heers! In tumult and uproar again, so the senses whirl around like weather vanes in a storm.  The wild noise has thundered into me such a feeling of well-being that I really begin to feel a little better.  To have ridden so many hundreds of miles so as to bring you into the obliterating frenzy!  Mad heart!  You should thank me for it!  Rage and then take it easy!  Refresh yourself in confusion!  How are you?

the first line of the play Sturm und Drang, Storm and Stress, by Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, from 1777, the era from which America’s ideals of freedom came.

 

       

 

 

Me, talking to critters at age four.

(Me at age ten, my fifth-grade school portrait.  “OK, kid, try to look as hyperthymic as possible...”)

         

Me, now.

 

     

 

 

 


       


ivacious, earthy, gregarious, and soulful... Doesn’t that sound like your ideal person?  Wouldn’t you love to surround yourself with people like this?   I do!

 

Well, here’s how:

The above description would apply to most of those who have what science calls “hyperthymic personalities,” and I’ve long called “chronically manic personalities.”  And yes, that means exactly what it sounds like.  Just as chronically depressed personalities look like depression diluted to the degree that would be within the range of people leading normal lives, chronically manic personalities look like a manic state of mind, diluted to the degree that would be within the range of people leading normal lives.  (And, as the following shows, mood disorders are so common in the USA that they certainly aren’t aberrant.)  That means that hyperthymic personalities tend to be attractive for reasons that are the opposite of the reasons why many find chronically depressed personalities unattractive, along with some other brilliant qualities.

In essence, what hyperthymics tend to look like, is the celebrities who attract hordes of groupies, charismatic smart creative and idealistically caring, but also tending to have plenty of artistic-temperament-style behavior problems, such as boozing, doping, irascibility, flamboyant eccentricities, and irresponsibility.  If you surrounded yourself with all of the celebrities who attract hordes of groupies, you sure would tend to associate with people who have artistic-temperament-style behavior problems, so you could very easily seem to have a subconscious codependent attraction to artistic-temperament-style behavior problems.  Yet the only groupies who are attracted to the boozing and doping, are those who want to share the booze and dope.  It might seem strange that the very same hyperthymic person who’s very attractive most of the time,

could also be very problematic some of the time,

but that’s the reality.

I talked about this with one of my soul-mate boyfriends, who said that he noticed this too and thinks of our kind of people as “the beautiful people” because of our soulfulness, depth of insight, compassion, earthy folksy warmth, freedom of spirit, and the celebrating of all this by trying to share it with others.  Dr. Peter Kramer, in his book Listening to Prozac, wrote, “Psychiatrists have begun to recognize a normal or near-normal condition called ‘hyperthymia,’ which corresponds loosely to what the Greeks called the sanguine temperament.”  The Merriam Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines sanguine as, “having blood as the predominating bodily humor; also : having the bodily conformation and temperament held characteristic of such predominance and marked by sturdiness, high color, and cheerfulness.”  Sounds exciting, don’t it?  Dr. Kramer goes on, “Hyperthymia is distinct from mania or hypomania, the disorders in which people are grandiose, frenetic, distractible, and flawed in their judgment.  Hyperthymics are merely optimistic, decisive, quick of thought, charismatic, energetic, and confident.”  The list of adjectives describing hyperthymics from Dr. Hagop Akiskal, that Kramer gives, is, “‘irritable,’ ‘cheerful,’ ‘overoptimistic,’ ‘exuberant,’ ‘overconfident,’ ‘self-assured,’ ‘boastful,’ ‘bombastic,’ ‘grandiose,’ ‘full of plans,’ ‘improvident,’ ‘impulsive,’ ‘overtalkative,’ ‘warm,’ ‘people-seeking,’ ‘extraverted,’ ‘overinvolved,’ ‘meddlesome,’ ‘uninhibited,’ ‘stimulus-seeking,’ and/or ‘promiscuous.’  They are habitual short sleepers, even on weekends.”

Along with this are the brilliant qualities that these people tend to have, that they tend to be very smart and/or creative.  The On Being Bipolar - Home Page describes hyperthymics as, “bright, intelligent, intuitive and creative creatures.  My psychiatrist jokes that people wish that they could experience hypomania so they could feel the energy that oozes from you,” so we tend to really make a mark in society.

George Becker wrote about the Romantic era of Central European culture, in the beginning of the 19th Century, which included Sturm und Drang literature, “The aura of ‘mania’ endowed the genius with a mystical and inexplicable quality that served to differentiate him from the typical man, the bourgeois, the philistine, and, quite importantly, the ‘mere’ man of talent; it established him as the modern heir of the ancient Greek poet and seer and, like his classical counterpart, enabled him to claim some of the powers and privileges granted to the ‘divinely possessed’ and ‘inspired.’”

As Romantic philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in The World as Will and Representation, “Learning does not take the place of genius, because it also furnishes only concepts; the knowledge of genius, however, consists in the apprehension of the (Platonic) Ideas of things, and is therefore essentially intuitive.”  Or, just in case you think that “Platonic idea” sounds too philosophical and theoretical, a hyperthymic friend of mine called what hyperthymics tend to have a sense for recognizing, the “crux” of things.

A CNN special on genius, ended with Dr. Sanjay Gupta saying, “The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said that talent hits a target that no one else can hit, but genius hits a target that no one else can see.”  Here you could see both creative thinking, and flash-of-insight thinking.  This must be what “flash of genius” means.  Martin Buber, in Ecstatic Confessions, his collection of quotes from the followers of various mystical religions describing mystical experiences, uses the German word

to describe the ineffability of mystical experiences, a word that also means flash-of-insight thinking. 

When Luck Runs Out, a book from 1985 by Robert Custer MD and Harry Milt, says about pathological gamblers, who are very likely to be hyperthymic, “Put them to the task of working out a practical problem or throw them into a brand-new situation, and you’ll see how quickly they come up with an answer, a solution, a way out.  It has less to do with abstract reasoning than it does with ‘figuring out the angles,’ ‘getting the point,’ ‘seeing the pitfalls and the advantages.’  They seem, also, to have an uncanny ability to know what is going on in another person’s mind, to anticipate what he is going to do and to plan their next move accordingly.”

The quick thinking is flash-of-insight thinking, which is very intuitive, as are panache and “reading” other people, sensing what’s going on in their minds.  Panache wouldn’t be panache if it came from “mere” talent, learning, prolonged thinking, abstract reasoning, etc.  And you’d be amazed how similar panache and verve are to scientific innovativeness, including the art of medicine.  “The point” of something, is the practical way of saying “the [Platonic] idea” of it.

Since I have a hyperthymic personality myself, for most of my life I felt inherently different from most people, but similar to certain others, as if either you’re one of us or you’re not.  That did indeed turn out to be the case.  I’ve also discovered that learning about us could be very useful to anyone, both possibly in understanding yourself, and in helping others answer questions that they’ve always had.  For example, you might think that it’s every distinctively different when someone gets agitated (at himself, or anyone or anything else) about something trivial, by going hysterical for a few seconds to a few minutes, and then suddenly acting like everything’s normal again as if he suddenly snapped out of a brain malfunction.  (You could recognize this especially easily if you have that intuition that really sees the Platonic Ideas of things, because the basic idea of how that comes across is, “Intuitively, what’s wrong with this picture?”.  Yet my ability to recognize this has greatly impressed at least one person, as well as answering his life’s biggest question, of what makes his mind different from most people’s, though for a very particular reason he should have figured that out a lot sooner than I did.

And if you’re one of us, your idealistic-artist soulfulness could make you want to help others, especially when that won’t cost you much.  The sharing of this good feeling with others, was something that I did a lot of when I was in college, giving moral support to chronically depressed guys, which is how I first became interested in the whole subject of depression.  Here’s some stuff which tells exactly what that’s like, out of, believe it or not, the Bible.  The prelude is Song of Solomon 1:5,6:


I am black, but comely,
O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
as the tents of Kedar,
as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black,
because the sun hath looked upon me:
my mother’s children were angry with me;
they made me the keeper of the vineyards;
but mine own vineyard have I not kept.


And then, in Song of Solomon 2:8-15, which tells what it’s like to share such good feelings with such a hurt, depressed person:

The voice of my beloved!
behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a roe,
or a young hart:
behold,
he standeth behind our wall,
he looketh forth at the windows,
shewing himself through the lattice.
My beloved spake,
and said unto me,
Rise up, my love,
my fair one,
and come away.
For lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land:
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs,
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise my love, my fair one,
and come away.
O my dove,
that art in the clefts of the rocks,
in the secret places of the stairs,
let me see thy countenance,
let me hear thy voice,
for sweet is thy voice,
and thy countenance is comely.
Take us the foxes,
the little foxes,
that spoil the vines;
for our vines have tender grapes.


 

There you have it, vivacious earthy gregarious and soulful, as well as poetic.  That guy was certainly a lot of fun, exactly my type, though by modern standards his nurturing relationship to his hurt wife would mean that he was codependent.  Oh, well.

 

As I start out my My Story webpage:  Have you ever noticed that some people have an extra warmth and sparkle that most people don’t have?  These people could be described as perpetually enthusiastic and outgoing, so they’re exactly the sort of person you’d want to surround yourself with. This is the sort of spark that either you’ve got it or you don’t; you can’t fake it. This is something like the infectiously full-of-life character of the facial expression of Nikola Tesla in his Victorian-era photo below, and that ain’t no typical Victorian-era portrait.  You also may have noticed that these people tend to be not only smarter than most, bright brilliant and sharp, but they also tend to have both a warmth and a deep-level awareness that most people are clearly lacking, so these people could seem unusually idealistic and cosmopolitan.  Their entire personalities can have an intense, expressive, deep quality that could be called “histrionics of the soul.”  They could also be unusually successful in life, as enthusiastic bright people tend to be.  You may have wished that you could be like that, or maybe, perhaps, you are.  Maybe you’ve always felt that compared to you, most people seem dull, square, obeisant, unimaginative, and basically half dead, and you just couldn’t figure out why.  Well, this may be it.

