Monthly Archives: March 2016

Giving Up Religion

Skimming through search results on this topic, it’s difficult to find those which describe this hurdle as a magnificent stepping stone towards freedom. Many testimonies mention anger, depression, the lack of a moral compass – even hopelessness.

And sure enough, liberation does not come overnight; it’s often a lengthy process, spanning over many months or years. Whereas some people effortlessly declare themselves atheistic or agnostic as they have never fallen into the trap of religion, for others the separation is more painful than an ugly divorce (and divorce is hardly ever pleasant). Writing about such a sensitive issue is bound to require caution; hopefully this post will be more useful than off-putting.

To start with, it makes sense to list a few reasons why quitting religion is so difficult.

  1. It involves permanently altering one’s grasp of reality, often held since their earliest cognitive development. Some people can’t do that without falling apart.

Religion is not a choice, unless one is an adult. While sincerely believing Christianity was the path to salvation; I didn’t have moral qualms with that, having been taught all my life that not bringing kids up into the faith would lead to their perdition. I justified it by arguing the moral values upheld by it were essential and only good could come out of passing them on to others (which is true to a point, if we exclude the fairytales).

By rethinking the light you see the world in, you know you have to rethink every aspect of your life, past and present, realising the errors and delusions you have been trapped in. That means rewriting your story and reconstructing your identity. Every belief, every value you’ve ever had comes under scrutiny; it takes courage to set off on this journey (and sometimes years to find this courage).

Your faith is not just a psychological bond; it’s an emotional bond; it can be your rock when everything else seems to dissipate. Imagining having gone through difficult times without it might seem impossible. But that in itself does not make religion accurate.

Children are so innocent; hearing them talk about mysticism is the funniest thing ever. My kids once believed Death was dwelling inside the building’s electric panel, as it had a skull and bones drawing on it to warn people. In the same way, they believed God lived in our bedroom ceiling. After laughing it off as silly, I started wondering who was in fact being silly about the factual aspects of this deity – them or me.

2. It  involves considering the possibility that spirituality is a fabrication altogether, which to a spiritually-oriented person can feel like life is not worth living at all.

I must confess I’ve never dealt with that fear as my intuition and long account of extrasensory experiences have put my mind at ease that reality as we perceive it with our five senses is not the complete picture (it might be a small part of it in fact). If anything, the doors are now wide open for venturing down any avenue with no worries -ever again – of heresy, eternal damnation and the likes.

3. People are conditioned to think something terrible will happen to them if they become apostates. 

Perhaps I should have started with this one. A precious light bulb moment I had was while listening to a former Scientologist describe how hard it had been to mentally detach from the cult; it had been drummed into her head her entire life that the punishment would be immediate and terrible – her plane would crash, her loved ones would die, her entire existence would be destroyed. Her words echoed my own feelings and the reason why I’d had several unsuccessful attempts to break away from religion. When doing so, I’d attributed everything that had gone wrong in my life to this attempted separation. Therefore, if she could feel that way over a false cause such as Scientology, what made me think my feelings were more true to life?

This ruthless conditioning must be what keeps so many people in line (unless one goes the way of Islam and threatens actual murder when leaving the faith).

4. One can find it hard to separate  from a  kind and loving community, turning into a drifter. 

And I’m not talking about proper cults here. Christians for instance are generally beautiful people, aside from a few fundamentalists who use religion as a way to justify their bigotry (and who would behave in the same manner regardless of their belief system). They cultivate the best aspects of the human personality; listing them is pointless as they are well known. When you become aware that Christianity itself is just a story, with some degree of truth to it, it does not make those around you less sincere in their good intentions and exercise of moral values. You can still respect them for who they are and how they live their lives, without agreeing with them regarding dogmas.

However, if they outnumber you and you’re exposed to their ideology on a frequent basis, you can sometimes doubt your choice, thinking you should perhaps revert to their ways, especially if they seem more at peace than you are.

That said (though definitely incomplete as this subject is SO vast), it now makes sense to list the best parts of becoming free from indoctrination.

1.The liberation of spirituality

The reason for listing this first is that spirituality, in some form, does matter to many people – all but those who consider themselves a hundred percent atheistic and only believe in the existence of what is palpable. When dogma is removed, the word “heresy” flies out the window, never to return; so does the fear of thinking or saying the wrong thing, which might be a gateway to your eternal damnation.

Moreover, reminiscent of mediaeval times, inside the bubble of religion it is forbidden to develop and make use of one’s natural extrasensory abilities, this being classed as occultism or even witchcraft. This can cause a person to stifle these abilities, to push them under as dangerous to their eternal soul, which is yet another way of denying their own nature. The joy of finally valuing this potential is likely to help someone overcome any anxiety regarding the “right path” they are supposedly no longer on.

2. The boulder of Sisyphus

This consists of all the small things which stain our supposed purity on a daily basis, leading to frustration and in many cases, I’m sure, neurosis. All the elation one has when getting out of confession, alas, can last no more than a few minutes, until the next sinful thought which basically takes them back to where they started. And so the boulder returns to its initial place and an exasperated Sisyphus restarts the consuming journey. Again. Ad infinitum.

“From this moment on, I will never again…” You can fill in the blank with any hopeless promise to eliminate imperfections, whether it involves swearing, sexual thoughts or the odd extra glass when no one is watching.

