mphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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

 

 

 

“...despite Hitler’s anti-Semitic and genocidal tendencies, he was an individual of great courage... Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.”—Pat Buchanan
 

“When I went back to the diocese office about a year later and told [Father] Nickless I wanted reimbursement for my counseling and my other medical expenses related to the abuse [from when he was 10-13 years old], he told me apparently my counseling did me no good because I still seemed angry.  Well, I was getting angrier and angrier as time went on....  There were many letters and phone calls and a few more personal visits over the next several years.  It was always the same.  ‘Forgive and forget.’  ‘Put it behind you.’  ‘Move on.’”—Joe McGee, No Longer Catholic—No Longer Quiet, in Freethought Today, March 2006

 

“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

 

“As Orwell [and, probably, Ayn Rand, a refugee from the USSR] saw so clearly, totalitarianism [and any other reductionistic absolutism] is inseparable from a constant pedagogy of suspicion and hatred.”—François Furet, The Passing of an Illusion, The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century

 

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

 

 

 

 

ollowing is the sermon in AA's Big Book, which goes on and on about how much this sort of approach anathematizes hurt feelings, namely resentment anger and fear, though the Big Book gives only passing attention to the sorts of attitudes that fit the old-fashioned character defects.  This is out of Chapter 5, "How it Works,"  the chapter that begins with the famous, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."  The following is out of the explanation of how members are to do the fourth of the Twelve Steps, "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves," the fifth, "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs," and the sixth, "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."  So the following is what a moral inventory is supposed to stress, "Resentment is the 'number one' offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else....  If we were to live, we had to be free of anger....  [Fear] somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.  It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it."  Since AA founder Bill Wilson was a stockbroker, and the Big Book was written during the Great Depression, AA-style self-help is basically a stockbroker lecturing those living in the Great Depression that they should just take response-ability for their own welfare, and stop whining.  These "defects of character" 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.  Obviously, recovering addicts who relapse to anesthetize their own resentment, anger, fear, etc, weren't helpless victims of compulsions resulting from the disease of addiction, but if their friends or loved ones at an Al-Anon meeting tried to distinguish this from relapses that really did make the addicts passive victims of their disease, these friends and loved-ones would probably be admonished for their resentment, anger, fear, etc.

Another book that's copyright 1939, Wall Street Under Oath, by Ferdinand Pecora, chief counsel for the investigation of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, 1933-1934, says in its preface, "Indeed, if you now hearken to the Oracles of The Street, you will hear now and then that the money-changers have been much maligned....  You will be assured that they had nothing to do with the misfortunes that overtook the country in 1929-1933; that they were simply scapegoats, sacrificed on the altar of unreasoning public opinion to satisfy the wrath of a howling mob blindly seeking victims."  Bill Wilson the stockbroker had exactly this enmity toward whining and supposed passive-aggressive victimhood.  And it's inevitable that regarding the financial meltdown of 2008, we'll hear the same logic, since the popularity of AA's conception of self-respect and self-responsibility shows how many will cheer that.

One could say that a modern version of a stockbroker in 1939 telling people to stop whining, would be Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo's e-mail response to an e-mail he got from a borrower who was having problems making payments, and Mozilo accidentally e-mailed this to the borrower rather than to others at Countrywide, "This is unbelievable.  Most of these letters now have the same wording. Obviously they are being counseled by some other person or by the Internet.  Disgusting."  A website for troubled borrowers suggested some wording for such e-mails, and the writer of the original e-mail used some of it in his e-mail.  If Mozilo were to write a self-help book, he'd no doubt write against victims getting together in their victimhood rather than self-reliantly taking care of themselves.  He could also develop a cult following like Bill Wilson's, since those who chose self-reliance over victimhood would tend to work harder to achieve and succeed, as well as look more honorable.  One could even call victimhood debilitating and self-defeating, since those who are stolid enough to want to handle their own problems would probably, in the long run, be more successful.  Sure,  According to a New York Times article on June 4, 2009, just after the SEC filed charges against Mozilo,he'd sent an e-mail to some of those "on the inside" which said, "Frankly, I consider that product line [subprime second mortgages] to be the poison of ours," and one which referred to 100 percent loan-to-value subprime mortgages as, "the most dangerous product in existence and there can be nothing more toxic," but, like any sociopathic minimization of one's own destructive  behavior, if the victim accepted the minimization, then it could make himself more serene and courageous by making himself feel less like a victim.

Former derivatives trader Rick Santelli said about the housing bailout on CNBC on February 19, 2009, "The government is promoting bad behavior!  Do we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages?!!!!  This is America!!!!!"  As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to that on  February 20, "I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader then it was good for Main Street," and one could respond to Bill Wilson's fatalistic preachings about self-reliance and self-responsibility, that we left in 1932 the adage that if it was good for a stock broker then it was good for Main Street.  At the same time, those who'd go to Santelli for self-help advice would probably end up more stolid and determined (though also more self-blaming), and, therefore, more likely to succeed.  In the real world, if we accepted people assertively standing up for their own rights, no doubt quite a few of them would actually be playing the victim role.  In fact, Santelli's ideas would probably serve the original purpose of Bill Wilson's ideas, i.e., reducing the likelihood that addicts would relapse due to their feeling like victims.  For a derivatives trader to go after the middle-class "losers," has the same  quality of bashing the untermenschen for their weakness while ignoring what the respected übermenschen did to cause this weakness, as did Bill Wilson's focusing his formula for removing defects of character, on removing resentment anger and fear in general during the Great Depression.  Of course we must all take care of ourselves stolidly.  Sure, Deepak Chopra wrote on March 16, 2009 in the Washington Post, "Traders pride themselves on being gunslingers, but when there are too many gunslingers, they outnumber the law. That is still the prevalent situation. (The fired-up CNBC reporter who ranted against Obama's plan to rescue distressed homeowners turned to traders on the floor and screamed, 'Any of you guys want to bail out your neighbors?'  The frightening part wasn't the arrant selfishness on display.  The frightening part was that he and his kind feel righteous.)," but a Great Depression era stockbroker's putting down whiners, is many people's model of a strong character.  Both the typical stockbrokers' thinking of the Great Depression, and the typical derivatives traders' thinking of the current financial meltdown, would very much be into the manipulative logic that Rick Perlstein, in Nixonland, called jujitsu, meaning that when the person who caused a problem is held accountable, he turn around and acts as if he's the victim, a victim of victimhood tactics such as attempts to control, attempts to get something by eliciting pity and/or guilt, simply having pity-parties, etc., agreeing with the AA and Al-Anon slogans, "We are all victims," "There are no victims, just volunteers," and all the others that target untermensch weakness.