 (Engineers and scientists aren’t a bunch of nerds.  This photo is of Nikola Tesla, born in 1856, inventor of the AC motor and plenty of other things.)

Just compare that to the usual Victorian-era portrait,

and you’ll get the idea.

And let’s not forget,

 

 

 

 DIG  IT!!!!!!!

Yet, of course, the pathological aspect of this could cause a good deal of damage, especially since it doesn’t take much malice to cause some real destruction.  Hyperthymic Personality Disorder, “tend to be rash and show poor judgement,” is probably the only personality disorder that could, for the most part, be excused away with, “Oh, well, everyone makes mistakes,” though since HPD is basically a weakened version of mania, HPD is actually a lot more pathologically selfish than most personality disorders.  Drug and alcohol abuse has got to be the most common example of this.  The more that you’ve been close to this, the more that you could relate to:

One’s wildest dreams would be that since addiction depends so much on choices made at different time, the addicts whose lives would be in danger don’t really have to die.  As Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery, by William L. White, a Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems/Lighthouse Institute says, “The culture of addiction can play a role in both initiating and sustaining substance abuse disorders.”

 

 

 

            Not only that, if you’ve been treated as codependent  for any reason, including that those who you’re attracted to tend to have the same behavior problems as do those celebrities who have hordes of groupies, you’ve probably come across a strange thinking which says that victim blaming is good as long as it’s followed by, “and if you performed more effectively you could have fared better, so be as optimistic as possible that you could do better next time if only you did things right.”  Yet it should be very obvious that a desire to help such people, isn’t a desire to let oneself in for trouble.  The whole reason why the thinking of codependents seems self-defeating, is that some people are so lacking in self-regulation, that the tenderness that tries oh so dedicatedly and desperately to persuade them into stopping that self-destruction, doesn’t work.  This follows the basic pattern of Hyperthymic Personality Disorder, that the person keeps doing things that cause such big consequences that a psychoanalyst would probably diagnose them as showing subconscious desires to harm himself and/or others.  It would seem only natural to someone who just met him, to think that he could be persuaded to stop.  And, of course, though just about everyone would respond to that psychoanalysis by saying that currently that sort of conjecture isn’t accepted as legit science, if you responded in the same way to claims that even if some supposed codependents have no conscious desires to let themselves in for trouble with problem lovers they still must have subconscious desires to do so, you’d be told that you’re counterproductively resisting advice that could solve a lot of problems.

 

 

 

You may also have noticed how dangerous it is for a society to believe in such overgeneralized directing of responsibility to victims.  Taking response-ability for one’s own welfare, one’s own problem, seems to be The American Way.  You may have also realized how much better the relatively powerless would feel about themselves, if they stopped blaming themselves for not being able to win their own battles well enough.  This reductionism seems good, since the more that such a conflict is reduced to how the person with the problem could most effectively take care of his own problem, the more that the personal responsibility for the problem would go to the person who’s the most motivated to deal with it effectively.  Ann Jones, in her book on domestic violence Next Time She’ll Be Dead, satirized the victim-blaming of the victims of domestic violence as, “Without the wife-beater’s wife there would be no wife beating.”  Yet not only do those who treat those suspected of codependency have to talk like this, but it would seem that rejecting it would be rejecting what could stop some violence.  This could even be more effective than is addressing the real problems, since those who are battered have a far more reliable motivation to do whatever they can to stop the violence, than the batterers have.  You may have also noticed that this is relevant far beyond what the codependency subculture believes.  Obviously, few except for intellectuals find this level of victim-blaming offensive, and self-help in general would have to solve problems in general through the victims helping themselves, taking response-ability for their own welfare, their own problems.  Everyone could benefit from the sort of personal response-ability that the partners of problem lovers or spouses, benefit from, and for the same reasons.  If anyone in trouble had this same attitude toward his own problems, it would really do him a lot of good.  This conception of personal responsibility might seem very dogmatic and absolutist, but if this wasn’t what our cultural norms had prescribed, different people would have different opinions on who’s responsible for a big problem, so it might not get solved successfully.

I call that problem-solving approach “victim correction as a panacea,” which is basically synonymous with “self-help,” since self-help means that the person in trouble is the one who provides the help.  Anyone else helping, even those who are morally responsible for the problems, would be others-help.  Self-help can’t make a balanced assessment of who is personally responsible for what, since not all legitimate personal responsibility would help oneself.  This is all very systematic.  As the Philadelphia Grand Jury report on their Archdiocese’s enabling of pedo-priests put it,

The homepage of the Mental Illness—What a Difference a Friend Makes website, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says, “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about one in four adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.”  As the title suggests, this website is about getting the friends of the 26.2% of the American adult population, to support these people rather than stigmatizing them.  The ways in which one friend treats another, is one of the few sociological factors of this huge social problem, that we could honorably take seriously. If we take the other sociological factors seriously, we could seem to be trying to manipulate like untermenschen, and/or to restrict the übermenschen.

The main point of all the red-blooded, übermensch, self-empowering psychological approaches, is that self-reliance is the most effective way to solve problems, since those who have them have the most reliable motives to solve them.  This also avoids manipulating like mollycoddles, and restricting the redbloods; it seems that we must fear the untermenschen and their victim-power, and mustn’t fear the übermenschen and their freedoms.  Neither of these seems just optional.

You might have found this definition of personal responsibility to be so distorted, that someday the consequences of this had to come to light.  The Great Crash of 2008 is a very obvious result of exactly this sort of thinking.  As Gillian Tett’s Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe, says,

These days, though, I realize that the finance world’s lack of interest in wider social matters cuts to the very heart of what has gone wrong.  What social anthropology teaches its adherents is that nothing in society ever exists in a vacuum or in isolation.  Holistic analysis that tries to link different parts of a social structure is crucial, be that in respect to wedding rituals or trading floors.  Anthropology also instills a sense of skepticism about official rhetoric.  In most societies, elites try to maintain their power not simply by garnering wealth, but also by dominating the mainstream ideologies, in terms of both what is said and what is not discussed.  Social “silences” serve to maintain power structures, in ways that participants often barely understand themselves let alone plan.

That set of ideas might sound excessively abstract (or hippie).  But they would seem to be sorely needed now. In recent years, regulators, bankers, politicians, investors, and journalists have all failed to employ truly holistic thought—to our collective cost.  Bankers have treated their mathematical models as if they were an infallible guide to the future, failing to see that these models were based on a ridiculously limited set of data.

The most crucial fact that these models, the attitudes of regulators, etc., left out, is the greed of financiers.  Those Collateralized Debt Obligations were based on calculating risk according to mathematical models that are supposed to show what risks would actually occur, not in theory but in practice.  Yet when you consider that the Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of the word model, in this sense, is, “a system of postulates, data, and inferences presented as a mathematical description of an entity or state of affairs,” you could see that a mathematical model of economics is going to give you only an approximation of reality, at best.  Not only that, those who put together these models very much believed in laissez faire principles, so these models had to.  Fool’s Gold quotes Blythe Masters, who’d worked at J.P. Morgan when they were prudently creating and selling credit derivatives, “The economic models that Hancock and Merton and others upheld were right in a sense, but the problem is that they did not give enough emphasis to all the human issues, the regulatory structures, and things like that.  The idea was that those issues were just noise in the models—but that is just dead-arsed wrong.  We don’t live in that kind of world of perfect economic models,” and Greenspan saying, in his testimony before Congress on October 24, 2008, that, “he was ‘in a state of shocked disbelief’ and that he had made a ‘mistake’ in believing that banks would do what was necessary to protect their shareholders and institutions.  ‘[That was] a flaw in the model... that defines how the world works,’ he declared.”  The book then quotes another former member of the J.P. Morgan team as saying, “I think Greenspan is quite right.  Now it is clear we need a new paradigm.  But we haven’t found it yet, and frankly I don’t know where we will.”  Of course, considering how weak the regulations have been recently, chances are that the effects of “the regulatory structures” would have been that the greedy bankers came up with tricks to maneuver around the regulations, these tricks had unintended consequences, and they were attributed to the regulations, not to the greed-based tricks.

Just about everyone was operating from the same assumptions, which tended to be based on optimistic mathematical formulae rather than stupidity.  The book quotes another former team member, Andrew Feldstein, as saying, “The essential question is what in tarnation led market participants to overoriginate subprime mortgages at increasingly silly terms and then warp credit derivative technology into synthetic CDO of ABS when the [over]supply of real mortgages was insufficient to satisfy demand.”  Another book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers, by Lawrence C. McDonald, describes another statistical approximation, the “Value at Risk,” “a technique used to estimate the probability of portfolio losses based on statistical analysis of historical price trends and volatilities.”

The one great flaw with VaR was its insistence on putting heavy emphasis on recent volatility.  This meant that if a security did not have a history of volatility, it would irrevocably be marked as riskless despite the fact that it currently gazed into the abyss.  VaR was a prisoner of its own guidelines.

And like all systems that place too much faith in a philosophy, especially one as widely used on a global scale as VaR, it ends up with too much power and influence.  It ended up ruling the department it was supposed to assist, because at Lehman no one wanted to be the renegade who stepped over the sacred VaR guidelines.  Should there be a disaster, there could be only one scapegoat: the man who kicked over the traces and failed to obey the tried-and-true rules of VaR.  Therefore, right or wrong, VaR was obeyed.

