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By Sam Vaknin
Click HERE to learn about the Author
Click HERE to purchase Books and e-Books about Abuse and Narcissism
NEW BOOK : PHILOSOPHY
Title: "Issues in Ethics"
Author: Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D.
URL OF FREE CONTENT: http://samvak.tripod.com/culture.html
DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK
NEW BOOK : PHILOSOPHY
Title: "The Silver Lining - Moral Deliberations in Films"
Author: Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D.
URL OF FREE CONTENT: http://samvak.tripod.com/film.html
DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK
NEW BOOK : ECONOMICS AND GEOPOLITICS
Title : "After the Rain - How the West Lost the East"
Author : Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D.
URL OF FREE CONTENT: http://samvak.tripod.com/guide.html
DOWNLOAD COMPLETE FREE E-BOOK
An anthology of more than 200 articles regarding the politics, economics, geopolitics and history of countries in central and eastern Europe and the Balkan and current conflicts in the Balkan and Central Asia.
The European Union, NATO, the euro, and central and eastern Europe after the fall of communism.
NEW BOOK : ECONOMICS AND GEOPOLITICS
Title : "Terrorists and Freedom Fighters"
Author : Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D.
URL OF FREE CONTENT:
DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK
NEW BOOK : ECONOMICS
Title : "The Labor Divide"
Author : Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D.
URL OF FREE CONTENT: http://samvak.tripod.com/pp117.html
DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK
Modern labour theories and practice. Covers issues like employment, unemployment, migration, brain drain, entrepreneurship, workaholism, and trade unions.
NEW BOOK : ECONOMICS
Title : "Corruption and Crime"
Author : Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D.
URL OF FREE CONTENT: http://samvak.tripod.com/corruption.html
DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK
Web and Journalistic Activities
Author of extensive Websites in Psychology ("Malignant Self Love") - An Open Directory Cool Site
Philosophy ("Philosophical Musings")
Economics and Geopolitics ("World in Conflict and Transition")
Owner of the Narcissistic Abuse Announcement and Study List and the Narcissism Revisited mailing list (more than 3900 members)
Owner of the Economies in Conflict and Transition Study list.
Editor of mental health disorders and Central and Eastern Europe categories in web directories (Open Directory, Suite 101, Search Europe).
Columnist and commentator in "The New Presence", United Press International (UPI), InternetContent, eBookWeb and "Central Europe Review".
Publications and Awards
"Managing Investment Portfolios in states of Uncertainty", Limon Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1988
"The Gambling Industry", Limon Publishers., Tel-Aviv, 1990
"Requesting my Loved One - Short Stories", Yedioth Aharonot, Tel-Aviv, 1997
"The Macedonian Economy at a Crossroads - On the way to a Healthier Economy" (with Nikola Gruevski), Skopje, 1998
"Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited", Narcissus Publications, Prague and Skopje, 1999, 2001, 2002
The Narcissism Series - e-books regarding relationships with abusive narcissists (Skopje, 1999-2002)
"The Exporters' Pocketbook", Ministry of Trade, Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, 1999
"The Suffering of Being Kafka" (electronic book of Hebrew Short Fiction, Prague, 1998)
"After the Rain - How the West Lost the East", Narcissus Publications in association with Central Europe Review/CEENMI, Prague and Skopje, 2000
Winner of numerous awards, among them the Israeli Education Ministry Prize (Literature) 1997, The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976) and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978).
Hundreds of professional articles in all fields of finances and the economy and numerous articles dealing with geopolitical and political economic issues published in both print and web periodicals in many countries.
Many appearances in the electronic media on subjects in philosophy and the Sciences and concerning economic matters.
Purchase Books and e-Books about Abuse and Narcissism
1. "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" - Third, Revised Edition (2003)
The e-book version of Sam Vaknin's "Malignant Self - Love - Narcissism Revisited". Contains the entire text: essays, frequently asked questions and appendices regarding pathological narcissism and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
2. After the Rain - How the West Lost the East
The history, cultures, societies, and economies of countries in transition in the Balkan.
Electronic Books (e-Books)
View Shopping Cart / Checkout
1. "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" - Third, Revised Edition (2003)
The e-book version of Sam Vaknin's "Malignant Self - Love - Narcissism Revisited". Contains the entire text: essays, frequently asked questions and appendices regarding pathological narcissism and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
2. "Pathological Narcissism FAQs" - Third, Revised Edition (2003)
Dozens of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Pathological Narcissism, relationships with abusive narcissists, and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
3. "The World of the Narcissist" - Third, Revised Edition (2003)
A book-length psychodynamic study of pathological narcissism, relationships with abusive narcissists, and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, using a new vocabulary.
4. "Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List" - First Edition
Hundreds of excerpts from the archives of the Narcissistic Abuse Study List regarding Pathological Narcissism, relationships with abusive narcissists, and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
5. "Diary of a Narcissist" - First Edition
The anatomy of a mental illness - its origins, its unfolding, its outcomes.
6. "The Narcissism Series" - Third, Revised Edition (2003)
Six e-books regarding Pathological Narcissism, relationships with abusive narcissists, and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Empathy Development in Youth Through Restorative Practices
Published in Public Service Psychology
Vol. 25; No. 2, Spring, 2000
We live in fear of our children. Any society that fears its
children will not long thrive. We have allowed enormous distance to
develop between ourselves and the children of others. We have not
come to know them sufficiently and we have not invested emotionally,
materially and spiritually in their well being. We have not taught
them by example to understand the interconnectedness of all things
and the need to always understand the impact of our actions on
Violent juvenile crime - the image of monsters parading as children
has been used to justify countless escalations in harsh measures
after each new horror - only when it was a six year old who pulled
the trigger did we stop our punitive response long enough to look at
ourselves and ask, "How could this be?"
We have raised an entire generation without the prerequisites for
developing empathy and then are outraged when they seem not to care
about the impact of their behavior on others. We did not
consciously decide to raise them without empathy, but that is the
result of significant changes in our social behavior.
The development of empathy requires:
1. regular feedback about how our actions are affecting others,
2. relationships in which we are valued and our worth is validated
3. experience of sympathy from others when we are in pain
Too many children are growing up with none of those characteristics
in their lives and very few children experience all three on a
consistent basis. We have assumed that it is a parental
responsibility to provide those elements of upbringing but, in fact,
all of those characteristics are the responsibility of community
members as well. Without community participation in meeting those
needs there is no sense of community, of reciprocal responsibility
View through the youth lens
"How many of you experienced having adults other than your parents
tell you what to do or how to behave in your neighborhoods when you
were children?" Big grins spread across faces and everyone nods,
remembering the times they were held accountable, disciplined or
brought into line by someone other than family. "My parents didn't
have to do anything - by the time I got home I had been thoroughly
chastised." or "By the time I got home my parents already knew all
about the incident." For people over 25 years of age the response
is consistent - they remember non-family members involved in holding
them to community standards and those memories typically prompt
"How many of you do that in your neighborhoods today?" The smiles
fade and a few heads nod, but most of the audience soberly
acknowledge that they and their neighbors do not function that way
today. There is widespread agreement that adults in the community
are not participating in the rearing of other people's children in
the ways they have in the past.
This change in adult behavior has two very important implications
for our communities. First, this may well be the first time since
humans first formed communities that parents alone were expected to
socialize their children to community norms without the
reinforcement of every adult in the community, twenty four hours a
day, wherever the child went. Parents can't do that alone. It is
an impossible job. The overwhelming nature of such an assignment
contributes to the enormous stress experienced by families.
Secondly, the world experienced by kids has these characteristics:
1) " The expectations of my parents are not community norms, because
other adults see me do these things and don't say anything," and
2) "The only people besides immediate family who bother with my
life are people who are paid - police, teachers, youth workers,
probation officers." Setting limits on behavior generally sends a
message of caring as well as accountability. When adults remember
those experiences of being disciplined by others, they usually also
remember some sense of belonging, of being looked after by those
adults. They didn't necessarily like the consequences, but
recognize that it also represented some kind of commitment to their
The implicit message to kids today, that the only ones who will
bother with their lives are immediate family and people who are
paid, is an extremely corrosive message and creates a very different
world view. This is a world which does not encourage empathy or a
sense of common good larger than individual interest.
Minnesota's former Lt. Governor, Joanne Benson, tells a story that
reflects this world view. Lt. Governor Benson and her family were
walking through a glass enclosure in Minneapolis leaving a
basketball game to return to a parking ramp. They passed a group of
young adolescents engaged in horseplay. Because of the large
amounts of glass and the need for other people to pass through,
Benson stopped and asked the youth to stop their activity. She
continued on her way. Her son, however, noted that they had
continued fooling around. He turned and said, "Boys, didn't you
hear what she said?" The Lt. Governor looked at her watch and
added, "Now, we don't want you to get hurt, and by the way, isn't it
time for you to go home?" As the Benson family turned to leave, one
of the boys tugged the sleeve of the Lt. Governor and asked, "Do
you work here?"
At a conference with inner city youth in Washington, D.C.,
participants clearly stated their perception that certain behaviors
were not bad because no one ever said anything to them about the
behavior. Young people understand silence to be assent, but also
assume that silence is indifference to both their behavior and
A youth worker shares the story of a young runaway: "A 14-year old
girl, who was experiencing some abuse in her home with her parents,
had run away and called our program. I picked her up from a
friend's home and gave her a ride to the foster parents' home.
These foster parents are volunteers who are willing to give up to
two weeks of foster care for a youth experiencing problems at home.
The young girl was acting and talking like a typical teenager in
crisis – somewhat critical due to her fear. Then I talked to her
about being respectful of the foster parents, `because they are
volunteers and don't get paid; you need to treat their home with
respect.' The car became quiet and I glanced over at her. Tears
were streaming down her face. When I asked her what was wrong she
said, `I thought they were getting paid to take me in. Why would
they want to help me? For nothing.'"
From their life experience youth expect that the only people who
will speak to them about their behavior in public or help them are
people who are paid. Young people feel invisible or undesirable.
Adults don't acknowledge their existence, don't criticize or praise
them, don't seem to care who they are.
It is difficult to develop a sense of responsibility about the
impact of your behavior on others if you get no feedback. It is
difficult to care about the welfare of others if you do not perceive
that anyone cares about yours. Adults need to live those values in
order for young people to learn them.
Adult fear undermines empathy development
The cycle of fear and social distance is self reinforcing once it is
started. Fear of young people causes adults to avoid young people.
That avoidance decreases their contact and allows the fear to grow,
since the fear has no reality check through actual human contact.
Young people are very sensitive to acceptance or lack of it and will
often reject first if they feel rejection coming. It requires adult
maturity to be able to reach past the surface of insolence or
indifference often donned by adolescents to cloak their insecurities
or fear of being vulnerable. Adult fear of teen-agers draws adults
into behaviors that reinforce the natural insecurities and sense of
isolation of adolescents, undermining their capacity for empathy.
It is fundamentally destructive to the human spirit to be feared
because humans need connection, acceptance and love. Instilling
fear is sometimes exhilarating but it is mostly soul-destroying.
Reducing fear through restorative practices
Restorative justice provides a framework for us to re-establish a
more appropriate relationship between community members and young
people and to reduce the fear adults have of young people.
The processes of restorative justice, particularly face to face
processes, involve the telling of personal stories in an intimate
setting. Stereotypes and broad generalizations about groups of
people are difficult to sustain in the face of direct contact with
an individual in a respectful setting. Restorative processes assume
value in every human being and thus present individuals to one
another in a respectful way which draws out human dignity in
Adult perceptions of indifferent and insolent young people and
adolescent perceptions of indifferent and aloof adults dissipate in
the course of an honest exchange of feelings and hopes. Restorative
processes allow everyone to have voice in telling their story and
Victim - offender dialog, family group conferencing, community
panels and peacemaking circles all involve face to face
opportunities for sharing personal narratives which humanize all
participants. These processes not only resolve the particular
incident, they also reframe the relationships of all parties because
of a shared commitment to good outcomes and mutual responsibility.
These restorative processes break down social distance of
participants - victims, offenders, their families, community members
and criminal justice system professionals. Personal narratives are
a powerful way to recast the "other" as one of "us" and, in so
doing, see our fates intertwined.
Storytelling is fundamental for healthy social relationships. To
feel connected and respected we need to tell our own stories and
have others listen. For others to feel respected and connected to
us, they need to tell their stories and have us listen.
Hearing someone else's story reduces social distance and stereotypes
about the other. Personal stories capture the complexity of the
individual beyond the one dimensional impressions which might be
created by knowing of one single aspect of a person's life. If we
truly hear the story of another, it is difficult to maintain
distance from that person and fear of them.
Encouraging empathy development through restorative practices
Face to face restorative processes are designed to encourage
empathy. Victim-offender dialog, group conferencing, community
panel and peacemaking circle processes:
1. Provide feedback about the impact of the offender's actions
A primary goal of those processes is to increase offender
understanding of the impact of the behavior on all those who were
affected - the victim, victim supporters, the offender's own family
and friends and other community members. Restorative processes
involve clear, detailed descriptions of the impact of the crime on
all who are present. The harm of the behavior is communicated
directly, but respectfully, to the juvenile offender. Concern is
expressed by participants for the pain experienced by the victim and
for the pain of the offender's family because of the offender's
behavior. The group models appropriate empathy for those hurt and
encourages the same in the offender.
2. Reinforce a sense of value and intrinsic worth of the
Restorative processes combine support and accountability. Empathy
is unlikely to develop even when you become aware of the impact of
your behavior if you never experience caring. Restorative processes
should also communicate caring about the offender and a belief in
the intrinsic worth of the offender. Restorative processes include
supporters of the offender, encourage positive relationships with
other community members, and treat the offender with respect and
dignity. These processes value the story of the offender. Having
others listen to your story is a function of power in our culture.
The more power you have, the more people will listen respectfully to
your story. Consequently, listening to someone's story is a way of
empowering them, of validating their worth as a human being.
3. Acknowledge pain in the offender's life without excusing the
By allowing the offender to tell his own story restorative processes
create space for understanding of the offender's struggles as well.
Help offered to address these problems communicates concern for the
pain in the offender's life.
These face to face processes create spaces in which harm can be
clearly identified and acknowledged without diminishing the
offender's value or integrity of self. Those spaces allow offenders
to feel empathy because their energy is not all tied up protecting
Even when face to face processes are not feasible, young offenders
can be involved in restorative community service which encourages
empathy development. Restorative community service involves the
offender in work which is valued by the community. To be most
effective restorative community service engages the offender in
working side by side with other community members for the benefit of
the community and provides positive feedback to the offender about
the value of the work to the community. Community service that, in
the words of Dennis Maloney, "eases the suffering of others"
promotes an awareness of pain experienced by others and provides a
concrete opportunity to do something positive about that pain.
Participation in improving the lives of others promotes a positive
self image and a sense of personal value if that contribution is
validated by others. Restorative community service offers the
possibility for an offender to get back into the cycle of empathetic
reciprocity that is a fundamental aspect of healthy community. In
that cycle of reciprocity the offender can expect support and caring
about his/her own needs and difficulties.
Community responsibility in a restorative framework
Restorative justice calls for a collaborative response to harmful
behavior between the community and the government. The community is
1. supporting those harmed
2. communicating the impact of the behavior on the community
3. providing opportunities for those who cause harm to repair
the harm to the victim and the community
4. establishing and communicating behavioral expectations for
every community member in a respectful way
5. addressing underlying causes of harmful behavior.
These community responsibilities are a foundation for empathy
development for all community members. Supporting those harmed
requires sharing the pain – a key element of empathy. Communicating
how the behavior hurts others provides a basis for those who caused
harm to understand why they should be sorry for the behavior.
Providing opportunities to repair the harm creates a way for
feelings of regret to become concrete actions which display empathy
and therefore strengthen its meaning. Establishing and
communicating expectations in a respectful way requires the
community to engage in extensive dialog about the perspectives,
needs and experiences of all community members – which contributes
to an empathetic environment. Addressing the underlying causes of
harmful behavior brings community attention to associated pains that
may be contributing factors in the lives of the offender and calls
for empathy for those harms.
Every community member bears responsibility for carrying out these
community functions. Every community member is accountable for the
aggregate behavior of our youth. Every community member has
opportunities to take small actions that can reverse the cycle of
fear of youth and the resulting isolation and disconnection that
youth experience. Youth are responding to the world they have
experienced – they did not initiate that world. Our children are a
mirror – a reflection of us.
Restorative justice interventions with youth provide an opportunity
to begin changing the relationship between youth and adults in the
community, to teach them that caring and accountability go hand in
hand and to demonstrate that personal power can be used in
constructive ways. Restorative justice is fundamentally about
striving for healthy, loving relationships. Healthy, loving
relationships do not excuse harmful behavior, but attempt to use
those experiences as learning opportunities for all those involved.
Restorative justice provides a pathway for transforming fear into
Kay Pranis is a Restorative Justice Planner for the Minnesota
Department of Corrections. She works statewide promoting and
supporting restorative practices in neighborhoods, schools, social
services, law enforcement, courts and corrections. Phone 651-642-
0329; e-mail kpranis@...
Minnesota Department of Corrections
1450 Energy Park Drive
St. Paul, MN 55108
Is He Lying? - by Dr. Sally Caldwell
As featured in the successful book by Dr. Sally Caldwell
[Editors Note: This article can apply to both genders.]
OK. So you're involved in a relationship -- one that started out
like it had a lot of promise. As a matter of fact, all the right
chemistry was there from the very start, or so it seemed. The
relationship took off like a rocket, and before you knew what
happened, you were thinking this might be the one. Nearly perfect,
or so you thought.
But now something is wrong. As a matter of fact, something is
dreadfully wrong. You can't put your finger on it, but something's
not right. It's a thought that races through your mind; it's an
eerie feeling in the pit of your stomach. Something is wrong, but
you don't know what it is. Welcome to the world of Romantic
Let's say you're a little further along in the relationship. If so,
the strain is probably starting to take its toll. You're starting to
get a little worn down emotionally. Chances are you're waging a one-
woman battle to retain your own sanity; the contradictions and
inconsistencies are more than you can take. You may even be
obsessing about what's going on with the relationship, but you don't
have the courage to openly question your partner.
The feelings and sensations I just described may be your first clue
that you're involved with a Romantic Liar -- a man who's been lying
about who and what he is. The web of deceit no doubt started weeks
or months ago, but now you're getting in deeper. Unfortunately, you
probably don't have a clue about what's really going on. It's
possible you're starting to act a little crazy. Welcome to Romantic
Deception writ large.
A Romantic Liar
A Romantic Liar isn't the man who tells a little white lie now and
then to keep your spirits up or fails to tell you the whole truth
because he wants to spare your feelings. By the same token, a
Romantic Liar isn't the man who adds an embellishment here or there
just to make a good impression on you when you first meet. Omissions
and enhancements like that technically constitute lying, but they
don't qualify as Romantic Deception. As you'll soon learn, Romantic
Deception is far more.
Masters in the art of Romantic Deception get away with the game
because they are just that -- masters. They know what to do and how
to do it. When a Romantic Liar is operating in top form, you
probably won't have a clue about what's going on. Some Romantic
Liars specialize in concealing the fact that they're married, while
others have a flair for posing as doctors or lawyers when they're
not. Some Romantic Liars like to present themselves as decorated war
heroes; others go a step further by impersonating intelligence
agents for the federal government. As a rule, a Romantic Liar is
limited only by his imagination and the immediate circumstances. The
list of lies a Romantic Liar might tell you is a long one.
Because he's capable of lying about anything and everything
imaginable, there's no limit to the ways a Romantic Liar can harm
you. You can lose substantial amounts of money to a Romantic Liar,
and you might lose your job or career because of him. You might
avoid the financial loss but suffer the emotional or physical
consequences. Even if you're a self-assured, intelligent, and
resourceful woman, you'll probably end up with a shaken self-image
when you realize you were duped. Therapists' offices are full of
women who've been the targets of Romantic Deception. Maybe you're
one of them. If you are, you would do well to always remember:
Romantic Deception is something that happens to thousands of women
every day. You're not alone.
If you discover you're a target of deception, but you find out
early enough to make a swift exit, consider yourself lucky. More
than likely, though, the game's been going on long enough that now
you find yourself emotionally hooked on your partner. If that's the
case, you'll probably find yourself having to deal with a hefty
amount of emotional damage. The aftermath of Romantic Deception is a
fairly predictable emotional nightmare.
You'll probably go through a gut-wrenching experience when you try
to untangle your feelings and understand how it happened. More than
likely your first question will be why didn't I know what was going
on? At some point, you'll be hit with a profound sense of loss over
a relationship you thought was meaningful. The sense of loss will
grow even more confusing when you begin to recognize that who or
what you were in love with didn't really exist in the first place.
The list goes on. Self-doubt, sleepless nights, deep depressions.
Weight loss, weight gain, anger, and resentment. Substance abuse or
casual sex as temporary escapes. Embarrassed attempts to regain
contact with friends you dropped along the way. The range of
emotions is wide, but you'll almost certainly return to your
original question -- Why didn't I know?
Of course, not every man who tries his hand at Romantic Deception
gets away with it. Every day thousands of married men try to pass
themselves off as being single, and even more try to embellish who
they are. Even so, many of these would-be Romantic Liars fail. These
men may have the bravado to attempt their hand at Romantic
Deception, but they lack the necessary skills to really pull it off.
There are other men, however, who fall into a very different
category. These are men who are skilled at the game of deception
beyond your wildest imagination. They're masters in the art of
deception, so much so that the charade can go on for months or
Romantic Liars don't just openly lie or speak falsehoods. Truly
skilled Romantic liars use all sorts of techniques to paint a false
picture. That's why I use the term misrepresentation to describe
what's at the heart of Romantic Deception. Romantic Liars tell
straight-out lies, to be sure, but they also engage in overstatement
and understatement. Sometimes Romantic Liars lie through their
silence, and sometimes they deceive with the help of friends.
If you think the only lies that count are the ones coming out of
someone's mouth, you're in for a rude awakening when it comes to a
Romantic Liar. Some actually say very little, but misrepresent a
lot. Indeed, most Romantic Liars are quite content to let you draw
your own conclusions.
The Scorecard on Deception Research
When it comes to the mysterious world of deceit, misrepresentation,
liars, and such, the truth is a little unsettling. There's still a
lot that we just don't know. Deception, as a topic of inquiry, has
caught the attention of a lot of researchers, but there's so much
that still remains a mystery.
A lot of the problem stems from the fact that most deception
research is conducted in laboratory or experimental situations --
environments far removed from real life and even more removed from
the reality of intimate relationships. We always have to ask the
question of whether or not the findings would apply to deception in
Beyond that, the findings and discoveries from the laboratory and
experimental situations are often inconclusive, at best. For
example, some deception detection studies have found that a group of
college students perform no better or worse than members of the law
enforcement community when it comes to identifying which of two or
more research participants is lying in an experimental situation.
It's also safe to say that most deception research is focused on
deception detection. When it comes to the question of what motivates
a liar to lie in the first place, we're still very much in the dark.
If we were ever to fully investigate real-life deception, as opposed
to deception in laboratory settings, we would eventually have to
delve into the world of the person telling the lies. And that may
pose the biggest problem of all. We really know very little about
deception detection to begin with, but we know even less about
liars. Two monumental problems stand in our way.
First, significant liars (i.e., people who make it a practice to lie
on a regular basis) are rarely available for study. In a word or
two, liars are reluctant subjects. Don't count on a Romantic Liar or
any other big-time liar to march into a counselor's office because
his lying has become a problem. The fact that he lies on a regular
basis might be a problem for his girlfriend or any number of other
people, but it isn't a problem for him. In fact, for someone like a
Romantic Liar, the lying may be the very thing that allows him to
cope with a scarred identity. The lying may be the one thing that
lets him get through the day with his self-image intact.
Second, there's a serious question as to whether or not you could
believe anything a liar said in the first place. If someone is the
sort who lies on a frequent basis in any number of circumstances,
there's actually little reason to presume he would stop his lying in
the interest of scientific inquiry. Even if you had the luxury of
interviewing a serious liar -- say in a clinical setting, for
example -- it would be difficult to put much faith in what he told
you about anything.
The Forging of a Deceptive Relationship
Short of getting involved with someone you've known for the greater
part of your life, there's no such thing as a fail-safe way to meet
a potential partner. A Romantic Liar can come into your life from
any direction, but yes, some settings are obviously more inviting of
deceit than others. Chat rooms on the Internet, personal ads, and
singles bars are obvious examples of where you're likely to
encounter a dyed-in-the-wool Romantic Liar. But you can also meet a
Romantic Liar at work, school, church, or through a friend who's
just as clueless as you are about a potential partner's true
character. More than one woman has ended up in a relationship with a
Romantic Liar as a result of a blind date that was set up by a well-
intentioned but totally-in-the-dark good friend.
A Romantic Liar's ability to forge a deceptive relationship begins
with his ability to tell a plausible story and to tell it in a way
that makes it believable. It doesn't make any difference whether
he's lying about his marital status or his occupation or education
or anything else, for that matter. It's his ability to tell a
plausible story in a believable fashion that gives birth to a
deceptive relationship. Many people mistakenly assume that a
deceptive tale always has a fundamental element of implausibility or
unbelievability and that there has to be something wrong with a
woman who would fall for such a story to begin with. Nothing could
be farther from the truth. All it takes for a long-term lie to be
successful is that it be launched with the right amount of skill.
SALLY CALDWELL has a Ph.D. in sociology and currently teaches at
Southwest Texas State University. This article is featured with
permission from her book "Romantic Deception - The six signs he's
lying", ©2000 published by Adams Media Corp., Holbrook,
Massachusetts, USA. http://www.adamsonline.com The author can be
reached by email at drscaldwell@...
Related Link: Why Men Lie (article) , What is a lie? (forum)
Related Reading: 101 Lies Men Tell Women (book)
Copyright 2000 NoDeception.com All rights reserved
Courtesy of Paul
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 12:02:12 UT
MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media
February 2, 2003
MEDIA ALERT: FULL SPECTRUM DISSENT - PART 2
Introduction - Killing Hope
In Part 1 we proposed that much modern individual suffering is inherent
neither to ourselves as individuals, nor to the human condition, but is
often rooted in a dominant political-economic system which subordinates
human and environmental well-being to profit.
