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Showing posts with label contempt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contempt. Show all posts

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Gaslights: Not just on our streets or in our yards, but in our society.

A number of years ago, I was talking to a friend and he referenced the term 'gaslighting'.  I'd never heard the term before and of course was intrigued.  My understanding was that it is a psychological tool by which someone tries to covertly manipulate another into doubting themselves such that they gain some sort of advantage over the other.

Wikipedia describes it as this:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes such as low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's beliefs. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

I've seen this in relationships and at times wondered if this was present in my family of origin.  The following are ways I see it differently than "garden-variety" or simple manipulation.

Simple Manipulation
  • You want your way, but aren't trying to disable or shutdown the other person in the process.  In other words, not purposely abusive.
  • It may be overt.  It can be subtle, but it can be blatant too.
  • It can be done out of fear or self-protection, but not usually out of downright contempt or throwing responsibility on the other.
  • The focus of it is usually shorter term. 
  • Examples
    • Your significant other or child being all nicey-nice when they want you to do a favor for them.
    • Your child or significant other whining when you ask them to do something they don't want to in hopes you'll drop it.
    • A friend badmouthing a restaurant when what they really want it to have somewhere else chosen.

  • Used to disabled destroy or otherwise render the other person more compliant with little regard for the other's welfare.
  • This is usually covert or subtle manipulation, meant to keep you from picking up on it.
  • This is usually done with disrespect and/or contempt towards the victim of it.
  • The focus is usually longer term.
  • Examples
    • You are the problem:  When you call and complain to a company about observably poor service or quality and they say "we are sorry you feel that way".  As if the real problem is that you are upset or calling out the problem.
    • You can't do or say anything right: You are always challenged by parent, friend, child or other on your actions or take on everything (and it is clear that they aren't just trying to learn).  See the 98% rule: someone has to take blame...  Sometimes, it is just your opinion, take or feelings, but the other person seems to always take the alternative position.  When called out, they may claim that they are "playing devil's advocate"
    • It's just your imagination: When you bring up a common experiences from years ago and they act like it never happened (and you know they don't have a bad memory or dementia).  Or someone gradually and inconspicuously lowers the lighting, the cooling or the warming and you say it is dark, cool or hot in here and they say act like you are crazy.
    • If you are wanting a lifeline, go to someone else: When you speak on something that is pretty common knowledge and struggle to get your precise words out and they look at you like what's wrong with you or I have no idea what you are talking about.  That is it should be obvious from context what you mean, but they look at you like you are speaking an unknown foreign language.  This can either be to subtly mess with your mind or a form of contempt whereby instead of tossing you a lifeline, they walk away and let you fall on your face.
    • Of course you did well, but what about him/her:  When you do well and the other party acknowledges it for a moment but then puts their focus on those who did better without acknowledging the shift in focus.

Whether it is simple manipulation or gaslighting, it is a control issue.  Gaslighting is just usually a form of manipulation that is more subtle and more malevolent.  If you get anything from this post, please read the following that touch upon the subject of manipulation and control.

98% rule: someone has to take blame...
Giving in relationships: Controller rescuer, fixer rescuer, useful partnership OR healthy supportive?
How to Save Yourself Without Drowning Others
Boxing others into our expectations
Control Freaks: Top down vs. bottom up.
Art of the Apology: Saying sorry without meaning it.


I will make one caveat.  I think sometimes, when defending themselves, that people sometimes do what looks like gaslighting in a bid to protect themselves.  That is change the subject and 'talk about their concerns about you' to get the focus off themselves.  If done defensively, I'm not sure I'd call it gaslighting, but rather self-preserving manipulation. 

So next time you have a legitimate complaint and the other party says, "I'm sorry you were offended or feel that way", make sure to remind them that the subject of the complaint is the issue, not how you feel.

Just my thoughts,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Playing God with Vices and Virtues

As long as mankind has had standards, rules or laws as it relates to behaviors and actions, we will have had people who press hard on others to follow them, while they secretly break them.  There are many ways to describe this behavior.  How we describe this behavior goes by many names (below of which are but just a few):
  • Duplicity
  • Hypocrisy 
  • Sanctimoniousness
  • Cognitive dissonance

For the sake of discussion, let's just call out a few examples of this behavior:
  • Publicly preaching tolerance (religious, racial, sexual...), while privately condemning or discriminating those whom they preach tolerance about.
  • Railing about the depravity of gambling, while going in the gas station and picking up a handful of lottery tickets.
  • Lifting oneself up as a champion and protector of kids, while engaging in inappropriate behavior with kids on the side.
  • Calling for others to conserve energy or water while extravagantly using them.

Most people see this behavior as hypocritical, which it is.  I believe many see this type of behavior as being contemptful towards perceived 'lessors', which it can be.  While this behavior can fit both of those perceptions, it can also be an indication of deeper psychological or spiritual problems.  I believe a person who engages in what we see as hypocritical behavior--do as I say and not do--can get to a point where they are so far passed the appreciation of their hypocrisy and consideration of contempt.  They can get to a point where what we are seeing is a spiritual or psychological battle played out before us.  From my observations, I see this play out in one of two ways:
  1. Feeling like they are pushing so hard to help others or society at large that are entitled to not having to fight the struggle.  Mindset includes such thoughts as:
    • My fight against the ill is so draining or taxing that I simply don't have the energy to fit the temptation in my own life.
    • As someone who is heavily involved in fighting the ill or vice, I am familiar with how not to take it to an extreme, but the public or groups I'm talking to not so much.
  2. Feeling guilty for having that vice or behavior rule their life that they have to 'atone' for it somehow.  Mindset includes such thoughts as:
    • I know I am a bad person for engaging this vice, but if I prevent others from doing so, then on the moral/spiritual scale, I will have done more good than bad.   Therefore, will have atoned for my own behavior/failings re: this vice.
    • I'm not such a bad person.  Sure I may have this problem--deviancy, for example--but when you consider what good I've done for society in helping others, why its small in comparison.
    • How could I be that kind of person--bigoted or intolerant, for example--after all look at who I associate with, treat well or champion.

In AA, such behavior is referred to as "stinking thinking".  The way I see it, in essence a person who engages in this behavior or thinking is effectively playing God with their vices and virtues, hence the title of the blog post.  Effectively, they are engaging in one or more of judgments in their own life that we normally think it is the role of one's Higher Power to determine:
  • Judging their own inherent goodness and therefore what they are 'entitled' to.
  • Judging, by themselves, their own strengths and weakness rather than including or being open to their HP for wisdom.
  • Judging what 'sins' they need to atone for and how to do it on their own terms rather than on their Higher Power's.
  • Judging or determining what is a 'real' sin and what is a big deal.

Anyway, just my thoughts for the day and what I feel I have been led to say.  While we may be right in determining a person to be a hypocrite and maybe contemptful based on their 'do as I say, not do behavior', as I spelled out above, I really do believe sometimes the psychology of 'hypocritical' behavior shows a deeper spiritual problem.  Namely, playing the role of God with virtues and vices and the associated rationalizations and thinking that goes along with that.

Whether you agree, disagree or are somewhere in between on this point, I appreciate you taking your time to read my thoughts and analysis on this subject matter.  My goal with the analysis in my posts isn't to be 'always right', bur rather to perhaps give an alternative or less considered perspective.

Thanks for reading,