Arkiv for ‘Psykologi’

Nietzsche og politik

Sunday, August 5th, 2018
I del II af ’Moralens oprindelse’ udfolder Nietzche en analyse af skyldfølelse og dårlig samvittighed. Essay II opfattes ofte som bogens mindst vellykkede. Men læst med politiske øjne er det måske i virkeligheden det mest interessante.

Han starter med at gå tilbage til antikken og vise, at vi her finder en uapologetisk grusomhed, en ondsindethed, mennesket ikke skammede sig over. Straffene var hårdere og vold var mere udbredt. I Rom kastede man folk for løverne, og folk så outsidere og ballademagere blive fortæret som en slags underholding. En hyldest til den bestående orden. Man kunne endda fejre sit bryllup ved at lade et par afvigere blive henrettet foran gæsterne. Det var ren Game of Thrones.

Men jo længere vi går frem i tiden, mod trygge og civiliserede samfund, jo mere taber vi synet af denne uapologetiske grusomhed. I stedet begynder vi at finde værdier som tolerance og omsorg for de svage. Folk, som er født og opvokset i sådanne samfund, har aldrig selv bevidnet det udgangspunkt, der i første omgang gjorde sådanne samfund mulige. Det menneske, der er formet af sådanne samfund, har således aldrig kendt andet end en grad af komfort, der er unik i en historisk og global kontekst. Mange vil abonnere på en antropologi hvor empati og medfølelse anses som menneskets definerende karakteristika og intuitivt udstrække dette menneskesyn til resten af verden.

En anden effekt af civilisationsprocessen er, at menneskets evne til at stå ved sine løfter og aftaler gradvist forstærkes gennem socialitet. Opfattelsen af menneskets kapacitet for at opføre sig konsistent over tid styrkes. Synet på menneskets væren i verden går fra vilkårligt til kausalt.

Som Hume ser Nietzsche således det liberale, atomiserede individ som et produkt af den historiske proces, og ikke en præeksisterende ontologisk entitet. Menneskets evne til at gøre sin vilje kausalt gældende over tid hænger, i lighed med fraværet af den uapologetiske grusomhed, nøje sammen med civilisationsprocessen og er en af de tydeligste variabler mellem menneskelige samfund. Forskellene er selvfølgelig tydeligst mellem Vesten og resten af verden. Men selv mellem Nord- og Sydeuropæere kan vi opleve forskelle i synet på menneskets evne til at stå ved sine aftaler over tid.

Via stærke stater, der oprindeligt opførte sig ufatteligt grusomt – med brug af tortur, henrettelser og offentlig ligskænding – har mennesket til sidst lært at afgive ét stort løfte: Opfør dig pænt. Undlad at handle på dine impulser. Når staten er en effektiv afstraffer, internaliserer folk til sidst den kamp, de oprindeligt havde mod deres konkurrenter. Kampen bliver meningsløs, da suverænen er stærk og allestedsnærværende. Kampen for at hævde sig overfor sine medmennesker omdannes til en kamp for at blive accepteret af suverænen – en kamp imod egne impulser, og dermed til en kamp imod en selv. I Nietzsches øjne var det sådan, mennesket udviklede samvittighed.

Grusomheden var ikke unik for de europæiske stater, men omfanget af henrettelser og staternes kontrol med afvigere indenfor deres territorier var. Det er således fuldt ud kompatibelt, at de europæiske stater i dag er de mest næstekærlige *og* at de engang var de mest grusomme.

Mennesket, der er formet af det moderne samfund, ser kun empatien og tolerancen. Det har glemt grusomheden, der var forudsætningen for blødsødenheden. Det har annammet en moral, der grundlæggende er passiv. Hvor summen af det moralske udelukkende består i at afholde sig fra adfærd, der kan vække forfærdelse i andre (kriminalitet og aftalebrud, men også racisme, sexisme, xenofobi og i sidste ende: kritik af det anderledes). Moralen er ikke et samfundsanliggende, men noget personligt. Håndhævelsen af grundlæggende ro og orden, samt at skulle udvise eller afstraffe dem, der ikke vil orden, kan det passive menneske kun nødtvungent forholde sig til.

