August 26, 2010

Love The Way You Lie (With Me)

rihanna-ft-timberlake.jpg

wrong video

On Eminem's official Facebook page, he invites you to check out the world premiere of his album... on MySpace.   That's the first sign that you're in for a demography problem, yo.

In his latest video, "Love The Way You Lie," starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie from Lost)  Eminem raps about what everyone is calling an abusive relationship.  Stop.  When you hear the words "abusive relationship" what do you think we're about to see?

a) guy beats girl
b) girl beats guy
c) they beat each other


You probably amended your answer as you read the choices, but grant me that most people reflexively choose a.  The Huffington Post did: "Megan Fox Abused in [said video.]"

The video is decidedly not about that kind of abusive relationship.  Megan Fox throws the first punch-- while Dominic is still asleep.  And the second, and the third through the tenth, and pretty much all of the punches.  The first 55 seconds of that video can be aptly retitled, "This Crazy Bitch Is Crazy,  Why All These Bitches Gotta Be So Crazy?"





This didn't stop a lot of people from holding this up as an example of male aggressor  domestic violence, and that is because they didn't really watch the video, they saw a guy in a tank top and went to Defcon 1. 

In fact, the only people Dominic Monaghan does hit are a) a wall; b) some American Eagle wearing mofo in a bar; c) a mirror.

Ok, ok, not totally true: he does hit Megan Fox once at 3:45, and if I am interpreting this video correctly, it is because she was asking for it..


II.

Slow down, I hear you, check your prejudgmentices at the door.

What Dominic (and Eminem) do a lot of is talk tough.  Threats, yelling, intimidation, punching objects, "I'm feeling a lot!" these are the tools of male weakness, aptly embodied in Dominic Monaghan.  I liked him in Lost, but is anyone buying this guy is a physical threat to anyone?  Not wearing a shirt only makes you look like a better fighter, but you'll still need to sneak up on your target and hit them in the face with a bottle.  This next sentence is 100% accurate: I could take out Dominic Monaghan, Megan Fox, and Eminem, all together, even if they were all armed with toasters and I was asleep in a bathtub.  This isn't bragging, it's just that tattoos don't actually make you strong or else every girl I knew at the beach was a superhero.

"I guess I didn't even know my own strength," says (Eminem speaking as) the abusing boyfriend.  Nope, that's what you want me to think, because you don't want me to realize that I just witnessed your maximum strength.  Bristle that fur, wildman, bristle bristle.  "I'm a man, STRONG, yes I hit you and it was wrong but you should also know that I restrained myself because I love you, if I really let my anger out you wouldn't stand a chance."  Yeah, yeah, you'd have to sucker-bottle me first.

In these relationships, the hold over the woman isn't physical, it's nourishing.  The song isn't about Domestic Violence (capital letters, you are in the presence of a construct) but about a kind of love that substitutes magnitude of emotions for quality of emotions because that's the next best thing.  I don't mean this next part as an insult: toddlers do this.  They want you to extra love them up, but if you're watching the Radiation King they'll not hesitate to lick an electrical socket to get attention.  They would rather you yell at them than ignore them, and that emotional charge they get temporarily sustains them.  Spam isn't ham, but if you're starving it'll do.  And yes, eventually you will get used to, and even like, Spam.  It is repetition compulsion and it is inevitable.  Look, in the video Dominic is strolling through the vodka aisle and he can steal anything he wants and he chooses to steal... Stolichnaya.  Freud was right.

This is why it is so hard for women and men in such relationships to leave.  Yes they are afraid but the real fear is abandonment, starvation: this is your whole life, how do you walk away from everything you know?  You know it got violent yesterday, but you also feel emotionally full: the contrast between yesterday's anger and today's teddy bear gift is so gigantic that your emotions top out, like cocaine or winning at blackjack.  The absolute value of that love may be much less than "a good man's," but he can't provide the differential.  That's the toddler problem.


emotion differentials.jpg



Asking them to stop battling each other is to ask them to fast, what should they do when they get hungry?  They both feel no one will ever love them as much, and dopamine or whatever is going on in their brain confirms it.  While you're yelling from the outside "get away from him!" from the inside they try to deflect with high emotion substitutes: drugs, pregnancy, cheating.  After a while, your life is that cycle.  You can break up, sure, but each of you will probably repeat that pattern elsewhere, because the problem isn't the specific partner in front of you but the way you sustain your relationships.  And when you both work off the same patterns, you'll be together ten years longer than you should be.  When you're hungry, you gotta eat, and you may have heard of hunting and cooking and peeling garlic but Spam is SO EASY and you know EXACTLY how to get it.  Bonus: it now comes with Stoli.

The only solution I have ever seen work is that one of the people has to change the way they respond to the other.  You hate me when I bring up certain topics, so I'll give you a parable;   one thing I've noticed about the mutually abusive is their clinging to spirituality because when you live by no rules the psyche demands you to impose them from without:

And when the toddler comes ferociously upon you and yells, "I AM TWO AND I AM UNCONTAINED!" do you beat him like a dog?  Teach him that the rest of your life will have to wait while you unleash your anger on him-- so central is his existence?  Or rather, do you calmly show restraint, neither do you reward his mania with your emotion?   They are filled by your love, but they will settle for your attention.  He who feeds a Chaos will raise a Demon.
I'll let you work out the details for adults.


III.

Let's just dispense with one thing, formally, right now:  hip-hop is not a periscope on the black experience, and Eminem is evidence.  This isn't to say that it may not speak to/about blacks, but it speaks to Kansas white girls a whole heck of a lot as well.  The myth that Top 40 hip hop is still black is mostly perpetuated by culture writers who a) have no other contact with blacks whatsoever, and desperately need this as a source of information and to pretend to be diverse; or b) culture writers who don't like blacks, don't really know why they don't like them, and need an easy target.

Here's an example, and I hope my terrible writing skills will be able to effectively articulate this because it is extremely important.

Here's how a writer at The Atlantic describes the video:

I suppose I genuinely sympathize with both of them. Rihanna went through a public, awful domestic violence incident that she's clearly tried to work through
Note the exaggerated "awfulness."   The only person who would describe it that way is a person with no personal interest in it.   How do you know it was awful?  I'm not saying Rihanna liked it, but... isn't Rihanna saying she did?  Isn't that the whole reason she is in the video in the first place? 

Her (the writer's) thinking is infinitely narcissistic, it refuses to even attempt to understand the experience from the other person's perspective because it does not CARE. Of course it was awful, but what, precisely, did Rihanna think about it?   This thinking chooses a label, and then tries softening the use of that label by feigning outrage or sympathy.  You'll see it often/always when race is the topic; an earnest by self-absorbed white person will reveal their unconscious racism but hide behind their progressiveness and intellect:


obama-cover.jpg


"We're being ironic!"  No you're not, you're idiots.

Here is the primary difference between The Atlantic's perspective and Eminem's audience's perspective of the video: to the former, the video is a discussion of an issue; to the latter, it is CCTV of their lives.  And probably a routine Thursday at the Inem house.  It is too real and too usual for them to describe it as an "awful domestic violence incident," any more than they would describe their dinner as "a reliable spaghetti scenario."

The Atlantic writer discusses the song in that same superficial, deeply ignorant, aloof manner.

But this just feels incredibly self-indulgent. Eminem's slow. Rihanna's autotuney.

That's written by someone who needs to pretend to like hip hop music, i.e. a poser.  "The wine has a smoky, fruity aftertaste."  ?  "The painting was minimalist but jarring, an amazing use of color."  ??   But why do you have to pose?  You don't have to like hip hop, or understand it, to write something about it; you could simply write as an outsider, "look, I have no idea what the hell I'm looking at, but here's what I see" and still give the reader something valuable; but the reason she is writing isn't to teach the reader anything but to convey the impression that she is a serious critic of hip-hop.  She's not writing for you, she's writing for herself, for her identity.  This is how she began the article:

I tend to be a defender of Eminem's poppier impulses, as long as they make good use of his skill set.

This is when I reflexively bit through the neck of my rum bottle, yes it hurt, but it saved me from a stroke.  This woman doesn't really care about hip hop, though I'd bet big stacks she truly believes she does; and she doesn't really care about domestic violence though I'd double down on those big stacks that she really, really, believes she does.  It's all a show.

Eminem has no interest in glorifying domestic violence.  He is speaking to the majority of his audience who completely, utterly, deeply "get" the song:

  • "This song completely changed my life"
  • "I love this song"
  • "I want a relationship like this, intoxicating just like a drug"
  • "I know every word"
  • "there's no words to describe how much your music turned my life around and also saved my life"
  • "this song, so deep, so awesome"

And that's just the women.

This song isn't about Domestic Violence, it's about people.

IV.

Why does the song have to be about "Domestic Violence" anyway?  Why can't it just be about two screwed up people, one of whom is a soccer hooligan?  Because there are certain themes that are not allowed to be merely depictions-- they have to be about "awareness" and "sending a positive message."  Domestic violence is one of those things, and before you say anything observe that homicide is not one of those things.  Neither is adultery or cannibalism.  We choose our causes based on something other than the cause.

Yet you're going to find a lot of people who can't wait to say: "it's not a positive message to send to kids."  Fine, but this is when you pipe up?  Someone on the Huffington Post used this video to offer up the warning signs of domestic abuse, here they are for your education: Jealousy, Controlling Behavior, Blames Others, Cruel, Past Battering.  I stand vigilant.  Prior to revealing these insights, said writer includes this caveat: "remembering that though these warnings are written in the guise of straight man/straight woman, abuse knows no gender or sexual preference boundaries. "  That's what she needs to tell you, "I'm sensitive to lots of things, battered women and sexual orientations," that's where her head is at. The article has no value in preventing Domestic Violence, it is all about identifying her.

I may not like Eminem's music, but I am able to see how his lyrics speak to a lot of people that no one else is speaking to, unless it's down to.  If you want to know why there's Domestic Violence, that's why.

V.

Maybe you can't feel the song because you don't have a personal connection to that kind of relationship.  Ok, let me use a different example. There's an other video, Airplanes, not Eminem's but he does rap on it:

alright lets pretend Marshall Mathers never picked up a pen
lets pretend things would have been no different
pretend he procrastinated had no motivation
pretend he just made excuses that were so paper thin they could blow away with the wind
Marshall you're never gonna make it makes no sense to play the game there ain't no way that you'll win
pretend he just stayed outside all day and played with his friends
pretend he even had a friend to say was his friend
and it wasn't time to move and schools were changing again
he wasn't socially awkward and just strange as a kid
he had a father and his mother wasn't crazy as shit
and he never dreamed he could rip stadiums and just lazy as shit
fuck a talent show in a gymnasium bitch, you won't amount to shit quit daydreaming kid
you need to get your cranium checked you thinking like an alien it just ain't realistic
now pretend they ain't just make him angry with this shit and there was no one he could even aim when he's pissed it
and his alarm went off to wake him off but he didn't make it to the rap Olympics, slept through his plane and he missed it
he's gonna have a hard time explaining to Hailey and Laney these food stamps and this WIC shit
cause he never risked shit, he hopes and he wished it but it didn't fall in his lap so he ain't even hear it
he pretends that...


You can complain about who is glorifying what and how someone is being represented as whatever, but in doing so you ignore the millions of people-- kids-- who are feeling neglected by you and represented only by Eminem et al.  If you focus on Domestic Violence and miss their internal struggle, then you will neither stop Domestic Violence nor affect their lives, and they will abandon you.  They already have. 

Maybe this song doesn't speak to you, fine, okay, but trust me on this: there is someone who is hearing it, and if you are hearing it, it's for you.

---

More on rap music: Jay-Z


---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych

 







Comments

This is so brilliant. Thank... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 1:23 AM | Posted by Anon: | Reply

This is so brilliant. Thank you.

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This article could almost h... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 1:51 AM | Posted by AnonyMouse: | Reply

This article could almost have been about the Ruling Class vs the Country Class.

Oh shit, I used caps...

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -4 (8 votes cast)
This: "You can complain abo... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 1:56 AM | Posted by CF: | Reply

This: "You can complain about who is glorifying what and how someone is being represented as whatever, but in doing so you ignore the millions of people-- kids-- who are feeling neglected by you and represented only by Eminem et al. If you focus on Domestic Violence and miss their internal struggle, then you will neither stop Domestic Violence nor affect their lives, and they will abandon you. They already have."

Makes me think of this: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1978#comic

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It's almost like you're say... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 2:07 AM | Posted by none: | Reply

It's almost like you're saying there are two Americas: Facebook-America and Myspace-America.

Welcome to the Internet, David Brooks.

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I watched this video and fe... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 2:09 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I watched this video and felt it was less about abuse and more about intense sex. Nothing too abusive seems to be happening , seems much more like rough sex in an unstable / casual relationship between two rednecks who will be fat and disgusting by the time they are 30 yrs old (i mean, if these people existed in IRL anyway).
Just saying.
If this video is doing anything at all it is glamorizing domestic abuse, as if it could possibly spice up your sex life to have a partner who occasionally impulsively swings his fists or throws you into a wall/bed and sets the house on fire.
I am TOTALLY not seeing a female-on-male abuse here as you are claiming exists. Sorry.

