Candace Newmaker’s Experience

 

“Manipulation involves particularly devious or indirect methods to induce someone to do something, or behave in a certain manner.”Stanlee Phelps and Nancy Austin, The Assertive Woman, © 1975

“Nature has produced [the intellect] for the service of an individual will; therefore it is destined to know things only in so far as they serve as the motives of such a will, not to fathom them or comprehend their true inner essence.”Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation

“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.”REINHOLD NIEBUHR


Here’s an example of some very extreme victim correction as a panacea.  In its extremity, the following might seem not to represent what we’d normally encounter in our lives, whether this be from psychotherapists, or from anyone else.  At the same time, in its extremity, it’s also pretty clear how those who’d do this would be very uneasy bucking the trends to an extreme degree, but would feel comfortable enough following the trends but to an extreme degree.

While many things could be said about the case of Candace Newmaker, one is relevant to basically everyone in both Western society, and the countries that, with Globalism, are becoming Westernized.  That is, this strange tendency to treat manipulation as if it’s the ultimate moral hazard, which could be very powerful, very forceful and compelling, and one can’t defend himself against it without looking as if he’s re-victimizing victims.  Americans could have noticed that along with the Reagan Legacy, is a tendency to anathematize “victimology,” “victimhood,” etc.  What better way would there possibly be to make those on welfare, those suing big companies, those claiming that when they tried to get jobs they’d been discriminated against, etc., look as if they’re the problems?  If only such people fought their own battles, self-reliantly made the best of the cards that life had dealt them, then problems would get solved through self-help.

It could also seem logical not only to treat manipulation as the ultimate moral hazard, but also to suspect it where it can’t be proven.  Sure, those who are suspected of committing “sinful” behavior are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Yet if we presumed everybody who could seem responsible for a problem, innocent until proven guilty, then some problems would have no one taking responsibility for them.  Not only that, manipulation is insidious, so if we presumed those suspected of manipulation, innocent until proven guilty, a lot of manipulation would keep its manipulative power.  Also, since even sincere assertiveness reflects the self-will of the assertive person, any statements of, “But you owe me!” could be called manipulative to some degree.

Sure, this might sound like just a rationale that all psychologists held accountable for malfeasance, would naturally want to use since this rationale would let them evade responsibility.  Yet this is very much along the same lines of what psychologists would try to get their clients to believe in.  After all, if they all chose to think in a stolid and Stoic fashion, they could cope with a lot more than if they didn’t.

The Be Wary of Attachment Therapy webpage on the Quackwatch website, goes into all of the problems with attachment therapy in general.  It involves physical restraint and other mild assaults on the children, but also involves exactly the sort of cult-like quality that one could see in The AA School of Self-Help Psychology.  That is, all are supposed to have faith that their presumptions are true, and those who resist could be labeled as manipulative, selfishly and pathologically resisting, etc., basically as ignominious untermensch WILLFULNESS.  When “therapists” get in trouble, they act as if they’re just victims of blamers manipulators and whiners, and acting like victims of untermenschen seems fine, maybe even pro-freedom.  The therapists can pose as the realists, the ones who know what Reactive Attachment Disorder really leads to, as versus what the eggheads think it leads to.

That webpage includes, “Ironically, for these same practitioners, an inability to accept responsibility for one’s actions and irrational lying are deemed as symptoms of the very disorder they claim their child patients suffer from.”  The difference is obviously that blaming blamers manipulators and whiners, seems a lot different than blaming those who insist that our characters become stronger.  There’s the sort of strong character that would make one more likely to succeed and feel resilient, and there’s the kind that wouldn’t, and the kind that would is the kind that really matters.

That webpage also says that after the mother of a two-year-old who died of injuries while undergoing Attachment Therapy was charged in his death, “The attachment community watched the case with baited breath and rallied to support the parents in what ‘could have happened to any of us,’” and it seems so natural to blame such problems on other factors so those accused could seem to be exercising their all-American rights not to be blamed for life’s inevitable misfortunes.  Everyone knows that in an imperfect world where certain things simply have to get taken care of, some irresponsibility, lying, etc., can’t matter, and some has to, even if it can’t be proven.  And, of course, if it doesn’t have to be proven, then plenty of people (of the right sort) who haven’t just lied, acted irresponsible, etc., would be treated as if they had.  And, of course, those of “the right sort” would be the weak, those who’d seem deficient in self-responsibility, rather than the strong, the ones whose imperfections are forgiven.  This is basically the same “acceptance of human nature” as was characteristic of the German Romantic era: taking aggressive human nature as a given, and suspecting the supposed insidious WILLFULNESS of the weak.

Conceivably, even attention given to the irresponsibility and lying of those who want to make our characters stronger, could seem to be the manipulative machinations of the weak, both because of the mentality of, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” and since that would be exactly the sort of opportunity that the weak would take advantage of to get what they’re really after.  We’d have to be conservative about accusing the therapists of irresponsibility, since they’d be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but we can’t presume untermenschen innocent until proven guilty, since their cunning eliminates proof, and we can’t afford to allow insidious dangers like their “victim-power.”  It could seem only natural that people, when they’re up against that victim-power, would do things that could conceivably be called “an inability to accept responsibility for one’s actions and irrational lying,” since responsibility for one’s actions could mean being blamed, and irrational lying about the weak could seem to be just those “productuve” people’s natural faith in the benefits and respectability of self-empowerment.  Concern about the irresponsibility, lying, etc., of those who are fighting for what’s right, what’s productive, could even seem to be a got’cha game: “Aha, I got’cha!  You acted irresponsible, too, so I could go right on acting counterproductive!”

This is all very systematic.  As the Philadelphia Grand Jury report on their Archdiocese’s enabling of pedo-priests put it,

Though, as the Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, 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,” that perspective could ask only whether this consists of 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, or 34,000,000 rather severe character flaws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  It’s as if the magnitude of this social problem could just be brushed aside.

The April, 2001 issue of Psychology Today magazine, says in an article about how people could better manage the psychiatric disorders of family members, regardless of the causes, “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, 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.”

Raising Depression-Free Children, by Kathleen Panuna Hockey, says in its introduction, “The problem is so serious that the World Health Organization has predicted that by the year 2020, when today’s children reach adulthood, depression will rank as the second leading cause of ‘lost years of healthy life’—behind only ischemic heart disease.  In 1990, depression ranked fourth.”  On the same page, this goes on to say, “The fact that a child is at risk for depression by being born into a family with a history of depression, being raised in poverty, or having health problems doesn’t mean that child is destined to become depressed,” and that this means prevention through “resiliency parenting.”  And of course, the point of this book isn’t to address a social problem.

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?  This not only is a social problem, but it’s one of world history’s most grievous.  Yet it seems only natural to see such statistics, including those which tell of Globalism increasing the rate of depression in Eastern countries, and think, ‘OK, so how do I treat my problem, or my family member’s problem, as pragmatically and resiliently as possible?’  Everyone knows that what’s at fault, is inside the millions of victims.  Of course, if someone treated that as a spreading social problem, as it deserves to be treated, he could very easily be labeled a ‘victimologist,’ a manipulative mollycoddle, etc.  According to the neo-Buddhist Serenity Prayer school of psychology, the fact that the person who has the problem, would simply be held response-able for dealing with it by courageously changing what he could and serenely accepting what he couldn’t, would be a fait accompli.”

It seems that we must fear the untermenschen and their victim-power, and mustn’t fear the übermenschen and their freedoms.  Victim correction as a panacea tends to look a lot like German conceptions of: human nature, what each person has a right to expect of others, and how respectable are the strong or the weak.  While we tend to associate this simply with the acceptance if not respect given to aggression, some, such as Arthur Schopenhauer, realized that this acceptance of aggression requires that weak simply deal with the aggression that impacts their own lives.  The basic idea of The Serenity Prayer, which is the basic idea of much modern psychology, is that if you’re strong weak (as in literally reality, and if you’re weak then naturally you’d serenely accept reality.  Schopenhauer was a main inspiration of such stereotypical Krauts as Nietzsche and Wagner, so one could call both of them Schopenhauerian.

At the very least, the pretense under which the invasion of Iraq was started, was manipulative.  Frank Rich’s The Greatest Story Ever Sold, The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush’s America, also tells of other Machiavellian manipulative tactics to sell the Iraq war, i.e., “Walter Pincus and Dana Priest of The Washington Post then filled in some specific details, reporting that Dick Cheney and his most senior aide, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, had frequently visited the CIA in the year before the invasion, pressuring intelligence analysts for assessments that backed up administration claims of Saddam WMDs and of an Iraq-Qaeda connection.”  If someone on the untermensch-mollycoddle side of the dichotomy pulled a stunt like that, it would have seemed unambiguously manipulative, perfidious.  The heart of all ignominiously cunning manipulation, is emotionally moving claims of victimhood.  Yet when someone on the übermensch-redblood side of the dichotomy does that, excuses seem very plausible.

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Schopenhauer’s magnum opus was a two-book set, published in 1819, titled The World as Will and Representation.  That title alone is a good summary of modern victim correction in psychology, including the interplay between psychoanalytic ideas and ideas from cognitive therapy, though neither of these existed when The World as Will and Representation was published.  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.”  This tends to have four basic aspects:

  1. The aggressive, sinful will is treated as psychoanalysis would treat it.  It seems ineradicable so we must take it as a given, attempts to get it under control seem controlling and repressive so they’ll only have bad consequences in the long term, etc.  Since strength is so respectable, people should show strong resolve in self-reliantly taking care of their own problems, “strength of character” means a stolid STRENGTH of character, etc.

  2. Therefore, we’ll simply have to deal with such realities, by representing what happens to ourselves in a Stoic fashion, a la cognitive therapy.  Since cognitive therapy arose in the 1960s based on the then-popular Eastern transcendence, this could be called “Calcutta survival skills.”  What Schopenhauer called “representation,” how one represents his experiences to himself, is the same thing as what cognitive therapists would now call his “outlook.”  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.  While aggressive and sinful feelings seem ineradicable, hurt feelings seem very eradicable.

  3. If they don’t adopt a sublime serenity, that would seem to be their shameful SELF-WILLS expecting the world to be as they’d have it.  Impugning the weak is pretty much the norm.  Since their intellects are destined to know things only in so far as they serve as the motives of their WILLS, even their sincere opinions could seem to serve ulterior motives.  Even if a cognitive therapist believes that aggressive and sinful feelings are just as eradicable as are hurt feelings, someone who refuses to have his own aggressive thoughts reformed and re-engineered would seem excusably übermensch, while someone who refuses to have his own hurt thoughts reformed and re-engineered would seem inexcusably untermensch.

  4. This, explicitly, is the world as will and representation, since this is to constitute one’s entire worldview.  The whole point is to deal with your own problems as effectively and serenely as possible.  The only legitimate question that one may ask about them, is, “Can I change this?”  The only difference that the answer to that question, would make, is whether one is to deal with his own problem by courageously changing it, or serenely accepting it.  As long as he’s not powerless to change it, the WILLFULNESS of his objections to it wouldn’t be condemned as “resentful,” “whiny,” etc., so he wouldn’t have to represent it to himself in a contrived, nice, fashion.

