And What Science Can Do About It


 #29

 

 

 

The Buddha said the following:

“Life is suffering.”

“We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.  With our thoughts, we make the world.”

“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.”

 

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en states as a coping skill?  While this may at first sound extreme, it really isn’t any more extreme than the entire unredacted Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr,  “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.”

Though Niebuhr, in The Nature and Destiny of Man, wrote, “The negativism which Nietzsche falsely regards as the genius of Christianity is therefore really the Schopenhauerian Buddhistic variant of Christianity,” Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is certainly the sort of negativist and Buddhistic sort of Christianity that Nietzsche would consider genius.  This is especially true since Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the logic of The Serenity Prayer, are all far more tolerant of übermensch WILLFULNESS, than untermensch WILLFULNESS.  Even the logic of the redacted Serenity Prayer, to which so many have so much loyalty, would treat victims who don’t adequately deal with their own problems, as far scarier than are those who caused the problems and are to be accepted serenely.

And when you consider that the very same self-help philosophy that loves The Serenity Prayer also uses as a role model, Al-Anon’s philosophy that was based on it,

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

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(Yes, that pamphlet that she’s reading, which she got from her first Al-Anon meeting, is titled “Living with an Alcoholic.”  Learning how to live happily with an alcoholic, is what would constitute self-help for her, since that’s the reality that she must deal with.)

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you could see how much victim correction as a panacea could literally require a Zen state.  After all, if one’s reality is similar to the realities of those who live with addicts, then dealing with that reality could indeed mean going into a Zen state.  You mustn’t really care about “the elephant in the living room” if you can’t change the elephant.

 

The same would apply to dealing with any of the problems that contribute to our rampant depression, whenever this would seem tenable.  For example, Malignant Sadness, the Anatomy of Depression, on the page after, “Genes too, have a normal function, and it is only when they are faulty owing to a mutation or are absent that they could predispose an individual to depression,” says the following:

Typical prevalence rates, that is, the percentage of the population who are severely depressed at any one time, are around 3 per cent in the USA and Europe, and over a period of one year the rates are around 7 per cent.  The percentage of the population that will have a major depressive episode during their lifetime is about 10 per cent though some studies have found rates around 15 per cent.  The largest study in the USA found that the chance of someone having a major depression during their lifetime is about one in six.  The percentage of the population either experiencing depression or being in close contact with a depressed individual is thus frighteningly large.  The figures for manic depression are much lower.  The rates for depression in the Far East are consistently less than 50 per cent of those in the West.

When you’ve seen books and other guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “Is this frighteningly large problem, really just one of those diseases that are part of the natural order?  The people of any society would seem to have an obligation to fit in with its norms, to restore stability to their society’s functioning whenever this stability is disturbed.  That would mean that when the serious problems happen, coping could require going into a Zen state, taking pills to restore emotional balance, etc.  If we distinguished the real victims from those who are just playing the victim role, and decided that we aren’t going to blame the real victims for not being well-adjusted to their realities, then their dealing with their own problems would seem to be an unjust imposition, which certainly wouldn’t encourage their own self-reliant problem-solving, or everyone’s faith that they’ll get what they earned.  The same would go for if we distinguished those suffering depression because they’re real victims, from those suffering depression that they would have suffered no matter how well their lives progressed.  The facts that would always carry the most sway in the final analysis, would be that everything could conceivably be lived with, plenty of problems could conceivably be solved, the victims of the problems are always the people who have the most reliable motives to solve them, and they should feel motivated to correct any shortcomings that would get in the way of their doing so as expediently as possible, since they’d benefit by doing this!”