For sådanne mennesker er det sikrere at forholde sig passivt, mens man bebuder sine påståede moralske kvaliteter: respekt, tolerance, inklusion og samarbejdsvillighed. Derved signaleres det, at man er en attråværdig indbygger, som magthaverne kan nyde godt af, og at man i øvrigt ikke er en trussel mod nogen. Politik med jernnæven må andre tage sig af.

Før i tiden gav denne indstilling mening, da magten var koncentreret i en enevældig suveræn, som havde en direkte, personlig og koncentreret interesse i opretholdelsen af i sit rige. Men den fungerer mindre godt i et demokrati, hvor mennesker med denne moral kan organisere sig politisk og gå sammen om at hylde det positive (respekt, tolerance, inklusion) samtidig med, at de bekræfter hinanden i, at det er forkert at beskæftige sig med det negative (beslutninger, som kræver et rummål af den grusomhed, som oprindeligt var forudsætningen for ro og orden, og som gennem historien ofte har fået ny fornødenhed, når mennesker fra forskellige stadier af civilisationsprocessen skal leve side om side). Moralen fungerer med andre ord bedst for det passive menneske, når nogen træffer de virkelig svære beslutninger for ham. Tager dem ud af hans hænder.

Det reaktive menneske opfatter som sagt moralen som en kamp mod egne impulser. Derved vil det ifølge Nietzsche løbe ind i problemer, da det fra tid til anden vil genkende de urmenneskelige instinkter (aggression, selvhævdelse, grusomhed, og modvilje mod de anderledes) i sig selv. På grund af dets passive moralsyn overvældes dette menneske af skyldfølelse, når det sker.

Da det, der for alt i verden skal undgås for den passive, er aktiv, viril ageren, er vedkommende ikke i stand til at tackle de samfundsproblemer, der virkelig kræver handling og mod. Ubehageligt til mode, men afskåret fra handling, bliver den oplagte modreaktion for dette menneske at overføre sin dårlige samvittighed til andre. At finde syndebukke, der kan udråbes som umoralske og udstødes af flokken.

Har man købt ind på moral som et katalog af adfærd, man blot passivt må søge at undgå, bliver den aktive den oplagte syndebuk. Derved ender det passive menneske med ikke at rette sine ressourcer mod de samfundsproblemer, der for alvor er svære at løse, men mod de mennesker, der uforfærdet foreslår slagkraftige løsninger på dem.

Som produkter af trygge og civiliserede samfund vil sådanne mennesker helst glemme grusomheden og fejre civilisationsprocessens fremkomster – tolerance, empati, efterrettelighed og næstekærlighed. De er som et egetræ, der ikke vil høre tale om, at det engang var et agern. Sommerfuglen, der ikke vil stå ved, at den engang var en larve. Med andre ord: En art moralske gratister, der ikke selv kan løse de problemer, deres gratisme afstedkommer – og som samtidig gør det svært for at andre gøre det.

 

Flertallet af mænd får en dårlig deal på Tinder.

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Flertallet af mænd får en dårlig deal på Tinder.

Adgang til pigeværelset er flaskehalsen hvad angår den menneskelige seksualitet. Det betyder, at det overvejende er kvinder, der har magten, hvad angår den indledende matchmaking. Da Tinder sætter turbo på matchmakingprocessen (det er hurtigere at bladre gennem et katalog end at veksle indledende bemærkninger med medlemmer af det modsatte køn på en bar), giver Tinder kvinder endnu mere at skulle have sagt i forhold til, hvem der finder sammen.

Et studie (https://bit.ly/1IsS7bs) har vist, at matchmaking på Tinder foregår ved, at de 80% lavest likede mænd overvejende matcher med de 22% lavest likede kvinder. Omvendt kappedes 78% af de højest rangerede kvinder om at matche med de 20% højest rangerede mænd.