The word spook, meaning frighten in a way that has consequences, maybe big ones, seems to be a common part of Wall Street parlance.  For example, Paulson's book On the Brink includes, "That year, spooked by the trading losses, far more partners usual decided to leave and 'go limited,' putting our capital under great strain….  Spooked investors began to shun certain kinds of mortgage-related paper, causing liquidity to dry up and putting pressure on investment vehicles like the now-notorious structured investment vehicles….  I worried about the soundness of balance sheets, the lack of transparency in the CDS market, and the interconnectedness among institutions that lent each other billions each day and how easily the system could unravel if they got spooked….  I'd had that fear in 1994 at Goldman Sachs, when big trading losses had caused many spooked partners to withdraw their capital….  There was always the chance that by asking for these powers we would confirm just how fragile the GSEs were and spook investors.  Then, if Congress failed to come through, the markets would implode….  'This is a crisis,' I told Dodd on the phone.  'How are we going to resolve this in a hearing?  All we'll do is spook the markets.'…  I knew that if the program turned into a political football and became an issue in the presidential campaign, the banks would get spooked and back away from the capital.  Our efforts to strengthen the fragile system would collapse."  Most people realize that we'd better not spook Wall Street, since that could lead to a calamity. 

On the other hand, if you or I are spooked, that would seem childish, as if of course we must get control over ourselves.  One who favors the status quo could always say that we must accept Wall Street acting out when it gets spooked, since many times the fears are correct.  Of course, when you or I get spooked we might be right too, but that doesn't seem to matter.  The only thing that does seem to matter is that when Wall Street gets spooked this would hurt others and one can't expect them to care about that, but when we get spooked, unless our fears are based in reality and we can change whatever we're afraid of, that would hurt ourselves and naturally we'd care about this.

This shows how a very appropriate slogan like those of AA, would be, "Year in and year out,"  as in that statistic from Antidepressant Treatment—the Essentials, by John H. Greist, MD and Thomas H. Greist, MD, "According to National Institutes of Mental Health figures, 20,000,000 people or approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a serious depressive disorder in any given year."  Year in and year out, these people are each simply to get treatment for their own problems, including cognitive therapy that would wash their brains of passive thoughts.  Everyone knows that what's at fault, is inside the millions of victims.  It seems that a social problem of this magnitude, could just be brushed aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This doesn't just condemn overreactions, but resentment anger and fear in general.  In fact, Narcotics Anonymous even has a pamphlet titled "The Triangle of Self-Obsession," in which the triangle consists of resentment anger and fear, though narcotics addicts would tend to have a lot more real character defects than alcoholics would.  This self-help conception of personal responsibility is how the AA approach has most influenced psychology in general, since only addicts would find the rest of the AA approach relevant.  Everybody loves, "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."   "God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference," doesn't necessarily mean, "Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it," but is necessarily that unconditional, all-or-nothing, and

Everyone knows and accepts that the financial markets are "driven by sentiment," but that doesn't mean that you could be, even somewhat (unless, of course, your sentiments, like the sentiments of investors, are of the übermensch variety).  We mustn't roil the markets, and you mustn't let yourself be roiled  The reason for the disastrous deregulation was that financing companies would be free to try to find the ideal techniques for providing financing, but when you have to take care of your own problems, no one's going to worry about how un-ideal your situation would be.  Yet it could still seem that we should support even bailouts of greedy Wall Street firms, since this is, after all, the private financial system, so it could seem that we should both support it and accept the "problems of human nature" that sometimes result from it, as we support freedom and accept the "problems of human nature" that sometimes result from it.  Sure, this might seem very banal, but both realism and productivity are very banal.  As Alan Greenspan wrote in The Age of Turbulence, the main thing that he learned from Ayn Rand is that different cultures prioritize realism and productivity more than others do, and that the cultures that prioritize other things aren't as realistic and productive.  When AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said in his prepared statement before Congress on March 18, 2009, "Mistakes were made at AIG on a scale few could have imagined possible," and, "In order to [pay back the government], we have to continue managing our business as a business—taking account of the cold realities of competition for customers, for revenue and for employees," the implication was that if you don't accept their getting the bailout and paying huge bonuses to executives in the department that caused the problem, then you don't accept that people make mistakes or that in business the real world is cold.  We all know what's wrong with people who don't accept mistakes and cold realities.  That's exactly the sort of person who AA's slogans about coping skills, are aimed for.  (And, of course, those slogans don't try to distinguish whether or not a problem is severe enough to care about, only whether or not the victims can change them.)

 

 

As Steve Fraser, author of Wall Street: America's Dream Palace, and a historian, said about the Great Crash of 2008, "This feels very similar, historically, to 1929 and the emotions that filled the air in the months and years that followed the crash.  There is a sense of extraordinary shock and astonishment, which is followed by a sense of rage, outrage and anger directed at the centers of finance," and the shock and astonishment have resulted from genuine sudden helplessness that one simply has had to deal with.  Yet adjustment to reality would have meant both tuning down the victims' emotions, and accepting the financiers' emotions.  A New York Times article of October 4, 2008, Will Paulson's Two Plans Unplug the 'Liquidity Trap'?, by Mark Sunshine, says, "This week's Fed monetary report showed that during the week ending Sept. 22, money supply (as measured by seasonally adjusted M2) increased by $165.5 billion to $7,900 billion....  The Fed has been aggressively pumping money into the system in the hopes that radical monetary stimulus will restart lending.  However, the newly created money is being hoarded by banks as they 'stuff the mattress' with short-term Treasury notes....  Here's why these events are distressing: When the Fed douses the monetary system with cash but banks hoard it, monetary policy no longer works and the economy starts to crash....  This is what happened at the beginning of the Great Depression and during the Japanese banking crisis of the late 1990s."