The result is that we tend to be exposed to ideas about ourselves and
society that satisfy the needs of mass consumer culture, but not our needs
as human beings. Noam Chomsky brilliantly describes the targeting of
fundamental aspects of our belief system:
"It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the
poor and oppressed, to replace these dangerous feelings by self-centred
egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that all change is for the worse, so
that one should simply accept the state capitalist order with its inherent
inequities and oppression as the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great
international propaganda campaign is underway to convince
people -particularly young people - that this not only is what they should
feel but that it is what they do feel, and that if somehow they do not adopt
this set of values then they are strange relics of a terrible era that has
fortunately passed away." (Chomsky. Quoted in C.P. Otero, ed., Radical
Priorities, Black Rose Books, 1981, pp.19-20)
The promotion of cynical selfishness, egotism and indifference to others is
indeed so pervasive that they seem almost inevitable - we are trained to
talk nicely of idealism and hope, but also to be 'practical', recognising
the 'harsh reality' as seen in 'the cold light of day'. Subjected to a flood
of media images depicting the lives of 'the beautiful people' awash with
self-indulgent pleasures, it never occurs to us that selfishness and egotism
might +not+ in fact be credible paths to happiness, but might instead come
at an appalling cost - to the environment and Third World, but also to us as
individuals. To gain a true understanding of these costs, we believe, is to
gain the motivation to rebel.
On Seeing A Wretched Man - The Curious Qualities of Kindness
Given everything that has been said so far, it seems clear that if we are to
find more humanly productive answers, we will by definition need to
investigate areas of human thought that are marginalised, ignored, or deemed
'absurd' by mainstream culture, just as brilliant dissident political
thought is marginalised and dismissed as 'angry', 'anti-American' and
There are by now good reasons for believing that traditional cultures have
often achieved levels of psychological and social well-being that far exceed
our own. When the linguist Helena Norberg-Hodge began living amongst the
villagers of Ladakh in Northern India, for example, she was bewildered by
the fact that everyone smiled so much:
"At first I couldn't believe that the Ladakhis could be as happy as they
appeared. It took me a long time to accept that the smiles I saw were real.
Then, in my second year there, while at a wedding, I sat back and observed
the guests enjoying themselves. Suddenly I heard myself saying, 'Aha, they
really are that happy'."
According to Norberg-Hodge, the Ladakhis' well-being is rooted in their
belief system, which is characterised by extraordinary levels of kindness
and compassion, and the marked absence of hatred, egotism and grasping
We need to be clear that Ladakhi presumptions about happiness are very
different, in fact in some respects diametrically opposed, to Western views.
A clue to the dramatic nature of the difference is indicated by the 5th
century Indian sage Buddhaghosa, whose compassionate philosophy also lies at
the heart of Ladakhi culture. Buddhaghosa described how human happiness
actually consists, not in vigorously striving to satisfy our personal
desires, but in strengthening our concern for others. This could be
achieved, for example, he argued, by generating compassion repeatedly and
intensively in response to real or imagined suffering:
"On seeing a wretched man, unlucky, unfortunate, in every way a fit object
for compassion, unsightly, reduced to utter misery with hands and feet cut
off, sitting in the shelter for the helpless with a pot placed before him,
moaning... compassion should be felt for him in this way: 'This being has
indeed been reduced to misery; if only he could be freed from his
Alternatively, from the 19th century Patrul Rinpoche suggests:
"Think of someone in immense torment - a person cast into the deepest
dungeon awaiting execution, or an animal standing before the butcher about
to be slaughtered. Feel love towards that being as if it were your own
mother or child."
It is then recommended that we repeatedly imagine, not merely that this
unfortunate person or animal has been released from suffering, but that we
ourselves have released them.
These startling recommendations - light-years removed from the strategies
for achieving happiness promoted nightly on TV - are based on the idea that
repeated reflection on suffering, and on ourselves relieving that suffering,
has the effect of strengthening our concern for others. And this, in turn,
it is argued, has the effect of strengthening conditions of mind that are
conducive to happiness - kindness, compassion, generosity, patience,
equanimity and affection - while weakening conditions of mind that are
conducive to depression and despair - greed, hatred, self-obsession,
jealousy, boredom and dissatisfaction.
Ultimately, it is argued, personal happiness, and the happiness of those
around us, is best achieved by reducing excessive concern for ourselves and
by replacing it with sincere concern and action for the benefit of others.
Notice that this concern is +not+ recommended as some kind of worthy, stoic
self-sacrifice, but is claimed to involve a very real increase in everyone's
happiness, our own included.
If this sounds merely outlandish, consider the set of experiments recently
conducted at the E.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and
Behaviour at the University of Wisconsin. Richard Davidson, director of the
Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, studied brain activity found in a
European-born Buddhist monk, Oser, who has spent three decades in the
Himalayas meditating on compassion in ways similar to those described above.
Davidson's research had previously found that people who have high levels of
brain activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain simultaneously
report positive, happy states of mind, such as zeal, enthusiasm, joy, vigour
and mental buoyancy. On the other hand, Davidson found that high levels of
activity in a parallel site on the other side of the brain - in the right
prefrontal areas - correlate with reports of distressing emotions such as
sadness, anxiety and worry. People suffering from clinical depression and
extreme anxiety, for example, have the highest levels of activation in these
right prefrontal areas.
Oser was asked to meditate intensively on compassion and then to relax after
sixty seconds while being monitored by an fMRI magnetic imaging machine.
In his book Destructive Emotions, psychologist Daniel Goleman describes the
"While Oser was generating a state of compassion during meditation, he
showed a remarkable leftward shift in this parameter of prefrontal function,
one that was extraordinarily unlikely to occur by chance alone. In short,
Oser's brain shift during compassion seemed to reflect an +extremely+
pleasant mood. The very act of concern for others' well-being, it seems,
creates a greater sense of well-being within oneself." (Goleman, Disturbing
Emotions - And How We Can Overcome Them, Bloomsbury, 2003, p.12)
In another experiment, Davidson monitored the base-line state of left
prefrontal cortex activity indicating normal everyday mood in 175 American
individuals. Subsequently, Davidson also monitored the base-line state of a
'geshe', an abbot, from one of the leading Buddhist monasteries in India.
Although the geshe is a monk-practitioner who does meditate, he has not
spent long periods of time alone meditating intensively in retreats in the
way of Oser. Nevertheless, the results were remarkable. Davidson reports:
"Something very interesting and exciting emerged from this. We recorded the
brain activity of the geshe and were able to compare his brain activity to
the other individuals who participated in experiments in my laboratory over
the last couple of years... The geshe had the most extreme positive value
out of the entire hundred and seventy-five that we had ever tested at that
point." (Ibid, p.339)
Davidson describes the geshe as "an outlier" on the graph - his reading was
"three standard deviations to the left", far beyond the rest of the bell
curve for positive emotion.
Although the relationship between concern for others and well-being has long
been all but ignored by Western science, recent studies do point to a
Reviewing evidence of a link between altruism and health, Herbert Benson,
Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, concludes:
"One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to volunteer to
help your community, backing away from too much self-worry and fretting.
Focusing our attention away from our own problems by helping others, we can
experience physical benefits... Altruism may help you to live longer.
Extending yourself to interact with others is associated with longevity."
In a study of heart disease in 600 men, Dr. Larry Scherwitz found that
people who were more self-obsessed had more severe coronary disease than
their less self-involved counterparts. Scherwitz studied patients
hospitalised for suspected heart disease or after a heart attack by
monitoring how often they used 'I', 'me', 'my', 'mine', or 'myself' during a
structured interview. He found evidence, which he considered
incontrovertible, that patients with more severe disease were more
self-focused, less concerned with others. This is Scherwitz's prescription
"Be more giving, listen with regard when others talk. Give your time and
energy to others, let others have their way; do things for reasons other
than furthering your own needs."
In a 30-year study of 427 married women, researchers at Cornell University
were able to conclude that regardless of number of children, marital status,
occupation, education, or social class, women who engaged in volunteer work
to help other people at least once a week lived longer. Likewise, in a
survey of thousands of volunteers across the United States, Allan Luks
discovered that people who helped other people consistently reported better
health than peers in their age group. Many also said that their health
markedly improved when they began volunteer work. Other studies have
repeatedly shown that compassion and affection for others have a measurable
impact on human immune system efficiency (see Goleman, Disturbing Emotions).
A study of 700 elderly adults by C.E. Depner and Ingersoll-Dayton found that
presence or absence of concern for others had a decisive effect on the
ageing process. They found that "the effects of ageing had more to do with
what they contributed +to+ their social support network than what they
received from it".
The point of our mentioning these studies is not at all to promote Buddhism,
or 'religion' of any kind (indeed these are not specifically religious
issues at all). It is to raise the possibility that there may well be
approaches to achieving individual and social well-being - long understood
and practised in many traditional cultures - that have been filtered out of
our culture along with so many other ideas that conflict with corporate
goals. These approaches could prove vital in generating resistance to
unrestrained greed and violence, and in working towards a more rational and
We raise this possibility, also, on the basis of a small degree of personal
experience. In the past, we at Media Lens have held jobs in large
multinational corporations. Like most people our goals were to do varied and
interesting work, to achieve status and 'success' through promotion and,
above all perhaps, to achieve a high standard of living. In short, our lives
were centred around fundamentally selfish aims with little or no thought,
and even less action, for the plight and suffering of others.
Our experience of self-centred work was one of almost unrelieved boredom and
stress - the work turned out to be of no intrinsic interest at all, but was
simply a means to the end of material acquisition. It seems to us that when
life is oriented around money and status, it becomes a pointless, depressing
dead end, a kind of emotional wasteland. The contrast to our experience of
the unpaid human rights and environmental work we have done since - for
example, this Media Lens project - could not be more dramatic. To even
partially replace self-centred concerns with concern for others, we believe,
is a decision of enormous human significance, which has beneficial
consequences that far outweigh any trivial financial loss.
We need to be clear that the ultimate root of many of our problems is that
very many people care a great deal about themselves and their immediate
families, but very little about anyone else. This is the basis of much
unthinking obedience, passive complicity, and enthusiastic participation in
state-corporate destructiveness. This self-centred concern, in turn, is
rooted in the deeply entrenched - but, we believe, false - conviction that
personal happiness is best achieved by applying maximum effort to securing
the needs of ourselves and our immediate families, such that we have little
inclination to attend to the needs of others deemed irrelevant - people who
often pay an appalling price for our actions. We often rightly focus on the
logic and function of state-corporate systems, but we need to remember that
states and corporations are in the end mere abstractions - they are made up
of, and run by, real people.
Full Human Dissent
Compassion and concern for others are of course implicit in much dissident
thought - relief of human suffering is quite obviously what motivates many
writers and activists. But explicit focus on the importance of such concern
as an antidote to individual human misery, and to the many problems rooted
in the unrestrained greed of corporate capitalism, is almost nowhere to be
found in contemporary radical thought, just as it is rarely found in
mainstream scientific and other thought.
Is it possible that the dissident critique of the propaganda system is
itself victim of one aspect of that propaganda - the aspect that dismisses
non-Western systems of thought as 'primitive', 'irrational' 'religion'?
American writer Alan Wallace observes:
"For centuries we in the West have wondered whether intelligent life exists
elsewhere in the universe. If there are highly advanced, intelligent beings
out there, what might they have to teach us? Along similar lines we can ask:
is there intelligent life on our planet outside of our Euro-American
civilisation? Of course that sounds like a dumb question, but it's still
worth asking, since there persists an attitude in our society that we know
more about everything than any previous generation and more than any other
'less developed' society today."
The propaganda system's habit of dividing the world into specialised
compartments to be studied in isolation also appears to afflict dissident
thought - we forever discuss politics in isolation from psychological and
philosophical truths. We discuss what we imagine to be 'cold, hard facts' in
isolation from the impact of personal feelings, values and motivations.
But why +do+ some people care passionately about human and animal suffering,
while other people are totally indifferent? Is it possible to increase the
depth and extent of concern for others in society?
The result of the failure to ask these questions is a disempowered,
emotionally incomplete form of dissent; one which is less able to draw on
what appears to be the strongest rationale of all for helping others - the
fact that it is a form of "enlightened self-interest" from which we also
benefit. The promise of compassionate dissent is that it provides an
extremely powerful, and in fact ever-deepening, motivation for media
activism, peace activism, human and animal rights activism, and
environmental activism, in the understanding that compassionate thought and
action are also profoundly conducive to our +own+ well-being. By contrast,
we believe, dissent rooted in anger, hatred, and even violence, is
self-defeating, self-destructive and futile.
This idea perhaps flies in the face of a certain tradition of stoic
self-righteousness among leftists - attempting to help others does often
involve costs, risks and painful self-sacrifice (often, in the Third World,
to an appalling degree) - any personal advantages won as a result of helping
others are perhaps seen as an indulgence in the face of so much misery.
But if awareness of these benefits makes it easier for more people to be
motivated to help others, then it is surely anything but an indulgence.
We need political dissent, but we also need personal, emotional,
philosophical - that is, fully human - dissent. Erich Fromm noted how in our
culture - dissident culture very much included - we are taught to repress
many of our best qualities:
"We repress not only what is bad, but also what is good, because it does not
fit the character of society... We live in a society that is directed toward
success and profit and not one that is founded on love. Thus, the person who
acts out of a sense of love excludes himself from social thinking; he
becomes an outsider."
Feel free to respond to Media Lens alerts: editor@...
Visit the Media Lens website: <http://www.medialens.org
There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please.
And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the
-- P.J. O'Rourke
Freedom's Nest: Anti-conservative. Anti-liberal. Pro-freedom.
Courtesy of Paul
'Disturbing' Jacko Unmasked in British Documentary
Mon Feb 3, 7:19 AM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson (news) is a "disturbing individual" with
a love of multi-million-dollar shopping sprees and a desire to live forever,
according to a journalist granted unrivalled access to the pop star.
Martin Bashir, who spent eight months making a documentary on the normally
reclusive singer, said 44-year-old Jackson truly is the Peter Pan of pop who
is obsessed by the idea of childhood being frozen in time.
Plastic surgery, child abuse allegations and his father's cruelty all
feature in a warts-and-all British television documentary being aired in
Britain Monday evening.
The ITV program is the result of the unprecedented access Jackson granted
Bashir, famed for a historic interview with the late Princess Diana in which
she confessed to being unfaithful to Prince Charles.
Bashir revealed snippets from it during the weekend in an article for the
Sunday Times newspaper, while the television company -- which is expected to
sell the show worldwide -- is guarding the secrets ahead of Monday's
Jackson, said Bashir, thinks nothing of spending a fortune on shopping
sprees and is surrounded by an entourage who would never dream of telling
him that to dangle his baby from a hotel balcony is ludicrous and dangerous.
He went with Jackson on a shopping trip to Las Vegas in which the star spent
$6 million without once glancing at any price tags.
"It was more like a multi-national corporation buying furniture for all its
worldwide premises," Bashir said. "He is a disturbing individual whose
financial power enables him to do what he wants."
The singer's Neverland ranch "is populated by more statues of Peter Pan than
people. Jackson is obsessed by the notion of frozen childhood," he wrote.
He paints a portrait of a superstar cocooned from reality since childhood.
"How many 12-year-olds receive royalty checks of $200,000?" Bashir asked.
Bashir arrived at Jackson's Berlin hotel last November just 30 minutes after
he had dangled his youngest child from the balcony to show fans below.
"Not one of his entourage was prepared to tell him that what he had done was
ludicrous and dangerous," Bashir said.
Jackson spoke openly of his childhood in the Jackson Five and told how his
father would choreograph the brothers for shows.
"He practiced us with a belt in his hand," Jackson told Bashir. "I remember
hearing my mother scream, 'Joe, you gonna kill him, you're gonna kill him."'
Jackson was just 7 years old at the time.
But Jackson was far more reticent when Bashir raised the issue of plastic
surgery, asking about rumors that he had implants in his cheeks, a dimple
put in his chin, his lips altered and his nose re-constructed.
Each time, Jackson's response was the same: "Oh, please ..." Then he
exclaimed: "It's stupid."
Jackson was accused in 1993 by one of his young friends of sexual abuse,
although no charges were ever brought.
In May the following year he married Lisa Marie Presley (news), in what was
widely interpreted as an attempt to rebuild his image but the union
collapsed 19 months later.
Bashir asks Jackson about the allegations and writes: "Our relationship
almost collapsed at this point."
"He hangs all his being on the fact that ... he has never been found guilty
of any form of child abuse."
Jackson also revealed to Bashir that he was thinking of re-releasing
"Thriller," his most successful album, and even re-shooting the famous video
for the title song.
The reporter was full of admiration for Jackson's musical genius but kept
being brought up short by the superstar's surreal outlook on life.
Jackson even confessed that he did not want to be buried, telling Bashir: "I
would like to live forever." (Reporting by Paul Majendie, editing by Steve
Addison; Reuters Messaging Paul.Majendie.Reuters.com@.... London
newsroom 44 0207 542 7924)
Getting away with murder? Diminished responsibility and mental
The David Copeland case has highlighted one of the most contentious
issues in criminal law: diminished responsibility due to mental
Ben Felsenburg investigates
When David Copeland was found guilty of an assortment of murder and
explosives-related charges, the newspaper headlines at the time -
"Soho Bomber was Wicked not Insane" - crudely summed up the
courtroom clash: mad not bad, or vice versa?
Copeland's mental illness defence was rejected by the jury. He was
found guilty of murder and given six life sentences. The court
decided that his personality disorder was not in itself adequate to
account for his actions.
Yet at the end of the trial Copeland - on the orders of the Home
Office - was returned to Broadmoor top security hospital to continue
the treatment for psychotic illness that he has been undergoing
since his arrest. Defence experts had testified to claims that
Copeland was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
Says Edward Fitzgerald QC: "It's a farce to find Copeland guilty of
murder without taking his mental condition into account. The notion
that Copeland had the same choices as the rest of us is just
laughable. "The question is, was this person suffering from a
condition that made it more difficult to control his actions than is
normal? Clearly the answer is yes." So was Copeland himself the
victim of media pressure and the powerful wish of the victims'
families and the public to see someone punished? Does the law make
adequate provision to take account of mental illness in such cases?
Or is a diminished responsibility plea simply the defence's way of
chancing their arm?
Criminal barrister Clement Goldstone QC describes the peculiarity of
diminished responsibility: "This is the one situation in which the
burden of proof is on the defence; it's up to them to establish that
diminished responsibility does apply. I wouldn't be surprised if
such a reverse burden comes to be seen in conflict with the Human
"But I don't believe there's any difficulty with the procedure. The
defendant has access to the finest psychiatric brains available.
"You are judged on the quality of your evidence. If there is a
clash of medical opinion then it is simply a matter for the jury to
The ever more enlightened mental health attitudes of the public are
demonstrated by a recent Department of Health survey. Over 94 per
cent believe that "there is a responsibility to provide the best
possible care" for people with mental illness.
Yet the sympathy the public feels for the mentally ill will quickly
disappear in the dock. A diminished responsibility defence fails
80 per cent of the time.
Leading barrister Michael Wolkind QC - who acted for Copeland -
highlights jury vagaries.
"For some people diminished responsibility by reason of mental
illness is always going to be mumbo-jumbo. Many jurors would feel
uncomfortable not giving the kind of sentence they feel the families
of victims may want.
"If they are going to accept mental illness, they want to see people
on the floor crawling and drooling. If someone behaves in a
seemingly normal way for some of the time that will be seen as
evidence of their rationality."
Professional opinion is no more uniform than public. The terms used
have elastic definitions: 'personality disorder', 'mental illness',
and in the terms of the 1957 Homocide Act '.abnormality of
mind.substantially (impairing) mental responsibility'.
Different experts may have different meanings for these phrases (in
part depending on their training - psychiatrist, psychologist or
psychotherapist). In one murder trial, a prison psychiatrist told
the court she believed the accused was of sound mind - because he
was capable of sweeping the floor neatly.
The lack of precise definition is reflected in trial outcomes.
There was considerable evidence for Copeland's mental illness, but
the manslaughter plea was rejected.
However, when Richard Fielding was tried earlier this year for the
killing of seven family members whose house he had set alight, his
plea of diminished responsibility was accepted. Unusually, a
personality disorder proved adequate to avoid a murder charge.
Michael Howlett is director of the Zito Trust, set up to highlight
mental illness and the law following the killing of Jonathan Zito by
schizophrenic Christopher Clunis. Howlett believes the law's lack
of precision must be remedied.
Mental health plea lottery
"At the moment mental health pleas are something of a lottery.
There needs to be something of an overhaul."
Howlett is concerned by public perception of treatment for mental
illness as a soft option. "Members of a jury may envisage a killer
being sent to Broadmoor, and experiencing a holiday camp-like
Kelly Himpfen was the mother of three of the children who died in
Fielding's fire. Her reaction to the verdict understandably
typifies the viewpoint Howlett describes: "It just goes to show you
can get away with murder."
As Michael Wolkind says, "There's a misunderstanding that someone
will get out tomorrow." Yet the reality is that the court
recommended Fielding should be detained indefinitely. Doctors
believe his condition - paranoid psychosis and narcissistic
personality disorder -
may never be treated successfully.
The myth of mental illness as a soft option disappears under close
examination. The average length of stay at the top-security
Ashworth, Broadmoor and Rampton - is eight years. Many will be
detained for far longer.
In fact, some defendants prefer to plead guilty even when there is a
strong possibility that mental illness will be accepted as adequate
causation: otherwise they run the risk of entering treatment in a
secure hospital with the possibility of never being deemed fit to
Edward Fitzgerald believes defence lawyers should be allowed to
address the issue of likely length of incarceration given the return
of a manslaughter verdict.
"If one could speak to the jury to explain that even with diminished
responsibility release would come only at the behest of the parole
board and in all likelihood after a considerable number of years,
juries would be more likely to consider such a verdict.
"By continuing to forbid such discussions in court we are just
treating juries like children."
It would be false to present all crimes involving mental illness as
legal battles. In many cases the prosecution is happy to accept a
plea of diminished responsibility, and the trial never comes to
court. Much depends on the decision of the Crown Prosecution
Service at the outset.
For those high-profile cases where diminished responsibility is a
contentious issue, the difficulty is balancing the rights and needs
of the defendant with the emotional demands of victims' families and
One simple measure could help. Currently, even though victims'
families can now be kept informed of the release of prisoners, there
is no equivalent provision for the discharge dates of psychiatric
Creating such a mechanism would be a strong signal that victim
emotion is recognised.
The system might also be improved by Edward Fitzgerald's suggestion
that a prisoner's mental health should be taken into account in the
"The Court of Appeal should be able to substitute a verdict taking
diminished responsibility into account, after a prisoner has been
observed for a suitable period, perhaps a year or more," he says.
Yet ameliorating public feeling in such cases will never be easy.
Michael Howlett comments: "'String him up' is a perfectly
understandable reaction with these awful crimes, but we can't go
"We do start off with raw anger, but we need more understanding of
what the system does, and the fact that we're not all the same."
Is There a Formula for Joy?
New books tout the secrets of happiness. Here's a look at how their
By Richard Corliss
Posted Sunday, January 12, 2002; 8:31 a.m. EST
In the past two weeks, we'll bet 150 people have wished you happy
New Year. And at the supermarket or dry cleaner, someone wanted you
to "have a nice day." The Democrats used to chorus, "Happy days are
here again." The noted self-help guru Bobby McFerrin
counseled, "Don't worry, be happy." Other pop singers tell us that
happiness is "a thing called Joe" (Judy Garland), "what my life's
about" (Vanessa Williams), "when you feel really good with somebody"
(Al Green), "a warm gun" (John Lennon), "an option" (Pet Shop Boys).
The old saloon singer Ted Lewis used to ask, "Is everybody happy?"
No. But enough people want to be—and will pay for the chance to
forget their troubles, come on, get happy—that a huge industry of
happiography has sprung up to feed the need. From Wholly Joy: Being
Happy in an Unhappy World to The Lazy Person's Guide to Happiness,
from the Buddhist Eight Steps to Happiness to I'd Rather Laugh: How
to Be Happy Even When Life Has Other Plans for You (by Linda
Richman, Mike Myers' mother-in-law), hundreds of books purport to
help you feel a bit better. They speak to a primal yearning in the
species. "Human beings want to have meaning," says Martin Seligman,
University of Pennsylvania psychologist and director of the Positive
Psychology Network. "They want not to wake up in the morning with a
gnawing realization that they are fidgeting until they die."
Some of the happy-talk books may help their readers get through one
or two dark nights of the soul. But the wisdom they ladle out is
often scattershot, anecdotal, an Oprah sermon in paperback. Few of
them are written by psychiatrists or psychologists; few are based on
That could be due to the suspicion with which health professionals—
and many other educated adults—view the systematic pursuit of
happiness. They see the happiness industry as a case of the bland
leading the bland. Happiness may be an American doctrine, but it
also triggers images of a blinkered, Father Knows Best '50s and of
TV news anchors grinning through the latest report of troop
movements or a lagging economy. To the army of skeptics, happiness
is forgetting that a billion people go to bed hungry each night.
Happiness is being too shallow to realize how miserable you should
be. It's cocooning yourself from reality. When displayed wantonly in
public, it is the cause of other people's unhappiness. Happiness,
the argument goes, is abnormal—can it be cured?
For something so widely desired, so hotly derided, happiness hasn't
got much attention from researchers. One reason is the difficulty of
quantifying happiness: it is a condition that is diagnosed and
defined not by the doctor but by the patient. Another is the medical
community's tendency to study pathology, not normality. "In spite of
its name and its charter," Seligman avers, "the National Institute
of Mental Health has always been the National Institute of Mental
Illness." He notes that when the NIMH was created in
1947, "academics found that they could get grants if their research
was about curing mental illness."
Dan Baker, a psychologist who directs the Life Enhancement Program
at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., supervised a survey of the mental-
health canon. His team found 54,000 studies on depression and only
415—less than 1%—on happiness. Even today, Baker asserts, "the
medical establishment continues to pooh-pooh happiness, because
there's no money in it."