 

 

The following, from The World as Will and Representation, pretty much sums up this stereotypically German attitude: “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.”  Also, “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.”  Since seeing something as bad or evil, could seem to result from the striving of the will, sincere objections could be treated as cunning, as wanting the world to be as one would have it.  Hitler saw Jews in general as manipulative “parasites,” so he clearly was extremely obsessed with the idea of fighting manipulative parasites.

Replace “violence” with “toughness,” and you’d have the American version of this.  As William James, Henry’s brother, wrote a century ago, Americans tend to classify people as either redbloods or mollycoddles.  Those who are tough powerfully impress the human race in all circumstances, while those who are weak seem ignominiously cunning, manipulative.  Also, though the old German version of this idea said that those who seem ignominiously cunning are more dishonorable than are those who are tough, the new version stresses that the supposedly mercenary “mollycoddles” are more dangerous since you can’t defend yourself against tears and other “victim power.”  Manipulation seems to be a major moral hazard. The Fine Art of Propaganda, by Alfred McClung Lee and Elizabeth Briant Lee, from 1939, tells of the “World Service, a leaflet circulated by the Nazis to ‘reveal’ the ‘machinations of the Jewish under-world’...”, which expressed this fear that intellectual ideas are actually manipulative.

To say that your feelings that something was bad or evil reflect a striving of your WILL, is to say that that they’re manipulative, reflecting a self-serving hidden agenda that even you probably aren’t aware of.  All you know is that you’re right.  A central concept to Nazism is that even the most sincere fights for what’s morally right, reflect the aggressive but insidious SELF-WILLS of those who fight for this, but to see even such sincerity as self-serving is usually tenable, and much more likely to get productive results than would be holding the morally responsible people, morally accountable.

Of course, the bad or evil person’s bad or evil choices, his belief that excusing or forgiving them is what’s right, etc., certainly reflect the striving of his WILL, but it would seem that we simply must accept that that’s the way that human nature is.

Pat Buchanan, in a syndicated column in 1977, wrote, “...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.”  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.  And weakness masquerading as morality is the essence of untermensch manipulation.  Sure, other kinds of manipulation exist, but they’re not the kind we’re afraid of.

Niebuhr was a hell-raiser, before Stalinism made him fatalistic about human nature.  Yet if any organization preaches the Serenity Prayer at people, the final result would be the same, that self-reliant STRENGTH seems good, and weakness that tries to get persuasive strength from emotion and/or abstractions seems intolerably bad.  As the history of The AA School of Self-Help Psychology shows, Nazism, minus anti-Semitism and committing outrageous aggression, equals taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as you’d have it.

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.”  Actually, the word character is used plenty in the United States, whether it be in comments on depression or from the likes of Pat Buchanan and Frank Buchman, to pass judgment on how integrated and organized are traumatized people.  After all, such judgments aren’t moralisticSomeone absolutely has to provide our society’s homeostasis, since things simply have to remain integrated and organized.

The new version of this Wagnerianism is more Nazified than the original.  Sure, to some degree you could see that anywhere in the Globalized economy, as in the Times of India article about the Mumbai subway bombings that said, “Good Samaritans came in every shape and size on Tuesday evening—the much-reviled slum dwellers living near the railway tracks... who without a second thought rushed to the help of victims.”  Yet in Western countries is where you’re most likely to see this sort of standard of “personal responsibility” being preached the most firmly.

 

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

 

 

Another very German pattern that this fits, is that of The Big Lie.  It seems that the victims are the schemers, and the schemers are the victims.  If you disagree with this, you’d hear logic that has the appeal of The Big Lie.  That is, that this may seem illogical to those who aren’t in the know, but those who think in the right way could see it.  You want to be one of those who are smart enough to “get it,” don’t you?  You must ignore any awareness of what’s wrong with what you’re supposed to believe, since your skepticism comes from what’s wrong with mollycoddle human nature and naturally you want to rise above that, etc.  With a small lie, skepticism would seem only natural, but with The Big Lie, any skepticism would seem to be missing the point.

The following would be an example of “resiliency parenting”:

 

 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, can 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,
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a “greater realism”~Martin Buber

 

“Propaganda is where you have these absolute principles that you say no matter what or how it falls in regard to the experience of people.”—Sister Helen Prejean

 

 

 

The Fine Art of Propaganda quotes Hitler’s Mein Kampf as saying, “A lie is believed because of the unconditional and insolent inflexibility with which it is propagated and because it takes advantage of the sentimental and extreme sympathies of the masses.”  It should be obvious to anyone that the problems of the victims of alcoholic parents (or anything comparable) aren’t inside of themselves.  Yet the sentimental and extreme sympathies of Americans tend to insist that one take personal response-ability for his own welfare.  If he doesn’t, he could be insolently and inflexibly accused of having “pity parties” and the like.  A stolid self-reliance with self-empowerment simply seems good, while passivity simply seems bad.

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.

Since Raising Depression-Free Children is published by the Hazelden center, an addiction treatment center greatly shaped by the philosophy of Twelve-Step groups, its conception of “resiliency parenting” would have to be the same as the conception shown in the above comic, which would include, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  With all cognitive therapy, the more impressionable that one is, the more that he could learn to think pragmatically.  Al-Anon’s approach was based on AA’s approach, in which the more impressionable a recovering alkie is, the more that he could get rid of his pathological thoughts.  And just because these kids do have enough real problems, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t possibly seem to be manipulating by not handling their own problems resiliently resourcefully and independently enough.  Something very vital is missing.

Quite literally, it can’t matter how much someone else is responsible for your problem,

since if people’s response-ability for their own welfare weren’t unconditional, then those in situations for which others are clearly responsible, wouldn’t strive to become better happier people, which they’d probably need to do to deal adequately with their own problems.

This series of comics includes Jane’s husband getting violent at home,

and giving her a black eye.  After she sees their kids getting violent, she thinks, “I just can’t take anymore!”  When she goes to an Al-Anon meeting, one member tells her, “Welcome.  We were lonely and troubled, too.  We can understand as few can,” and another tells her, “You can be happy even if your husband doesn’t stop drinking.”  When she goes home, as she reads a pamphlet titled “Living with an Alcoholic,” and looks very beleaguered, she thinks, “Those women are so happy.  Maybe if I do what they say, I can be like them.”

So this “better, happier person” stuff was inculcated to her, by the heroes of self-help.  I’ve never heard anyone call this sort of inculcation “extremist,” and it really is literally the same as when those around us tell us that no matter what your problem is, you should courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can’t.

And many AA slogans ridicule those who don’t have what Niebuhr (disapprovingly) called “Buddhistic” spirituality like this.   (Yet I could make the following guarantee: The very same all-American types who’d be the first to condemn Buddhistic spirituality as alien, extinguishing people’s autonomy and selfhood, brainwashing, etc., would also be the first to practice what Buddhism calls “mindfulness” when they’re in 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.”  After all, their chances of coping with them would be a lot higher if they chose to contrive a serene acceptance of whatever they’re helpless to change, than if they drew their own honest conclusions about it.)

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.

All of those aspects of victim correction, were very evident in what happened to Candace Newmaker, especially the last two.  Though her real problem was that she was acting too aggressive, even violent at times, she was treated as if her problem was that she was trying to manipulate her way out of overcoming an obstacle that her therapists set up for her.  If, instead of being given an exercise in which she was not allowed to react as a weakling would, she was given one in which she was not allowed to act aggressively, she’d still be alive today.  It was assumed that her weak, supposedly dependent, reactions were the problem.  Her very true statements, that she was trapped and suffocating to death, were automatically labeled as manipulative.  This constituted her therapists’ entire worldview.  Rather than making sure that in this particular situation there was no danger, they simply went right on assuming that if someone isn’t dealing with her own problem, then that must be her WILL expressing itself.

The A Call to Action webpage, on the website of the defense fund of the therapists who killed Candace, says, “As a member of the attachment and bonding community, I know how difficult it is for anyone without personal experience to understand the severity of this disorder and the unconventional techniques that are sometimes required.  Parents and therapists are often accused of being too strict and even abusive when they set and keep firm limits and directly confront their children to avoid allowing them to continue manipulating and conning.”  It would seem ridiculous to presume them innocent until proven guilty of cunning.

As you might imagine, this is so dogmatic, that believers are very unlikely to learn from experience.  On  November 9, 1990, thirteen-year-old Andrea Swenson, an adoptee under treatment of the same clinic, when the same Connell Watkins was clinical director, committed suicide.  She’d came home to her “Therapeutic Foster Parents” from school, and told them that she had been sexually molested at school.  They didn’t act on this, though, since they regarded what she said as a symptom of “Attachment Disorder”—false, manipulative, and attention-getting.  The next day, she asked them what would happen if she slit her wrists or took an overdose of drugs.  They responded simply that she would die.  That evening, she took an overdose of aspirin.  The next morning she went into convulsions and was delirious, which led to them keeping her home from school, but no more coddling than that; they spent the afternoon bowling.  While they were gone, a relative came by and found Andrea dead in a hallway.

You might think that an experience like that would teach the dangers of automatically treating the weak as ignominiously cunning, which is just a fancy way of saying “manipulative.”  Yet if someone has an ideology that dreads that sort of insidious, pernicious “victim-power,” such an experience probably wouldn’t change that ideology.  “Victimology,” “victimhood,” etc., would still be The Anathema.  Just because after telling one child that if she did anything suicidal she’d die, she does kill herself, doesn’t mean that other suspected manipulators who’d tell you “I can’t do it.  [Screams]  I’m gonna die,” aren’t just trying to manipulate you.  Yet if what seems most important is that people learn to think like winners, and not to think like untermenschen, then it would seem that “productive thinking” means thinking as if being overpowered doesn’t really matter.

 

Certainly Schopenhauer had encountered plenty of powerless people whose pleas that what had been done to them was bad or evil, were legit and imperative, but he could still have been afraid that if you don’t suspect the weak, plenty could manipulatively get what they want through “victim-power.”  Naturally, this has become the antithesis of those whose conceptions of personal responsibility, were shaped by Reaganomics.  The Al-Anon formula for self-help has to be along these lines, since the only thing that seems to matter is whether or not one is saddled with a problem, and if so, whether or not he has the power to change it.

Today, the “victim-power” that Reagan’s followers are most up against, is that which fundamentalist Muslim terrorists use to make themselves look as if their terrorism is really defensive, that if you don’t understand their terrorism then you don’t understand their suffering, etc.  For example, the Shia martyrdom slogan, “The Victory of Blood over the Sword,” which could mean that the more blood that you shed (or even seem to shed), the more victory you’d seem entitled to.  Any religious terrorists could be said to fit the Dispensationalist mold of the Antichrist, claiming to be fighting for what is good, but actually expressing their own SELF-WILLS.  If any country or region in the Third World is having real problems that would qualify as oppression, chances are very good that a dictator will pop up in that area or country, and play the role of a tin-pot Antichrist, where he’d get what he wants by supposedly fighting for the oppressed.