All that the Fed could do is try to win the financiers over by giving them what they want, in other ways.  But if their negative feelings, even neurotic ones, caused us big trouble, then this is the sort of thing that we must serenely accept by getting our own negative feelings under control.  No one's going to give us any radical monetary stimulus in the hopes that this would get us to do our parts, and then, if this doesn't work, would try giving us other inducements.  We aren't "too big to fail," among the "Masters of the Universe."  Sure, on September 26, 2008, when the bailout was very much up in the air, Kenny Landgraf, principal and founder at Kenjol Capital Management, commented, "The quicker you get something done, the quicker the confidence is restored.  And the market needs it," but when you'd need your confidence restored, no one's going to dish up a lot of money to restore it.  You're just going to have to choose to be more courageous, with or without God's help.

Sure, on July 9, 2008, Phil Gramm said, "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession....  We have sort of become a nation of whiners....  Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."  Of course, those on Wall Street who panicked, did far more than just whine.  Yet certainly Gramm had toward them the sort of respect that one would have toward übermenschen.  It would seem that of course they have a right to do whatever they want with their own money, even if what they did went far beyond whining.  Yet those who would only seem to be whining would be untermenschen, so their fears are supposed to just stop.

The same would go for Dubya's statement of October 2, after meeting with business leaders, "The House of Representatives must listen to these voices and get this bill passed so we can get about the business of restoring confidence."  We must save investors from themselves, by paying for their confidence.  Many say that though the American government had bailed-out Bear Sterns and AIG, since the government didn't also bail out Lehman Brothers, that set off the stock market crash.  Market confidence is to be treated very differently from your confidence.  On October 9, after plenty of the federal government's efforts to supply to investing houses access to money that they certainly didn't earn, yet the stock market kept strongly moving downward, Richard Sparks, senior equities analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research, said, "There is a downward spiral of fear still about whether the measures put in place will be enough."  On October 15, after the Dow Jones industrial average had its second biggest one-day point loss ever, Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer at PNC Wealth Management, said, "The Fed and Treasury have thrown the entire arsenal at the problem and those things will work, but the market wants to see it work right away."  As late as November 22, 2008, Dubya said at a meeting on international trade, "As we've seen in recent months, there are times when government intervention is essential to restart frozen markets and protect overall economic health," but you could bet that when you have problems, no one's going to lend you money to get you unfrozen.  Sure, a New York Times op-ed of January 3, 2009 by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn, said about the financial crisis, "When you shout at people 'be confident,' you shouldn't expect them to be anything but terrified," but we're to care about this only when they're powerful enough that their terror would hurt others.  If it would hurt only themselves, shouting "be confident" would constitute self-help advice that's as firm as it should be considering what's at stake for themselves.  As a CNBC webpage on Wall Street's bad reaction to Geitner's improved version of the bailout said, "And as one of Wall Street's oldest maxims goes, the market hates uncertainty," which in this case means uncertainty about what they're getting undeservedly, but to live in a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., you can't hate uncertainty, even about your getting what you deserve.  (That is, unless you have the power to avoid the uncertainty, as Wall Street has the power to change what they need to.)

As a New York Times article of October 2, 2008 said, in 2004 the SEC had a meeting in which the five biggest banks pleaded to be allowed to go into debt more, and they got their wish, though several of those at the meeting said that allowing this for the biggest banks meant bigger risks for the economy.  One could no doubt find plenty of proof that the banks that now need the biggest bailouts, took risks that were obviously far too big, but caring about that could be labeled "resentment."  (An audio recording of that meeting is here.)

A Bloomberg News article of March 15, 2009, G-20 Turns Sight on Banks' Toxic Assets in Coordinated Move, by Simon Kennedy says,

The commitment, made three weeks before G-20 leaders gather in London, comes as investors demand faster action in the face of turmoil that's showing few signs of abating.  The Standard & Poor's 500 Financials Index has dropped 35 percent this year and a lack of lending is pushing the global economy deeper into its worst recession in six decades.

What the investors are demanding is, as Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, said on March 13, "The International Monetary Fund research of some 122 financial and economic crises shows that turnaround can't happen unless you clean up the bad assets and recapitalize the banks."  The faster action that investors are demanding isn't anything that they're entitled to, but unless you're powerful enough to change what you want or need changed, you'd better not demand anything that you are entitled to.  Everyone knows how bad resentment, control tactics, etc., are.  Even if one or more of the bailed-out banks could be proven to have decided to take their excessive risks because they knew they'd be bailed out, not to bail them out would still have exactly the same dangerous effect on the economy, so would be just as much out of the question.

Washington Post Op-Ed columnist Sebastian Mallaby, on March 27, 2009, wrote that laws that allow those managing the orderly collapse of banks and savings and loans, already allow them to pay bond holders a low fraction of what the banks owed them since they should have assessed the risks of lending to those banks beforehand, but, "But it has shied away from punishing bond holders of busted banks lest other banks' bond holders panic."  Even the chance that other bond holders panic would pose a great risk to everyone, but of course, if you panic, even for a good reason, you'd be expected to choose to feel serene instead.  This double standard seems as natural as does saying, "Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, so they shouldn't feel so alone, and should take medication," and no one notices how big of a social problem this describes.  After all, the bond holders have the power, but you don't.  The depressed people don't have the power to stop what made them depressed.  We simply must adjust to such realities, realistically.

On April 19, 2009, Obama said about the bank bailouts, "We'll try to use as light a touch as we can, but I'm not going to simply put taxpayer money into a black hole where you aren't going to see results or some exit strategy so the taxpayers ultimately are relieved of these burdens."  Of course, if government money went to people who weren't so powerful, the government wouldn't try to use as light a touch as it can.  At about the same time, a big question on the mind of the feds trying to save the banking system was what would cause the least panic among the powerful, letting the public know the results of the stress tests of the banks so we'd have transparency, or letting them know only a little since then the weak banks wouldn't lose their marketability.