I agree the headlines are bullshit but they are trying to make this video controversial so people give a shit (but no one really does as eminem is over).
PS megan fox messed up her face. CAT LADY!
PPS I can't watch eminem without thinking about "the key of awesome" from youtube. I think eminem should be FIRED trump style and the dude from thekeyofawesome should make all his videos from here on out.
PPPS "I guess thats why they call it window panes" --- how can anyone take this douchebag seriously after that ridiculous lyric? lulz doesnt even begin.

"Yes they are afraid but the real fear is abandonment, starvation: this is your whole life, how do you walk away from everything you know?"
I will give you this TLP, this line was insightful. Good job.

PS people with 47 chromosomes can be feeling people too!!! omg, how dare u, you've just offended downs and kleinsfelter and god knows how many others.

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I'll let you work ... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 5:13 AM | Posted by Aron: | Reply

I'll let you work out the details for adults.

The only detail that changes as best as I can tell is that the chaos isn't limited to the walking distance of a toddler. Though there's also the glorious possibility of kids learning some awesome coping mechanisms from mom and dad...

Maybe it was supposed to be implied, but I'm surprised Alone didn't link to a post like this one.

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@ Anonymous - the line ther... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 6:03 AM | Posted by Termm: | Reply

@ Anonymous - the line there is "you gotta watch her leave through the window / guess thats why they call it windowpane (window pain)". It's a quite simple pun really... and it makes sense in context. also plenty of people DO give a shit, why do you think it's been recieving so much attention? Clearly the media gives a shit, clearly TLP gives a shit, and clearly you give enough of a shit to comment on how you don't give a shit.

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it's like, 'on the brighter... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 6:34 AM | Posted by rontom: | Reply

it's like, 'on the brighter side...' Come on, TLP. How could you not see that it has nothing to do with size and muscle, tatoo or vodka, but instead, with attitude (please note aggression is not ALL physical.) And the quotes from the women about how the video speaks to them, I'll wager vital parts of me, that they are talking about the attitude.

Dominic does not have to hit. It is threat that he could. And when since do you have to be courageous to hit a woman? (Sneaking up on a guy in bar and sucker-punching him with a bottle is in keeping with this turd.) And it is that unpredictable, explosive violence makes it alluring, not attractive. Being raised in a home where this was all played out without the hip-hop soundtrack gives me some credibility

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@Anonymous - Rough sex, now... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 6:42 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Sam: | Reply

@Anonymous - Rough sex, now with all the rough and none of the sex.

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I buy the (fantastic) analy... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 7:08 AM | Posted by Ben: | Reply

I buy the (fantastic) analysis, but I'm puzzled about how the video came to be strumming the pain of hyper-emotional young Americans with its fingers. I don't know who scripted the video, but I have my doubts that either M&M or Rihann-uh came up with it. If they didn't, then it was probably the usual record company stooges, who are probably as vain, superficial and soulless as the Huff'n'puff Post. So it would seem that the stooges, in trying to make a serious statement about the dangers of Jealousy, Cruelty, Past Battering & co, they ended up drenching teen-aged Kansans in genuine pathos. What they intended to be a cautionary fiction to scare kids straight turned out to be a mirror that touches the Kansans with its poignant accuracy? It's hard to process that much irony: cheesy after-school special *actually* speaks to people?

If you're watching it, somebody made it for you. The analysis would make more sense if we knew who made it and why.

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But Spam is delicious.... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 7:57 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

But Spam is delicious.

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TLP- "The myth that Top 40 ... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 8:24 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

TLP- "The myth that Top 40 hip hop is still black is mostly perpetuated by culture writers who a) have no other contact with blacks whatsoever, and desperately need this as a source of information and to pretend to be diverse; or b) culture writers who don't like blacks, don't really know why they don't like them, and need an easy target."

Oh come on now, announcers on Entertainment Tonight aren't culture writers. And anything that makes the US Top 40 is generally selling to a white or at least mixed, but decidedly mainstream, audience. (It has to if it's going to sell enough to get into the Top 40, that's if it really actually sells and the chart position isn't entirely manufactured and based on shipping not sales. The Top 40, now there's a construct that has little to do reality.) The Top 40 is a highly manufactured system of control...or attempted control system, the major labels weren't about to allow people to buy music they don't profit from. Look at how they've gone into a narcissistic control frenzy over internet radio and file sharing...and their massively out of proportion, quite insane really, response.

And, no offense, but you're actually off the mark vis a vis MySpace and FB in this instance. MySpace has pretty much claimed the social music media space (for now) and is used a lot by people into music, while FB is not a music space really, just a social one. As a culture writer, which is pretty much what you are in the context of this blog, you're kind of talking out your ass here as much as any of the "culture writers" you're critiquing.

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Section 2, 3rd paragraph do... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 8:27 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Section 2, 3rd paragraph down (Unless we are counting the single line sentence all by itself, then 4th).

They would rather you yell at THAN THAN ignore them, and that emotional charge they get temporarily sustains them

(Emphasis added by yours truly to show the error)

As always feel free to delete this if you so choose.

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Dear Anon, you missed the m... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 9:23 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Dear Anon, you missed the main point of this post: Alone graduated from MS Paint!

Kudos, Alone. Keep it up!

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This article, so deep, so a... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 9:25 AM | Posted by MM: | Reply

This article, so deep, so awesome.

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Since, I can't get into the... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 9:59 AM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

Since, I can't get into the mood about this post...

...they were all armed with toasters and I was asleep in a bathtub.

Bill Murray's toaster and bathtub episode in Groundhog Day is so funny!

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I want you to hit me, as ha... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 10:01 AM | Posted, in reply to MM's comment, by rihanna: | Reply

I want you to hit me, as hard as you can..

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Boils down to two things:</... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 11:35 AM | Posted by Andy Havens: | Reply

Boils down to two things:

1. The media needs new crap to write about all the time

2. It has to be binary. 0/1, bad/good, us/them, Dems/Repbubs, science/religion, violence/harmony, male/female, sick/well.

If this wasn't a pop song (I don't care about if it's rock, country, hip-hop... I think that's a side issue about culture/race confusion), but was a poem in a college text book, there'd be no hype/indignation at all. It would be read as a decent (not fantastic, but decent) poem with a couple interesting sub-texts. Possibly (as one commenter said), an extended metaphor for raucous, violent sex. Possibly a metaphor about the tension between loving your life some days and hating it others, or loving one part of your personality but not all of it. Reading it in a classroom, the professor would probably ask that you not take the surface narrative as the entire meaning, but as one of several.

Because this is pop music, though, it has to be about what it's most obviously about, and that has to fit into the binary media scheme, and since it's "obviously" "about" male/female domestic violence, and since it doesn't condemn it in a schticky, After-School-Special/PSA kind of way, then it is clearly wrong and bad. Put it in the "0" bucket rather than the "1."

Much art (great or otherwise) exists to ask hard questions, not answer them. Asking hard questions, though, is hard. What makes me sad is that pop artists, in this case, seem to have the time, thoughtfulness, craft and ability to ask those questions, while the media just sits there and paints it black so that we can all shake our fingers without spending any of our own time and effort on the issue.

Good art (even pop art) is always hard. Pop media is all about the easy.

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Perhaps I misread you, but ... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 12:17 PM | Posted by Justin: | Reply

Perhaps I misread you, but I got the impression you believe domestic abuse is only physical, and that Dominic Monaghan's character is not abusing Rihanna's because he doesn't touch her? That's not generally how domestic abuse works. He is clearly in the video being emotionally abusive, whether or not he actually lays a hand on her.

I do think the video is more complicated than either glorifying or demonizing male-on-female domestic abuse, but it still disturbs me. Eminem seems to be unapologetic about the fact that:

"If she ever tries to fucking leave again
I'mma tie her to the bed
And set the house on fire"

He might be all talk and wouldn't actually do it, but don't you think some people will listen to this song and find justification for their desires to hurt or even kill their partner? I just can't see it as being just about a particularly intense relationship, personally, but you know, our own perspectives and contexts color the way we see things like this, so I'll own my own feelings.

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I must say, the video reall... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Posted by Brian Ray: | Reply

I must say, the video really speaks to me. It reminds me of the relationship I have with my wife, who left 4 months ago. Our relationship has always been passionate. We love passionately and fight passionately. Albeit, our fights aren't physical, but verbal. We've been trying to modify our actions towards each other and this article has given me some insight into how to do that. Thank you Eminem. Thank you The Last Psychiatrist.

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I like your assessment of t... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 2:03 PM | Posted by Larry: | Reply

I like your assessment of that type of personality who always needs drama in his/her life. I've just adopted a foster child who exhibits this type of drama. I would really love to find a way to teach her that her life doesn't have to be a series of crisis.

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I saw the whole video large... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 3:00 PM | Posted by Jonathan Peterson: | Reply

I saw the whole video largely as you do - a cautionary tale of what can/will happen in an too intense, alcohol fueled relationship. I think most people should be assumed to be grown up enough to handle art that isn't scared to admit that sometimes something that is bad for you can feel damned good, at least for a while.

While I agree that most of the physical abuse is focused on the guy, the turn to murder/suicide (even one that appears to be a fantasy) at the end is a lot more extreme than punching a wall or even hitting a woman. But again, it's hardly glorifying or excusing - only showing potential as extremes build.

"He who feeds a Chaos will raise a Demon"

That's just brilliant right there. You have it in a quote, but I can't find it anywhere with Google. Where is it from?

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She's not writing for yo... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 3:12 PM | Posted by zozo: | Reply

She's not writing for you, she's writing for herself, for her identity.

Careful--you're drifting into the waters of irony here. One might also suggest that a certain author isn't writing for us as much as he's creating an identity of a rum-drinking, iconoclastic, hip-hop listening, indie-film watching, gym-fighting, forensic psychiatrist who screams Cassandra-like about the perils of Narcissism.

The internets have facilitated a new identity: the outsider critic persona, crusty, but subtly hip, with Diogenes-like nuggets of cynic wisdom. A good example is Plinkett of Red Letter Media, with his approach to the new Star Wars movies and, to a lesser extent, The Filthy Critic. There's a clear style of writing as a means to create a persona--an approach a respected author has recently described as "infinitely narcissistic."

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Alone's contention is: "Doe... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 3:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by syntaxfree: | Reply

Alone's contention is: "Doesn't have 47 chromosomes => Gets it". He never said "Has 47 chromosomes => Doesn't get it".

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@JustinHe's abusive,... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 3:54 PM | Posted, in reply to Justin's comment, by Anon: | Reply

@Justin
He's abusive, but not the abuser. They're in a mutually abusive relationship that results from an intricate push and pull. How far does she have to go to get a response? How far does he have to go to get her to stop pushing? She may hit or scream or throw a tantrum. He may yell or hold her down or push and hit her. Ultimately, all their interactions are a violent cycle based on her need for his attention and his need for her existence.

This is a very specific type of abusive relationship. The video doesn't portray the "man beats woman cause he's a dick" type of abuse that is generally considered the norm. Unless you've been in one, it's like watching a train wreck that couldn't possibly have happened. One day, they're a normal, laid-back couple. The next, she's gaining as much attention from the fight as she can and he's broken. The day after, they're madly in love like newlyweds.

Eminem's words aren't coherent - they may make sense in English, but the train of thought isn't direct. There's the way things should be ("Next time? There won't be no next time!") and the way things are ("I'm tired of the games. I just want her back. I know I'm a liar.").

He's hit his limit and stopped trying to convince himself that it's going to be different. If she keeps pushing, doing things she knows send him through the roof, he's going to do something really bad. It's not a threat, just "talk" as you said, it's a simple statement of fact. There's no place left to go.

The part that we don't hear directly, but is inferred by Rihanna's little interludes, is the strange calm with which she takes all the abuse. She loves it. He's going to watch her implode, and that's her abuse. Not any of the hitting or slapping she does, but that she knows how to hurt him in just the right way to get the level of attention she wants. She's manipulating and instigating her own abuse on purpose. "Why won't he just let me know how he feels?" Maybe he did, but the intensity of his feelings made her feel unimportant. If he really loved her, he'd feel as intensely as she does. So she pushes until he's feeling enough.

Now he's hurt her. But that's OK, because she knows they both went too far. She'll make a big deal of being hurt - he feels like shit, after all, so that's her role to play. He'll bring her flowers, fawn all over her, they'll have passionate sex and everything will be intense for a while. Then normalcy will return, the attention will fade and the whole cycle starts over.

On a completely different note, I don't give a shit if this is coming from the dregs of hip-hop artistry. He got the dynamics of this type of relationship spot on.

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Don't get me wrong. I thin... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 3:58 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Don't get me wrong. I think a lot of the ideas proffered here are outstanding, especially the approach to evidence-based medicine. I'd just suggest caution when deconstructing narratives and identity--that knife cuts both ways.

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Wow. TLP I don't agree with... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 4:20 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

Wow. TLP I don't agree with you about some of the conclusions I interperet you as leading the reader towards, however this topic is SO IN NEED OF ATTENTION by the professionals who serve "those people" in "that demographic".