All this guilt and shame over trifles can be avoided by simply becoming aware that if we don’t harm anyone and don’t irreparably harm ourselves, there is no one else to answer to. Certainly not for thoughts and urges which are never acted upon.

Both Christianity and Islam argue that every deed, word and thought is recorded somewhere; those who truly believe that must be absolutely scared of their own minds, obsessing over every thought, compulsively praying for forgiveness and for outside intervention for the thoughts to stop (which never arrives, as whatever you resist persists, as Carl Jung noted).

3. Human nature stops being shameful

Mind over matter is an excellent idea, and is very useful when possible. People in extreme situations – such as solitary confinement in dreadful conditions – manage to survive through the sheer force of their minds.

However, asceticism is not everyone’s cup of tea – and needless to say, does not suit everyone’s ability. The obligation to refrain from certain physical impulses for religious reasons is no more than a tradition passed down through the centuries, much like not washing on a Sunday. It’s unclear to me still if it helps improve self discipline or simply proves the extent of religious conditioning, making people potentially deprive themselves of natural needs for fear of being shamed on Judgment Day.

Regarding strange sexual impulses, addictions etc, religion is perhaps the last place to look for answers, as instead of neutral explanations or theories (such as those put forth by psychology), it welcomes people with threats of eternal fire, or, in a softened, less graphic variation, simply eternal loneliness and misery.

4. Everything stops being satanic 

One of the biggest scares today for religious people is becoming unwittingly enmeshed with demonic elements through popular culture. There are so many videos “exposing” how a certain musical performance displays 666 in the undulations of someone’s butt  when slowed down frame by frame. This obsession with the infiltration of satanism into their minds leads to radical attitudes towards those they identify as potential promoters of satanism or occultism in general. Sometimes, these attitudes are knee-jerk reactions and are not preceded by much thought.

There’s no need for occult symbolism for these people to be a bad influence – just listen to the superficiality popular music promotes. It’s all out in the open; they’re trying to downgrade the human species to an Idiocracy type of dystopia.

But wait – wasn’t Satan musically gifted and able to play all instruments? If these people really were possessed, how come their skills are so poor they have to resort to mating calls to attract attention, like rodents under a bush on a dark alley? How about some craftsmanship FFS?  Is Lady Gaga all Satan can do?  Maybe he’s been a victim of overestimation.

There is so much more to say and definitely doesn’t fit into one post, without turning it into a short story. The issue is that letting go of religion needn’t be demoralising – not for a single day.

 

 

Reductionism, Applied To Human Beings

Reductionism is “the practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the like,especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.” (Source)

This post is a bid to analyse a few of the reasons why people needlessly preserve their contempt for each other over long periods of time (even years or decades). It also seeks to explain why some develop this contempt in the first place.

Akin to ideas, people can end up being reduced (only in someone else’s perception) to the one aspect which has stood out the most about them, in a subjective manner.

A good example is “I hate/ dislike/ avoid this person because of something they said.” This basically reduces an individual to a few words uttered at one point in time (probably triggering to those who take offence).
A few useful questions when trying to reevaluate one’s attitude towards such antipathies:

• -How long ago was this? Is it possible for them to have changed their mind?
• -Were they intoxicated or going through a difficult time (not thinking clearly)?
• -Were they perhaps joking?
• -Were they saying it out of ignorance and might change their minds if exposed to more information?
• -Were they saying it due to a creed which influences their general view of the world?
• -Do they seem decent in general, aside from this one objectionable remark? How would I get on with this person if they hadn’t said this?
• -Is this something they only said once or is it definitely their opinion?
• -Is it really something I can never, ever get over?

Unfortunately, the very popular SJW trend seems to be based on reductionism, urging or coercing people through emotional blackmail to embrace limited views about others in order to side with the “virtuous”. Not only do they want those who disagree with them disapproved of and ostracised over an opinion; they want them bankrupted “in the name of diversity”.

To reiterate the fact that conflicting views are not the end of the world, there are a few more points to consider.

1. Peer pressure

People feel pressured today to issue an opinion regarding matters they are not familiar enough with. On social media, you just might be persecuting some poor fucker for a “like” button they clicked on or a few random words written in order to not seem uninformed, compared to their many peers, some of them equally ignorant yet claiming they are passionate about their chosen subject. Everyone seems to be involved in a campaign nowadays – or more – compared to a few years ago, when activism was reserved for those who could bother their asses with it, scorned by cynics, who were comfortable enough to just live their lives.

Everything is different now. One is made to feel guilty for not taking a stand, for not signing and sharing petitions, as if they were more than a handy database for authoritarian types (who are in power or might be) to use down the line, amounting to comprehensive lists of dissenters’ names. Whilst communist states had to use informants to compile such lists, people now sign their names and hand them over willingly.

To some it sounds better to class themselves as activists for so-and-so, especially when siding with trendy causes. Perhaps the do it as an investment – if something is achieved with all the noise, they can proudly say they were part of the movement. If not, they can move on to the next cause and hope for the best.

2. Exploitation by the media

Quoting people out of context is a technique of choice for those who simply want to agitate; random bite-size quotes in general, when adjoined, seem to paint a larger picture, which is not necessarily accurate.

How many of us have laughed at compilations of random people in the street being caught off guard with a question and recorded for the world to marvel at their level of stupidity? Whilst I admit some seemed a bit uninterested in history or current affairs, their failure is momentary and very limited. One knows nothing about them aside from the fact that they didn’t answer something correctly, were tricked into signing a false (ridiculous) petition etc. Is the consecration of a silly moment in order to demonstrate the general stupidity of a nation/ group really fair? To me it obviously isn’t.