And we all know how Hitler came to power by acting like a victim.  (Of course, it’s debatable whether Hitler meant that Germany was a victim of the Western powers overpowering it, in which case he would have been a whiny mollycoddle, or a victim of vindictiveness and moral accountability, in which case he would have been a redblood proudly defending gutsiness.)

Sure, Martin Luther King, Jr. included in a sermon “Loving Your Enemies,” “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.  Bomb our homes and threaten our children and we will still love you.  We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.  We will win our freedom,” and that seems honorable to most people, but even that could seem ignominiously cunning to those with a tunnel-vision fear of minorities’ “victimology” and “victimhood,” especially when the victimization is more ambiguous than the physical attacks of the Civil Rights era.

The World as will and representation might seem dangerously dogmatic, but without it, some people would represent their own experiences to themselves as, “I’m a victim!” and could therefore manipulate others into letting them have more, or, at the very least, could be a lot more un-serene and un-courageous than they could afford.  No doubt Schopenhauer also saw plenty of “sinful” people responding to others holding them morally responsible, by manipulatively acting as if they’re victims of the supposed ignominious cunning and WILLFUL strivings of those untermenschen, but Schopenhauer must have figured that he simply must face the fact that sinful übermensch WILLFULNESS is ineradicable.

You might wonder how some therapists could so resolutely hold on to this philosophy that would obviously get them sued.  But then again, one lawsuit against a psychologist who acted as a marriage counselor, tells of how he and another psychologist broke the confidences of their clients, in such a way that obviously didn’t benefit the psychologists.  Those with such strength-loving attitudes, would naturally proceed as if anyone who disagrees is weak and unhealthy, so breaking their confidences, as long as this would advance stolid self-determination, would be for their own good.  Certainly the therapists of Candace, Andrea, etc., were convinced that what they were doing was for these kids’ own good, even if their supposed weakness-loving attitudes didn’t think so.

Another example of a trend in psychology that follows the pattern of accusations of manipulative machinations, is the overuse of the diagnosis of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.  This is when parents make their children sick in order to get attention from doctors, those who’d feel sorry for the parents, etc.  This would be a form of ignominious cunning based on claims of weakness.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of psychological disorders includes neither Reactive Attachment Disorder, what Candace was diagnosed as having, nor Munchausen by Proxy, but Schopenhauer’s era had a special distrust of such scientific and intellectual requirements.  Diagnoses of Munchausen by Proxy were often based not on proof of child abuse, but on the parents showing too much WILLFUL emotion (angry or friendly) in connection with their children’s illnesses, though such sicknesses would likely cause the parents to have the sorts of feelings that would demand more attention for their kids.  (Sometimes the diagnoses would also involve ambiguous “proof,” such as that the parents did something that was open to interpretation, and that the kids’ symptoms got better when separated from their parents though at the same time the kids also stopped taking medication that was legitimately prescribed by doctors though also had distressing side-effects.)  Mothers are far more likely to be accused of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, since women demanding that a problem get solved, are far more likely to seem manipulative than are men demanding that a problem get solved.  In essence, those who are accused of übermensch harm are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but not those accused of untermensch harm, since it’s so insidious.  This is how and why market discipline disciplines, never requiring proof that losers deserve to be punished; those cunning untermenschen would always have excuses that would claim that they’re victims.

Some psychotherapists had a session with a ten-year-old girl, Candace Newmaker, in which she was given what was supposed to be a simulated rebirth.  She’d been adopted, and this rebirthing was supposed to reduce her aggressive violent tendencies.  Yet what transpired was that four adults trapped her in the “womb” and told her that she’d be spineless if she didn’t just fight her way out, as if that was just another obstacle that life sometimes gives people.  When she screamed that she was suffocating, all the adults dismissed this as her trying to take the easy way out of dealing with life, by lying and manipulating.  She ended up suffocating to death, which certainly isn’t typical for psychology.  Yet what were extremely typical were the pervasive themes of treating this already overly-aggressive girl as if her problem was that she needed to become more stolid, her words and her opinion seeming too weak-kneed to be allowed, and the therapists refusing to reality-test their all-American red-blooded conclusions.  All of those themes were classic victim correction as a panacea, The World as Will and Representation.

While their actions in physically trapping her were unusual, the logic in what they expected of her, and why, was very typical.  The big questions about people like her, seem to be, “What would happen if psychologists accepted their clients acting manipulative?  Would they learn that they could get away with spending their lives engaging in this self-defeating, intrusive, and disgraceful behavior?” “How do you distinguish objectively, between a problem that should have been just a temporary hurdle, and something that he couldn’t overcome?” “What would happen if psychologists treated their clients as innocent of manipulation until proven guilty?  How many people could get away with crafty tactics?” and “What sort of society would we all have if the people in it acted like a right-wing attack politician’s nightmare?”

Even a licensed mental health professional could come to conclusions that are just as conjectural as those made in Candace’s case.  When testing license applicants, there would be no way to quantify how ready someone is to jump to conclusions that, at the moment, would seem likely.  Applicants could be asked whether or not they’d use unscientific techniques, but when they’re to size up people’s motivations in the real world, it would be ridiculous to limit anyone’s assessments to what can be proven scientifically.  In many situations one doesn’t have enough information to avoid jumping to conclusions to one degree or another.  This is especially true when dealing with people who may or may not be sneaky manipulators.  How could quality assurance boards size up whether one’s street savvy in recognizing sneaks is trustworthy enough?  Sure, those in licensed legal professions are supposed to prevent not only unfairness but the appearance of unfairness, but psychologists must be wrapped up in an acceptance that life isn’t fair.  If, in our day-to-day lives, we assumed everyone innocent until proven guilty, then some problems would have no one taking care of them.  And ever since the Reagan-Thatcher era, those who must resolve such conflicts have tended to be more pragmatic, realistic, resolute, and suspicious of those who are acting like victims.    

On my Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea webpage, I list the standard rationales that I’ve run across, numbered so that when you hear them applied to a certain situation, you could respond by saying, “Oh, yeah, right, that’s standard rationale #7...”  The behavior of these therapists in this case includes rationales #1, “But This Would Benefit You!” #2, “STRENGTH of Character,” #5, “Schopenhauer’s Idea of Manipulation,” #14, “Labeling and Mislabeling,” #15, “Personalization,”  and #27, “Moral Relativism Becomes Amoral Absolutism.”


The transcript of this session, at the end of this web page, is public record, most of which was printed in the Rocky Mountain News, which Canada’s Healthwatcher’s website says was most dedicated to this story, since Candace’s fatal ordeal took place in Colorado, on April 18, 2000.  You could also get information about her from the Denver Post website.  The psychotherapists thought that the way that they were planning on handling this session would be so exemplary that they videotaped it so that they could show it to all those who regard one of the therapists, Connell Watkins, as a leader in this field, to teach them how this is done.  The transcript was taken from the video.  To Europeans, even modern Germans, these intransigent demands that she keep fighting without quitting, as if absolutely nothing could stop these demands, made of a girl who already had way too much fighting spirit, would seem even more strange than they would to Americans.  To Europeans, this would seem just as inappropriate as yammering away at someone who’s already too conscientious that she has to become more conscientious, yammering away at someone who’s already too careful that she has to become more careful, etc.  (BTW, under victim correction as a panacea, someone who already is too conscientious, careful, etc., would be yammered at that she has to become more conscientious, careful, etc., as long as her situation, her problem, is extreme enough that it would require more conscientiousness, caution, etc. than her usual excessive amount.)

 

 

Table of Contents:

 


 

What happened to Candace not only depended on the “thinking” of post-Reagan/Thatcher era psychology and self-help.  This also illustrates some very practical horrendous problems in it, such as demanding that we be confident that few problems could hold any of us back if we have enough will power, and blaming victims if they don’t live up to this.  The still-popular theme song that was emblematic of Reaganism, is Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” which proudly begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,” whether this was my fault or not I’d simply take responsibility for my own welfare by rebuilding, while if one instead said, “If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life and I caused their destruction, I’d accept and take care of my problem,” he would have seemed to be abdicating personal responsibility for his own welfare.  Red-blooded manipulation can be remarkably effective, since it could seem that if we weren’t wary of mollycoddles putting one over on redbloods, our freedoms would be in jeopardy, and one’s freedoms being in jeopardy seems a lot more intolerable than does all the things he’d worked for all his life being in jeopardy.  The “thinking” behind what happened to Candace is basically the same as the “thinking” of Reagan/Thatcher era attack politicians.  This shaped the modern criteria by which psychologists and others would judge your self-efficacy, as if of course they’re just trying to help you reach your potential in taking care of yourself and benefiting yourself.

Most aren’t aware of just how much the Serenity Prayer, which so many of us count on to guide us through life and has set the tone for what mental health professionals expect from both “sinners” and their victims, gives responsibility to victims to plainly and simply deal with their problems no matter what they may be, ad infinitum.  It’s no wonder that this is so appealing to the addicts in Twelve Step groups, since addictive personalities also tend to attribute criticism or a challenge about behavior which could possibly be called “psychopathic,” to persecution.  This stress put on making victims stronger and more self-reliant has a certain recognizable absolute quality that clearly wouldn’t come naturally to many people.  Also, here’s an example of some global victim-correction from the Hazelden center, a teacher of the principles of Twelve Step programs: some medallions it sells, which people are to carry around with them to tell them that they plainly and simply are their own greatest enemies, which wouldn’t make sense without the message on the other medallion, which says to women that even when they’re powerless they’re not helpless, since no matter how much they can’t correct events outside themselves, they can correct themselves. 

Candace’s original problem was that she was diagnosed with a psychological condition that’s been informally observed but not scientifically demonstrated.  This condition is supposed to involve both too much aggression and too much manipulation since these kids have such chutzpah.  Yet this manipulation is then seen as weak-kneed dependency.  That can’t be objectively proved or disproved, since simply because someone didn’t face up to an extreme situation resiliently resourcefully and independently, doesn’t indicate anything about his character.  Therefore, Candace, the girl who toppled a bookcase and sexually assaulted other girls, was treated as if undoubtedly she had an absolutely intolerable lack of courage.  Her treatment certainly didn’t fit her character, but it did fit the mold of that recognizable absolute requirement of strength.

During the “rebirthing,” all these suppositions came into play, when even her most desperate screams were snubbed as manipulation, and the therapists told her that she’d have to fight for her oxygen and mustn’t be a quitter.  That recognizable absolute quality of obsession with increasing one’s defensive strength, exactly as one would expect from the law of the jungle, tends to leave everything else by the wayside.

