When it comes to the topic of narcissism, you might be surprised to learn that psychologists still hotly debate what narcissism actually is. Some say they have very high self-esteem, others that they have very low self-esteem. Others that they are self-aware and clever, others that they’re cognitively deficient and barely aware of themselves as active participants in their lives at all. Object relations theory suggests something is fundamentally wrong in their perception of objects both internal and external. Some say they don’t have any empathy, others that they have empathy, but they just don’t care. More importantly for a therapist; some say they can be treated successfully, but others that they are completely beyond rehabilitation. Then there are countless others who take up various positions between those ranges, and some additional views that I haven’t even mentioned. The only things that psychologists seem to agree on regarding narcissism is that they’re very difficult people to get along with; they tend to avoid therapy, they’re very easily offended, they are horrible parents, they’re almost never happy, and they’re controlling and destructive.
So when I talk about narcissism it is important that I am clear about what I am talking about, but also I often think with all the debate and disagreement among experts in the field maybe I should use a new term altogether in referring to them. I tend to use the term “tyranni” to refer to narcissists because for me the most distinctive aspect about a narcissist is not their supposed “self-love”, which is hotly debated, but their pervasive desire to dominate and subvert all their relationships: to act as little tyrants so to speak, hence I call them tyranni meaning “the little tyrants”. For this article I will use the term narcissism, but rest assured if I ever write a book about them I will probably call them tyranni instead.
The topic of narcissism is intensely interesting to me, I could really write a book about narcissists, I even have my own private word for describing them, “tyranni” which I think is clearer in describing them and their perfidious nature. However, in the interests of keeping my blog updated I thought I would share a few thoughts I’ve been having recently regarding the topic of bonding and how it concerns the nature of narcissists.
Bonding is a complicated subject, and one that is often brought to my attention by people asking me about women who have had multiple sexual partners and how compromised their ability to bond is. I am familiar with the research being referenced here, and statistically it is true, women who have had multiple sexual partners before marriage are a very high risk of divorce… However, statistics are not as straight forward to interpret at they may appear. For instance, how many of those women had lost (or lacked) the ability to bond before they had any sexual partners? I mean, is multiple sexual partners the cause of the lack of ability to bond or was their lack of ability to bond the cause of them having so many sexual partners?
Consider it this way, these women had to have a first time with someone, so why didn’t they just bond with him?
One of the surest ways to get yourself in an awkward or aggravating situation these days is to bring up the topic of gender. Gender, once exclusively the domain of grammar, not biology, has become a political issue of the most taboo kind, especially if you are in university. In fact, the gender debate played a large role in my decision to withdraw from my PhD candidature and leave the academic environment. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in the ideas surrounding gender, but even though I was fascinated in the topic, and wanted to explore it, I did want to explore the topic in directions completely different to what is currently considered acceptable on university campuses.
The traditional view of gender, if there is indeed such a thing, is a difficult concept to pin down. I often muse to myself that maybe grammatical conventions started it all because words with a pretty ending were generally called “feminine” while words with a strong ending were called “masculine” and if people couldn’t agree if an ending was sufficiently pretty or strong to be either then it was “neuter”. I bet those early grammarians had no idea the chaos that would be unleashed on future generations thanks to their colourful scheme used to classify nouns. But I digress, let’s suppose for the sake of argument that there is a traditional view of gender and that femininity is emotional, empathic, relationship focused, and receptive. Conversely, masculine nature is rational, assertive, systematic, and mathematical. Yes, many people, myself included, would dispute these definitions as being too narrow, but this is just for illustrative purposes.
Now, let’s ask ourselves: how many men and women actually have genders that match these descriptions? Continue reading
A friend of mine has been urging me to take up blogging again to share my thoughts so more people can benefit from them. It’s a nice idea, but what should I write about? Fortunately, providence stepped in for me as I was walking home from the chemist this evening. There in a shop window was a large sign saying, “Every child deserves a happy life.” After reading such a fascinating sign I realised that I would have to write about this as soon as I got home.