He means grant money. A serious researcher into happiness can still
get a book deal. Baker's What Happy People Know (Rodale; 256 pages)
and Seligman's Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive
Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (Free
Press; 336 pages) buttress their pep talks with frequent citations
of supporting studies and thoughtful hints for getting—and staying—
Seligman defines three categories of happiness. "The first is 'the
pleasant life': the Goldie Hawn, Hollywood happiness—smiling,
feeling good, being ebullient. The problem with the pleasant life is
that not everyone can have it." And that, he says, is a matter of
genetic predisposition. Perhaps half of us have it, which means the
other half don't ever get to feel like Goldie.
But, says Seligman, "these people are capable of the second form of
happiness: 'the good life.' It consists first in knowing what your
strengths are and then recrafting your life to use them—in work,
love, friendship, leisure, parenting. It's about being absorbed,
immersed, one with the music."
Seligman calls his third and ultimate level "the meaningful life."
It consists, he says, "in identifying your signature strengths and
then using them in the service of something you believe is bigger
than you are." And you don't have to be conventionally happy to
achieve it. "Churchill and Lincoln," Seligman says, "were two
profound depressives who dealt with it by having good and meaningful
Circumstances don't always define emotional states. Seligman
acknowledges that extreme poverty is a downer, but says, "Once
you're above the safety net, people in wealthier nations are not by
and large noticeably happier than those in poorer nations." Climate
isn't a crucial factor: "North Dakotans are just as happy as
Floridians." Nor is money: "If you look at lottery winners, they get
happy for a few months. But a year later, they're back where they
were." Even a catastrophe—cancer, say—does little to alter one's
overall outlook. "On average," Seligman observes, "people with one
life-threatening disease are not more unhappy than the rest of the
population. Of course, a cascade of bad things happening can make a
difference. But if you have one really bad thing, generally you're
not more unhappy."
The two factors that may matter most are marriage and religious
belief, Seligman says. "Married people are happier than any other
configuration of people. And religious people are usually happier
than nonreligious people." Are you single? Agnostic? You can still
beat the odds by lowering your stress level, says Dr. David Spiegel,
director of Stanford's Psychosocial Treatment Laboratory. "We did a
study of metastatic-breast-cancer patients in which we measured
diurnal levels of cortisol [a stress indicator]," Spiegel says. "The
women who had the highest levels had survival rates a year and a
half shorter than women with the lowest cortisol levels." He also
cites a study of psoriasis patients: "Half were given their salve
treatments listening to music while the other half listened to
meditation tapes. Those who learned meditation healed faster." The
deductions? Don't worry, be happy. And hatha yoga is better than
Baker had a good reason for having stress, depression and neurosis:
the death of his infant son. Yet he says he used his own techniques
to put his personal anguish in perspective. He cites the national
tragedy of Sept. 11: "In its aftermath, we know that many people
have a greater sense of what's truly important, a greater awareness
of their relationships and values."
To Baker, happiness isn't so much a woozy state of self-satisfaction
as it is a full-time job. It can be practiced and mastered. "A lot
of people think you can't manage emotion," he says. "That's baloney.
Look, we can manage our behavior: eat healthy, exercise. We can
manage our thought processes: bite our tongue, curb our anger. I
think that people even in a painful situation can begin to manage
their grief, agony, sadness—keep it within sensible limits and not
let it overwhelm them. Happy people are very good at managing
emotion." And what makes us happy? It is "the ability to practice
appreciation or love," says Baker. "That sounds sappy, but studies
show that when people engage in appreciative activity, they are
using more neocortical, prefrontal functions—higher-level brain
functions." There you go, skeptics: happiness is an exercise for
So, is the glass half empty, half full or, as the engineers say,
twice as big as it needs to be? Happiness may consist in recognizing
that we can't always be happy; that ambitions are worth fighting for
but not dying for; that a sense of humor, even of the absurd, is
necessary for a lifesaving sense of proportion. Consider this as
well: that we can work to attain happiness, but that it can still
sneak up and surprise us...for instance, when we finish reading a
brisk, informative article on happiness.
—Reported by David Bjerklie/New York
HopeAllianz Connections is published by HopeAllianz Counseling and Healing Center ... Coming together for healing and recovery ... a place of "connection" for individuals, couples, and families. Focusing on issues of mental health and life transitions by encouraging healing and recovery in a safe and holistic environment through in-person or online sessions and life skills educational and coaching programs.
Jody L Friesen Grande, MSW, LICSW
Clinical Social Worker, Personal Life Coach, Consultant
HopeAllianz Counseling and Healing Center
PO Box 41011
Plymouth, MN 55411-0011
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Quote for the Month
2. Thought to Ponder
3. Action Plan: LOVE
4. HopeAllianz Updates
5. HopeAllianz Archives
6. Website Links of Interest
7. Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information
8. Disclaimer and Copyright
1. QUOTE FOR THE MONTH
Let us always meet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love. __Mother Theresa__
2. THOUGHT TO PONDER
IF ... I were to show my love to that special person--how would I do it?
February 14 brings us Valentine's Day ... a special day that we reach out to those we love in our own special way. I have enclosed for you a "Love Attitudes Scale" to help you measure your love style and attitude.
Directions: Listed below are several statements that reflect different attitudes about love. For each statement fill in the blank using the response that indicates how much you agree or disagree with that statement. The items refer to a specific love relationship. Whenever possible, answer the questions with your current partner in mind. If you are not currently dating anyone, answer the questions with your most recent partner in mind. If you have never been in love, answer in terms of what you think your responses would most likely be. There is no right or wrong answers--as we each carry traits from the different styles of love.
For each question score the following (1) strongly agree, (2) moderately agree, (3) neutral-neither agree nor disagree, (4) moderately disagree, (5) strongly disagree.
___1. My partner and I were attracted to each other immediately after we first
___2. My partner and I have the right physical "chemistry" between us.
___3. Our lovemaking is very intense and satisfying.
___4. I feel that my partner and I were meant for each other.
___5. My partner and I became emotionally involved rather quickly.
___6. My partner and I really understand each other.
___7. My partner fits my ideal standards for physical beauty/handsomeness.
___8. I try to keep my partner a little uncertain about my commitment to
___9. I believe that what my partner does not know about me won't hurt him/her.
___10. I have sometimes had to keep my partner from finding out about other
___11. I could get over my affair with my partner pretty easily and quickly.
___12. My partner would get upset if he/she knew of some of the things I have
done with other people.
___13. When my partner gets too dependent on me, I want to back off a little.
___14. I enjoy playing the "game of love" with my partner and a number of other
___15. It is hard for me to say exactly when our friendship turned into love.
___16. To be genuine, our love first required caring for a while.
___17. I expect to always be friends with my partner.
___18. Our love is the best kind because it grew out of a long friendship.
___19. Our friendship merged gradually into love over time.
___20. Our love is really a deep friendship, not a mysterious, mystical emotion.
___21. Our love relationship is the most satisfying because it developed from a
LOGICAL "SHOPPING LIST" LOVE
___22. I considered why my partner was going to become in life before I
committed myself to him/her.
___23. I tried to plan my life carefully before choosing my partner.
___24. In choosing my partner, I believed it was best to love someone with a
___25. A main consideration in choosing my partner was how he/she would reflect
on my family.
___26. An important factor in choosing my partner was whether or not he/she
would be a good parent.
___27. One consideration in choosing my partner was how he/she would reflect on
___28. Before getting very involved with my partner, I tried to figure out how
compatible his/her hereditary background would be with mine in case
we every had children.
___29. When things are not right with my partner and me, my stomach gets upset.
___30. If my partner and I break up, i would get so depressed that I would even
think of suicide.
___31. Sometimes I get so excited about being in love with my partner that I
___32. When my partner does not pay attention to me, I feel sick all over.
___33. Since I have been in love with my partner, I have had trouble
concentrating on anything else.
___34. I cannot relax if I suspect that my partner is with someone else.
___35. If my partner ignores me for a while, I sometimes do stupid things to try
to get his/her attention back.
ALL-GIVING SELFLESS LOVE
___36. I try to always help my partner through difficult times.
___37. I would rather suffer myself than let my partner suffer.
___38. I cannot be happy unless I place my partner's happiness before my own.
___39. I am usually willing to sacrifice my own wishes to let my partner achieve
___40. Whatever I own is my partner's to use as he/she chooses.
___41. When my partner gets angry with me, I still love him/her fully and
___42. I would endure all things for the sake of my partner.
Scoring: The lower the score indicates your agreement with the "love style" as it relates to your relationship. Each love style score will range from 7 (in total agreement) to 35 (in total disagreement) -- with 17-18 being neutral (neither in agreement or disagreement).
(Source: C. Hendrick & S. S. Hendrick (1990). A relationship-specific version of the Love Attitudes Scale, Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5, 239-254.)
4. HopeAllianz UPDATES http://www.hopeallianz.com
What is Family Consultation? Family Consultation is an effective source of support providing you information, advice and guided self-help ... from an experienced professional ... as you begin your journey of self-discovery ... learning effective coping skills to care for yourself and your family member with mental illness. Family Consultation is also used by family members in coordination with their family member's counselor/therapist to keep updated on treatment plans, progress and to share valuable information in assisting their family member on the road of recovery.
"The onset of mental illness represents a crisis to the family, and as the shock and dismay subside, families must deal with a great array of painful emotions. It may take a long time until some degree of acceptance can be achieved. crucial to this process is the quality of support these families receive" (Agnes Hatfield)
Read more about HopeAllianz Family Consultation at http://hopeallianz.com/Information/Family.html
HopeAllianz Counseling and Healing Center provides a full spectrum of counseling, coaching, and consulting services to address the needs of individuals, couples, and families, including Counseling Services
, Family Consultation
, and Personal Life Coaching
. In addition, HopeAllianz Counseling and Healing Center is in the process of developing Educational Programs
focusing on mental health issues and life transitions for individuals and families, as well as for mental health professionals and community organizations. Additional services include Supervision for Social Workers
, the Mental Health Resource Center
, and HopeAllianz Connection
... a free monthly online newsletter connecting your mind, body, and spirit for the challenges and opportunities of daily life.
Read more about HopeAllianz Counseling and Healing Center at http://hopeallianz.com/Information/About.html
5. HopeAllianz ARCHIVES
Gratitude and Thanksgiving -- November 2002
Holiday Joy -- December 2002
New Year Reflections -- January 2003
6. Website Links
Career or Life Transition? Join our free teleclass!
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reply to this e-mail with the subject being "unsubscribe"
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8. DISCLAIMER AND COPYRIGHT
While HopeAllianz believes the information provided is reliable, it does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Information is of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace "traditional" mental health counseling or therapy. If you have questions or concerns about your physical and/or mental health ... contact your family physician and/or mental health professional in your area.
Copyright © 2000-2003 HopeAllianz Counseling and Healing Center. All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to reproduce or distribute HopeAllianz Connections only in its entirety and provided copyright is acknowledged. Website: http://hopeallianz.com. E-Mail questions or comments to jodygrande@....
The more adaptability exists for a given kind of decision, the less risky it
is to make plans for the future, and therefore the more likely it is that
more people will make more plans in such areas.
-- Thomas Sowell
To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not
battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great
and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things,
ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.
-- Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
Men resort to talking only when they haven't the power to enforce their
convictions upon others.
-- Lin Yutang
Freedom's Nest: Anti-conservative. Anti-liberal. Pro-freedom.
04 February 2003
Personality disorders raise psychosis violence risk
Comorbid personality disorders appear to be independently associated
with an increased risk of violent behavior among patients with psychosis,
study findings indicate.
"Although there is a significant association between psychosis and
violence, it is not clear why some patients with psychosis behave violently
and others do not," observe Paul Moran (Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK)
To investigate the impact of comorbid personality disorders, they
screened 670 patients with established psychotic illness as part of the
UK700 trial. Information on physical assaults over a 2-year period was also
In all, 186 (28%) of the patients had personality disorders, with
schizoid personality disorder being the most prevalent, although many of the
patients qualified for more than one sub-category, the team notes.
Importantly, of these patients, 32% committed an assault, compared
with just 19% of psychotic patients without personality disorders. Indeed,
personality disorders increased the risk of violence 1.7-fold.
After taking into account possible confounding factors, including age,
gender, social class, and ethnicity, the researchers found that the
personality disorders categories paranoid, dissocial, and impulsive were all
significantly associated with violence.
"It is therefore conceivable that, for some individuals, abnormal
premorbid personality acts as a common risk factor for both psychosis and
violence," Moran et al write in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
"Our findings strongly indicate that the routine assessment of
premorbid personality can only enhance the assessment of longer-term risk of
violence in patients with psychosis."
Br J Psychiatry 2003; 182: 129-134
Powerquotes - Creating Daily Insights and Inspiration
Volume 7, Number 26 - ISSN: 1523-8008
"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have
deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill,
and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."
- Muhammad Ali, Boxing Champion
Questions to Ponder
How strong are my skills?
How strong is my will?
Make it a Day of Will!
Kevin Eikenberry is a speaker, trainer, author, consultant
and Principal of the Discian Group - a learning consulting
company committed to helping organizations, teams, and
Individuals reach their performance goals through
learning. For information about the Discian Group or its
products and services, visit the website at
To subscribe go to http://powerquotes.net or
The Powerquotes Archive - http://powerquotes.net
To send a gift subscription to a friend or client, go to
To submit a Powerquote for future publication, go to
Permission is granted to freely copy or forward Powerquotes
to anyone that you wish, as long as you include the entire
message, including the name and email address of the
author. In fact, we'd love it if you did!
© Copyright 2003, the Discian Group. All rights reserved.
Natural treatment for Hepatitis C shows great promise!
According to reports by users, colloidal silver is giving
great relief from this terrible disease. Here is a web
page with some of those testimonials.
Serial Killers as a Cultural Construct
By: Sam Vaknin
Countess Erszebet Bathory was a breathtakingly beautiful, unusually
well-educated woman, married to a descendant of Vlad Dracula of Bram
Stoker fame. In 1611, she was tried - though, being a noblewoman,
not convicted - in Hungary for slaughtering 612 young girls. The
true figure may have been 40-100, though the Countess recorded in
her diary more than 610 girls and 50 bodies were found in her estate
when it was raided.
The Countess was notorious as an inhuman sadist long before her
hygienic fixation. She once ordered the mouth of a talkative servant
sewn. It is rumoured that in her childhood she witnessed a gypsy
being sewn into a horse's stomach and left to die.
The girls were not killed outright. They were kept in a dungeon and
repeatedly pierced, prodded, pricked, and cut. The Countess may have
bitten chunks of flesh off their bodies while alive. She is said to
have bathed and showered in their blood in the mistaken belief that
she could thus slow down the aging process.
Her servants were executed, their bodies burnt and their ashes
scattered. Being royalty, she was merely confined to her bedroom
until she died in 1614. For a hundred years after her death, by
royal decree, mentioning her name in Hungary was a crime.
Cases like Barothy's give the lie to the assumption that serial
killers are a modern - or even post-modern - phenomenon, a cultural-
societal construct, a by-product of urban alienation, Althusserian
and media glamorization. Serial killers are, indeed, largely made,
But they are spawned by every culture and society, molded by the
idiosyncrasies of every period as well as by their personal
circumstances and genetic makeup.
Still, every crop of serial killers mirrors and reifies the
pathologies of the milieu, the depravity of the Zeitgeist, and the
malignancies of the Leitkultur. The choice of weapons, the identity
and range of the victims, the methodology of murder, the disposal of
the bodies, the geography, the sexual perversions and paraphilias -
are all informed and inspired by the slayer's environment,
upbringing, community, socialization, education, peer group, sexual
orientation, religious convictions, and personal narrative. Movies
like "Born Killers", "Man Bites Dog", "Copycat", and the Hannibal
Lecter series captured this truth.
Serial killers are the quiddity and quintessence of malignant
Yet, to some degree, we all are narcissists. Primary narcissism is a
universal and inescapable developmental phase. Narcissistic traits
are common and often culturally condoned. To this extent, serial
killers are merely our reflection through a glass darkly.
In their book "Personality Disorders in Modern Life", Theodore
Millon and Roger Davis attribute pathological narcissism to "a
society that stresses individualism and self-gratification at the
expense of community ... In an individualistic culture, the
narcissist is 'God's gift to the world'. In a collectivist society,
the narcissist is 'God's gift to the collective'".
Lasch described the narcissistic landscape thus (in "The Culture of
Narcissism: American Life in an age of Diminishing Expectations",
"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks
not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning
in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts
even the reality of his own existence ... His sexual attitudes are
permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation
from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace.
Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he
distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an
unbridled urge to destroy ... He (harbours) deeply antisocial
impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations in the secret
belief that they do not apply to himself. Acquisitive in the sense
that his cravings have no limits, he ... demands immediate
gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually
The narcissist's pronounced lack of empathy, off-handed
exploitativeness, grandiose fantasies and uncompromising sense of
entitlement make him treat all people as though they were objects
(he "objectifies" people). The narcissist regards others as either
useful conduits for and sources of narcissistic supply (attention,
adulation, etc.) - or as extensions of himself.
Similarly, serial killers often mutilate their victims and abscond
with trophies - usually, body parts. Some of them have been known to
eat the organs they have ripped - an act of merging with the dead
and assimilating them through digestion. They treat their victims as
some children do their rag dolls.
Killing the victim - often capturing him or her on film before the
murder - is a form of exerting unmitigated, absolute, and
irreversible control over it. The serial killer aspires to "freeze
time" in the still perfection that he has choreographed. The victim
is motionless and defenseless. The killer attains long
sought "object permanence". The victim is unlikely to run on the
serial assassin, or vanish as earlier objects in the killer's life
(e.g., his parents) have done.
In malignant narcissism, the true self of the narcissist is replaced
by a false construct, imbued with omnipotence, omniscience, and
omnipresence. The narcissist's thinking is magical and infantile. He
feels immune to the consequences of his own actions. Yet, this very
source of apparently superhuman fortitude is also the narcissist's
The narcissist's personality is chaotic. His defense mechanisms are
primitive. The whole edifice is precariously balanced on pillars of
denial, splitting, projection, rationalization, and projective
identification. Narcissistic injuries - life crises, such as
abandonment, divorce, financial difficulties, incarceration, public
opprobrium - can bring the whole thing tumbling down. The narcissist
cannot afford to be rejected, spurned, insulted, hurt, resisted,
criticized, or disagreed with.
Likewise, the serial killer is trying desperately to avoid a painful
relationship with his object of desire. He is terrified of being
abandoned or humiliated, exposed for what he is and then discarded.
Many killers often have sex - the ultimate form of intimacy - with
the corpses of their victims. Objectification and mutilation allow
for unchallenged possession.
Devoid of the ability to empathize, permeated by haughty feelings of
superiority and uniqueness, the narcissist cannot put himself in
someone else's shoes, or even imagine what it means. The very
experience of being human is alien to the narcissist whose invented
False Self is always to the fore, cutting him off from the rich
panoply of human emotions.
Thus, the narcissist believes that all people are narcissists. Many
serial killers believe that killing is the way of the world.
Everyone would kill if they could or were given the chance to do so.
Such killers are convinced that they are more honest and open about
their desires and, thus, morally superior. They hold others in
contempt for being conforming hypocrites, cowed into submission by
an overweening establishment or society.
The narcissist seeks to adapt society in general - and meaningful
others in particular - to his needs. He regards himself as the
epitome of perfection, a yardstick against which he measures
everyone, a benchmark of excellence to be emulated. He acts the
guru, the sage, the "psychotherapist", the "expert", the objective
observer of human affairs. He diagnoses the "faults"
and "pathologies" of people around him and "helps"
them "improve", "change", "evolve", and "succeed" - i.e., conform to
the narcissist's vision and wishes.
Serial killers also "improve" their victims - slain, intimate
objects - by "purifying" them, removing "imperfections",
depersonalizing and dehumanizing them. This type of killer saves its
victims from degeneration and degradation, from evil and from sin,
in short: from a fate worse than death.
The killer's megalomania manifests at this stage. He claims to
possess, or have access to, higher knowledge and morality. The
killer is a special being and the victim is "chosen" and should be
grateful for it. The killer often finds the victim's ingratitude
irritating, though sadly predictable.
In his seminal work, "Aberrations of Sexual Life"
(originally: "Psychopathia Sexualis"), quoted in the book "Jack the
Ripper" by Donald Rumbelow, Kraft-Ebbing offers this observation:
"The perverse urge in murders for pleasure does not solely aim at
causing the victim pain and - most acute injury of all - death, but
that the real meaning of the action consists in, to a certain
extent, imitating, though perverted into a monstrous and ghastly
form, the act of defloration. It is for this reason that an
essential component ... is the employment of a sharp cutting weapon;
the victim has to be pierced, slit, even chopped up ... The chief
wounds are inflicted in the stomach region and, in many cases, the
fatal cuts run from the vagina into the abdomen. In boys an
artificial vagina is even made ... One can connect a fetishistic
element too with this process of hacking ... inasmuch as parts of
the body are removed and ... made into a collection."
Yet, the sexuality of the serial, psychopathic, killer is self-
directed. His victims are props, extensions, aides, objects, and
symbols. He interacts with them ritually and, either before or after
the act, transforms his diseased inner dialog into a self-consistent
extraneous catechism. The narcissist is equally auto-erotic. In the
sexual act, he merely masturbates with other - living - people's
The narcissist's life is a giant repetition complex. In a doomed
attempt to resolve early conflicts with significant others, the
narcissist resorts to a restricted repertoire of coping strategies,
defense mechanisms, and behaviors. He seeks to recreate his past in
each and every new relationship and interaction. Inevitably, the
narcissist is invariably confronted with the same outcomes. This
recurrence only reinforces the narcissist's rigid reactive patterns
and deep-set beliefs. It is a vicious, intractable, cycle.
Correspondingly, in some cases of serial killers, the murder ritual
seemed to have recreated earlier conflicts with meaningful objects,
such as parents, authority figures, or peers. The outcome of the
replay is different to the original, though. This time, the killer
dominates the situation.
The killings allow him to inflict abuse and trauma on others rather
than be abused and traumatized. He outwits and taunts figures of
authority - the police, for instance. As far as the killer is
concerned, he is merely "getting back" at society for what it did to
him. It is a form of poetic justice, a balancing of the books, and,
therefore, a "good" thing. The murder is cathartic and allows the
killer to release hitherto repressed and pathologically transformed
aggression - in the form of hate, rage, and envy.
But repeated acts of escalating gore fail to alleviate the killer's
overwhelming anxiety and depression. He seeks to vindicate his
negative introjects and sadistic superego by being caught and
punished. The serial killer tightens the proverbial noose around his
neck by interacting with law enforcement agencies and the media and
thus providing them with clues as to his identity and whereabouts.
When apprehended, most serial assassins experience a great sense of
Serial killers are not the only objectifiers - people who treat
others as objects. To some extent, leaders of all sorts - political,
military, or corporate - do the same. In a range of demanding
professions - surgeons, medical doctors, judges, law enforcement
agents - objectification efficiently fends off attendant horror and
Yet, serial killers are different. They represent a dual failure -
of their own development as full-fledged, productive individuals -
and of the culture and society they grow in. In a pathologically
narcissistic civilization - social anomies proliferate. Such
societies breed malignant objectifiers - people devoid of empathy -
also known as "narcissists".
APPENDIX - Criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour),
need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually
beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five
(or more) of the following criteria must be met:
Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates achievements
and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as
superior without commensurate achievements)
Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome
power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral
narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic
narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion
Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can
only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with,
other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation -
or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious
Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favorable
priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his
or her expectations
Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his
or her own ends
Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or
acknowledge the feelings and needs of others
Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same
about him or her
Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when
frustrated, contradicted, or confronted
Some of the language in the criteria above is based on or summarized
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC:
American Psychiatric Association.
The text in italics is based on:
Sam Vaknin. (2003). Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited,
third, revised, printing. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication.
Read this for in-depth information - A Primer on Narcissism
Living With A Vampire
February 4, 2003
by Joe Blow
Are you in a relationship in which you routinely think or say, "Something's not right here, but I'm not sure what it is"? Have you resorted to asking the other person, "Who the hell do you think you are?" after being treated like dirt and ignored by them? Are you always the giver and the other person is the receiver? Does it seem that no matter what you say or how hard you try to please them, somehow you are never able to do so? Does the other person treat you even worse if you go out of your way to please them? Does he/she routinely say and do outrageous things in public that embarrass you and shock those around you? Does he/she take advantage of you, cost you large amounts of time, energy, and money, and eventually result in you questioning your own sanity? If so, you need to know that you are not alone. You are simply involved with a narcissist.
The good news is that now you know what the real problem is. The bad news is that it probably took you far too long to finally determine that the other person may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). If the above situations seem familiar you owe it to yourself to read this entire piece.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, but I have done a considerable amount of NPD research online. The Internet offers a wealth of information on a variety of mental health issues, including personality disorders.
Note: If you are currently involved with someone who has NPD you may need professional help in coping with the accumulated psychological, verbal, and emotional abuse you have endured. It is not unusual for the victims of those with narcissistic personalities (NPs) to seek treatment, while the NPs themselves rarely do so.
I have learned much about narcissists and their behavior, but the most useful information came from other experienced laymen, not mental health professionals.
Joanna M. Ashmun's NPD website is one of the best. If you are involved with an NP you need to spend some quality time reading her website. Here's an extract from it that compares infants to adult narcissists:
"Now, it is possible to have a relatively smooth relationship with a narcissist, and it's possible to maintain it for a long time. The first requirement for this, though, is distance: this simply cannot be done with a narcissist you live with. Given distance, or only transient and intermittent contact, you can get along with narcissists by treating them as infants: you give them whatever they want or need whenever they ask and do not expect any reciprocation at all, do not expect them to show the slightest interest in your life (or even in why you're bothering with them at all), do not expect them to be able to do anything that you need or want, do not expect them to apologize or make amends or show any consideration for your feelings, do not expect them to take ordinary responsibility in any way. But note: they are not infants; infants develop and mature and require this kind of care for only a brief period, after which they are on the road to autonomy and looking after themselves, whereas narcissists never outgrow their demands for dedicated attention to their infantile needs 168 hours a week. Adult narcissists can be as demanding of your time and energy as little babies, but without the gratification of their growing or learning anything from what they suck from you. Babies love you back, but adult narcissists are like vampires: they will take all you can give while giving nothing back, then curse you for running dry and discard you as a waste of their precious time." [Emphasis mine.]
Sound familiar? If so, read on.