This also included plenty of goal-oriented victim-blaming.  What was blamed was her supposed tendency to quit before she had to.  This blaming seemed optimistic and goal-oriented.  It said that she had the power to change what was at fault, and pushed her in the direction of her goal.  In case this sounds completely out-of-balance, just remember the recognizable absolutism of this push toward defensive strength, which never looks at each victim to see if he really does have inadequate fight, even in this case, where demands for more of a fighting spirit would obviously cost everything and gain nothing.

Rebirthing was originally intended to be tender, but to this one was added all the gutsy demands for fighting.  This ends up being a strange incongruous montage.  A sincere imitation of the birth process would have required absolutely no fighting from the child being “born,” but this wouldn’t have seemed courageous enough to those who believe that changes should be made with courage.  These demands violated a provision in the APA Code of Ethics which said that psychologists have to accept clients’ values attitudes and opinions.  This violation is inevitable when anyone simply demands gutsy values attitudes and opinions.  When you’re faced with the law of the jungle, you can’t respond, “I’m simply the type who’d quit fighting before I have to, and instead complain about being in a situation that anyone could see I shouldn’t have been in in the first place.”

This also violated two other APA provisions, which say that psychotherapists must realize that ideas which haven’t been established scientifically, and that their own conclusions about a given client, may be wrong.  This is almost inevitable, in that questioning demands for less quitting could seem un-American and un-pragmatic.

The day before she died she went through another abusive “therapy” session, during which she was blamed for still feeling bad about bad experiences she had with her biological mom.  This isn’t that strange when you consider that several AA slogans plainly and simply blame people for their own unhappy feelings, though this might not accept even the person’s most basic values attitudes and opinions.

While most psychologists would condemn the harsh physical restraint, many would accept all the other absolutist confrontations demands interpretations and judgments, and here are two examples of exactly this.

All of this is victim correction as a panacea, which can be seen both in the ideas that psychotherapists have plenty of opportunity to use on the powerless, but which also pervade our culture in general.

  Some of the distorted perceptions and double standards that victim correction as a panacea would have about other kinds of victims, which really aren’t much different.

The abridged transcript of the “rebirthing”


 

What these psychotherapists did to Candace Newmaker could seem too heinous to involve the standard operating procedures both of post-Reagan/Thatcher psychology, and of the self-help thinking that has pervaded society since then.  Without this sort of “thinking,” the worst thing that could have happened to her would have been that she would have been trapped until she said she was suffocating, then would have been let out.  When you first read the details of how Candace was physically trapped until she suffocated to death even though she kept screaming that she was suffocating, how the psycho-therapists made it a point to obstruct her thoroughly and told her that having enough oxygen is something she’d have to fight for and win (Candace says, “You said you would give me oxygen,” and one of the therapists responds, “You gotta fight for it.”), you might think that it goes too far to compare this to the sort of thinking which came automatically to many psychologists and others ever since the Reagan/Thatcher era.  The fact is that what caused the psychotherapists to be so oblivious, was exactly the same sort of thinking, wherein as long as clients are labeled to be very un-Reagan-like then when they say they’re helpless or suffering this is treated as a symptom of their problem.  Without that, Candace’s physical events wouldn’t have occurred.  Any other case in which someone has to deal with material problems in his day-to-day life, probably would have been handled with the same attitude.

On my Victim Correction as a Panacea webpages, I define this as victim-blaming with, “and if you stopped doing that you’d benefit, and would look more honorably self-reliant and even-tempered, and here’s how...,” tacked onto the end.  Victims are to focus their attention on correcting themselves, with a tunnel vision since they can’t change anyone else.  This is the basic theme of self-help books which tell victims of butthead men, etc., how they could most effectively help themselves by solving their own problems and correcting any faults in how well they do this.  The need for this wouldn’t have to be proven scientifically as stemming from a mental disorder.  Before the Reagan/Thatcher era, common observation was that there were two kinds of people who saw mental health professionals, the mentally ill and the “worried well,” but the “thinking” of the Reagan/Thatcher era, which says that no matter how beleaguered you are you’re plainly and simply responsible for your own welfare, allowed for a third kind, the beleaguered well.  They go to mental health professionals to get coached in how they could think feel and act most pragmatically toward their problems.  This would have a compulsory demanding sense of urgency that counseling the worried well wouldn’t have.  Someone who already has too much fight, conscientiousness, caution, etc., would be yammered at that she has to have more fight conscientiousness caution etc., as long as her situation, her problem, is extreme enough that it would require more than her usual excessive amount.  Another big reason for so many beleaguered well ever since the Reagan/Thatcher era, has been that feminism has given women freedom from rules that say that they have to stand by their butthead husbands, but not freedom to have normal lives that aren’t contingent on their husbands choosing not to act like buttheads.  The best that the wives of butthead men could do, is exercise their freedom and independence from their husbands by taking refuge and then resolutely making the best of the hardship which would result from the husbands’ sinfulness.

Though Candace did receive a diagnosis, it wasn’t one in which she’d seem too wimpy, so she was coached basically as the beleaguered well would have been coached.  Her objections were brushed off as the objections of any woman who simply has to buck up and build a new life for herself and her kids, would be brushed off.  If it wasn’t for exactly this same mentality, which says that the only thing to be corrected is how resolutely and self-reliantly victims take responsibility for their own welfare, Candace would have been allowed to quit without seeming cowardly and manipulative.

For example, the Roxanne’s Story webpage on the website of Watkins and Ponder’s defense fund, has an article from the Boston Globe, which says about the adoptive mother of another girl treated by them, “Most children want to get better, she said, so they don’t fight against emerging and come out of the blanket quickly - as her own daughter did.”  So it seems that Candace’s problem was that she willfully refused to enact their ritual of being reborn, and that’s why she chose to let herself suffocate to death.  She didn’t fight against anything, other than trying to fight her way out of their simulated birth canal.  It should be obvious to anyone that to emerge required fighting, while not to emerge would have required only laying motionless doing nothing.  One could consider just laying there, to be a form of passive-aggressive fighting, but most people wouldn’t call that “fighting.”

            

Above are bronze medallions sold by the Hazelden center for treatment of alcoholism and other addictions, which bases its approach very much on twelve-step programs, and is probably the biggest such treatment center.  These are made for recovering addicts to carry around with them to remind them to keep in the spirit of their programs.  Hazelden’s catalog for the Holidays, 2001, called both of these “new.”  One of these says on one side, “THAT MY SOUL MAY SOAR,” and on the other, “I SEEK STRENGTH, NOT TO BE GREATER THAN MY BROTHER, BUT TO FIGHT MY GREATEST ENEMY MYSELF.”  The same catalog also included a “new” coffee mug with the same design and message on the front and back.  The other medallion, with a rose on the front so it must have been designed for women, says on the front “POWERLESS ...BUT NOT HELPLESS,” and on the back “THINGS DO NOT CHANGE   WE DO!”  Hazelden has also sold a men’s version of this, which on one side says, “I AM POWERLESS BUT NOT HELPLESS,” and on the other, with a picture of a sailboat, “WE CAN’T CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF THE WIND BUT WE CAN ADJUST OUR SAILS,” so on both medallions “powerless” doesn’t mean what it means in the Twelve Steps, powerless over alcohol.

Candace’s psychotherapists treated her as if her screams that she was suffocating to death, were absolutely certainly just manipulative tactics.  These therapists were so certain, that they, literally, just continued on smothering her.  The manipulation that she was supposedly engaging in, was of the passive-aggressive variety, rather than the kind like jailhouse religion, which would seem to make destructive behavior seem excusable.  The whole concept of “passive-aggressive,” obviously, while it certainly holds true sometimes, has the potential to make genuine passivity seem insidiously aggressive, especially since those suspected of passive-aggressive or self-defeating intent aren’t presumed innocent until proven guilty.  (Just imagine what the therapy for codependency would look like, if it treated everyone as innocent of “letting themselves in for trouble” by choosing problematic romantic partners, until proven guilty!)  For example, the subtitle of the book The Manipulative Child, by Drs. E. W. Swihart, E. W. Swihart Jr., and Patrick Cotter (who have nothing to do with what happened to Candace, only seem to have an all-too-common idea of what even a child must do in order not to seem manipulative), is, “How to Regain Control and Raise Resilient, Resourceful, and Independent Kids,” not, “How to Regain Control and Raise Kids Who Don’t Try to Pull Machinations.”  So it seems that when even kids don’t show enough resiliency resourcefulness and independence to solve their own problems, that’s simply their WILLS at work, trying to pull machinations.  When one looks at how readily this sort of mentality sees manipulation in what some weaker people do, one might remember that the root word of “manipulate” means hand or to handle, and psychologists have observed that paranoid people often include in their art, images that look like grasping hands, since grasping hands are out to get you.  Yet it doesn’t seem paranoid to see powerless people as grasping manipulators who are out to get you.

The sort of manipulation that Candace seemed to be engaging in, is that described on Passive-Aggressive Words & Phrases, which include, “USES PITY TO MANIPULATE,” “Pessimism,” “Hides behind a veil of innocence and good intentions,” “REFUSES TO DO WHAT IS EXPECTED,” “SINS of Omission,” “Contrary,” “PROVING YOURSELF,” and “feeling like an outsider.”  Anyone familiar with victim correction as a panacea, would realize that any balanced reactions to unreasonable expectations, would at least look like all of those.  Balance would include pleas for mercy, discouragement, defending one’s own good intentions, a resistance to the unreasonable expectations, omitting to do these unreasonable things, resistance, vindicating oneself, and feeling alienated, all of which would then be deemed WILLFULLY passive.  In a society with rampant depression, unreasonable expectations are among the realities that people must normally adjust to, so those who don’t would seem to be grasping manipulators who are conniving to make the world as they’d have it.  Who ever said even that the unreasonabilities of reality would be limited to moderate ones?  Yet you’d seem out-of-step, maybe manipulative and grabbing, if you didn’t deal with reality.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which is so Libertarian that it even publishes the textbook Basic Naturopathy, has on one of its webpages against the entire Medicare program, “Intent to defraud no longer matters. This Administration has chosen to cast a web so wide that honest doctors are ensnared.  The results are ruined lives, both professionally and financially.”  Yet a Libertarian philosophy would have to be very quick to unfairly accuse weak whiners of fraud, though not in a way that would prosecute them criminally.  After all, someone has to resolve every problem.  A market socioeconomic system would say that naturally the person who has the problem is the person who must resolve it, since: that would be response-ability for one’s own welfare, his motivation to resolve it is more reliable than anyone else’s, that would be respectable red-blooded strength whereas if he doesn’t take care of his own problem that would be mollycoddle, basing personal responsibility on whose welfare is at stake would be Objectivist while moral responsibility, “who’s to blame,” is subjective, etc.  (After all, moral responsibility includes so many mitigating factors!)