That last paragraph could just as easily be describing what Libertarianism is to many on Wall Street.  And like Libertarianism, what’s an ideal philosophy that others simply must abide by, to some, is the law of the jungle to others.  As this says, VaR could create plenty of illusions that everything’s fine.  As Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money, How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation says,

In the spring of 2004, Wall Street’s establishment investment banks—Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Morgan Stanley—successfully appealed to the SEC to waive the rules.  (Among those petitioning was Goldman CEO Henry Paulson.)  Funds held in reserve, they argued, could be liberated to invest in mortgage-backed securities and derivatives.  Oh, and the brokers could use computer models to gauge the riskiness and value of the new types of securities they would buy.  SEC commissioner Roel Campos said he supported the change with his “fingers crossed.”  To convince investors and lenders that the business model made sense, the Five Horsemen of the Dumb Money Apocalypse began to introduce new terms into the debate.  Technology enabled them to quantify precisely how much they could lose if things went wrong, how much of the firm’s—and hence investors’—capital was at risk every day.  VAR—Value at Risk—became a staple of quarterly and annual reports.  Lehman Brothers assured investors in 2006 that the firm, which had hundreds of billions in mostly short-term debt outstanding, could lose no more than the $42 million on an off day.

That “fingers crossed” SEC meeting in 2004 is pretty notorious for insane deregulation, so much so that the New York Times, on its The Reckoning webpage which includes links to its big investigative stories on The Crash, includes a link to an audio recording of that meeting, “An audio recording from 2004 shows levity, even laughter, as the S.E.C. made a little-noticed, but fateful change to rules governing the five largest U.S. investment banks.”  This was, of course, the same SEC that, in 2005, ignored whistle-blower Harry Markopolos’ mathematical proof that Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme.

The all-over demand for ridiculous amounts of investments in subprime mortgages, had to involve plenty of mathematical formulae, which made the usual over-optimistic assumptions official.  While the two-bit financiers who issued a lot of the subprime mortgages operated from their own quirks, much of the faith that led to the meltdown was probably taught in a lot of business schools.  This faith that the economic system is self-regulating, and that the greed of those in finance companies wouldn’t disrupt everything, wasn’t just a form of stupidity, unless stupidity suddenly increased among financial professionals around the globe.

At first, all this might seem very different from the logic that looks for the victims’ supposed indirect responsibility in romantic relationships or marriages in which the other person is clearly The Problem.  Yet both of these are very much along the lines of an absolute faith that: “Personal responsibility” means largely response-ability for one’s own welfare.  This is red-blooded while caring about moral responsibility is mollycoddle.  This has the gutsiness of vibrant mental health.  Faith in this is faith in America.  Optimism seems good, and no one really knows for sure what optimism is unrealistic.  This “works” since it holds responsible those who are the most reliably motivated to take responsibility.  This must be absolutist since reality’s demands are absolute.  The ideal philosophy says that übermensch problem behavior usually should be forgiven at the very least (The consequences are temporary if the victims take care of themselves, and moral responsibility is subjective unless you could enforce it by not associating with problem people.), while untermensch supposed problem behavior (in the sense that pragmatism could blame weakness on the weak for not trying hard enough) is what’s really dangerous.  The law of the jungle could insistently be called realism, what “works.”  You’d better not be a renegade from this philosophy, even if it blames those who are unambiguously victims, as supposed codependents are blamed.

Ironically, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense includes some prime examples of the sort of laissez faire sophistry that’s very similar to the sophistry that our conceptions of personal response-ability, involve.  Colossal Failure says, “All my life I’ve been a laissez-faire Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher capitalist, swearing by the market, taking the risks, and the devil take the hindmost.”  Intercultural studies have consistently found that depressed people who’ve lived in developed areas outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but modern Westerners, whether depressed or not, tend to figure that even if someone did “get you,” that would mean only that you lost the battle so you’re a loser.  If you’re the hindmost, the devil would naturally take you, and that wouldn’t seem unfair.  Anyone who did consider it to be unfair, would seem un-American, dysfunctional, bitter, etc.

The book shows an understanding for the principles that Paulson showed in letting Lehman fail.  “He was a man with a complete aversion to anything that smacked of nationalization, and he made the call of a red-in-tooth-and-claw American capitalist....  Against all of his capitalist instincts, he [bailed-out AIG],” and, “Personally, I thought Hank Paulson was going to do something like Custer’s last stand, riding bravely in defense of capitalism at the head of his troops, and let the market do its worst.” In a list of the reasons why he had “a career of unusual toughness,” the book includes, “He’d been assistant to John Ehrlichman during the cauldron of Watergate.”  Paulson, in his press conference announcing that the government wasn’t going to bail out Lehman, said that this was, “the hand I was dealt,” the sort of passivity that laissez faire ideology sometimes insists on.  If a culture’s worldview thinks that “the devil take the hindmost” and “red-in-tooth-and-claw” are at least acceptable, then those in trouble would have to look at their own problems in terms of how they could best take response-ability for their own welfare (which would probably be very simplistic), rather than who or what really was responsible for what happened.  “I’ll just have to accept the hand I was dealt, no matter how extreme,” seems to be a part of freedom.  The whole idea of this book is, “There were dozens and dozens of extremely profitable business engines and departments in the firm.  It was like 24,992 people making dough and 8 losing it,” and though the 24,992 were among “the hindmost” (in results for oneself, not skills) they certainly didn’t deserve to fail, but if they treated this as just the hand they were dealt, they’d take care of their own problems so, in the long run, they wouldn’t really matter.  The same could even be said for anyone who lost money due to Lehman’s downfall.  One big theme in counseling those diagnosed as codependent, would be to convince them that if they divorced the problem people, at first starting up their own independent homes would be difficult, but in the long run they’ll overcome their hurdles, and that’s the only thing that really matters.

The prologue of the book, when explaining “the bedrock” of the meltdown, blames it on Clinton, both the repeal of Glass-Steagall and, “In the ensuing couple of years, [assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development] Roberta Achtenberg harnessed all of the formidable energy on the massed ranks of United States bankers, sometimes threatening, sometimes berating, sometimes bullying—anything to persuade the banks to provide mortgages to people who might not have been up to the challenge of coping with up-front down payments and regular monthly payments....  Easy mortgages were the invention of Bill Clinton’s Democrats.”  The prologue calls this, “this new morality.”  Later, when discussing the fall of Countrywide, the book says, “Indeed, Countrywide was one of the true pioneers of the programs to provide financing for low-income borrowers in the 1990s, in response to the urgings of the Clinton administration and its firebrand official Roberta Achtenberg.”  This is a prime example of mollycoddle-bashing attributions, attributing choices made by the greedy that directly led to the problem, to efforts to help the weak in the past.  Sure, on June 4, 2009, the SEC charged Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilo with, “deliberately misleading investors about the significant credit risks being taken in efforts to build and maintain the company’s market share,” and  released emails in which Mozilo called some of their mortgage products “poison” and “toxic” though Countrywide sold securities based on them as safe, but we just take others’ greed as a given, just as we must take others’ imperfections that we can’t change, as givens.

 

 

 

In what really is the “new morality,” we don’t take übermensch imperfections seriously since they seem ineradicable and proud, while we do take untermensch inadequacies (i.e. inadequate for whatever one’s own problems happen to be), seriously.  If anyone in trouble had this same attitude toward his own problems, it would really do him a lot of good, give him more resolve, resiliency, and red-blooded respectability.  This could very easily become moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism, since treating one’s insistent objections as his whiny and/or manipulative opinion, could seem very necessary in order to maintain stability.  A Colossal Failure also includes that just after the problem with subprime mortgages started to show up, “The lawyers were on the march, with lawsuits flying around like artillery shells all over the country as people swore to God they had been sold mortgages they simply didn’t understand....  There were allegations of unfair and discriminatory loans, reckless and predatory lending.  Words like, deception, high-pressure, irresponsible, and falsified were sworn before judges.  Yet the fact that there were suddenly all these lawsuits, wasn’t due to a trend of these suits becoming popular among those who file mercenary lawsuits, or even among those who aren’t cynical but would naturally want to believe that others owe them something.  Obviously, a lot of mortgage companies actually had been doing things that deserved lawsuits.  Yet to talk about this in terms of those people filing lawsuits, makes them seem to be The Problem.  Of course, the investors who lost a lot of money due to these same unsafe tactics will sue, and, of course, few would treat their suits as a matter of, “The lawyers were on the march, with lawsuits flying around like artillery shells all over the country.”  Certainly there are ways in which those playing a strong role could be manipulative, such as prisoners using “jailhouse religion,” but those who’d seem to be using victim-power tactics like manipulation and having lawsuits flying around, would have to be the ever-suspected weak.  There would be no way in which supposed codependency could be corrected with such tunnel-vision, unless the problem people’s problem actions are taken as givens, and it’s the “codependents’” reactions that are treated as The Problem.  Their manipulative tactics would seem to be flying around even if they don’t do anything cynical or presumptuous.

 

 

And this sort of minimizing the problems caused by the strong, and magnification of problems attributed to the weak, seems so natural.  George Mason University economist Russell Roberts wrote, “But many of the people who’ve lost their homes never had them in the first place....  they were renters before.  Now, they’re really renters [probably said sardonically]....  But it’s not like they were thrown out on the street after they lost their equity.”  If those who were conned but didn’t have much equity in their homes, sued, they could be told that they didn’t really suffer any losses other than hurt feelings, irrespective of the fact that those who wrote the mortgages chose to offer a lot since this was what suited their business plans.  It wouldn’t matter a whole lot, how much they chose to use unfair discriminatory reckless predatory deceptive high-pressure irresponsible and fallacious tactics, as long as the borrowers didn’t really lose anything.  Conceivably, a defendant’s attorney could treat the plaintiff as if suing for real money due to hurt feelings shows that he/she has a self-indulgent character, with plenty of pro-freedom pundits agreeing, ignoring the fact that this would mean that all of those who sue for this reason would have the bad characters that need to be corrected.  (Such are “social silences,” similar to, “You have depression so you’ve simply got to take anti-depressants, completely ignoring the fact that this would mean that the solution for our rampant depression would be mega-medication.”)  You could find plenty of rationales to minimize and magnify, and chances are that they’d all seem pro-freedom, pro-self-responsibility, and objective.