Da flertallet af kvinders likes på Tinder er flaskehalsen i matchmaking, betyder det, at Tinder-universet overvejende er en verden formet af kvinders beslutninger. Vi ved, at kvinder som gruppe er mere venstreorienterede og højere grad støtter omfordeling af ressourcer end mænd (https://bit.ly/2L2bwKO). Kvinder er simpelthen bedre mennesker – mere empatiske, mere omsorgsfulde og mere klar på at dele, som en af den kulturelle feminismes maximer lyder.

Men hvilken verden skaber kvinder så, når de skimmer kataloget af villige bejlere i smartphonens skær? Er det mon en verden som Danmark, Norge eller Sverige? Gæt igen. Det liberalistiske skræmmebillede USA? Gæt igen. Tinder-økonomiens Gini-koeffficient er 0.58. Honduras, Haiti og Zambia. Dét er den verden, kvinders uhindrede partnervalg skaber. På Tinder er de ikke så klar på det der lighed. Om bivalensen i deres deres adfærd kunne vi sige: Socialistisk, når det er politisk, vi nærmer os sagen. Ultraliberalist på det hvide lagen.

Det er naturligvis ethvert menneskes ret at vælge lige de(n) partner(e), vedkommende har lyst til. Men tallene taler deres tørre, nådesløse sprog: I Tinder-økonomien er den gennemsnitlige mand en fattig honduriansk kaffebonde, mens den gennemsnitlige kvinde er den velsituerede plantageejer, der leder og fordeler arbejdet over en kølig gin og tonic.

Er man blandt de 80% lavest rangerede mænd (og det er der naturligvis ingen på min venneliste, der er), bør man statistisk set tage konsekvensen og melde sig ud af Tinder. Desværre/heldigvis er mænd så irrationelt selvovervurderende og så indtrængende fascineret af kvinder, at det ikke kommer til at ske.

Ayn Rand

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Lars Tvede har skrevet om Ayn Rand, og som han rigtigt påpeger, er det venstrefløjens favoritsport at svine hende til uden at have læst hende.

Siden Saxo Bank udsendte hendes bøger, har aviserne bragt bunkevis af enslydende klummer fra virtue signalling venstrefløjsere og sågar også nominelt borgerlige, der liiige skulle vise, hvor gode mennesker de var, samt hvor meget mere sofistikeret deres tænkning var end Ayn Rands. Gerne med hånende overskrifter og haltende argumenter.

Jeg er ikke stor fan af Rand. Jeg har også læst bøgerne. De er melodramatiske, men på ingen måde dårligt skrevet, sådan som kritikerne hævder. Var hun forblevet i den politiske mainstream, var hendes bog om menneskeligt armod under den russiske revolution sandsynligvis blevet hyldet som et intenst og autentisk perspektiv fra en stærk kvindestemme af de samme mennesker, der sviner hende i dag.

Det syrede ved Rand er, at hun på en og samme tid er genial og ikke noget særligt. Og hvordan kan det så lade sig gøre?
I socialpsykologien har en af verdens mest citerede forskere, Jonathan Haidt, udledt, at mennesker har seks moralske instinkter: (1) Omsorg (2) Fairness (3) Autoritet (4) Loyalitet (5) Renhed og (6) Frihed.

De forskellige politiske grupperinger varierer med hensyn til, hvor intenst (eller hvor sløvt) de mærker det enkelte instinkt. Venstreorienterede går mest op i omsorg, konservative går mere op i autoritet, og liberale mest op i frihed.

Når du ser liberale lukke galde ud på Facebook over, at politikerne nu vil til at regulere et eller andet, der ellers fungerede fint uden deres indblanden (det kunne f.eks. være en kørselsservice), så er det den liberale frihedsmoral, der er blevet krænket. For dem føles det ligesom det føles for dig at se, at fattig-Carina kun har 15.728 kr. til sig selv om måneden efter skat (hvis du er venstreorienteret) eller at de radikale gerne vil nedlægge kongehuset og erstatte dansk med engelsk (hvis du er konservativ).