In context, this sign was asking for people to donate to a charity that provides Christmas presents to children from poor families. Clearly, they were engaged in some form of flattery to suggest that giving such an unfortunate child a gift from a random stranger would somehow also give that child a happy life. While such subtle flattery is a sound strategy to get money from people, it is with sadness that I suggest that whatever the root cause of the hypothetical child’s sorrowful condition will far outweigh the impact of one random gift.
That said, I commend the spirit of such a charity. It might not be capable of giving an unfortunate child a happy life, but it could nonetheless shine a beam of hope and gratitude into their heart which could help them find happiness for themselves later on.
There is an experience that almost every man can relate to. Imagine that there’s an attractive girl that you would like to flirt with at the office. Some guy called Rufus walks up to her and casually says, “Hey Gloria, you’re looking sexy today.” Gloria responds by giggling and bashfully telling him to stop, even though she doesn’t really mean it. You decide to go up to try this on a different girl. Because it worked so well for Rufus, why not try it yourself? So you walk up to Meredith and say, “Hey Meredith, you’re looking sexy today.” However, Meredith doesn’t giggle. Instead she looks at you with the expression you might have from watching a dog eat horse poop and starts calling HR to report you. While you’re waiting for someone in HR to come humiliate you, you’re standing there wondering, “But I did exactly what Rufus did, so how come it’s having the opposite effect for me?”
The confusion stems from the failure to be sufficiently aware about how attraction works for women. In this case, Rufus is tall, well groomed, and wearing a $2,000 suit. Meanwhile you forgot to shower this morning, your hair is a tangle, and you’ve taken advantage of casual Friday and are in flip flops and wearing a t-shirt. In short, Rufus is the kind of man a woman would like to get attention from, while you are not a man a woman wants anywhere near her. It has nothing to do with what you said, but everything to do with who you are and the choices you have made so far in your life. It might seem really unfair how Meredith reacted to you, and you might be tempted to get angry with her for being “creeped out” but consider this: Just say you were at a party and a fat hairy-faced woman covered in acne started rubbing herself up against you. This is what it feels like to a woman when an unattractive man flirts with her. Continue reading
Recently a few people have been asking me about my opinion on self-therapy. Self-therapy is when a person decides to attempt to fix their problems on their own without any assistance from a mental health professional (defined as a person who provides therapy as their profession). When it comes to the intentions behind self-therapy, I can find nothing to object to, as it is a desire for self-improvement and self-improvement is virtuous activity. However, self-therapy is still a path fraught with obstacles and potential dangers. While I could compile a longer list of potential pitfalls for those attempting self-therapy, I have decided to focus on three in particular here. I have chosen these three because, when considering what skills one needs to have in order to succeed at self-therapy, these three are probably the most valuable:
2. A willingness to experience emotional pain/discomfort
Unfortunately, these are not common traits to have by chance alone. If you are missing just one of these traits, then self-therapy is going to be a pointless or even counter-productive exercise no matter how hard you try. Continue reading
The word hypergamy is being used more frequently, so much so that my spell checker now recognises it as a word. Hypergamy is a term borrowed from biology that refers to one sex’s preference for a mate who is smarter, stronger, taller, more mature, and wealthier than they are. It has been appropriated from biology by some groups in the manosphere and is now frequently used to describe human females and their preferential mating strategy for a man smarter, taller, stronger, wiser, and especially wealthier than she is. However, the opposite mating preference, hypogamy, is still not recognised by my spellcheck and I haven’t read it outside of academic essays relating to biology. Hypogamy is a preference for a mate dimmer, weaker, shorter, less mature, and poorer than oneself. While I have read and heard a lot of discussion about women and hypergamy, I don’t think that there’s nearly enough attention to men and their tendency for pursuing a lower quality mate. Indeed, it is a common complaint from women that they have to play dumb with men, play down their virtues, or even hide their wealth, so as to avoiding intimidating men who shy away from women they don’t feel they are good enough for. Men who date women taller or smarter than them usually get some mockery for this from other men, implying the ideal is to have a weaker dumber girlfriend. An obvious exception is physical beauty. This is possibly the only aspect of hypergamy that men display, except even with this most men are still more willing to sleep with a low quality woman than a woman is to sleep with a low quality man. It often surprises men when they find out that fat women report more sexual attention than thinner women. Continue reading
You have reached the point in your life where you have decided that things can’t keep going on the way they are now. Depression is ruining your career, anxiety is keeping you up all night, you can’t stop fighting with your spouse, you feel there’s no joy or meaning in life anymore, you’re angry all the time, or any other number of problems pushing you to the limits of what you can take. Once you reach the conclusion for yourself that you want to live a better life then you are ready to make the effort to change. This is a significant milestone and a good sign that things in your life are ready to start improving. The next stage is asking yourself, “But how should I change?”