Also, it might be conditioning us to reduce others to the smallest stupid things they might say. A memory fail, lack of paying attention, genuinely not knowing etc – these are not crimes. General ridicule is not warranted. One is not doing the world a service by ”exposing” the amount of knowledge or interest in important issues; instead, they’re likely to stigmatise the people they record and cause real trouble in their lives through this shaming.

Also, the media often peppers a biased report with a few opinions given by ordinary people in the street, carefully selected, of course. They think they can convince a whole country to adopt a “majority opinion” based on the words of four or five people and a poll which may or may not be true (no one can ever verify the accuracy of polls; trusting them is basically blind faith). There must be some well-studied technique behind the success of such reports, some boxes it ticks in people’s minds in order to persuade them.

3. Discrimination and labels

Prejudice breeds prejudice, unless someone puts an end to this chain by simply saying they’re willing to accept a different view.

All types of genuine discrimination are based on reducing a category of people to sketchy stereotypes, ignoring the individuality of everyone comprising it; the infinity of possibilities within each person.

The same applies to self-identified but not homogeneous categories based on political preference, religion, ideology in general, and by extrapolation, to any number of people with a common trait. Assumptions are automatically made about them, according to random experiences one has had with a few of them, even very few.

Whatever a person adheres to in life, they are more than a label and should be treated as such. However, in our days of interacting quickly with as many people as possible, labels have become the way we relate to each other, as it’s difficult to get to know everyone we communicate with.

To conclude, it’s useful noting that people are more than:

• -Something they once did (extreme deeds such cold-blooded murder excluded);
• -Something they once said (whatever it was);
• -Their degree or lack thereof;
• -What they do for a living;
• -The amount of information they possess (which can always change);
• -How they see the world at the moment or how they have in the past;
• -Any crisis they went through or are going through (breakdowns, addictions, suicide attempts, jail time etc.);
• -Any successes or failures they’ve had;
• -Their social circle, past or present; how popular they are;
• -Their health, physical and mental, past or present;
• -Their financial situation and assets;

Etc. The list is a very long one, I’m sure.

 

The Objectification Of Men In Films

Plenty is said regarding the objectification of women in every form of entertainment, from blockbusters to less known video games. Some vigilantes with an excess of estrogen and time to burn strive to identify every single scene or character in an entertainment production which might be linked, even by a feeble strain of hair, to misogyny.

When discussing male objectification, many articles refer to “hyper-masculinity”, which is apparently the equivalent of an alpha male archetype on steroids. Others refer to villains being disproportionately more male than female. The goal of this post is to draw attention to a few motifs which largely go unnoticed.

Roadkill

It’s well known that in a film some characters matter whilst others don’t – as we follow the brave alpha male around, we don’t stop to count how many people he shoots, strangles or throws off buildings. He selects the killing method according to their position; if their back is turned he might break their necks; if they face him he shoots them, as shooting people in the back is cowardly; shooting one after another though, after good eye contact, is supposedly dignified.

At the end of the day he laughs it off in a pub, cool as an ice block, though he has just committed multiple murder, without knowing if each and every one of those men actually posed a danger to him. It is very rare for the main character to kill a woman; the overwhelming majority of throw-away characters are male.

In real life, one would worry about who these people are, how they ended up in a criminal gang and how many grieving families they’re leaving behind.The insidious message seems to be, besides using the characters as props in a story, that it’s OK to view some human beings as disposable, as long as the narrative (and ending) is comfortable enough. Just like soldiers are told to refer to others as “casualties of war” in real life.

In fact, since their only utility and context is being disposed of, they might as well be named after their chosen killing method.

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The disposable husband

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In a number of films based on intense adventure (B films in particular, but not only), a variation of the following story unfolds. A previously divorced woman who now has a new life and family (though usually her child was fathered by her ex husband) becomes involved in a turbulent situation (a natural catastrophe, a terrorist attack etc), during which she, her child and new husband are in great danger. The ex shows up and saves the day; by the end of the film, the two rekindle their affection and get back together.

I’ve always found it interesting that the new husband so often gets to conveniently fall off a cliff, break his neck, drown etc., sometime during this great adventure.The public is supposed to feel contented that the heroine found the love of her life again and reunited her family, even though just a few days before, she was sharing her bed with someone else, who at the time of her great happiness, lies in a ravine, with vultures pecking at his spine. Remember that wedding ring? A hyena just chocked on it.

Somehow, this poor sacrificial chump who gave her stability, accepted someone else’s child as his own and shared her daily life, just ceases to matter – everyone just forgets about him, including his wife. She doesn’t stop to grieve, to recover his body (hell knows; maybe he’s not even dead but lying somewhere wounded waiting to be rescued…) or consider that he’s got a family out there who will miss him. It’s all about her and her wonderful romance. Something about this Hollywood cliche is creepy and chilling.

The same goes for some comedies which involve a woman reuniting with her ex; the current partner (sometimes the fiance) is sent off with a warm gaze and a “see you later”.

Molestation turned into a comedy prop

This is something I’ve only witnessed twice in films but it might be more prevalent. While the film industry (and society in general) rightfully demonises male sexual attacks on females, the reverse is seen as amusing; even thrilling. I’m referring to scenes of men being tied up, in situations of extreme mental pressure (their lives being threatened), with women carrying out sexual acts on them without consent. I’m not sure if that would even work anatomically, but it seems to dwell in some people’s imagination. An no, violating someone’s body is not sexy or amusing.