Rands genialitet bestod i, at hun kunne tage sager, der sædvanligvis opfattes som meget abstrakte eller irrelevante for de fleste folks moralsæt, og gøre dem nærværende for en stor gruppe mennesker. Hun fortæller højdramatiske historier om gode mennesker, der kommer i klemme, når mindre ånder vil begrænse og regulere dem samt beskatte dem og drive de virksomheder, de selv har skabt, på inoptimale måder (men hvor mange kvinder har du i bestyrelsen?).

Mennesker, der ellers ikke var blevet liberale og måske aldrig havde interessseret sig for politik, bliver pludselig nukleart hvidglødende, når de ser heltene blive krænket på deres frihed i Rands bøger. Det er her, Rand virkelig funkler. Hun var fantastisk til at dramatisere disse konflikter, ganske enkelt. Eneren vs. fællesskabet; autonomi vs. regulering; proportionalitet vs. omfordeling; liberalisme vs. kollektivisme. Hendes dramatisering gør liberalismens sag lige så følelsemæssigt berettiget – og dens forsvarere lige så optændt af retfærdig harme – som socialismens alle dage har været. Hendes præsentation af liberalismen er med andre ord ikke blot en serie abstrakte principper, som folk selv må stå for at smøre ud på resten af samfundet. Den er nærværende, personlig, konkret og medrivende. Det er en liberalisme, der taler til alle menneskets instinkter, og ikke kun til abstrakte logiske principper. Rand var genial til at markedsføre liberalismen på denne måde, måske den bedste nogensinde.

Men hvad er så problemet? Problemet opstår, når man ikke har nok i at se Rand som en af de 20. århundredes mest succesfulde skønlitterære forfattere og også vil se hende som en af verdenshistoriens største filosoffer. Det mente hun selv, at hun var, det mente mange af de folk, hun omgav sig med i sin levetid, at hun var, og det mener mange af hendes nulevende fans, at hun er. Det er bare ikke korrekt.

Grundlæggende kan man sige, at næsten alle de tanker og analyser, som i dag er en del af mainstream liberal tænkning, og som Rand ofte får credit for af sine fans, er tænkt af andre liberale før hende. Og den filosofi hun selv bidrog med … er ikke rigtig filosofi. Den bedste karakteristik, jeg har læst af det, var en kritiker, der sagde, at hendes filosofi var mere som et manifest eller en ideologi for, hvordan hele ens verdensanskuelse skal være. I filosofi er man gerne hyperbevidst om, hvad man kan bevise med sikkerhed, og hvilke værdier og aksiomer man selv må føje til analysen. Rand var det modsatte. Hun starter ofte med at antage det, hun vil bevise, og siger så: ”Men se! Det passer!” eller ”Hvis du tror på dette, vil det gå dig godt!” og mener så, at hun har bedrevet en pure objektiv analyse.

Rand mente, at hun havde løst omverdensproblemet, men hendes løsning består blot i at antage, at omverdenen kan erkendes 100% objektivt. Hun mente, at hun havde fundet frem til objektive værdier for, hvordan man skal leve sit liv – det kan ifølge hende afgøres ved at se på, hvad der er ”passende” for mennesker, men samtidig undlader hun at svare på, hvordan man så afgør, hvad der er passende. Hun henviser til Aristoteles, men synes at overse, at Aristoteles selv siger, at hans aksiomatiske metode ikke kan anvendes her, og at de råd til livsførelse, han giver, ikke kan anses for objektive. Hun afskyede Kant, men kommer i sin etik frem til, at selve moralens væsen er at behandle mennesker som mål i sig selv og ikke som midler (hvilket igen afstedkommer plagiatanklager fra hendes kritikere og pinlige bortforklaringer fra hendes fans).