And, of course, plenty of Americans are angry about the guv'mint bailout, since the guv'mint providing taxpayer money to people who irresponsibly caused the big problem for themselves and everyone else, seems very un-American.  Yet the real problem is obviously the banking crisis itself.  Yet with that as with everything else, it seems only natural that we realistically assume that their fears aren't to be re-engineered.  A New York magazine article of June 5, 2009, Thank Bernanke, by James J. Cramer, says that though Bernanke admittedly was a part of the Bush team that let the meltdown happen, he saved us from a second Great Depression by appearing on Sixty Minutes, and, "Bernanke then proceeded to eviscerate the laissez-faire economics of the previous administration and its endless faith in the markets that produced the fiasco that was Lehman Brothers.  At the same time, he made it clear to Obama that the new president was using the wrong road map when castigating Wall Street, because Wall Street leads directly to Main Street....  The moment of crisis has passed, the parallels to the Great Depression are gone, all because Bernanke learned the lessons of history and refused to let it repeat itself."  If we kiss the butts of Wall Street we could lead happy lives, and if we didn't we couldn't, so we but not they must get resentment, anger, fear, etc., under control.  When Roosevelt said, "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance," he wasn't expecting financiers to buck up so that they'd invest in ways that would have made the economy more productive.  Asserting a firm belief in that would seem very anti-freedom, while asserting a firm belief that the only thing to fear is the victims' (well-founded) pessimism seems very pro-freedom, pro-self-empowerment.

Also, while the "czar" appointed to deal with executive pay of the parasite Wall Street banks, Kenneth Feinberg, had the nice empathetic job as head of the fund for the families of those killed and maimed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the appointed "czar" for the auto manufacturers getting bailouts is corporate raider and hedge fund billionaire Steven Rattner.  Banking executives must feel comfortable, but if middle-class workers' lives are torn up, they must get their own resentment, anger, fear, etc., under control.

When Nancy Pelosi suggested that the government tax the financial industry to get back any money spent on the TARP bailout, Paulson rejected this because, as he wrote in  On the Brink, "...there was no way the markets would accept her proposal.  It would be like trying to save and punish someone at the same time."  Of course, they both deserved to be punished and had to be saved, since if they got what they deserved, economic devastation around the world would have been the collateral damage.  A better analogy would have been that making the financial industry pay for the damage it caused, would have been like the Treaty of Versailles.  In both cases, it was only fair to expect the people who wreaked the mayhem to pay for it, but they couldn't afford to, and if their victims tried to make them, they'd have the power to cause far greater damage.

 

 

A CNNMoney.com article of February 14, 2009, Wall Street: Devil is in the details, begins, "A lack of clear communication between the government and Wall Street last week left investors scratching their heads and dumping their stocks. The week ahead brings a chance for a rapprochement."  In other words, a rapprochement between the choosy beggars and those who must give them help in just the right way.  Yet when you truly are a victim, you'd better not expect rapprochement between yourself and your victimizer.

A Treasury Department press release of October 14, 2008, Statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on Actions to Protect the U.S. Economy, begins, "America is a strong nation.  We are a confident and optimistic people.  Our confidence is born out of our long history of meeting every challenge we face.  Time and time again our nation has faced adversity and time and time again we have overcome it and risen to new heights.  This time will be no different."  In other words, we should be resilient about whatever might result, completely ignoring how his risky policies caused it.  One could call him the Bill Wilson of this generation's Great Crash.

An "unidentified male" at a Wall Street party said in the CNN program Fall of the Fat Cats, which originally ran on October 18, 2008, "The fact is that the media has distorted and blown this out of proportion, because the media and the politicians are playing into people's fears for their own self-serving purposes."  According to the Wall Street perspective, resiliency about financial meltdowns is good, and caring about the moral responsibility for the meltdowns is not only bad, but insidiously bad, manipulative.

Copyright, 1929, by the Philadelphia Inquirer

IT’LL TAKE MORE THAN THAT TO BLOW HIS HAT OFF
                                      —Hanny in the Philadelphia Inquirer. October, 1929

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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.

The whole idea behind setting up Al-Anon, and, after that, all the other ladies' auxiliaries of Twelve-Step groups, was to use the same spirituality to help addicts' friends and family members cope with their realities.  This has been a role model for self-help for those who must deal with big problems, in general.  Psychological literature might say that this philosophy that insists that whoever has a problem, even hardship and/or others' sinfulness ad infinitum, must simply deal with it by courageously changing what he can and serenely accepting whatever he can't, is good for addicts since those who've become addicts tend to overreact to bad things.  Yet it's applied just as readily to those whose problems, including the hardship and sinfulness, are very real.  According to the 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.  This reductionism seems good, since the more that such a conflict is reduced to how the person with the problem could most effectively take care of his own problem, the more that the personal responsibility for the problem would go to the person who's the most motivated to deal with it effectively.  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.  Those who aren't that forgiving could seem suppressive, and, therefore, scary in their victim-power.

 

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.

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."

 

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.

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?  That rate of depression is so high that this can't be just one of the diseases that are parts of the natural order!  In a society with rampant depression, serenely and courageously dealing with such realities would tend more toward 'Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,' than toward, 'In an imperfect world, sometimes things will inevitably go wrong, and you'll just have to change what you can and accept what you can't.'  Also, 'defects of character,' 'character flaws,' etc., tend to mean literally weaknesses of character, untermensch character flaws like resentment, anger, fear, and the wimpiness that depressed people might seem to have.  Sure, the übermensch character flaws might be destructive, but if we don't take this sinful world as it is, we'd seem too untermensch, resentful angry and/or fearful.  On one hand you have the psychological advisors and other pragmatists who are very aware of how important fitting in always is, and on the other you have natural human feelings.  An untermensch-phobia could become popular, since this sort of character defect is insidious so those accused of it can't be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and one can't defend himself against it without looking as if he's re-victimizing the victims."

 

 

People's coping skills must be

 

 

 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,
Click Here

 

           

 

(To Father John B. McCormack, regarding his having told pedo-priest molestation victim Paul Cultrera to “put it all behind me” so that he wouldn’t cause the hierarchy much trouble) “It would help if you chose to follow the opposite of your advice to me and actually put all of this in front of you where you could finally face up to your behavior, take responsibility for your lies, and stop making the weak excuses that have come to characterize your attitude in this matter.”—Paul Cultrera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Just imagine what it would look like if cognitive therapy gave equal time to re-engineering any aspect of human nature that might give us problems:

Everybody needs a moral compass, and that's theirs.  With all cognitive therapy, the more impressionable that one is, the more that he could learn to think pragmatically.  Since cognitive therapy arose in the 1960s based on the then-popular Eastern transcendence, this could be called "Calcutta survival skills."