I was born from "those people." My mother was doing drugs and stealing and having sex at 14 (or earlier?). My cousins father stabbed my cousins father in the back. Both of those men had dated my aunt. And yes one of those men dated my aunt and my mother. If "dated" can be used as the term.

I was not raised with "those people." I was instead raised in a middle class two parent home. With non-biological relatives.


(Pay attention Larry--common adoptee problem here.)

In my experience, growing up, I had to know "those people." I was not part of that group and yet I was not part of the culture I was raised in. Having been born in circumstances that weren't ideal I had all of the ADD, learning issues, dyslexia, oppositional defiant, high stress responses, immune problems ETC ETC common to the demographic I come from.

The kids at my private catholic school threw gum at my back and called me a crack baby. I sat behind the gym.

I got my first job at 16 and finally got a glimpse of "my people." I was home. Hearing Modest Mouse utter despondently, "Goddam I am such a mess, I hope I can pass high... school."

Listening to Eminem visciously attack the mother whose actions he was soon doomed to repeat. I lived among those who faced what I "escaped" from. And really, if I needed to be saved, if I needed to lose my mother and my father and my two sisters and my two brothers so that I could be saved from growing up with these people... doesn't it mean every other person from that demographic needs to be saved as well?

If my existence rests on will of humans who have no obligation to take me in, than do I not have an obligation to take in all those who are in need?

You can rail against the abusive man, but guess where he came from? When I lived among street kids and drug addicts, I saw beautiful human beings who possessed depth and power of will that humans who stayed safely within the realm of their middle and upper class bubbles had no way of grasping.

I saw people who threw trashcans like a 3 year old when they thought someone was rude, people who would fall to the floor screaming if you said a word that triggered memories of horrible abuse, people slashed up the walls of their trashy homes with machedis and threw knives at the door for fun. I saw people who would break down as soon as be able to deal with some small issue, people who could scream in your face and turn around and tell you they were sorry and you were one of the most meaningful people in their lives and mean it in a heart beat.

These are men and they are women. These are people who cling to each other and destroy each other and save each other all within a day. And it's all real. And it's all valid. It's not a "lesser" love. It's not "less meaningful" love. Just because it's filled with the chaos that comes from both experiences and from living life at the bottom with to many cognitive impairments and behavioral disorders to function within the society they are present in and facing the despair and hopelessness of knowing you may truly never make it in the way you hoped. In the way that we are fulturally ingrained to want to make it.

And this idea that social workers, therapists and other professionals who work with this demographic need to impress upon this population how bad they are, how wrong their lives are, how meaningless their relationships are in comparison to the middle class American model of a "healthy relationship" don't get it.

They are so far behind and they do a disservice to every one of those people they sit in front of, judge and talk down in the attempt to force them to conform to middle class values and way of life.

And every once in a while, a few of us from "that demographic" might just manage to go get an education. One of us from "that demographic" might read your text books and study the materials and language you use to describe us and our lives. The way you compartmentalize us and judge us and turn us into existing soley as "patients" for the purpose or your scrutiny and "doctoring."

And I disagree that people who are at the break point, who cumble and lash out, are evil.

I know abuse well. And at the heart of it is love. Otherwise it's just assault and it's temorary and the victim gets away. Abuse means the person is staying. And they are often staying because there is real love. Beyond all the other ****ed up dynamics that are playing out. Beyond the crazy need and the insane chaos. There is real love. People will go through hell for love. And there are times in this world, when it's worth it.

I mean come on, the guy who would scream if you mentioned the words Christians? Because he was beat and sexually abused by family members (one of whom a priest) for all his childhood? There ain't no GOD**MED therapy in the world that is going to turn that guy into some great relationship guy. Meds, behavioral therapy... blah blah blah, the guy will always be skrewed up. And likely a danger to those around him. And he's got a heart of gold. Should he never date? What if there's some girl who can barely hold a job because she's totally dissociative from a horrible upbringing and she's couch serfing and self medicating and subsisting as best she can and he loves her. What if he carries all the love she had ever hoped for in life? Just because there is chaos, is that love less real than the nice well adjusted christian couple who went to harvard together?

Should they really follow the model therapists and "experts" want to shove on these people that they're supposed to do everything the experts say and fix themselves and once they are "normal" and perfect then they can date have a nice normal relationship? HA!

I thought I would try to make this concise and brief, but no luck. thanks to anyone who took the time to read it.

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This is rather tangentially... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 4:43 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is rather tangentially related Alone, but have you ever watched the television series "The Wire"?

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The way you compartmenta... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 4:59 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The way you compartmentalize us and judge us and turn us into existing soley as "patients" for the purpose or your scrutiny and "doctoring."

When you're a hammer [psychiatrist] everything is a nail [mental case].

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A+ SIRI notice you... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 5:19 PM | Posted, in reply to zozo's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

A+ SIR

I notice your comment went unlauded, I can only assume the sycophants were overwhelmed shocked, and unable to even muster a snarky reply as it was beyond obvious you have owned them before they even uttered a word in return.

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I can't believe my comment ... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 5:24 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I can't believe my comment is -6. Even when I'm trying to get along with you people I still end up making you as angry as an alligator.

@Sam - you're just defending Merry aren't you?? You hobbits always stick together.

Now, if you notice in the video, there's a lot of posturing a threat of violence (both him toward her and her toward him) which devolves into making out in various places. It's almost as if the so called "abuse" is merely emotional intensity / tension that always seems to resolve itself in sex, with the implication that the sex is intense (because omg he was so close to punching her but they made out instead lolz! thats passion!). They are conflating sex and violence, and in doing so they are glorifying abusive relationships and making men who posture violently seem sexy.

I am used to spelling things out for you people here, you don't have to thank me.

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They are conflating sex ... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 6:13 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

They are conflating sex and violence, and in doing so they are glorifying abusive relationships and making men who posture violently seem sexy.

Like many other people, you quite cheerfully missed the point. Violence isn't "sexy" and the entire concept of the video doesn't portray it as "sexy."

In a healthy relationship, the man gives the woman something shiny and expensive that she's been asking for, the woman gets all super-emotional (and horny) and hot sex ensues.

Just think of being passionately abused as the shiny and expensive thing. She gets turned on by the fact that he was paying attention to (and only to) her tantrum, and he's full of adrenaline and testosterone.

The hot sex issue isn't really all that screwed up, it's just the abuse portion. Even healthy couples get aroused from a fight. You're on an emotional high and sex is better than fighting. So maybe the moral is abusive couples should just take up BDSM rather than beat the crap out of each other.

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anonymous 6:13, there are a... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 6:50 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

anonymous 6:13, there are as many different types of "abusive" relationships as there are "healthy" relationships. Often with more overlap than we like to admit.

But what you are describing is one type of "healthy" relationship, and one type of "abusive" relationship. I believe you that they may be common types, but I don't have much experience with either of them so I'll have to take your word for it.

Men and women are both equally capable of being the instigator or reciever of delliberately hurtful actions. There are relationships where the man is bringing a lot more hurtful behavior in and the woman is trying to figure out what to do with it, and I think some times the woman is bringing a whole lot of hurtful behavior and the man is trying to figure out what to do with it; and of course lastly our famous two crazy violent people attacking each other all the time.

I've seen all three of these. I've seen women who were so cruel that my heart breaks for the guys who experience it. I've also seen it the other way around. And I've also seen it where both people are both equally at each others throats.

I've never experienced feeling giddy and sexually aroused over a piece of jewelry, but I then I don't really like or wear jewelry, so I'm not sure I understand how that works in what you call "a healthy" relationship that seems to be based on petty objects and money. I'm not sure if I can totally see your vision of this as the ideal healthy relationship, but if it works for you, I believe you.

I'm not sure that I saw what you saw in the video which goes to show how varied responses to the same scene can be. I saw both of them hurting, both of them loving each other, and both of them acting out violently and chaotically and feeling remorseful and overwhelmed. I don't have experience with this type of relationship either so I could be totally off, but that is what I saw. I don't see either the male or the female as attempting to be evil and hurt and manipulate and injure each other. I see both as losing control and acting without much premeditated thought, which to me would likely be reflective of environments they saw growing up and that come naturally to them. When I watch I see two people who are equally feeling out of control of their own actions and living with the confusion and defeat and ache that that brings to peoples lives.

And if they're both living with same chaos, the same guilt, the same overwhelmed helpless feelings, they also feel even more deeply drawn to each other, because who else would understand?

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#1: Here's the HuffPo artic... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 7:30 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

#1: Here's the HuffPo article, the inspiration for Alone's post, in its entirety:

Rihanna collaborates with Eminem for his new video 'Love the Way You Lie,' filled with scenes of domestic violence and pyromania. Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan play the couple stuck in the bad romance.

Dominic had this to say about kissing Megan:

"It's all right," he told MTV. "No, I'm just kidding. It's fine, it's work. She's married. I have a lot of respect for marriage." From this will come a seminal exposition on the true nature of the myth of domestic violence. Pretty amazing, huh? And I thought it would be on kidding, work, kisses and marriage.

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#2. Source material. Rihann... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 7:46 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

#2. Source material. Rihanna's take.

The lyrics are so deep and beautiful. It's something I connected to, which made me think it was a hit. And I want to be part of a hit.

It's getting kinda hard to use the vid as a launchpad for anything other than increased sales ....

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#3 More source material. Ri... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2010 8:03 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

#3 More source material. Rihanna speaking in an interview.

"It was authentic. It was real. It was believable for us to do a record like that. He (Eminem) pretty much broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it's something a lot of people don't have a lot of insight on, but this song, its a really really really powerful song. It touches a lot of people."


How on earth could that crazy Atlantic article even mention domestic violence? I mean ... outside the female co-star specifically bringing it up when talking about the video? Beats me. I don't know anything more than what I learned in the 10 minutes it took to find out THIS shit.

After all, there's music videos and then there's commentary on music videos, and then there's commentary on commentary on music videos and then there's domestic violence. Best not to confuse them.

http://www.accesshollywood.com/access-extended-rihanna-i-couldnt-say-no-to-eminem-for-love-the-way-you-lie_video_1240713?loc=interstitialskip

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"After a while, your life i... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 1:11 AM | Posted by Z. Constantine: | Reply

"After a while, your life is that cycle."

Those eight words summed it up very nicely.

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I have read your blog for a... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 2:22 AM | Posted by Nick: | Reply

I have read your blog for a long time and have been amazed at what I have learned. But this was a post for the ages. Well done. The analysis blew my own prejudices out of the water. I see the song in a new light and its impact on people as well. Thanks again for your insightful view into culture and the world we live in. Cheers.

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"In a healthy relationship,... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 3:23 AM | Posted by Aikou: | Reply

"In a healthy relationship, the man gives the woman something shiny and expensive that she's been asking for, the woman gets all super-emotional (and horny) and hot sex ensues." -Anonomoys

My jaw dropped, literally. I'm hard put to accept the above situation labeled as "a healthy relationship", but hell, to each their own. Is that really as common a part of the dynamics of a typical relationship as you portray it, though? Personally, I (a woman) find an emotional overdose (even a near-violent one, o pathological me) more arousing by far than some "shiny" object. I've never been in a truly abusive relationship, then again, so perhaps that's exactly why the seemingly overwhelming emotional powerplay still holds allure to me.

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Zozo's comment is irrelevan... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 4:38 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

Zozo's comment is irrelevant to Alone's argument. Hence it deserves to go unnoticed as it adds nothing. Furthermore, perhaps Alone is guilty of the sin he criticizes. So what? His guilt or non-guilt does not negate the argument he presents.

If you cannot play at the level of the argument, and you must resort to tu quoques, then this playground is a little too advanced for you.

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I want to add something her... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 11:39 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I want to add something here. Something that I see missing when people try to support abuse "victims" is the ability to see that both people in an abusive relationship are usually struggling in a way that is similar. If you tell a woman (or man) who has been abused that the abuser is bad, a failure, SHOULD be able to control their actions, is unforgivable for not being able to control their actions, than you are saying the same thing about the person who is staying in that situation.

Shouldn't the "victim" be able to make it on their own? Shouldn't they be able to walk away if they are being hurt? Shouldn't they be able to succeed in the world? They are usually struggling to make it and may have ADD, depression, abusive issues from the past, poor scholastic abilities for whatever reason,behavioral issues, poor ability to succeed in the workforce. If being able to behave and act the way you want to should spontaneously be a choice and everyone SHOULD and CAN spontaneously fix their issues and be who they should be, then you are saying that the abused person will always be unforgivable and bad in the eyes of society for ever for struggling an failing and nothing they can do will ever change that. The same as nothing the abuser ever will do in the future will ever change that they are a bad abuser and forever unforgivable.

You're basically telling the abused person that no one in society will ever love or accept them and the only person who WILL be able to fogrive them for their failure to function by societies standards is the partner who also understands their struggle in not being able to control their own actions.

Even when the dynamic DOES consist of a man acting out violently with anger, and the woman isn't even involved in playing a game of invoking his anger in order to illecit that response to encourage the abusive dynamic (which some people in abusive relationships do, and some don't)... the woman is often staying for more reasons than just "fear of what he will do if she leaves". That may SOMETIMES be the reason abuse victimes stay, but mroe often the woman (or man) is staying because they deeply understand the abusers situation of not being able to control themselves from personal experience. Even if their own personal experience of losing control is different than losing control of temper. It may be losing control of a grip on reality, or losing control of an ability to function in school or work, it may losing control of attention span or focus, it may be... anything.