Her website also lists 27 traits of a narcissist. These are very useful in attempting to diagnose a person who may have NPD. Highly recommended reading.
The following summarizes what I have learned about narcissists. These items appear in no particular order, they have been gleaned from a multitude of online sources, and they are not all-inclusive.
NPs rarely seek treatment and when they do it is normally only after a crisis, typically following the death of a spouse or parent. The vast majority of NPs are never diagnosed or treated by a mental health professional, but they all wreak havoc on the other people in their lives, who eventually abandon them due to shabby treatment.
NPs treat their therapist as they do everyone else, like dirt. For this reason NPs are not held in high regard by therapists and they are often avoided.
NPs normally terminate treatment as soon as their narcissistic defenses are restored to their pre-crisis stage. The NP issue itself is normally never treated, even if diagnosed.
It is not unusual for the person attempting to live with an NP to seek therapy, due to many years of accumulated verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse from the NP.
NPs are very good at getting what they want, when they want it. They can be extremely friendly when they are after something or when they fear someone.
The better you treat an NP, the worse they will treat you. They are unable to develop close, lasting relationships. This in turn makes for very stormy relationships.
NPs fear abandonment, which results in behavior that ensures that they do the abandoning, to avoid being abandoned themselves, which would inflict great narcissistic injury. This defense mechanism enables the NP to avoid the issues relating to their low self-esteem.
NPs do not share. This would require intimacy, which is not allowed by the NP, for fear of abandonment. The end result is that NPs cannot love and they are doomed to a series of romantic relationships that ultimately end in failure and abandonment. NPs are unable to empathize, which results in behavior that is totally outrageous to others. Because of this NPs are perceived as cruel, heartless, and unfeeling by those closest to them. The NP cannot understand the concerns expressed by others regarding their own behavior. This condition is perceived by others as the "in one ear and out the other" syndrome.
NPs live by their own rules, but they expect everyone else to comply with all established rules and regulations. This double standard enables them to do as they please.
NPs deem themselves superior to everyone else; if not god-like, they are at least superhuman.
NPs display a strong sense of entitlement. They demand special treatment and think nothing whatsoever of making unreasonable demands, cutting into line, asking for special favors, etc. Their expectation of special treatment often enrages others.
NPs do not see their own children as separate people. They are perceived as mere extensions of themselves.
NPs do not see other people as living, feeling, human beings with emotions, needs, wants, and desires. They are generally seen as mere sources of supply for the NP's never-ending demands.
NPs are extremely shortsighted. They are unconcerned for the future and live on a day-to-day basis throughout their lives.
NPs display a very well developed ability to find willing sources of supply for their ceaseless demands. This behavior extends to all areas of their lives for this is their basic lifestyle. NPs use, abuse, and then abandon others throughout their lives.
NPs are pathological liars. They make up their own rules as they go along. NPs will dispute proven facts. They remember what they want to remember and they see what they want to see. They will deny saying something that they just uttered.
NPs do not think like normal people. This results in decisions and behavior that confuses and enrages others. Over the long term this results in others doubting their own senses, judgment, and sanity.
NPs just get worse over time.
High functioning NPs are often seen as bright, cheerful, caring individuals in public, but the private experiences of their closest friends and relatives are just the opposite.
NPs live their lives on a stage, attempting to project an image of the person that they would like to be, all the while keeping their true inner selves locked away inside.
NPs are secretive. They do not share the details of their lives. They do not express their hopes, dreams, plans, etc. They perceive their real lives as unimportant and cannot imagine that others might be interested in the details of their dull existence.
NPs must always be the center of attention. They require excessive admiration.
NPs are basically passive, but they are hostile and ferocious when attacked in any way.
NPs tend to associate only with the best. They like to bask in the glow of the greatness of others. This gives them an elevated sense of position and status. They firmly believe that they are special and demand to be treated that way.
The normal progression of a relationship with an NP is: infatuation, disillusionment, toleration, contempt, and abandonment. This sequence is most confusing to the victim who cannot understand their rapid fall from grace, for no apparent reason.
NPs are masters of using projected guilt to get what they want from others.
The NP's victims always sense that "something is not right" with their relationship, but they are unable to improve it, due to sabotage and the impossible demands of the NP.
NPs always deny any responsibility. Everything is always someone else's fault. They are not responsible. Their attitude makes them very irresponsible and they deem themselves unaccountable for their own actions.
Living with an NP can best be described as Hell on Earth.
After much research, I came across the following definition of NPD, also by a layperson, Denny Dickinson. It is by far the best that I have found.
"A narcissist is a person who sees what they want to see, they hear what they want to hear, and they do what they want to do. They do all these things with a total disregard for any other person's wants, needs, or desires. They skew their moral values to fit their personal needs. They make their own rules and then expect people to live by them. They use deception to control the feelings of the people who love them. They use abuse (verbal and emotional) to control and dominate the very people who adore them. They have no heart. They have no feelings. They have no moral conscience." [Emphasis mine.]
Sound familiar? If so, read on.
DSM-IV lists nine traits of people with NPD:
"A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes"
Sound familiar? If so, read on.
A reader writes, "I had her pegged a year ago, I just didn't know what to call it. I didn't even know what a narcissist was, but I'm much smarter now. When I threw in her belief statements the picture finally became very clear to me -- after 17 years.
1. If I can't have what I want, when I want it, I don't want it. Why else live?
2. I don't share.
3. I could never support myself, I will never work, that's what men are for.
4. I don't care what other people think.
5. There are only two kinds of people in the world: doers and getters."
If you ever find yourself in a relationship with someone who has NPD get out as fast as you possibly can and never look back.
Joanna Ashmun says it all: "Adult narcissists are like vampires: they will take all you can give while giving nothing back, then curse you for running dry and discard you as a waste of their precious time."
Published originally at EtherZone.com
Joe Blow is the pen name of a freelance writer currently living on the left coast.
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Written by F.
Tuesday, January 28
[F. says: "The OpEd I would have liked to write for the Wall Street
Journal – and would've written, if I'd had a more pliable editor and
1800 words to play with."]
If you're looking for insight into Venezuela's political crisis,
section 301.81 of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual is an excellent place to start. The entry
reads eerily like a brief character sketch of Venezuela's embattled
president, Hugo Chávez: "Has a grandiose sense of self-importance;
is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power,
brilliance; requires excessive admiration; has unreasonable
expectations of automatic compliance with his expectations; shows
arrogant behaviors or attitudes, etc." Actually, it's the DSM-IV's
diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD.)
Venezuelan psychiatrists long ago pegged Chávez as a textbook
example of NPD. According to the DSM-IV, a patient has NPD if he
meets five of the nine diagnostic criteria. But Dr. Álvaro Requena,
a respected Venezuelan psychiatrist, says Chávez "meets all nine of
the diagnostic criteria." Dr. Arturo Rodríguez Milliet, a colleague,
finds "a striking consensus on that diagnosis" among Caracas
psychiatrists. Not that it really takes an expert: you only need to
watch Chávez's weekly five-hour talk-show on state television once
to understand the extent of his narcissism.
Of course, lots of politicians have some narcissistic traits -
Washington, D.C. is notorious for the size of its egos. NPD,
however, is what happens when those traits run amok. People with NPD
are so intimately convinced of the crushing weight of their
historical significance that they lose the ability to interact with
the world in anything like a reasonable way.
Narcissism and political power make an explosive combination. As Dr.
Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited,
puts it, "the narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of
omnipotence and omniscience are exacerbated by real life authority."
And President Chávez has amassed more real life authority than
anyone in Venezuela's contemporary history.
But those grandiose self-delusions co-exist with a fragile sense of
self-worth, often masking deep insecurities. As Dr. Vaknin
writes, "the narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced
that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement."
In Venezuela, over the last four years, this has led to a systematic
winnowing of the president's pool of confidants, as people with
views that differ even slightly from the comandante's have fallen
out of favor. Only sycophants and yes-men survive in Chávez's inner
circle. What's perverse about that mechanism is that some people
close to him have clearly learned to manipulate his narcissism for
their personal purposes. Once you've caught on that feeding the
president's narcissism is the way to get ahead in palace politics,
what's the reasonable response? Feeding the president's narcissism,
Overtime, this has left Chávez worryingly isolated. It's probably
been months since the president has been brought face to face with
ideas different than his own, with versions of reality that don't
conform to his own sense of grandeur. Under those circumstances,
anyone's sense of reality would suffer. But if you've started out
with narcissistic tendencies, that level of isolation is liable to
push you over the edge altogether. With no critical thinkers around
anymore, no one willing to sit him down and tell him the awful
truth, there are no checks left on his pathological relationship
It's important to bear this in mind as you read the news coming out
of Venezuela these days. Last week, for instance, the president
repeated again and again that there is no strike in Venezuela's key
oil industry, just a conspiracy by a few privileged executives who
have sabotaged its installations. Exuding confidence, he assured
Venezuelans that production had risen to about 1.5 million barrels
per day and said the industry would return to normal soon. The
remarks were picked up by the world's journalists more or less at
face value. An unsuspecting reader would probably have believed him.
Meanwhile, back in reality, Venezuelans faced lines over 24 hours
long to pump gas, and more and more households reverted to cooking
with firewood for absence of kitchen butane. Independent experts
estimated production at 450,000 b/d at best, and the nation was
refining 90% less oil than usual. Nine out of every ten oil workers
were off the job, and the nation faced its gravest fiscal crisis in
To a narcissist, though, none of that matters. As Dr. Milliet points
out, "his discourse might be dissonant with reality, but it's
internally coherent." Chávez's only concern is to preserve his
romantic vision of himself as a fearless leader of the downtrodden
in their fight against an evil oligarchy. If the facts don't happen
to fit that narrative structure, then that's too bad for the facts.
So it's not that Chávez lies, per se, it's that he's locked up
within a small, tight circle of confidants that feed an aberrant
relationship with reality. To lie is to knowingly deceive. Chávez
doesn't lie. He just makes up the truth.
Obviously, there are more than a few inconveniences to having a
pathological narcissist as president. For instance, it's almost
impossible for narcissists to admit to past mistakes and make
amends. The narcissist's chief, overriding psychological goal is to
preserve his grandiose self-image, his sense of being a larger-than-
life world historical force for good and justice. Honestly admitting
any mistake, no matter how banal, requires a level of self-awareness
and a sense for one's own limitations, that runs directly counter to
the forces that drive a narcissist's personality. So for all the
crocodile tears on April 14th, Chávez cannot, never has, and never
will sincerely make amends. It's just beyond him.
Once you have a basic understanding of how their pathological
personality structures drive the behavior of people with NPD, Hugo
Chávez is an open book. Lots of little puzzles about the way the
president behaves are suddenly cleared up. For instance, you start
to understand why Chávez sees no adversaries around him, only
enemies. It makes sense: the more he becomes convinced of his "with
fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance" the harder it
is for him to accept that anyone might have an honest disagreement
with him. Chávez is a man in rebellion against his own
fallibility. "As far as he can see," explains Dr. Requena, "if
anyone disagrees with him, that can only be because they are wrong,
and maliciously wrong."
People with NPD are strongly sensitive to what psychiatrists
call "narcissist injury" – the psychic discombobulation that comes
from any input that undermines or negates the fantasies that
dominate their mindscape. Chávez clearly experiences disagreement
and dissent as narcissist injury, and as any psychiatrist can tell
you, an injured narcissist is liable to lash out with virulent rage.
Often, his slurs are almost comically overstated. He insists on
describing Venezuela's huge, diverse, and mostly democratic
opposition movement as a "conspiracy" led by a tiny cabal of "coup-
plotters, saboteurs and terrorists." These attacks not only
demonstrate the tragic extent of his disconnect with reality, they
have also thoroughly poisoned the political atmosphere in Caracas,
creating what's been described as a "cold civil war."
But it's not just a matter of some overly sensitive folk taking
offense at some rude remarks. Chávez's brand of intolerance has
turned the Venezuelan state into the most autocratic in the Americas
short of the one led by his hero, Fidel Castro. It's no coincidence.
In Dr. Milliet's view, "narcissism leads directly to an autocratic
approach to power."
President Chávez has systematically placed diehard loyalists in key
posts throughout the state apparatus. When you come to understand
his behavior in terms of NPD, that's not at all surprising: someone
who understands the world as a struggle between people who agree
with everything he says and does vs. evil will obviously do
everything in his power to place unconditional allies in every
position of power. And indeed, today, every nominally independent
watchdog institution in Venezuela, from the Supreme Court to the
Auditor General's office, is run by a presidential crony. With the
National Assembly operating like a branch office of the presidential
palace, the formal checks-and-balances written into the constitution
have become a farce.
The case of the Attorney General is especially worrying. With
nothing like a special counsel statute and no state criminal
jurisdiction, the A.G. must approve every single criminal
investigation and prosecution in Venezuela. Control this post, and
you have total veto power over the entire penal system. For this
reason, the A.G. is not a cabinet position in Venezuela like it is
in the US. Because of its key role in fighting corruption and
keeping watch over the legality of the government's actions, the
A.G. is set up as a fully independent, apolitical office in the
Venezuelan constitution. But that clearly wouldn't do for Chávez.
For this most sensitive of offices, Chávez tapped perhaps his most
unconditional ally, a doggedly loyal chavista fresh from a stint as
Not surprisingly, not a single pro-Chávez official has been
convicted of anything, ever, despite numerous and well-documented
allegations of serious corruption, and a mountain of evidence to
suggest the government has organized its civilian supporters into
armed militias. Chávez loyalists realize they're beyond the reach of
the law, and behave accordingly. A growing list of armed attacks on
opposition attests to the fact that the president's shock troops act
under a kind of tacit blanket amnesty: several times the attackers
have been fully identified by amateur video footage, but the
government has never made the slightest attempt to arrest any of
[Last minute digression: In fact, it goes out of its way to make
sure its activists enjoy total impunity. If you don't believe me,
ask Marcos Vivas, the Judicial Police investigator for the Valles
del Tuy region who was hurriedly taken off his post yesterday,
apparently because he started to [gasp!] seriously investigate the
Charallave shootings. They're now talking about re-deploying this
poor guy to the damn Amazon jungle...a none too subtle hint to other
would-be crusading cops who haven't been purged yet somehow...]
Once Chávez had every branch of government safely under his thumb,
he set out to control society as a whole. On that score, he's been
far less successful. An early attempt to grab the labor movement
backfired disastrously when union members elected his most ardent
critic to head the country's main labor federation. The independent
news media has responded to four years of presidential threats, and
insults by becoming strident, singleminded opponents of his
government. Even the discredited old political parties that Chávez
once thrived on vilifying have made something of a comeback.
In short, Venezuelans have wised up to the dangers of having a
narcissist president, and they're now fully mobilized against him.
Credible independent polls suggest some 60-65% of the voters want
the president to resign. Most importantly, a remarkable proportion
of those who oppose Chávez do so vehemently, actively, on the
Venezuelans will not surrender their freedom to a narcissist-
autocrat. The massive opposition movement has made the country
impossible to govern, leaving only two options: a presidential
transition or ongoing chaos. Many here worry that as his hold on
power slips, Chávez could lash out, deploying the kind of
widespread, indiscriminate violence he has so far shunned. The
United States must make it clear that it will not tolerate such
actions - not to the narcissist-in-chief, who is beyond reasoning
with, but to his associates.
posted by Francisco | 10:10 AM
All children, at the core of their beings, need to be
attached to someone who considers them to be very special and who is
committed to providing for their ongoing care. Children who lose
their birth parents, especially those who have experienced the
trauma of abuse and neglect, desperately need such a relationship if
they are to heal and grow. Providing psychological treatment to
such children is a challenge, a responsibility, and an opportunity
for great professional satisfaction and personal joy. However, if
the child in treatment is not experiencing an attachment to a
parent, whether because of lack of ability or opportunity, the
therapist is greatly limited in her efforts to assist the child in
beginning to heal and in wanting to work to become "special" to self
When these children fail to form an intense attachment to a parent,
their developing sense of self is experienced as being bad and
incomplete and their autonomy develops in a very limited and
fragmented manner. They are very likely to experience deep shame,
intense rage, pervasive anxiety, and extreme isolation and despair.
They are also likely to manifest a variety of destructive and self-
destructive symptoms whose functions are to attempt to make life
bearable when it is lived outside the basic reality of interpersonal
relatedness. When, as adults, these children do attemt to develop
intimate relationships with others, they often experience much
conflict, heartbreak, jealousy, violence, and abandonment since they
lack the abilities needed to become intimate with another. They
relive, alone and in very compulsive ways, the abuse and/or neglect
that they lived as children. On those occasions when we have the
opportunity and ability to facilitate both a basic attachment
between a child and parent as well as the development of a positive
and well-integrated autonomous self, we live with the knowledge that
the child now has a chance to adequately pursue happiness and
success within the human community. These children now have the
most fundimental skills necessary to break the generational cycle of
Stopping the abuse is not enough. The results of the abuse often
live on within the child and render him unable to take advantage of
the new opportunities presented to him. Many children enter foster
care or are placed in an adoptive home and then proceed to prevent
their parents from enabling them to develop in healthy directions.
These children often make their new parents' love, support,
guidance, and directions ineffective and permeated with stress,
conflict, and disillusionment. Why do they not take advantage of
the opportunities given to them within these good families? Why do
they continue to work so compulsively to recreate the circumstances
of abuse and neglect that they experienced in the past? Too often
we have "saved" these children from abuse, but we have failed to
encourage their healing. We have failed to show the child how to
respond positively in a relationship with a parent. We have failed
to show the parent how to structure the relationship so that the
child is more likely to become meaningfully engaged. With these
children, our primary responsibility is to provide them with the
opportunity for an attachment to a caring and capable parent and
then to focus all our energies on successfully facilitating this
attachment. Within this context, the child has the means of
developing a sense of self that is both positive and competent.
Let me briefly list qualities common to many of these children that
make it very difficult for them and their new caregivers to
establish a positive, reciprocal relationship:
1) They work very hard to control all situations, especially the
feelings and behaviors of their caregivers;
2) They relish power struggles and have a compulsion to win them;
3) They feel empowered by repeatedly saying :No!";
4) They cause emotional and, at times, physical pain to others;
5) They strongly maintain a negative self-concept;
6) They have a very limited ability to regulate their affect;
7) They avoid reciprocal fun, engagement, and laughter;
8) They avoid needing anyone or asking for help and favors;
9) They avoid being praised and recognized as worthwhile;
10) They avoid being loved and feeling special to someone; and
11) They are enveloped by shame at the origin of the self.
Certain factors cause the development of these qualities.
These factors, which need to be explored and understood if we are to
uncover ways of facilitating the child's readiness to form an
attachment to his new parent, include the following:
1) Repeated abuse and neglect leads to an anxious and disorganized
attachment that creates a poor working model for both the developing
self and for subsequent attachment relationships.
2) This poor working model creates chronic vigilance and lack of
trust in future caregivers.
3) This poor working model creates a sense of self as "bad" -- a
self that becomes limited and fragmented in physical, affective,
behavioral, and cognitive development.
4) The loss of birth parents is unresolved; the child is not able to
establish new relationships and must compulsively reenact the loss.
5) Early experiences of a reciprocal mother/child dialogue are
minimal; the self is both unaware of the realities of attachment and
has weak internal skills needed to become engaged in one.
6) Early socialization experiences are characterized by humiliation,
terror, and rejection. There is intense opposition to new
Increasingly we are realizing that a healthy infant and child
develop as part of a primary attachment to a caregiver. The
existence of this attachment constitutes the womb for
the "psychological birth" of the infant. Increasingly, too, we are
realizing that an individual's healthy identity requires the
presence of relatedness with others as much as the presence of
individuation. The "working model" for our manner of relatedness,
evolving over the first four years of life, is our first attachments
to the primary caregivers in our lives. It reflects the
developmental patterns (as described by Stanley Greenspan
1988) which define the nature and qualities of our physical,
affective, behavioral, and cognitive development. From this model,
we define our basic communications, comfort, empathy,
identifications, conscience, caregiving, and styles of relating to
the various individuals in our lives. When the initial working
model is insufficient for the full development of these qualities,
every effort must be made to provide other models of sufficient
emotional depth, behavioral variation, and cognitive meaning for the
child to utilize in order to proceed with his development.
This task of facilitating attachment to new caregivers is rendered
more difficult by the pervasive working model distortions caused by
abuse and neglect. These children perceive caregivers as violent,
cruel, rejecting, and unpredictable. Safety is increased through
avoidance, silence, denial of one's own feelings and thoughts,
lying, manipulation, and developing an attitude of constant vigilant
control over one's environment. This working model does not include
any reality of mutual enjoyment nor does it include accepting the
caregiver's socialization expectations as the best means to remain
safe and to develop with a balance between individuality and
This working model also involves the child seeing himself as bad,
lazy, selfish, mean, and probably stupid. He sees himself as
incapable of and undeserving of enjoyable experiences and loving
The following article is the introduction to Facilitating
The Road to Emotional Recovery and Behavioral Change in Foster and
Adopted Children by Daniel A. Hughes.
Copyright 1997 Jason Aronson Inc.
Home Books This page was last updated on: 21 September, 2001
Schedule 2002 When the child with a weak attachment interacts with a
seemingly caring and giving adult, the child assumes that it is his
own successful manipulation that is causing the adult to act in a
caring way rather than any nurturing quality of the adult or any
intrinsic worth of the child. When the adult disciplines him, he
interprets the discipline as abuse, rejection, and humiliation,
further proof that caregivers are not to be trusted, and the need to
rely on manipulative control of others becomes greater. Thus, the
new parent's caregiving does not facilitate trust. Adults
who "give" the most are seen as those who are easiest to manipulate
rather than as those one can trust. Acts of nurturance from parents
are often seen as means to control parents rather than opportunities
to become attached. If these parents want to "give" to the child,
the child is quite willing to take advantage of the situation for
his own self-focused reasons that have little to do with relatedness.
These children are often drawn to new adults, who are easier to
charm and manipulate, rather than to their foster or adoptive
parents, who are beginning to make realistic demands on them. The
child's affection is often indiscriminate since it does not
represent a developing attachment but rather a means of controlling
an adult, any adult.
Within a healthy attachment, discipline is a fact of life.
The child may grumble, but he accepts the fact that one parental
role is to teach. He has a basic trust that this teaching (though
at times annoying), is ultimately given in his best interests.
Discipline leads to his socialization and helps him move from the
healthy narcissism of the infant to the engaging mutual relatedness
of the preschool child.
The healthy child's working model for parent-child relations
incorporates the value of such teaching into all aspects of his
developing identity. It is a model for behavior, skill development,
values, and interests.
The child who is poorly attached to a caregiver views discipline as
arbitrary, cruel, and rejecting. When discipline is not perceived
as actually abusive, it is probably seen by the child as neglecting
his wishes and needs and being deeply humiliating at the core of the
developing self. It represents the child's failure to adequately
manipulate and control the adult, leaving the child feeling more
vulnerable to future abuses beyond his control. He does not see
that discipline is directly associated with his behavior nor that it
is in his best interest. Rather, it is proof that this adult, too,
The adult's other "nice" behaviors were deceitful.
Affection, discipline, and mutually enjoyable communication and
activities emerge naturally within a healthy parent-child attachment
and, in turn, further intensify and develop this attachment. A
great variety of emotions emerge naturally within this
relationship. Joy and anger, sadness and excitement, affection and
anxiety all come and go within the profound security of a basic
attachment. The toddler does feel shame when limited and this
serves a healthy purpose in early socialization experiences when it
is not associated with disgust and rejection. As he continues to
develop, conflicts are resolved, wishes emerge, and separate
interests are pursued. Every activity is colored by the
attachment. The child discovers that he can develop himself as a
worthwhile and competent individual without sacrificing the basic
attachment to his parent. He does not have to sacrifice his
autonomy in order to try to satisfy his basic attachment needs.
Regretfully, affection, discipline, and mutually enjoyable
interactions are much less successful in achieving these ends for
children who are poorly attached to their caregiver and who possess
a working model that emerges from profound abuse and neglect. The
parents who attempt to raise these children quickly discover that
their parenting skills are not very effective. Their love is
rejected, misinterpreted as weakness, and used against them. The
child may well take advantage of their love as a way to hurt or
Discipline is misinterpreted, strongly resented, and resisted.
Mututally enjoyable activities that the child cannot control are
rejected and turned into battles.
Poorly attached children try to control everything in their daily
interactions with their caregivers. This compulsive need to control
functions to manage their unmet needs for both attachment and
autonomy. Since they do not feel attached to their caregivers and
thus cannot feel safe through their relationships with them, their
only means of trying to establish a sense of safety is through
successfully controlling whatever happens. At the same time, this
frantic control is manifested as constant oppositional and/or
avoidant behaviors that represent their primary maladaptive means of
trying to meet their developing autonomy needs.
The majority of children who enter foster care or who are placed for
adoption are able to make the transition to their new homes
successfully with traditional social and mental health services.
They do manifest the ability to attach to their new homes despite
various past traumas. This book is focused on the smaller group of
foster and adopted children who have disorganized, insecure, and
disrupted attachment histories and who lack the ability and
readiness to form a secure attachment with their new parents. When
such children are placed in foster homes, they immediately prove to
be a profound challenge to the skill, caring, and commitment of
their new foster parents. These parents often work harder with
their poorly attached child than they ever did with their other
foster or birth children. They believe, and are often told by
professionals, that love and patience will be enough.
They seek assistance and find waiting lists, a series of helpers
involved in career or job changes, and counseling and
recommendations that do not effect meaningful change. Having begun
with an idealistic desire and an actual passion to make a difference
in the lives of a few traumatized children, they often drift toward
discouragement and self-doubt. They blame themselves for not
getting through to their child. Often, with considerable guilt,
they finally ask that the child be moved to another home.
Tragically, this sequence occurs for countless foster children. For
many of these children, it happens over and over.
It is in these situations that intensive therapeutic interventions
are required. These interventions must make use of the parents'
commitment, basic skills, and own capacity for attachment.
They must demonstrate very directly and intensely to the child how
much the parents have to offer him and how totally he needs these
parents for his own basic psychological development and survival.
These interventions must engage and enhance the child's physical,
emotional, behavioral, and cognitive traits if he is to learn to use
this opportunity to form a healthy attachment.