The romantic comedy “hero”

 

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Or should I say target of ridicule. Subtle ridicule, that’s true. A few years ago I was subjected to a romantic comedy on a bus, three times in a row, after not watching television for ages. Memories of similar films brought the realisation that men are often portrayed as clumsy, awkward and embarrassed by women’s better abilities. In the film in question, a man kept being rescued by a woman in dangerous situations, while freaking out or injuring himself. Whilst not absolutely impossible, this type of scenario reeks of feminist propaganda, which claims it’s normal for women to perform better than men at tasks which involve physical strength (such as shooting a rifle).

Of course these are just a few examples; hopefully I can come up with more.

 

Normality – The Phoenix

(No, this has nothing to do with recovery forums, although they have hijacked the powerful symbol of the phoenix and turned it into a cliche.)

Most of all, this post is an attempt to reach out to those who embrace (like I once did) the fight to preserve normality as it was understood in past decades in western societies  – revolving mostly around the concept of meritocracy, a free market, family values (including libertarian parenting), local traditions, prosperity and freedom (including the freedom to express one’s religion).

In the face of cultural Marxism, it’s easy for people who oppose it to be drawn towards conservative causes and groups; religion greatly strengthens this stance as well, defying militant secularism.

If previous years allowed a degree of doubt regarding the direction the west was headed in, (some considering the information regarding social engineering a conspiracy theory), now it’s plain to see that the moral foundation of past generations is energetically being cremated so a new one can be put in its place.

Traditionalism has lost the fight; it was lost before we were even born, as the agenda predates us. The question is if we really have to mentally go down with this ship, or if the ship itself is an illusion, a Fata Morgana. 

Majority versus counterculture 

Normality basically encompasses a set of conditions, principles, laws and values a generation is used to; by the time that generation is gone, things are radically different already – hence it is fluid and will continue to change throughout time. The majority embracing it at one point in time is seen as rigid, whilst the counterculture is meant to be innovative and progressive.

 

When clinging to this notion, we fail to see that traditionalist ideology has already been replaced with a completely different one and thus ceases to be normality; on the contrary, it is now the subversive way of the opposition. The word itself therefore becomes inadequate and irrelevant.

Of course, many of us associate it with what is logical and what has been proven to work best so far. An example is the nuclear family; monogamy makes sense from a biological point of view, as each individual benefits from knowing their lineage. A great warning against procreating randomly consists of the few -but very disturbing – cases of involuntary incest, when siblings who were unaware of being related met in adulthood to form couples and even had children of their own. Reality beats fiction sometimes.

Logic aside, conservatives are now the opposition – which is a paradox in itself.

Normality and law

In past centuries, states didn’t have to simulate democracy and could pass any wacky idea into law, such as taxing people for the sunlight entering their homes according to the number of windows they had (London, 1696). Anything went.

Nowadays they tend to be more subtle about it and familiarise people with the issues they ultimately impose, in order to prevent unrest. Before being formalised, culture is planned and diffused through education, through the media, through art and any influential aspect in a community. It does not belong to the masses; it never has.

Expecting to hold on to certain legal provisions is like expecting the powers that be to actually act in the best interest of the people they are meant to represent. That probably hasn’t happened since tribal communities. Worshiping man-made law (whether it’s something simple or a country’s own constitution) is a waste of energy – laws come and go; there’s nothing carved in stone or sacred about them. It also does not help to imagine one can use them in a corrupt system, before those who have never cared about them and never will.

The best generation

When people stand for this notion today, they usually rely on the image they had of the world while growing up, their familiarity and their emotional attachment to that image, providing a feeling of safety, which is human nature I suppose.

However, if we look at the whole picture history paints, can we really be so sure our generation has reached the ideal concept of living, surpassing all previous ones and any that may come in the future? It’s like stopping the clock and wanting to hold it still, with a bit of entitlement or arrogance. Obviously, I’m not arguing the currently proposed model (some type of socialism) is appealing in the slightest; however; I have to wonder if it’s wise to assume we have it all figured out. After all, every age has its nostalgic aspects, whilst others hardly ever evoke that feeling (drafts, workhouses, pandemics).

Life is relatively short. Whereas to us what we’re familiar with and want to maintain within our lifetime is a major issue, when compared to the endless chain of changes in history, this temporary concurrence of circumstances that we call OUR NORMALITY is a drop in the ocean. 

What doesn’t change

Seeing we have no control over where our world is heading, it makes sense to try to establish what is within our grasp, and that is our own nature.

It’s fascinating to think that although living conditions and mentalities were so different hundreds or thousands of years ago, human nature has largely remained the same, psychologically and spiritually, as attested by historical records. Our normality doesn’t have to depend on others; it can consist simply of the values we will never change, regardless of how regimes and paradigms evolve around us.

The search for those timeless elements within us, for the continuity and regeneration, away from the mental constraints of any artificially imposed culture, is what makes life worth living (or so I think anyway). This search is individual, not collective, and does not rely on maintaining the status quo.

 

In conclusion, it’s obviously worth getting worked up about matters which affect us or will affect us down the line, and try to stop them if possible. But that doesn’t mean emotionally suffering when seeing another bit of our old reality chipped away. The same mechanisms which have operated before us will keep operating throughout our lives and after we die. It’s just a matter of remaining human in the process.