Of course, these could include that:  Realists accept unfairness.  Victims of discrimination probably couldn’t prove it.  Recklessness and irresponsibility could be called “mistakes.”  Predatorialism is as ordinary as is dog-eat-dog.  Plenty of deception and falsity is in that area that couldn’t quite be proven as worthy of a lawsuit. (Enron’s deceptions, with all their ambiguous complexity, were intended to be in that gray area.)  Naturally some salesmanship is high-pressure, but you’re always free to say no.

These could also seem pro-freedom and pro-self-responsibility, and possibly those who think like this would get the benefits of being stolid and pragmatic.  Combine these with, “Your only loss is hurt feelings,” and, “When the weak sue the strong the weak are likely just trying to get the goodies manipulatively,” and probably more rationales for minimization and magnification, and the plaintiffs would end up seeming pretty illegitimate.  All that you’d have to do is look at a book on codependency, and you could see how, even in situations where the victimization of one person by another obviously isn’t just the self-interested opinion of the victim, all of these victims, if they took response-ability for their own welfare, would seem pro-freedom and pro-self-response-ability, and would get the benefits of taking care of themselves as strongly as possible.

The following is on the first pages of Michael Lewis’ book Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street, from 1990:

What Gutfreund said has become a legend at Salomon Brothers and a visceral part of its corporate identity.  He said: “[Let’s play] One hand [of Liar’s Poker], one million dollars, no tears.”

...The final two words of his challenge, “no tears,” meant that the loser was expected to suffer a great deal of pain but wasn’t entitled to whine, bitch, or moan about it.  He’d just have to hunker down and keep his poverty to himself.

...And if you wanted to show off, Liar’s Poker was the only way to go. The game had a powerful meaning for traders.  People like John Meriwether believed that Liar’s Poker had a lot in common with bond trading.  It tested a trader’s character.  It honed a trader’s instincts.  A good player made a good trader, and vice versa.  We all understood it.

This Wall Street definition of “character,” is the definition that the actual new morality would give it.  This is the definition that AA’s Big Book, written by Great-Depression-era stockbroker Bill Wilson, gave of “character,” what AA has in mind with, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs,” and, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”  Believe it or not, the explanation that follows this says, “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else....  If we were to live, we had to be free of anger....  [Fear] somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.  It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it.”  What people are to get rid of, are just the sort of literally weak weaknesses of character that Liar’s Poker would test for.  This is also how those who diagnose codependency, advise supposed codependents, or accept this ideology, would have to define “defects of character.”  Like the Big Book, this might mention in passing the real defects of character, but would have to stress the Wall Street definition, since these people couldn’t afford the sort of weaknesses of character that those who play Liar’s Poker for big stakes couldn’t afford.

And, as Manic-Depressive Illness, Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, by Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin and Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, says, in its chapter on personality differences, “Character has been defined as ‘personality evaluated’—that aspect of an individual which bears a moral stamp and reflects the person’s integrative and organizing functions.  The concept of character is employed less frequently in the United States than in Europe, although it is often used interchangeably with that of personality,” but Americans dare not object if others pass judgment on their red-blooded strength of character! Those mollycoddle counterproductive blaming judgmental whiny willful and manipulative parasites had better not think that they could get away with it!  After all, though the consequences of destructive sinfulness will probably get taken care of by the victims, no one else is going to take care of the consequences of their inadequacies in taking care of their own problems.

This new morality could make plenty of other weakness, and even expectations of moral responsibility, seem to be The Problem.  Despite Fool’s Gold referring to responsibility as “hippie,” that book says that J.P. Morgan acted responsibly since they acted like an old-fashioned bank, which trendy thinking would find boring, as can be seen on those commercials of the ultra-irresponsible Washington Mutual bank, which portrayed themselves as more likeable than the old-fashioned bankersEnron’s commercials looked free-thinking, too, despite the fact that within Enron, decision-makers who disagreed with Enron’s “optimistically freedom-based” plans were threatened or fired, enough that as a response, the Sarbanes-Oxley law initiated protections for such whistle-blowers.  The credit rating agencies that rate CDOs and their economic models, would now have to take Wall Street greed into consideration when calculating the risk that an economic meltdown would result from it.  Yet if you take the effects of others’ greed into account when you decide to what degree you’re responsible for your own problems, this would seem to be a manipulative evasion of personal responsibility.

The same would go for if you said that you’d like to replace The Serenity Prayer’s conception of personal responsibility with a new paradigm.  Well, the entire unredacted Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr, says, God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen.  That sinfulness is obviously not of the harmless variety.  For example, if the greedy on Wall Street respond to regulations by maneuvering around them, and this has big unintended consequences, we can’t change their greed but can change (get rid of) the regulations, so we blame them.  This, quite literally, is what has inspired the treatment of codependency, which grew out of therapy very much influenced by Al-Anon, which was set up specifically to teach alcoholics’ friends and loved-ones the same transcendent spirituality that AA uses.

 

 

As with Enron, free thinking excludes untermensch, mollycoddle, thinking.  It really was inevitable that if our economy’s health depended on the soundness of risky financial innovations that were based on a faith that one gets what he deserves in our self-correcting economy, this would have big consequences.  Yet in our day-to-day lives, if you don’t have that sort of faith regarding whether you or others are responsible for your failures, then when such problems happen to you, no one will deal with them adequately, and you’ll have to suffer the consequences.  Dr. David Burns, in his self-help book Feeling Good (a guide on how suffering people could most effectively deal with their own problems), listed the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression as: all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, mental filter, disqualifying the positive, jumping to conclusions, magnification [of others’ virtues and your own faults] or minimization [of others’ faults and your own virtues], emotional reasoning, should statements [Dr. Burns says, “‘Musts’ and ‘oughts’ are also offenders.”], labeling and mislabeling, and personalization, which Dr. Burns defines as, “You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.”  Obviously, “Courageously change what you can, and serenely accept what you can’t”: is all-or-nothing, overgeneralizes, filters out everything else which would be immaterial, disqualifies good things that aren’t good enough to solve your problems, would require working with inadequate information, magnifies what you do wrong (since you can change it) and minimizes what others do wrong (since you can’t), is pretty emotional, is all about what you should do adequately, would label everything according to, “How good of a job did you do in changing and accepting?” (It seems good and gutsy to label the unintended consequences of greed-based tricks to evade the rules, as the consequences of “the regulatory structures.”), and would care absolutely nothing that you played no part in causing what you’re now response-able for changing and/or accepting.  Our culture’s reverence of what implies, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it” (or worse if your realities are worse), could be called our elites maintaining their power by dominating our mainstream ideologies, or self-empowerment for (literally) anyone in trouble.  Chances are that most discussions about the supposed codependency of someone suspected of being codependent, wouldn’t consist of proof that he “lets himself in for trouble,” but statements that no matter how morally wrong is the problem person, if the victim (especially one who is a victim unambiguously) doesn’t take response-ability for his own problems, that would be self-defeating.

 

 

Our culture simply accepts, even adulates, some pretty extreme might-makes-right,

so if you don’t just adjust to it, adapt to it, and function with, it, you’d seem to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  Such failsafe coping skills seem good, even necessary.  The Wikipedia webpage on Ayn Rand says, “When asked in a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club what the most influential book in the respondent’s life was, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.”

Obviously, all of this, including both Wall Street greed and the self-help worldview which treats all problems as if of course they’re to be solved through the victims helping themselves, would look very different to those who believe in a culture that causes rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., than it would seem to those who don’t.

 

 

 

 

 he Tragedy of Victim Correction as a Panacea~

 

 

As the above says, this is Al-Anon approved literature, for Alateen.  You couldn’t make this stuff up!  Persuading people to think like this works best with Groupthink, but if you, on your own, must deal with a devastating reality in order to fit in and function, then you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and our self-responsible cultural norms (“Everybody knows that The Serenity Prayer is good.”) would provide the Groupthink.  As Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop?, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, in a survey of addicts’ family members, “...the words that everyone used were powerfully negative: ‘devastating,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘horrible’.”  Yet no concerns that would interfere with the victims’ self-responsibility could matter, since in the long run, caring about them would only mollycoddle and weaken the people who’d have to take care of themselves optimally.  Victim-blaming is incentives-based.  George Vincent wrote, “To survive growing up in an alcoholic family is second only to surviving the Holocaust,” but the big difference is that despite the fears that addicts’ kids feel, they aren’t really in mortal danger, so Buddhists, etc., could say that these fears are only illusions.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called chicken soup for the soul, unconditional serenity and courage.  If that’s stooping to the lowest of the low, then sometimes we’ve got to stoop to the lowest of the low in order to make sure that problems get solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism; “Your righteous objections are only your opinion!” becomes, “Your righteous objections are only your self-righteous, resentful, manipulative, controlling, unpragmatic, whiny, judgmental... opinion, and you simply can’t afford those disgraceful victim attitudes!”

Yet though it might seem only natural to want to feel better by practicing Buddhistic self-discipline and self-re-education, and this doesn’t involve any medication, this is hardly natural.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “We the Living” could very much object to this sort of de rigueur coping with helplessness, Stoically!  Yet though a Marxist mentality of, “Love your brother,” is supposed to degrade the natural human spirit, a requisite mentality of, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t,” mustn’t, or you might have problems coping with reality.  (Everybody loves The Serenity Prayer, right?)  In general, we do revere self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, and don’t revere self-responsibility for how one’s own choices affect others.  Victim-power seems to be the tyranny of helplessness, though, “But look at how helpless I am about what I did!” is the ultimate tyranny of helplessness.

