#3-21

 


e must motivate people to win, not whine.




 

“Greed is good.  Greed works, greed is right.  Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.  Greed in all its forms, greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. . .”—the character Gordon Gekko, in Wall Street

“...each of us has been affected by the ravages of another’s alcoholism....  We find that there are simple tools that can change the way that we feel about ourselves and our circumstances, tools that can help us to get more out of living and to find excitement and opportunity where once we found only a struggle to survive.  As we watch those around us in our meetings begin to find greater freedom and greater joy in their lives, most of us realize that, no matter what situation we face or how desperate we feel, there is good reason for hope.”—Al-Anon’s current handbook, How Al-Anon Works, for Families and Friends of Alcoholics

“The problem-solving and coping techniques you learn will encompass every crisis in modern life, from minor irritations to major emotional collapse.  These will include realistic problems, such as divorce, death, or failure [or the effects of alcoholism in your family], as well as those vague, chronic problems that seem to have no obvious external cause, such as low self-confidence, frustration, guilt, or apathy.”— Feeling Good, David D. Burns, MD, “The Clinically-Proven Drug-free Treatment for Depression”

“Taken as a whole, Stoic ethics is in fact a very valuable and estimable attempt to use reason, man’s great prerogative, for an important and salutary purpose, namely to raise him by a precept above the sufferings and pains to which all life is exposed... and in this way to make him partake in the highest degree of the dignity belonging to him as a rational being as distinct from the animal.”—Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation

 

“...they had ‘engineered the response.’

“Was that another way of saying ‘covering up’?”—Woodward and Bernstein, All The President’s Men

 

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uch allocation of responsibility is then backed up in basically three ways.  The first is that for the victim to take response-ability for his own welfare is pragmatic and objective, since he’s the one with the most reliable motivation to do what it takes to succeed at solving the problem, which, objectively, is his.  The above approach to cognitive therapy, wouldn’t even care what your current bad experiences are, since you could always choose to perceive them differently.  If you’re currently dealing one of the more serious problems that The Serenity Prayer is supposed to deal with, even if others are morally responsible for it, you’d probably be told to accept it serenely.  John Haynes Holmes, who’d been friends with Niebuhr, wrote to him describing his “recent writings... as a tragic instance of intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy,” and when sinful behavior is treated along the lines of The Serenity Prayer, that would constitute beloved moral bankruptcy.  Yet you’d also be told that you should be optimistic that those in your society have moral standards that are high enough to make sure that something like your current bad experience, won’t happen to you again.  The central question of this pragmatism, is, “What’s more important, that he’s morally responsible, or that you solve your problem as well as you can?  Which would you rather be, right, or happy?”  You mustn’t really care about “the elephant in the living room” if you can’t change the elephant.  That’s living in the real world.  You do what you can.  Beat the hardcore blues.  No self-care could seem onerous.  No one is entitled to anything, since everything has to come from somewhere or someone, isn’t going to just happen because “it’s what’s right.”  Resiliency is everything, since no matter what happens to you, of course you must remain productive and functional, and expecting the person who caused the problem to take responsibility for it would be naïve.  Even to call this “resiliency,” rather than “what every self-responsible person must do,” could sound manipulative, as if you’re looking for excuses not to do what every self-responsible person must do.

 

 

Whatever happens is, therefore, “life on life’s terms,” “reality,” etc.  Maturity means accepting reality.  Of course, we live in a competitive and self-responsible society, nothing’s guaranteed, and human imperfections are whatever they are.  Those who have Nietzsche’s values would be both most likely to succeed, and most likely to seem to have good, well-adjusted backbone.  Response-ability for one’s own welfare, one’s own problems: serves the greater good, maximizes efficiency, is a moral obligation that we can’t afford to forgive.  Where would our economy be if people weren’t truly motivated to take response-ability for their own welfare?  There are no guarantees in life, and if there were, plenty of people wouldn’t be productive enough.  Emotionalism such as whining, victimology, and victimhood, wouldn’t be fair play in the contest for success.  Fighting for what is good could actually turn out to be bad, since people: are naturally motivated to do what they want and to take response-ability for their own problems, aren’t reliably motivated to take moral responsibility, must be motivated to get what they want by winning and earning it, and mustn’t be motivated to get it by acting like victims or their allies.  Asymmetrical warfare means that the strong fight fair and the weak fight unfair.  If everyone were to get what they deserved, where would it come from?  After the Great Wall Street Bailout of 2008 was completed, John McCain said, “The option of doing nothing is simply not an option,” and all pragmatism looks something like this: no matter how much others caused your problem, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get it under control.  A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers, by Lawrence G. McDonald, says that in the last-gasp attempt to get a federal bailout, one leader at Lehman told George W. Bush’s cousin George Walker IV, who also worked for the firm and was to phone Dubya to ask personally for a bailout, that if this didn’t work it would, “unleash the forces of evil into the global markets,” and another told him, “We are looking at an unmitigated disaster on a global scale, George.  They don’t understand what they are doing.”

Henry Paulson, in On the Brink, wrote about the bailout of AIG, “I told [Obama and McCain] the Fed had to take action and made the point that we were protecting taxpayers—not bailing out shareholders.”  Of course, they were doing both.  They had to bail out the shareholders, or the taxpayers would suffer.

A good example of our usual definition of “efficiency,” both in our day-to-day lives and in economics, is the following, from On the Brink:

Contrary to popular belief, credit default swaps and other derivatives provide a useful function in making the capital markets more efficient and were not the cause of the crisis.  But these financial instruments do introduce embedded and hidden leverage into financial institutions’ balance sheets, complicating due diligence for counterparties and making effective supervision more difficult.  The resulting opacity, which should be unacceptable even in normal markets, only intensified and magnified the crisis.  This system needs to be reformed so that these innovative instruments can play their important role as mitigators, not transmitters, of risk.

Yet everyone knows that these derivatives were what caused the web of contagion, in which any finance company that went under would have defaulted on all the money it owed in derivatives, which could have brought down the companies that they owed this money.  During the Congressional hearings of Greenspan Cox and Snow on October 23, 2008, Representative Norton said, “For example, 14 years ago, in 1994, GAO published a 2-year study, 200 pages, exhaustive study, entitled ‘Financial Derivatives: Actions Needed to Protect the Financial System.’…  The GAO, I want to quote it. ‘Derivatives are rapidly expanding’—this is 1994—‘and increasingly affected by the globalization of commerce and financial markets.  The sudden failure or abrupt withdrawal from trading of any of these large dealers could liquefy the problems in the markets and could also pose risk to others, including the financial system as a whole.  The Federal Government would be likely to intervene to keep the financial system functioning.  In cases of severe financial stress, intervention could result in a financial bailout paid for by the taxpayers.’”  When things like this happen, they constitute great inefficiencies, as well as unintended consequences.  Often enough, we’re told that when factors other than “If you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose,” shape our conflicts and competition, this would constitute a distortion, with plenty of inefficiencies, unintended consequences, etc., that we do take seriously.  On the Brink also says, “We grappled with this hard fact every time we worked on a new idea: often our fixes led to unattractive consequences.  Whenever government came in—as with the guarantee program—we risked causing massive distortions in the markets.”  And just as this definition of efficiency seems only natural in economics, it seems only natural in our day-to-day lives, where some problems are, and some aren’t, minimized away as, “just the way that life goes sometimes.”

In the list of the personality types that would lead to people most being vulnerable to stress, in Adrian Furnham’s 50 Psychology Ideas You Really Need to Know, includes, “Secondly there are fatalists.  People who believe that the events that occur in their lives are the result of their own behaviour and/or ability, personality and effort have less stress than those who believe events in their lives to be a function of luck, chance, fate, God, powerful others or powers beyond their control,” and this would obviously mean something very different when things go right than when things go wrong, and something very different in a society with natural rates of depression and anxiety disorder than a society with unnaturally high rates.

 

 

Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes,

“But what burns me up is the fact that even before this Depression, in what you folks called prosperous times, 7 per cent of all the families in the country earned $500 a year or less—remember, those weren’t the unemployed, on relief; those were the guys that had the honor of still doing honest labor.

“Five hundred dollars a year is ten dollars a week—and that means one dirty little room for a family of four people!  It means $5.00 a week for all their food—eighteen cents per day per person for food!—and even the lousiest prisons allow more than that.  And the magnificent remainder of $2.50 a week, that means nine cents per day per person for clothes, insurance, carfares, doctors’ bills, dentists’ bills, and for God’s sake, amusements—amusements!—and all the rest of the nine cents a day they can fritter away on their Fords and autogiros and, when they feel fagged, skipping across the pond on the Normandie!  Seven per cent of all the fortunate American families where the old man has got a job!”

Julian was silent; then whispered, “You know—fellow gets discussing economics in college—theoretically sympathetic—but to see your own kids living on eighteen cents a day for grub—I guess that would make a man pretty extremist!”

Doremus fretted, “But what percentage of forced labor in your Russian lumber camps and Siberian prison mines are getting more than that?”