To be effective, the child must be engaged by the therapist at the
level of preverbal attunement rather than in a setting of rational
discussions. The therapy must also involve a great deal of physical
contact between the child and the therapist and parent. During much
of the most intense therapeutic work, the child is being touched or
held by the therapist or parent. His intense emotions are received,
accepted, and integrated into the self. Within a therapeutic
atmosphere based on attunement, he is able to begin to explore
aspects of himself and his relationships with his parents that have
previously not been accessible.
The development of both the child's attachment to his parents and
his integrated self is the primary goal of the therapist; all else
In traditional child therapy, the child's relationship with the
therapist is the critical foundation for change. This relationship
develops trust between the child and therapist, and the trust then
allows the child the freedom to explore trauma, work through
conflict, integrate troubling experiences, and so forth. However,
with a child who has a profound lack of experiences of trust, there
is a great deal of difficulty on his part in beginning to trust the
therapist. The relationship is too circumscribed and brief and it
lacks the crucial quality of 24-hour-a-day engagement that a parent
has with a child. The child perceives the therapist's acceptance
and nondirectiveness as qualities that are easy to control and which
result from his successful manipulations. The child's goal is often
only to maintain control of the therapy session.
These children, in fact, show their capacity to manipulate the
therapist by providing some disclosures in order to insure that the
therapist will allow the sessions to proceed according to the
child's wishes. They "give" the therapist some of what they know
she wants in order to be able to do what they want. They benefit
little from such disclosures. These children also learn in therapy
that there are advantages to recalling the abuses of the past
because they make great excuses for their present disruptive,
aggressive, or defiant behaviors.
Once a child lacking a secure attachment learns that adults respond
with sympathy to accounts of abuse, his motivation to accept
responsibility for his current behavior decreases unless this
tendency is directly and forcefully dealt with in the treatment.
Even then, it may remain a problem since he is often good at finding
other adults who will accept past abuses as legitimate reasons to
maintain present distorted perceptions and inappropriate behaviors.
In psychotherapy with children who have attachment problems, parents
need to be present and actively involved in the sessions. The
parent-child attachment is the central therapeutic goal. The
relationship between the child and therapist is certainly important
as well, especially in so far as it serves as a "working model" for
the child's relationship with the parent. The parent's presence
enables the therapist to model crucial ways of engaging for both the
parent and child. There is frequent shifting between the therapist-
child relationship to the parent-child relationship in any given
session. The parent becomes a co-therapist in important ways.
In psychotherapy, all aspects of the child's relationship with the
parent are explored. Love and fun and also conflict and discipline
have equal weight. Since love and fun tend to consistently decrease
in families with poorly attached children, they must begin to
increase in therapy and then both parent and child must learn ways
to facilitate and protect that experience in the home. The child's
fears of love and fun are explored and his means of sabotaging these
experiences are uncovered. Activities to build love and fun are
developed and ways of maintaining or reestablishing love and fun
during conflict and discipline are also found.
Discipline is explored, discussed, and reenacted in order to frame
the child's response to discipline as evidence of his difficulty
with trusting the parent and with accepting the self rather than as
evidence of the parent being mean or of the child being bad. Above
all else, discipline must be structured so that it does not break
the developing engagement between the parent and child. The child
may misbehave in order to avoid any emerging attachment. He may
also misbehave in order to control the parent's emotional reactions.
Misbehavior may reflect his intense ambivalence about attachment.
The parent must respond in such situations in ways that build, not
weaken, the attachment.
The child's difficulty with trusting the parent is explored,
discussed, and reenacted. It is related in part to his perception
of discipline as being abusive. He generalizes constantly from his
experiences with the abusing parents to experiences with his new
parents. A differentiation between the old and the new is made in
many ways over a variety of family life situations in order to begin
to reduce the generalization. Helping the child differentiate the
old from the new parent is critical if he is to begin to trust the
new. Framing misbehavior, discipline, conflicts, and parental
authority as important aspects of the child's learning to trust is a
critical component of therapy and psychological movement within the
child. Otherwise these issues simply represent "behavioral
management," which is difficult to experience for the child who is
full of shame and is convinced that he is not worthy of trust. Such
children resist any encounter that would facilitate the experience
of mutual parent-child trust.
Treatment of children with attachment problems must be intensely
engaging if the child is to become receptive to a new and
emotionally rich way of relating to his parents. Many instances of
delight, anger, fear, and sadness -- expressed through yelling,
whispering, crying, and laughing -- occur during the sessions so
that the child remains engaged with the therapist and parent and
experiences a deep, positive, reciprocal interaction. The therapist
constantly directs the child to the parent for expressions of
permission, sorrow, gratitude, fun, surprises, conflict resolutions,
and so forth. Parents hold, rock, hug, and tickle the child, not in
an artificial prearranged way, but as a natural part of the sequence
Another crucial aspect of the psychological intervention is
facilitating the parent-child interaction outside of the treatment
session. This is too crucial to be left to parent-education classes
or support groups. These interactions must be integrated with the
treatment interactions. The therapist needs to demonstrate to both
parent and child a general framework for raising a child who has
significant difficulty with attachment. She must also suggest
numerous specific ways to relate with the child in day-to-day
This book presents a framework for therapeutic interventions with
children who show significant difficulty forming and maintaining an
attachment to their primary caregivers. Much of this work focuses
on children who were abused and/or neglected by their birth
parents. Most often these children did not return to their birth
parents and so were left with the task of developing attachments
with their foster and/or adoptive parents. Many of these
interventions might also apply to children who are with their birth
parents but for various reasons have weak or maladaptive attachments
with them. However, the interventions assume that the parents with
whom the children are learning to attach do themselves show the
ability to engage in appropriate attachments with children and
demonstrate a level of psychological health superior to that of
their children. These children cannot and should not be expected to
work for and take risks toward becoming attached to adults who are
not able or willing to interact with the child in a competent and
Regretfully, as is true with much of the psychological treatment of
children (Kazdin 1993), there is little supporting research for
these treatment interventions. Most of the research on the
psychological treatment of children does not focus on the treatment
of abused and neglected children. Research often focuses on
cognitive-behavioral interventions in treatment programs in
university settings. I have done what most clinicians do in their
practices, namely, study, read, talk with other clinicians, review
and develop my own framework and techniques, observe the results,
and then begin the process of learning again and again.
When I use the term attachment I am referring to the unique
relationship between a child and his parent that facilitates the
healthy developmental patterns that require such a relationship.
Such a relationship does not occur with the child's therapist,
teacher, or other potentially important adults in his life. Just
having a relationship with a parent does not insure that the child
to her. Attachment refers to the unique relationship between child
and parent through which the child is able to proceed with the major
qualities of his own psychological development.
Stanley Greenspan (1988, 1989) refers to developmental attachment
patterns that emerge, in sequence, through the child's relationship
with his parent and his own psychological state over the first 4
years of his life. The child who has had a weak and disorganized
attachment with his parent during part or all of those first years
manifests many significant problems in his developmental attachment
patterns. To have a chance for a good life, he must be able to form
a secure attachment with his new parents and develop healthy
attachment patterns that facilitate his affective, behavioral, and
This work is motivated in part by my convictions formed over my
first 15 years of psychological practice that traditional
interventions of play therapy, parent education, and cognitive-
behavioral techniques are not sufficient to effect significant
progress with the poorly attached child. Although traditional
interventions are often effective with foster and adopted children
who have positive and stable working models of relationships and of
the self, they are much less so with the poorly attached child. I
have seen many children who never benefited sufficiently from these
interventions to be able to begin to live well within the human
community. I have also seen many foster and adoptive parents give
overwhelming blood, sweat, and tears to these children without
having a significant effect on their child's ability to benefit from
these gifts. This work is written with the hope that others will
become more aware of this tragedy and more committed to the search
for ways to provide meaningful assistance.
Entitlement, The Other Side of Belonging
Presented at the Annual Conference of The Australian College of
Psychotherapists, July 21-22nd 2001, in Sydney.
by Dr Robert Gordon
"A thing which has not been understood inevitably reappears; like an
unlaid ghost, it cannot rest until the mystery has been resolved and
the spell broken."
Sigmund Freud: Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year Old Boy.
This paper is a research paper; it asks more questions than it can
deliver answers to. It is work in progress. This paper is about
belonging, trauma and therapeutic touch as a specific therapeutic
response in the treatment of severe self disorder.
I% of the population of the world suffers from schizophrenia.
It is estimated that 1-2% of the population suffer from severe self-
25% of the attendances at outpatient departments are to do with
50% of psychiatric beds are filled with patients who suffer from
When I speak of belonging I am not speaking of attachment though
affiliation is a little closer to the mark. I consider attachment to
be a neuro-biological given. Primates, at least, are genetically
coded to attach. Without it we fail as human beings, lead wretched
lives and often die prematurely or are incarcerated.
Secure attachment should lead to a sense of belonging, but insecure
attachment probably does not, and disorganised attachment certainly
If one's childhood was plagued with physical and/or sexual assault
then disorganised type of attachment is highly likely; then
dissociative states, self mutilation, addiction, and
unmodulated 'affective storms' frequently punctuate one's life.
To this courageous group of human beings, who continue to hope to
belong, and who long for fulfillment despite such painful inner
states, I wish to dedicate this paper.
What I wish to speak about today is the experience near, need to
belong, the sense of intimate connectedness with another human
being, family, group, society, nation.
How would I define belonging? I have a sense of belonging when I
experience another, a relevant other, providing me with a personal
space, where I can share how I feel, have my personal experience
affirmed, be appreciated, valued for myself, respected, and have my
right to be myself in the presence of another. The space does not
restrict me, confine me, or shape me in any way. However, it does
provide an environment in which I can be and grow. It is wholesome.
It is surprising how little has been written about belonging in the
analytical literature recently, though William James and Abraham
Maslow certainly draws our attention to it. Particularly Maslow who
places it centrally in his hierarchy of needs. In my search I could
not find a single reference to it in recent writings.
However, by wandering further afield, I came upon a seminal paper, a
cornerstone paper, on belonging. The paper, by Roy Baumeister and
Mark Leary is entitled: 'The need to belong: Desire for
interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation'. It
focuses on the very issue I wish to expand upon in this paper.
In their paper, they make a very thorough exploration of the
hypothesis that, and I quote:
"The need to belong is a fundamental human motivation and that the
need to belong can provide a point of departure for understanding
and integrating a great deal of the existing literature regarding
human interpersonal behaviour." Baumeister and Leary, 1995.
Again and I quote:
"More precisely the belongingness hypothesis is that human beings
have a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least the minimum
quantity of lasting, positive and significant interpersonal
relationships." Baumeister and Leary, 1995.
In a paper that is very thorough in the exploration of the data
available on various aspects of belongingness they conclude, and I
"At present, it seems fair to conclude that human beings are
fundamentally and pervasively motivated by a need to belong, that is
by a strong desire to form and maintain enduring interpersonal
attachment. People seek frequent, affectively positive interactions
within the context of long-term, caring relationships. Baumeister
and Leary, 1995.
"If psychology has erred with regard to the need to belong, in our
view, the error of has not been to deny the existence of such
motive, so much as to under appreciate it. This review has shown
multiple links between the need to belong and cognitive processes,
emotional patterns, behavioural responses and health and well-being.
The desire for interpersonal attachment may well be one of the most
far reaching and integrative constructs currently available to
understand human nature." Baumeister and Leary, 1995.
If Baumeister and Leary are correct, and I for one believe they are,
then belongingness is a fundamental requisite of being (and here I
would like to contrast it to 'doing' which has nothing to do with a
sense of 'being').
What if we don't belong? What if we have never known a sense of
belonging? What is our lot then? How do we behave?
a clamour to connect
I have for some time sought to the meaning of entitlement; why do
some patients treat us as if they have all the rights and we have
none; that their every hope or wish, demands our immediate response.
That we are there to serve them immediately and without question.
With no regard for our own feelings or expectations.
They often behave ruthlessly, clamour, scream abuse, withdraw into
stony silence, flood us with distraught tears and anguish and accuse
us of selfish self-centred, uncaring unprofessional behaviour, for
failing to appreciate their unique suffering.
'Wouldn't any caring person be more sensitive and responsive!' they
seem to be shouting at us.
I have not infrequently been the brunt of such accusations and
reeled at the righteous belief in my totally inhumane attempts at
responding to their plight.
What could possibly bring about this style of behaviour? What forces
are at work that permit this patient to be so ruthlessly demanding?
Why do I feel so battered, enraged, confused, misused and so
undervalued? How did I get into this predicament? Or, more
importantly, how do I get out of this? What did I really do to
Just some of the questions I have tried to wrestle with over the
years, as I have faced the onslaught of this type of patient. Is it
just possible that the need to belong is expressed as entitlement;
something we believe we have a right to (as in fact we do as human
beings) but without quite knowing what it is we want.
Is it possible that entitlement is a 'clamour to connect'? A plea
for the sustenance of one's being, of always not having 'to do' and
to be permitted the luxury of 'just being' in the presence of a
In the field of self-psychology, Kohut's addition of the twinship
transference to his earlier concept of the bipolar self opened the
possibility of understanding connectedness and belongingness. But up
to the present time very little exploration of this 'centre of
initiative' has been adequately undertaken.
To my mind the three poles of Kohut's model are to do with a sense
of inner safety (the idealising pole), the sense of validation of
self state (the mirroring pole) and a sense of belonging (the
twinship pole). And these three poles, like the three legs of a
stool, support the self in an integrated, cohesive, ongoing state of
being. The "floor" on which the stool rests is the role of the
selfobject, stabilising the self in a continuing process of
These patients who 'clamour for connection' have a significant
disorganizing self-disorder. They have poor affect modulation, low
self-esteem, a poor body image, exist in a state of vigilance and in
my opinion have a major defect in the twinship pole.
What I am proposing in this paper is that that sense of entitlement,
that 'clamour for connection' is no more than the plaintive cry of
those who have never known the sense of belongingness.
If I am correct, then the experience of belonging has not
germinated, let alone flourished for these individuals. They are
disconnected. They are truly alone.
They clamour for what they have never had or known and therefore
cannot put their need into words hence, actions, physical sensations
are all they know, and become their dominant language.
'Can't we (the therapist) just understand that and give them what
they so justly deserve?'
'But what do they seek?' we ask ourselves. Perhaps the clamour, the
sense of injustice, the wretchedness of their state, is but a
plaintive plea for the right to such a space and all that right
entails. A safe space reserved for us to just be, to express our
feelings with confidence, to know it cannot be usurped, or taken
away in any form. And that we have a God given right to expect that
space to be there forever, to keep us safe, respected, acknowledged
Isn't that the right of every human being? And don't we all fight
for this right? And doesn't every family, group, country and nation
profess this right? 'So why can't I demand it also? If only I knew
what I was demanding and what it felt like to belong!' they seem to
Winnicott's statement that
"there is no such thing as a baby, just a mother infant dyad"
goes a long way towards expressing the necessity of belonging. (D.
His paper on the "transitional object and transitional phenomenona"
may well be a significant clue as to the process of transiting from
the 'I-it' to the 'I-thou' state of being: From interaction to
intersubjectivity. From being ruthless to having ruth. From having
entitlement to belongingness.
What is the development line of belongingness? What road are we
likely to need to travel to attain a state of belongingness?
Research in mother-infant interaction over the last 20 years has
yielded a very rich appreciation of the active infant and the
A recent paper on 'mother-infant affect synchrony, as an antecedent
of the emergence of self-control' (Feldman, Greenbaum and Yirmiya)
adds another dimension to what I am suggesting In their paper the
authors very coherently demonstrate that:
"face-to-face synchrony affords infants their first opportunity to
practice interpersonal co-ordination of biological rhythms, to
experience the mutual regulation of positive arousal, and to build
the lead-lag structure of adult communication." Feldman R.,
Greenbaum CW., Yirmiya N., 1999.
and further that:
"synchrony therefore provides the first context for the integration
of self regulation and social fittedness, the two dispositions
thought to underlie moral development, self-regulation and social
fittedness." Emde RN, 1992.
And all this occurs before words!
"Synchrony relates to the bi-directional constraints of an affective
display: at first, that is before three months of the age, the baby
leads and her mother follows affectively. At 9 months, there is
mutual synchrony (cross-dependence between maternal and infant
affect). Both were related to self-control at two years of age."
Feldman R., Greenbaum CW., Yirmiya N., 1999.
In my opinion, it is synchrony that begins the long road to
belongingness. It is preverbal, felt, as all affective experience
are felt, in the body, and is experienced as a joyous harmony with
another's affective state. An alive feeling. A sense of connection.
It is the earliest validation of a self-state. The fact that another
is with me makes all the difference.
From there the road takes us to mutual regulation, the way station
of the representational self, transitional objects, and on to
intersubjectivity, the reflective self, and mutuality. By around 18
months we have a sense of belonging. This is another "Royal road",
without it we are just beggars on the avenues of life. I have for a
long time now, been aware, that Daniel Stern's concept of
developmental stages of self-development, and their continuation
into adult life; has not been appreciated enough by
psychotherapists. The fact that the stages established themselves in
the main, before language, must not be ignored particularly in
"Once formed, each sense of self remains fully functioning and
active throughout life. All continue to grow and co-exist .." D.
"The sense of self serves as the primary subjective perspective that
organises social experience and therefore now moves to centre stage
as the phenomenon that dominates early social development .. " D.
Just as importantly, stress can drive the developmental stage most
productively used in day-to-day life, backwards, to an earlier stage
of functioning, and bring about a different way of experiencing and
organising self, and its interaction with the surrounding
Stephen Mitchell has also put forward a similar four-stage process
on the road to the integrated self-state. Greenspan has also
proposed such developmental stages: Way stations where one can be
arrested and trapped forever, or at least till a therapeutic rescue
The regression from established 'states of being' to earlier, less
stable states, recedes from verbal and conceptually metaphorical, to
prerepresentational, preverbal and somatic and predominantly bodily
experiencing. Or another way of saying it, from intersubjective to
representational, to pre-representational, to somatic.
"The ego is first and foremost a bodily ego; .. "
said Freud, and I think he is right about that. (S. Freud 1910)
There is now little doubt that body memory exists and is the
earliest memory. It can play a powerful role in distorting sensory
experience, cortical memory, and behavior. The commonest example is
in post-traumatic stress disorder. Not just the military type, but
also the day-to-day garden variety of battered children, wives and
families, let alone the story of sexual assault of childhood.
So, when I'm treating a severe self-disordered patient it is highly
likely that I'm dealing with trauma, regressed self-states, non-
verbal bodily experience, the lack of memories and the body
screaming its somatic message.
Delores Kreiger (1983) coined the term 'therapeutic touch' in 1983
to highlight the importance of the touch that heals, and I would
like to propose that the sort of touch that you will hear of, in my
clinical case, you also consider as that of therapeutic touch.
My definition of therapeutic is: for the patient and the patient
alone, with no reward for the therapist other than that of
diminishing the acute pain and suffering of another. With no intent
on the therapist's part to gain favour, fortune or power.
Helen was 35, when she first came to see me. Her husband, a
professional man, had walked out some two months before with his
secretary . She had five children; the youngest was six months old.
She presented as restless, significantly depressed and looked lost.
She was seriously contemplating suicide. Life had nothing to hold
for her and if it weren't for the children she would have done it
long ago. The GP had given her some anti-depressants, they had been
of no use, and she wasn't going to take any more. I was the last
resort. There was dread in her eyes, and one sensed an underlying
rage. Her sentences were short and clipped.
She expected me to understand with as brief an explanation as
possible. She didn't seem to have time to explain. Everything was
moving too fast for her. Her desperation was palpable and I was,
from the beginning, aware that I was going to have to deal with
something that felt very urgent. I suggested hospitalisation. She
looked terrified, and said "no way". Who would look after the
children and what would happen to her work (in the helping
professions). It was up to me, that's all she knew.
There was something about her, that made me feel, right from the
beginning, that there was more to this young woman than she at first
presented with. If only I could connect with her, as a selfobject
quickly. I arranged to see her daily in that first week, and she
accepted with a sigh of relief.
She was the second of four children, her father was in the military
during the war and afterwards was unable to hold down a job for any
length of time, and anyway, her mother threw him out when she was
eight, he physically and sexually assaulted her. Her mother was
ruthless, physically violent and drank excessively. A neighbour had
also assaulted Helen sexually, as a child, repeatedly. No one seemed
to care. She married the first boy who came along and showed any
interest in her. He "lived in his head" and was somewhat aloof and
distant, but did well academically and was quite successful at what
Sex, was "if you had to" as she put it, was unfulfilling and fraught
with uncontrollable violent sexual imagery. It always felt
She had managed her professional life, and the lives of her children
reasonably well. The marriage felt quite empty from the start, quite
unfulfilling, with something missing that she could not put her
finger on. But at least it wasn't violent, and it was predictable,
though very boring. She hadn't wanted her 4th or 5th child but they
were Catholic. "And took what it created, no one is there".
Over the months that passed, she recounted episode after episode, of
misuse, degradation, a loathing of her body, and recurrent history
of self-mutilation when a sense of emptiness pervaded her being. She
would lock herself in her room, climb into bed, pull at her clothes
and hair, and scratch her face and abdomen.
Sometimes she would punch her face and cause black eyes. This had
started in childhood. No one made any comments at school and her
mother certainly was not aware of Helen's state of being. Her
husband, had taken it as "some quirk of mine", was irritated about
how, at times, it affected their social engagements, but did not
realise the severity of Helen's condition. No one had done anything
about it. And she was too ashamed to talk to the GP about it. She
made sure there were no marks on her when she visited him. I was the
first one she had told.
From the beginning of her therapy she would kick her shoes off, curl
her legs under her and hug a cushion. When she discovered the
blanket in the room she would wrap it around herself no matter what
the temperature was inside.
Separations were intolerable for her. It started with weekend
breaks. There would be something she would be enraged by, on a
Friday. Something I had not quite understood, some tone of the voice
I had, some measure of time I had failed to fulfill, I didn't care.
She would stand up and glare at me, pace the room, then head for the
door and slam it after her. It was a regular event.
When holiday breaks approached, it was worse. And she would always
commence her break before mine. Telling me of her arrangements in
the week prior to our separation.
Then one day on a Friday, when I had in fact really misunderstood
what she was trying to share with me, she got off the couch, ran to
the comer of the room, took up a foetal position and began to claw
at her face. Her eyes were vacant and the grunting sounds were like
of an animal! I went to her and took hold of her hands to stop her
clawing her face. The sounds stopped, the clawing stopped, and she
flung her arms around me and broke into deep sobs. When the sobs had
died down, she told me that no one had ever done that before, that
no one had wanted to touch her, for her sake.
It showed I cared. She sat for some time after that on the couch,
and when I said we had to stop, she quietly left and closed the door
gently behind her. And I wondered where my action would take us.
She came with a poem to her next session; it was of lying by a
riverside, warmed by the sun and with a sense of contentment - a
She asked me why I had held her and I told her. It was because I did
not want her to harm herself. She sat for some time thinking about
that and then said "thank you." Something had passed between us with
my gesture and she felt safer, she said. Would I hold her again if
she felt she couldn't manage? I said we needed to talk about it. She
said that it was the first time she had felt that I had really cared
about her and that perhaps she would not be misused as before.
I said I needed to think about it. She said OK, then went on to talk
about her relationship with her children, how it had improved, and
how she was able to experience some warmth as she held them close to
her following on her sessions with me.
At the next session, after quite some thought over the weekend, I
told her I would do so, but that we would have to have something in
writing between us, to confirm the reason why she needed to be held,
and that nothing sexual could take place between us. Something we
could refer back to when either of us felt it was necessary. She
seemed relieved and we wrote something out together and signed it, a
copy for her and a copy for me.
The pressure seemed to ease from that time on, the angry outbursts
still occurred on Friday, but they somehow didn't have the same
sting in them as before. The next holiday break came, and she stayed
till the very last day. On the last day she asked if she could take
the blanket with her and return it when we next met after the
holidays. I agreed.
On my return, she came with the blanket, told me, how much safer she
had felt with it by her side and shared some happy experiences she
had had with her children and her younger sister and her
children. "It felt like a family, like for the first time, I don't
I have held her when she is in a distraught state, perhaps every
week or two. She has hugged me occasionally, quite spontaneously,
when she has come into the room, and I have responded. She has
always held on for just a short moment of time and then let go. She
seemed happier. Occasionally, after a fairly torrid session she
would ask for a hug before she left. They would last a little longer
and the door would never slam.
The clawing never recurred, but the foetal position and banging her
fists on the floor with rage or helplessness punctuated the next
year. At those times she would reach her arms out to me and take
hold of my hand and in the process lift herself up and then return
to the couch and her blanket. Later I learned that the self-
mutilation stopped soon after our first contact. She had purchased a
blanket exactly like the one that I had, and had hunted through
men's department stores till she found the aftershave I used, bought
it, and had sprinkled it on the blanket to have a sense of closer
connection. The use of the after-shave persists.
She played the cello, I discovered, when one day she came in with
it, telling me she had a gift for me, and played me a delightful
piece by Dvorsak. "No words can say it like music can" she said.
Periodically now when we appear to have turned some corner, in comes
the cello, and I'm relieved.
She often tells me that talking gets us only so far, that it has
been the physical contact that has made the difference "words just
don't reach the space I am sometimes in, only touch does." I think I
There are still distressing sessions, but the rage has markedly
diminished and is closer to anger. The clamour has ceased. She says
she has grown to trust me, She never had trusted anyone before. She
has begun to dress attractively, her sexual relationship with her
husband has markedly changed (he returned after 10 months - she took
him back) and the violent fantasies have disappeared. She likes to
lie in his arms, and he has grown warmer, softer and more available.
She told me she has a family for the first time, and friends are
beginning to appear.
She feels she has been able to say anything and everything to me,
and although I may not have understood at the time she feels
trusting enough to know that I am committed to try to understand.
She knows I will apologise if I have made a mistake and that is both
comforting and respectful to her. She believes she has become
somebody and she likes herself "for at least most of the time".
She cannot contemplate ending her sessions yet, but "maybe there
will come a time when I will be able to let go, not yet". We are now
down to twice a week. Her depression has been absent for over a
year. She is decorating her house for the first time.
talking about touch
The issue of touch has been a vexing question for psychotherapists.