One example of logic that really does have to operate along the lines of, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is that essay by pioneering cognitive therapist Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, “Racism and Victimology,” which includes,

Overarching and global claims of where problems come from—unlike specific and changeable causes—are doubly pessimistic because they place the solution out of any individual’s reach.  Such talk has its gravest impact on just those people facing the biggest difficulties in their day-to-day lives.  This situation is a genuine “devil’s circle”—always spiraling downward—with any new setback or frustration getting attributed to the same gloomy, pervasive, and unanswerable set of causes.

and,

The language we use to describe the causes of our troubles ends up defining our “explanatory style.”   Just as individuals develop explanatory style, so do entire cultures, and our culture is highly influenced by what comes into fashion among assorted opinion-makers, the educational elite, and the media.   Shifting blame as an explanatory style has become a fashion and it has a glorious past.   AA made the lives of millions of alcoholics more bearable by giving them the dignity of a “disease” to replace the ignominy of “failure” or “immorality” or “evil”.

and ends with,

But what if it’s true?  What if racism, the system, and white people are the overriding causes of the problems.  I do not know whether [some hypothetical Blacks who were treated badly by whites, possibly because of racism] are right, and the clerk, the jury, and employers are racist.  All I know is that human motives are complex.  Inattentive clerks are sometimes racist, but sometimes they are tired, lazy, bored, or self-absorbed.  Sometimes the customer is not assertive enough.  Injustice is sometimes the result of racism, but sometimes it comes from bad law, from ineffective lawyers, from fear of reprisal, from the abuse of power, or from ignorance.

Rather I want us to rethink something more innocent than the truth—the form of the explanation that first occurs to [those hypothetical Blacks] and its consequences.  For we can choose whom and what we habitually blame and what theories we push.

Racism is commonly pushed by centrist civil rights groups and by much of the black middle class.  There was a time that this tactic worked as a lever to get some government action that opened the road into the middle class.  But the growing problem today is poor blacks.  They are not helped by this tactic.  In fact, there is only one segment of America that now has a true stake in pushing racism, the system, and White people as the overriding explanation of the problems of African-Americans.  Those who want violent revolution.  When people believe that the causes of their troubles might well change and do not pervade everything, they can work to address the causes.  When people believe that their troubles are caused by external forces that will never change, they give up—or they erupt into violence.

This really is as open-ended as that statement in what’s probably the most popular self-help book on cognitive therapy, Feeling Good, by Dr. David Burns,

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

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

The similarities between The Serenity Prayer, the above comics from Al-Anon, and the above quotes from “Racism and Victimology” and Feeling Good, should be glaringly obvious.  All are based on the fact that neo-Buddhism would “help” the victims, by correcting them so that they’d think in whatever ways would be the most expedient in dealing with whatever they must deal with.  Those who promote such ideas probably add or redact some detail to make this sound as if it’s reasonable.

Those who act as if you’re engaging in victimology if you don’t accept how The Serenity Prayer would define “personal response-ability,” would certainly leave out the part about hardship and sinfulness.  Yet, in fact, when it comes to ethical responsibility, there’s always an out.  Sooner or later, if you don’t excuse what happened to you, you could seem naïve, self-servingly opinionated, resentful, manipulative, and unforgiving.

 

The ladies’ auxiliaries of Twelve-Step groups, those for addicts’ friends and loved ones such as Al-Anon, would probably say that the reason for their acceptance of the behavior resulting from the addictions is that addiction is a disease.  Yet most cases of biologically-based mental illness don’t make one completely not guilty by reason of insanity.  If a member must deal with a problem caused by a non-addict she knows, she’d no doubt be advised that she should serenely accept what she can’t change (him), and courageously change what she can (herself).

Though “Racism and Victimology” seems to deal exclusively with racism, where most of the time you really can’t be sure if a given instance of unfairness was due to racism, that logic could be applied to even indubitable sinfulness, since the victim would be helped by the tactic of expediently dealing with it, and wouldn’t be helped by the tactic of whining.

And to say that there really is no such a thing as an objective unfairness, really does hide the fact that certain helplessness does contribute to our rampant depression.  Sure, accepting that lions eat lambs is less radical than is accepting that, as the Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website says, “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.”