If we can't have compassion for people who are losing control, then even from the perspective of JUST trying to help the abused party of the abusive relationship, we are missing something that is vital to offering compassion to that person.

You can tell the woman that "No, the unforgivableness doesn't apply to you! I only mean that for the abuser! they are the one who is unforgivable!" But a thinking person knows otherwise. She knows she has life issues and she has failed and that ultimately she is not so different from her male counterpart. You may as well just tell her, "You ought to just stay with this guy because society will always think both of you are shit no matter what either of you do."

There are a lot of different abusive dynamics, so I'm mostly speaking from experience here. I don't know what percent of people stay in abusive relationships out of fear rather than out of love. I know I stayed because I loved the guy to pieces, and I still genuinely believe he was and is a beautiful human being who got dealt a lot of shit in life and couldn't work it out in time to save me. I had to save us both by leaving. But even when I left I didn't just do it for me. I did it for both of us as his own actions were destroying him inside. And he couldn't stop it. It was like living at the bottom of mountain where an avalanche happens every day and trying to build little fences made of twigs and branches to stop it and watching the fence get smashed to bits over and over again. Neither of us could stop it.

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"Freud was right" about wha... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 2:12 PM | Posted by ignorant mcNugget: | Reply

"Freud was right" about what, exactly? I'd like to get the reference but I don't have anything more than a sketchy, superficial knowledge of Freud's ideas.

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Easy, now. If I have touch... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 5:50 PM | Posted, in reply to TheUnderwearBandit's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Easy, now. If I have touched a nerve, I apologize. But also wonder why my observation provoked such a reaction. If I were last remaining mental health practitioner, I might speculate on personality organization, but that gig is taken.

I'm not challenging the last guy's argument. I'm making an observation about one of his prominent themes. I'm not resorting to any sort of tutu, toucan, whatever latiny thing I had to look up on wikipedia.

I'm sorry to intrude without being able to play at the level of the argument. Somehow I got the idea that since I was reading it, it was for me.

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Not good at this "name" stu... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2010 5:52 PM | Posted by zozo: | Reply

Not good at this "name" stuff. That last comment was mine.

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I also like this song.. If ... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 2:29 AM | Posted by Psychiatrist In Cleveland: | Reply

I also like this song.. If you go through every meaning of it then you will surely appreciate it.

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I'm not challenging the ... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 5:13 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

I'm not challenging the last guy's argument.

That is precisely the problem. You care about Alone's identity, and not his argument.

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^that was my response... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 5:14 AM | Posted by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

^that was my response

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Can we really do a full cri... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 11:20 AM | Posted by demodenise: | Reply

Can we really do a full critical analysis of an argument without taking into account the identity/perceived identity of the person making the argument? Not if (as Alone so deftly argues) everything is social constructs.

How would the meaning of the argument change if Alone was an evangelical preacher, a pop starlet, or a politician?

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What do you mean by critica... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 4:27 PM | Posted, in reply to demodenise's comment, by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

What do you mean by critical analysis? If we are interested in the truth value of the argument (True or False), then no, the origin of the argument is irrelevant.

If we are interested in reasons for believing Alone, because we lack the ability to analyze his assumptions, then his identity as a psychiatrist may be helpful. But only as a reason for belief. Not as a reason of truth.

Applied to the instant case, Alone finds Rosenberg's analysis to be narcissistic. Now Alone may be an ax murderer, or torture kittens in his basement, but neither of those characteristics would alter the veracity of the claim that Rosenberg exhibits narcissistic traits. Either she does possess those traits, or she does not.

For (perhaps) a clearer explanation of the genetic fallacy I recommend this short piece.

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Logic (and the logical eval... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 10:21 PM | Posted, in reply to TheUnderwearBandit's comment, by demodenise: | Reply

Logic (and the logical evaluation of arguments) is a beautiful and elegant system of reasoning for which I have the most respect.

I have found that logic doesn't take context into consideration, though, and that causes difficulty because human beings process (and create) context as part of all incoming information.

The genetic fallacy is absolutely correct in the sense that it makes no difference (under the umbrella of logical evaluation) to the validity/veracity of his argument whether Alone is an axe murderer or a kitten killer.

However, if we only pay attention to truth/falsity when making meaning out of an experience (whether it's a blog post, a comic, a music video, etc.) we choose to ignore a big chunk of information that our brain is trying to process anyway.

"Logic" and "critical thinking" are both constructs, and therefore have different meanings to different people. Ask a physicist what you mean by logic, and you get one answer. Ask a philosopher what you mean by logic, and you get another one. Ask someone in academia what "critical thinking" is, and they'll talk your ear off. Ask a lawyer, and they will talk about something completely different.

How can the physicist, philosopher, academic, and the lawyer possibly have a conversation together without it devolving into a screaming match?

They have to be willing to internally accommodate multiple meanings/experiences of "logic" and "critical thinking" simultaneously, meanings that might be completely opposite. I haven't yet found the part of logic that accommodates that problem. (Not implying that it doesn't exist, I just haven't found it yet).

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"Logic" and "critical th... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2010 11:40 PM | Posted by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

"Logic" and "critical thinking" are both constructs, and therefore have different meanings to different people. Ask a physicist what you mean by logic, and you get one answer. Ask a philosopher what you mean by logic, and you get another one. Ask someone in academia what "critical thinking" is, and they'll talk your ear off. Ask a lawyer, and they will talk about something completely different.

No. You are simply incorrect that logic will change based on who you are talking to. The truth table of "and" is identical for a lawyer or a physicist. Its a mistake to believe that the presence of indeterminancy in quantum states is a refutation of logic (e.g. the principle of the excluded middle.) Plus we are discussing a non-quantum topic, so you don't get to use a quantum specific "logic."

I would also dispute the "constructive" nature of logic, but that is not the issue here.

The simple point is the psychological state of Alone does not prove or refute his thesis; much to the consternation and chagrin of many a commenter.


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Just stumbled upon your sit... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2010 5:04 AM | Posted by The Pompitous of Love: | Reply

Just stumbled upon your site from reddit.com. Awesome article. I'll be checking back.

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Would be very grateful for ... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2010 7:17 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Would be very grateful for tips on how to see the world with such clarity... (reading recommendations?... aside from this blog of course)

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When I first read your arti... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2010 8:24 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

When I first read your article, which is definitely very insightful, I hadn't yet watched the video so took at face value your assertions on the balance of power/violence.

Now I've watched it.

I've tried to be fair in this catalogue of "aggressive incidents" (with timestamps, so anyone who feels this is misleading can pinpoint exactly where).

Megan -> Dominic

0:35 gets out of bed a bit violently
0:40 starts hitting him (he is awake)
0:46 spits in his face (while he is sitting on top of her)
0:55 starts hitting him (after he tries to physically stop her from leaving)
0:58 ok, seriously swinging for him here
1:05 slaps his hand away after he tries to touch his shoulder
1:15 both fighting


Dominic -> Megan

0:42 slams her into the bed (to restrain? perhaps)
0:44 now sitting on top of her
0:48 pushes her pretty hard back into the bed
0:52 grabs her arm when she says she's leaving
1:07 pushes her against the wall after she rejects his touch (1:05)
1:08 punches the wall
1:11 hand across her neck after punching hole in the wall
1:15 both fighting
1:34 climbs on her on the sofa, her leg blocking him (difficult to tell what this situation is exactly but it doesn't look "inviting")
2:32 glasses a guy she's playing pool with in the face
2:41 repeatedly punches glassed guy in the face
2:51 punches mirror, breaking it
3:30 starts throwing things around the bedroom as she's walking away from him, she tries to shut herself in the bathroom, he tries to open the door against her will
3:41 shaking her
3:44 punches her in the face

I challenge your statement that "The video is decidedly not about that kind of abusive relationship"

"Megan Fox throws the first punch-- while Dominic is still asleep."

Her actions are the first aggressive/violent acts in the video but he isn't asleep.

"And the second, and the tenth, and pretty much all of the punches."

Well that's actually just incorrect.

"This didn't stop a lot of people from holding this up as an example of male aggressor domestic violence, and that is because they didn't really watch the video, they saw a guy in a tank top and went to Defcon 1. In fact, the only people Dominic Monaghan does hit are a) a wall; b) some American Eagle wearing mofo in a bar; c) a mirror."

Hmmm. Because that kind of behaviour is absolutely normal. Bottom line is that any person who is prepared to punch a wall, someone in a bar or a mirror is sending a very clear message that they are prepared to use violence to solve their problems and that it wouldn't be a good idea for you to be one of them. Male or female.

"Ok, ok, not totally true: he does hit Megan Fox once at 3:45, and if I am interpreting this video correctly, it is because she asked for it."

Please review the list of violent incidents with timings above and clarify how? Because she "threw the first punch"? That makes her responsible for all his subsequent (or perhaps previous, given the distorted time in the clip) punches, does it?

No-one is responsible for other people's actions. As a psychiatrist you should know that.

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Thanks for breaking the vid... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2010 1:06 PM | Posted by Matt P: | Reply

Thanks for breaking the video down, Anon@8:24. Like you, I read Alone's piece first and then felt some disconnect when I went and actually watched the video. I'm not seeing it as absolutely clear that Monaghan was already awake when Fox struck the first blow, but the lack of bleariness in his response could suggest that.

I'm surprised nobody has brought up the precipitating event--Fox doesn't punch Monaghan out of sheer orneriness, but instead because the first thing she sees in the morning is some other woman's digits written on the back of his hand. It seems to me that this is some essential context--Monaghan came home and crawled into bed with Fox after spending the night cruising for strange tail--but I haven't seen anybody here take it into account.

If nothing else, I think it says that you can't really retitle the first 0:55 seconds per Alone's suggestion. Maybe it's my redneck roots showing, but I think that such dumbass proof of (attempted, at least) infidelity deserves a good smack, no crazy bitchiness required.

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Someone that perceives hint... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2010 7:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Matt P's comment, by syntaxfree: | Reply

Someone that perceives hints of nonmonogamous behavior in a partner is entitled to punch them? What if you switch genders?

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Hints? No. A written confes... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2010 11:23 PM | Posted, in reply to syntaxfree's comment, by Matt P: | Reply

Hints? No. A written confession draped over your sleeping body? Yes, regardless of gender. And "smack", not "punch"--not all violent acts are equal. Watch the video again, paying attention to what actually happens and not what you assume is happening.

At 0:31, Fox sees Cindy's name and number on Monaghan's hand, then we cut to Eminem. At 0:34 Fox throws the offending hand off her and Monagham looks confused (or, possibly, feigns confusion) and we cut back to Eminem. At 0:39, Fox grabs Monaghan's left arm and slaps, open-handed, his shoulder. At 0:40, Monaghan flips Fox onto the bed and grabs her shoulders, holding her in place. At 0:46, she spits on him--bad move. He forces her onto her back, still astride her, and she starts open-hand slapping at his chest.

So, yes, I maintain that the level of violence evinced by Fox toward Monaghan was warranted, and would have been warranted had she been the one with a man's name and phone number sharpied on the back of her hand.

Now you've got me thinking about the bit in Annie Hall where we cut between Thanksgiving (?) dinners with Diane Keaton's family and Woody Allen's. I'd thought that was broad satire, but...well, are affluent people really as bloodless as that suggested? Would a real-life yuppie couple really deal with evidence of (at least attempted) adultery with a cup of tea and a Big, Serious Talk? I don't mean to sound flippant, but that really does blow my mind.

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So it's ok for a man to sma... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2010 8:19 AM | Posted, in reply to Matt P's comment, by syntaxfree: | Reply

So it's ok for a man to smack around a bitch who is sleeping around. Quaint.

In any case, a number scribbled in a hand could be a potential employer, a lotto number, the serial number of something he needs fixed, etc. etc. Just assuming it's evidence of sleeping around is paranoid, and smacking someone for it is borderline psychotic.

That's why we have that name for women who are crazy like that. Borderline.

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While I understand the use ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2010 10:17 AM | Posted by Julene: | Reply

While I understand the use of Megan Fox in this video is purely because sex sells, and her sex sells well... it's making an interesting statement, in my mind, about how Rihanna has turned her run-in with Domestic Violence (oh shit, revenge of the caps!) into a money-making enterprise. Between this track with Eminem and several others off her own album, I've never seen a "my boyfriend beat the hell outta me" situation turn out so... well, *well*.

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borderline, witches, bitche... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2010 11:49 PM | Posted, in reply to syntaxfree's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

borderline, witches, bitches.

You covered 2 of the 3, the middle one has since fallen out of favor.

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well done. I grew up in a s... (Below threshold)

August 31, 2010 12:58 AM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by L: | Reply

well done. I grew up in a similar way to you and felt almost automatically shunned from what was considered "normal" socializing and relationships. And it was as lame and as automatic as, "well she seems different and depressed; a bit too anti-social what a bad girl."