An article on Fortune Magazine’s website, dated September 28, 2008, Main Street Turns Against Wall Street, says,

Obama's definition of a rich household - $250,000 a year - used to seem well within the sights of a middle-class family moving up the ladder, so there were limits to the effectiveness of any politician's populist rhetoric (and populist solutions). But in a decade when the American workforce has contributed a robust 20% growth in productivity, yet most middle-class households have less income than when they started, that higher income bracket starts looking more like a pipe dream.

***

Feeding the politics of envy is the parallel rise of a class of superrich: The top 1% of earners now collect the largest share of income since 1929, and there are more than 1,000 billionaires in the U.S. alone.  Obama economic advisor Jason Furman has calculated that the rise in the income of the top 1% of earners, set against the drop in income by the bottom 80%, is the equivalent of a shift of $885 billion a year.  Average CEO compensation has also caught the attention of the public and politicians.  According to the Economic Research Institute, CEO compensation in 2007 increased 20.5%, to an average $18.8 million in February, while corporate revenues increased less than 3%.

Our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., show what are the very real consequences of this.  To call this "envy," really is along the same lines as would be discussing the "resentment" of those who live with addicts, including the gambling addicts, etc., who bankrupt the family.  Gamblers Anonymous' handbook's chapter for gambling addicts' friends and loved-ones includes: "Living or being associated with a compulsive gambler creates its own kind of hell.  For most people, it is a devastating experience: family relationships become unbearably strained and the home is filled with bitterness, frustration and resentment."  "The past is gone and you will not find peace of mind until you can accept it without resentment."  (This probably includes situations in which the gambling that lost the money happened in the past, but the resulting poverty still exists.)  "We see that with defects of character such as self-pity, self-justification, impatience and resentment, we will never find this peace of mind and serenity we seek."  (So the offended feelings of those bankrupted by pathological gamblers seem to be "defects of character such as self-pity, self-justification, impatience and resentment," though the law doesn't consider gambling addicts or any other addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity.)  Untermensch emotions such as envy and resentment tend to be treated as if, no matter how warranted they are, they're still weak, and to some degree they insidiously reflect the SELF-WILLS of those who feel them.  This has plenty of social norms, social circles, and positive associations backing it up; even if someone along the lines of John Wayne, who said, “Republic... it means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose,” did something destructive, of course that wouldn’t give us the right to restrict him, act as if those hurt by him who could have protected themselves better are his victims, etc.

 

William Ryan's Blaming the Victim says in its concluding chapter, "For example, in 1940, eight million were out of work, while in 1942, only a little more than one million were out of work.  The seven million who went from a jobless status to drawing a weekly paycheck in that two year period were no different in 1940 than in 1942."  One way in which they were no different but could have seemed different, was that they were no doubt less "envious," "resentful," etc., before than after.  One could also say that the very real problems that they had during the Great Depression, "fed the politics of envy," as if this were some sort of untermensch manipulative ploy.

The Fine Art of Propaganda, by Alfred McClung Lee and Elizabeth Briant Lee, 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, reflecting a hidden version of selfish human nature.

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.  Something very vital is missing.

 

The "seven propaganda devices" that the Institute for Propaganda Analysis observed in the 1930s being used by those such as fascist Father Charles Coughlin, which were then described in The Fine Art of Propaganda in 1939, were: Name Calling, Glittering Generality, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, Card Stacking, and Band Wagon.  That's exactly what you'd expect to hear from the untermensch-phobic victim correction as a panacea.

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.  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.)

However you define your own personal responsibility, if you aren't adequate to do this, lose the battle, fail, and come up short with big consequences, you'd seem to be an irresponsible and inadequate, loser and failure with very consequential shortcomings.  If you don't adjust to this, adapt to it, function with it, fit in with it, and feel content with it, you'd seem to be a maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional, misfit and malcontent.  How else would a pragmatist define "good enough"?

Naturally, in Al-Anon literature, you'd see this conception of "weakness or a character flaw," "moral" wrongs, "our wrongs" and, "defects of character," applied to how alkies' family members are adjusting to their realities.  Naturally, Al-Anon's workbook Blueprint for Progress: Al-Anon's Fourth Step Inventory, says near the beginning, "Step Four is an exercise in perception, a way to distinguish between what works in our lives and what is no longer useful or necessary."  So what determines what seems morally right or wrong, is whether it's pragmatic or unpragmatic when dealing with the alkie in one's own life.  That certainly is an "exercise in perception," since it requires that the person choose to perceive things in the idiosyncratic fashion in which he's told to perceive them.  Though the law doesn't figure that the disease of addiction makes addicts not guilty by reason of insanity, addicts' family members are a lot less powerful than the law, so they must.  Though Fundament Christians regard Situation Ethics as very permissive, "turn tragedy into transformation" spirituality would have to treat them as too judgmental.

A book from Gamblers Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, The First Forty Years, says that in Southern California for a time, Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon had "mixed" meetings.  When someone from higher up said that the meetings "should be separate and not meet together," "The women, because GamAnon was all women at the time, were very upset at the thought that they would not be present at the Gamblers Anonymous meeting to check up on the gambler."  This "checking up" would be along the lines of Situation Ethics, concerned with the consequences of the gambling, rather than preaching some sort of moral code.  These consequences, and risk of far greater consequences, would be pretty high for these women and their children.   Yet even this seemed too preachy and intrusive for Gamblers Anonymous, especially if this consists of women checking up on men.

A similar exercise in perception is the following, from the cognitive therapy self-help book for depression, Feeling Good, by Dr. David Burns, which includes on its cover:

Now we come to a truth you may see either as a bitter pill or an enlightening revelation.  There is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice.  There is an undeniable relativity of fairness, just as Einstein showed the relativity of time and space....