Tvede fremhæver i sin klumme, at mange erhvervsledere, i Danmark såvel som i udlandet, har været inspirerede af Ayn Rand. Det er rigtigt, at hendes principper kan være nyttige, når det handler om at opnå succes i tilværelsen, og de har vitterligt hjulpet mange. Men det gør ikke Rands tanker til kulminationen på to årtusinders filosofi. Det gør dem til selvhjælps- eller livsfilosofi. Det er der heller ikke noget galt med, hvis ikke det var, fordi Rand og så mange af hendes fans insisterer på, at hendes tanker netop har triumferet, hvor Aristoteles, Hume og Kant måtte give fortabt.

Is Daisy Ridley Right that Calling Rey a Mary Sue is Sexist?

Monday, February 6th, 2017

You might remember that when ‘The Force Awakens’ came out, the screenwriter Max Landis faulted the character of Rey for being a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is a trope that is commonly seen in bad screenwriting and fanfiction. It refers to a character who, with little to no explanation, is so awesome that he or she has unrealistic and overpowered abilities that are not supposed to the movie’s own backstory; that he or she is better than all of the established characters at the things that make them unique for no apparent reason, and so on.

When Landis said Rey was a Mary Sue, many women accused him of sexism. Recently, these women have been joined by Daily Ridley herself who said that “The Mary Sue thing in itself is sexist because it’s the name of a woman. … Everyone was saying that Luke had the exact same [capabilities.] … So for me, it was just confused.”

Is Ridley right about this?

The Mary Sue trope does indeed carry the name of a woman. But there is nothing in the definition of a Mary Sue that necessitates that such a character would have to be female. If you switched Rey’s gender in ‘The Force Awakens,’ but kept everything else the same, the male Rey would also be a Mary Sue. The name itself is nothing to get hung up on. In fact, male Mary Sues are often referred to as Larry Stus and Gary Stus by screenwriters – and of course, that wouldn’t happen if Mary Sues were always women.

Ridley has a point that there is no reason that a gender-neutral screenwriting trope should be named after a woman. But if you think about it, many terms and tropes in common parlance have somewhat misleading names. Feminism, for example, is quite the misleading name for a movement that seeks to do away with gender differences. But it carries this name for historical reasons. Similarly, the Mary Sue trope carries this name because the original piece of writing that criticized the trope happened to revolve around a female character. It’s called a Mary Sue for historical reasons, not because only women can be Mary Sues – and it was actually a woman who came up with the original criticism of the Mary Sue trope.

Just like you could switch Rey’s gender to male and she’d still be a Mary Sue, so you could switch the name of the Mary Sue trope, and Rey would still be a Mary Sue. None of this has anything to do with gender. She seems to be confusing the surface phenomenon of the name with the motif that the name refers to.

Then there is Ridley’s claim that Luke Skywalker had the same capabilities as Rey, the implication being that supposedly, in a world devoid of sexism, if Rey were a Mary Sue Luke would then also be one. Ridley is right that Luke had many of the same capabilities as Rey. But she neglects to mention that Luke only had these capabilities by the third movie and after having been trained by both Obi-Wan and Yoda. Rey demonstrates abilities on par with, or better than Luke’s by the first movie and without any training. So Ridley is leaving out some preeeeeetty important details when she says Rey is no more overpowered than Luke.

Furthermore, recall that one of the features of a Mary Sue is that the character is better than all of the established characters at the things that make them unique for no apparent reason. For example, we never actually see Luke being better than Han at fixing or flying the Millennium Falcon, but that (and many other things) is just what we see with Rey, with no explanation given for her prowess.