 

What Is NOT Gaslighting

By now, many people are familiar with this notion, especially if they have an interest in unhealthy interpersonal dynamics. A brief article explaining gaslighting can be found here. First of all, a few ideas are worth noting (though doing so might seem superfluous):

  • -It is inflicted on a victim by an abuser who believes to be superior;
  • -It is a consistent technique ( it’s used more than once);
  • -It is always deliberate (planned, organised in cold blood);
  • -It is meant to cause actual suffering (confusion, self doubt, low self confidence etc).

After encountering this term in a variety of inappropriate situations – its use being meant to accuse someone of foul intentions – there are some observations to make regarding what is – only in my view of course – not gaslighting.

  1. Someone trying to convince you of their opinion (yes, I know how stupid that sounds). A couple of times I’ve seen this artifice used on PF, along the lines of:

You want me to see this event your way, not mine, therefore you are trying to make me replace my version of reality with yours, therefore you are gaslighting me.

Which is of course an eerie, cult-like stretch, caused by a person automatically analysing the world through the lens of psychopathic behaviour – a lens most people do not use on a daily basis. One often has a different perspective and imparts it ingenuously, debating others; most people understand that; it’s only to the paranoid that a different opinion can seem a devious attempt to blur their sense of reality.

From everyone is entitled to an opinion it suddenly becomes  telling me that my view/ my perception is not accurate is abusive.  Which practically means they’re always right and contradicting them is a direct attack on their well-being.

2. Most fleeting conversations (online or not).

With an emphasis on ”fleeting”. Although presumably there are those who enjoy genuinely screwing with the minds of others for the fun of it (as opposed to simply trolling), jumping to bite the jugular of every recently met person for “gaslighting you” is not a healthy reaction.

Gaslighting is known to have a purpose; there is a clear intention behind it; it’s difficult to associate it with a few words exchanged by people who will most likely never meet again (unless criminal intention is present, as those involved in crime have to act fast). Otherwise, for a person to suspect this intensity or interest from a complete stranger, their ego must be quite inflated.

3. A poor way of making excuses.

Yes, someone might say, for lack of inspiration, “I didn’t say that”,”maybe you heard me wrong” or “that’s not what I meant”, while awkwardly avoiding eye contact. Some people are worse than others at apologising (that takes some balls) or even admitting guilt, or might try to cover for others, protect your feelings by not repeating an insult etc. When caught red handed, they might just say something stupid, such as this never happened. Which is not a laudable thing to do and obviously would trigger people who were actually gaslighted in the past.

Does that automatically make a person  a psychopath? Of course not. If it’s an isolated event, it means nothing at all. If it happens repeatedly, then it is a problem – however, if that’s the only thing to go on, I’d still reflect on it before jumping to conclusions.

4. People who lie compulsively out of anxiety.

The only instance in which I can find a valid excuse for repeated lying is when it comes from people who have developed this as a defence mechanism, after a long time (usually years) of suffering serious consequences whenever things went wrong, they made a mistake or they risked angering/ upsetting someone else. These people lie very naturally to pacify a situation, hiding negative aspects others would have liked to know about. The reaction they get when their lies are uncovered is worse than the one they would’ve received for simply making a mistake. But in a way I can sympathise with the chronic fear of attracting other people’s anger.

In a way it’s comparable to what children do. Since gaslighting is based on control and deviousness, not anxiety, it doesn’t apply here.

5. People who don’t pay attention.

Everyone’s met the type who is a bit self-absorbed and has rosy sunglasses on, meaning they minimise and brush off your sincere concerns as if they didn’t matter (and no, I’m not one for writing this post or any others which deal with these complicated issues).

I’m sure you just imagined it! I’m sure everything’s fine! Everything works out in the end! 

Of course they do it in order to keep things comfortable and keep talking about their own preoccupations, without bothering with yours. I’m not saying these people are worth maintaining a close relationship with or confiding in – obviously not – but that doesn’t mean their attitude is devious and seeks to undermine your confidence. It’s just complacent and ignorant. They also do that to protect their own view of the world, of a family, a community, an institution etc. Basically, it’s all about them, not about invalidating or worse, destroying you.

Most people are not out to abuse others – gaslighting is a cruel, premeditated and sustained  form of abuse, just like psychopathy is a chilling disorder, not to be pinned on every selfish asshole.

Later Edit

Nowadays, every other progressive has been harmed by a narcissist or psychopath, has been the victim of oppression and is suffering from PTSD, requiring trigger warnings whenever they are exposed to unfamiliar information. Next on the agenda, half of them will soon claim they are being  or have been gaslighted (probably more since the straws they cling to are so diverse).

Unfortunately, analyses such as this one are not unnecessary, since misinformation is already spilling out of the poisoned well of the victimhood culture, with feminism at the centre of it. This feminist website (which as a whole is possibly the richest source of unadulterated bullshit I’ve come across so far), seeks to take the false victim complex into the mainstream in every possible way.

This particular article, “10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic”, is precisely the type of  generalisation I was referring to at the beginning of the blog post.

Far from wanting to invalidate the author’s experience, my honest opinion is that here, gaslighting is presented as a common method of overpowering someone using an emotional bond, by which a person gets another to see things their way, and undermines their confidence as a result, whether they intended to or not. There is nothing in the article to suggest maliciousness or duplicity from the supposed abuser.