“Haaa!  That’s all baloney!  That’s the old standard come-back at every Communist—just like once, twenty years ago, the muttonheads used to think they’d crushed any Socialist when they snickered ‘If all the money was divided up, inside five years the hustlers would have all of it again.’  Probably there’s some standard coup de grace like that in Russia, to crush anybody that defends America.”

Here’s an idea for a standard coup de grace in Russia: “But whenever an American goes through the sort of helplessness that contributes to their rampant depression, those around him would respond, at least eventually, ‘Since the government didn’t cause it, then that’s reality, life’s inevitable imperfection that you can fight back against [though you might not win the fight], so deal with it!’”  The coup de grace could go on to say that when Americans are told to live with what causes their rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., they could also be told that they should feel grateful that they’re free from the governmental atrocities of Old Europe, and that the insistence that we simply take response-ability for our own welfare, our own problems, encourages us to be more productive.  What would have been discussed in those economics classes is that, pragmatically speaking, if we weren’t fatalistic about people winning what they win and losing what they lose, people could get what they wanted by “proving” that they deserve it, so why bother earning or achieving it?  Right now the medical care that many of the working poor get isn’t as good as the medical care that those in prison would have to get or they’d seem to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, but pragmatics still seems to have to require this.

You could see this realism throughout the financial meltdown, what caused it, and what must follow from it in order to be realistic.  You might think that it’s only natural for people to be very frightened of what caused the Great Crash of 2008, especially since, if the government hadn’t bailed out those most responsible for causing it, it would have led to an economic depression far worse than the Great Depression.  Everyone knows that greed was the main emotion that caused the Great Crash, and the dangers of that should be very obvious.  We blithely call high-status greedy people on Wall Street, “masters of the universe,” and “market-makers.”  Also, you might think that it’s only natural for people to be very frightened of predatorialism in which they’re the prey, and Darwin’s idea of the survival of the fittest was inspired by the economic writings of Herbert Spencer.  Since survival of the fittest causes so much misery and destruction, it’s certainly an inefficient way of making sure that a society keeps functioning.  It also means that plenty of those who don’t survive are the unlucky and the powerless, rather than the unfit.  When those high on the economic food chain, such as the Wall Street greedy, screw up, chances are that they’ll blame those low on the food chain, and this could very easily seem to be overachievers blaming the mediocre.  Even without the greed and power dynamics, we simply must accept that for several reasons, risk and uncertainty are inherent in the economic system.

Yet though we’re told that our economy is based on what’s natural for human nature, such natural fears would be very unpragmatic in our economy, both for the economy as a whole, and for each individual in it who can’t afford to be maladjusted.  Therefore, we must get these very natural fears under control, just as in agrarian economies the people must get other feelings “of the flesh” under control.  Controlling such untermensch feelings doesn’t seem to be re-engineering human nature, even when this gets to the point of, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  After all, it’s only natural to want or need to handle one’s own problems pragmatically, even (maybe especially) when they involve hardship, sinfulness, etc., ad infinitum.  If we made distinctions between moderate expectations that people simply adjust to reality, and expectations that people simply adjust to immoderate realities that they’re helpless to change, then when these immoderate realities happen, the victims could end up in big trouble.  (Not only that, the question of which realistic expectations are moderate and which are immoderate, is subjective.)  Even those who didn’t fear, but only went as far as doubting the reverence that we’re supposed to have of this, wouldn’t fit in well enough.

King of Capital, Sandy Weill and the Making of Citigroup, by Amey Stone and Mike Brewster, copyright 2002, says,

As one senior Citigroup executive explains, “He manages people and things based on economics.  There are no unallocated expenses in any organization he runs.  Every expense is charged to somebody.” Each division is required to deliver a certain amount of profit to the corporate coffers, ensuring that the company meets earnings targets Weill has given Wall Street.  Then the people running the division get what’s left over.  Make the company a lot of money, and bonuses are big.  Experience a bad year or incur big expenses, compensation suffers. “Nobody gets paid on the basis of, ‘you did a good job,’ ” says the executive.  “There is no A for effort.”

It may seem cold, but it works for shareholders and the executives who make the grade at Weill’s companies.  “People are highly motivated by the operating and economic and budgeting process he has set up,” he says.

While our culture certainly would realize that we have to have some some personal responsibility along the lines of moral responsibility, we really must stress response-ability for one’s own welfare, since people feel far more motivated to take response-ability for their own welfare than they do to take moral responsibility.  As you can see in the victim-self-blaming cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, if you’re a loser and a failure, there’s no A for effort.  This might seem cold, but it works.  The big differences between this and Weill’s approach (which was also influenced by his attending a military academy), is that Wall Street bonuses caused so many problems since they rewarded or punished based on how many sales (risky or safe) one made in the past year while in the real world you’re rewarded or punished based on whatever the long term consequences (even if you had no knowledge of or control over them) are, and while the shareholders would have to pay whatever losses their employees cause, you’d have to pay whatever losses you cause.

On November 3, 2008, Bank of England governor Mervyn King said before parliament’s Treasury select committee about the £37bn bank rescue plan, “The recapitalization was entirely the right thing to do.  It was done not to protect the banks but to protect the economy from the banks.”  Of course, the only way to protect the economy from the banks is to give them what they want.  A Financial Times editorial from October 13, 2008, said, “Does this rescue mean the end of private financial capitalism?  Of course not.  Although the size of the crisis requires an exceptional response, this is but the latest in a long line of banking crises and state rescues....  Governments—rightly—will regulate to avoid further crises.  They will fail, and then be forced to act to pick up the pieces.  There is no alternative.”

 

 

Since this is as self-motivated as greed is, this works just as reliably as greed does.  Self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, is good.  Self-responsibility works, self-responsibility is right.  Self-responsibility clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.  There is no alternative, since they’re motivated to do that, they aren’t motivated to do what they can to prevent or solve the problems, and the victims and potential victims are.  The reason why the public will be forced to pick up the pieces will be that it will be their problem; they won’t have any responsibility for causing it, yet this sort of being forced to act would seem to be pro-freedom, since the bankers rather than the guv’mint will be the ones who’ll be forcing them.  A May 30, 2008 Financial Times article quoted a senior banker as saying, “It’s a strange business.  First you make money by creating products no one understands, then you make money by cleaning the mess up,” so the bankers can solve the problem if they’re motivated to do it.  Despite Greenspan’s laissez faire ideology, he said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York on February 17, 2009, this global recession will “surely be the longest and deepest” since the Great Depression, and, “To stabilize the American banking system and restore normal lending, additional TARP funds will be required.”

A CNBC webpage of November 24, 2008, Wall Street: Obama, Bush Need to Take Action Now, quotes Quincy Krosby, chief investment strategist at The Hartford, as saying, “It can’t just be a little bit here and a little there.  It’s obvious that this meltdown is demanding something massive and something transformational.  There’s a sense that Washington right now is worn out, that it doesn’t have the stamina to deal with the problem.  We can’t wait until late January.  You need the energy, you need the discipline, you need the desire to help staunch the deterioration,” and, “This is about the economy.  The stock market provides an instantaneous referendum on economic activity.  For the sake of the economy, you cannot have an interregnum, as attractive as that might be for a president-elect who’s been campaigning for two years.  You have to have the energy poured into this.”  So even though Wall Street caused this, it seems that we simply must staunch the deterioration by pouring energy and money into helping them out.  The stock market is a referendum of only investors, but we’re to treat it as a referendum of the public in general, since if we don’t, we’d both let the economy deteriorate, and not have faith in the central tenet of our beloved market economics: that whatever the stock markets do, reflects the interplay between the public’s preferences and companies’ innovations.  It should be very obvious that financial meltdowns don’t result from most people suddenly deciding that they don’t want to work nearly as much as they had, but even in a meltdown we must trust the markets as if they reflect what people want.

On Anderson Cooper, 360 of March 5, 2009, David Gergen said about the stock market’s continuing decline, “The public is very much with the president.  But I think David Walker would agree that there’s an erosion of confidence in the business community right now.  There is a sense in the business community that the administration is picking up this sort of populist anti-business chant, and that it’s—business is feeling increasingly alienated.

“In the middle of an economic crisis, the president needs the business community to be on board to get this stuff done and stop the bleeding.”

Of course, if the average American found that the public now distrusts his own profession because of what many people of that profession did, he’d figure that those of his profession had better win back the public’s trust.  Powerful Americans don’t have to worry about this, since average Americans would have to figure that they’ll suffer if the powerful don’t want to get on board.  The business community isn’t trying to figure out how it could reduce its support for deregulation, etc.  It’s just wielding its power, and we must be afraid.