In general, this sort of self-help is cognitive therapy, the modern version of behaviorist psychology, so this can be given the title of behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s classic book, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, pragmatic in such a way that’s far more important than such abstract niceties.  This represents what is good, what most motivates people to do what must get done, which is what those who have the problems should want.  If, instead, the advisee insisted on drawing his own honest well-founded conclusions about what was happening to him, he’d be told that he’d better realize how important it is that he think in whatever ways would maximize his chances of self-reliant success in solving such big problems.  What else could Alateen members, etc., be told, “Go right ahead and fail to deal with your problems adequately.”?

This self-help logic could be used interchangeably for all sorts of problems, including exploitative lovers of every variety, unemployment, and literally even cancer and getting up the mettle to fight it.  Responsibility for one’s own choices means blame, naiveté, and controlling (As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, “The power necessary to control the wicked is the danger, not the wicked,” and chances are that most of what contributes to our very unnaturally high rate of depression, isn’t even truly malicious.), while response-ability for one’s own problems means self-reliance, realism, and freedom.  Claiming, “You caused your own problem,” makes Victim Correction as a Panacea sound the most justifiable, while, “You’ve simply got to take response-ability for your own welfare, your own problem,” is the fallback position, since all problems must get taken care of.  The self-help formula for conflict resolution is for general public consumption, and it works.  If such sophistry weren’t so predictable and absolutist, just think of how often people could: lose faith, play the victim role, not do what needs to get done (by those most motivated to do it), etc.  Like Sarah Palin, this has both the appeal of going rogue, and the appeal of conformity.  America’s latest, most trendy, patriotic song begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.  And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.”

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, could really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,”  (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby. This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter, including one to an addict’s family member, would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s, Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

This was the original middle-class going rogue with conformity.  As It Can’t Happen Here says, “Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious—than America,” and devotion to anything that would imply, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would require obsequiousness of Biblical proportions.  The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.

 

 

Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.

 

 

As far as self-help is concerned, the bottom line is that you’re simply going to have to deal with your own problem whatever it may be, and expectations that one simply deal with normal problems are interchangeable with expectations that one simply deal with an addict in the family.  “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.  As Langdon Gilkey’s On Niebuhr says, “Thus transcendence is perhaps the key word in Niebuhr...”  For anyone in trouble, this would be: self-help, self-responsibility, self-care, self-protection, self-actualization, self-empowerment, etc.  As any conservative social analysis would say, you, that teen who looks like Archie, etc. could think productively, or think counterproductively (though if you’re the problem person, then probably we’ll just have to accept your counterproductive thinking, since people aren’t perfect and we mustn’t try to re-engineer human nature).  The effects of “Archie’s” dad’s actions are short-term (since others are motivated to resolve them), but the effects of Archie’s reactions are long-term (since others aren’t).  Twisting reality in “positive” ways is realistic, since it increases people’s chances of success.  Archie’s non-addicted parent (who’d really have to have a Gelassenheit “productive” attitude, what with all that she must do to make her family as normal as possible), has just as much autonomy as does the typical adult, since addicts’ power over others is physical, not authoritarian.

In general, motivation is everything; irrespective of moral responsibility, addiction or lack of it, etc., the only personal responsibility that we could count on is one in which those held responsible for problems are those motivated to take responsibility.  Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, says, “The [conservative] movement swallowed whole the quack doctrine of supply-side economics, adopting it with almost comically ferocious zeal,” and self-help, also, must follow this pattern, since in a gutsy and as-uncompromising-as-reality fashion, it holds that no matter how much others are responsible for your problems: if you win you win and if you lose you lose, that’s what’s realistic (what most reliably works), and that stupidity is a virtue in the name of freedom.  (We all know where intellectualism leads.)  Idiot America also says about a Cuban-American refugee who worked with AIDS patients in the early 1980s, “The situation reminded her a little of the way things had worked in Cuba, where the government would tell you something that you knew from your own experience could not possibly be true, yet people seemed willing to believe that it was, and to act upon that belief, until the manufactured reality displaced the actual one [which is also the classic definition of brainwashing, washing the brain of “bad attitudes”].  She felt she was working in parallel worlds.  There was the world of the disease, and of the people who had it; and then there was another world, in which everything was a symbol and in which her patients stood for something,” and one could say the same thing about this sort of self-help, where there’s the world of what people like Archie must actually deal with, and then there’s the world of what they symbolize: our duties regarding the never-ending virtues and necessity of response-ability for one’s own welfare, which shape what we should believe irrespective of what we’ve learned from experience, e.g. that Archie looks at himself.  (Marxism applies how cultural conditioning works, to shaping “the ideal society,” right?)

 

 

It’s amazing which moral norms could (i.e. must) seem less important than whether or not the person with the problem is doing what’s necessary for him to overcome it successfully.  That seems good; “whining” seems bad.  What’s most important in practical terms, might go very much against what we’d like to believe is important.  Banalities get things done.  Realism is the ultimate mandate.  This is the sort of Populism that H. G. Wells called “magnificent stupid honesty,” adamantly anti-manipulative-morality, so this sort of supposed populism would adamantly accept what causes 15% of the adult population to suffer serious depressive disorders in any given year.  (This “honesty” often has big unintended consequences, but could seem all-important.)  “Stop doing that, since it’s judgmental and controlling!” would probably make you at least hesitant, but, “Stop doing that, since that sort of thing has been proven to contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders!” would probably seem judgmental and controlling to you.  If this weakness-anathematizing conception of personal responsibility weren’t that absolutist, plenty of problems wouldn’t get resolved well enough, yet the fact that this is that absolutist, is pretty scary.  (Yet, the fact that so many stupid and reckless people got such important jobs on Wall Street, shows that even this very costly way of motivating winning could fail in very important ways, though they could always be excused as “inevitable human imperfection.”)  Sure, on Larry King Live on August 11, 2009, economist Ben Stein said, “Big government is a terrifying subject” (i.e. the kind that you could openly and proudly get terrified about), but you don’t dare say, “Big depression is a terrifying subject,” even if you’ve been there, or, “Big Wall Street greed is a terrifying subject.”  Also, on an interview on a Christian radio network, Stein said, “...science leads you to killing people.”  Magical thinking like this could seem more acceptable to economists, since they could always figure that consequences don’t really matter, since those who have the problems are always motivated to solve them; that “works.”  Self-help’s conception of which freedoms, self-determination, personal rights and responsibilities, etc., do, and which don’t, seem to matter, sounds like something right out of The Communist Manifesto (and certainly plenty of others in the 19th Century noticed this, too), “...in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade,” and since someone must take responsibility for the consequences of adversarialism, “self-responsibility” must mean that in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered forms of personal responsibility, we have set up that single, unconscionable personal responsibility—response-ability for one’s own problems.  (A better word than freedom might be right, i.e., “I have a right to expect something better!”  “No, the only right that you have is to become a winner by protecting yourself better, with proud self-reliance!”)

 

 

 

 

In fact, though we’re supposed to take addictive behavior as a given since addiction is a disease, the law certainly doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity, one can’t be brought out of real legal insanity through “hitting bottom” or an intervention.  Addicts’ family members, who can’t change them, must minimize their responsibility and magnify the responsibility of their own reactions, but the law, which can change most addicts with whom it comes into conflict, doesn’t have to minimize and magnify.  As the publishers’ notes of Gene M. Heyman’s Addiction: A Disorder of Choice says, “He shows that the causes of addiction, its control, and its potential reduction are the same as the causes, control, and reduction of all voluntary behavior.”  (Certainly you could imagine what would result if someone said at an Al-Anon meeting, “But when he relapsed, it was because he got angry and chose to, not because he saw something that triggered a compulsion to drink!  That means that my objections are legitimate!” or even, “But the person who caused this problem, whom I can’t change, isn’t addicted!”)  Yet whether or not addiction is involved, you could always find some sophistry to make courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t seem legitimate, and ignore any facts that would disrupt this pragmatism; form follows function.  This, also, could be called “pragmatic logic,” applicable to any realities that contribute to our rampant depression.  Both an acceptance of an addiction, and an acceptance of aggressive human nature, are fatalism about unrestrained desires, what the pleasure centers of our brains make us do, etc.  What works for AA is what works for addicts, i.e. for addictive personalities, which would single-mindedly insist on: excuses to do what one pleases, stopping righteous indignation and “controlling,” etc.  The more that we serenely accept übermensch, active, imperfections, the more that we can’t afford to accept the untermensch, passive, imperfections of those hurt by them, and who, therefore, must deal with them in order not to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  If this wasn’t as simplistic and resolute as Reagan, their awareness that they’re victims would leave them both too weak by feeling helplessness and making unrealistic expectations, and too strong in that they could insidiously get the benefits of victimhood.

 

 

Your realities are whatever they are, and either you deal with them or you suffer the consequences.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU. To paraphrase a Catholic riddle: “What’s the difference between a victim corrector and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist.”  As pioneering behaviorist John B. Watson wrote, “The raw fact that you, as a psychologist, if you are to remain scientific, must describe the behavior of man in no other terms than those you use in describing the behavior of the ox you slaughter, drove and still drives many timid souls away from behaviorism,” and the only real difference between behaviorism and cognitive therapy is that it credits humanity with self-control abilities that animals don’t have, such as the ability to choose to serenely accept hardship and sinfulness; training people who are motivated to be trained is a lot easier.  (This self-control would benefit the person who serenely accepts the hardship, sinfulness, etc. that he’s helpless to change, whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted. )

  As Paul Krugman wrote, “The truth is that good old-fashioned demand-side macroeconomics has a lot to offer in our current predicament—but its defenders lack all conviction, while its critics are filled with a passionate intensity,” and one could say the same for debates between those who stress personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choices, which could usually be called “blaming,” “guilt-based,” “controlling,” etc., and the gutsy people who stress red-blooded personal response-ability for one’s own welfare, which could always be called “self-help,” “self-empowerment,” “realism,” etc.  As the Great Crash of 2008 shows, some things will never change.