Here’s proof: When a lion devours a sheep, is this unfair?  From the point of view of the sheep, it is unfair, he’s being viciously and intentionally murdered with no provocation.  From the point of view of the lion, it is fair.  He’s hungry, and this is the daily bread he feels entitled to.  Who is “right”?  There is no ultimate or universal answer to this question because there’s no “absolute fairness” floating around to resolve the issue.  In fact, fairness is simply a perceptual interpretation, an abstraction, a self-created concept.  How about when you eat a hamburger?  Is this “unfair”?  To you, it’s not.  From the point of view of the cow, it certainly is (or was)!  Who’s “right”?  There is no ultimate “true” answer.

This is neo-Buddhism.  After this, Dr. Burns goes on to say that this doesn't mean that he believes in anarchy, since if social norms could stop destructive behavior, then those norms are good.  Also, he's not advocating an overgeneralized self-abnegation, since if your anger would inspire you to courageously change what you can, then it's good.  On the other hand, if you're helpless, that's when you have to perceive your problems in terms of, "There is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice."  This is exactly what would most work in the lives of those living with addicts, as well as those living with people whose behavior problems can't be excused as resulting from any disease.  Those family members simply must accept that lions eat lambs, unless they have the power to change their problems.  Cognitive therapy has plenty of empirical and "clinically proven" evidence to prove that it works, so addicts' family members who adopt that relativism would tend to feel more serene.  Not only that, since this is "drug free," it seems to be natural, as if this is a natural way to think.

If you're not a friend or family member of an addict, then the only difference between them and you, is that their problems are probably more serious, and, therefore, they could afford not to simply deal with them, less than you could.  That's why self-help philosophy for anyone in trouble, as well as the "weakness or a character flaw" that our culture would take seriously, have this same conception of personal responsibility.  Getting rid of a morally weak character doesn't seem necessary, since that would be re-engineering human nature, and those on the receiving end of the problems would be motivated to solve them.  Getting rid of untermensch weak characters does seem necessary, since that doesn't seem to be re-engineering human nature, if they don't solve their own problems (irrespective of who caused them), who would?

The Fine Art of Propaganda clearly suggests that the best antidote to propaganda is to ask questions concerning what would be the real, practical effects of what the propaganda is trying to cast in a good light.  For example, telling people that "personal responsibility for one's own welfare" means courageously changing what one can and serenely accepting whatever one can't, even when this means, "Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it," could be painted as a failsafe formula for unconditional coping skills.  Yet all you've got to do is ask about the effects of that sort of moral bankruptcy, and this could set you free.  Questions are the ultimate form of thinking for yourself.  (However, those who have a stolid definition of manipulation, such as Schopenhauer's "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," would have to believe that for the untermenschen to think for themselves sincerely, is manipulative!)

 

 

           

 

AA's other main book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, talks about these character defects in more general terms.  The chapter on the Fourth Step begins, "CREATION gave us instincts for a purpose.  Without them we wouldn't be complete human beings....  So these desires—for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship—are perfectly necessary and right, and surely God-given.  Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper functions.  Powerfully, blindly, many times subtly, they drive us, dominate us, and insist on ruling our lives.  Our desires for sex, for material and emotional security, and for an important place in society often tyrannize us," and goes on to talk about how the victims of these feelings are the people who feel them.  Of the instincts they listed, the only one that could possibly hurt others unless carried to ridiculous extremes, is the sex instinct.  Just like modern Fundament Christian moral crusaders, this talks about the dangers of sex but not the dangers of greed.  Of the other two mentioned instincts, the only problems that they could cause us, is if those who don't have enough material and emotional security, or companionship, let this bother them.  If what happened to us were bad enough, one could say that our natural reactions to it would drive us, dominate us, insist on ruling our lives, tyrannize us, etc.

If what happened was someone else's moral responsibility, then having an attitude toward it of, "Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it," would keep us free of unhappy feelings, but would also be as morally bankrupt as Matthew 5:39, 43-45, from the Sermon on the Mount, "But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil.  But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also...  You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."  If our society ends up with a rate of depression that obviously isn't what "creation," or nature, had intended, then this would seem to be our natural instincts far exceeding their proper functions, even if it could be proven that this unnaturally high rate doesn't result from unnatural excesses inside of the depressed.

While this chapter of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions does make some references to the harm that some of these feelings can do to others, the chapter also says, "We thought 'conditions' drove us to drink, and when we tried to correct these conditions and found that we couldn't to our entire satisfaction, our drinking went out of hand and we became alcoholics.  It never occurred to us that we needed to change ourselves to meet conditions, whatever they were....  We learned that if we were seriously disturbed, our first need was to quiet that disturbance, regardless of who or what we thought caused it."  Here is where "Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it," can be taken literally.

Similarly, the chapter of Gamblers Anonymous' handbook tells of how gamblers' families and friends should learn to live with their own problems.  Near the beginning, this says, "Living or being associated with a compulsive gambler creates its own kind of hell.  For most people, it is a devastating experience: family relationships become unbearably strained and the home is filled with bitterness, frustration and resentment.  Emotionally, the stress takes its toll as the life of the Gam-Anon member seems to crumble and become unmanageable; tensions are aggravated because life, in material terms, is unstable.  At any moment the house might be lost or the furniture repossessed.  There may not be enough money to put food on the table or clothe the children."

And, of course, the goal of Gam-Anon is to use Twelve-Step spiritual principles to help the friends and family members deal with their own problems.  Included in this is that their practice of the Fourth Step means, "We find that we had to become completely honest with ourselves.  Most of us discover that we have many defects of character of which we were not aware.  We find it helpful to take a moral inventory of ourselves.  Among our faults we find self-pity, dishonesty, impatience, hate, false pride, envy, and negative thinking.  Lest we become discouraged, it is also important to remember our assets as well as our liabilities," and their practice of the Sixth Step includes, "When we accept the fact that serenity comes from within, our progress develops.  Exploring further along this line, we gain insight.  We see that with defects of character such as self-pity, self-justification, impatience and resentment, we will never find this peace of mind and serenity we seek."  Anyone familiar with victim-blaming could see that these are the untermensch "defects of character" that tend to be attributed to poor people in general, since naturally those who are involuntarily poor would feel such things.