Of course, the bailouts and other acceptance of the financial meltdown, wouldn’t apply when it’s time to pass new regulations to try to keep the financial institutions from doing it again.  Now we can’t change what the banks did, but then we’ll hopefully be able to change what they’ll do in the future.  Yet the banks would still have the power.  Sure, when our governments will enact the new regulations based on lessons learned from this financial crisis, Wall Street probably won’t try to oppose them too much, both because the public isn’t going to accept the risk that we’d have to bail them out again, and because even Wall Street would realize that they need a government nanny to limit their recklessness.  Yet you could bet that the more time passes, the more that Wall Street will use their power to get their way.  Since rules for business would have to be flexible enough that they wouldn’t interfere with legitimate business, the Wall Streeters would no doubt find plenty of loopholes that they could use.  When they can’t find a loophole that would suit them, all that they’d have to do is say that of course they’d have to introduce some new (unproven) “financial innovations,” since of course the markets keep changing so finance must keep up with them, and of course every industry will keep coming up with new innovations.  We’ve simply got to accept both that for our economy to remain innovative the banks must take risks, and that those deciding what risks to take are the greedy on Wall Street.  Or, at the very least, Wall Street could simply use their power, such as by saying that if they can’t pay the excessive bonuses that they want to then “the best and brightest” employees would go elsewhere, so even if the government is providing these businesses’ money, they must spend some of it on excessive bonuses.  In pragmatic terms, the banks would have the power to decide what we can and can’t change.

The same is true for helplessness that has nothing to do with the bailouts.  William D. Cohan’s House of Cards, A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, quotes George Mason University economist Russell Roberts as saying:

People talk about it for political gain.  But many of the people who’ve lost their homes never had them in the first place.  A lot of our people bought the homes with no money down.  In fact, you can find Countrywide press releases where they brag about their special 103 percent loan: “We don’t just cover your mortgage, we’ll lend you your closing costs, too.”  And [the borrower] walks into a house and six months later they’re having trouble making the payments.  Then they, quote, lose their home, unquote, but they lose no equity; they were renters before.  Now, they’re really renters.  I don’t want to diminish [foreclosure].  It’s embarrassing.  It’s humiliating.  There’s probably shame and despair and you maybe thought you were going to own the house but you don’t.  But it’s not like they were thrown out on the street after they lost their equity.  They didn’t have any equity in these houses to start with.  It’s a very strange situation.

Those who lost their homes like this after lying on their mortgage applications certainly deserved to, but those who were conned into taking these mortgages certainly were victims.  They had commitments that were supposed to sell them houses that they could afford.  Yet the logic of pragmatic forgiveness would say that what matters isn’t the intent of those who claimed to have committed themselves to sell them houses that they could afford, but the fact that there’s only so many jobs that make one able to afford to buy a house, to go around.  In the real world, if all of those people who were sold houses with financing that they could afford, expected to get houses with financing they could afford, then they’d be expecting more than what the real world could provide.  Yet the moral hazard of that pragmatic forgiveness was enough to lead to this same “very strange situation” happening with many different companies, but our culture doesn’t take seriously the sort of moral hazard that comes from power plays rather than from people providing money to mollycoddles.  “It’s a very strange situation,” makes this sound like it happened by spontaneous combustion, and that the same thing coincidentally keeps happening like this.  Yet if we required that those who make these commitments keep them, they’d be bankrupted, and we can’t have that!

Expecting the weak to live up to Nineteenth Century definitions of personal responsibility, that we’re all responsible for our own choices (even indirect choices) would seem to be how a free society must stabilize itself, but expecting the strong to live up to such norms would seem too old-fashioned, restrictive.  Though old-fashioned norms reflected the fact that no society could operate if those in it couldn’t have faith that when they enter into reciprocal deals with others they’d get what they’re owed, we now realize that such guarantees are just words, and that having an attitude of, “But you owe me!” regarding them would be manipulatively demanding as well as unrealistic.  If what the salesmen chose to offer was unrealistic, then they chose to get the advantages of offering that, yet now we must understand simply that that is unrealistic.  If the borrowers sued those who conned them, they certainly couldn’t win the deals that they were promised, those houses with those ultra-cheap mortgages, so they’d have to settle on compensation for emotional trauma.  (Chances are that if two businesses freely and voluntarily entered into an agreement that one would arrange for something for the other, for a price that was too low, the business that was to arrange for this instead arranged something that hurt the other business, and the defrauded business sued for the value of that arrangement for that price, this business wouldn’t seem to be trying to get a free ride by demanding the price that’s too low.)

As Gelassenheit would say, the borrowers don’t have to feel the embarrassment, humiliation, shame, despair, and a sense of being deprived, and wouldn’t feel them as much if they didn’t have so much whiny SELF-WILL.  (That list also sounds like a list of the conflict-ridden dejected emotions that the Prayer of St. Francis sets out to just erase through forgiveness: hatred, awareness of injury, doubt, despair, and sadness.)  The sardonic (but cute) cynicism of, “Now, they’re really renters,” sounds like pro-freedom humor.  Of course, we’ll care about the SELF-WILLS of those who originated the deals, only if the law says that they could be prosecuted and/or sued, since their SELF-WILLS are übermensch, red-blooded, SELF-WILLS, and, at the very least, we forgive those.  The question of what these people are entitled to is a matter of opinion, and opinions that would say that they’re entitled to anything would seem ignominiously whiny, demanding and manipulative.  And, as the victim impact statements of those fleeced by Madoff show, being victimized by a fraud that very much reaches a central, intimate part of your life could leave you feeling profoundly violated, but economists could just as easily dismiss these immaterial feelings, and they’d be just as likely to reflect your own SELF-WILL.

The victim impact statements from Madoff’s victims include the following:

  • He robbed us not only of our money, but of our faith in humanity, and in the systems in place that were supposed to protect us.

  • I can’t tell you how scattered we feel—it goes beyond financially.  It reaches to the core and affects your general faith in humanity, our government and basic trust in our financial system.

  • You are a rapist.  You have stolen one of the most intimate of personal properties, the self esteem and fruits of a life’s work.  You have ravaged dreams.

  • He cares for no one but himself, and deserves to be punished accordingly.

  • Mr. Madoff and all those involved deserve to be sentenced to the longest time available.  Mr. Madoff doesn’t have heart at all and all he wanted was to earn money so he could live the life of the rich and famous.

  • I am compelled to write this letter because if justice is not served in this case, I’ll probably have a nervous breakdown.

  • He destroyed my trust in people.

  • Several hundred years ago the Italian poet Dante in his The Divine Comedy recognized fraud as the worst of sins, the ultimate evil more than any other act contrary to God’s greatest gift to mankind—love.

  • Victims became the byproduct of his greed.  We are what is left over, the remnants of stunning indifference and that of politicians and bureaucrats.

And the like.  Yet it the real world, one can’t afford to care about any profundities regarding destructive behavior.  The less that one is concerned about such emotionalist abstractions, and the more that he’s concerned with what would accomplish something, the more likely he’d be to succeed, which he may desperately need.

Many have wondered how it was possible for anyone to get away with a Ponzi for as long as Madoff did.  Yet it should be obvious that the reason why, was that he was an innovator, and that trumps all else.  He was one of the main pioneers of computerized stock trading, which made him a pillar of Wall Street.  While a moral conscientiousness might sound nice, modern Westerners realize that some things that aren’t as emotionally compelling as morality, i.e. innovation, could do us more good than morality, so could be said to be more important.  If you looked at the big picture, and tried to have a “positive attitude,” you’d see that the sum total of the good that his innovations did for the economy, would outweigh the harm he did, so we shouldn’t be resentful of him.  Of course, someone from any culture could have figured that he was a safe bet since his status as a pillar of Wall Street made it far less likely that he’d pull a fraud since he’d find that to be in his self-interest.  Yet there were enough “red flags” that could have told someone that he was one of those oblivious enough not to care about the long-term dangers to himself.  Also, maybe even if Ponzi had played a big part in a development on Wall Street, as big as the computerization of Wall Street has been recently, he couldn’t have gotten away with his scheme for as long as Madoff got away with his, since in Ponzi’s era we didn’t have this much insistent red blood-coddling, such as attack politicians insisting that innovation and other productivity is the ultimate good, government agents who investigate investment fraud tending to be lawyers rather than experts in investment (Just imagine what the Drug Enforcement Administration would look like if its agents tended to be lawyers who are well-versed in drug suspects’ rights.), and trying to practice light-touch regulation, etc.

Sure, because of the magnitude of what Madoff did, horror of him would have to be stronger than the horror of those who issued fraudulent mortgages.  At the same time, some of the horror of them comes from their absolutely sociopathic, exploitative, intent.  They certainly broke the trust of those who provided the money for the mortgages, and those who thought that they were moving into new homes that they could afford.  Yet one could always say that even if the cons in such an intimate area of their lives, led to their profoundly losing faith in humanity and the financial system, their sense of fairness reflects their own SELF-WILLS, their desires to have houses that they actually couldn’t afford.

In order for us to have enough affordable houses for those promised them, they’d have to come from somewhere.  Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness, in the chapter The “Conflicts” of Men’s Interests, says,

A European architect of my acquaintance was talking, one day, of his trip to Puerto Rico.  He described—with great indignation at the universe at large—the squalor of the Puerto Ricans’ living conditions.  Then he described what wonders modern housing could do for them, which he had daydreamed in detail, including electric refrigerators and tiled bathrooms.  I asked: “Who would pay for it?”  He answered, in a faintly offended, almost huffy tone of voice: “Oh, that’s not for me to worry about!  An architect’s task is only to project what should be done.  Let somebody else think about the money.”