The Serenity Prayer is our paragon of being well-adjusted, so if you express any skepticism of it you might as well be expressing skepticism of all-American mom and apple pie.  This is the most obvious mark that Twelve Step groups have made on mainstream psychology for everybody, addicted or not, though the thinking behind it is also pretty evident.  Chapter 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book gives its model searching and fearless moral inventory, which is actually an inventory of one’s own resentful feelings at having to face the consequences of his own destructive immoral behaviors, which aren’t what’s confessed.  Soon after this inventory is “We are in the world to play the role He assigns.  Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.”  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.  Only in some situations, to varying degrees, does the Serenity Prayer become the Barbarity Prayer, and does serene acceptance mean in the words of Shakespeare, “like patience on a monument smiling at grief,” but in those situations, unvaryingly, the response-ability goes absolutely to the person whose welfare is at stake.  The bottom line, to whatever degree a situation requires, is that judging sinners seems judgmental, but judging sinnees on how pragmatic stolid self-reliant and peaceable their reactions are, seems pragmatic stolid self-reliant and peaceable.  Sinners’ responsibility is conditional qualified subjective and ethereal, but victims’ responsibility is a matter of homeostasis.  Someone absolutely has to take responsibility for dealing with each and every problem, or it won’t get dealt with.  It seems that aggressive tendencies are ineradicable, so we must eradicate the hurt feelings and other weaknesses that result from aggressive behavior.  In his set of two books The Nature and Destiny of Man, he went into great detail of how his favorite theological doctrine was the Doctrine of Original Sin.

The following are characteristic of this sort of psychologists’ tactics:

 

             

  1. The client is among those who Nietzsche and Wagner would put down as the WEAK.

  2. Since the client is a psychologist’s client, he’s labeled as pathological, or at least in need of self-help.

  3. When someone seems both weak and pathological, he’d seem to have pathologically mollycoddle intent, passive-aggressive and/or self-defeating, i.e. willful weakness for fun and/or profit.

  4. That’s very counterproductive dishonorable and unforgiving, so eliminating it is worth disrespectful tactics, maybe even worth not obeying the rules.

  5. The violations of the clients’ personal boundaries, and/or the rules, doesn’t benefit the psychologist, so is intended purely for the clients’ good.

  6. They’re in chaotic ambiguous situations, exactly what you’d expect powerless people to be in.

  7. The street-wise realize that in ambiguous situations, no one constructed any bridges that lead to the conclusions you must reach, so the only way to get to these conclusions is to jump to them.

  8. The psychologist is taking bitingly aggressive action, though he can’t be sure that the conclusions that he’s basing it on are right.

  9. Those of a Nietzschian or Wagnerian bent always have excuses for attacks based on wrong conclusions, such as by insisting that the weak really were passive-aggressive or self-defeating though you’re not street-wise enough to see this, by figuring that in the real world everyone makes mistakes, by figuring that if you whine about what they did then you’re WHINING, etc.

  10. Nietzschians and Wagnerians would figure that if you accept these red-blooded excuses then you think like those who are most likely to succeed, and if you don’t, you think like those who are least likely to succeed.  One of Nietzsche’s books was titled Beyond Good and Evil, in which he wrote, “No one is such a liar as the indignant man.”  Not some indignant men; this is the world as will and representation, so this is all indignant men.  That’s the sort of strength-loving values that are supposed to be an improvement on the old conceptions of good and evil.  The Webster’s Dictionary defines indignation as, “anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean,” and those with this are supposed to have the most deceitful WILLS.  Market discipline, for example, disciplines far more along the lines of Nietzsche, of strong vs. weak, than along the lines of good vs. evil.  According to market discipline, if you have the buying power then your will means everything, but if you don’t then your will seems contemptible, presumptuous.  One is most likely to get rewarded, if he makes his reactions, including his representations of what happened to him, as pragmatic as possible, and makes this his entire worldview.

  11. Such aggressive and/or unethical tactics seem at least understandable since they’re trying to make someone more self-reliant, and therefore could seem to be trying to confront some sense into him, challenge him, benefit him in the long run, etc.  If these same forceful tactics were used to get rid of someone’s sinful character defects, the tactics would seem draconian and/or Orwellian.

             

 

 

Candace’s original problem was that she came from a family that was so dysfunctional that she was taken from her biological parents and adopted to Jeane Newmaker, where Candace showed very definite signs of a psychological disorder sometimes seen in those adopted from dysfunctional families, Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Those with RAD tend to act rather violently and angrily, so the last thing that they’d need is the sort of self-empowerment that psychologists started to insist on during the Reagan/Thatcher era, that you solve your problems through undaunted gutsy self-reliance rather than through manipulating others by saying you’re suffering.  According to the Rocky Mountain News, Jeane testified that Candace “once sexually assaulted two children, and would fly into hourlong rages,” “once pulled down a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, ripping books apart, breaking her beloved glass horses,” was playing with matches, and more of the same.  Clearly her problem wasn’t un-Nietzschian character defects such as “Poor me.  Poor me.  Pour me a drink,” but since she was a child and therefore had special opportunities to get what she wanted through manipulation, she could still get the contempt that Nietzschians would give the weak.  The whole idea of RAD hasn’t been scientifically defined, only casually observed in plenty of resentful adoptees, as the National Council for Health Fraud’s main webpage on Candace’s case by Larry Sarner says, so to say that manipulation is a part of RAD is basically just something that’s in the eye of the beholders.  The supposed manipulation of RAD kids is supposed to be a one of their aggressive tendencies to take advantage of others.  Depending on the circumstances, the productive attitude could mean to varying degrees, “POWERLESS ...BUT NOT HELPLESS, THINGS DO NOT CHANGE   WE DO!” or even “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,” rather than using the pre-Reagan/Thatcher definition of manipulation, “How to Regain Control and Raise Kids Who Know Their Own Boundaries So They Don’t Endeavor, Using Scams and Guile, to Impose on Others.”  Of course, just as a woman’s work is “never done,” in a devastating situation one’s resiliency resourcefulness and independence are “never done.”  Characteristically, this is yet another inadequacy that modern Western depressed people can blame themselves for.

Candace’s two main psychotherapists, who were almost licensed psychologists, were Connell Watkins, age 54, and Julie Ponder, 40.  Colorado doesn’t require psychotherapists to have licenses, so these people just didn’t bother.  They weren’t just pikers; in fact, the lawyer of Brita St. Clair, one of their assistants who was also on trial, described Watkins as “an icon in the attachment disorder community.”  This is why St. Clair trusted her judgment, and Jeane testified at the trial about Watkins, “I had come to her [all the way from North Carolina] as the expert in this field.”  Watkins has a master’s degree in social work, and a witness at their trial held her responsible as a social worker.  Ponder has a California therapist’s license, and Kieran Nicholson of the Denver Post wrote, “Ponder headed the fatal rebirthing session.”  They weren’t just beginners acting out what they felt like doing.  In fact, beginners who were just acting out what they felt like doing, wouldn’t have proceeded as if they had such absolute faith in their goal-oriented technique.  Yet Candace had caused so much disruption that her adoptive mom would have returned her to the adoptive agency if she couldn’t be mellowed out, so to Watkins and Ponder it would have seemed imperative to save her adoptive mom, and herself, from herself.  Of course, what they tried to save Candace from at all costs, wasn’t her tendency to topple bookcases, but her supposed tendencies to: quit, prefer to just give up and die, not be really strong as is sometimes necessary to live a human life, not have a lot of courage as is sometimes necessary, not fight for what she sometimes has to fight for, whiningly make her life everybody else’s problem, not want to live since she’s a quitter, etc.  If they imperatively tried to save her from her violent tendencies, that would be a merciless attempt to re-engineer sinfulness, and that’s verboten.  You could seem draconian only if you used tactics like those used on Candace, to make someone more tame, not to make someone more self-reliant.

Watkins and Ponder were put on trial for “reckless child abuse resulting in death,” since during the session on April 18, 2000, Candace was given a “rebirthing” that certainly didn’t have the peace and love quality that rebirthing had when it was invented in the 1960’s; even the New York Times referred to rebirthing, in regards to Candace, as a “New Age form of therapy.”  As Nicholson described this “womb,” it consisted of, “being wrapped from head-to-toe in a [flannel] sheet [through which jurors had difficulty breathing], being surrounded by and placed under a pile of [eight] pillows and having four adults lean into those pillows,” the children struggle to get out and thereby become reborn to the adopted moms, and this psychodrama is supposed to bring an end to the apoplectic blow-ups.  The transcript of Candace’s rebirthing consists mainly of rapport such as her saying, “I can’t do it. [Screams] I’m gonna die,” and Ponder challenging, “Do you want to be reborn or do you want to stay in there and die?,” and a bit later Candace saying, “Quit pushing on me. Please. [Moaning] Quit squishing my legs. I’m gonna die now. [Screams], Ponder responding, “Do you want to die?,” and Candace saying, “No, but I’m about to.”  This rebirthing, which lasted about 70 minutes, was actually treated as if it was just rigors in which Candace was supposed to show how she could fight her own battles, and it had the recognizably absolute demands for banal pragmatic goal-oriented strength, which, if she wasn’t powerless, would have been just optional, since anyone who’d fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit, like that if she didn’t have to, must have a John Wayne complex.  As Bobby Shriver said on Larry King Live on October 13, 2006, “And we were reading this poll the other day that the number one movie star, Larry, in America today is still John Wayne.  He hasn’t had a movie in the theaters, as you know, in 40 years.”

The reason for both psychotherapists snubbed Candace’s warnings of her dying, with Watkins even testifying at the trial, “She is just saying that to get out of the exercise.  I think she wanted us to think she was dying.”  As another member of the National Council Against Health Fraud, Linda Rosa, Sarner’s wife who’s a registered nurse and the Colorado coordinator for the National Council for Reliable Health Information, described this on another webpage, in an article that originally appeared in the Rocky Mountain News, “If she says she can’t breathe, ignore it as a pretense.”

Yet what Watkins and Ponder did wasn’t self-centered child abuse, but rather, was done with the intent of benefiting Candace.  A major priority of theirs, first and foremost in their minds, was, as Nicholson put it, to “break 10-year-old Candace Newmaker of manipulative ways,” to make her more resilient resourceful independent, rather than to make her aware of her own boundaries so she doesn’t endeavor to impose on others.  What they did to her was how you treat an unresilient unresourceful and dependent manipulator.  Since they obstructed her way out of the “womb,” that was a physical impact upon her, but they thought that it was as moderate and surmountable as a vicissitude of life, and you’d seem manipulative if you don’t self-reliantly deal with the vicissitudes of life.  If she insisted that the struggle was more than just a vicissitude, then that’s how manipulators respond to vicissitudes.  To victim correction as a panacea, oftentimes whether or not an attempt to resolve something through words and logic constitutes manipulation, is in the eye of the beholder.  Beholders who believe in solving problems by making victims more red-blooded would tend to see manipulation-by-whining everywhere they look.