Direct quotes are essential (the fair use notice is displayed on the homepage).

1. Gaslighting Doesn’t Have to Be Deliberate

(…)Unfortunately, the first definition I looked up was woefully inadequate. Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.

The rest just happens organically when a person who holds that belief feels threatened. We learn how to control and manipulate each other very naturally.

First of all, the fundamental aspect of defining and identifying gaslighting is the clear intention of causing someone to lose their mental balance and self-confidence, manifesting systematically and in cold blood, inflicting as much harm as possible. It is the method through which pathological types gain control over others, with no remorse whatsoever, sometimes resulting in their victims committing suicide.

Muddying the waters to blur the logical differentiation of this technique from ordinary lying, spontaneous excuse making and even expressing a different perspective is very detrimental, as the real meaning of the word is lost, resulting in an excess of zeal and hysteria wherever this diluted information spreads.

Clear intention, calculation, persistence and cold blood are essential elements to identify in order to make an accurate assessment. Gaslighting must by definition be deliberate.

The author of this piece claims the generally used definition is inaccurate, instead of pondering her own decision to use this specific word. Which is what progressives often do – instead of finding their place in the world, they want to make the entire world adapt to them. With no disrespect to her experience, when a concept does not suit someone, what they do is let go of it and find anther one – or why not, invent it. What they don’t normally do is re-engineer that  concept to suit them specifically, claiming that everyone using it previously was going about it all wrong.

Another red flag is using a situation which is charged with emotions and subjectivity – an argument between romantic partners (which almost by default involves accusations), adding that the “gaslighting” was spontaneous and not deliberate; combined, these aspects become very suspicious. One should consider the following aspects:

  • Whether lies were definitely told, with the partner definitely being aware they were lying; the contentions made may very well be the partner’s honest opinion;
  • Whether the contentions were commonly made or just a one off;
  • Whether the partner simply had an emotional outburst, even if they went a bit overboard;
  • What their composure was and if they seemed to take pleasure in winding up their target (arrogance and delight usually become apparent in these situations).

Of course I’m no expert but this is all just common sense. The key issue is that this technique cannot be identified from an isolated incident or from the mere existence of two conflicting perspectives. Deceit (deliberate, repeated lying) and malicious intentions both have to be involved – lying once in order to cover something up does not count.

“Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality”.  I’ve seen this happen with parents and children, indeed, yet the purpose was shitty excuse making (counting on children’s short memory and volatile perceptions to deny they had done something). Therefore this is an interesting nuance, though more of a cowardly thing to do and not intended to destroy a child’s self-confidence.

You can see it in the media constantly.

For instance, every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, What you know to be true is not true.

The media does gaslight people all the time, no doubt about it, on behalf of an establishment seeking to confuse them constantly, to the point that they no longer know what is going on around them. Alan Watt gives a good example with the contradictory conclusions of  studies, published from time to time, bamboozling those who read them. For instance, today coffee prolongs your life, tomorrow it gives you cancer, the day after tomorrow it is presented as a miraculous cure for some other disease.

However, the example the author chooses is not relevant, as it claims a presumed hate crime should cause a hysterical reaction and not be treated as an isolated incident. Why presumed? Well, when a person forming part of a minority of any kind is attacked (conservatives excluded), the media, followed by a choir of progressive activists, tends to simply assume that “hate” was involved, even before the actual motive is established. Violence can erupt in a multitude of situations and it is idiotic to simply assume, each and every single time.

But now if you abuse your partner, you’re usually considered to be a bad person. So what do you do, with all the beliefs that would lead you to violence, if violence is no longer an acceptable option?

You use manipulation, and you use gaslighting.

Here it is simply assumed that if these forms of abuse both involve control and a power imbalance, one is a suitable replacement for the other. However, causing someone to fear you is not the same as causing them to think they are insane. Moreover, while gaslighting is premeditated, violence is, more often than not, mindless and momentary. Also, violence is commonly used by the run-of-the-mill asshole, whereas gaslighting is a calculated and sophisticated technique employed by devious minds. Comparing the two implies gaslighting is very common and can be used by just anybody, which in turn implies that the world is full of heartless, devious people (basically psychos), fully capable of this level of evil. And since this is a feminist blog, guess which sex the psychos would predominantly belong to.

A gaslighter doesn’t simply need to be right. They also need for you to believe that they are right.

The whole point is getting their victim to believe a lie – it’s not that they think they are right to begin with; they know full well they are lying. This quote reinforces my initial suspicion that the author ignores this fact, which reduces the technique to someone convincing someone else of their perspective, which the other party (presumed victim) thinks is invalid or which later proves objectively invalid.

The description of the “three stages of gaslighting” is too long to paste here; you can find it by clicking the link above. Yet again, it describes a common argument in a romantic relationship, with no apparent, demonstrable conniving involved. The short version:

1.You argue for hours, without resolution. You argue over things that shouldn’t be up for debate  – your feelings, your opinions, your experience of the world.(…)2. Winning the argument now has one objective :  proving that you’re still good, kind, and worthwhile. (…) 3. You consider their point of view as normal. You start to lose your ability to make your own judgements. You become consumed with understanding them and seeing their perspective. You live with and obsess over every criticism, trying to solve it.