It's like people see you're a little volatile so playing up on how "dangerous" you are is their game. You're a monster and they enjoy wanting you to seem like the bigger monster. Scream back in their face, after they've screamed in yours, and you're still the monster no matter how they behave. and you're automatically a psycho out to get people.

Been there. And have seen the blind support of the instigator/victim or abuser/victim role people play. So called normal people see relationship dynamics in powerful extremes such as this, and often mistake being instigative as taking power.

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Well played sir. Don't like... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 10:25 AM | Posted by abeedle: | Reply

Well played sir. Don't like rap? I get that. But if you're interested in some more deconstructing of the regular white folk experience in rap (in some ways that are interestingly distinct from black rap), check out Atmosphere -- two white guys out of Minneapolis. Fanatic fan base, etc. etc... Worth a listen.

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This whole review and the c... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 12:48 PM | Posted by ACA: | Reply

This whole review and the comments have taught me why society is not more outraged by the abuse and murder of women. This song should outrage people because it is a catchy tune that our teen girls are going to be singing even if they don't see the video. I can see by the comments that not too many people think it is absolutely not ok to lie and hurt your partner. Women do hit men, but the statistics are very apparent that more men kill their partners that women kill theirs. Songs like this and other media children watch have to have an affect whether or not those children grew up with abuse or not. I am saddened that more women will continue to be lied to and like it, and be beat and possibly killed if they try to leave an abusive relationship because society says it is a sexual thing, a passionate thing, a normal part of a relationship. Regardless, it's WRONG and songs and videos like this should not be as popular and accepted as they are. IMO

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ACA-- you might find it sur... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 1:32 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

ACA-- you might find it surprising from what I wrote above but I actually agree with you. I don't support anyone being violent to anyone else. I also don't believe it's realistic to expect to convert all people who have cognitive impairments, behavioral disorders, and mental illness due to severely disturbing upbringing into functional normal people. I think it can happen sometimes. More often it's a matter of small improvements that will never quite look the same as a "normal" person, but are to be lauded all the same. And my point is that such people who will always function slightly outside of the realm of "normal" by most peoples standards shouldn't be shamed for having relationships that function outside of normal.

I want anyone and everyone who can achieve health and happiness to get to experience that. I don't want anyone to be stuck in a relationship that feels destructive. I also don't want people who feel stuck in such relationships be put down for experiencing that. I also don't think people understand how deeply a person who is abused in a relationship may still feel unconditional love for the person causing the harm. You might think expressing outrage that anyone could treat anyone like that would make the abused person feel better (and sometimes it does) but often it doesn't.

Often the person is staying because they know they are one of the few people in society who is willing to believe that this person still deserves love despite the issues that make them unsafe. And that expression of love for the abuser who is hated by society may in fact be an expression of love for themselves because they know that perhaps for different reasons, they too are hated by society. And to be true to themselves, they have to remain committed to the belief that anyone who is trying, even if their efforts are failing, deserves to be loved.

But about Eminem promoting this stuff, that is tricky indeed. If Eminem were to get into a healthy emotional space he would lose his edge, he would stop being capable of producing that which his identity and fame are now based in, and in a sense, he would lose the very foundation of all he has attained. He can't get better.

The very thing that seemed to save him from a life of poverty and repeating abusive cycles, was the same thing that will now prove to be just as difficult (more?) to escape from. I hope he trashes his career and moves on and gets a nice house somewhere, works through his issues and starts being a speaker for underprivaledged youth. Not that he'll ask me what he should do lol. But music is a very legitimate space for humans to work through emotional issues, thought processes and life experiences. I don't know that Eminem is inherently wrong for using this medium to spit out everything he thinks and feels and using that to reach out to others in hopes of being understood and looked up to for all he's gone through. That's sort of a universal human desire especially for humans who have lacked in human support.

But what has happened of course is that this can and will of course influence some measure of people to look up to the lifestyle itself. Shit when I was in highschool trainspotting made me want to do herion. (I didn't, thank god.)

High-school and middle school age kids will look up to this crap and other than locking kids in white rooms with no access to any form of media, I'm not sure how much we can protect them these days. Do we tell artists not to produce material that could negatively influence kids? Wouldn't that be a large portion of art? Should Eminem not have shared his experiences in such a public way? Why else would the world have listened if he hadn't flashed it up and made it desireable to listen to/watch? Music has long been a sort of podium for skrewed up people to be heard who wouldnt have had a chance otherwise. People can listen to stories of suffering if it's made into art.

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"And my point is that such ... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 2:13 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"And my point is that such people who will always function slightly outside of the realm of "normal" by most peoples standards shouldn't be shamed for having relationships that function outside of normal."

If a relationship is functional for the people involved then it's a healthy relationship, even if the relationship is a bit out of the ordinary. Normal doesn't automatically equal healthy, it just means what the majority are doing.

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Staying with someone who ab... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 5:57 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Staying with someone who abuses you isn't unconditional love, it's a lack of appropriate boundaries and an unwillingness to take responsibility for one's own actions (or inactions). The very idea that having no boundaries, no integrity of self, in an adult relationship - no matter how intimate - is desirable and the apex of love is part of the problem that keeps people in the cycle of abuse. It's infantile...as in it's emotionally undeveloped, which is why both parties in abusive relationships tend to resort to the sort of strategies five year olds use to get what they want.

Both people in an abusive relationship contribute - this doesn't excuse the abuser but if someone wants to stop being abused they need to understand why they stay...and it's not because they're such a saint. I'm not talking about women (or men) who are too terrified to leave a violent partner, I'm talking about the people who think that suffering equals love. People learn this mainly from their parents but the media certainly doesn't help when it makes abusive relationships look glamorous and confuses lust, jealousy and infatuation with love.

The ultimate irony is that people in abusive relationships don't know what love is and this is why they mistake having no boundaries and letting someone beat the shit out of them (and often their kids) for "unconditional love". This is usually all they saw and the excuse their own parent gave them for why they stayed and allowed abuse to continue when they were a kid. It's nothing to be ashamed of - we can't know what we don't yet know, but we can learn to do better for ourselves and the people we share our lives with once we do know. Romanticizing dysfunctional, abusive relationships as being "unconditional love" is crap...and isn't there something slightly narcissistic as wanting to paint yourself as a saint instead of getting real about what's going on?

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"The ultimate irony is that... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 8:50 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

"The ultimate irony is that people in abusive relationships don't know what love is "

Really? and you do? Because you have a job a person in your life that doesn't beat you? Do you know what it's like to grow up being strapped to a chair by a priest that makes you beg to god for forgiveness while beating you until you're near unconscious? Do you know what it's like to be living with that priest, your grandfather, because your parents would leave you in the basement and make you bark like a dog while throwing scraps of food at you? Do you know what it means to be violently and sexually abused on a daily basis?

What exactly do you know, and how do you define that your knowlege of love is inherently better than these peoples? How arrogant is that? Reality is that no one is going to love that fucking guy. The last I saw him he was homeless on the streets, a six foot five man sobbing at my feet howling "they're raping my mind, they're raping me, I never wanted you to see me like this"

I would LOVE if he could somehow learn how to behave in a different manner and have a beautiful relationship like the storybooks and get a college degree (ha mother fucking ha) but dammit if some other skrewed up person with a similar background loves him to pieces as he is and has their life enhanced by him being there for her (or him what the hell ever)... then by god it would warm my heart beyond words.

Who says you get to define what love is?

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"Often the person is stayin... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 9:12 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Often the person is staying because they know they are one of the few people in society who is willing to believe that this person still deserves love despite the issues that make them unsafe."

Nobody else will love him the way he is. That makes me special. If I understand him like no-one else he'll have nowhere else to go. It's the only way someone like me can feel secure and needed. He might be fucked up but at least he's *my* fucked up.

Who is the abuser? Who is the abused?

"Who says you get to define what love is?"

Who says you do?

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"And "smack", not "punch"--... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 9:23 PM | Posted, in reply to Matt P's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"And "smack", not "punch"--not all violent acts are equal."

Perhaps not, but all violent acts are unacceptable, to me.

Violence towards a person = the end.

Violence means you've lost it. You're prepared to cross the line. Violence means you think it's fundamentally acceptable to resort to animal dominance when you can't think of or express a good enough reason. Violence reveals that there is no good enough reason and you know it, that your feelings or needs trump my integrity as a person.

Violence means I walk out the door, as soon as it's safe for me to do so, and never come back.

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If you knew what it was lik... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 9:54 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

If you knew what it was like to know that your life is a charity case, maybe you might have a different view of offering charity to people in need. Some of us exist because people who had no obligation to be there for us took us in. Do you really believe it's wrong to be there for humans in need?

I get that you believe the need is a myth that only exists in the minds of people with savior complexes. I'm just going to have to disagree with you on that. I believe human beings need love, in infancy humans need love in order to live and variations of that same need exist into adulthood although the immediacy of death without love is no longer present. From what I have read, health and well being are deeply linked with the ability to have human relationships and integrate into social interaction in some form.

Why is it real love when a man gives a woman a house and security and she gives him sex and cares for his children; and not real love when two people with deep unmet needs met hold on to each other? Couldn't any socioeconomic status or type of relationship be broken down into a meaningless transaction without "real love" if that was how you wanted to see it? Couldn't "real love" be something can exist even within these kinds of exchanges?

No I don't want to define what love is for you. I have been leery of existance of love as well; there is no such thing as altruism, all actions come from the self and are based in desires of the self, even if those desires are for someone else.

Once broken down, love can be dissected and become nothing more than random biological self serving interests. I don't believe that way any more. I gave up on helping anyone because of the reasons you describe.

"Oh if I want to help someone, I am just being selfish by wanting to help them so I should just leave everyone be because no one actually needs anyone."

But I disagree with that way of living life. I believe people do need each other even if not to survive in a specific moment. I also believe that when people reach out to each other to be there for each other, there can be genuine love even if everything else about it gets messed up.

I read a lot of literature about street kids who I have lived with and worked with and there is a lot of "Their love for each other is transient and meaningless"

And yet these twelve years later we still keep track of each other. We know who made it on to better things and who is still on the streets. I believe the love is real. Yeah who wouldn't want to save someone when they are obviously suffering?

Why is that automaticaly wrong? Would you rather that no one be there for anyone? Is that what love is?

I'm not still with the person I started dating at 16. And obviously now, at 28, I wouldn't enter into the same relationship again. But I wouldn't say there wasn't genuine love there despite all that happened over the years. If any love can be genuine and more than our own internal desires.

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"If you knew what it was li... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 10:02 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"If you knew what it was like to know that your life is a charity case, maybe you might have a different view of offering charity to people in need. Some of us exist because people who had no obligation to be there for us took us in. Do you really believe it's wrong to be there for humans in need?"

Oh yes, those people who refuse to allow themselves to be violated... they're so uncharitable. Obviously those with healthy boundaries could never have lived this experience because if they had they'd think differently. They all believe it's wrong to be there for humans in need, what demons!

So many fallacies, so little time.

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No, I don't believe that re... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 10:21 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

No, I don't believe that refusing to let yourself be hurt is uncharitable. I would like to help people find ways of having meaningful relationships that don't involve anyone ever hurting them. My cousin is this type of woman... squared. She's not a particularly good person. She is dying of lymphoma. Her childhood friend took her in and they fight violently like crazy. Who should leave who? And would their lives be better? They're both druggies. They both have big time problems and have since they were 12 years old doing hard drugs together. He "just drinks" and takes methadone now, but he wants to care for her even though is messed up and dying and she will never be sane. She is googly eyed.

Yeah to the world they are both equally incapable of love but at the end of the day when he sits with her and she breaths her last breath I will be happy that someone was there for her.

I totally want people to be protected from violence and no one deserves it. No, myself personally I am no longer there for my cousin even though I was for many years. Because I do have to protect myself and I support anyone in protecting themselves. No, I cannot save anyone. I wish I could. I wish that someone could.

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Rox, you're missing the poi... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 10:42 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox, you're missing the point entirely. I know what isn't love from growing up with some glaring examples of it. I was lucky to see some love in action too as a kid, which I realize not everyone gets. Everyone likes to think love is instinctual, that it's a magical experience that heals all wounds...even healthy people like that fantasy. The reality is that our instincts generally suck if we were abused as kids and haven't dealt with it somewhere along the way. Even if we've dealt with it, our instincts may still suck but that doesn't mean we can't choose to be in functional relationships with people who love, respect and cherish us.

The point is that real love isn't like storybooks or fairytales, the fairytale or magical belief comes in when someone who's being abused believes they're sticking around because their abusive relationship is an example of unconditional love and if they just love and understand more then everything will be okay. It's not really about the other person, that's why people move from one abusive relationship to another.

The other erroneous belief is that healthy relationships are somehow like ones out of fairytales or that you have to be some princess, prince or perfect person...a saint perhaps?...to be loved. People in abusive relationships aren't unconditionally loving each other for who they really are, they're both stuck in a cycle of trying to be perfect for each other and then imploding when the pressure becomes too much and reality sets in. If your narrative is that you're a saint, then you'll need a tormentor to be able to indulge that rather narcissistic fantasy.