 

THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.

♦♦♦♦♦

 

Sure, Rush Limbaugh is more unpopular than Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, and conservatives could be afraid that such aggressiveness looks “ugly” to the public.  Yet, especially if you’re in big trouble, if you thought like Limbaugh and the other attack politicians then you’d face up to your problems more serenely and courageously, and we dare not care how profoundly ugly is coaching Archie, etc., into having attitudes of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  Victim Correction as a Panacea, is Gelassenheit and similar all-encompassing attitudes about physical response-ability for one’s own problems, exactly what a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would most need. 

Sure, Niebuhr wrote that he was shocked about Buchman’s admiration of Hitler, though The Serenity Prayer summarizes the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation:   As with a panacea, we must see the entire world in terms of the ineradicable SELF-WILLS of the sinful, the ignominious and surreptitious SELF-WILLS of victims who don’t represent their own bad experiences to themselves as being as innocuous as possible (“Those manipulative whiners want to believe that someone owes them something!”), and, therefore, our responsibility to do this.   Niebuhr wrote that Buchman’s faith that dictators, business tycoons, etc., should use their power to push Christianity, vapidly ignored how realpolitik would affect the outcome, “The slightest acquaintance with the history of Christian thought on the problem of the relation of the absolute demands of the gospel to the relativities of politics and economics would prove its childishness,” but the same could also be said about applying a simplistic sloganeering spirituality to the situations that contribute to our rampant depression.  It isn’t possible to get any more vapid than,“Serenely accept everything that happens to you in a society with rampant depression, that you’re helpless to change.”

The wave of the future, the “new economy” of self-responsibility, requires that we want to be responsible members of society, take response-ability for our own welfare.  With that approach you’d be more likely to succeed, and that’s good, maybe irreplaceable.  Your natural objections to this would be counterproductive (though you’re free not to hold others personally responsible by these standards, as long as you hold yourself responsible by them).  The same would go for minimizing any “whiny” lessons we might learn from the Great Crash of 2008.  If we can’t change wretched excesses on Wall Street but can change victims’ not fixing the consequences adequately, then either we correct the victims or we’ll have a dysfunctional society.  Since we simply must solve our problems, our perceptions must be distorted in order to fit in with this; there is no alternative.

 

 

 

(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)

 

Nothing can drive anyone away from this sort of cognitive therapy, just as nothing can drive Archie away from his unconditional and immoderate, contrived serenity and courage, though Gelassenheit is very unnatural social engineering.  In self-help books about codependency, stories in which the problem spouses are addicted are absolutely interchangeable with stories in which the problem spouses simply choose to act like buttheads, since in both cases the victims are equally unable to change the victimizers’ behavior.  Whatever you must do to take care of yourself, is whatever you must do to take care of yourself, so you must look at yourself when you’re looking for things that you could correct in order to solve your own problems.  Sure, the Financial Times on March 10, 2009 quoted Bernie Sucher, the head of Merrill Lynch operations in Moscow, as saying, “Our world is broken—and I honestly don’t know what is going to replace it.  The compass by which we steered as Americans has gone.  The last time I ever saw anything like this, in terms of the sense of disorientation and loss, was among my friends [in Russia] when the Soviet Union broke up,” but Americans have been culturally conditioned to serenely accept economic difficulties, and not to accept supposedly manipulative whining about them.  Those with plenty of “personal strength” would tolerate Wall Street Darwinism and its effects.  Archie could “get on with life” since folk wisdom, common sense, says that that’s what everyone must do; everyone could “stick it out.”  (On June 19, 2009 [just before the threatened bloodshed began, “On 9/11 we were all Americans, and tonight we’re all Iranians.”], when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that they were going to crack down on the protests of the election fraud, he said, “If the political elite want to ignore the law or break the law then they are taking wrong measures...,” so dogmatists of all stripes excite their followers by condemning the supposed intellectual elite.)  Archie, and others who are powerless, couldn’t afford the dysfunctionality of feeling disoriented or lost.  Realism requires that this self-responsibility be the lynchpin, so any concern that would conflict with this must be shrugged off.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  We all must adjust to and deal with reality, and others determine what is reality for you, which tends to mean that the strong (whether or not they’re addicted) determine what is reality for the weak.  Resiliency is everything.

 

 

 

Wall Street, August 23, 1929,  “As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief….  That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”—Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008

 

That’s why self-help in general tends to admire Al-Anon, The Serenity Prayer, etc., and this self-reliant ethos.  The only thing that really matters is what you do and don’t have the power to change.  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems.  Since Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA who wrote much of their Big Book, was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depression, one could call this The Great Depression Stockbroker’s Approach to Self-Responsibility; we’d have to be firm with those victims and whiners who object to productivity that involves strong character, such as “creative destruction,” and, “Your problem is your problem.”  The economist who, just after the Great Depression, came up with the concept of creative destruction, Joseph Schumpeter, also wrote during the Depression that recovery from it, “is sound only if it [comes] of itself.  For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustment of its own which has to be liquidated in turn, thus threatening business with another [worse] crisis ahead.”  Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money says that Maestro Alan Greenspan, in an interview, “had an abstract fervor for the glories and potentials of creative destruction,” and, in the abstract, saying that alkies’ teens, etc., should have an attitude of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” sounds just as proudly productive.

 

 

 

For More On Correcting Archie,
Click Here

 

“...despite Hitler’s anti-Semitic and genocidal tendencies, he was an individual of great courage...  Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone.  His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.”—Pat Buchanan.  The “defects of character” stressed by AA’s Big Book, resentment anger and fear in general, are the same as what Buchanan and Hitler meant by “character flaws,” i.e. not handling one’s own problems (whatever they may be) with enough stolid and self-reliant backbone.  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” as well as, “Whatever your problem is, courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t,” also define “character flaws” as supposed weakness masquerading as morality.

 

“Here’s how our current president felt about the ‘agony’ of war around 10:00 p.m. on the evening of March 19, 2003, minutes before he would address the nation to inform it the Iraq war had begun.  As aides were applying makeup before his televised speech, he pumped his fist and told an aide: ‘Feel good.’”—Vincent Bugliosi, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

 

   

 

Everybody needs a moral compass, and that’s theirs.  It would seem very trendy to expect someone to believe, “My strife is all in my head, and depends on my thinking counterproductive thoughts, so I’ll choose not to feel the strife,” but very un-trendy to expect someone to believe, “My desires that cause others trouble are all in my head, and depend on my thinking counterproductive thoughts, so I’ll choose not to feel those desires,” though both of these are true, for the same reasons.

Not only are we supposed to hold to:

 

 

but also we’re likely to figure that helplessness is the price that we have to pay for the redbloods, the übermenschen, to have their sacred freedoms, even in a society with rampant depression.

 

 

It’s pretty safe to say that there’s always an out, in that if the person who has the problem wants to be well-adjusted and non-passive, then she’ll see how what caused the problem is at least excusable, and how much she plays an active role.  Something very vital is missing here.

 

 

We’re to have the same faith in this failsafe sort of self-responsibility, that we’d have in any other cultural norms, as if it’s a universal truth that will work forever.

 

Of course, before people are treated as morally responsible for anything, they’re presumed innocent until proven guilty,

but when it comes to self-responsibility for one’s own problems, we resourcefully and optimistically try to find ways in which one could have done better if only he reacted more pragmatically.

You’ve probably heard those around you make expectations based on such conceptions of personal responsibility.  These consistently expect people to take care of themselves independently resiliently and perseveringly, even when this gets unreasonable.  You could easily figure that our culture has some strange, and unlimited, imbalances in how it determines what expectations are reasonable, and who’s personally responsible for what.  And, of course, your observations could be proven, with some very profound facts.  First off, are our astounding, and obviously unnatural, rates of depression and anxiety disorders.  The book Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, by John H. Greist, MD and Thomas H. Greist, MD, says, “According to National Institutes of Mental Health figures, 20,000,000 people or approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a serious depressive disorder in any given year.  Of these, over 20,000 commit suicide every year.”  To say that as doctors treat the million of Americans who suffer a serious depressive disorder in any given year, they should know this rate since it would help the doctors treat each individual as if their depressions simply are their problems, completely ignores the fact that this involves an unnaturally high rate of helplessness, happening to millions of people, year in and year out.

 

 

 

The book When Madness Comes Home by Victoria Secunda, says that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV says that affective disorders affect 20% of the American population, anxiety disorders affect 25%, and substance abuse disorders affect 27%.

The Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft, says, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression..., Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’ve seen ads and other guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “So how am I supposed to fit in with all this?  It seems that:  All of that depression is among the biological diseases that are parts of the natural order.  The millions of Americans who are prone to clinical depression, are basically powder kegs just waiting to explode when small sparks will trigger them, or instabilities inside themselves will go off.  It’s only natural to ask whether depressive disorders affecting 34,000,000 Americans, consists of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, or 34,000,000 rather severe character flaws, that is, flaws of the weak untermensch variety, not of the übermensch variety, which probably did cause a lot of traumas leading to depressions in others.  Everyone knows that what’s at fault, is inside the millions of victims.  Depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 American adults, so 34,000,000 American adults should take antidepressants or learn to have optimistic outlooks.  Sure, depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 American adults, but everyone knows that we must accept the helplessness that this culture regards as normal, since all must deal with the normal vicissitudes of life.  If you care a lot that depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 American adults, something must be wrong with you.  Apropos of that norm, how much lowering of that unnaturally high rate of depression would seem centrist, and how much would seem radical?”