Just a few observations:

  • -One’s feelings and opinions are subjective; they are not absolutes and are always up for debate.
  • -Gaslighting deals with distorting one’s perception of reality, usually by reframing events or conversations, denying them or making them up, aiming to make the other  think they are confused or crazy. Feelings and opinions have nothing to do with this.
  • -The fact that someone eventually convinces their partner of their perspective does not mean that they are deliberately lying – or even mistaking, for that matter, and gives no indication of trying to drive the partner crazy.

By accusing someone of gaslighting you, you are basically accusing them of being a monster. Not every hurtful or difficult relationship involves that and not every insecure, hypersensitive,  overly loving or overly tolerant person drained by arguments is being subjected to an actual form of mind control.

Once again, this is the result of confusing feelings and opinions with actual reality, which opens the door for any argument to be seen as gaslighting, trivialising this notion.

Another article, this time written by a professional, gives three peculiar examples:

  • -A woman is left abruptly at the bus stop by her date (recently met), who prefers the metro and then calls later to justify his strange gesture.
  • -A woman complains to her boss about her assignments and is told she is stressed and sensitive; this keeps happening overtime.
  • -A woman develops anxiety over the fear that she doesn’t care enough about her husband, as he often criticises her for not paying attention to details (such as going to the right store at the right time to get him the right kind of salmon).

Call me crazy, no pun intended, but I do not see any deliberate attempts to make any of these women doubt their sanity. The first case involves a second date and an impatient and tactless prick; it is unclear what he thought he would achieve by dumping her at the bus stop. In the second scenario, the woman is aware of the injustice; she does work harder but nowhere does it say that she feels confused or crazy. And in the third one, she develops this unease because she lets him get away with being so demanding in the first place, taking his shallow reproaches to heart. However, nothing suggests he is being deceptive or that he wants to destroy her self-confidence; he is probably just exploitative and thinks he’ll gain some advantage out of making her feel guilty over trifles.

The list of signs is a long one, describing the targeted person’s feelings. Taken separately, none is a clear indication of being gaslighted, and adjoined, they paint a picture of an unhappy individual in an unhappy relationship, facing anxiety issues and low confidence, possibly depression. And yet there is no mention of actual inconsistencies in this person’s daily reality, of the facts which do not match between their memory and that of their abuser, of this person thinking they might have lost the plot or might be lied to on a constant basis. Someone going through a depression affecting their relationship might apply these filters and end up thinking they are the victim of a deliberate attack on their sanity.

Many comments I read agreed the examples were quite poor; however there were also others, such as this one:

“I recently found the term and its meaning. I was in a relationship (my ex husband) who was a classic gaslighter. I have been divorced from him for almost 20 years. However, a work situation, too bizarre to discuss here, has led to gaslighting on the job more than once, and by extension into the community thanks to ex colleagues. Your description, however, also describes my current relationship with certain family members. I have been feeling that things were not right in the home for some time, and I know this is also an extension of the workplace issue. Very nosy nervy backstabbers. What a great article.”

It becomes apparent that due to such vague criteria, some people end up believing they are being targeted in this manner by multiple individuals (much like others identify “narcs” at every street corner). On a large scale, this leads to a lot of misinformation being circulated.

False Daily Mail Story: Babies To Be Born For Organ Harvesting

Update: It turns out the story was false after all, which is a good thing.

One has to wonder however if it came about as a result of someone’s inaccurate understanding of the issue or if it was a way to “test the water”, as they say, throwing an idea out there to see how people would react.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3478477/NHS-harvest-babies-organs-Bombshell-new-proposal-mums-pregnant-damaged-babies.html

Though not connected to the general purpose of this blog, this article is too disturbing to not mention. By reading the comments, one can see people are divided on the matter, with some agreeing that saving lives is a wonderful, selfless thing to do (which no one can argue with).

However, the issue remains – is the mere idea of a human being born solely as a source of organs acceptable? Where would this lead to in the future?

People shudder, with good reason, at the thought of abortion clinics selling off body parts for research. To them, dead children, regardless of their age, are sources of revenue, which they cut into pieces – sometimes while still alive, as horrific testimonies of former workers have shown. They shudder at the thought of these bodies being used by companies such as Pepsi to produce food flavourings, evocative of Soylent Green. This level of inhumanity does exist in our very own morally superior western world.

I’m not getting into the whole abortion issue when major defects are involved; people who are directly involved or knowledgeable regarding this experience are the only ones entitled to issue any judgement.

However, consider the immense danger of medical errors or even money-driven deception which could prompt the wrong diagnosis being given, and thus the wrong choice.

Is it unthinkable? Certainly not. It’s only unthinkable for those who are naive enough to think that if they aren’t personally capable of organising such monstrous acts, other people aren’t either.

The organ market is alive and well in many parts of the world – if not all. How would an expecting mother ever know the diagnosis had been correct, if the child was taken right after birth for the organs to be harvested? She wouldn’t, would she? Aside from knowing the child was being kept alive artificially just enough for his/ her body to be used up and would then be killed by the procedure.

How thoroughly would they assess the newborn to check whether their initial estimation was right or the child might actually have a chance to survive? Or would they rush him/ her to be ”harvested” immediately, as scheduled?

If this procedure became very common and was abused, what would stop the exploitation of vulnerable people, who are socially and educationally disadvantaged, by the unscrupulous? Even one life taken in this way is one too many.