That is the psychology from which all “social reforms” or “welfare states” or “noble experiments” or the destruction of the world have come.

Victim correction as a panacea certainly involves one person taking responsibility for the choices and actions of another, but with it, we know who the who will be: the victim.  In that chapter she lists the sorts of attitudes that, if everyone had them, would lead to their accepting whether they win or lose, and, therefore, Objectivism wouldn’t lead to conflicts.  These are: Reality, Context, Responsibility, and Effort.  Regarding victim correction as a panacea, “Reality” would mean accepting that your problem is your problem, “Context” would mean realizing that our cultural norms would stress your response-ability for your own welfare over the moral responsibility of the morally responsible person, “Responsibility” would mean your responsibility to realize and accept this, and that if you win you would have achieved this by your own self-reliant Effort, which is the only effort you’re really entitled to.  No matter what Wall Street might destroy, then realists would realize that things getting back to normal again would have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere would have to be the victims taking care of themselves.  As trustee of the Madoff funds, Irving H. Picard, explained why he was basing his compensation to the victims on how much money they put into the funds minus how much they took out, rather than on what would have happened if Madoff had made the trades he said he was going to, paying on this basis would “allow the thief to pick the winners and losers.”  The same could be said for figuring that if a fraudster sold people mortgages that they really couldn’t afford, the frauds shouldn’t determine that they’re winners.

As judge and lecturer Richard A. Posner wrote in the Wall Street Journal of May 7, 2009, “Rational businessmen will accept a risk of bankruptcy if profits are high because then the expected cost of reducing that risk also is high.  Given limited liability, bankruptcy is not the end of the world for shareholders or managers.  So Wall Street gamblers could always figure that if they took big bets, then if they won they’d get the entire prizes (unless the losers declared bankruptcy), and if they lost then they could declare bankruptcy.  If everyone on Wall Street is taking the same dumb risks, none of them need worry about getting a bad reputation.  While the American public would care about the mollycoddle moral hazard that would come from government bailouts, the public wouldn’t care about the red-blooded moral hazard that would come from evading responsibility for one’s obligations by saying, “Right now, there’s no way that I could meet that obligation, no way in which I could turn back the clock and undo what made me owe this now!”  And the main idea of this, would be exactly what Rand had in mind when she called social welfare programs “mystical” since they ignore the fact that the money that they give out, has to come from somewhere.  Those who took big risks on Wall Street that they now can’t pay back, can always say that expectations that they pay them back are mystical, since they don’t have the money to pay their obligations, and any money that they’d have to pay would have to come from somewhere.  It wouldn’t matter in the slightest how malicious reckless or negligent their risk-taking was; at present they’d still be just as absolutely incapable of making that money materialize.  Possibly they could get government bailouts consisting of loans so they would eventually have to come up with that money, but of course everyone involved would have to keep in mind other realism, such as that the companies and their executives must remain rich enough that they’d be motivated to keep winning money, they mustn’t be too burdened since they operate in a very dog-eat-dog milieu and must keep enough resources and flexibility to be able to win in it, etc.

In business, especially in finance, everyone knows that people must take risks.  As George W. Bush told the Washington Times on June 18, 2009, “The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States.”  While this isn’t supposed to include risking the consequences of breaking the rules, naturally this could mean exactly that.  William D. Cohan’s House of Cards, A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street says that when Bear Stearns started to notice that someone managing a hedge fund that they were responsible for was saying that it included a lot less subprime mortgage securities than it really did, Warren Spector responded, “Listen, what can I tell you?  What was it that Ace once said?  ‘Hey, you can’t fly like eagles and poop like a canary.’”  When Ace Greenberg was asked if he saw the fraudulent monthly statements from that hedge fund, he said no but asked what Spector said about it.  When Greenberg was told, “Greenberg couldn’t believe it.  He was red hot.”  Yet, in the real world, if realists simply accept that risks are ordinary parts of life, breaking a rule could seem to be just another risk, especially if the person breaking it thinks that this is minor.  That would also mean that realists would have to figure that, though many of those hurt by the breaking of rules can sue to make up for the consequences to him, many people hurt by it, can’t sue.  They’ll simply have to accept that some of those on Wall Street would have to figure that breaking some rules is simply the sort of risk that may end up having big benefits.

Speaking of huffy, on Larry King Live of February 6, 2009, Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes and former economic advisor to Senator McCain, said in a rather huffy voice, “The Bush administration made some catastrophic mistakes—everything from weakening the dollar; not reforming Fanny and Freddie a year ago; this mark to market, which I hope the administration deals with next week, Larry, which devastated bank balance sheets gratuitously.  And the SEC has got to deal with the short selling abuses,” and, “But the bottom line is all it does is take money from one pocket and put it into the other.  Other than some provisions for small businesses, which is good, it does not have a stimulative impact long-term.”  It seems very acceptable to get huffy about the weak getting more benefits.  No matter how much one could prove that in a society with rampant depression they likely weren’t at fault, it would still seem necessary to motivate them to achieve whatever they do have an opportunity to achieve.  Even if the problem couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for some outright fraud, it could seem only natural that we’d accept this as Nietzsche accepted the “honest lie,” whereas any role that the weak played would seem to have the insidious dangers of what he called the “hidden lie.”  The fact that risk is such an inherent part of our economy should show that just because someone is poor doesn’t mean that he deserves it, but we must have the faith that we get what we deserve in order for us to keep trying as if we’ll get what we deserve.

 

 

Though the Wall Street bailout certainly didn’t involve self-reliance, “Reality” meant, as President Obama said on January 29, 2009, “When I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers had given themselves $20 billion worth of bonuses—the same amount of bonuses as they gave themselves in 2004—at a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that, if they don’t provide help, that the entire system could come down on top of our heads, that is the height of irresponsibility.  It is shameful.”  “Context” meant that we must accept that those around us tend to accept such Wall Street behavior.  For example, the CNN Money Summit program of January 30, 2009, included Katie Benner, a writer from Fortune magazine, saying, “It’s sort of like the moral hazard question and blaming people and feeling betrayed.  You have to put that aside and just work together [until, of course, these same financial companies resume their Darwinist approaches].

“It’s like you can’t divorce the financial system.  It’s not like a spouse you can get rid of because they betrayed you.  We’re stuck with one another,” and an unidentified male saying,  “A lot of people have used Sarbanes-Oxley to say that we have had too many regulations.  You see, these are people who to say that we have been driving companies to Europe and to England and all that.”  To be realistic, anything that we do to keep the entire financial system from coming down on top of our heads, must be in the context of such norms.  Sure, bailing out a spouse who betrays you would be enabling him, and he’d probably take advantage of that by betraying you again and again (especially if he’d do it in a way that he could call “life’s inevitable risks” so naturally any mature person would accept them), but if you don’t have any choice, then that’s reality.

“Responsibility” would mean realizing what would be the consequences of not bailing them out.  “Effort” would mean that whether you win or lose would seem to have resulted from your effort or lack of it, so in order to have a chance to win, the bailout would be necessary.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Addictions and Substance Abuse, Strategies for Advanced Practice Nursing, by Madeline A. Naegle and Carolyn Erickson D’Avanzo, gives the following facts, in a chapter titled “NURSING’S CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES”:

  • Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

  • More than 5 million Americans suffer an acute episode of mental illness each year.

  • Depression has been on the rise since 1960.  According to one study, 718 million Americans will be diagnosed with depression at a cost of $50 billion a year (Rochefort and Goering, 1998).

  • Heavy alcohol consumption has continued to be high since the late 1960s, with a current prevalence of 18 percent of the general population (National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1998).

  • Alcohol and substance abuse are key factors in the development of biomedical problems such as heart disease and cancer.

  • Psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and manic depression fill 21 percent of all hospital beds, more than any single physical illness such as cancer or heart disease (Blount, 1998).

  • Substance-related problems are evident in 35 percent to 50 percent of clients hospitalized under another diagnosis (Blount, 1998).

What immediately follows this, is, “Many of disease problems have their roots in psychosocial origins that are not in concert with the approach of the medical model.”  But really is the difference between that, and treating the problems with nursing?  Nursing certainly isn’t going to solve psychosocial problems.  Yet the more important question would be, “What’s more important, that these are psychosocial problems, or that some sort of professional fixing can get these problems under control, and that those who’d get fixed are those who are the most motivated to solve the problems?”.

A webpage of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, which includes their letter to the editor supporting the option of giving SSRI medication to teens since in some cases they’d decrease rather than increase their suicidality, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24.  In 2002, nearly 125,000 young people attempted suicide, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Ninety percent of youths who commit suicide have some type of psychiatric diagnosis.  This tragedy is a public health crisis in the United States.”

When you’ve seen ads guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “So how am I supposed to fit in with all this?  That’s quite a social problem.  The person who has each of the microcosmic problems that contribute to this, has the most reliable motivation to solve it.  Giving him the response-ability for taking care of himself would be the most pragmatic.  Yet my natural common sense tells me that the moral bankruptcy that this entails, has consequences.  Another pragmatic question here would be, ‘What’s more important, the sociological benefits of moral responsibility, or the pragmatic benefits of holding people response-able for their own welfare, their own problems?’  If one rationale for victim correction doesn’t work, it’s replaced by another, since the person who’s the most motivated to take care of any problem, simply has to take care of it.  Yet for me to ask any questions about practical sociological consequences, would be unpragmatic for me, since asking such questions wouldn’t do me any good!”