The MD who saw Candace just after she was suffocated, testified that when she made it cleat that she was suffocating, “That would have made me, as a physician, nervous,” but manipulation isn’t an anathema to physicians though they’d have to be wary enough of malingerers hypochondriacs and Munchausens.  That the NCAHF web page by Sarner says of the unscientific nature of Ponder’s and Watkins’ testimony, “They ‘knew’ what Candace’s real problem was. They just ‘knew’ what treatment she needed to get better. They ‘knew’ her cries were lies or manipulation. They just ‘knew’ she had enough air to breathe. The following exchange occurred several times:  ‘Defendant: I use this because it works.  Prosecutor: How do you know it works?  Defendant: Because I’ve seen it work.’  In other words, there’s no need to use science to think it through or to go through the hard work of collecting good evidence.”  Since the Reagan-Thatcher era, psychology has tended to become more anti-intellectualist, more oriented toward intuitive goal-oriented street-savvy.  Unfortunately, this is the same Reaganomics street-savvy that leads to so much speculative self-blame for failure, and victim-blaming for failure.

You might think that if one is going to have an all-or-nothing overgeneralized phobia of a character defect or anything that looks like it, that character defect had better not be manipulativeness.  Anything that could be mistaken for manipulations, and any person who could be mistaken for a manipulator, would necessarily be pretty desperate.  You won’t see a lack of resiliency resourcefulness and independence, labeled as “manipulation,” unless it concerns a compelling scenario of trauma. Clearly Watkins and Ponder aren’t the only ones who target suspected manipulators like this.  Harding and Wells were willing to make the same all-or-nothing overgeneralized assumptions.  Allowing suits for emotional distress not resulting from physical injuries, would not only seem to reward people for failing to deal self-reliantly with their distress, as normal people supposedly deal with the vicissitudes of life.  (Considering how normal depression, chronic anxiety, etc., are in America, our conceptions about how normal people cope with their problems, must contain a lot of wishful thinking.)  Suits for emotional distress would also seem to be, “allowing almost all parties who claim damages for emotional distress [not almost all parties who schemingly claim damages] to survive dismissal of their actions despite speculative, or even fictitious, claims of emotional injury.”  (We have here the modern version of the old joke, where men, guilty and innocent alike, are asked, “Did you or did you not stop beating your wife?”  Here we have Harding and Wells asking about plaintiffs who have compelling scenarios, good-faith and bad-faith alike, “Did you or did you not survive dismissal of your action despite speculative, or even fictitious, claims of emotional injury?”)

Here we have the double standard between the accountability of suspected sins, and the accountability of suspected weaknesses.  If one had an all-or-nothing overgeneralized phobia of a character defect or anything that looks like it, if that character defect was a sinful one, one which would go against the founding American principles, then he’d seem radically overly defensive and accusatory, but if it was an un-Nietzschian one, he’d seem to be defending the rights of the accused.  One may really take sinful, un-Jeffersonian, character defects seriously, only if the people he’s really taking seriously are the victims, who really seemed to have “let themselves in for” something that serious, didn’t courageously change what they could have, etc.  Certainly Watkins or Ponder would never confront unstable control freaks who haven’t yet been violent, by saying, “I know that you’re eager to get violent, so don’t play evasive games with me!”  In the transcripts of their seriously going after Candace, they didn’t say anything about her overtly violent behavior.  Of course, if they had a client who they thought was codependent, and she married a guy who always acted like an unstable control freak and ended up beating her, they’d likely tell her, “I know that you must have known that he was going to be violent, so don’t play evasive games with me!”  After all, they taunted Candace, “Quitter, quitter, quitter, quitter, quit, quit, quit, quit.  She’s a quitter,” and it could make sense to say that to a codependent who doesn’t buck up and stand up for herself.

That sort of all-or-nothing overgeneralized attribution of negative qualities to all who seem mollycoddle, really is necessary for Reaganomics.  “Normal” has to seem synonymous with “self-efficacious” in all circumstances, and everyone who doesn’t simply overcome his obstacles must be assumed manipulative, or some people would seem to deserve more than the cards that life has dealt them.  How else could attack politicians play hardball with those who don’t seem to be dealing with their vicissitudes as normal people are supposed to?

By Reagan/Thatcher standards, manipulation that’s aggressive rather than defensive, such as by flattery, by hiding facts, or even by acting like a victim of an authority demands or judgments, is tolerable.  In the musical The Music Man, the music man, a manipulative con-man, is cynically called a “spellbinder,” but if a manipulator can be proactive enough to spellbind, he could be the uplifting inspiring resentment-eradicating hero of a surrealistically wholesome story.  When Dr. Foster Cline, Watkins’ mentor, responded to the verdicts by saying, “At this point, no one should force a kid to do anything they don’t want to in today’s world.  Any therapist who does anything that a kid doesn’t like is in danger of being sued,” was acting like he was considerably more helpless and put-upon than he really is, but redbloods can act this defensive, like victims, since in today’s world it’s so important that we defend our freedoms from those who’d try to put the clamps on them or try to get paid for whining.  When Watkins appealed her case even though she’d initially said to investigators, “The video’s going to hang us,” this would mean that if she blames anything else for her conviction, that’s just an endeavor to manipulate.

In the transcript is also classic limitless victim-blaming in the name of encouraging limitless courage.  Sometimes we can’t afford limits on our courage.  When Candace says with labored breathing, “Get off. I’m sick. Get off. Where am I supposed to come out? Where? But how can I get there?” Watkins says,” Just go ahead and die. It’s easier... It takes a lot of courage to be born.”  A little later Candace says, “You said you would give me oxygen,” and Watkins responds, “You gotta fight for it.”  As the therapists do this they make both the suffocation and the trapping worse.  Ponder asks “Candace?” and when this gets no response, she takes another pillow from Jeane, and says, “She needs more pressure over here so she can’t... so she really needs to fight,” then Watkins says “Getting pretty tight in here,” and Ponder says, “Yep... less and less air all the time.”  When Candace was already unconscious but they were sure she was manipulatively faking it, Ponder said to get her moving, after she said her supposedly manipulative last word, “Quitter, quitter, quitter, quitter, quit, quit, quit, quit. She’s a quitter,” and one of the assistants said to prod her, “This baby doesn’t want to live. She’s a quitter.”  Also after Candace’s last word, Watkins said, “Candace is used to making her life everybody else’s problem. She’s not used to living her own life.”  All that she did was not emerge triumphant from some pointless rigors that they planned for her, because all those adults and props overpowered that one kid, and this is supposed to constitute an example of her not living her own life.

During the trial Watkins testified, “I knew if she was willing to get out she could.  I knew she could pop right out of there and she decided not to.”  Here again is a very common assumption of the psychological thinking that started during the Reagan/Thatcher era, that simply because some people haven’t overcome whatever their obstacles happen to be, they want to be or feel helpless.  According to the Serenity Prayer, if someone thinks that one could have changed a problem courageously but she didn’t emerge triumphantly from it, this would be an example of her not living her own life.  No matter how much sinfulness caused the problem, that would seem to be simply life on life’s terms.  St. Clair at the trial described Candace as “noncompliant in a passive way,” another way of saying passive-aggressive.  When you seem passive-aggressive, then your real problems will tend to seem to be your aggressive, or resistant, tools.  In fact, the original definition of what constituted passive-aggressive behavior was replaced by a new definition because the old one was proven unscientifically “situational.”

The definition for Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-R recognized as passive-aggressive, anyone who “becomes sulky, irritable, or argumentative when asked to do something he or she does not want to do,” doesn’t eagerly accomplish “tasks that he or she really does not want to do,” “protests,” “avoids obligations,” and that sort of thing.  Some of these require that to the person making the diagnosis, such protests and objections seem unwarranted.  Yet what this condemnation of the situationality as not being scientifically valid, misses is that it necessarily victim-bashes, blaming victims for the characteristics of their arduous situations, that the victims didn’t deal with stolidly enough to rectify them so seem to have tacitly approved of them.  The basic idea was what the Serenity/Barbarity Prayer would have seen as passive-aggressive, that no matter what situations life presents to you, then if you don’t diligently and effectively meet whatever its demands are, you’ve chosen to cop out as a form of self-assertion.  This comes with ad infinitum expectations that are limited only by what’s reality, as well as a disallowance of protests and objections.  The new definition of “passive-aggressive” requires that someone endeavor to cause disruptions by not doing what he’s supposed to.

Both Watkins and Ponder were found guilty but both were given minimum sentences; as the Denver Post said, they “get off easy.”  At their sentencing Ponder said, “My life has forever changed because of her death.  I have suffered greatly, too.  I have to live the rest of my life knowing that Candace was dying next to me and I wasn’t aware of it.”  Well, yeah, if someone keeps screaming to you that she’s dying, but every time she does you think that’s just a manipulative tactic...  According to this sort of “thinking,” as long as you believe what you want to believe, the results are just a “mistake” or “accident.”  The NCAHF webpage by Sarner says, “Testimony given by the defense, including that of the defendants themselves, indicates that such holding ‘therapy’ has been going on for a decade or more and will undoubtedly continue by others,” so this approach did originate either during or just after the Reagan/Thatcher era.  The criteria were, basically, what would Reinhold Niebuhr have regarded as manipulative, or as quitting too easily?

This is ostensibly a simulated birth to a new mom, during which she was to say how much she was looking forward to her new kid, which had the quaint but well intentioned and healthy-vibes quality of pre-Reagan/Thatcher psychology.  Yet the most emphasized no-holds-barred elements of this rebirthing were that the kid was told that if she didn’t surmount her ever-increasing obstacles by courageously fighting she’d be a shameful quitter, and that she was treated as if her problems were her own intolerable manipulation and lack of courage.  Both prominent elements had the hardball, Schopenhauerian quality of post-Reagan/Thatcher psychology, and since psychology has incorporated pre- and post-, this rebirthing incorporated pre- and post- in a strange incongruous montage.  These psychotherapists’ responses are very much in the mold of not only what psychologists have demanded of their clients starting in the Reagan/Thatcher era, but how strongly they demanded it.  This modern quality, of conjectural survival skills which aren’t optional, goes very much against the original, scientific and tolerant, quality of psychology.

Ethical Standard 1.09 of The Code of Ethics of the American Psychological Association, Respecting Others, had said, “In their work-related activities, psychologists respect the rights of others to hold values, attitudes, and opinions that differ from their own.”  Quite likely, the reason why there is no more Ethical Standard 1.09, is that there really is no way to draw a line between what that prohibited, and an open-ended moral relativism.  Yet chances are that most of the conflicts about values, attitudes, and opinions, between therapists and clients, would involve situations where they legitimately treated others as morally responsible for problems that they caused, while the psychologists figured that the clients should instead have an attitude of self-help.  This would mean that people help themselves by stolidly dealing with their own problems, that any behavior that could be labeled as attempts to “control” or “manipulate” others would be treated as WILLFUL ignominious cunning, etc.

After all, redbloods courageously fight without quitting while mollycoddles manipulate people by screaming and moaning.  Victims who don’t just shut up and deal with their own problems could seem to be operating as mollycoddles, whining for fun and profit, fun because they’re supposed to be getting thrills by dramatically playing the victim role, getting pity, having passive-aggressive power over others, etc., and profit because they’re supposed to be trying to manipulate things out of others.  This is very similar to something Schopenhauer wrote in The World as Will and Representation, “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.”  Wrong through violence is red-blooded, impressing people with strength.  Someone who intentionally is a mollycoddle, cunningly plays a helpless role in order to get coddled.  And since our minds are supposed to be reflections of our WILLS, our sincere thoughts and feelings regarding our own genuine helplessness, could be called cunning.