The fairytale beliefs are that there's some kind of magical "unconditional love" and that if there's no violence and suffering there's no passion...that drama equals love. Real life relationships that are healthy come in all shapes and sizes, and people who've been abused have them too. They're not perfect but that's the whole point, real life isn't perfect and real people aren't perfect. Healthy relationships are constructive to both people involved and not destructive to one or both.

If you think the only two options are some fantasy version of love or violent dysfunction, you don't leave much room for reality. And, yes, abuse renders some people dysfunctional on all levels, including basic self care. And it's not uncommon for people who have been sexually abused to carry a deep sense of shame that can lead some people to feel they deserve to be abused and to martyr themselves. Or that shame and feeling of being powerless as a child can be turned into rage and a sense of power when you're abusing someone else. Or you can deal with your shit and let go of the shame and choose something else...something unfamiliar, something without the glory or passive power of martyrdom. You can choose top learn something different, of course that always means confronting your own demons rather than making someone else play that symbolic role for you over and over again in a futile attempt to get different results by repeating the same unsuccessful actions.

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Rox, of course there's a ne... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 11:12 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox, of course there's a need for people to look after people who can't look after themselves for whatever reason. However, doing charity work, opening your home as a foster parent or working in one of the helping professions aren't the same thing as being in a romantic relationship with someone. It's coming off like you're conflating the two.

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Yes, I think that most peop... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2010 11:14 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

Yes, I think that most people can overcome a lot of the issues bringing them into a relationship that is abusive. I'm trying to see how the example of my cousin fits into what you're saying. I get how you're coming to the idea of martyr/saint from what I said about being there for people in need, but I do still think there are some people who can't work through their issues enough to be a good person in a relationship. And I don't think it's wrong to wish you could save people in that space.

I wish I could save my mother from being unable to raise me when I was born. I wish I could have saved her from the internal anguish she lived it that made her unable to be there. I wish I could save every mother who is unable to love their child for whatever reason. I wish I could save everyone. Yes if that turns into actions that cause harm, it's not a good thing, but there is nothing you can say that will change that I want to save people who have collapsed under the hardship of life.

I don't know, the guy I was with when I was 16 knew it was wrong to be with someone who was 16 when he was 21. His guilt was something I really did want to save him from. Obviously I couldn't, and obviously if I hadn't been 16 I wouldn't have gone out with a guy because he said he wanted to buy a gun and kill himself over his wrong feelings.

But all that happened having happened, I just don't know that he could have done differently. And I don't know that I could have done differently. We both lacked intimacy in a really heartbreaking way and really there was genuinely love there, despite that there was no way it could go anywhere into further chaos.

And I don't believe there wasn't real love there. These nine years later we do both still care about each other. No, I don't have to be the one to save any particular person. But I think there are people in real crisis in the world, and I do believe in being there for people, albeit in different ways than dating someone in a life crisis that involves life long issues.

He has wished that he could have died rather than ever meet me (ala Donny Darko, ugh that movie). I don't know that I would unwish it. I get all Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind about it. I still think there was love there, and I don't think I would want to let go of the memories of that love, even though so much about it was horrific and in many ways should never have happened.

I'm not sure that I'm following you on thinking there is anything "ideal" about this or this is some great form of love. I don't mean that there was real love because the situation was abusive. I mean that there was real love in spite of it. And no, just because there is real love, doesn't mean you need to stay. You never need to stay with someone who is hurting you. Even if you do genuinely love them.

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Rox - "I wish I could save ... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 1:08 AM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox - "I wish I could save everyone. Yes if that turns into actions that cause harm, it's not a good thing, but there is nothing you can say that will change that I want to save people who have collapsed under the hardship of life."

The issue becomes when it's about "saving" someone, particularly if we're entering into a romantic relationship with the idea that we're going to "save" the other person. It's a bit grandiose to think helping people is "saving" them. First off, if we want to "save" them we're not with them because we love who they actually are but because we're infatuated with who we think they'll be after we "save" (meaning change) them. We want them to be different than they are...and maybe then we'll be different too and will have saved ourselves. That's magical thinking, and it automatically casts the other person in the role of the devil so we can fill our own need to see ourselves as the saint who's there to save them. If we don't know better, we're in no position to help, let alone save, anyone else (or even ourselves yet). If we do know better, then it's an unequal power dynamic and we're using the other person for our own personal gratification. Helping someone, supporting them and creating opportunities for them to learn and choose something different for themselves is very different than "saving" someone. Why? Because helping someone is about them and their needs, abilities and limitations, while "saving" someone is always about dramatic good vs evil narratives that are mainly about polishing the self appointed savior's halo and projecting their demons onto someone else. There's a big difference between being compassionate and helping someone or trying to "save" them so they conform to how you think they should be. And, if you haven't learned how to help yourself, there's a very good chance you're actually just acting as an enabler or partner in the abusive dance and not a savior or even a helpful friend.

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I don't believe save means ... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 9:13 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I don't believe save means change. (to me save= alleviate suffering... I'm fine with switching the words to help if that fits my meaning better) I love all the people from my past exactly as they are and I don't care if none of them ever change. I'm obviously not articulating myself very well because that's exactly my point. You can love people genuinely who have problems that cause their behavior to be chaotic. NO you don't have to be in a romantic relationship with them, but I do think genuine love can exist in chaotic relationships. The existing of "real" love doesn't mean anyone should stay. It just means there are often real feelings of love among the other dynamics going on.

But I'm totally happy to switch the word save to help if that fits what I'm talking about better. I do think they do get conflated in populations where there is a lot of need and there AREN'T professionals who can fill that. There is a human need for family and if you don't have one you make your own.

"Rox, of course there's a need for people to look after people who can't look after themselves for whatever reason. However, doing charity work, opening your home as a foster parent or working in one of the helping professions aren't the same thing as being in a romantic relationship with someone. It's coming off like you're conflating the two. "

I think they do get conflated when you're part of a population that is underserved and unable to meet needs. When you know those needs AREN'T being met by professionals, then who will they be met by? And can the need for love ever be met by a professional? People struggling with the same problems try to help each other, even though there are often really bad outcomes of this kind of "helping" happening in relationships. It's still worth trying to help each other through it rather than going it alone.


I've been a professional offering assistance runaways and kids aged out of foster care and there is so little opportunity to get the kind of of love that is needed as a professional. I DO want every one of those kids to get the hell out of there and find kind gentle partners, and be able to hold jobs; if they want. I also want them to be treated with respect if they stay exactly the same. I have no desire to make people change into different people. I understand why they don't trust professionals. They trust each other.
Because who will be the first to leave when they get a better job offer? When their two year master social worker internship ends? Who will really be a family to them, albeit a messed up family?

I absolutely want people to find the greatest health they can and I don't want people to feel stuck in a painful relationship. I just understand why to some people, it feels better than the alternative. And I don't believe in putting people down who found love that's messed up by saying that their love doesn't exist. In some cases there may be no love, but I think in some cases there is love. Really I think many people do love each other as they are without wanting them to change. Like my cousin for example: I love her exactly as she is.

I don't want her to die, I don't give a shit if it's her own choices that brought her to this. I also don't think I can define whether or not she could have done any better. I don't know that she could.

I think you can genuinely love someone who is abusive as they are and people who are abusive can genuinely love you even though they aren't able or willing to control their behavior. And most people with any option would be better off leaving. But then again

I'm thinking of my druggy prostitute cousin and I'll be honest though, I think the guy she's with loves her. Yes they fight on the lawn and the cops have to come. When I was young I hung out with her a lot and saw a lot of bad stuff every time. Her ability to love is not normal(like the average 38 year olds). I'm pretty sure she now has less cognitive abilities than she did when she was twelve. But can a twelve year old, or even a 3 year old not love? Love that involves altruism does involve maturity, emotional and mental processes of understanding others and developing empathy. But again, if you dice that up, altruism can turn into nothing more than a personality trait that can develop in social species that survive better when individual members have high levels of altruistic behavior.

Meaning is the emotionally mature person actually "better" or are they just different, or perhaps more successful at meating their own needs and self centered desires? If love exists at all, can it only exist in the hearts of people that know altruism or can it exist in lesser forms among all people?

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anon/Rox - This particular ... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 10:23 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

anon/Rox - This particular blog is about violence in romantic relationships and that dynamic so why don't we stick to that? You seem to keep trying to change the topic from abusive romantic relationships with unhealthy boundaries to being friends with socially dysfunctional people or family and doing charity work - it's hard to tell since you seem to be conflating all of the above. They're not the same thing.

The word "save" simply doesn't mean "alleviate suffering" or "comfort". When you say "save" someone, it has religious connotations or means you're preventing them from physically dying. It's an intervention with very big consequences for the other person (and they may continue to suffer, they're just not going to die). It's a heroic act.

Of course, comforting someone sounds a lot less heroic and dramatic than "saving" them does. Just like it's much more heroic and dramatic to tell ourselves that we stay in an abusive relationship because we're such a good person that we love the other person unconditionally e(ven though they beat us and our kids) than it is to admit that we're just repeating the cycle of abuse we learned and we don't have healthy boundaries or sense of self. Of course, until we admit that we need some help and work on ourselves instead of always trying to "save" others, we're pretty much destined to keep repeating the same actions that are so unsuccessful rather than learn new ones that will actually bring us what we really want. Infatuation, shame, violence, shame, redemption, infatuation/being perfect, stress of this, violence, shame, redemption...it's a stressful cycle that feels good on the upswing but pretty bad when it crashes down...and it ain't love, it's simply the cycle of abuse. And that angst and desperation you feel isn't love either, it's angst and desperation. Suffering isn't love, being a martyr doesn't actually make you into a "good" person (and it certainly doesn't help you become an integrated and whole person because it's a false self image that denies the unsaintly and projects it onto the other).

You want a lot for other people but what do you want for you? And what if what you want for the other person actually goes against what they want for themselves? Genuine relationships between two people are built on honest, trust and seeing the other person for who they are. Sometimes being the person who saves the other dysfunctional person is a way to avoid who one truly is (not a saint, no real person is) and facing one's own internal suffering. Nothing wrong with being kind to people less advantaged than yourself or who are suffering, but it's simply using them if the main reason you're doing it is to avoid yourself or to create an idealized self image as a means to avoid one's true self.

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I still believe that despit... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 11:32 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I still believe that despite that there is violence and abuse in my cousins current relationship that when her partner sits with her on her death bed he will feel genuine loss of someone he genuinely loves.

I will feel it too. Beyond the desperation, the need, the suffering... I think love is at the heart of most human beings. Maybe his love for her isn't real because hes messed up and he needs her in order to be a savior and therefor there is no love, maybe a married couple who is staying together to care for the children don't really love each other because they are just participating in a transaction of giving and recieving that is mostly self serving of their own egos. Maybe love doesn't even exist.

I don't know. But I have to believe it does anyway. And I have to believe that it's something more than science is capable of defining it as. Maybe love is more than just details of the reasons people interact.

I'm not with anyone abusive, and I'm not suggesting anyone stay with an abusive person. I'm just saying that for some people they have found love there. And I think it can be as real as any love can be real. No I don't mean anyones a saint. We're all just humans trying to make it through the days.

I made a promise to all the people I had to leave because they were not safe that I would always hold on to memory of what was good inside them. I don't believe people are black and white. I will always remember that I have seen true genuine love in people that are so skrewed up. I'm not any better or worse. I'm just a fellow human being and I wish I had more answers.

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The point being that fantas... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 11:38 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The point being that fantasies about saving/changing the other person are part of the dynamic of abusive relationships - particularly for the person being abused but abusers can certainly believe this too. If we were ourselves abused as kids and we desperately feel that we need to save others - not help them by sharing what we've learned ourselves about integrating our past, and thinking and behaving differently, so they can help themselves - but "save" them. If we're just being a friend lending an ear or giving a hug and there's no desperate need attached (and we're not simply enabling), that's one thing and there's a healthy boundary there. But when it becomes about our need, when we're imposing our need to be a savior on someone, that's something very different than kindness or compassion.

And, no, it's not a therapist or social worker's job to love their clients. It's their job to help them. To do so, they need to have a good understanding of their own boundaries or they burn out. They also need to have support themselves because it's hard work. People who try to solve their own problems via helping others professionally tend to burn out (or commit suicide, as one woman I know who worked at a battered women's shelter did). Why? Because they're trying to resolve something within themselves through "saving" someone else.

And nobody is saying that people can't choose to be in dysfunctional relationships or that there aren't intense emotions involved. An emotion isn't love just because it's intense, desperate, primal or full of need. In real life, love actually is a lot less dramatic...big drama doesn't equal big love. It's just big drama (and often a reenactment that's using the partner to stand in for someone from the past). Sure addicts generally hate to be alone with themselves, that's one reason why people become addicts, they're not comfortable in their own skin (or psyche). That's not really love, though I certainly wouldn't begrudge them each other's company or the mutual release of abusing each other. There's no victim in this dynamic - they're both adults and both contributing to the dynamic.