 

Yet even though each person driven into depression by his own helplessness couldn’t change this, the unnaturally high rate of helplessness is man-made, so we could change this, while we couldn’t change lions eating lambs.  No matter how much someone would stand up for the conceptions of “rights” and “freedom” that would at least excuse people for doing what contributes to our rampant depression, it would be pretty hard for him to say explicitly about this “frighteningly large” problem, “We’ll just have to accept this, as the price of freedom.  For example, if you saw the situations of many of the women who are driven into depression by the men in their lives, you could see that we must accept this since ‘Boys will be boys,’ if the men’s behavior suited the women then they’d be ‘trapping’ and/or controlling the men, the women should be liberated enough to build their own lives self-reliantly, etc.”

Yet if you consider a Zen state to be a coping skill, you’d figure that none of this really matters, only that if you serenely accept whatever you’re helpless to change by going into a Zen state, you’ll benefit.  No doubt plenty of cognitive therapists’ clients are like Al-Anon members, with very real problems indisputably caused by others.  Yet if the therapist used with him the pre-Reagan definition of mental health, that one’s responses to what happen to him by appropriate for, and proportional to, what happened, he’d feel very bad, and because of this maladjustment, function poorly.  After all, for the non-white person confronted with unfairness that may or may not be racism, in practical terms the only real question that he has to answer is, “Which interpretation of my situation would constitute the most helpful tactics?”  For anyone confronted with any hardship, sinfulness, etc., ad infinitum, in practical terms the only real question that he has to answer is, “What could I courageously change, and what must I serenely accept?”   He wouldn’t at all be helped by the tactic of caring about what’s morally wrong, so the less that he cares about this, the more pragmatic his tactics would be, and the more likely he’d be to succeed.

In essence, it would seem that if you cared about our rampant depression, you’d be BAD, since you’d be a far more productive and cooperative member of society if you didn’t, and no society could function without its citizens’ productivity and cooperation.

A book central to the morality of the Reagan era was Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, which is against moral relativism.  Its introduction, with its own title, “Our Virtue,” begins,

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.  If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending.  That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2 + 2 = 4.  These are things you don’t think about.

Yet Reaganomics requires that moral relativism goes one step further, where moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism.  The only virtue that really seems to matter, is the Virtue of Forgiveness.  Dr. Burns’ “There is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice.  There is an undeniable relativity of fairness, just as Einstein showed the relativity of time and space,” is the new moral relativism, the kind that constitutes a coping skill, so it’s a necessity rather than a luxury.  Despite all the implications that such right-wing concepts as “victimology” and “victimhood” condemn only those who are playing the victim role as manipulative machinations, Reaganomics couldn’t function unless everyone was assumed to have an open ended response-ability for their own welfare, even when that means, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it.”  If people didn’t simply deal with their own problems by courageously changing what they could and serenely accepting what they couldn’t, then probably most of those who could seem guilty of “victimology” and “victimhood,” would seem to be legitimate victims.  Not only that, awareness of being victimized would discourage and dishearten people.  As Martin Seligman, the pioneering cognitive therapist who first proved learned helplessness, wrote about talk about racism, “Such talk has its gravest impact on just those people facing the biggest difficulties in their day-to-day lives,” and about situations where racism actually does exist, “Rather I want us to rethink something more innocent than the truth—the form of the explanation that first occurs to [some hypothetical Blacks] and its consequences.  For we can choose whom and what we habitually blame and what theories we push....  In fact, there is only one segment of America that now has a true stake in pushing racism, the system, and White people as the overriding explanation of the problems of African-Americans.  Those who want violent revolution.”