The classic book on Social Constructivism, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s The Social Construction of Reality, from 1967, includes,

For instance, as a businessman I know that it pays to be inconsiderate of others.  I may laugh at a joke in which this maxim leads to failure, I may be moved by an actor or a preacher extolling the virtues of consideration, and I may concede in a philosophical mood that all social relations should be governed by the Golden Rule.  Having laughed, having been moved and having philosophized, I return to the “serious” world of business, once more recognize the logic of its maxims, and act accordingly.  Only when my maxims fail “to deliver the goods” in the world to which they are intended to apply are they likely to become problematic to me “in earnest.”

The Victim Correction as a Panacea version of this, would say the following:

For instance, when I’m the person who’s in trouble, even if my problem is of the kind that contributes to our rampant depression and anxiety disorders, I know that it pays to take personal response-ability for my own welfare, though in the end this means unconditional victim-self-blaming, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  I may laugh at a joke in which victim-blaming is taken too far, I may be moved by a description of what those who are “just taking responsibility for their own problems” are really going through, and I may concede in a philosophical mood that victim-blaming is morally bankrupt.  Having laughed, having been moved and having philosophized, I return to the “serious” world of taking care of myself, once more recognize the logic of its maxims, and act accordingly.  Only when my maxims fail “to deliver the goods” in the world to which they are intended to apply are they likely to become problematic to me “in earnest.”  I couldn’t afford not to, since either I focus my attention on correcting my inadequacies and failures in getting my problems under control, or they wouldn’t get under control as well as they could be.  No matter how repulsive this gets, I can’t afford to set conditions on it, other than, “Can I change this?”

 

 

Alan Greenspan, in his Age of Turbulence, wrote,

...But Reagan’s kind of conservatism was to say that tough love is good for the individual and good for society.  That proposition starts with a judgment about human nature.  If it’s accurate, then it implies much less government support for the downtrodden....  It’s not that there wasn’t sympathy for people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in dire straits; nor would you find any less personal willingness than among liberals personally to assist the downtrodden.  But that wasn’t government’s role, according to Reagan.  Tough love, in the long run, is love.

The only rationale that could possibly consider this treatment of the downtrodden to be “tough love,” would be to figure pragmatically that given what human nature is, the only choice that a downtrodden person has is either to make the best of his realities or not to do this, and choosing the first of these would benefit him.  Given human nature as it is, the downtrodden are the only ones who have a reliable motivation to fight the consequences of their being downtrodden.  And if this is tough love when it comes to the government, then it’s tough love in any other situation.  For example, “Archie” in that Al-Anon comic,

 

(For more on this comic and how it applies to everyone, click here.)

 

could be called downtrodden.  At the very least, the sort of helplessness that he must deal with, is the sort that downtrodden people must deal with.  To tell him that he should stop blaming others and look at himself, could be called tough love.  Sure, this is quite an expectation to make of someone, targeting the weak and beleaguered, but in the long run, self-reliance and resiliency would help them get through life.  How loving would it be to tell Archie, “Oh, well, if your natural feelings make you very unserene and uncourageous, then that’s very understandable.”?  Correcting the downtrodden could seem loving, if you say that what you care about is the long run.  Correcting them would obviously have plenty of unintended consequences, but they aren’t the sort that our culture takes seriously, and are the sort that could be blamed on the victims.  Despite what the Obama Administration is saying about a “culture of responsibility,” if average people keep showing the same irresponsibility that led to the financial crisis, they’d seem irresponsible, but if those in the investment world do, they’d seem to be taking the sorts of risks that businesses sometimes must take.  One could even say that addiction is just an extreme version of human nature, in that, with both, one’s behavior would depend on what physically goes on inside his brain, so we’re simply going to have to take both as a given and adjust to any realities they create.  Realism about this, is what determines which economic systems work, and which don’t.  Any victim-blaming that could at least seem tenable could be called tough love, since if the victims acted on it, they could hopefully protect and/or take care of themselves better.  In all cases, faith in the long-term is unfalsifiable, since it’s always possible that things could work well the next time you try.

You’ve simply got to accept some victim-blaming of you.  In most cases, you don’t have to accept victim blaming.  For example, a ScienceBlog webpage on a strange supposed cure for cancer, says, “Too bad real life doesn’t work like that.  Or maybe it isn’t.  After all, too much woo in essence blames the victim for not wanting to get better badly enough, and if the world really worked like the fantasy world of the German New Medicine, there would actually be justification for doing that.”  Also, if your values are offended at blaming other victims, you’d seem entitled to your obviously morally responsible values.  On the other hand, if you’re the one with the problem, and all that you keep hearing is how you could do a better job at courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t, then if you got offended at that, you’d be very unpragmatic.  In fact, if your values would get offended at the treatment of Archie, or poor people in helpless situations who are given the same sort of response-ability for their own welfare, you could very easily seem too unpragmatic for the demands of reality.  All that one would have to do is talk about each of the problems that one must deal with, separately, and it would seem that, of course, when things like that come up in anyone’s life, he’s just going to have to take care of himself as best he can.

Very little pragmatic victim-blaming would seem undoubtedly bad, especially to those who aren’t intellectual.  Sure, some victim-blaming would be irrational, blaming victims for things that they really couldn’t have prevented.  Yet as long as the victims are blamed for things they could have prevented, then this would teach them how, in the future, they could watch out to make sure that something like that doesn’t happen again.  Sure, David D. Burns, MD’s cognitive therapy self-help book Feeling Good defines personalization, the juggernaut of the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, as, “You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.”  Yet if our conceptions of personal responsibility were limited to negative events that we were primarily responsible for, we’d have plenty of problems that we could have prevented or solved if we’d tried hard enough.  Any time that correcting the victim could hopefully lead to his taking better care of himself, protecting himself better, etc., this victim-blaming could be called pragmatic.  It could do him a lot of good, helping him take better care of himself.  Sure, both pragmatism, and blaming the victim, could imply a dangerous moral bankruptcy.  Yet those who aren’t intellectualist, who live in the real world, could very likely see that victims of anything can’t change others’ actions but can change their own reactions, so they’d need to serenely accept the destructive choices of others, and courageously change their own shortcomings in dealing with their own realities.  Even in situations where the moral bankruptcy would be pretty high, the victim-blaming still wouldn’t seem undoubtedly bad, in that the benefits of response-ability for one’s own welfare, would still be there.  Condemnations of that victim-blaming could seem to be just opinion, and, therefore, whiny resentful cowardly impractical manipulative and controlling opinion.  In a society with rampant depression, sometimes the real world could be extremely morally bankrupt.

 

(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)

 

One event that really showed how important motivation is, though not in a self-reliant way, was the bailout regarding the Great Crash of 2008.  Those who first wrote the bailout program figured that the only things that really mattered were that the banks in trouble be motivated to sell their assets to the program, and that the rest of Wall Street be motivated to get back to normal.  It didn’t matter that none of the financiers to be bailed out were entitled to it, or that plenty of them contributed to the problem.  The only thing that seemed to matter was that they not be dissuaded from being rescued, such as by having to make executives’ pay contingent on success rather than on quantity of sales.  If the bailout motivated the rich to make out economy work, then it would seem good, and if it didn’t then it would seem bad, even though this very much goes against the usual linking of realism with self-reliance.

 

 

Even the topic of the book Blaming the Victim by William Ryan, would be pragmatic victim-blaming if it were treated as personal problems rather than as a social problem.  That is, the causes of poverty, and the idea that it’s perpetuated by a “culture of poverty,” in which poor people’s bad experiences have so discouraged them that they figure that acting responsibly won’t do them any good.  And, of course, this means only the urban poor; rural poverty wasn’t supposed to come from a culture of poverty, though rural culture is a lot more culture-bound, and a lot of that culture is anti-intellectualist and fatalistic.  As 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.”  Teaching poor people to give up the sort of thinking that could be called a culture of poverty, wouldn’t create any jobs with living wages, so addressing this social problem with victim blaming would be irrational.

Yet for the psychologist of one particular poor person, teaching him to give up that sort of thinking, would make it more likely that he’d get a job with a living wage.  Exactly how much that would increase his chances would depend on what’s going on outside of him at the moment, but one could then give the rationale that, of course, in the real world nothing is guaranteed, so he’d better just accept whatever uncertainty exists in the real world.  If he doesn’t, then he’d seem too immature, unrealistic, victim-posturing, etc., to deal with the real world.  Since this victim-blaming would encourage him to try to better his own chances, it could be said to benefit him, make him self-empowered and self-efficacious.  Even if the reason why he doesn’t have a job with a living wage would constitute unambiguous victimization, that, also, would be the real world, and he can’t change others’ actions but can change his own reactions.  It could also seem that if we didn’t have this victim-blaming conception of personal responsibility, people could get free rides by giving enough reasons why they’re helpless victims, especially since it’s very easy to honestly believe that oneself is entitled to more than what he’d won.  We must all be motivated to deal with our own problems independently resiliently and resourcefully.  We mustn’t reward failure, victimhood, etc., or the weak could get what they wanted without earning it and the strong might not be motivated to achieve, so we must assume that the weak wanted to fail.  This is the same sort of “thinking” that would say that even if counseling women how to avoid abusive or exploitive men wouldn’t make any men normal, this would lower the chances that any particular woman would be victimized by one of them, though blaming women victimized by aggressive men, exactly fits the mold of we now think of as “blaming the victim.”  Just as the women who try to stop the real cause of their own problems would be treated as manipulatively controlling, so would the poor who try to stop the real cause of their own problems.  As Blaming the Victim says, “All of this happens so smoothly that it seems downright rational.”