The moral and ethical issues repeatedly reappear in journal
articles, lectures, and tribunal determination.
For those who were trained in a Freudian model, and many of the
American institutions still are; touch can only be related to sex or
However I hope we have come a long way since then, and I think it is
about time, we began to talk about it more openly and more honestly.
Overhead visual display: Michaelangelo
Overhead visual display: Stern
Touch is fundamental to human beings. It is probably, the first
thing we experience and the last thing we hope for. To my mind it is
as important as the air we breathe. For without it we are not alive
and with it, a sense of delight, a vitality and energy with an
enormous sense of self-esteem floods us (filling our chests to
Overhead visual display: Harlow monkeys
Harlow reminded us many years ago of how fundamental touches is to
primates and what the lack of it can do.
Overhead visual display: Cortisol levels
Touch, most probably, antecedes all other sensations.
Overhead visual display: Homunculus
The gray matter for touch in the brain covers significant areas and
the homunculus for man displays the relevance of touch. Could all
this mean that it is a fundamental part of human experience? Just as
behaviour is, especially motor behaviour.
Infant researchers have for a long time been aware and written a
great deal on the significance of touch, how the baby thrives with
touch, and how he recedes into marasmus without it. Infants grow
faster when stroked. Infants settle faster when stroked. Infants
sleep better when cuddled. And comforting requires physical contact,
we all know that.
So how come psychotherapists who experience the wretchedness,
terror, and recurrent fragmentation of their patients, let alone the
dreadful aloneness that they experience, fail to make physical
contact with their patients? Something we do so easily and naturally
with strangers, let alone those we love, friends, family etc. How
come we don't touch?
Or do we? Is it something we do behind closed doors? Hidden from our
colleagues. Is it something we have been made to feel guilty about?
Forgoing what is human for the sake of what we are led to believe to
be psychotherapy. Fearful of those who will point the finger,
question our ethics or demean our caringness .. besmirch our good
name. Could it possibly be worth it; to act in a humane, gentle
caring manner? And to try to work where words may not work. In a
time before words, symbols and metaphors, when there was only an 'I-
It', when holding 'the teddy bear' was all that kept us connected.
When merger, the precursor of twinship (the pre-empathic state of
being) ruled our very being. Where tone of voice mattered more than
words. Can therapists work in this way of experiencing, and still be
called therapists? Can we go further than words and possibly touch
contemporary literature concerning touch
James Fosshage, the well-known American psychoanalyst, asked 30
consecutive colleagues of his, whether they hug or have been hugged
by their patients. All said they had. Yes all. Heresy is still alive
and well in America, and I'm certain in Australia, Asia, Europe and
South America and wherever humane psychotherapy is practised.
Let me quote from: 'The Meaning of Touch in Psychoanalysis: A Time
for Reassessment' by James Fosshage, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2000,
Volume 20, No. 1.
"So important is tactile stimulation for development and maintenance
of physiological and psychological regulation that recent research
demonstrates that physiological and psychological regulations of
persons of all ages are "righted through physical holding and
touch." J. Fosshage, 2000.
Fosshage quotes from from a seminal work: 'Touching, The Human
Significance of the Skin' by Ashley Montagu, 1986.
"The study of mammal, monkey, ape and human behaviours clearly shows
us that touch is a basic behavioral need, much as breathing is a
basic physical need, that the dependent infant is designed to grow
and develop socially through contact, tactile behaviour, and
throughout life to maintain contact with others .. .. When the need
for touch remains unsatisfied, abnormal behaviour will result." A.
And from Daniel Stern:
"The ultimate magic of attachment is touch." D. Stern, 1990.
Fosshage refers to a work by Kenneth Pope concluding:
"Surveys of therapists fail to support the assumption that
appropriate touch in therapy leads to inappropriate erotic touch
(Pope, 1990)." J. Fosshage, 2000.
Reading Horton, et al., Fosshage: concludes:
"Horton, et al, evaluated the effect of touch on 231 adult patients
who had been in psychotherapy for at least two months within the
last two years and who had experienced some sort of physical contact
with their therapist (beyond accidental contact or a formal
handshake)." J. Fosshage, 2000.
He notes that, in the patients' descriptions of touch, two important
"Touch, reported by 69 per cent of the samples, fostered a feeling
of a stronger bond, closeness, and a sense that the therapist really
cares, thereby facilitating increase trust and openness. And 47 per
cent of the sample indicated that touch communicated acceptance and
hence to their self-esteem. Sexually abused patients were more
likely to attribute a corrective or educative role to touch in
therapy and to report feeling, touchable, lovable, or generally
better about themselves as a result of touch them were non abused
patients. (Horton et al., p452). " J. Fosshage, 2000.
The author concludes:
"The results support the judicious use of touch with patients who
manifest a need to be touched, or who ask for comforting or
supportive contract. They also support Ferenczi's position (1953)
that contrary to orthodox opinion "gratifying" the patient does not
necessarily interfere with the patients motivation to work in
therapy, but may alleviate shame and help the patient tolerate the
pain enough to face and work through issues more quickly, or on a
deeper level. Horton et al., p255. " J. Fosshage, 2000.
Ashley Montagu states:
"The language of the senses, in which all of us can be socialised,
are capable of enlarging our appreciation and of deepening our
understanding of each other and the world in which we live. Chief
among these languages is touching. The communications we transmit
through touch constitute the most powerful means of establishing
human relationships, the foundation of experience." A. Montagu,
James Fosshage notes:
"When sexual feelings enter the analytic arena, they, like all
feelings, need to be understood, accepted, then modulated." J.
"Occurrences of touch, like all interactions, need to be closely
tracked and often discussed for understanding the meanings and for
assessing whether they are facilitating or encumbering the
therapeutic endeavour." J. Fosshage, 2000.
"For preverbal trauma, however, touch may be required for
establishing an empathic connection." J. Fosshage, 2000.
when empathy doesn't work
In psychotherapy, the self states, Daniel Stern's, etc., these
hierarchically evolving states of 'self in progress' oscillate, to
and fro, as fragmentary pressures threatened to 'flood the self'.
Sometimes words can contain the self - at other times they can't.
In vulnerable, severe self disorder states, this fragility can ebb
and flow often incessantly and always terrifyingly, and are probably
what dissociative states are made of. Overloading the vulnerable,
fragmentary self, drives it back to earlier ways of experiencing;
mergingly, somatically. Often preverbially.
Words don't work here, touch may. But it works here only, when
continuing empathic understanding has left its indelible mark on the
self, and a sense of safety and trust has emerged in the therapeutic
process and not before.
There is a time and place for touch. The patient usually signals it
clearly in words or action. And when in doubt: ask. Don't be afraid
Kohut often spoke of 'developmental derailment' and the need to join
the patient at their level. He spoke of merger as a state before
empathy - pre-empathy. Hence my use of the word.
But how does one join them if it is pre-empathic? If empathy does
not have the effect? If that special means of connecting to
another's human experience, doesn't work? What then? Is it possible
that a piece of the puzzle is missing? Could it be that entitlement
gives us a clue? That it is in the phase of doing (Stage one of
Mitchell's hierarchy of experiencing), of doing to one another,
before there is a sense of shared feeling, before there is a
subjective other, before metaphors or symbolism, before words. Is
the clue to entitlement, the yearning to be touched, the search for
connection to a feeling, symbolizing other?
I for one thing so, and at this point in time I certainly
feel 'actions speak louder than words'.
Now a word of caution. This is still tiger country, perhaps explored
by others, but not often talked about. Still often met with scowling
looks and wagging finger and often tongues!
So be careful.
what do I suggest?
Have a good dose of personal therapy.
Have a significant amount of supervision and personal experience
Make sure you're aware of the symptomotology of severe self
disorder, particularly of the traumatised type, and of developmental
theory and diagnosis.
If you feel you have one of these selves in therapy then enter
supervision as soon as you can with a sympathetic, knowledgeable
supervisor and/or join a supervision group.
Share your experience of the patient with the group
If you feel you are able, and here I mean willing, to enter this
intimate style of relationship - and not everyone wants to or can -
then wait, and keep on waiting, until a true and clear empathic bond
has significantly formed and trust is truly in the air.
Inform the patient that this style of communication, physical
contact, seems to be calling. Are they aware of it? How do they feel
about it? Would it be something they would / could enter into with
you? What feelings arise as they talk about it now?
If both of you feel comfortable about the possibility then draw up a
written contract indicating that your patient and you have discussed
the issue of touch and that the patient requests that this be part
of the therapeutic programme if necessary. Indicate in writing that
no sexual contact will be undertaken and that the patient may
terminate this agreement at any time. Should the event occur, draw
up another agreement confirming their decision. Include in your
contract the fact that you should have the right to record any or
all sessions to be able to reflect on the process and to safeguard
the patient and yourself. I tape-record routinely.
Tell the patient that it can be a very intense experience and that
sexual feelings arise and are common and need to be talked about
like any other feeling.
Don't behave sexually.
Touch is not for everyone. Remember one to two per cent of the
population is probably a severe self-disorder. Therefore, very few
of your patients will fall into the category I am speaking about.
But if they do, touch may make all the difference.
Its time we spoke about touch, at least for the sake of those who so
seek to be alive as human beings, being, and no longer trapped in
This work is still in progress, as I mentioned at the beginning of
this paper. However, I hope I have shown you today that entitlement
might be the clue to our understanding of severe self disorders that
this 'clamor to connect' is the search for belongingness the search
to connect with a wholesome other. That 'therapeutic touch' is the
pre-empathic link to the movement from merger to twinship and
Let me close with a quote from Martin Buber:
"The basis of man's life with man is twofold .. .. the wish of every
man to be affirmed as what he is, even as what he can become by men;
and the innate capacity of man to affirm his fellow men in this way.
That this capacity lies so immeasurably fallow constitutes the real
weakness and questionableness of the human race: actual humanity
exists only when this capacity unfolds." M. Buber, 1957.
BAUMEISTER, Roy & LEARY, Mark. 1995. The need to belong: Desire for
interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation.
Psychological Bulletin 117: 497-529
BUBER, Martin. 1957. Distance and Relation. Psychiatry, Vol. 20
EMDE, R. N. & HARMON, R. J. (Eds.). 1982. The development of
attachment and affiliative systems. (pp. 161-193). New York: Plenum
FELDMAN R, GREENBAUM CW, YIRMIYA N. 1999. Mother-infant affect
synchrony as an antecedent of the emergence of self-control. Dev
Psychol 35 (1):223-31
FOSSHAGE, James. 2000. The Meaning of Touch in Psychoanalysis: A
time for reassessment. Psychoanalytic Inquiry. Volume 20, No. 1.
FREUD, Sigmund. 1909. Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year Old Boy.
Publisher Penguin Freud Library. SE 10, PFL 8, 3-149.
FREUD, Sigmund. 1910. The Ego and the Id. Trans. Joan Riviere. ed.
James Strachey, New York: W.W. Norton and Company. 1960, p. 20.
GREENBERG J.R., & MITCHELL, S. A. 1983. Object relations in
psychoanalytic theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
GREENSPAN Stanley, & THORNDIKE, Nancy. 1994. First Feelings:
Milestones in the Emotional Development of your Baby and Child.
HARLOW, Harry. 1958. The Nature of Love. American Psychologist, 13,
KOHUT, Heinz. 1977. The Restoration of the Self., New York:
International Universities Press.
KREIGER, Delores. 1983. Accepting your Power to Heal: The Personal
Practice of Therapeutic Touch. Santa Fe: Bear & Co.
MASLOW, Abraham. 1954. Motivation and personality. New York: Harper.
MITCHELL, S.A. 1988. Relational Concepts in Psychoanalysis.
Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press
MONTAGU, Ashley. 1986. Touching, The Human Significance of the Skin.
HarperCollins, 3rd edition (October 1986)
POPE, Kenneth. 1990. 'Therapist-Patient Sexual Involvement: A Review
of the Research'. Clinical Psychology Review, vol. 10, #4, pages 477-
STERN, Daniel. 1985. The Interpersonal World of the Infant. New
York: Basic Books.
STERN, Daniel. 1990. Diary of a baby. New York, Basic Books.
WINNICOTT, D. W. 1951. Transitional Objects and Transitional
Phenomena. Int. J. Psychoanal., 34:89-97.
WINNICOTT, D. W. 1960. Ego-Distortion in Terms of True and False
Self. London: Hogarth Press.
WINNICOTT, D. W. 1965. The Maturational Process and the Facilitating
Environment. London: Hogarth Press.
"Entitlement - The Other Side of Belonging © 2001. Dr Robert
web design: sparklingwave.com
New book follows the lives of people living in a Bronx, NY
Feb. 5 - In a new work of non-fiction reporting, author Adrian Nicole
LeBlanc followed the lives of people living in a Bronx, New York ghetto.
Comprising ten years of reporting, LeBlanc's book, "Random Family: Love,
Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx," immerses the reader in the
mind-boggling intricacies of the little-known ghetto world. She charts the
tumultuous cycle of the generations, as girls become mothers, mothers become
grandmothers, boys become criminals, and hope struggles against deprivation.
LeBlanc discusses the book on "Today." Read an excerpt below.
JESSICA LIVED ON Tremont Avenue, on one of the poorer blocks in a
very poor section of the Bronx. She dressed even to go to the store. Chance
was opportunity in the ghetto, and you had to be prepared for anything. She
didn't have much of a wardrobe, but she was resourceful with what she had -
her sister's Lee jeans, her best friend's earrings, her mother's T-shirts
and perfume. Her appearance on the streets in her neighborhood usually
caused a stir. A sixteen-year-old Puerto Rican girl with bright hazel eyes,
a huge, inviting smile, and a voluptuous shape, she radiated intimacy
wherever she went. You could be talking to her in the middle of the bustle
of Tremont and feel as if lovers' confidences were being exchanged beneath a
tent of sheets. Guys in cars offered rides. Grown men got stupid. Women
pursed their lips. Boys made promises they could not keep.
Jessica was good at attracting boys, but less good at holding
on to them. She fell in love hard and fast. She desperately wanted to be
somebody's real girlfriend, but she always ended up the other girl, the
mistress, the one they saw on the down-low, the girl nobody claimed. Boys
called up to her window after they'd dropped off their main girls, the
steady ones they referred to as wives. Jessica still had her fun, but her
fun was somebody else's trouble, and for a wild girl at the dangerous age,
the trouble could get big.
It was the mideighties, and the drug trade on East Tremont was
brisk. The avenue marks the north end of the South Bronx, running east to
west. Jessica lived just off the Grand Concourse, which bisects the Bronx
lengthwise. Her mother's tenement apartment overlooked an underpass. Car
stereos thudded and Spanish radio tunes wafted down from windows. On
corners, boys stood draped in gold bracelets and chains. Children munched on
the takeout that the dealers bought them, balancing the styrofoam trays of
greasy food on their knees. Grandmothers pushed strollers. Young mothers
leaned on strollers they'd parked so they could concentrate on flirting,
their irresistible babies providing excellent introductions and much-needed
entertainment. All along the avenue, working people shopped and dragged home
bags of groceries, or pushed wheelcarts of meticulously folded laundry. Drug
customers wound through the crowd, copped, and skulked away again. The
streets that loosely bracketed Jessica's world - Tremont and Anthony,
Anthony and Echo, Mount Hope and Anthony, Mount Hope and Monroe - were some
of the hottest drug-dealing blocks in the notorious 46th Precinct.
The same stretch of Tremont had been good to Jessica's family.
Lourdes, Jessica's mother, had moved from Manhattan with a violent
boyfriend, hoping the Bronx might give the troubled relationship a fresh
start. That relationship soon ended, but a new place still meant
possibility. One afternoon, Jessica stopped by Ultra Fine Meats for Lourdes
and the butcher asked her out. Jessica was 14 at the time; he was 25.
Jessica replied that she was too young for him but that her 32-year-old
mother was pretty and available. It took the butcher seven tries before
Lourdes agreed to a date. Two months later, he moved in. The children called
him Big Daddy.
Almost immediately, the household resumed a schedule: Lourdes
prepared Big Daddy's breakfast and sent him off to work; everyone - Robert,
Jessica, Elaine, and Cesar - went to school; Lourdes cleaned house and had
the evening meal cooked and waiting on the stove by noon. Big Daddy seemed
to love Lourdes. On weekends, he took her bowling, dancing, or out to City
Island for dinner. And he accepted her four children. He bought them
clothes, invited them to softball games, and drove them upstate for picnics
at Bear Mountain. He behaved as though they were a family.
Jessica and her older brother, Robert, had the same father, who
had died when Jessica was three, but he had never accepted Jessica as his;
now only Robert maintained a close relationship with the father's relatives.
Elaine, Jessica's younger sister, had her own father, whom she sometimes
visited on weekends. Cesar's father accepted him - Cesar had his last name
on his birth certificate - but he was a drug dealer with other women and
other kids. Occasionally he passed by Lourdes's; sometimes Cesar went to
stay with him, and during those visits, Cesar would keep him company on the
street. Cesar's father put him to work: "Here," he would say, passing Cesar
vials of crack taped together, "hold this." Drug charges didn't stick to
children, but Big Daddy cautioned Cesar about the lifestyle when he returned
home. "Don't follow his lead. If anybody's lead you gonna follow, it should
be mine." Big Daddy spoke to Cesar's teachers when Cesar had problems in
school. Jessica considered Big Daddy a stepfather, an honor she had not
bestowed upon any other of her mother's men. But even Jessica's and Cesar's
affection for Big Daddy could not keep them inside.
* * *
For Jessica, love was the most interesting place to go and
beauty was the ticket. She gravitated toward the enterprising boys, the boys
with money, who were mostly the ones dealing drugs - purposeful boys who
pushed out of the bodega's smudged doors as if they were stepping into a
party instead of onto a littered sidewalk along a potholed street. Jessica
sashayed onto the pavement with a similar readiness whenever she descended
the four flights of stairs from the apartment and emerged, expectant and
smiling, from the paint-chipped vestibule. Lourdes thought that Jessica was
a dreamer: "She always wanted to have a king with a maid. I always told her,
'That's only in books. Face reality.' Her dream was more upper than
herself." Lourdes would caution her daughter as she disappeared down the
dreary stairwell, "God ain't gonna have a pillow waiting for your ass when
you fall landing from the sky."
Outside, Jessica believed, anything could happen. Usually,
though, not much did. She would go off in search of one of her boyfriends,
or disappear with Lillian, one of her best friends. Her little brother,
Cesar, would run around the neighborhood, antagonizing the other children he
half-wanted as friends. Sometimes Jessica would cajole slices of pizza for
Cesar from her dates. Her seductive ways instructed him. "My sister was
smart," Cesar said. "She used me like a decoy, so if a guy got mad at her,
he would still come around to take me out. 'Here's my little brother,' she
would say. 'Take him with you.'" More often, though, Cesar got left behind.
He would sit on the broken steps of his mother's building, biding his time,
watching the older boys who ruled the street.
Jessica considered Victor a boyfriend, and she'd visit him on
Echo Place, where he sold crack and weed. Victor saw other girls, though,
and Jessica was open to other opportunities. One day in the fall of 1984,
when she should have been in school, she and Lillian went to a toga party on
187th and Crotona Avenue. The two friends were known at the hooky house on
Crotona. The girls would shadow the boys on their way to the handball courts
or kill time at White Castle burgers, and everyone often ended up in the
basement room. The building was officially abandoned, but the kids had made
a home there. They'd set up old sofas along one wall, and on another they'd
arranged a couple of beds. There was always a DJ scratching records. The
boys practiced break dancing on an old carpet and lifted weights. The girls
had little to do but watch the boys or primp in front of the salvaged
mirrors propped beside a punching bag. At the toga party, Jessica and
Lillian entered one of the makeshift bedrooms to exchange their clothes for
sheets. Two older boys named Puma and Chino followed them. The boys told the
girls that they were pretty, and that their bodies looked beautiful with or
without sheets. As a matter of fact, they said, instead of joining the
party, why don't we just stay right here?
Puma dealt drugs, but he was no ordinary boy. He had appeared
in Beat Street, a movie that chronicled the earliest days of hip-hop from
the perspective of the inner-city kids who'd created it. The film, which
would become a cult classic, portrayed self-expression as essential to
survival, along with mothers, friends, money, music, and food. Beat Street
showcased some Bronx talent, including Puma's group, the Rock Steady Crew.
Puma had cinematic presence, and he was a remarkable break-dancer, but when
he met Jessica his career was sliding to the bottom of its brief slope of
success. The international tour that had taken him to Australia and Japan
was over, and the tuxedo he'd worn break dancing for the queen of England
hung in a closet in its dry-cleaning bag. He'd spent all the money he had
earned on clothes and sneakers and fleets of mopeds for his friends.
Jessica was glad for anybody's attention, but she was
especially flattered by Puma's. He was a celebrity. He performed solo for
her. He was clever, and his antic behavior made her laugh. One thing led to
another, and next thing you know, Jessica and Puma were kissing on top of a
pile of coats. Similar things were happening between Lillian and Chino on
Both girls came out pregnant. Jessica assured her mother that
the father was her boyfriend, Victor, but there was no way to be certain.
The following May, Jessica and Lillian dropped out of ninth grade. They gave
birth to baby girls four days apart, in the summer of 1985. Big Daddy
clasped Jessica's hand through her delivery. At one point, Jessica bit him
so hard that she drew blood. The grandfather scar made Big Daddy proud.
Jessica named her daughter Serena Josephine. Lourdes promptly
proclaimed her Little Star. It was understood that Lourdes would have to
raise her; Jessica didn't have the patience. Even if she hadn't been young,
and moody, Jessica wasn't the mothering kind. Lourdes wasn't, either - in
fact, she wished she'd never had children - but circumstance had eroded her
active resistance to the role. She'd been raising children since she was
six. First, she'd watched her own four siblings while her mother worked
double shifts at a garment factory in Hell's Kitchen. She'd fought their
neighborhood fights. She'd fed them and bathed them and put them to bed. Now
Lourdes's own four, whom she had been able to manage when they were little,
were teenagers slipping beyond her reach.
Robert and Elaine had been easy, but Lourdes felt their fathers
' families were turning them into snobs. Robert returned from his weekend
visits with his grandmother smoldering with righteousness. Lourdes could
tell he disapproved of her involvement with Santeria, but who was her son to
judge? How holy had it been, when Jessica was pregnant, for Robert to chase
her around the apartment, threatening to beat her up? Her daughter Elaine's
arrogance occupied a more worldly terrain. On Sunday nights, she alighted
from her father's yellow cab, prim in her new outfits, and turned up her
cute nose at the clothes Lourdes had brought home from the dollar store.
Jessica and Cesar were Lourdes's favorites, but they ignored
her advice and infuriated her regularly. When Lourdes stuck her head out of
the living room window overlooking Tremont and called her children in for
supper (she used the whistle from the sound track of the movie The Good, the
Bad, and the Ugly), she was usually calling for Jessica and Cesar; Robert
and Elaine were apt to be at home. Robert and Elaine worried about getting
into trouble, whereas Jessica and Cesar had as much fun as they possibly
could until trouble inevitably hit. Robert and Elaine were dutiful students.
Jessica and Cesar were smart, but undisciplined. Jessica cut classes. Cesar
sprinted through his work, then found it impossible to sit still; once, he'd
jumped out of his second-story classroom window after Lourdes had physically
dragged him around the corner to school.
Jessica and Cesar also looked out for each other. One night,
Jessica went missing and Lourdes found out that she had been with an
off-duty cop in a parked car; when Lourdes kicked Jessica in the head so
hard that her ear bled, it was Cesar who ran to the hospital for help.
Another time, during an electrical fire, Jessica ushered Cesar to the safety
of the fire escape. Jessica knew how to appease Lourdes's brooding with
cigarettes and her favorite chocolate bead candy. Cesar, however, had fewer
resources at his disposal. He had learned to steel himself against his
mother's beatings. By the time he was eleven, when his niece Little Star was
born, Cesar didn't cry no matter how hard Lourdes hit.
For Lourdes, Little Star's arrival was like new love, or the
coming of spring. As far as she was concerned, that little girl was hers.
"When I pulled that baby out - Jessica was there - the eyes!" Lourdes said.
"The eyes speak faster than the mouth. The eyes come from the heart." A baby
was trustworthy. Little Star would listen to Lourdes and mind her; she would
learn from Lourdes's mistakes. Little Star would love her grandmother with
the unquestioning loyalty Lourdes felt she deserved but didn't get from her
Meanwhile, Jessica made the most of her ambiguous situation.
She told Victor that he was the father: she and Victor cared for one another
and he had attended the delivery; he also gave Jessica money for Little Star
's first Pampers, although his other girlfriend was pregnant, too. Secretly,
however, Jessica hoped that Puma was the father, and she was also telling
him that the baby was his. Puma was living with a girl named Trinket, who
was pregnant, and whom he referred to as his wife; he also had another baby
by Victor's girlfriend's sister. Despite the formidable odds, Jessica hoped
for a future with him.
Publicly, Puma insisted Little Star was not his. But she
certainly looked like his: she had the same broad forehead, and that wide
gap between her dot-brown eyes. The day Jessica came home with a videotape
of the movie Beat Street, Lourdes had heard enough about this break-dancing
Puma to go on alert. She settled on her bed with Little Star, Jessica,
Elaine, and their dog, Scruffy. In one of the early scenes of the film, a
boy who looked suspiciously like Little Star did a speedy break dance at a
hooky house. Then he challenged a rival crew to a battle at the Roxy, a
"Hold that pause," shouted Lourdes. "That's Little Star's
father! I will cut my pussy off and give it to that dog if that ain't Little
Star's father!" Jessica laughed, pleased at the recognition. Puma could say
what he liked, but blood will out.
Puma's confidante was a short, stocky tomboy named Milagros.
Milagros had known Puma forever and considered him family. Puma was the
first boy she'd ever kissed. Kissing boys no longer interested Milagros.
Puma's stories of Jessica's sexual escapades, however, intrigued her;
Milagros had noticed Jessica as well, when they both attended Roosevelt High
School. Milagros knew that Puma still saw Jessica, but she kept it to
herself. Meanwhile, Milagros and Puma's live-in girlfriend, Trinket, were
Milagros and Trinket made an unlikely duo. If a river ran
through the styles of poor South Bronx girlhood, these two camped on
opposite banks. Milagros, who never wore makeup, tugged her dull brown hair
into a pull-back and stuck to what she called "the simple look" - T-shirts,
sneakers, jeans. Trinket slathered on lipstick, painted rainbows of eye
shadow on the lids of her green eyes, and teased her auburn hair into a lion
's mane. Trinket was looking forward to becoming a mother, whereas Milagros
proclaimed, loudly and often, her tiny nostrils flaring, that she would
never have children and end up slaving to a man.