Once I opened The Closing of the American Mind to random page, and read the following, random, paragraph:

Value relativism can be taken to be a great release from the perpetual tyranny of good and evil, with their cargo of shame and guilt, and the endless efforts that the pursuit of the one and the avoidance of the other enjoin.  Intractable good and evil cause infinite distress—like war and sexual repression—which is almost instantly relieved when more flexible values are introduced.  One need not feel bad about or uncomfortable with oneself when just a little value adjustment is necessary.  And this longing to shuck off constraints and have one peaceful, happy world is the first of the affinities between our real American world and that of German philosophy in its most advanced form, given expression by the critics of the President’s speech.
 

This is about a speech where Reagan talked about his firm beliefs in what American tradition considers to be good and evil.  The problem seemed to be the liberal intellectuals.  Yet in order for Reaganomics to work, in practical terms one must have exactly this level of permissivity.  The whole idea behind the German-American belief, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is that “Intractable good and evil cause infinite distress—like war.”  While calling such behavior “sinful” certainly condemns it, one is ultimately to accept it serenely, since this would both reduce conflict, and lead to the victims taking care of themselves rather than engaging in victimology and victimhood.  Both moral judgments of good and evil, and defining “adequate coping skills” as serenely accepting whatever oneself can’t change, would be black-and-white thinking.  One could get rid of the sexual repression harmlessly with an attitude like that of Robert Heinlein, “Sin lies only in hurting other people.  All other ‘sins’ are invented nonsense,” but realistic coping skills would require serenely accepting a lot more than that.

As German philosophy would have it, this peaceful, happy world is to be achieved through re-engineering the weak, since attempts to re-engineer the strong would seem bad, and someone’s human nature would have to be re-engineered.  “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” might seem like a radical attempt to re-engineer human nature, except that re-engineering the weak doesn’t seem bad.  This definition of personal responsibility is done not so that the people who would have been held accountable would feel more comfortable with themselves (which would be more American), but so that the victims would empower themselves, stop acting like cowards (which, theoretically, is more German, but in practice, is often a necessary accompaniment to the strong feeling more comfortable with themselves).  If everyone serenely accepted whatever they’re helpless to change, no more trouble.

Soon after, this book says about the ideal, productive, people, “Their opposite numbers are not the vicious, wicked or sinful, but the quarrelsome an the idle.”  Sure, most of the time, this would mean making reasonable expectations of people.  Yet, in a society with rampant depression and anxiety disorders, often enough that would mean moral relativism becoming amoral absolutism.  Not being quarrelsome would mean adjusting to whatever one’s own realities are.

So the weak seem as obligated to have a morally bankrupt outlook toward what’s done to them, as Jane the alkie’s wife does.  The Words Universe webpage on the word “bankruptcy” defines it in the sense of “moral bankruptcy,” as, “a state of complete lack of some abstract property; ‘spiritual bankruptcy’; ‘moral bankruptcy’; ‘intellectual bankruptcy’.”  If those hurt by their spouses’ bad characters looked at their own problems in terms of, “I can’t afford to care about any abstractions that wouldn’t do me any good, including spiritual moral or intellectual ones,” without even thinking about it, then they could handle their own problems the most effectively and pragmatically.  The whole idea is to close one’s own mind to any questions other than, “Can I change this, and if so, how could I do it as expeditiously as possible?  If I can’t, how could I adjust to it as serenely as possible?”  If, instead, those in our society felt uneasy about blaming the victims, just imagine how many of our problems wouldn’t be solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them effectively!    No matter how you blame victims, just because you blame them doesn’t mean that they have to feel guilty or insulted or overpowered, etc.