To me it feels like a step further in the direction of giving up one’s attachment to a pregnancy. Not the first step of course – women who “rent their wombs” give up their own children (unless they are only carrying someone else’s fertilised egg), creating them for this purpose, for a sum of money. Apparently, that is meant to be different than selling (trafficking) them after birth, which is a crime, although it’s the same thing – the kids still carry their mothers’ genetic material and are deprived of their biological family, as well as heritage. Emotional bonds which might develop are completely excluded from surrogacy. It’s a contract, demand and supply, and one’s reconsidering or emotional distress down the line is not even considered. Maternity is celebrated in some situations and estrangement (depriving a child intentionally of a biological family, as opposed to adoption, which is decided once the child has been conceived and cannot be supported), is celebrated in others.

Not to mention women who donate or sell their eggs for the purpose of “research”, knowing some would be used for the production of embryos (genetically, their own children, no less than any other children they might have), to be used for tests and discarded in the trash. You don’t need religion (as many claim objections are religiously motivated) in order to understand this reality. It’s genetics, plain and simple.

Where is the value of human life in all this, as well as the family bonding, as if I really need to ask? Some lives matter, others don’t.

Everything is arbitrary and utilitarian nowadays.

 

Silent Treatment – Is It Always That?

As the old proverb goes, all that glitters is not gold, including when it comes to difficulty in relationships.

A few of the behaviours labelled as forms of abuse and signs of psychopathy or narcissism are, in my opinion, ambiguous. Silent treatment is one of them. Whereas it can certainly be used as a form of aggression or control, abuse recovery communities encourage people to generalise, excluding other interpretations.

The reason silence is seen as abuse in romantic relationships is the strong reaction it provokes in the partner, who anxiously awaits communication, seeming lost without his/ her significant other and agonising over what they might be thinking. When complaining, the partner is sometimes referred to as needy and feels insulted; compared to them the presumed abuser seems cold, unemphatic and unloving.

But is this any proof  of foul intentions? Why should one assume these people are even aware of the drama they cause? Who’s to say that instead of being – as portrayed – sadistic monsters grinning beside the phone with a stopwatch, they’re not simply incapable of dealing with the intensity of a situation and need some distance?

Believe it or not, some people are more aloof than others; they need more space, even if that might seem unreasonable.

Even when done for selfish reasons, silence is not necessarily meant to induce a state of despair in the other, to punish them or to control them – in other words to intentionally inflict suffering. Even if someone habitually fails to care about the partner’s feelings, it’s still not the same as causing them deliberately.

To elaborate on that, I would like to make a few points.

1.The partner’s reaction is just as significant as the silence itself, if not more.

If the partner carried on with their own interests in the meantime, focusing on other matters, the situation might be seen as an odd behavioural pattern, yet not abuse. I’m writing from experience here, not out of some desire to engage in victim blaming. When one becomes so  emotionally dependent on another person, to the point of their feelings becoming an unseen burden on that person’s back, it’s not only unfair but also unhealthy. It is not a sign of maturity or balance to be unable to detach mentally from the relationship and turn your attention elsewhere for a while. This strong, disproportionate reaction to someone’s distancing might just be the tip of the iceberg.

2. These patterns (of one ignoring and the other responding with neediness) are likely to be influenced by what both partners have observed in their homes while growing up.

Although the dynamic is sometimes reversed, typically, it is women who feel neglected and men who feel their partners are always dissatisfied with their lack of emotional support. There is a very interesting video by Teal Swan on the perpetuation of these patterns and the Oedipus complex, describing how girls go on to seek the affection of partners who are predisposed to ignoring them and how boys go on to seek caring yet nagging women they end up withdrawing from – and so the cycle continues.

People may develop automatic reactions to certain situations, as a defence mechanism. For example, when someone in front of them raises their voice, the response might be to walk out of the room, regardless of other variables. This might be very frustrating for the partner, who can’t get a point across as things always escalate and end in this manner before any resolution is reached.

3. Poor synchronisation.

It’s fair to say that disappointment is the result of the expectations we have regarding others, whether they have caused us to have them or not. The reason we place such emphasis on trivial matters, like a forgotten anniversary or a trip which never materialised, is the importance we give them, as opposed to their real importance, which might be as small as a grain of sand.

When for instance someone makes an effort to plan a special evening with their partner and instead of it progressing well, the partner is morose and withdraws, causing discontent – if not a fit – the only damage done is to the figment, to the expectation. Nobody owns another person, as to force a certain mood on them and instantly demand reciprocity in their emotional state.

4. Love is about giving. Even space.

When we feel lonely and misunderstood, it can slip our minds that the people we are unhappy with might themselves have serious problems, be very tired or otherwise unavailable. Sometimes, the last thing to help the situation is ceaseless complaining over matters they might not have the energy to deal with. Neediness does make people withdraw more.

If someone is quiet for long periods of time, it can also be due to an issue they are trying to work through, at their own pace.We often come across this statements in popular culture:

If he/she really loved me, whatever issues he/she had, we could work them out together. There’s nothing he/she can’t tell me.

Wrong. Again, nobody owns another person and the need to keep some things private (even take them to the grave) should be respected. There is nothing more annoying and alienating than being prodded by others to speak because of the role they think they must play in your life. People don’t owe others explanations regarding their moods or feelings, if they do not wish to give them. They also do not owe them a mask of jolliness in order to not ”bring them down”.

 

In conclusion, this matter is as complex as it is delicate. One should pause and think very carefully whether another’s actions are really designed to affect them, or are simply an expression of how the other feels at the time.