From the perspective of even the most worldly ethical systems, such as Situation Ethics, this would constitute de rigueur amoralism, and beloved moral bankruptcy, where moral outrage would be disallowed as self-righteous rage, and coping through indifferent moral bankruptcy means goodness.  One could say that "how it works," for anyone, alkie or not, is that correcting the victim has plenty of motivation self-reliance and forgiveness.  Those who are morally responsible aren't much motivated to fix the problems, and expecting them to could seem both manipulative and unforgiving, so holding them responsible wouldn't work well enough that one could rely on it.

           

Just after the following section of How it Works, which includes a confession of the resentment anger and fear that the alcoholic felt about having to take responsibility for a drunken extramarital affair, padding his expense account (Webster's Dictionary defines "pad" as, "to expand with needless or fraudulent matter."), etc., that chapter goes into a very morally relativist attitude about sex in general, including, "We reviewed our own conduct over the years past.  Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate?  Whom had we hurt?  Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness?  Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead?  We got this all down on paper and looked at it."  This isn't about an ambiguous romantic relationship where even a Don Juan could insist that his ostensibly monogamous relationship wasn't really serious.  The stronger you are, the more likely you are to have what's exciting, pro-freedom, übermensch, red-blooded, self-reliant, etc., on your side.

This was written around the end of the Great Depression, during which the popular psychological approaches had to go towards Stoic adjustment to the problems of the Depression.  Eugenics and Sex Harmony, a quaint jazz-age self-help book from 1933, says, "The best way to control the self-preservation instincts, such as fear and anger, Doctor [Josephine] Jackson insists, is to refuse to stimulate the emotion when the external situation is not suitable for action. 'But with the organically aroused sex instinct,' she says, ‘there is no power of choice. We may fan the flame until it is out of sight, but we cannot extinguish it by any act of ours. With this instinct we cannot "stop before we begin," because Nature has taken the matter out of our hands.'" The Great Depression is naturally the era when it became necessary to control our passive human nature, and therefore, it had better be more controllable than our active human nature.

And in 1934, Louis Armstrong recorded the following:

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street

Can’t you hear the pitter-pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be complete
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade
With my blues on parade
But I’m not afraid
This rover’s crossed over

If I never had a cent
I’d be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street

           

The second very important element of the following, is the victim vilification that has to come with addictive personalities, since addictive thinking must assume that the consequences of destructive behavior are only temporary hurdles which, naturally, people will overcome.  Even when the addicts weren't actively drunk, they still very likely would have had an addictive personality.  The web page "What Is Alcoholism?: Basic information about alcoholism - what is it, what causes it, and who is at risk," had said under the heading Personality Traits, "Studies are finding that alcoholism is strongly related to impulsive, excitable, and novelty-seeking behavior, and such patterns are established early on, if not inherited."  The webpage Factors Contributing to the Development of Pathological Gambling, now says basically the same thing about addictions in general, in more depth.

Michael Craig, Miller, MD, the Editor in Chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, wrote in the February, 2006 issue, "Genes shape temperament: People who are impulsive, take risks, and habitually seek new experiences are more likely to become addicted."  The same article also says that one of the way in which genes "influence the brain's susceptibility to addiction," is in "the prefrontal cortex, which organizes our responses to the environment," and that this is the same obliviousness that constitutes an effect of booze: "Addictive substances may also cause the prefrontal cortex to work at low power—one of the reasons addicted persons often deny that they have a problem."  This is also the reason why booze, which is a depressant, feels like a stimulant.  Other genetic effects, such as that drugs feel unusually good to some people, wouldn't lead to addiction in those who have a strong enough awareness that no matter how good they feel now, overusing them would have the dangers of addiction.  This is exactly the sort of person who's very likely to have strong feeling of untermensch-phobia, since they'd fear anyone who'd hold them morally responsible.

This sort of personality can also lead to adultery even in marriages where the spouse did nothing to deserve this.  Therefore, rather than just brushing over a tawdry extramarital affair as in the above quote, it would have made even more sense for addicts to go into the aggressive "flaws in our makeup," to the degree that the following goes into resentment anger and fear, "Impulsivity is the 'number one' offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else....  If we were to live, we had to be free of thrill-seeking....  Excitability somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.  It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it."  Yet that sort of genuinely insane thinking gets mentioned in passing, here and there, like the above quotation about selfishness dishonesty and considerate in one's extramarital affairs.

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen's book Prozac Backlash quotes a recovering alcoholic client who had a very chaotic childhood, as saying, "In AA, I learned to abstain from alcohol and get on with my life, to keep trucking, like a foot soldier."  Any psychological approach that patterns itself after AA, or, especially, after the Twelve-Step groups for addicts' friends and family members, will have to operate like this.  For example, the chapter in Gamblers Anonymous' handbook, for Gam-Anon, says,

When the family member or friend gains an understanding of the gambling problem and attends Gam-Anon regularly, the compulsive gambler may eventually attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings.  However, Gam-Anon members are cautioned not to expect this result and that the reason for attending Gam-Anon is to find a new way of life for themselves.

The aim of the Gam-Anon program is to aid the individuals involved with a compulsive gambler to find help by changing their own lives.  This is accomplished by the spiritual growth gained through living the Gam-Anon program, by giving support and understanding to compulsive gamblers and by providing comfort to their families.

Living or being associated with a compulsive gambler creates its own kind of hell.  For most people, it is a devastating experience: family relationships become unbearably strained and the home is filled with bitterness, frustration and resentment.  Emotionally, the stress takes its toll as the life of the Gam-Anon member seems to crumble and become unmanageable; tensions are aggravated because life, in material terms, is unstable.  At any moment the house might be lost or the furniture repossessed.  There may not be enough money to put food on the table or clothe the children.

Later on this same chapter says, "Because the only real happiness that one can be sure of comes from within, Gam-Anon encourages the member to build on his or her own inner core of spiritual strength and maturity as the best way to live with the gambling problem, rather than to depend solely on their gambling spouses for happiness," and, "Members are encouraged to make home life as pleasant as possible for the compulsive gambler.  They are urged to make themselves attractive, both for the favorable effect on the compulsive gambler and for the therapeutic effect on themselves."  Of course this means that when victims don't live up to these standards, they must be criticized, and get labeled that they're characterologically weak and passive, even when they'd shown enough maturity that such labels should ring hollow.  What we see here is pretty much a combination of "If I never had a cent, I'd be rich as Rockefeller," and the moral bankruptcy of addictive personalities who assume that the consequences of their own destructive behavior are so ephemeral, so those mollycoddle whiners had better stop choosing to walk in the shade with their blues on parade.