 

Following is a pretty obvious example of this sort of self-help formula: The “Five W’s and an H” that journalism school teaches, are who, what, where, when, why, and how.  Of these, if the person who has the problem asks, who, when, and why, this would seem counterproductive.  It seems automatic that the only who that matters is that he take care of his own problems, the only when that matters is when this would be the most advantageous (probably right away), and the only why that matters is that he does this because it’s his problem.  On the other hand, if he asks what, where, or how, that could be productive, since he could be asking what he should do, where he should do it, and how he should do it.

Even if that looks like a satire of the dangerousness of pragmatic psychology, the fact would still remain that if the person who has the problem limits the questions he asks about it to, “What should I do?” “Where should I do it?” and “How should I do it?” his chances for success would be greater.  The more that he’s in a desperate situation, including the consequences of the Great Crash, the more important that would be.  And especially if the person receiving this advice is a woman, it could seem only natural to call a refusal to follow such self-empowering rules: self-defeating, cowardly, etc.

One reason why,

 

is that, unless the person who caused the problem is the same as the person who has it, then the person who caused the problem doesn’t have a reliable motivation to solve it.  No matter how high our rates of depression, anxiety disorders, etc., might get, caring about what causes it would seem naïve, pointless, unrealistic, which is scary in its own way, as scary as any other dysfunctionality.  Since ethical responsibility could be called subjective and immaterial, caring about that could also seem to be just philosophisizing.

Pragmatism requires that we motivate winning, not whining.  Otherwise, people could get what they wanted by proving that they’re victims, rather than by trying to achieve it.  Of course, when one loses, it’s probably not because he chose to, he chose not to try hard enough, etc.  Despite the fact that Personalization is a cognitive distortion of depression, in general it would be very unpragmatic for you to figure that if you’re not primarily responsible for your problem, then your success or failure isn’t your own personal response-ability.  You must be motivated to win.  Sure, whether you win or lose would depend on good or bad luck, to one degree or another that would be pretty random, but if the bottom line of our judgments of you weren’t based on whether you won or lost, everybody would have their excuses and rationales for manipulative guilt-tripping.  The question of what constitutes real responsibility is subjective, but the question of how well you took care of yourself is objective.

The subchapter on codependency therapy, in Susan Faludi’s Backlash, is about the insane degree to which this pragmatism must blame, or at least single-mindedly correct, the victim.  After all, this arose out of the culture of Al-Anon, which was set up specifically for the purpose of using the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of AA, for those who must deal with addicts, to be able to deal with them more productively.  Since the epitome of this Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy that our culture in general has taken a liking to, is The Serenity Prayer, and since the entire unredacted Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr says, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen,” this would apply the pragmatism of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy even to situations where the “patient” has absolutely nothing wrong with him, other than that if only he dealt with his bad realities more stolidly, he’d succeed in life.

 

As Niebuhr wrote in The Nature and Destiny of Man, “[Professor Alfred N. Whitehead] distinguishes between ‘speculative reason’ and ‘pragmatic reason’ and regards the former as the source of virtue and the latter as the root of evil.  This distinction is reminiscent of Aristotle’s distinction between the active and the passive nous.  According to Whitehead, the former is the reason ‘which Plato shares with God,’ while the latter is the reason which ‘Ulysses shares with the foxes’.”  Sure, “speculative reason” is certainly more principled than “pragmatic reason,” but realists realize that, in practical terms, if you’re the one who has the problem, then if you address it expediently that’s GOOD, while if you care about principles, and speculative philosophizing, that’s BAD.  A beloved formula for coping that expects people to cope with their problems by, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” couldn’t stand up to “speculative reasoning,” but could be very necessary for “pragmatic reasoning.”

 

The CARL SAGAN’S BALONEY DETECTION KIT webpage includes, in its list of “Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric,” “Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an ‘unfavourable’ decision).”  That’s pretty much the entire logic behind expecting everyone, including addicts’ friends and loved ones, to simply courageously changing what they can and serenely accept what they can’t, including hardship and/or others’ sinfulness ad infinitum.  After all, if addicts’ friends and loved ones don’t do this, then their inadequate serenity and courage would be very self-defeating, dysfunctional.

This list also includes, “Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the ‘other side’ look worse than it really is).”  Just imagine the response that Jane would get from proponents of the Serenity Prayer school of psychology, if she told them, “I realize the overreacting isn’t a good idea, so I’ll try to find out what constitutes a normal and natural reaction to an alcoholic husband, and limit myself to that,” or, “Sure, I’ll have to accept normal human imperfection, but not alcoholic imperfection,” or even, “Let’s compromise as to what you’ll simply expect me to deal with.  I’ll have to deal with less than what you’d expect, that I deal with whatever realities the alkie caused that I’m helpless to change, but more than I’d like to deal with.”  That would be very unpragmatic and unrealistic for her.

At the top of that webpage is a list of basic rules of scientific inquiry, such as, “Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view,” and, “Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours.”  Just imagine the response that Jane would get if she said, “Niebuhr’s magnum opus was a two-book set titled The Nature and Destiny of Man.  A main topic of these books is that naturally everyone wants to believe that what he believes is right, and that plenty of major belief systems consist of what people self-righteously want to believe is right.  Sure, you truly believe that I have a have weak character, am resentful, manipulative, etc., yet you, like everyone else, believe what you want to.  Those with addictive personalities, especially, would want to believe in this sort of amoralism, that’s actually pretty self-righteous, since it treats those who disagree as if they have untermensch defects of character.  Therefore, you really should include points of view that are different from what you want to believe, and tell the addictive personalities who came up with this school of psychology, not to get overly attached to it just because it’s theirs.  At the very least, let’s compromise, between what they’d want us to believe, and what I’d want to believe.”

Backlash says about the psychologist who led the codependency group that Faludi attended, “Of herself, she says, ‘I am definitely a Woman Who Loves Too Much.’  She was a full-time housewife, she relates, until her husband ran off with her best friend after twenty-three years of marriage.  Then she went back to school at forty and became a therapist.  Now she’s ‘in recovery,’ having figured out what went wrong in her marriage.  ‘I let myself go.  I don’t blame him.  He’s a man just like any other man.  If I had done all this work on me before, maybe he would have stuck around.’”

In pragmatic terms, the basic ethos of self-help would say that she had the productive attitude, for the following reasons:

  1. The only person she could change is herself, so no matter what are others’ moral responsibilities, she shouldn’t lose focus on changing what she can, herself.

  2. For a woman to seem independent seems good, dependent seems bad.  If she resiliently resourcefully and independently built a new life no matter how much this cost her, that would seem good.  If she insisted on her husband staying as if she couldn’t live without him, that would seem bad.

  3. Maybe he would have stuck around, or maybe he wouldn’t have.  Yet even though in situations like this, all the wisdom in the world couldn’t let her know what she could change, for her to believe that she could change a lot would be good, optimistic.  The more that she blames herself, the more that she’d be optimistic that she could change what needs to be changed.

  4. It really would at least sound feasible that men are more likely to want to cut out on their marriages than women are.  If that’s the case, then pragmatic women would simply take as a given that that’s what their human nature sometimes makes them do.

  5. At the same time, women should also treat these feelings as legitimate, even if the women did absolutely nothing to deserve the ending of their marriages.  We’re to assume, in a pretty absolutist fashion, that simply because someone insists that his marriage is no longer right for him, then expecting him to stay in it would be akin to slavery.  If a woman expects a man to stay in such a marriage, then she, especially, could be given such cunningly untermensch labels as “trying to trap him,” “trying to manipulate him,” and “trying to control him.”  It would be assumed that women simply are manipulative, yet this wouldn’t be accepted along the lines of, “She’s a woman just like any other woman, so we’ll just have to accept her manipulative machinations.”

  6. Commentators on the Iraq War have talked about “asymmetrical warfare,” that sure, the terrorists have much less financing than do the Western armies in Iraq, but since the terrorists only have to disrupt civilization by bombing civilians, make themselves look like victims of Western countries’ power, etc., the terrorists still have a chance.  Likewise, in moral terms, situations like that psychologist’s divorce could be called “asymmetrical warfare.”  You might think that in moral terms she’s clearly right, but once her ex-husband has given his arguments for why we should accept his leaving, such as, “Expecting me to stay in a marriage where I feel very wrong, would be expecting me to be a slave!” and, “I’m not maliciously trying to hurt anyone.  I’m only doing what I have to!  I can’t turn back the clock and undo my first marriage,” he might end up looking like the helpless victim.