Whatever is your reality in a society with rampant depression, you’d better just deal with it and fit in with it, and if you don’t, you could seem to have one or more of the following untermensch character defects: unrealistic, weak, cowardly, unhealthy, manipulative, passive-aggressive, just plain passive, irresponsible, unsuccessful, immature, inadequate, playing the victim role, maladjusted, unpragmatic, counterproductive, controlling, codependently controlling (i.e. controlling others for its own sake), blame-finding, excuse-making, whining, resentful, self-righteous, opinionated, WILLFUL, negativist, defeatist, guilt-tripping, philosophisizing, intellectualist, anti-beloved-traditions, naïve, judgmental, undiplomatic, unforgiving, etc.  It’s pretty easy to scare people about the supposed suppressors who get their power through victim-power.

(This is the heading of the section of Al-Anon’s workbook Blueprint for Progress, Al-Anon’s Fourth Step Inventory, for those who seem to be codependent to take a fearless moral inventory of behaviors, including helpful ones, that are labeled as “controlling.”  Frankly, just about any helpful behavior in a relationship that’s considered codependent, would be considered “controlling,” as in, “Sure, you think that what you’re doing is trying to help, but supposedly trying to help someone is a great way to control him.”  This morality-based “control” is in the same sense of what the Mississippi preacher mentioned by Bobby Kennedy’s administrative aide James Symington, meant by tyranny, “One preacher let me into his church, and told me, ‘You represent a tyranny.’   I said, ‘How do you think black people feel living in Mississippi with no rights?’   He said, ‘Well, it’s better to have a lot of little tyrannies than one big one.’”  Control based on one person having power over another, is only a little tyranny.  Of course, if those driven into depression, anxiety disorders, etc., by such behavior, instead fixed themselves by taking antidepressants, choosing to think positively, eating more omega-3 fatty acids, etc., that wouldn’t seem controlling, anti-freedom, manipulative, resentful, etc.  If you object to sinfulness, that’s really your will-to-power.  One could only ask: if control, resentment, etc., really were character defects so the person who had them got bad karma, what would be the learning experience that he’d get to teach him what’s wrong with them, that he be reincarnated as an SOB so he could see what it feels like to be on the receiving end of victim-posturing control tactics?)

 

And, naturally, this means...

 

The entry on Niebuhr in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001, says that he “defended Christianity as the world view that best explains the heights and barbarisms of human behavior,” so we’re simply supposed to accept the existence of barbarity, and change our vulnerability to barbarisms.  Reinhold Niebuhr, a biography, by Richard Wightman Fox, says that in the last half of the 1930s Niebuhr had almost a cult following among young Christians in England, giving a student conference at Swanwick.  Among his fans (not his detractors) a favorite limerick was:

t Swanwick when Niebuhr had quit it
A young man exclaimed “I have hit it!
Since I cannot do right
I must find out tonight
The right sin to commit—and commit it.”

But, of course, if anyone thinks that The Serenity Prayer implies a fatalism about others’ sinfulness, that person would seem to be victim-posturing, whiny, negativist, resentful, etc.

 

 

ust Ignore the Rampant Depression, and It Will Go Away.

If instead, what causes the rampant depression were treated as a social problem in the same way that many social movements in the 1960s treated social problems, it would seem very strange to talk about millions of Americans suffering from depression, as millions of Americans who’d better get fixed through antidepressant medication, cognitive therapy, etc.  Just imagine what the 1960s would have looked like if, instead, these social movements had said, “If racism, sexism, etc., bother you, then go to a cognitive therapist and learn how to think more optimistically about the opportunities that people have.”

 

 

Not only are such rates obviously unnatural, but a society’s rate of depression has been observed to increase with its becoming Westernized.

An article in the April, 2001 issue of Psychology Today magazine, says, “More than 100 million Americans have a close family member who suffers from a major mental illness.  Of the 10 leading causes of disability, half are psychiatric.  By the year 2020, the major cause of disability in the world may be major depression.”

The Secret Life of the Brain, by neurologist Richard Restak, who obviously has no problem with “the medical model” of psychiatry, says, “Over the next century, depression will be the number one cause of disability in the developing world and the number four cause of death worldwide.  Currently it afflicts 17 percent of people in the United States—12 to 13 percent of men and over twice as many women (about 25 percent).  That breaks down into somewhere between 15 and 25 million Americans with a depressive episode in a given year.”

Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression, by Lewis Wolpert, says, “A recent report, Global Burden of Disease, published by the World Health Organisation, states that depression was the fourth most important health problem in the developing world in 1990 (accounting for about 3 per cent of the total burden of illness) and predicts that it will be the number one health problem in the developing world in 2020 (accounting for about 6 per cent of the total burden).  Over the same period the annual number of suicides will increase from 593,000 to 995,000 in the developing world.”

 

Currently, you could see plenty of similar data, in ads or announcements promoting certain medications, or treatment in general, for depression.  These ads would say basically the following: “About 20,000,000 Americans suffer a serious depressive disorder in any given year.  That means that depression can’t be due to their own weak characters.  If something this extreme results from weak characters, they’d have to be extremely weak, and that many Americans can’t have characters that are that weak.  Also, those people shouldn’t feel aberrant, since by definition, if such a sizable fraction of the population has any trait, it isn’t aberrant.  Therefore, these people should get treatment to solve their problem.  Don’t worry; now there’s hope.”

 

Or in the words of William Ryan’s Blaming the Victim, from 1971, “These programs are based on the assumption that individuals ‘have’ social problems as a result of some kind of unusual circumstances—accident, illness, personal defect or handicap, character flaw or maladjustment—that exclude them from using the ordinary mechanisms for maintaining and advancing themselves....  All were seen, however, as individuals who, for good reasons or bad, were personal failures, unable to adapt themselves to the system,” and, “The formula for action becomes extraordinarily simple: change the victim.  All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational.”  And, of course, this supposed culture of poverty means only the urban poor; rural poverty wasn’t supposed to come from a culture of poverty, though rural culture is a lot more culture-bound, and a lot of that culture is anti-intellectualist and fatalistic.  The three big differences between pre-Reagan and post-Reagan victim blaming are that,

  1. The current victim-blaming usually tries not to make people seem shameful,  Those ads assume that since they blame depressed people’s illnesses, personal biological defects, or handicaps, rather than character flaws, they aren’t really blaming the victims.  The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines correct as both “to make right,” and, “REPROVE : CHASTISE.”  Though victim correction as a panacea is supposed to mean making things right rather than reproving and chastising, when something becomes your personal responsibility, then if you aren’t adequate to do this, lose the battle, fail, and come up short with big consequences, you’d seem to be an irresponsible and inadequate, loser and failure, with very consequential shortcomings.

  2. This isn’t a program, but a one-step self-help technique.  “It’s your problem, so what are you going to do about it?  You’d better just serenely surrender to the inevitable.”  Even, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” could happen so smoothly that it seems downright rational.

  3. One who wrote a similar exposé about the current victim-blaming, would necessarily seem maladjusted.  After all, everyone knows that you’re maladjusted if you disagree with the zeitgeist which says that people are simply supposed to deal with their own problems by serenely accepting what they can’t change and courageously changing what they can, with the precept that depression and anxiety are medication deficiencies so if you take the right medication you’ve solved the problem, etc.

Two of the above sources of data, that article in Psychology Today, and When Madness Comes Home, were both written as guides to tell the family members who are the caretakers of those who are seriously impaired, how they could do this most effectively.  It’s as if those rates of such serious impairments are only natural, so it’s only natural that each family take care of its own problems.

 

 

“I do not want the peace that passeth understanding.  I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”—Helen Keller

 

Ironically, Niebuhr, in The Nature and Destiny of Man, in the subchapter, “The Sin of Pride,” wrote, “Descartes, Hegel, Kant, and Comte, to mention only a few moderns, were so certain of the finality of their thought that they have become fair sport for any wayfaring cynic.”  The ultimate fair sport for any wayfaring cynic, moral relativist, etc., has got to be our culture’s victim-blaming conception of “personal responsibility,” that so loves the expectation that no matter how much your problem involves hardship, others’ sinfulness, etc., of course you’ll take care of yourself, deal with your own problem, etc., by courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t.  If you don’t, you’d seem to be having a “pity party,” playing ignominiously cunning manipulative tricks, etc.

A webpage about Hitler, A Born Soldier, says, “Hitler’s favorite writer during the war was the early 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer....  Hitler, like Thomas Mann, was greatly impressed by Schopenhauer’s book: The World as Will and Idea.  Hitler read the book over and over again during the war and was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer’s teaching.”

The title of Schopenhauer’s magnum opus, is also translated as The World as Will and Representation Another way of saying “The World as Will and Representation,” is, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” that all should represent to themselves, their own victimizations in a sublime fashion, and if they don’t then that’s their SELF-WILLS at work.

According to this, the sinful WILL is ineradicable.  As Schopenhauer wrote, “This world is the battle-ground of tormented and agonized beings who continue to exist only by each devouring the other.  Therefore, every beast of prey in it is the living grave of thousands of others, and its self-maintenance is a chain of torturing deaths.”

(Nazi poster saying “EUROPAS FREIHEIT,” or “EUROPE’S FREEDOM”)

To deal with this and other strife in the material world, we’re to represent the world to ourselves Stoically, as Buddhist self-discipline does.  Schopenhauer wrote that he defined the word translated as “Representation” or “Idea,” Vorstellung, as an “exceedingly complicated physiological process in the brain of an animal, the result of which is the consciousness of a picture there,” what cognitive therapy would call an “outlook.”  This includes the ways in which one would picture hardship or sinfulness.  He described the pragmatically sublime character as, “Such a character will accordingly consider men in a purely objective way, and not according to the relations they might have to his will.  For example, he will observe their faults, and even their hatred and injustice to himself, without thereby being stirred to hatred on his own part....  For in the course of his own life and in its misfortunes, he will look less at his own individual lot than at the lot of mankind as a whole, and accordingly will conduct himself in this respect rather as a knower than as a sufferer.”  This could be called absolutist cognitive therapy, where the goal is to get rid of any “negative thoughts,” rather than just those that are irrational.