Intercultural studies have consistently found that depressed people who’ve lived in developed areas outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but modern Westerners, whether depressed or not, tend to figure that even if someone did “get you,” that would mean only that you lost the battle so you’re a loser.  When Jane is at her Al-Anon meeting, when non-whites have optimism inculcated to them, when women with any problem caused by men get self-help advice, etc., there is one thing they could be absolutely certain of: the bottom line will almost always be that it doesn’t really matter who has what moral responsibility.  If those with problems like this didn’t simply take care of themselves, Reaganomics couldn’t work.  If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the teachers’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending.  It would seem that of course what matters is how much self-empowerment each victim or potential victim could get, not how put-upon he is, who’s to blame, etc.  That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, since it seems that of course if the victims assertively and firmly stand up for their rights, this WILLFULNESS is untermensch, mollycoddle, whiny, naïve, moralistic, self-righteous, self-pitying, melodramatic, manipulative, maladjusted, self-serving, negativistic, ultimately self-defeating, etc., while bucking up and taking care of one’s own problem irrespective of who has what moral responsibility for it, seems red-blooded, self-respecting, objective, realistic, mature, pro-freedom, etc.  Doubting this would actually be calling into question: (your problem) + (the reliable motivation that you have to solve it as well as possible) = (your problem being solved, which is what you need).  It would seem good if Jane had an attitude of, “Now I know he will stop when he’s ready.  In the meantime, Al-Anon has taught me to be a better, happier person,” “I should simply change the things I can, meaning myself, and accept the things I can’t, meaning everyone else,” and,“I’ve stopped blaming others, and I’m looking at myself!” without even thinking about it.  Even though the law doesn’t treat the disease of addiction as if it’s disabling enough to make one not guilty by reason of insanity, and even if her husband’s destructive behavior instead came from a bad character, she’s still absolutely incapable of changing his actions and absolutely capable of changing her reactions.

Sure, when I was a kid, during the Vietnam war, I heard someone associating Buddhism with the followers losing a sense of their own individuality and autonomy.  Yet the all-American version of this, is supposed to promote the individual.  This says to treat one’s own untermensch human nature, the objections to the sorts of ordeals that contribute to our rampant depression, along the lines of Buddhist self-discipline.

Sure, this does mean losing a part of one’s autonomy.  In the central element of the brainwashing process, which Dr. Robert Jay Lifton called “Doctrine over Person,” when the people’s honest interpretations of their own experiences (for example, “Racism caused my problem!” an alkie’s kid concluding, “My alcoholic father is to blame for a lot of my problems!” and, an alkie’s wife concluding, “If after he goes on the wagon, he falls off, he didn’t do this because his addiction overwhelmed him with cravings!”), disagrees with what they’re supposed to believe, (for example, “Attributing my problem to racism would be BAD.” “I’ve stopped blaming others, and I’m looking at myself!” and, after the alkie husband was sober but he drank again, “There’s nothing to forgive.  You drink because you’re sick.”), they’re to wash their brains of their own interpretations, and replace them with what they’re supposed to believe.  It’s no wonder that the techniques of brainwashing were developed in countries where Buddhism or similar philosophies hold sway.  The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary’s two definitions of the verb correct are, “ to make right,” and, “REPROVE : CHASTISE,” and victim correction as a panacea must do both, as the Reagan/Thatcher era “attack politicians” did.

Yet the big difference between Buddhism and self-help Doctrine over Person, is that it washes the brain only of opinions that come from untermensch human nature.  This would benefit the individual whose brain is being washed, whereas washing the brain of opinions that come from übermensch human nature wouldn’t benefit the washed individual, and would have all the scary implications of re-engineering human nature.  To make one’s unpragmatic thoughts right constitutes self-help, while to make one’s sinful thoughts right, unless they harm the sinful individual and/or lead to such serious consequences that they really aren’t excusable, would seem just too controlling.  The same would go for how acceptable it seems to give people medication to treat depression, anxiety, etc., even if they’re recognized to be social problems, as versus how unacceptable it would seem to give people anti-sinful-desire pills, even if the only “sinfulness” that we tried to correct chemically, was what contributes to our rampant depression and and anxiety disorders.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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 To The [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

Men Dying for Love

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

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

(Page 2)(Main Page 3)

Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression

 Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Schopenhauer on Predators

 Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book

Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport

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