi... (Below threshold)

July 28, 2010 10:40 AM | Posted, in reply to Foobs's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You make an interesting point. Our feelings and where they stem from are largely bullshit. The difference between playing injured and playing while injured is that at least in one of them you're still playing. In the other you're just playing with yourself. Sounds like kinda a loner thing to do. Unless you're tired and need the rest. Or unless you're tired of your family and need a new one.

On a lighter note. I'm pretty sure my car finally got towed this morning. Took'em long enough.

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I disagree. It is an empha... (Below threshold)

August 9, 2010 7:57 AM | Posted, in reply to TheUnderwearBandit's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I disagree. It is an emphatic line, but emphasis does not make something true.

No man is an island.

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"No man is an island" is pr... (Below threshold)

August 9, 2010 1:38 PM | Posted by Rudd-O: | Reply

"No man is an island" is precisely the sort of sentence that is unanswerable. Mind you, not because it is true, but because literally it means nothing for this dicsussion -- of course no man is an island, islands are stretches of land surrounded by water.

And even if we gave you the benefit of the doubt and tried to interpret it metaphorically, you're just throwing a statement out. You don't say what your point is, much less offer evidence that the statement is valid or showing us what conclusions you draw from it. All you'redoing is throwing a mantra out, and expecting us to buy it uncritically *and* draw the same conclusions you did, with no rational justification.

You're acting like those people who go throwing analogies, believing that by throwing out analogies, their points make themselves. It is not intelligent discussion on your part. It sucks -- please be respectful enough to spare everybody the wasted time.

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Being raised a Catholic, yo... (Below threshold)

August 10, 2010 12:51 AM | Posted, in reply to R. Kevin Hill's comment, by LD: | Reply

Being raised a Catholic, you have hit the nail on the head for me. More than my childhood of neglect (starved because mom was an alcoholic...suicidal... one foot out the door of life all the time) was the guilt placed on me by the Catholic Church saying God knows what you are doing, thinking, thinking about doing...etc.and, no matter what, you are not worthy. We laughed but only in grim fashion at George Carlin's riff: It was a sin to think of feeling up Ellen, a sin to plan to feel up Ellen, and a sin to actually feel up Ellen: that's three sins in one feel. The all-knowing judging God concept has caused me so much pain, more than my poor dysfunctional parents,more than any other experience in my life. As a woman, I had the experience of attending a funeral service at a Catholic Church and sat there wondering why I spent so much time in a place that hates me, because I am a woman and because women screwed the human race up forever. We have pain in childbirth because of eternal punishment. Pedophilia and ordaining women are both grave sins. Sigh. Perhaps the narcissism of the church was more destructive to my sense of self than any of the sad experiences I had with my parents. R.Kevin Hill, your way of expressing those thoughts are a revelation to me and I thank you. Some folks up there in those comments are a bit mean others quite profound. Your comments were a life altering connection. Thank you.

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"It is ridiculous to think ... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 9:07 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by medsvstherapy: | Reply

"It is ridiculous to think of the contrast between a bunch of pale skinny desk jockies with venti starbucks coffees calling everyone a narcissist (hello nail, I am a hammer), arguing with someone like you."

Hey, at least I actually get coffee, and not a coffee-flavored dessert. Does that count for anything?

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