For psychologists to push clients toward the red-blooded and Republican, and away from the mollycoddle, doesn’t seem to be re-engineering someone’s values attitudes and opinions.  Rather, as far as Niebuhr was concerned, victims across the board must adequately adjust to, adapt to, function in, remain undisturbed by, compensate for, fit in with, and feel contented with whatever happened to them; without failing, losing the battles, trying to vindicate themselves, evaluating the morality of behaviors, using their best judgment as to whether or not they’re wrong, or acting like a muckraker.  Otherwise, these victims would seem to be just inadequate maladjusted maladaptive dysfunctional disturbed decompensated vindictive moralistic and judgmental misfits malcontents failures and losers who love to rake through muck.  Therefore, they’d have to be re-engineered to meet Schopenhauerian expectations.  (Just try applying scientific skepticism to that.)  By Reagan/Thatcher standards such values attitudes and opinions are plainly and simply what you should have.  Just after the guilty verdict was read, Watkins’ daughter Teka Cooil said to the press about her mom’s plans to appeal her case, “This fight’s not over.”  We can’t assume that Cooil learned this fighting spirit from her mom, or that this was how Watkins talked about Candace’s death with Cooil.  Yet the Schopenhauerian perspective seems connected, where any dispute could be seen as an amoral fight that’s naturally decided only by a contest between what each party has the power to change.

Also very relevant to the victim correction themes in the case of Candace Newmaker, are the beginning of the Preamble of the Code of Ethics “Psychologists work to develop a valid and reliable body of scientific knowledge based on research.  They may apply that knowledge to human behavior in a variety of contexts,” section c of Ethical Standard 1.04, Boundaries of Competence, “In those emerging areas in which generally recognized standards for preparatory training do not yet exist, psychologists nevertheless take reasonable steps to ensure the competence of their work and to protect patients, clients, students, research participants, and others from harm,” and section b of Ethical Standard 2.04, Use of Assessment in General and With Special Populations, “Psychologists recognize limits to the certainty with which diagnoses, judgments, or predictions can be made about individuals.”

Since victim correction as a panacea operates as survival skills do, and survival skills can demand that one take actions that are based on pure conjecture or even hinky feelings, psychologists (and just plain folk who are fans of self-help books) could accuse you of having mollycoddle character traits and then refuse to reality-test this.  Survival skills would warn that that insistence on scientific verifiability would blindside people regarding anything that does pose a danger but can’t be proven scientifically.  If one reality-tested all inklings of how the beleaguered well could take care of themselves more resolutely, a lot of genuine weaknesses couldn’t possibly be proven so would be allowed to remain.  Since weaknesses mean vulnerabilities, it seems imperative to err on the side of more self-reliance.  As Niebuhr might put it, if anyone recognized the limits to the certainty with which attributing the characteristics of a problem, to the characteristics of the victim who’d seem to have chosen to let this happen and/or bother him, this would seem to go against the victim’s getting better control by becoming more serene and courageous; there’s always room for improvement.  It could also seem that if anyone takes reasonable steps to ensure the competence of such accusations to protect the accused from harm, and recognizes limits to the certainty of them, the supposed manipulative mollycoddles could finagle out of their legitimate personal responsibilities by doggedly whining and complaining, or by intransigently cooking up enough sophistry to make their case.  Manipulators are, by definition, people who try their hardest to play with stacked decks, and manipulation is pretty un-provable since it’s a matter of what goes on inside the people’s heads, so if you assumed everyone innocent of manipulation until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, all but the most obtuse would be free to play games with you with their stacked decks.

Then again, any persuasion that one disagrees with could seem manipulative, since to him this persuasion would be nothing more than crafty wiles.  If the persuasion concerns moral responsibility then the supposed crafty wiles would really seem to be hitting below the belt.  And someone could be accused of manipulation, excuse-making, playing the victim role, doing self-defeating things, etc., simply because Niebuhr would have seen him as this.  Even if he didn’t overtly do anything, as long as he’s failing to do whatever it takes independently to avoid being pained by a problem, then his supposed sin of omission and/or his legitimizing of it would seem to mean that he’s finagling or choosing helplessness.  If manipulation is defined as endeavoring to impose on people, it may be possible to determine with scientific accuracy whether an individual or the people with a given diagnosis tend to do that.  If manipulation is defined as not being sufficiently resilient resourceful and independent, whether someone looks manipulative depends on just what the person has to deal with that requires the resiliency and resourcefulness to independently make do with whatever limitations the situation gives, and whether being resilient would require too much amoralism to lower his standards enough to accept it.  (Some AA slogans for the beleaguered well say, “Forgiveness is relinquishing the role of being the victim,” “When one finger is pointed at someone else, there are three pointing back at me,” and, “Self-righteous anger is character assassination,” as if any moral standards could be called WILLFULNESS.)  After all, all that Candace could possibly have been manipulating for, was that she may omit the rebirthing, which since then has been made illegal in Colorado through Candace’s Law.

The day before Candace died she went through another “therapy” session with an equally abusive level of physical restraint, during which Watkins had another classic victim correction approach, scolding hurt people for allowing anyone or anything to hurt their feelings, or as the Schopenhauerian conspicuously hardball AA slogans for the beleaguered well put it (hardball because if you questioned them rather than just having them thrown at you you’d see how dangerous it is to apply these mandatorily amoral ideas this globally), “Resentment is like taking poison in hopes that your enemy will die,” “To be wronged is nothing unless you insist on remembering it,” “Your feelings aren’t somebody else’s fault,” “Hate binds you to the things you hate,” and “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”  (Just try applying scientific skepticism to that sort of thinking.)  Watkins said sternly, “Do you like your real mom to be boss to you?” and Candace answered, “No.”  Watkins then said, “She’s still bossing you around though you haven’t lived with her for four years.  We know she is still in your head and still bossing you.  Is it fun being your birth mom?”  Candace replied, “No, I hate it.”  This seems to be the best way to fix past emotional injuries, accusing the injured of doing it to themselves.

While most psychologists would certainly condemn the dangerous physical restraint, the obsession with “If you seem to be a manipulative quitter you’re bad; you don’t deserve to be taken seriously,” at the expense of literally everything else, even though the last thing that Candace needed was to be made more gutsy, didn’t result from Watkins’ and Ponder’s individual propensities.  I’m sure that you could imagine what would happen if psychologists approached in this same way, a woman whose husband chose to act like a butthead, or the woman who wrote female suicide note #13 on my Men Dying for Love webpage.  She was suffering from clinical depression, but her psychologist treated her with the obsessive non-ensured tunnel-vision, your problem is that you choose to feel helpless approach.  In woman 13’s words, “All she could do is nitpick about how I need to feel small + helpless—yes I do feel that way, but it doesn’t help me to get back on my feet quickly. Damn her! She could be fixing me up better somehow, I’m sure. She doesn’t know how it is—though I’ve tried my best to show her.”  That presumption that woman 13 chose to feel helpless clearly came out of the same mold as did, “This baby doesn’t want to live.  She’s a quitter.”  No problem could really be a problem if the victim prevented solved or dealt with it well enough, so victims who don’t take care of their own problems well enough seem omni-responsible.  It probably rang hollow to say that she needed to feel small and helpless, but it feels good to believe that everything would be fine if only the victims took care of themselves better.

Woman #13’s psychologist would have undoubtedly said that she “knew” what 13’s real problem was, what treatment she needed to get better, and that her cries were lies or manipulation; and would have justified herself by saying, “I use this because it works, and I know it works because I’ve seen it work,” and, “I have to live the rest of my life knowing that her life, and demands that if she doesnt simply adjust to it shes simply causing her own misery, were driving her to suicide and I wasn’t aware of it.”  When the typical pre-Reagan/Thatcher psychologist ignored what a client said, this was along the lines of, “I know that when you did that your subconscious motivations were really that you wanted..., and I refuse to let you convince me otherwise,” which couldnt do much harm, but when the typical post-Reagan/Thatcher psychologist ignored what a client said, this was along the lines of, “When you told me that you thought that something was a problem or danger, what you were really trying to do is serve some sort of mollycoddle purpose, to get what you want through manipulation or get your thrills through helplessness, so I’m not going to encourage you by taking you seriously,” which could mean huge problems.  Manipulation is a mollycoddle nemesis to many psychotherapists, as is a client endeavoring to show how helpless she is, and if you don’t want to reinforce a nemesis, you ignore it.

And it would seem that the butthead’s wife is simply self-defeating if she doesn’t save herself indomitably rather than manipulating or quitting like a wimp, and this would have the same obsessive non-ensured tunnel-vision quality.  If she says, “But everyone is entitled to better than living in poverty and making a life out of whatever resources they happen to have available, simply because someone who they were supposed to be able to trust chose to act like a butthead!” the predictable response would be, “You gotta fight for it.  You certainly do have the right to better than that, in that you have the right to fight for it.”  Women in her position can’t afford limits on their courage, and if the popularity of victim correction as a panacea originated in Al-Anon, as many such as Susan Faludi observed, then the wives of alcoholics or men who pose the same magnitude of problems, women whose weaknesses mean huge vulnerabilities so it would be highly imperative for them to err on the side of more self-reliance, are our paragon corrected victims.  Such women would be told in essence, “Quitter, quitter, quitter, quitter, quit, quit, quit, quit. She’s a quitter,” and would be snubbed when they tell of real problems since it would seem that they’re trying to solve their problems by convincing people of their magnitude rather than through resolute self-reliance.  By Reagan/Thatcher standards, that’s manipulation, winning things through eloquence rather than hard work.

More on victim correction as a panacea is my series of webpages Victim Correction as a Panacea, which both outlines and proves in detail everything I’ve come across regarding victim correction, and how scientific elucidation of this might be our best protection against it.  Our entire culture encourages victim correction.  Intercultural studies have consistently shown that depressed people living in developed areas outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but people living in the modern West, 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.  It used to be that “guilt feelings” basically meant guilt about moral transgressions, but in the modern West “guilt feelings” means figuring that you’re your own greatest enemy because when you’re powerless, things don’t change. so you have to.  Clearly this mentality that no matter what’s trapping you the only thing that matters is whether or not you succeed in fighting against it, isn’t just limited to psychologists and self-help groups, though since they’re the ones who most directly tell those in trouble how they should think and act, they’re the ones most likely to be correcting victims.  My Victim Correction webpage series is long, filled with documentation since I run into more frequently, but like this webpage, at the top is a table of contents with summaries of the sections, which serve as links to those sections.