I think a lot of us who were poorly or downright badly loved as children end up with an idealized version of what love is, particularly if we haven't seen the real thing in action. Being well loved means that your boundaries and individuality are respected and, in turn, you learn appropriate boundaries. People who sexually abuse children or use their children as emotional pawns or objects for their use violate boundaries and trust. As adults, we need to learn the stuff we didn't learn as kids and not just repeat the destructive patterns hoping...wishing...for a different result. Having healthy boundaries doesn't mean you don't care for or about others, it just means you balance it out with your own needs and don't martyr yourself. It also means you don't try to "save" people and respect their right as individuals to make shitty choices.

So, yes, infants thrive on unconditional love and it's a wonderful thing. However, you can't undo not being unconditionally loved as an infant by unconditionally acceptance of any behavior by an adult and having no personal boundaries. In fact, since the person missed out on learning context appropriate boundaries (that are as much about one's own integrity of self as they are about respecting someone else's individuality) you'll just end up enabling. Despite your good intentions and depth of feeling.

As an aside, I found it interesting that you started comparing your relationship to movies. Even good movies that touch on real life things are still movies and fairytales, they're a mythologizing of reality in a way. And you also seem to be equating unconventional relationships with abusive ones. Just because a relationship is unconventional doesn't mean it's abusive or unhealthy...it's the abuse that makes abusive relationships abusive! And abusive relationships are VERY conventional!

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"Maybe love doesn't even ex... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 12:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"Maybe love doesn't even exist.

I don't know. But I have to believe it does anyway. And I have to believe that it's something more than science is capable of defining it as. Maybe love is more than just details of the reasons people interact."

So why do you "have" to believe this? What would happen if you stopped believing this? What's the talismatic/symbolic power of this belief for you? Why do you need love to be magical rather than practical and real? Why do you "have" to believe in a fantasy about "unconditional love"? What would you lose if you gave up your fantasies about love and just deal with it on a real, practical, non-magical level? And why is it science vs your beliefs? Sure "love" can be looked at from many perspectives - psychological and biological by science, experientially by art...objectively and subjectively - but these can all inform each other and give a deeper understanding. I'm curious as to why you feel the need to reject science and biology...it seems a bit like a rejection of reality in favor of a fantasy that you "need" to believe in for some reason.

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"But when it becomes about ... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 12:21 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"But when it becomes about our need, when we're imposing our need to be a savior on someone, that's something very different than kindness or compassion."

Agree totally.

"An emotion isn't love just because it's intense, desperate, primal or full of need. In real life, love actually is a lot less dramatic...big drama doesn't equal big love."


Agree.

"In fact, since the person missed out on learning context appropriate boundaries (that are as much about one's own integrity of self as they are about respecting someone else's individuality) you'll just end up enabling. Despite your good intentions and depth of feeling."

Agree.

"Sure addicts generally hate to be alone with themselves, that's one reason why people become addicts, they're not comfortable in their own skin (or psyche). That's not really love"

I get what your saying and I think in order to hash out the difference of opinion that I have with on this statement we would have to go in depth on defining love (which could take forever so we can skip that) but I will just say that I think we have a different definition of what love is; mine being that it can exist even in these complex and un-ideal circumstances, not BECAUSE of those circumstances... but it can exist along side them. And I believe it can be real in the sense that any love can be real.

"As an aside, I found it interesting that you started comparing your relationship to movies. Even good movies that touch on real life things are still movies and fairytales, they're a mythologizing of reality in a way"

In the context of what was being written, the discussion and commentary about the art piece in question was about the reality of the relationships this video represents; ie that violent relationships do exist and discussing what the actual reality of those vs the video in question is like, and how to intereperete and define those relationships as people on the outside. So I think real life examples are relevant, albeit not glamorous in quite the manner that a flashy video might present to some people.

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I am totally in fa... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 12:32 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

I am totally in favor of a deeper understanding of love that involves studying psychology, biology, the arts and any of the sciences.

The area that it gets tricky for me is in defining such questions as "Does someone who is unable to be who they need to be for their child fail because they choose to fail, or because they are fighting an internal battle with all they have and they can't win"?

And how do you define love there? I am all for bringing in arts and sciences to help in coming to understandings of these kinds of questions, but I already know in meeting my mother that she has loved me deeply despite that she was unable to be there for me for my first 18 years of life. If I had lived with her things would have been impoerfect. She would have had issues and those would have impeded her ability to show healthy love. But I believe the love still existed behind teh unhealthy issues.

I believe a persons desire to love and give genuine love is often different than their ability to give it. And each person can define to themselves what they want to count as love, but to me, the desire underneath all the life issues getting in the way, matters.

I believe that love can exist despite life issues that are standing in the way of that love being expressed the way it should be.

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rox/anon - "Love that invol... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 1:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

rox/anon - "Love that involves altruism does involve maturity, emotional and mental processes of understanding others and developing empathy."

Actually no it doesn't.Empathy isn't something we develop as adults (compassion often is since it involves a level of understanding and detachment that empathy doesn't). Empathy is something we develop (or don't) at a very young age and it's actually one of the ways that abusive parents manipulate their children. Healthy empathy seems to be very interconnected with how we're loved at a very young age.

Empathy is simply the ability to feel/experience another's feelings/emotions - it's not the same as compassion. It's part of how we communicate on non-verbal levels. Severe abuse during early childhood can disrupt or destroy a person's capacity for empathy...or it can create a lack of healthy boundaries where someone doesn't have the capacity to tell what emotion is their own and what belongs to someone else (or differentiate between their own needs and someone else's). The latter generally happens when the abuser or an adult that should be protecting the child also insists that the child comfort them to make them feel better about abusing the child (or allowing the abuse, the enabling parent takes on the role of victim and expects the child to take on the parental role and comfort them). It's how people come to mistake care-taking, enabling and martyrdom for unconditional love.

As for being upset when people die - even in wonderful relationships mourning is really about us and what we're going to miss now that the other person is dead. I say this having buried a lot of friends (AIDS in the 80s was a bitch). Once again, the grandiosity and drama of emotions aren't actually a measure of how much you loved someone...how much you loved someone really has more to do with your actions while they were alive than your feelings when you're alone. I expressed my love for them when they were alive through words and actions, I mourn them because I miss them...that's a selfish act. (Nothing wrong with it, it's just not selfless...it's once again about one's own feelings and not the other person really.)

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"So I think real life examp... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 1:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"So I think real life examples are relevant, albeit not glamorous in quite the manner that a flashy video might present to some people."

It was comparing your past relationship to Donni Darko and another movie that I was referring to, not your personal anecdotes.

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rox - "The area that it get... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 1:27 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

rox - "The area that it gets tricky for me is in defining such questions as "Does someone who is unable to be who they need to be for their child fail because they choose to fail, or because they are fighting an internal battle with all they have and they can't win"?"

Okay but changing it to parent/child is talking about a very different dynamic than two adults (or peers) in a romantic relationship. Love between adults (even emotionally immature ones who act like five year olds) is a very different thing than love between an adult and a child - not only is there a huge power differential in the latter, there are also very different responsibilities. And, yes, an adult is always responsible for abusing a child and their power as an adult if they're not insane (so not responsible for their actions, in which case they need to be kept away from children or people they may harm!)

If someone is unable to take responsibility for themselves (not just choosing not to and rejecting help), then they're essentially in the same position as a child and, yes, they deserve our compassion and to be cared for. But, we're not dealing with an equal in this situation....it's not an adult relationship per se so it's not actually referring to the kinds of relationships being discussed in the blog.

I'm all for compassionate treatment of addicts but I also know a lot of addicts and enabling isn't actually compassion (they'll tell you what a "good" and "kind" person you are if you DO enable them, if you don't you're just another person who won't give them what they want). Sure we all have things outside of our control to content with, and sure some of us aren't taught the tools we need (or are given really screwed up ones destroy rather than build), but if we actively refuse help from others then we are making a choice. A fucked up one that's quite possibly a result of abuse but if someone is sane enough to be considered an independent adult then that's their right and part of being an adult is that our actions have consequences.

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Rox - "I believe a persons ... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 1:57 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox - "I believe a persons desire to love and give genuine love is often different than their ability to give it. And each person can define to themselves what they want to count as love, but to me, the desire underneath all the life issues getting in the way, matters."

The problem with this statement is that if someone doesn't actually know what healthy love is, if they mistake the dynamic of abuse for love then there's no desire for "genuine" love just for the abuse that stood in for love when they were a kid. (He's jealous, that means he really loves me!...um, no it doesn't. I feel like I'll die if he leaves me, it means I'm really, really in love...um, no it doesn't.) Sure people have genuine feelings that they've labeled as "love" but if one of your big issues is that you mistake abuse for love then that's a pretty vicious circle!

I could call purple dinosaurs "love" but they'd still be purple dinosaurs being called "love" they wouldn't actually be "love". One of the points TLP seems to be making is about the dynamics of abusive relationships and calling abuse "love" when it isn't (and promoting abuse as love to impressionable teens). Why would you want to perpetuate this? Particularly if you've been abused yourself? Do you think that the priest who sexually abuses a child is actually expressing love just because they claim they are? It's a bit like how you used "saved" to mean something other than it means...just because you decide to use "saved" to mean something other than what it means that doesn't mean it actually does. Redefining love so it means abuse isn't helping anyone.

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rox - "I am totally in favo... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 3:02 PM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

rox - "I am totally in favor of a deeper understanding of love that involves studying psychology, biology, the arts and any of the sciences."

Then I'd highly recommend A General Theory of Love, a book that incorporates all three.

http://www.amazon.com/General-Theory-Love-Thomas-Lewis/dp/0375709223

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"It was comparing your past... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 3:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"It was comparing your past relationship to Donni Darko and another movie that I was referring to, not your personal anecdotes. "

That was his comparison not mine. He tried to make me watch that godforsaken movie. But yes, if he had been healthy, he would have been respectful to me at work at never invited me to hang out with him pretending we would be "friends". Where his personal choice vs. inability to do otherwise lies will probably always be a mystery to me.

"Okay but changing it to parent/child is talking about a very different dynamic than two adults (or peers) in a romantic relationship."

There are many types of love, and what I wish I could have explained clearer is that I believe unconditional love can exist in all forms of relationships and can happen even for people in an abusive past = my past self, the person I was with.

I still feel compassion for both of the people we were. So does he. He does still live with some measure of remorse as do I, that I didn't understand the dynamic or what the best course of action was or possibly have the ability to do things differently.

"I expressed my love for them when they were alive through words and actions."

Love as an action, again what if genuine problems prevented you from being able to do those actions? Would the love not have existed? In a practical sense, this is the form of love that we should look for in romantic relationships. Love that can be an action. I just don't believe that doesn't mean that love as a desired action that can't come into fruition for whatever reason, might not exist also.

I don't believe that abuse is love. Period. I do believe that some people who have done things that are abusive may also have feelings of love. This doesn't ever mean a person should stay with an abuser, and no... I do not think that glamorizing abuse is a good thing. The existence of a genuine desire to be able to lvoe in a healthy way is part of the confusing element that often guides people to stay. And abusive people can also choose to mimick the desire to change in order to use that force. But I think there can also be a genuine desire to be able to love in a real way, even when people fail.

I have been leery of the existence of Eminem since his beginnings as a pop star.

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Rox - "He has wished that h... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 3:53 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox - "He has wished that he could have died rather than ever meet me (ala Donny Darko, ugh that movie). I don't know that I would unwish it. I get all Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind about it."

Okay it wasn't clear that the Donnie Darko comparison was his and you then used a movie title as a substitute/description for how you felt or reacted, so it's not all just coming from him here. You are aware you just explain a feeling you have using a movie title instead of actually just describing how you felt or reacted?

What you don't seem to understand is that relationships are about two people, not just your feelings or how someone "makes" you feel. If it looks like hate when you express it, that's not love you're expressing (and not actually love you're feeling, though that may well be what you've labeled it...that's why it's not useful to call purple dinosaurs "love" and pretend they're "love" and not purple dinosaurs).

If your feelings are the only ones that count...if you think your feelings trump your actions and the consequences of your actions, you're simply avoiding the reality of who you really are (not to mention negating how your actions actually effect your partner...so much for love!). Who we really are isn't the nice idea of ourselves we have in our head, it's not who we intend to be, it's who we expose ourselves as being when we act. Pretending that someone's actions aren't genuine but what they claim to feel is can be a way to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions so we can believe ideas we hold about ourselves that our actions contradict.

Having integrity (being "whole") involves our words and actions aligning (or our internal self image aligning with our external actions). That's not a value judgment, it's just how integrity functions. Thinking you're a kind person isn't the same as being a kind person! Really, our actions define who we are in any relationship (and the world at large, not that we don't all try to talk ourselves up at times). The other big issue is that if we're bullshitting ourselves (my intentions were loving even though my actions were designed to destroy the other person so really I'm a loving person even though my actions were totally unloving) then we'll also fall for other people's bullshit...bullshit like, "I only hit you because I love you so much" and so on that's so common in abusive relationships.

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I don't think that my feeli... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 4:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I don't think that my feelings are the only ones that count. What if someone had a traumatic brain injury and suddenly became violent, does that then define them? When I realized that staying with the guy I was with was hurting us both, I left. I still care about him regardless. I care about the life history that predesposed him to the actions, I am happy that he has grown and found a wife and has two children. I think he is better of and I am better off. How is that not caring about both persons feelings? When I believed that staying with his was helping him, I likely would have stayed regardless of how it was affecting me. At sixteen, not a whole lot of us know the ins and outs of abusive dynamics to determine the best course of action in those situations.