Some people have said that maybe Anakin was a Mary Sue then, because Anakin also had many overpowered abilities that he hardly had to train to acquire. It would certainly be tempting to grant this point so that we could have a clear example of a male Mary Sue in the franchise and lay the accusations of sexism to rest. But recall another point about Mary Sues – they have overpowered abilities that are not supposed to the movie’s own backstory. Anakin had overpowered abilities, yes, but the prequels actually take care to explain that he is a virgin birth and a child of the force with a midi-chlorian count higher than Yoda’s. Now, this is also really bad screenwriting. But it isn’t the Mary Sue kind of bad – the movie does explain why Anakin has such extraordinary abilities. Nor is Anakin better than all of the established characters at everything. He is a whiny brat who needs Obi-Wan to discipline him. He needs Padme to help him understand grand scale politics. And he needs Yoda to bail him out after he gets chopped by Count Dooku.

So no – neither Luke nor Anakin are Mary Sues. But Rey invariably is. And Daisy Ridley’s arguments don’t hold up.

The Contradiction in Modern Feminism

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Watch as video here.

On New Year’s Eve of 2015/2016, mass sexual assaults took place against women in several cities across Germany. Most famous is the incident in Cologne, where 2000 men of Middle-eastern and North African descent sexually assaulted 1200 German women.

Coordinated mass sexual assaults by men against women should be a feminist cause if there ever was one. Yet to the surprise of most Europeans, many familiar feminist bloggers, pundits and writers across northern Europe did not come out to denounce the attacks. Instead, many talked about how these mass sexual assaults were no different from what white European men do to women every weekend at clubs, how there is rape in every culture so it would be irresponsible to just single out these Middle Eastern perpetrators, and so on.

How could we have come to a point where leading European feminists cannot bring themselves to speak out against mass coordinated sexual assaults against women? The answer has to do with what we call the contraction in modern feminism.

Feminism was originally a movement rooted in the broader values of the age of enlightenment. The foundation of classical feminism was the belief that all citizens should be treated equally by the state and be able to lay claim to the same rights, privileges and responsibilities, regardless of gender. At the time when feminism was conceived, the application of this principle meant expanding women’s rights to be on par with men’s.

The values of the enlightenment were universalist and went both ways: If men had somehow been the ones to be short-changed by society, then the same principle could have been applied to further men’s causes. Enlightenment feminism wasn’t about being a man or being a woman. It was about being equals as human beings. Enlightenment values were also individualist. If certain traditions, cultures, and religions mandated that men or women be treated differently, then these collectivist social structures had to be combated, since the individual’s free choice was unequivocally more important.

However, in recent years, feminism has also absorbed ideas from movements very different from the enlightenment. Some of the names used to describe this type of feminism 3rd and 4th wave feminism, intersectional feminism, and so on.

Where enlightenment feminism had been universalist and individualistic, many modern feminists regard the whole tradition of the enlightenment as suspicious, exclusively Western, and perhaps even imperialistic. If other cultures have different gender roles, then who are we to say they’re wrong?

In other words, the philosophy inherent in much of modern feminism has more to do with the philosophical responses and counter movements to the enlightenment, than they have to do with the enlightenment. Specifically, much of it is indebted to the philosophy of the romantic era, where it was thought that the individual’s values could not be formularized as a list of abstract rights and ideals, but were deeply rooted in culture, community, and personal identity.

In other words, where the enlightenment was universalist, rational, and impersonal, the philosophy of the romantic era was particularistic, experiential and personal. They are and were two completely different ways of viewing the world.

So where Western feminists used to be unequivocally opposed to traditions, cultures, and religions that stood in the way of their enlightenment values, the picture is now less clear cut. It is not that modern feminists don’t care about the plight of women outside of their own culture and ethnicity, as right-wingers often like to accuse them of being. Rather, it is that modern feminists tend to see the traditions, mores, and religious of individuals belonging to other cultures as vulnerable components of their identity. If these were steamrolled by Western pundits, this might result in an empowered majority culture subjugating a vulnerable minority. In the eyes of many modern feminists, lecturing people of other cultures about what values they should have can very easily border on cultural imperialism and be disempowering to minorities.

This is where the confusion comes in: Prosaically speaking, worrying about steamrolling minority cultures has very little to do with women’s rights and very much to do with an overall agenda of fighting racism, where modern feminists see themselves as the defenders of vulnerable minorities.