  7. It would seem that our society could live with failings like his, since human nature will always have imperfections like that, we could count on the victims to solve the resulting problems with plenty of self-motivation, etc.  On the other hand, our society couldn’t afford to just accept her failings in taking response-ability for her own welfare, since she’d be expected to correct her own inadequacies through self-improvement, no one else would solve the remaining problems if she didn’t, etc.  The perfectionism of, “There’s always room for improvement,” doesn’t seem utopian when applied to the self-responsible victims rather than the sinful.

  8. Despite the sexist presumptions that are involved here, the women hurt by it shouldn’t consider themselves to be victims of sexism.  This is not the sort of situation where they could honorably “make the personal political,” since when husbands leave their wives for other women, alcoholic husbands cause their wives egregious problems that they simply must deal with resiliently resourcefully and independently, etc., these simply are personal problems.

One could call this a “responsibility drift,” where, gradually, step by step, one’s responsibility for the problems he causes, drifts into the victim’s responsibility for his own welfare.  At first it might be admitted that holding people response-able for their own problems even when this means alkies’ family members dealing with the consequences of their alcoholism, isn’t the ideal, but eventually this self-responsibility would be treated as the ideal, since it’s by far the most reliable.  Naturally it would be the victim of a problem who we’d expect to solve it, since he’s the one who’s most motivated to solve it, if he does solve it that would be honorable self-reliance, if he doesn’t that could be called manipulative, and we pray that we become forgiving and non-judgmental.  The chapter of Feeling Good about anger management, says, “You are certainly right that plenty of genuinely negative events do go on every day, but your feelings about them are still created by the interpretations you place on them.  Take a careful look at these interpretations because anger can be a two-edged sword.  The consequences of an impulsive outburst will frequently defeat you in the long run.  Even if you are being genuinely wronged, it may not be to your advantage to feel angry about it.”  Since this book is “The Clinically-Proven Drug-Free Treatment for Depression,” managing anger like this isn’t just a matter of managing trivial upsets.

As Blaming the Victim put it, “But the stigma, the defect, the fatal difference... is still located within the victim, inside his skin.”  But one could ask, “What’s more important, that your problem is a part of a social problem, or that both you and everyone else, absolutely can correct what’s inside one’s own skin, and absolutely can’t correct anything inside of anyone else’s skin?”

As Blaming the Victim says, treating the individual deviance of the special unusual groups of persons who have the problems, is the opposite of the public health approach, “This has been the dominant style in American social welfare and health activities, then: to treat what we call social problems, such as poverty, disease, and mental illness, in terms of the individual deviance of the special, unusual groups of persons who had those problems.  There has also been a competing style, however...  [Public health practitioners] set out to prevent disease, not in individuals, but in the total population, through improved sanitation, inoculation against communicable disease, and the policing of housing conditions.”  Yet one could always respond to objections to victim-blaming, by asking, “What’s more important, that we not blame victims, or that we not leave any problems unsolved?”

It could be clinically proven that blaming the victim, if done in a diplomatic manner that doesn’t really look like blame, would be the most effective solution to a problem.  No matter how bad are the problems outside of a person, he’s the one who’s the most motivated to get them under control.  The more that what goes on inside of him is what’s corrected, the more effective this would be.  The worse that his problems are, the more important that getting them under control like this, would be.

The book about the very successful damage control over the warship Samuel B. Roberts while in battle, No Higher Honor, by Bradley Peniston, says that when its captain, Paul Rinn, was in college, he took a course in the philosophy of early American pragmatism, which originated in the later 1800’s, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  He expressed skepticism of whether it could possibly be of value.  Later though, when he was leading a small group of American and Thai soldiers in Vietnam, and fighting erupted quickly in the area.

Everyone in Cambodia probably knows where we are, Rinn thought. Our chances of getting out of here alive are slim to none.

His men were shaken as well, so Rinn said what he could to buck them up.  He started along the lines of You can’t worry about what you can’t control, and as his men began to perk up, he realized his words had a familiar ring.  Elements of pragmatist philosophy, long dissolved into some nether region of his brain, began to crystallize.  To Rinn’s utter surprise, the ideas he had dismissed in a Hudson Valley classroom were surfacing along the Mekong River.  If you worry about what you can’t control, you lose focus.  You make bad decisions.

“I found myself talking to my men, explaining to them a pragmatic viewpoint of what had happened to us and why we needed to pick ourselves up and go on and do what we needed to do,” he said later.  “Why we had to go on and make things better if we could.”

This is exactly the sort of philosophy that would naturally come from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian Era.  Each worker would have to figure that he’s personally responsible for changing or accepting whatever he must.  If he isn’t adequate to do this, loses the battle, fails, and comes up short with big consequences, he’d seem to be an irresponsible and inadequate, loser and failure with very consequential shortcomings.  If he doesn’t adjust to this, adapt to it, function with it, fit in with it, and feel content with it, he’d seem to be a maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional, misfit and malcontent.  The word breadwinner arose from the fact that if you won you got your bread, and if you didn’t, you didn’t.  And people simply had to adjust and adapt to such realities.

 

 

To “go on and make things better if we could,” wouldn’t include pragmatically finding out why, for example, as Dr. Morris Fishbein’s Fads and Quackery in Healing, copyright 1932, said of his era, “Conspicuous among American beverages are food drinks claimed to control nervous breakdowns....”  Studying social problems such as the commonality of the nervous breakdowns, even in the most practical and worldly terms, wouldn’t tell those who are most motivated to change the problems how they could do this the most effectively and efficiently.

Yet this is exactly the same as the spirituality of, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  The unusual word that Niebuhr used the most in his magnum opus, The Nature and Destiny of Man, would very likely be transcend, and, “You can’t worry about what you can’t control...  If you worry about what you can’t control, you lose focus.  You make bad decisions,” says to choose to transcend any realities that you can’t change.  When you’re faced with hardship and/or others’ sinfulness, is when you could least afford to lose focus.  This is also the sort of Buddhist mindfulness that self-help psychology loves, the kind that’s mindful only about our controlling our own unhappy emotional reactions, not about controlling our own desires to do destructive things.  And though cognitive therapy is supposed to be a modern development originating from such things as the pioneering cognitive therapists practicing transcendence by taking LSD in the 1960s, to say, “You can’t worry about what you can’t control,” is cognitive therapy.

A section from the self-help book The Swan Curriculum, by Nely Galán, from that TV show that feminists hated since it treated plastic surgery for women as if it’s normal, is headed,

and then begins by saying, “Destiny is the belief that every occurrence in life was meant to happen.  The idea is that our experiences are our teachers,” and if you don’t buy this, “I urge you—for the duration of your journey as a Swan—to suspend disbelief.”  Self-help logic would call such an attitude self-empowering, since it would boost the confidence and optimism of even those faced with tragedies.  This would include tragedies for which others are to blame, since everyone knows how cowardly is finding blame.  Of course, this book is just as pragmatic about plastic surgery, “For example, you may have always believed that plastic surgery was an exercise in superficiality, although you have often complained about the bags under your eyes.  Looking closely at your beliefs will enable you to reaffirm the ones that work and alter those that are causing you difficulty.”

The Dilemma of Psychology, by Lawrence LeShan, PhD, begins by saying that psychology, in the ways that it operates today, can’t deal with the most crucial problems that humanity must face today:

  • how to stop killing each other

  • how to stop poisoning our only planet

  • how to limit our population growth

Yet psychology can’t deal with these, since it’s trying too hard to operate like the hard sciences, so is too mechanistic to reflect the complexities and depth of human interactions.  Both psychologists and common sense would interpret someone seeing the world in a one-dimensional fashion, as a sign of a pathology, yet psychologists currently tend to miss a good deal of the complexities of interactions.

But problems like those in LeShan’s list, can’t be changed through psychotherapy, since those who cause them aren’t motivated to change this tendency.  Some violent people who’ve suffered enough consequences, have enough of a motivation to change that they would.  Yet for the most part, the only people who are motivated to prevent or deal with problems like these, are their victims or potential victims.

Their psychologists not only must handle their conflicts in a one-dimensional fashion, but it must consist of one-dimensional victim-blaming.  Sure, the psychologists wouldn’t blame the victims in the sense of condemning them, but in the same sense that the poor people discussed in Blaming the Victim, were fixed as if the cause of their poverty was inside of them.  This was supposed to give them self-empowerment, which is good.  Blaming the Victim says, “As a result, there is a terrifying sameness in the programs that arise from this kind of analysis,” but anything besides this dogma would seem unpragmatic.

Ann Jones satirically summarized the victim-blaming of battered wives as, “Without the wife-beater’s wife there would be no wife beating,” which has that sameness to it, though it’s literally true, and tells of the most reliable solution to the problem of domestic violence.

We’re to practice such spirituality as, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference....  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” since this self-discipline would give us more confident outlooks.