Because of the Schopenhauerian double standard in how much victims in general are scrutinized and held responsible as versus how much sinners are scrutinized and held responsible, if someone says without proof, “I simply know that you’re lying or manipulating when you cry that you’re suffering,” or, “I simply know that you married the butthead because you wanted to nurture, or to live a melodrama, or to get excited by sturm und drang, or to try to control someone by trying to get him to be civilized, or to be a vainglorious martyr, or to prove how well you could handle crises, or...”, or, “I simply know that you need to feel small and helpless, no matter how much you try to show me how it is in your life,” that would seem to be good old fashion American common sense.  It wouldn’t matter if this would leave you seeming either too gutsy or not gutsy enough, or maybe both.  If you demand scientific skepticism of that then you might as well be confronting with demands for scientific skepticism, someone who’d score high on Theodore Adornos F-Scale, a psychological test which tests for fascism by looking for attitudes that usually accompany it.  This includes what the test calls “Superstition and Stereotypy,” such as the attitude that many “Populist” wing-nuts have toward a lot of medical science.  This very same F-Scale associates Fascism with the double standard with which conjecture may be used, to accuse the weak, not the strong.

If someone says without proof, “I simply know that though you said you did this by accident or mistake you really did it with a corrupt intent,” or even, “I simply know that though you said you did this horrible thing without thinking about it too much you really did it with a horribly corrupt intent,” that would seem to be paranoia, wild accusations, and/or overwrought judgmental insults.  Rosa wrote, “If she says she can’t breathe, ignore it as a pretense. As each unjustified effort fails, escalation continues until a tragedy intervenes. Without a scientific mindset, it couldn’t happen otherwise,” but you don’t need any science whatsoever to stop someone from steadfastly making unjustified accusations that an accident or mistake really had a malicious intent, or the like.  It all depends on what side of the ledger the unjustifiably supposed pretense is on, the side that would accuse the redblood or the side that would accuse the mollycoddle.  It would seem that if you don’t accept all this then you don’t want to succeed or you do want to feel small and helpless, and if what you hate bothers you then you’re “being” what you hate by making it present in your mind.

Six of the statements on the F-Scale, where the more you agree with the statements the greater are your fascist tendencies, are,

  • “If people would talk less and work more, everybody would be better off,”

  • an expectation of “rugged determination” among other things,

  • “When a person has a problem or worry, it is best for him not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things” (which would make sense in some situations but absolutist dogmatic Nietzschian fascists would apply it),

  • “People can be divided into two distinct classes: the weak and the strong,”

  • “No weakness or difficulty can hold us back if we have enough will power” (But if one believes literally that no weakness or difficulty can hold us back as soon as we choose to be willful, then why would he plan to deal with problems by keeping busy with more cheerful things?), and

  • “Human nature being what it is, there will always be war and conflict.”

 

 

Niebuhr certainly believed in making changes through:

  • courageous work and rugged determination rather than logical talk,

  • holding that to make oneself be cheerful or serene in the face of problems is the solution to all suffering whose cause the victim can’t change the whole solution and nothing but the solution,

  • figuring that the only thing that matters in whether or not people succeed is whether or not they’re strong enough to change things to suit themselves,

  • realizing that some difficulties can hold us back but having as much will power and confidence in it as we can, and

  • figuring that with human nature being sinful, there will always be conflict that simply has to be resolved like this irrespective of the victims intent, the intent of the person who caused each problem, the consequences, how obvious it was that the consequences would be of this magnitude, how little of an opportunity the victim had to stop the problem, how much it would have taken for him to stop it, how much it would take for him to fix it, how little resources he has to fix it with, how many mental contortions he’d have to go through in order to maintain the confident willful fighting spirit that could make the difference between success and failure, how much it would take for him to adjust emotionally to whatever he can’t fix, etc.  That’s victim correction as a panacea.

No doubt the NCAHF would find the F-Scale as scientifically untested as is what’s supposed to constitute Reactive Attachment Disorder, but the parallels are still pretty stunning and their significance is pretty self-evident, though I certainly wouldn’t want to see those who believe in Niebuhr’s worldview being grilled and snubbed as if their fascist tendencies had been established, just as I wouldn’t want to see kids labeled as having RAD being grilled and snubbed as if their tendency to manipulate had been established.


THE ABRIDGED TRANSCRIPT 



All of the following, unless a different name is given, was said by Candace:

00:00 — Julie Ponder tells Candace to lie down on the navy blue flannel sheet and get into the fetal position.

Ponder: So imagine yourself as a teeny little baby inside your mother’s womb and what it felt like. Warm. It felt tight because her stomach was all around you. [Candace is bound in the sheet, the ends twisted above her head and held by Ponder, who grasped them in both fists as one would grasp the top of a bag he’s trying to hold shut. She is covered by pillows and four adults, with a combined weight of 673 pounds, begin pressing on the 70-pound girl.]

01:25 — Ponder: What do you think you thought about when you where in there?

I thought I was gonna die.

Ponder: You thought you were gonna die in there?

Yeah.

Jeane Newmaker: I’m so excited. I’m going to have a brand new baby. I hope it’s a girl. I’m going to love her, to hold her and tell her stories... I’m going to keep her very safe... Every day we’ll be together and she’ll be with me forever.

(Candace is asked if she believes what her mother is saying.)

Uh huh.

(Candace is asked how that makes her feel.)

Happy.

Watkins: If the baby doesn’t decide to be born, she will die.  [This must be what the therapists had in mind when they later said that they took “cues” from what Candace said.  She said that she felt like she was going to die, and they took that as a cue that overcoming this is the challenge they should give her.]  When the baby decides to be born it’s a wonderful thing.

Ponder: So little baby, are you ready to be reborn?

Uh huh.

Ponder: Come out head first. You have to push really hard with your feet. If you stay in there you’re going to die and your mommy’s going to die.

08:42 — Who’s sitting on me? I can’t do it.

08:53 — I can’t do it! [Crying]. My hands come out first?

Watkins: Sometimes it takes 18 hours to be born.

09:36 — [Screaming] I can’t do it. I can’t do it! I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!

10:16 — Whoever is pushing on my head it’s not helping. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t breathe. It’s too dark under here. Please quit pushing on my head. I can’t do it. Somebody’s sitting on top of me.

10:50 — [Moaning] Somebody’s on top of me. Where am I supposed to come out? Right here? Where my finger is?

11:26 — I can’t do it. [Screams] I’m gonna die.

Ponder: Do you want to be reborn or do you want to stay in there and die?

11:40 — Quit pushing on me. Please. [Moaning] Quit squishing my legs. I’m gonna die now. [Screams]

Ponder: Do you want to die?

No, but I’m about to.

Therapist: That’s the way the baby feels.  You want to die?

[Desperately] Yes

Therapist: For real?

Yes.

Therapist: Go ahead and die.

12:10 — Please, please I can’t breathe.

12:30 — I can’t do it anymore.

12:40 — Please quit pushing on me.

13:12 — I need some help. Help! Help me please.

Watkins: Are you feeling the contractions, mom?

Newmaker: I am.

(The NCAHF website says, “After instructing her to try to come out of her flannel ‘womb,’ the adults did everything they could to frustrate her efforts to comply: blocking her movements, retying the ends of the sheet, shifting their weight, and ignoring her cries for help. As Candace literally struggled and screamed for her life, they answered with taunts such as, ‘Go ahead and die.’”)

13:43 — Where am I to go? Right here? Right here? I’m supposed to go right here? Please. Please. [Screams] OK I’m dying. OK, I’m dying. I’m sorry.

14:31 — OK, I’m dying.

14:38 — I’m going to die.

15:30 — I want to die.

16:08 — Can you let me have some oxygen? You mean, like you want me to die for real?

Ponder: Uh huh.

Die right now and go to heaven?

Ponder: Go ahead and die right now. For real. For real.

OK, I’m dead.

Watkins: It’s not always easy to live. You have to be really strong to live a life, a human life.

17:07 — [Labored breathing] Get off. I’m sick. Get off. Where am I supposed to come out? Where? But how can I get there?

Watkins: Just go ahead and die. It’s easier... It takes a lot of courage to be born.

18:26 — You said you would give me oxygen.

Watkins: You gotta fight for it.

19:50 — [Candace vomits] OK, I’m throwing up. I just threw up. [Vomiting] I gotta poop. I gotta poop.

21:24 — Uh, I’m going in my pants.

Ponder: Go ahead.

Watkins: Stay in there with the poop and vomit.

23:22 — Help! I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. It’s hot. I can’t breathe.

Newmaker: I’m so excited to have this baby... I’m waiting for you, to love you and hold you...

Ponder: Scream, Candace.

No.

Newmaker: Baby, I love you already. I’ll hold you and love you and keep you safe forever... Don’t give up on your life before you have it...

32:25 - 33:44 — (Jack McDaniel repositions himself on a pillow over Candace’s head.)

Ponder: Candace? [No response] [Takes another pillow from Newmaker.  Ponder repositions her body and pushes on Candace with her hands and body, grunting twice.]  She needs more pressure over here so she can’t... so she really needs to fight.  [McDaniel repositions himself on the pillow over Candace’s head, and she whimpers.]

Watkins: Getting pretty tight in here.

Ponder: Yep... less and less air all the time.

35:39 - 40:00 — (Ponder and McDaniel reposition themselves again.)

Ponder: She gets to be stuck in her own puke and poop.

Watkins: Uh huh. It’s her own life. Quitter.

40:01: Newmaker: Baby, do you want to be born?

[Weakly responds] No. [This is Candace’s last word, but of course, victims’ silence as what Niebuhr would see as manipulation, seems more intolerable than does sinful manipulation.]

McDaniel: Mama got you this far, now it’s up to you.

Watkins: Candace is used to making her life everybody else’s problem. She’s not used to living her own life.

Ponder: Quitter, quitter, quitter, quitter, quit, quit, quit, quit. She’s a quitter.

(Watkins leaves, Newmaker leaves. McDaniel takes Watkins’ place. Watkins returns.)

McDaniel: This baby doesn’t want to live. She’s a quitter.

(Watkins tells McDaniel and St. Clair to take a break.)

(Ponder and Watkins discuss someone who is stressed, then chitchat about their dream homes and a million-dollar property nearby that is being remodeled.)

Watkins: Let’s talk to the twerp.

(They unwrap Candace.)

01:09:53 — Watkins: Oh, there she is sleeping in her vomit.

(The transcript doesn’t say this, but when they unwrapped her, her skin was blue as if she was dying of asphyxiation, so they called for an ambulance.  She hadn’t died yet, but her brain had swollen so much that death was inevitable.  Also, though I don’t have a specific time for this, at one point Candace was kicking so hard at the bottom of the sheet that she started to rip it, and one of the therapists, who otherwise accused her of manipulatively refusing to solve her own problem, joked that they may end up with a “breech birth.”)


 

   

 

 

 


 


 
 

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My Story

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Men Dying for Love

On Doping

“Oh, Yeah?” Upbeat Echoes from the First Great Stock Market Crash

Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary (Page 1)

(Page 2),     (Main Page 3)

  Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main 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

Top of 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

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