In the fall of 1985, some of Jessica's friends returned to
school. Bored and left behind, Jessica became depressed. She would page
Puma, and once in a while he would call her back. Sometimes Jessica went
looking for him in Poe Park, a hangout near Kingsbridge and Fordham Road,
where the Rock Steady Crew occasionally performed. Usually, though, she
found Puma at work, standing on a corner not far from the hooky house.
Jessica had little chance of running into Trinket at his drug spot because
Puma urged his wife to stay away. Alone with Puma, Jessica broached the
touchy subject of what was between them: "Give time for her features to
develop and you'll see, it'll look like you." She thought the space between
Serena's eyes was a giveaway. On the small span of her infant face, the gap
made her look as though she'd landed from another galaxy. Jessica also
thought that Little Star had Puma's magnetism. "There's something about her
that brings her to you," she said.
Puma told Trinket that that baby could belong to anyone; he said that
Jessica had been with everybody; she was no one's girl. Trinket consoled
herself with the thought that maybe Jessica's promiscuity had resulted in a
baby that had features from different boys.
Jessica harassed Trinket with crank phone calls. The calls were
Jessica's trademark: she would whisper, "I have Puma's kid," and then hang
up. Eight months into her pregnancy, Trinket decided to confront Jessica.
Whoever was or wasn't a baby's father, the business of claiming love tended
to be a battle between girls. The next time Jessica called, Trinket told her
she wanted to see the child. Jessica gave her Lourdes's address. Milagros
went along as Trinket's bodyguard.
"Where's the baby?" Trinket asked. Serena hung forward in a
baby swing. Her enormous head seemed too heavy for her scrawny body. Jessica
propped up her baby girl to give Trinket a better look. She also produced
additional evidence - "Love" and "Only you" written on photographs of Puma,
in his own hand. The assessment took less than fifteen minutes. Milagros
said good-bye to Jessica and hurried after Trinket, who burst into tears
once they were safely back on the street.
Privately, Trinket didn't blame Puma for fooling around with
Jessica. "Jessica had this sexuality about herself and her domineering
ways," Trinket said. "I was so closed-off." Trinket attributed her
inhibitions to having been molested by one of her mother's boyfriends.
Jessica had also been sexually abused, by Cesar's father from the age of
three, but Trinket didn't know this. Jessica seemed so comfortable in her
body. She flirted easily with girls and boys, men and women, alike. Jessica
appeared to have no boundaries, as though she were the country of sex
itself. Puma told Trinket that that baby could belong to anyone; he said
that Jessica had been with everybody; she was no one's girl. Trinket
consoled herself with the thought that maybe Jessica's promiscuity had
resulted in a baby that had features from different boys.
A month later, in January 1986, Trinket gave Puma his first
son. Her position as his wife was secure.
Jessica then began dating Puma's brother, Willy. Willy and Puma
were often together, but Jessica claimed she didn't know they were related
until Willy took Jessica to his mother's apartment and she spotted Puma's
photograph on a wall. In fact, the brothers shared a striking physical
resemblance: Willy looked like Puma with a mustache, although instead of
Puma's wiry expressiveness, Willy had a bit of a hangdog look. Both had a
way with the ladies, though; Willy, who was 22, had already been married,
and had fathered four kids.
That winter, Cesar's father called Lourdes - he was broke,
homeless, and heroin sick - and Lourdes took him in. The family treated him
"like a king," he recalled, but he soon left, unable to resist the drugs.
Jessica's depression grew. She started gouging small cuts on
her inner thighs. Nobody wanted her - she had been neglected by her own
father; then by Puma; and even by Willy, her second choice. She said, "I was
never loved the way I wanted to be. Nobody in my family ever paid any
attention to me." That spring, after receiving a vicious beating from
Lourdes, Jessica tried to kill herself by swallowing pills, and Big Daddy
whisked her to Bronx Lebanon Hospital. The drastic action worked, but only
briefly. "They paid attention to me for about two days afterwards," Jessica
said scornfully. After she had her stomach pumped, the doctor informed her
she was pregnant again - with twins.
Jessica claimed that Willy was the father, but once again,
there was no way to be certain. When Jessica had been carrying her first
child, Lourdes had indulged her cravings, buying her the orange drink morir
sońando - "to die in your dreams" - and preparing her oatmeal with condensed
milk, vanilla, and fresh cinnamon stick. This time, however, Jessica's
pregnancy didn't grant her special status in the household.
Jessica and Willy tried to get ready for the babies. Jessica's
older brother Robert got Willy a job at the paint store where he worked;
Jessica sold clothes at a store on Fordham Road. If a man came in looking
for an outfit for his girlfriend, it was Jessica's job to model it. Jessica
generated so much business that her boss let her keep some of the clothes.
Her best-selling item was called The Tube. "You could roll it down and wear
it as a miniskirt, and if you roll it up and hook a belt, it could be a
dress," Jessica explained. "Or a tube top if you fold it, or if you twist
it, you could make a headband." Day after day, men came in for an outfit for
their women and departed with three or four, fully accessorized. Many of the
men asked Jessica out. Her boss started bringing her into the back and
asking her to model the new lingerie; he rewarded her with a gold-nugget
necklace and matching earrings, and took her out to eat. Before long,
Jessica had to quit.
Willy had left his job as well, and soon they were both back to
their old ways. Willy's girlfriends included one of Trinket's cousins, a
schoolgirl named Princess. It was Princess's turn to receive Jessica's
"I'm pregnant from Willy," Jessica said.
"You're a ho," said Princess. Next call, Princess snapped, "You
're pregnant from that bum in Poe Park," which was worse than saying the
baby's father was an immigrant.
Willy may have lacked Puma's lightning energy, but that
September he quickly agreed to put his last name on the birth certificates:
Brittany arrived at 5:01 PM, several weeks early and two minutes ahead of
her twin sister, Stephanie. They were scrawny, with that prominent forehead,
a tuft of thin, black hair, and a sweeter trace of Willy's hangdog look.
Jessica had a C-section scar; Puma was an uncle; Willy was a father; Serena
had two baby sisters; and Lourdes was a grandmother again.
Jessica and the twins moved in with Willy at his mother's, but
even with the babies, Jessica had no legitimate place. Her relationship with
Willy's family was shrouded in shame. Puma's mother accepted Serena, but
some of his sisters considered Jessica a home-wrecker, and privately called
her worse. She holed up with the babies in Willy's bedroom, and he sometimes
got physical when he was drunk. Trinket paraded through with Puma's precious
son, trailed by Milagros. Milagros said, "Jessica was always sad and alone.
She would be in the room by herself. Nobody talked to her. They all loved
Trinket. They knew what Jessica did." Milagros made a point to stop and say
hello. Sometimes she visited without Trinket, and she and Jessica started
Puma ignored Jessica around his family, but they still got
together on the sly. Once, he slipped Jessica a note. She met him at a
nearby bus stop. He bristled: "Hearing you with my brother, don't you know
how bad that feels!" Jessica was moved that Puma cared. Puma discouraged
Willy's affection, though:
"Why you going out with her? She's a slut."
"You picture her the way you want," Willy would reply
defiantly. "I'll picture her with me." But it was hard for Willy to hold on
to his private image of Jessica when the real girl had such wide appeal.
By November, Willy had also become involved with a girl who
lived upstairs. One rainy night, after an awful fight, he kicked Jessica
out. Desperate, Jessica called Milagros from a pay phone: she was standing
with the twins, drenched, on the street. She had two plastic bags that held
all of her things, two two-month-old babies, and no welcoming place to go.
The call didn't surprise Milagros. Plenty of people moved house
to house - she had herself - and girls with babies had it extra hard. They
would move in with boyfriends and their mothers, but more people created
more problems, and the welcomes wore out when the money thinned at the end
of the month. Mothers' husbands or boyfriends' brothers or grandfathers and
uncles couldn't stop their roving hands. Or a boy could get too possessive
when a girl moved into his bedroom and mistake her for a slave, or the
mother-in-law wanted a babysitter for her other children instead of a
daughter-in-law, or the family was just plain mean. Some grandmothers were
unable to tolerate another crying baby; some had already lost their own
babies - young ghost mothers gone to crack. Or they resented the young
lovers, especially if they had no love of their own.
Sometimes girls turned to men like Felix, a friend of Lourdes's
who lived on Mount Hope Place, just around the corner from East Tremont.
Lourdes would send her daughter to Felix when she needed cash. Occasionally
Felix gave Jessica money as well, but Jessica hated going there alone.
Sometimes Lillian went along, but Felix drank, and the girls would have to
fend him off. Worse-off girls stayed in abandoned buildings, with other
teenagers and adults on the run from other crowded apartments. But even for
a girl who gave up what she had to - sex or pride or the mere idea of
independence - the rate was unpredictable, and for gorgeous, sexually
untethered girls like Jessica, the length of the welcomes at other women's
apartments seemed especially short. It didn't help that Jessica wasn't in
any hurry to clean or cook. Girls with attitude discovered that the shirt
your man's sister gave you suddenly turned into a loan, and when a twenty
went missing, nobody said it but everybody was staring at you. Even if your
man backed you up, you were left in the house while he went to the street. A
little brother or sister or nephew or niece might bring you a plate of food
or keep you company, but it was impossible to feel at ease.
That night, Milagros did what she'd done for other girlfriends
countless times: she took Jessica in. Milagros was living with Puma and
Trinket, but she told Jessica to take a cab and meet her at her mother's
apartment, in Hunts Point, where Milagros had been raised. Hunts Point was a
heavily industrialized area, even rougher than East Tremont. Streetwalkers
worked the barren blocks after the warehouses shut. Career junkies dragged
themselves to Hunts Point when every other option failed, nine lives lived,
waiting to die. Milagros waited for Jessica outside her mother's building
and paid the driver. She scooped up the babies and led Jessica up two
flights of stairs. She fed Jessica and the twins. The twins fell asleep, but
she and Jessica broke night. Milagros's bedroom window overlooked the
Bruckner Expressway, and cars and trucks rushed in and out of the city,
headed west, to New England, or upstate. They talked till the sun rose,
their voices mixing with the traffic din.
Milagros readily devoted herself to Jessica, and Jessica didn't
discourage her. When Jessica retreated to Lourdes's a few days later,
Milagros offered to keep the twins so that Jessica and Willy could try to
work things out. Trinket knew Milagros well enough to recognize the
foolishness in such an offer. "Here she comes with her big ass to save the
day for another unstable person," Trinket complained. To Milagros she said,
"You're making Jessica's life easy. How responsible is that?" Milagros's
mother worried that Jessica might take advantage of her daughter's
generosity. On the other hand, she herself had been effectively raising a
little boy from the building named Kevin, whose mother spent her time
running the streets. Milagros assured her mother that she was watching the
twins only temporarily.
The line between having fun and getting into trouble wasn't always
clear. Lourdes and Big Daddy had always partied on the weekends, but now
Lourdes was using during the week as well.
Things at Lourdes's were getting out of hand. The apartment was
filling up - a sure predictor of trouble. A friend of Big Daddy's named
Que-Que, whom Lourdes claimed as a long-lost brother, was regularly crashing
on the couch. Lourdes had been partying heavily with him and a woman
downstairs who practiced Santeria. Willy occasionally brought money for the
girls and spent the night with Jessica. Milagros also stayed with Jessica,
on the weekends or after work. She had a job as a teller at a check-cashing
place. Elaine had moved back from her father's, after a male relative had
molested her, and Lourdes ridiculed her for having thought she could survive
away from home. Elaine had briefly dated Willy's brother, until Jessica
brought her to the hooky house and introduced her to Angel, a wily drug
dealer with a good sense of humor and a moped. No one had much time for
Cesar, who was running wild.
The line between having fun and getting into trouble wasn't
always clear. Lourdes and Big Daddy had always partied on the weekends, but
now Lourdes was using during the week as well. She'd also been shirking her
wifely duties, and Big Daddy was getting fed up: she disappeared for hours,
then whole afternoons, and then it got to the point where she sometimes
stayed away all night. She returned in the morning just in time to cook Big
Daddy's breakfast and send him off to work, after which she took herself to
bed. There were other danger signs: Lourdes, who was vain, cared less about
her appearance; her house was no longer spotless; cereal and SpaghettiOs
replaced cooked meals.
Big Daddy was a good-looking young man with a job, and he felt
entitled to the privileges of his advantages; he'd tired of acting like a
husband to a woman seven years his senior who was behaving more like a
teenage girl than a wife. He did not mind that Lourdes used cocaine as long
as she still had sex with him five nights out of seven, but now she gave
excuses; he remembered asking, "You mean I gotta give you twenty to cop to
give me some?" Lourdes saw it differently. She needed money - every woman
did - but his touch felt unbearable. Although he denied it, she was
convinced that he'd cheated on her, and she was sick and tired of serving
Big Daddy found better-paying work as a janitor. For a while,
he was also dealing cocaine, but he quit because he said that Lourdes kept
dipping into his supply. According to his calculations, she was snorting a
gram or two a day; she insisted that she knew how to pace herself and that
she never used more than half a gram. When Jessica and Milagros wanted to go
out, they gave Lourdes cocaine to baby-sit.
By the spring of 1987, the house was packed: Besides Jessica,
Serena, Cesar, Robert, Elaine, Lourdes, Big Daddy, Lourdes's alleged
brother, Que-Que, and the guests, there was Elaine's boyfriend, Angel, and
Shirley, Robert's girl. Elaine was pregnant. Shirley was also pregnant, and
her father had kicked her out. Ordinarily, Lourdes used her welfare benefits
to pay the basic bills, while Big Daddy covered all the additional
necessities and any luxuries. But with the company and the drugs, they could
not keep up.
That summer, Big Daddy finally issued an ultimatum: the drugs
or him. Lourdes physically attacked him as he began to pack his things; she
then went into a seizure, but Big Daddy still left. Lourdes assured her
worried children that the separation wasn't permanent - she just needed time
to herself. Jessica, who had been sleeping out on the couch, moved into
Lourdes's room. Soon afterward, Cesar returned from school and found a man
stepping out of the bathroom in a towel. His mother was combing her long
black hair, which was wet. "What about Big Daddy?" Cesar asked, devastated.
"He only left three days ago. That's not even enough time to work it out!"
Jessica was sent back to the couch, resentful and furious. She said, "Big
Daddy really loved my mother. My mother left him for an asshole who didn't
even pay the rent."
Milagros took the twins for a while, but Little Star stayed
behind. Days could pass without her seeing sidewalk, even though lots of
people came and went - everyone who was living there, their friends, and
friends of friends. When Lourdes was out of bed, she badgered her daughters
to take the child outside - both to give her a break and Little Star some
fresh air. Sometimes Jessica brought Serena with her on her rounds: to the
bodega, to the pay phone, to Puma's drug spot. If someone offered Jessica a
ride, though, she left her daughter with whatever friend was willing to keep
an eye on her.
That summer, Serena started to cry whenever she peed, and after
a few weeks, Lourdes threatened to hit Jessica if she didn't bring Serena to
the hospital to be checked. When Jessica and Elaine finally took her to the
emergency room, the doctors discovered that she'd been sexually abused. She
was two years old. Jessica was detained. A police officer interviewed her
and explained that he could not release Serena into her custody. Lourdes had
to sign for her.
At home, anger shouted down the sadness: threats sailed; guilt
was leveraged; everyone and no one was responsible. Serena had been
unsupervised in the company of so many different people it was impossible to
know whom to blame. There was that dark-skinned friend of Cesar's who was
simple and liked to play with the girls when they were in the tub, and the
family friend's brother who'd taken Serena into an apartment to use the
bathroom one night while she was hanging around with Jessica on Crotona. How
about the boyfriend of Lourdes's who would go into the bedroom at night when
the girls were making too much noise and hit them until they cried
themselves to sleep? Lourdes ordered the young men who came in and out of
her apartment to the hospital for physical inspections. Underneath all the
indictments and posturing, however, bad mothering was considered the true
culprit: Lourdes blamed Jessica; Jessica blamed herself. And somehow, Serena
got lost in the noise. All the women in Serena's life had been sexually
abused at one time or another, and their upset seemed to be less about the
child's trauma than the overwhelming need, precipitated by the crisis, to
revisit their own.
Soon afterward, Lourdes ran away. She made it only as far as
Que-Que's brother's girlfriend's, but at first the children didn't know
where she was; later, they often couldn't reach her. Elaine got a job at
C-Town, a grocery store across the street. She cleaned, cooked, and
attempted to retain control over what remained controllable. Robert was
still working in Manhattan as a paint-store clerk. On weekday evenings, he
took a plate of whatever Elaine had prepared and shut himself in his room
with Serena. "The twins had each other. Serena had no one," Robert later
said. Lourdes would pass by Tremont when the welfare check arrived, but she
refused to come upstairs; Elaine would meet her down by the mailboxes in the
lobby. Lourdes kept the small cash allotment and gave Elaine all but $50
worth of the food stamps. Even so, everyone was getting skinny - except for
Robert, who stockpiled food in his bedroom and padlocked the door when he
went out. Jessica cajoled the girls' fathers to bring by Pampers and milk,
but they didn't always come through.
For a time, Cesar and Jessica grew closer. He remembered that
"Elaine, she be in her own whole world. My brother was in his little world.
Me and Jessica was in the same world." Their world was the street. If she
was in a good mood, Jessica was beautiful. She generously shared whatever
she had. She set Cesar up with her girlfriends and gave him pointers on how
to please women. They had sex with their dates in the same room. "We was
real open with each other, it didn't bother us," Cesar said.
At the end of the summer, Lourdes returned home. Que-Que, no
longer a long-lost brother, now slept in her bedroom. Robert and Cesar each
had a bedroom because they were male; Elaine had reclaimed Jessica's old
room, with her boyfriend, Angel; Little Star had a daybed in Lourdes's room;
Jessica was still on the couch. When the twins were there, Jessica put them
in a crib next to her; they both cried a lot.
Without Big Daddy's contributions - $500 a month in cash, in
addition to a running tab at the bodega - Lourdes had to scramble again. No
woman with four children could survive on welfare, and now Lourdes also had
four grandchildren, another on the way, and a drug habit to support. Jessica
and Lourdes fought, ferociously and often. Both women wanted to be taken
care of; neither wanted to baby-sit. The cocaine helped Lourdes, but there
was never enough of it.
Life at Lourdes's now moved in lockstep with the life of the
street. The first week of each month, after the welfare check came in, was
best - a time to buy things, to feel some sense of agency. Outside, the drug
dealers also enjoyed a surge in business. Lourdes stocked the shelves with
food and bought what the house needed from the dollar store - King Pine for
cleaning and cocoa butter for healing scars and the comforts of air
freshener and hair conditioner. She clanked around the kitchen, blasting
Latin oldies, cooking rice with gandules and frying her pork chops seasoned
with the fresh herb she called the Puerto Rican leaf. She cooked well.
Friends and neighbors dropped by, and Lourdes fed everyone.
Everything changed toward the end of the month when the money
ran out. Lourdes took to bed. Elaine cooked rice, which Cesar flavored with
ketchup. He stole fruit for his family from a nearby Korean market or
snatched bread from a grocery store's delivery bin. Milagros brought the
children diapers and food. She remembered seeing Cesar drink their Similac,
then refill the bottles with sugar water, as he'd seen his sisters do. For
longer and longer stretches, Milagros lugged the twins back to her mother's,
one under each arm, their skinny limbs dangling.
That winter, in 1987, Lourdes hit bottom. All the jewelry was
in the pawn shop. The phone company shut off the phone. Usually, Lourdes
managed to pull things together at holiday times. As far back as her
children could remember, she had prepared dozens of pasteles, her specialty
dish, which the bodega by the Grand Concourse would sell for her. She'd
spend the extra cash on food and gifts. She would buy each of her children a
brand-new outfit, and on Christmas Eve, they would all dress and take the
subway to Manhattan to have Christmas dinner with Lourdes's mother, uncles
and aunts, and their kids. It was a happy night.
That Christmas, however, they remained in the Bronx, with
Lourdes curled up in bed. Even the birth of Elaine's baby boy - Lourdes's
first grandson - barely roused her spirits. Occasionally, she shuffled out
of her room and made coffee and peed. The dog's messes dotted the narrow
hallway, and if Lourdes stepped in a puddle, she'd yell at her children,
then call Scruffy sweetly. Scruffy would run with such excitement toward her
that he would skid into her legs when he tried to stop. She'd punt him down
the hall. By January, Scruffy had learned to cower at the sound of Lourdes's
At the lean end of the month, Elaine's boyfriend, Angel, set
Jessica up on a blind date with a drug dealer named Boy George. Jessica was
Angel's gesture of thanks to George for giving him work. Angel had met
George years earlier, on Watson Avenue. Angel was selling crack then, doing
pretty well, and George was just coming up. But Angel, like many
neighborhood kids, had enjoyed the lifestyle that accompanied dealing and
had started using drugs. Then the money couldn't come fast enough, and now
Angel had Elaine and a baby son to support. Boy George, however, had been
disciplined. He never touched his product; he rarely drank. In the midst of
the hype of the crack boom, he'd had the smarts to concentrate on heroin,
and his business was thriving. Years later, looking back, Jessica said,
"That was the date that changed my whole way of life."
Excerpted from, "Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and
Coming of Age in the Bronx." Copyright © 2003 by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. All
rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Scribner a division of Simon &
Is a Demon Humanized No Longer a Demon?
By JULIE SALAMON
HE Hitler industry has marched effortlessly into the 21st century, with a
new round of movies, documentaries and books. But this isn't your father's
Hitler. The previous generation was fixated on military strategy, the
corruption of power, the nature of evil. Now there's a new emphasis on
psychology and aesthetics, youthful disappointments and artistic
frustration. Was Hitler gay, or simply misunderstood? Or maybe it was
something in his childhood.
In the recent independent film "Max," the future Führer appears as a young
aspiring artist, more obsessed with his painting career than his embryonic
political ambitions. HBO recently announced production of a documentary
based on "The Hidden Hitler," a widely disputed 2001 biography that claims
Hitler was a repressed homosexual. CBS has announced its intention to
produce a mini-series about Hitler's boyhood (not to be confused with the
"Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" opened in New York and Los Angeles in
January and will be released nationally this month. This 90-minute
documentary consists entirely of mesmerizing interviews with Traudl Junge
(TROW-dle YUNG-uh) one of Hitler's private secretaries, the one to whom he
dictated his last will. Junge, who had been silent on the subject of Hitler
for 50 years, wonders about how she could have liked this man who had caused
such terrible suffering. She provides homey insights into his personal
idiosyncrasies, like his refusal to wear shorts because his knees were too
white and his affection for his dog Blondie, trained to sing in two octaves.
There she was, in the belly of the beast, and she heard no rumblings of
demonic disarray, only a "harmless peaceful atmosphere." She doesn't say
this as a defense, but rather with an air of shame or bemusement.
Does this kind of humanizing bring us closer to truth or real understanding?
Sheila Nevins, HBO's executive vice president for programming, explained why
HBO was proceeding with the gay Hitler film, whose working title, "Pink
Führer," sounds like an outtake from "The Producers." "It's an attempt to
try and fathom the origins of such hatred and evil," she said. "It's
probably impossible. Was he a repressed homosexual; did he make this ideal
of blond-and-blue-eyed perfection from his own self-loathing? We don't have
his analytical record. We don't have his confession. But human beings are
capable of heinous acts, and he was made of the same flesh and blood as the
rest of us." Or was he? Just as "Hitler's Skull," an old History Channel
documentary that's often resurrected, reminds us that DNA tests on a skull
purported to be Hitler's were inconclusive, so is much of the hypothesizing
There are those who simply find these interpretations repellant. Claude
Lanzmann, the director of "Shoah," a monumental nine-and-a-half-hour
documentary about the Holocaust, once told a group of psychoanalysts that he
found the very idea of a book about Hitler's childhood offensive. It was, he
said, "an attempt at explanation which is for me obscenity as such."
Ron Rosenbaum describes Lanzmann's reaction in "Explaining Hitler," his
fascinating 1998 exegesis of why Hitler became Hitler. "To embark upon the
attempt to understand Hitler, understand all the processes that transformed
this innocent babe into a mass murderer," Mr. Rosenbaum writes, "is to risk
making his crimes `understandable' and thus, Lanzmann implies, to
acknowledge the forbidden possibility of having to forgive Hitler."
Just before and during World War II a number of cheesy anti-Nazi propaganda
pictures were styled as gangster pictures, with appropriate B-movie titles
like "Hitler - Beast of Berlin" and "Hitler - Dead or Alive." There was, of
course, in 1940 "The Great Dictator," which became one of Charlie Chaplin's
signatures. Many years later, both Alec Guinness (in 1973, "Hitler: The Last
10 Days") and Anthony Hopkins (in the 1981 CBS television movie "The
Bunker") took a crack at portraying Hitler at the end, the defeated would-be
emperor. No baby pictures.
None of these pretended to understand the roots of his devastating fury. In
a 1994 interview with Playboy magazine, Anthony Hopkins discussed the
futility of trying to find a comprehensible motive for this particular
character. "I styled Hitler after my own grandfather on my father's side,
who was a bit of a tyrant," Mr. Hopkins said. "He was self-educated and full
of all kinds of extraordinary opinions and philosophical insights. He was
Victorian and had a hard life. But he was hard as nails, confused,
frustrated, powerful and a sentimental ogre. Which Hitler was, as well. But
my grandfather didn't kill anyone. He wasn't responsible for the death of
millions of people."
Stalin was, though, but shows about him will not lift ratings 15 to 20
percent, the way Hitler programming has typically done on the History
Channel. "I don't like to go to dinner parties, but if someone told me Adolf
Hitler was there and I could sit next to him, I'd definitely go," said Ms.
Nevins of HBO. "If Stalin was there, I'm not sure I'd be so interested."