This is not an easy question to answer because simply recognising that your patterns of behaviour in action or in thought are dysfunctional is only the beginning of the struggle. One needs to know what healthy behaviour looks like and one needs to stay on the path towards changing those bad habits into good habits. This is why you need a therapist. You need a therapist because your current lifestyle and values are no longer functioning sufficiently to keep going. You need a specialist in helping take your life apart piece by piece to find and examine the problems and identify possible solutions. This essay will cover several keys arguments for why you need a therapist, with an obvious emphasis on the particular strengths of what a philosophical therapist can offer you. Before going into why you need a therapist, I just want to cover a misconception that many people have: that a therapist is there to tell you what to do. Continue reading
There are five traditionally accepted branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, politics, aesthetics, and ethics. Each branch answers specific questions that have a profound impact on our lives. Because each branch is focused on answering particular types of questions, it is possible for different branches to give different solutions to the same problem. Consider the branches of aesthetics and ethics. Aesthetics is concerned with the questions of what is beauty, what is ugliness, and how can beauty improve our lives, while ethics concerns the questions of what is right, what is wrong, and how can we make the best decisions. It might seem strange to some that these two branches can be confused with each other, but consider the following scenario where a person uses aesthetics, the awareness of beauty, as their approach to solving a problem.
Henry adores his daughter Beth’s smile. Nothing pleases him more than to see Beth smiling beautifully; likewise, the sight of his daughter crying fills him with revulsion. One evening, Beth comes to Henry and asks if she could have some extra dessert. Henry asks what her mother has said about this. Beth breaks down into tears and says that her mother has told her she isn’t to have any more dessert tonight unless she cleans her room. Henry recoils from the sight of his lovely daughter’s face spoiled by tears and he wishes he could gaze upon her cheeky, beautiful smile again. So he tells her that of course she may go and have some extra dessert. Beth’s face lights up with joy and Henry feels happy to see his favourite smile in the whole world again. Continue reading
On a whim last week I picked up a copy of (Thomas) Bulfinch’s Mythology from Costco. Purely for the inspiration it might give me for my writing. However, after reading out a story to a friend it occurred to me it might be amusing to share my analysis of the characters from a therapist’s perspective. This is at the risk of coming across as one of those people who can never detach themselves from their work and just relax! Anyway, because this post relates to both my writing and the therapy work I have decided to post to both of my sites.
My professional website: philosophicaltherapist.com
My writing blog: sophisticatednonsense.blog.
Apollo and Daphne
The first line of a story is important. It sets the entire scene. In fact, the first line of a story should be the last line the author writes in my opinion. The first line of this fable tells us this: “Daphne was Apollo’s first love.” Here we have the word ‘love’ used and it is important to keep in mind that ‘love’ is a weasel word. It can mean almost anything to anyone. It might mean, “like” in the context of “I love ice cream”, it might mean sexual lust, “I love that babe in the swimsuit over there,” and it might mean a willingness to self-sacrifice, “the soldiers died for the love of their nation.” In fact love can mean just about anything a person wants it to mean: “if you loved me you would say ‘yes’ to me” versus “it’s because I love you that I say ‘no’ to you.” What does it mean that Daphne was Apollo’s first love? The reader should keep this question in mind all the way through this fable. Continue reading