If that looks like it's only Gam-Anon's quirk, keep in mind that this is, very literally, a thesis of the AA School of Psychology, which is what self-help in general tends to emulate.  For example, the product description for the self-help book Don't Leave It to Chance: A Guide for Families of Problem Gamblers, by Edward Federman Charles Drebing and Edward J. Federman, says, "Like any addiction, gambling takes its toll on the entire family, causing loss of trust, financial hardship, and difficult dynamics.  [Actually, chances are that "At any moment the house might be lost or the furniture repossessed," wouldn't apply to most addictions.]  Based on the authors' extensive research and filled with hands-on questionnaires, exercises, and charts, this book provides relatives of problem gamblers with a comprehensive program of cognitive-behavioral strategies to help them overcome the negative hold the habit has on their lives."  OK, so how is cognitive-behavioral therapy of the victims, supposed to overcome the negative hold the gamblers' habits have on their lives?  Would training them not to react irrationally, overcome that negative hold?  Is cognitive-behavioral therapy, or is it not, supposed to be limited to washing people's brains, only of irrational beliefs?

The other mental disease that addiction comes the closest to, is sociopathy.  The law doesn't treat sociopaths as not guilty by reason of insanity, though they have a disease that leads to their doing things that might look selfish yet are ultimately self-defeating.  Sociopathy impairs those who have it, enough that normal people lecturing them about it wouldn't do any good, yet leaves them unimpaired enough that if those who have it and want to get control over it, attend weekly meetings where their fellow sociopaths who also want to stop, would encourage each other, this would get many under control.  The article "The Ice People," in the February, 2005 issue of Psychology Today says, "Studies conducted in Taiwan have found a low prevalence of antisocial personality disorder, ranging from .03 percent to .14 percent—impressively less than the Western average of 4 percent....  Though sociopaths (in East Asia) lack an internal mechanism that tells them they are connected to others, the larger culture insists that they are connected—as opposed to our culture, which informs them that their ability to act guiltlessly on their own behalf is the ultimate advantage," so social pressures do dissuade sociopathy.  Since sociopaths' sociopathic choices aren't like normal people's, if you had a sociopathic spouse and he did something that harmed you, you shouldn't take it personally or think that you could have stopped it if only you were good enough.  And if you had a quietist spirituality about what he does, it could seem that you'd find a new way of life for yourself and change you own life, rather than depending solely on your sociopathic spouse for happiness, and this would constitute spiritual growth and spiritual strength and maturity.  If in your society it seems that people's ability to act guiltlessly on their own behalf is the ultimate advantage, then your society has to have some firm precepts on who deals with the emotional and physical consequences.

 

   

 

           

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory.  This was Step Four.  A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke.  Taking commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process.  It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade.  One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret.  If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values.

We did exactly the same thing with our lives.  We took stock honestly.  First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure.  Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations.

Resentment is the “number one” offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.  From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.  When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.  In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper.  We listed people, institutions or principle with who we were angry.  We asked ourselves why we were angry.  In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships, (including sex) were hurt or threatened.  So we were sore.  We were “burned up.”  On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries.  Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with?  We were usually as definite as this example:
 
 
 

I’m resentful at:

The cause:

Affects my:

Mr.  Brown 

His attention to my wife.
Told my wife of my mistress.
Brown may get my job at the office.

Sex relations
Self-esteem (fear)

Mrs.  Jones 

She’s a nut—she snubbed me.
She committed her husband for drinking.
He’s my friend.
She’s a gossip.

Personal relationship.
Self-esteem (fear)

My employer 

Unreasonable—
Unjust—
Overbearing—
Threatens to fire me for my drinking and 
padding my expense account.

Self-esteem (fear)
Security.

My wife 

Misunderstands and nags.
Likes Brown.
Wants house put in her name.

Pride
Personal sex relations
Security (fear)

 

 

 

We went back through our lives.  Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty.  When we were finished we considered it carefully.  The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong.  To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got.  The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore.  Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves.  But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got.  As in war, the victor only seemed to win.  Our moments of triumph were short-lived.

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness.  To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while.  But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave.  We found that it is fatal.  For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit.  The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again.  And with us, to drink is to die.

If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.  The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us.  They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.

We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future.  We were prepared to look for it from an entirely different angle.  We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us.  In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill.  How could we escape?  We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?  We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick.  Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too.  We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.  When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man.  How can I be helpful to him?  God save me from being angry.  Thy will be done.”

We avoid retaliation or argument.  We wouldn’t treat sick people that way.  If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful.  We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one.

Referring to our list again.  Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes.  Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened?  Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely.  Where were we to blame?  The inventory was ours, not the other man’s.  When we saw our faults we listed them.  We placed them before us in black and white.  We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.

Notice that the word “fear” is bracketed alongside the difficulties with Mr. Brown, Mrs. Jones, the employer, and the wife.  This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives.  It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it.  It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve.  But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling?  Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing.  It seems to cause more trouble.

We reviewed our fears thoroughly.  We put them on paper, even though we had no resentment in connection with them.  We asked ourselves why we had them.  Wasn’t it because self-reliance failed us?  Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didn’t go far enough.  Some of us once had great self-confidence, but it didn’t fully solve the fear problem, or any other.  When it made us cocky, it was worse.

Perhaps there is a better way, we think so.  For we are now on a different basis of trusting and relying upon God.  We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves.  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.

We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator.  We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness.  Paradoxically, it is the way of strength.  The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage.  All men of faith have courage.  They trust their God.  We never apologize for God.  Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do.  We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be.  At once, we commence to outgrow fear.

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 Home Page

 About Us, Introduction

About Us, the Summary

 About Us

My Story

To The [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

Men Dying for Love

On Doping

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

Victim Correction as a Panacea, 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

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Top of 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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