The most prominent form of victim-blaming today is blaming abused women for “letting themselves in for” the abuse.  In this, we hear quite explicitly that no matter how great is the men’s moral responsibility, psychologists’ attempts to change them would at least be dangerously unreliable, and might be interpreted as the women’s codependent attempts to “fix” their men.  “What’s more important, that the men are morally responsible, or that the women are motivated to solve their own problems?”  So no matter how non-mechanistic psychologists want to make their own worldview, there’s no way that it could fix the killers, the poisoners, the over-populators, etc.

That was the thinking behind Dr. Frederick Goodwin’s comment during his speech infamous for his remark that violent teenage boys in the ghetto are like monkeys running around in the jungle, about curing the problem of the high crime rates in ghettoes by fixing the more ornery individuals from age five, “you are going to leverage it through individuals, not through large social engineering of society.”  Sure, Eliot Spitzer said on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, on March 22, 2009 about Wall Street, “...it’s kind of odd, because everybody derided leverage in public, but in private, participated to the hilt,” though Dr. Goodwin obviously had no problem with honoring it in public, or even with not setting risk-benefit limits, as long as the leverage is the pragmatism of people taking response-ability for their own welfare.  (Possibly, talk about leverage is like locker-room talk: both sound offensive most of the time, but when it’s time to act gutsy, both seem ideal.)   And, of course, there’s no limit to how much the victims would have the responsibility, since they’re always the ones who have the most reliable motivation to solve the problems.  Sure, the International Monetary Fund, in its report of February 6, 2009, Initial Lessons of the Crisis, said, “Neither set of policymakers saw the wider implications of rising risks in the shadow financial sector; nor did they appreciate that economy-wide trends in credit growth, leverage, and house prices posed systemically costly tail risks,” but before this, to treat unlimited leverage as risky would have seemed too weak and wussy.  The post-Reagan/Thatcher conception of personal responsibility is like an economic bubble, in that, using too much leverage, people’s excited, sardonic, “optimistic” emotions will keep pushing this to get bigger and bigger, since it seems necessary for freedom, realism, etc., and it will finally get so big that the bubble pops.

 

 

Goodman’s idea may be even worse, since it says that no matter how many people prove that the high crime rates in bad neighborhoods don’t come from the residents’ biologies being unusually monkey-like, their biologies are still what should be corrected since doing so is what would give the most leverage.  The Great Crash of 2008 showed how dangerous a reliance on inadequately limited leverage could be.  Sure, now leverage seems to be “the L word,” but at one time leverage seemed to be a great way to get a free ride in the name of pragmatism.  (As Henry Paulson testified in 2000 before the Security and Exchange Commission, about allowing investment houses to use more leverage, “[W]e and other global firms have, for many years, urged the SEC to reform its net capital rule to allow for more efficient use of capital.”)  Both leverage in the investment world, and the leverage that comes from re-engineering victims, mean that those who pay the costs aren’t the ones who make the real decisions, which is where the dangers come from.

 

 

Not only that, if you simply talked about the complexities of what contributed to the violent tendencies, that would seem counterproductive, unless these are complexities in how each child could be handled the most pragmatically.  Here’s where you could really see how form follows function, that you simply have to have a life which is functional to a certain degree, so your conceptions of yourself and your relationships with others, must follow from these necessities.  “What’s more important, that the problems didn’t come from inside those who are to be fixed, or that fixing them would have the most leverage?”

Near the beginning of an article in the August, 2005 issue of Psychology Today magazine, The Lion Tamer by Cecelia Capuzzi Simon, it says, “Most anger management programs are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and the premise that our rational thoughts shape our emotional responses....  But research has shown that conventional anger management doesn’t work very well.  Domestic violence treatment is even less effective.  These programs can help the highly motivated—but most people with problem anger don’t think they have a problem and don’t seek out treatment.”  This article tells of an approach that tries to encourage those with problem anger, to let their better natures come forward to subdue the anger.

So not only is “Without the wife-beater’s wife there would be no wife beating,” true, but it also points to the approach that’s most promising, according to the logic of, “These programs can help the highly motivated—but most people with problem anger don’t,” that operates in the day-to-day operation of cognitive therapy.  It seems very promising to say that if only those who are the most motivated to stop wife-beating did certain things differently, they could self-efficaciously get wife-beating out of their own lives.  Correcting the victims could be called the action-oriented practical and rational approach that helps people gain independence and effectiveness in dealing with real-life issues, while attempts to correct the beaters could seem naïve.

This victim-blaming would especially go for using medications with big risks.  As the Zoloft homepage says, “Depression is a serious medical condition, which can lead to the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior.  A combined analysis of studies involving 9 antidepressants showed that in people under 18 this risk was 4% for those taking antidepressants compared to 2% for those taking a sugar pill.  This risk must be balanced with the medical need,” so if medication is the only alternative to depression, it’s a risky one for teens.  Yet if the only choices available to the parents of a suicidal teen are to use medication that might increase but also might decrease the odds of suicide, or accepting the suicidality, then the risky medication could be the most pragmatic choice.  What caused suicide to be the third leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24, would seem completely immaterial.  As Henry Ford put it, “Don’t find blame.  Find a solution.”  One could also ask, “What’s more important, that many of these people shouldn’t have had to use this medication in the first place, or that once they do need it, if you handle the medication right, the benefits could outweigh the risks?”

Dr. David Healy’s Let Them Eat Prozac, says that when Dr. Joseph Glenmullen’s Prozac Backlash came out, the Eli Lilly Company’s PR firms sent out plenty of messages, such as, “The book preys on the fear of people with clinical depression, and may prompt some people to abandon their medication and seek medically unproven alternatives for a debilitating disease with potentially life-threatening consequences.”

Certainly you could imagine the response that someone would get, if he talked of how behavior that caused depression in others, had debilitating and potentially life-threatening consequences.  Many would respond, “How DARE that idealist prey upon us by being so guilt-tripping, manipulative, restrictive, quixotic, and judgmental!”

Ironically, Lilly had just applied for a patent on an element of Prozac, since this was proven to be the safest part.  So a reporter from the Boston Globe looked up the patent for this element, recently written by the Lilly company, and saw that they included in it, “Furthermore, [Prozac] produces a state of inner restlessness (akathisia), which is one of its more significant side effects,”  “The adverse affects which are decreased by administering the [new element of Prozac] include but are not limited to headaches, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, inner restlessness (akathisia), suicidal thoughts and self mutilation.”  The fact that the Lilly company wrote that Prozac has these dangers and that the new drug would only  “decrease” them, were simple truths.  Yet, as Let Them Eat Prozac put it, “Replying for Lilly in the Boston Globe, Gary Tollefson took a familiar tack, arguing that sufferers from the debilitating disease that was depression were being unwarrantedly stigmatized, and the result of this would be that they would fail to seek treatment and lives would be lost.”  One would think that what really would stigmatize the 20,000,000 Americans who have a serious depressive disorder in any given year, would be to hold that their biologies are inherently deficient without newly-invented medication, so the only options that they have are depression with a risky medication, and depression without it.

Yet even though this was self-serving on the part of Lilly, it could possibly be that for people to be unaware of the risks of SSRI antidepressants, is pragmatic.  Even if the number of suicides that the medication induces are less than the number of suicides that it prevents, one could say that the benefits outweigh the costs, so not only should people accept the medication, but if they don’t, they’re choosing the option that would lead to relatively more suicides.  Of course, if we didn’t stigmatize those with depression as having biologies that are inherently like that, we could see that except for the depression that really is only natural, they shouldn’t have had depression in the first place.  Then again, one could also hold that even in the preventable cases of depression, each individual does have only two options available, with medication, or without.  He couldn’t change those who triggered the depression, and could change himself, including his own brain chemistry through medication.  Therefore, for 20,000,000 Americans in any given year to take whatever antidepressant seems the most effective, even one that only prevents more suicides than it induces, could be called the most pragmatic option available to them.

That’s the central point, that people are a lot more motivated to wash their brains of depressed thoughts, than of angry thoughts.  Both controlling anger that one wants to control, and controlling passive unhappiness, could be described as an action-oriented practical and rational approach helps the patient gain independence and effectiveness in dealing with real-life issues.  Yet as long as the angry person doesn’t want to change his anger, trying to get him to wouldn’t seem action-oriented practical and rational, and the whiny (or even assertive) complaints wouldn’t seem very independent or realistically effective.  People are a lot more likely to choose to think serene thoughts when they’re faced with problems they can’t change, than when they’re tempted to do aggressive things.  Cognitive therapy, therefore, would probably be a lot less successful in stopping unwarranted anger, than in treating warranted unhappiness.  One could conceivably treat unhappy feelings by letting the unhappy people’s better natures come forward to control them, if one defines “strong character” as Enron’s ethos would, as anathematizing any thoughts statements actions and omissions, that could possibly be called “manipulative.”  Yet that would have to seem convincing, and why bother convincing someone of the moral justice of something that he’s already motivated to do?  If the anger to be controlled is making one dysfunctional, on the other hand (so he’s in a more passive position than are the angry “lions”), he would be motivated to change that, so he’d be expected to choose to think serene thoughts rather than be convinced to think more civilized thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

More of this on Victim Correction Webpage 15

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Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

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