But how can you define that just because an abusive dynamic occured, there can't still be love? A desire to do things that will be good for both people involved if those actions can be identified and acted on?

Despite that my mother did drugs and got pregnant young and despite that she didn't get to raise me, I know that she sobbed, I know that she yearned for me, I know that she would do anything for me if she knew how.

And that matters to me. You count that as nothing if you want, but unless you can provide me with some pretty profound scientific proof that that kind of love means nothing, you're unlikely to change my view that people who can't do what they wish they could for you can't also love you at the same time.

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The reason why I keep comin... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 4:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The reason why I keep coming back to love as an action is because that's all that really counts in a relationship in the end.

I can't comment on your personal relationships and I'm not judging them or trying to devalue one that is important to you. But I also think it's kind of pointless to discuss them because you can only present your side of the equation and relationships are really about two people and what happens when they interact. We're only getting your version here.

And it's really not about who "deserves" love or to be loved, that's a value judgment (and it's coming from you again so is obviously a personal concern). If you care about someone for who they are, appreciate and enjoy aspects of who they are and want to be in a relationship with them, right on. If you're in a relationship simply because you believe the person is so horrible that nobody else could love them - and it's a heroic act to be there and put up with their shit and you're an exceptionally loving person who is "saving" them - then you're veering off out of loving and into martyr/narcissistic territory. You know, loving someone that even you consider unlovable (or really horrible and you don't really like, otherwise you wouldn't label them "unlovable" because you're loving them!) doesn't prove that you too are lovable. It's a common trap people who have been abused fall into. I'd suspect that the people who do love you do so because of who you are and not just because they're good samaritans and you're a charity case!

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"I don't think that my feel... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 4:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"I don't think that my feelings are the only ones that count. What if someone had a traumatic brain injury and suddenly became violent, does that then define them?"

Actually that happened to a close friend of mine when her partner was in a car crash. And, yes, it does define them - it doesn't define their potential but it very much defines who they are now. She managed, through much hard work and extreme patience, to stay and support him as he struggled to regain control of himself. However, if he hadn't been able to get his anger and violence under control she would have left. Not only for her sake but for that of their daughter. He's not back to 100% and never will be.

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"Despite that my mother did... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 4:44 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Despite that my mother did drugs and got pregnant young and despite that she didn't get to raise me, I know that she sobbed, I know that she yearned for me, I know that she would do anything for me if she knew how."

Did someone tell you this? Did it actually happen? Do you know your birth mother and she's told you this? Or is it something you'd like to believe?

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do I know my first mom? che... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 5:44 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

do I know my first mom? check. your point?

As per the rest of the discussion, I think there are a few areas where personal belief get difficult to discuss, not that it isn't fun to try. I'm still not comfortable with summing a person up by their actions alone without context and knowing more about them than their actions in that particular moment, but I get why you would feel differently.

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"Ok, ok, not totally true: ... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2010 7:37 PM | Posted by Themis: | Reply

"Ok, ok, not totally true: he does hit Megan Fox once at 3:45, and if I am interpreting this video correctly, it is because she asked for it."

I stopped reading right there and jumped straight to 3:45, what I saw did not live up to my expectations.

:(

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rox-I'm not saying that the... (Below threshold)

September 3, 2010 10:03 AM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

rox-I'm not saying that the context of someone's actions doesn't contribute to their meaning or that it's not worth understanding why people do what they do. I'm just saying it doesn't excuse actions even if it explains them. What I'm saying is that what people say doesn't trump what they do and if words and actions contradict each other, it's usually the actions that are the most honest expression of that person at that moment. If one is truly interested in who someone is and loving them (conditionally or unconditionally) for who they are then we'd be more interested in the truth than the lie that fits in with our own fantasy. If we're just using "love" (in a bait and switch with violence) to keep someone around to be useful to to us, then lies are just part of that game (just as provoking a partner to violence can be). Passive aggression is just how people who like to pretend they're too "good" or too "loving" to get angry, mean or violent express their aggression...or get others to express it for them so they can pretend they're not responsible for their feelings (or actions).

Having integrity or not has little to do with how shitty your childhood was or whether you were sexually abused. You don't need to be neurosis free or "normal" to have integrity (and neither does a relationship), you don't need to be high functioning, you simply have to be honest and not pretending to be something you're not (usually done to manipulate others or to avoid yourself and your not so nice actions). Integrity simply has to do with how honest you are with yourself and others. The way to tell whether someone is actually honest is by whether their words and actions align. Choose to believe the words and ignore the actions, then you may want to look at what particular lie you're invested in.

In ongoing abusive relationships where the "abused" partner chooses to stay (as opposed to women being truly trapped due to circumstances/ignorance) they're just as narcissistically invested in the lies being told. Both people are using each other as objects to project onto, there's no actual unconditional love because there's no real interest in the person for who they actually are...that's why people keep having that same relationship over and over again. There may not be any actual unconditional love but there is certainly lots of unconditional acceptance of violence towards each other and unleashed rage, there's plenty of unconditional hate but not much love to be seen!

Our actions are much more honest expressions of who we are because our words are generally a lot more about who we'd like someone else (and ourselves) to think we are. People stay with abusive partners because they'd rather believe insincere words and lies they tell themselves than acknowledge what someone's actions are really telling them. Why? Because they're just as narcissistically invested in the grandiose lie being told as the abuser. That's why using grandiose and exaggeratedly heroic language such as "saving" someone and getting overly dramatic about how "I'm the only one who can love this horrible person" starts to make it look a bit like you're more invested in constructing a narcissistic narrative than in the actual reality. (Not saying you are, just that you come off as very personally invested in this and unable to talk about it from a generalized perspective and quite invested in the whole dramatic, grandiose aspect of abusive relationships.)

Being dramatic doesn't mean you care more or feel more deeply than others, ya know. Just like hitting people doesn't mean you really, really love them. And having a temper tantrum doesn't prove that you suffer more or feel more deeply than others. Don't mistake drama and angst, and lack of self control and personal accountability, for depth of feeling. These are exactly the kinds of mistakes people in abusive relationships make out of ignorance or because they're invested in constructing a lie.

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Rox - I apologize if you're... (Below threshold)

September 3, 2010 12:51 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox - I apologize if you're offended by the questions about your mother but that's bound to happen at some point if we can only discuss these things in the context of your own attachments/subjectivity, if we personalize it all. You seem to be working from the assumption that giving away a child is an unloving act in and of itself. Very often it's a very loving act, even if the person doesn't have any remorse about giving up the baby, and keeping the child would be the selfish and self-serving one that isn't taking the child's best interests into consideration. That's part of what love is about, caring about the other person's best interests (which is why just giving people what they want, particularly if it's so they won't be angry with you, isn't always a loving thing to do, especially if it's enabling self destruction for one or both parties).

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So I want to see peo... (Below threshold)

September 3, 2010 2:03 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply


So I want to see people get out of abusive relationships if they can, understand and love themselves, and understand what was going on in the realtionship they were in , and if they want to forgive the person they were with then do so, if not then just move on. If they still have compassion for the person they were with, that is fine too. What would you like to see different about that end outcome?

I'm also saying that I still have compassion for people even if they stay. What would you like to be different about that statement?

What I hear you saying is, "No way! no compassion for abusers or abused people! That's not facing reality! And Narcissist!"

Can't a person face reality and also have compassion for who they are and who others are?

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Rox - Nobody's saying "no c... (Below threshold)

September 4, 2010 10:12 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Rox - Nobody's saying "no compassion for abusers." That you keep hearing this when it's not being said is more about you than others. Why do you need to keep making out that everybody else isn't compassionate and only you are? We're back to the question of why you seem so attached to seeing yourself as the only person who can understand and be compassionate towards abusers? You seem to want people to feel sorry for abusers more than you're actually advocating compassion. Pity isn't compassion, nor does it actually help the abuser since abusers always cast themselves as victims (that's the narcissism of it all). That's why abused people keep trying to save them (that's the abused's narcissism coming to the fore, they're using the other person as an object to prop up an idealized image of themselves as "the most compassionate person evar...look what I put up with! I love the ulovable! I deserve to be loved! Etc").

And yes one can face reality and be compassionate...it's not compassion if you're not facing reality (because compassion requires understanding from a non-personal point of view...because it's not about YOU...and compassion is not just empathy, which is all about us and how we personally relate to an experience and it's invoked in us). I suspect you have a lot of empathy, a big heart and the best intentions, but I also suspect you don't quite understand compassion. That's not an insult, we all gotta learn what we don't yet know. And compassion is a tricky one because it really does mean being very clear on our own boundaries - particularly when dealing with situations that have personal resonance for us.

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Ok. Compassion is something... (Below threshold)

September 4, 2010 8:22 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Ok. Compassion is something that comes from within ourselves. When we want to help someone, care about someone, be compassionate, show another person we care; those are all emotions and desire that come from within us. In that sense, everything is really about us.

Therefore, whether a person is thinking they care about someone because "They are the only person who could love such a horrible person and they are the most compassionate person EVAR" or whether they have studied human behavior and integrated themselves and try to act based on what will be best for themselves and those around them, they are both people acting out of desires within their own selves.

Is it the outcome that determines who "actually" has compassion? Because if it's the outcome then it doesn't matter if a woman feels like she is saint for saving orphans because in the end if she uses her money to help them have better lives than maybe it will help. Or they will see through her and think she's a big jerk because she does things like eat a big giant deli sandwich in front of them while they push nasty cafeteria food around on their plates.

But women who do charity work, or "save" their bad dude partners, if it winds up being helpful, does it mean they were compassionate? I am guessing your answer would be no. It's not just the outcome, it's also how well the person has truly incorporated the well being of everyone involved into the equation. Meaning it's not just the action, it's also the intention. But intention is always from the self. A person who is trying not to be a narcissist will always succeed in doing actions that are based in their own desire not to be a narcissist and not in the actual well being of those around them right?

Because ultimately, that's what everyone is doing. Everyone is simply acting out of their own personal desires, whether those desires be to act compassionately or to hoard good experiences/goods/people/self image etc for themselves. And from an evolutionary perspective, the desire to be compassionate at all could simply be explained as a behavior that got selected through natural selection as keeping the species alive.

Meaning there is no such thing as compassion in the sense that we percieve it... a feeling that moves us beyond ourselves and into a "higher state" in which we truly care about those around us equal to ourselves.

Meaning that a person who is say taking their under age cousin to hang out with 50 year old crackheads and saying, "Don't worry I'll protect you" is percieving their actions as loving, just as much as the person who carefully selects a partner and is repeatedly gentle and kind in order to make a love term relationship work. Meanwhile the person who is behaving in a gentle manner to make a relationship work is still serving their own self; they want a kind gentle relationship and the kind of partner that would enjoy that as well. That's their own interest and has little to do with their partner inasmuch as the relationship could wind up ending because the partner laughs funny, or they don't share enough common interest.

Relationships are always self serving in that way. So the person who seeks a gentle relationship has simply come to a deeper understanding of what they want and how to get it.

Meaning they are more successful at achieving their own wants and they aren't any more altruistic than anyone else.

However, when we experience love, we don't experience it as being about just ourselves. We experience it as a feeling that DOES go beyond our own desires and has to do with the experience of life that others around us are experience.

I prefer to believe that somewhere a long the way, as humans we can experience love that goes beyond ourselves and incorporates those around us into our experience of life. This does to a certain degree entail something of a spiritual belief because without that we are really looking as a an entire species of highly skilled narcissists. Universally. And I don't entirely believe that is really the case.

My mother got married and then she relapsed. She became belligerant and even became violent on one occasion. Her husband decided to stay with her because he knew that her behavior was related to her drinking and that without the drinking she behaved compeletely differently. She quit drinking again, and the problem behaviors ceased.

15 years later they are still happily married, neither one of them is violent in words or actions. They are kind gentle couple and are delightful to spend time with and talk existential philosophy, science, or the whatever.

In my own personal belief system, the idiosyncratic love of people who are not very well integrated and sometimes show acts of kindness and sometimes show acts that show they are entirely absorbed in themselves, is still a form of love. Not the acts of abuse. Those are not acts of the love. But rarely is a person ONLY abusive. And I believe that some of the acts of kindness that happen coming from people who are also capable of being abusive are real.

I'm not sure that you're going to change my mind, but I have enjoyed our conversation none the less. : )

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I'm sorry for the experienc... (Below threshold)

September 13, 2010 2:07 AM | Posted, in reply to rox's comment, by L: | Reply

I'm sorry for the experiences it seems you've had and have witnessed with being judged rather than helped by therapists, social workers etc.

What do you think would have been actually helpful? (as opposed to them doing what *they* thought was helpful)

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I don't think he is necessarily lying about not knowing his own strength. It might not mean what you think it means.

I am one of those people who used to operate in relationships like this. Intensity over quality. But let me backup, to when I was a kid.

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This article, so deep, so a... (Below threshold)

March 28, 2014 3:19 PM | Posted by kayak malzemeleri: | Reply

This article, so deep, so awesome.

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