If the person who has a problem isn’t Stoic about it, then that would seem to be his craven and cunning SELF-WILL expecting the world to be as he’d have it.  The World as Will and Representation also includes, “The concept of good is divided into two subspecies, that of the directly present satisfaction of the will in each case, and that of its merely indirect satisfaction concerning the future, in other words, the agreeable and the useful.  The concept of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case.”  Also, “Wrong through violence is not so ignominious for the perpetrator as wrong through cunning, because the former is evidence of physical strength, which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race.  The latter, on the other hand, by using the crooked way, betrays weakness, and at the same time degrades the perpetrator as a physical and moral being.”  About a century ago, William James wrote that Americans tend to classify people as either redbloods or mollycoddles.  Redbloods’ strength and toughness powerfully impress the human race in all circumstances, and mollycoddles use their own weakness to get coddled, through ignominious cunning.

Of course, if objections to even sinfulness seem to be expressions of the striving of the objectors’ WILLS, then they’d believe whatever suits their own desires and goals, so even the most sincere objections could be called cunning.  According to the self-help zeitgeist, a powerless person wouldn’t have to be cunning or exploitive, in order to be labeled “manipulative,” and, therefore, seem cunning and exploitive.  And, while we must forgive sinfulness, we mustn’t forgive supposed manipulativeness.

Will and representation would seem to be all that there is to the world, since the person with the problem can’t care about anything besides whether or not he has the power to change each aspect of his problem.  If he does care, that would seem distractive, disheartening, blaming, restrictive, manipulative, etc.  One could call this global, all-inclusive, approach to problem-solving, “a panacea that consists of acceptance of the aggressive WILL, and rejection of weakness, ineffectiveness, and unhappy representations of the material world.”  No problem could seem to be a social problem if it seems to result from the ineradicably aggressive WILLS of those who cause it, and/or the (possibly masochistic) ignominiously cunning WILLS of those who have it.

Schopenhauer admitted that he was a pessimist, and on Majikthise’s Philosophers’ Theme Songs webpage, the theme song assigned to him is “Desolation Row,” but the ideas that Schopenhauer-style self-discipline would put into one’s head would, in all circumstances, be optimistic. For example, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” or anything that implies this, is pessimistic, but that transcendence would lead to a positive outlook in even desperate circumstances.  And those who believe in the zeitgeist of The Serenity Prayer, had better keep in mind that Niebuhr had the same pessimism about the material world, but optimism about how we could feel serene despite it.

Yet even if the only part of The Serenity Prayer that one holds to is the famous first sentence, the responsibility that this gives to those who have the problems would still be unlimited.  No matter what hardship, sinfulness, or anything else each is up against, no matter what he must do to solve his problems and how little he has to work with, etc., the only questions that he could legitimately ask would be along the lines of, “Can I change this?”  Whatever is reality for you, that’s what you’ve got to deal with.

 

(Otto Ambros, production chief of I. G. Farben’s Zyklon-B poison gas facilities)

In fact, in reading The World as Will and Representation, one could get the impression that the reason why the German culture produced so many ideas of modern psychology, is that the German tradition is the one which most believes that humanity is at the mercy of sinful human nature, so we must figure out how we can best deal with this inevitable reality.  As T. C. Schneirla wrote about some ideas of Konrad Lorenz, who also believed that we’re born with ineradicable aggressiveness, they “seem to reveal an aspect of Freudian sublimation; that is, of making the best of a bad deal.”  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” makes the best of the same global bad deal, without limits.

 

 

All this could let you know how valid your suspicions of our current normalcy, are.  Every culture puts certain negative labels on those who disagree with its basic premises.  Those who disagree with the self-help premises could also seem unnaturally self-defeating, since no matter what hardship, sinfulness, or anything else you’re up against, you’ve got a lot at stake, so you’d better take care of yourself the best you could.  If the only question concerning your problem that you’re allowed to take seriously is, “Can I change this?” that would make the political, personal, and it would make absolutely no difference what are the rates of depression and anxiety disorders, in your society.  The only thing that you should be focusing your attention on, is what you should must and ought to be doing better, caring only about whether any option would make you more or less likely to succeed.  If all this has felt profoundly wrong to you, then you were right, it is as profoundly wrong as is 15% of the adult population suffering a serious depressive disorder in any given year, most of them also having to go through the tunnel-vision self-responsibility that would be necessary for someone with that much at stake.

            This is why I set up this website,  most of which was written in Gopher mode, meaning that I put in a lot of text to convey as much of the information that I’ve collected, as possible.  Included here is a To The Survivors webpage, for the survivors of sexual abuse from any clergy.  Too many of these people can’t afford therapy, and some of them end up killing themselves.  Therefore, I put up this webpage to give them reasons why what those molesters and rapists did, is freakish so that doesn’t give reason to feel hopeless and afraid in general.  Those who want to add supportive messages to this, could e-mail them to me.

The place to start on my website about chronically manic personalities, is the About Us, the Summary webpage, which summarizes my About Us series of webpages, the My Story webpage, my Romance of Hassidism webpage (about Hassidism, the ecstatic mystical sect of Judaism, which includes some pretty wild music!), my Men Dying for Love webpage, and my On Doping webpage.  The My Story webpage tells of my own experiences living like this.  On my About Us webpage, I’ve told of what I’ve picked up about hyperthymic personalities, which could in practical terms help you recognize, and in some cases appreciate, the signs in yourself and others.  The Men Dying for Love webpage consists mainly of the suicide notes that make up the appendix of a book, which show the men having an unusual tendency to kill themselves because of the ending of only one romantic relationship or marriage while women, who are more likely to have been told over and over that they’d simply have to withstand the slings and arrows of life, need misery that’s pretty holistic before they’d kill themselves.  The On Doping webpage tells of a problem that’s all too common among hyperthymics, along with some possible solutions for both their distortions in thinking and similar distortions.  Those other four webpages would be the next place to go if you want something more comprehensive.  For these webpages, I’m on the webrings regarding bipolar disorder.

            Also on this website are my Victim Correction as a Panacea webpages.   These include my Victim Correction as a Panacea and Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary series of webpages.  This also has a Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression webpage, to mirror some websites telling of scientific research on the social causes of the rampant depression.  (As The Speed Culture, by Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Peter Hedblom, © 1974, says about ads for drugs such as those for using amphetamines for treating depression, “The basic philosophical premise of such advertisements seems to be that human life is a drug-deficiency disease.”  After all, when Jean Harris killed Dr. Herman Tarnower, she was taking Desoxyn, or prescription methamphetamine, which recently was blamed for the murder, but at that time that was so normal that if you objected you might have seemed to have hang-ups about psychiatry.)  The Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea webpage gives exactly these rationales, which are as predictable as any panacea.  The Schopenhauer on Predators webpage, has an excerpt from The World as Will and Representation which expresses his fatalism about pedophilia, which shows both that the recent “zero tolerance” about it isn’t a recent trend, and that this fatalistic acceptance has to be as extreme as reality is.  My Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming webpage gives a very concrete example of a writing revered by many psychologists, written by a stockbroker during the Great Depression, saying that people are just going to have to get their resentment anger and fear (and not just overreactions) under control.  My Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips  webpage gives exactly that, both the sales tips, and the Darwinist attitudes that went behind their sales.  Plus, my Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book gives the contents of this book, which seems to want to use exactly the sort of empathetic techniques that might optimize normal businesses, but not one where empathy would mean empathy for recklessness.  The Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008 webpage, tells of my own experience with these social norms.  My Message to Intellectuals in the Islamic World webpage, my Candace Newmaker’s Experience webpage, my webpage on another psychologist’s case, Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good, my A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction webpage, my The Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction webpage, and my Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man, and What It Indicates About What’s Shaping Modern Culture webpage, all deal with specifics on this.  Page 2 of the summary is an algorithm (a word that has its roots in the mathematical developments in the Arab world) for a computer program, or even a page of recommendations, which would tell how to deal with any and every problem no matter how severe and outrageous, using the principles of self-help, simply asking victims whether they’d rather handle their problem productively or counterproductively.  Page 3 of this summary gives a list and explanation of what I’ve seen to be the defining characteristics of victim correction as a panacea.  For these webpages, I’m on the webrings regarding psychology.

 

 

 

   

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 Sala-a-a-a-am! 
 

 

 

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            About Us - Introduction           

            About Us, the Summary           

            About Us - Index           

             My Story           

            To the [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥           

            Men Dying for Love           

            On Doping            

           "Oh Yeah?" Upbeat Echoes from the           

            First Great Stock Market Crash           

           Victim Correction as a Panacea Summary         

            Page 2                     Page 3         

           Cancer Victims Corrected Too         

           Victim Correction as a Panacea         

           Documentation on the Social Problem of           

            Unnaturally Rampant Depression           

           Standard Rationales for Victim Correction         

            as a Panacea           

           Schopenhauer on Predators         

           Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming         

          Darwinist Lehman Brothers' INSIDE         

          Sales Tips         

          Darwinist Lehman Brothers' INSIDE         

          Introduction to Management Book         

           Out of the Same Mold as the          

            Great Crash of 2008           

            Message for Intellectuals in the           

            Islamic World           

           Candace Newmaker’s Experience         

            Breaking Important Confidences for           

            Your Own Good           

           A Glimpse Into the Soul of          

            Victim Correction           

           Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction         

           Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny         

           Herbal Experiences For Women         

           Some Ideas for Rapport           

           Hotlinks