Writing about Adolf Eichmann at his famous trial - the televised proceeding
that was instrumental in making the world aware of the Holocaust - Hannah
Arendt documented the banality of evil, and coined the phrase. But the evil
wasn't banal; the methodology was, using not witches' potions or Wagnerian
thunderbolts but the order and logic of bureaucracy to violate every
boundary of civilized relations. Don't forget, in addition to mapping out
the Final Solution, Hitler was responsible for developing a coherent system
of social security and health insurance in Germany.
In "Blind Spot," Junge, who died last year at 81, recognizes the incongruity
of Hitler's cruelty in the world and kindness to her, describing how during
her job interview he offered to carry an electric heater to her because the
room was cold.
You could say he was like the corporate chairman known equally well for his
philanthropy and corruption - except, as with Anthony Hopkins's grandfather,
the equation fails because the depths of corruption are beyond calculation.
"Hitler continues to fascinate because he presents the ultimate fairy tale,
where good and evil are so stark, and the outcome is known so it becomes
reassuring, in a way," said Libby O'Connell, the channel's resident
historian. Which may be why the new hypothesizing about psychosocial sources
of motivation are so disturbing. "If you threaten the fairy tale you
undermine the concept of absolute evil," Ms. O'Connell said. "Letting Hitler
have more than one dimension disrupts our understanding of how evil he was.
I think it makes him scarier because it makes him more complex."
But do these multi-dimensional interpretations actually make him more
comprehensible? By focusing on Hitler's neuroses, psychoses, insecurities
and sexual proclivities, do these inquiries sweep aside the question of
wider German culpability? No and no - no more than the scores of films about
the Holocaust explain or bring solace, even as they inform and memorialize.
That doesn't mean the questions shouldn't be asked, and the films shouldn't
be made, even at the risk of trivializing and distorting. It can't be better
to ignore evil, or to pretend that it's something apart from our humanity.
Finding the answer may be impossible; it's what you uncover along the way
that can be valuable.
A great many people object to Holocaust films as well, particularly works of
fiction (and usually not the filmed testimonies of survivors collected by
Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation). "I prefer restraint to excess, the
murmur of documentary to the script edited by tear-jerk specialists," Elie
Wiesel wrote in the introduction to a new, revised edition of "Indelible
Shadows: Film and the Holocaust," the Columbia University professor Annette
Insdorf's valuable analysis of these films. "To direct the massacre of Babi
Yar smells of blasphemy," Mr. Wiesel continued. "To make up extras as
corpses is obscene. Perhaps I am too severe, too demanding, but the
Holocaust as filmed romantic adventure seems to me an outrage to the memory
of the dead, and to sensitivities."
Yet like Hitler - because of Hitler - the Holocaust film has become a genre
that continues to thrive (perhaps a strange word to use in this context, but
there it is). Since her last update of "Indelible Shadows" in 1989, Ms.
Insdorf has added 170 new films and documentaries - and these don't include
two new films, "The Pianist" by Roman Polanski, which is currently in
theaters, and "Amen," the Costa-Gavras film that was shown at the
International Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York in June and that
was released in theaters last month.
It's worth remembering that the accumulation of fact and theory doesn't
necessarily bring wisdom. Look at Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary. "I
thought I was at the source of information," she says, "and in fact I was in
a blind spot." Better to turn on the lights.
Michael Jackson bares soul, face, in documentary
Thursday, February 6, 2003 Posted: 4:51 PM EST (2151 GMT)
In the "20/20" interview, Michael Jackson says his face was never
reshaped with plastic surgery.
THE JACKSON FILE
Full name: Michael Joseph Jackson
Born: August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana
The Jackson 5: Signed with Motown in 1968; first single released
in 1969. First four singles went to No. 1
First No. 1 solo song: "Ben," 1972
"The Wiz": Jackson co-starred with Diana Ross in the 1978
retelling of "The Wizard of Oz"
Thrilling achievements: 1982 album "Thriller" became the best
selling album of all time, selling more than 25 million copies. The album
produced seven Top Ten singles and won Jackson eight Grammy Awards
Bad is good: 1987 album, "Bad," became the first album to
produce five No. 1 hits. The supporting world concert tour was the
highest-grossing tour ever to that time
Trouble in Neverland: In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting
a 13-year-old boy on his Neverland Ranch. Jackson denied the allegation, and
no charges were ever filed. Jackson and the boy?s family settled out of
court in 1995
Wedding stories: Married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock
legend Elvis Presley, in 1994; marriage lasted 19 months later. Married
nurse Debbie Rowe, who is the mother of two of his children, 1996; couple
divorced in 1999
Hall of Fame: Jackson was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in 2001
LONDON, England (AP) -- People who wonder just what makes Michael Jackson
tick may get some questions answered Thursday night, when the mask-wearing,
baby-dangling songster appears on ABC's "20/20."
The show, which airs at 8 p.m. EST, is a documentary titled "Living With
Michael Jackson," that first aired Monday on British television. In the
broadcast, Jackson removed his mask, discussed the baby-dangling incident,
his plastic surgery, the child abuse allegations against him and other
aspects of his chaotic and troubled life.
In one scene, Jackson is even shown cradling his youngest child -- known by
the nickname Blanket -- as he feeds him a bottle of milk.
The self-styled King of Pop said that the infant son he dangled from a hotel
balcony in Germany was conceived by a surrogate mother.
"I used a surrogate mother and my own sperm cells. She doesn't know me and I
don't know her," he said.
But at another point in the 90-minute show, Jackson told journalist Martin
Bashir he had been in a relationship with the unidentified mother when the
baby was conceived.
Bashir -- well-known for an interview with Princess Diana, during which she
conceded being unfaithful to Prince Charles -- spent eight months making the
After the British telecast, Jackson said he was "devastated" by the program,
calling it "a gross distortion of the truth and a tawdry attempt to
misrepresent his life and his abilities as a father."
Full story - Read
'A terrible mistake'
In November, Jackson sparked worldwide outrage by briefly dangling his
infant son, Prince Michael II, from a fourth-floor hotel balcony in Berlin.
Fans outside the building cheered, but tabloids accused Jackson of reckless
endangerment. Since then, the 44-year-old singer has called the incident a
"terrible mistake," but did not use those words in the documentary.
Jackson denied he had endangered the baby's life in Berlin. "I would never
do that to my children, or any child. We were waving to thousands of fans
down below and they were chanting they wanted to see my child, so I was kind
enough to let them see," he told Bashir. "They got the full experience and
he enjoyed it."
The singer's 5-year-old son, Prince Michael I, and 4-year-old daughter,
Paris, were born during his marriage to Debbie Rowe, his plastic surgeon's
nurse, which ended in 1999. Jackson also was once married to Lisa Marie
Jackson has routinely kept his children's heads covered while escorting them
in public. He often wears a surgical mask himself to hide his face, although
he shed it for the documentary.
Jackson allowed the cameras to film all three of his children, but he still
kept their faces covered with a mask or a scarf because he doesn't want them
recognized in public, followed by paparazzi or kidnapped.
That plastic surgery ...
Jackson denied ever having had any alterations to his face other than two
operations on his nose because "it helped me breathe better so I can hit
He said his face was never reshaped with plastic surgery.
Jackson dangling his baby off a hotel room balcony in Berlin last
Jackson became a child star singing with his brothers in the Jackson 5, and
later had one of the most successful albums of all time, 1982's "Thriller,"
which sold an estimated 26 million copies in the United States.
He had strong follow-up albums with 1987's "Bad" and 1991's "Dangerous," but
his career began to collapse in 1993 after he was accused of molesting a
boy. Jackson has maintained his innocence, and reached a multimillion-dollar
settlement. Charges were never filed.
Jackson became visibly upset when Bashir asked about the case, saying he had
paid the family to avoid "a long, drawn-out thing on TV like O.J." Simpson.
When Bashir asked Jackson about his friendships with children, Jackson said:
"I have slept in a bed with many children."
"When you say 'bed,' you're thinking sexual," Jackson said. "It's not
sexual, we're going to sleep. I tuck them in. ... It's very charming, it's
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
We just launched the new HEALTHYPLACE.COM DEPRESSION CENTER.
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February 09, 2003
"Since it is seldom clear whether intellectual activity denotes a superior
mode of being or a vital deficiency, opinion swings between considering
intellect a privilege and seeing it as a handicap."
-- Jacques Martin Barzun (b. 1907), American educator, historian,
Dean of Graduate School, Columbia University
Barzun's father argued with another poet over the honor of
inventing what type of poetry?
View the choices and answer the challenge at
John A. Dicke PSY.D. J.D.
Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
950 S. Cherry St. #1116
Denver, CO 80246
Attachment Types Definition Page
Secure Attachment - Child rests comfortably in mother's arms and
makes good eye contact with child. Eye contact between mother and
child is reciprocal and both of them feel at one. When mother leaves
the child and separation occurs, the child feels distress. When
mother returns, the child is delighted to see the mother and the
mother is delighted to see the child. The child will quickly settle
into mother's arms and refuel. The child will be ready for a nap or
will be ready to venture into the world until he tires and is ready
to refuel again. This process will be repeated thousands of times
until object constancy is attained.
Anxious Avoidant - Characterized by anxiety and fright within the
child because he does not feel safe when he attempts a secure
attachment with mom. Mom may well be anxiously avoidantly attached
herself and doesn't trust physical closeness. The child is aware of
her discomfort and tends to keep the mother at a distance, thereby
preventing the child from being injured should he attempt to attach
and be rejected. He, however, does not allow the mother to get too
far away lest his abandonment anxiety become too great and he should
panic. This attachment style keeps the child in tension all of the
time but prevents him from having an acute anxiety attack should too
much separation occur or narcissistic injury should he be rejected.
Anxious Resistant - These children are insufferable and cry
constantly because their mothers drive them crazy. Their mothers
miss many cues as to the needs of their child and consequently, the
children are constantly frustrated. Frequently these mothers are
alternatively abandoning or intrusive. They may need to control
their children for their own narcissistic gratification by intruding
on them when the child does not want to be intruded upon. Or they
alternatively ignore the child when he has a legitimate need to be
met. These children are very angry, anxious and depressed. They
frequently become personality disordered, borderline or
narcissistically disordered delinquents.
Disorganized - This is the worst of all possible worlds, for these
children usually combine an anxious resistant attachment with post-
traumatic stress disorder resulting from child abuse. These children
present as chaotic and their attachment style with their parents is
frequently chaotic. Treatment of them is difficult because you are
not only treating the traumatized attachment but also the trauma of
abuse. They are frequently in a state of chronic hyperarousal and
the effects on the limbic system in terms of hippocampal atrophy are
dramatic. They do not have the ability to soothe themselves and do
not trust soothing by others.
by Harriet Rubin
from FC issue 64, page 68
Read more stories from this November 2002 issue
You want a story of CEO power? The kind of CEO who ends up with his
picture on the cover of every business magazine and who gets
celebrated for his strategic brilliance and ﬁnancial performance?
The kind of CEO who's never held accountable for how he runs his
company? The kind of CEO who's responsible for the train wreck
that's undermining any conﬁdence we used to have in corporate
America? Here's the story, a true fable, told to me by a person who
"I heard about it in the early 1990s," my conﬁdant says, "from the
COO, a straight arrow if ever there was one. The CEO of his company -
- you probably own the stock, and probably so did your father -- is
traveling with this COO to a meeting in Paris. Two ﬂight attendants
fuss over them, and when they land, the CEO invites them to his
hotel for drinks. 'Which one do you want?' he asks his
COO. 'Neither,' the COO replies. 'I'm happily married.' He wonders
if that's the right answer, given that the CEO has recently
remarried. The CEO's suite is at the top of the George V. He goes to
draw a bath so that he and his guests can freshen up but gets
distracted by the ﬂight attendants, who are giggling in the bedroom.
The tub, abandoned for hours, overﬂows, and the ceiling in the room
below crashes to the ﬂoor in the middle of the night. But this is
the George V, a hotel accustomed to the ways of the rich and
infamous, so no one says a word. When the CEO and COO check out a
few days later, the hotel discreetly hands the CEO a bill for the
repairs. The CEO passes the bill to the COO and says, 'Take care of
this.' The COO notices that the repairs equal his annual salary. He
hands the bill back to his boss. 'The company can't take care of
this,' he says. When he arrives back in his New York ofﬁce, the COO
ﬁnds an envelope waiting for him, much like the one he'd been handed
in Paris. Inside is a copy of the bill, with a note telling him that
he's been ﬁred. His successor's ﬁrst job: Take care of the hotel
This is not a story about CEO sex, or "boys will be boys," or even
the misuse of company funds. This is a story about executive
narcissism, the dark side of corporate leaders. Executive narcissism
is the story behind the story at Enron, WorldCom, and every other
highﬂier turned skid mark. The only question is, Why is narcissism
still such an effective power strategy?
Here's the working deﬁnition of executive narcissists: They do the
boozing, and you get the headache. Write that down, and put it in
your billfold. Read it the next time you get a call from Bernie or
Martha, Dennis or Jeff, Jack or even old William Jefferson -- or any
other presumed hero. These are America's leading narcissists. They
never say thank you, and they use people like Kleenex.
Even worse, the way that these narcissists treat people in their own
organizations is a prescription for personal disaster. Rick Smith
knows ﬁrsthand. As a co - managing director for the executive
recruiter Spencer Stuart and coauthor of the forthcoming book The 5
Patterns of Extraordinary Careers ( Crown Business, 2003 ), Smith
has seen his share of narcissistic CEOs -- and the impact that they
have on the lives of others. "A narcissistic boss is the most
dangerous," Smith says. "Narcissists seduce people into believing
that they'll be a success and that they can ride their coattails.
Narcissists are self-conﬁdent, vocal, and alluring individuals. But
they don't share their success. What's more, they don't have a lot
of substance. They make a lot of decisions, but it's rare that they
make the very best decisions. Over time, this catches up with them.
If you work with a narcissist, you think that you have to give up
control in order to share in his success. So you don't get to
develop yourself. You end up with golden handcuffs: Because of your
investment and the narcissist's apparent success, it's hard to
leave. When that success disappears, you're left with nothing."
Why do narcissistic leaders rise to the top? They succeed, Smith
says, "when growth and success happen disproportionately fast. In
the more sober business environments, success takes longer to
happen, so your success is going to be based more on your
performance than on promises." But as we've seen, what goes up
disproportionately fast comes crashing down just as fast.
The ﬁnancial losses may actually amount to less than the human
losses. I know one New York therapist who used to treat narcissists,
but gave up on them because they never listened to criticism. His
real practice is to treat the people who work for narcissists.
For some of these victims, he prescribes watches. "They vibrate
every ﬁve minutes to remind the wearer to breathe," he says. "People
who've been exposed to narcissists forget to breathe. They tighten
up as if they're putting on armor to protect themselves against the
psychic blows. Narcissists always remind you of how great they are
and, comparatively, how weak you are. Psychically, it hurts to be
Is there an alternative? Or are we doomed to endless cycles of build-
and-burn narcissists who seduce us into their ranks, only to drive
themselves, their companies -- and us -- into a ditch? According to
Smith, the answer is in leaders one might describe as "peer plus
"Executives can have strong egos and not be narcissists at all,"
Smith says. "Michael Dell, for example, brought in a strong board.
Bill Gates had an ofﬁce of the president, which consisted of four
people sharing the power. Successful people do have strong egos. But
those who succeed over the long haul delegate and create a team of
peers. Ultimately, you can't succeed by yourself. You just burn
out." Or crash through to the room below you.
Harriet Rubin ( hrubin@... ), a Fast Company senior
writer, has written two books on power. Find her columns on the Web
( http://www.fastcompany.com/keyword/rubin ).
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Simon Bolivar is a Latin American folk hero, revered for having been
a revolutionary freedom fighter, a compassionate egalitarian and a
successful politician. He is credited with the liberation from
Spanish colonial yoke of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and
Bolivia, a country named after him. Venezuela's new strongman, Hugo
Chavez, renamed his country The Bolivarian republic of Venezuela to
reflect the role of his "Bolivarian revolution".
Yet, while alive, Bolivar was a much hated dictator and - at the
beginning of his career - a military failure.
His aide and friend, Gen. Daniel O'Leary, an Irish soldier described
"His chest was narrow, his figure slender, his legs particularly
thin. His skin was swarthy and rather coarse. His hands and feet
were small …a woman might have envied them. His expression, when he
was in good humor, was pleasant, but it became terrible when he was
aroused. The change was unbelievable."
Bolivar explained his motives:
"I confess this (the coronation of Napoleon in 1804) made me think
of my unhappy country and the glory which he would win who should
And, later, after a victory against the Spaniards in 1819:
"The triumphal arches, the flowers, the hymns, the acclamations, the
wreaths offered and placed upon my head by the hands of lovely
maidens, the fiestas, the thousand demonstrations of joy are the
least of the gifts that I have received," he wrote. "The greatest
and dearest to my heart are the tears, mingled with the rapture of
happiness, in which I have been bathed and the embraces with which
the multitude have all but crushed me."
Venezuela became independent in 1811 and Bolivar, being a minor -
though self-aggrandizing - political figure, had little to do with
it. After his first major military defeat, in defending the coastal
town of Puerto Cabello against royalist insurgents out to oust the
newly independent Venezuela, he advocated the creation of a
professional army (in the Cartagena Manifesto). Far from being a
revolutionary he, justly, opposed the reliance on guerrilleros and
He then reconquered Caracas, Venezuela's capital, at the head of a
small army and declared himself a dictator. He made Congress award
him the title of El Libertador (the Liberator). The seeds of his
personality cult were sown. When he lost Caracas to the royalists in
yet another botched campaign, he retreated and captured Bogotá, the
capital city of Colombia in December 1814.
After a series of uninterrupted military defeats, Bolivar exiled
himself to Jamaica. In a sudden conversion, he published the Jamaica
Letter (1815) in which he supported a model of government akin to
the British parliamentary system - yet, only following a phase
of "guided leadership" (identical to Hitler's "Fuhrerprinzip").
But the self-anointed leader did not hesitate to desert his soldiers
and leave them stranded after yet another of his military exploits -
an attempt to capture Caracas - unraveled in 1816. He simply
defected to Haiti, letting his loyal troops fend for themselves as
best they could.
There followed a string of successful - even brilliant - battles and
coalitions with local warlords and politicians which culminated in
the liberation of Peru. In 1824, Bolivar was declared dictator - or,
to be precise, "Emperor" - of Peru and commander in chief of its
army. Bolivar liked power and its trappings. In the constitution he
composed in 1826, he suggested that the president of Bolivia - the
name given to the entire region, except Peru - should be appointed
for life and should have the right to choose his successor.
This president - presumably, Bolivar - was described unabashedly by
Bolivar himself as:
"The sun which, fixed in its orbit, imparts life to the universe. …
Upon him rests our entire order, notwithstanding his lack of powers …
a life term president, with the power to choose his successor, is
the most sublime inspiration amongst republican regimes."
In a letter to Santander, the Liberator expounded:
"I am convinced, to the very marrow of my bones, that our America
can only be ruled through a well-managed, shrewd despotism."
The National Geographic describes how:
"William Tudor, the American consul at Lima, wrote in 1826 of
the 'deep hypocrisy' of Bolívar, who allowed himself to be deceived
by the 'crawling, despicable flattery of those about him.' Later,
John Quincy Adams would define Bolívar's military career
as 'despotic and sanguinary' and state baldly that 'he cannot
disguise his hankering after a crown.' In Bogotá the U. S. minister
and future president, Gen. William Henry Harrison, accused Bolívar
of planning to turn Gran Colombia into a monarchy: 'Under the mask
of patriotism and attachment to liberty, he has really been
preparing the means of investing himself with arbitrary power.' "
When, in 1828, a constitutional convention in Colombia rejected
amendments to the constitution that he proposed, Bolivar assumed
dictatorial powers in a coup d'etat.
Now, Bolivar was the oppressor. He has murdered, or exiled his
political rivals throughout his career. He confiscated church funds
and imposed onerous taxes on the populace. Consequently,
the "Liberator" faced numerous uprisings and narrowly escaped an
assassination attempt. By the time he died he was so despised that
the government of Venezuela refused to allow his body onto its soil.
It took 12 years of constant petitioning by the family to let his
remains be interred in the country that he helped found.
A Few Warped Brains and a Bunch of Dumb Pinkys
by Bob Wallace
I don't watch much TV anymore. I think it was a combination of West Wing and
Ally McBeal that did me in. What little I do watch tends to be cartoons.
There's a lot of wisdom hidden in cartoons. One archetype that exists in
them is what I call the "would-be world conqueror." This is someone like The
Brain, from Pinky and the Brain.
This archetype wouldn't exist unless there was truth to it. The Brain
illustrates one of the main sources of evil in the world - power-mad humans
who want political power so they can rule. In religion, this lust for power
and the desire to rule is illustrated by the story of Satan.
This combination of love of power and political power is particularly nasty.
These power-mad people are always narcissistic, i.e., they are grandiose
people who reduce others to the status of things.
Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, writes
this: "the narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of
omnipotence and omniscience are exacerbated by real life authority." But
those grandiose self-delusions co-exist with a fragile sense of self-worth,
often masking deep insecurities. About this Dr. Vaknin writes, "the
narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate
even a hint of criticism and disagreement."
The above is why someone like The Brain wants to conquer the world and why
he can't tolerate criticism.
In real life, there have only been a handful of Brains - Hitler, Stalin, Mao
Tse-Tung, Pol Pot. Yet the havoc they have wreaked has been catastrophic.
How could such a small amount of people be responsible for such horrors?
Because, as the wisdom of cartoons teaches us, there is another archetype.
This one is the "amiable but stupid" helper. This would be Pinky.
In real life Pinky would be Mass Man - the huge mass of people who go along
with what the rulers say, even though they stumble to their deaths. The
power-mad warped Brains want to conquer, and the stupid but lovable Pinkys
are all too willing them follow them. "We have met the enemy," said Pogo
years ago, "and they is us."
Aesop, for one, saw through the folly of the human race thousands of years
ago, when he wrote about wolves and sheep in his fables.
Why is Pinky so stupid? One reason might be that the average IQ is 100. The
more people who get together, the more the IQ tends toward 100. If Pinky is
Mass Man, then he certainly can't be that bright.
I think there is more to the problem, though. Pinky might not be that
bright, but why does he almost adore The Brain and follow him everywhere? He
actually seems to think The Brain is smarter than he is, and he should
listen to what he says, and follow him.
Obviously, there is some sort of desire in people to look up to their
leaders and trust them. This is appalling, since the history of the world
has shown that most "leaders" turn out to be cartoon Brains.
I suspect this desire in people to look up to their leaders is based on
their hope that someone really does know what's going on, and can take care
of them and give them security. This sounds more like children looking up to
parents than adults standing on their own two feet. Pinky may be an innocent
child, but The Brain is not an admirable adult.
And I sometimes wonder if Pinky isn't called Pinky because it's the name of
the little finger - the least important one controlled by The Brain.
Pinky and the Brain points to the fact that societies are always going to be
ruled by a very small minority of people. If Pinky is Mass Man, then
democracy certainly won't work. I'm not familiar with any first-class
thinker in the history of the world who ever supported democracy. The
Founding Fathers took a very dim view of it.
Pinky and the Brain also informs us the people that must be watched out for,
and always denied political power, are those who want it. Apparently this me
ans those who don't want political power - those who have no desire to rule
over others - are exactly the kind of people who should rule.
Who needs Ph.D.s in Political Science and Psychology? To get one of the
finest educations available, all you have to do is watch cartoons. They
entertain and educate. And the lesson they teach us is that ultimately we
are responsible for our leaders.
And what cartoons teach us is that every time we look at politicians, we
should superimpose a picture of The Brain over them. And every time we start
to believe anything a politician says, we should realize it's our Inner
Pinky talking to us.
February 10, 2003
Bob Wallace [send him mail], a former newspaper reporter and editor, and an
incurable lover of puns from St. Louis, is now traveling the country.
Copyright © 2003 LewRockwell.com
this article appeared in 'The Observer'...
I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's
running out of patience. And so am I! For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel,who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is.
As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one.
Some of my neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours.
They'll come up with endless red tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people. Since I'm the only one in the street with a decent range of automatic firearms, I reckon it's up to me to keep the peace. But until recently that's been a little difficult.
Now, however, George W. Bush has made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can wade in and do whatever I want!
And let's face it, Mr Bush's carefully thought-out policy towards Iraq is the only way to bring about international peace and security. The one certain way to stop Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers targeting the US or the UK is to bomb a few Muslim countries that have never threatened us.
That's why I want to blow up Mr Johnson's garage and kill his wife and children.
Strike first! That'll teach him a lesson. Then he'll leave us in peace and stop peering at me in that totally unacceptable way.
Mr Bush makes it clear that all he needs to know before bombing Iraq is that Saddam is a really nasty man and that he has weapons of mass destruction
even if no one can find them. I'm certain I've just as much justification for killing Mr Johnson's wife and children as Mr Bush has for bombing Iraq.
Mr Bush's long-term aim is to make the world a safer place by eliminating 'rogue states' and 'terrorism'. It's such a clever long-term aim because how can you ever know when you've achieved it? How will Mr Bush know when he's wiped out all terrorists? When every single terrorist is dead? But then a terrorist is only a terrorist once he's committed an act of terror. What about would-be terrorists?
These are the ones you really want to eliminate, since most of the known
terrorists, being suicide bombers, have already eliminated themselves.
Perhaps Mr Bush needs to wipe out everyone who could possibly be a future terrorist? Maybe he can't be sure he's achieved his objective until every Muslim fundamentalist is dead? But then some moderate Muslims might convert to fundamentalism. Maybe the only really safe thing to do would be for Mr Bush to eliminate all Muslims?
It's the same in my street. Mr Johnson and Mr Patel are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other people in the street who I don't like and who -
quite frankly - look at me in odd ways. No one will be really safe until I've wiped them all out.
My wife says I might be going too far but I tell her I'm simply using the same logic as the President of the United States. That shuts her up.
Like Mr Bush, I've run out of patience, and if that's a good enough reason for the President, it's good enough for me. I'm going to give the whole street two weeks
- no, 10 days - to come out in the open and hand over all aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar terrorist masterminds, and if they don't hand them over nicely and say 'Thank you', I'm going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come.
It's just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing - and, in contrast to what he's intending, my policy will destroy only one street
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