This is why leading feminist pundits all over northern Europe were left speechless when 2000 Middle Eastern and North Africa men stage a massed sexual assault on 1200 European women.  Obviously these men were trampling the rights of women underfoot. But they were also part of what many modern feminists perceived as a vulnerable minority culture. They wouldn’t risk being the enablers of cultural imperialism.

In this way we can see how modern feminism is trapped in a contradiction between two philosophical traditions that simply cannot be synthetized. The enlightenment one, that cares about equal rights and is rational, individualistic and universalist. And the romantic one, which places more stress on the personal, the particular, and on protecting minorities from cultural hegemony and imperialism. And this is what we call The Contradiction in Modern Feminism.

AVOIDANT PERSONALITY

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

People with the avoidant personality shy away from other people because they are afraid of being criticized or embarrassed, or because they worry that they will appear foolish. Usually avoidants are very concerned that if they are criticized, they will blush or cry in front of other people. They often feel inadequate, which makes them inhibited in social situations. People with the avoidant personality might believe they are so unappealing that no one would want to know them or be friends with them. They will usually refuse to be in a relationship unless they are sure that the other person will like and accept them. To make sure others like them, avoidants are often “eager to please” and hesitant to state their disagreements with others directly. Ironically, people with the avoidant personality often behave in a way that confirms their negative self-image. They are so sensitive to criticism that they often misinterpret innocent comments as negative or critical. When they interact with other people, they may act fearful or tense, and make a mistake, which often prompts others to tease or criticize them. Thus their anxiety becomes self-reinforcing.

Because they are so uncomfortable around other people, avoidants usually have very few or no close friends other than perhaps some in their immediate family. They might be willing to stay in an unhealthy friendship because they believe they aren’t appealing enough to make friends with other people. Furthermore, avoidants are usually distant or restrained in romantic relationships because they are afraid of being made fun of or shamed if they reveal too much about themselves. They fear that if they were to get close to other people then they would see their weaknesses and inadequacies and reject them, so they prefer to not even try. They also avoid jobs where extensive socializing is required. Avoidants rarely seek help from a therapist because they are uncomfortable talking to other people and fear being judged by them.

Because they avoid therapy, it is difficult to estimate the prevalence of avoidants in the population. Research suggests that less than 1 percent of the population are avoidant personalities.

Avoidant personality might sound a lot like schizoid personality, since people with both these personalites are “loners,” but they are different in at least one crucial way. Whereas an “avoidant” is isolated because of hypersensitivity to criticism, shyness, and low self-esteem, someone with the schizoid personality is cold and indifferent to criticism.

Most people use avoidance as a coping strategy at times in their life, especially to relieve anxiety or when faced with difficult life choices or situations. However, a genuine avoidant personality is characterized by pervasive behavioral, emotional, and cognitive avoidance, even when personal goals or wishes are foiled by such avoidance. Cognitive themes that fuel avoidance include self-deprecation, beliefs that unpleasant thoughts or emotions are unmanageable and intolerable, and an assumption that exposure of one’s “real self” to others or assertive self-expression will be met with rejection. People with Avoidant Personality express a desire for affection, acceptance, and friendship, yet frequently have few friends and share little intimacy with others. Their frequent loneliness, sadness, and anxiety in interpersonal relationships are maintained by a fear of rejection, which inhibits the initiation or deepening of relationships.

A typical avoidant believes, “I am socially inept and undesirable.” If someone in their social circle elicits thoughts and uncomfortable feelings stemming from these beliefs, avoidants frequently begin to avoid or “shut down” by changing the topic. Similarly, many avoidants are prone to substance abuse to distract themselves from negative cognitions and emotions.

Antisocial personality

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

The history of the antisocial personality is long and complex. You may have heard the terms sociopath and psychopath, which are used to refer to individuals who behave violently, aggressively, and selfishly. The media often apply these labels to serial killers. Indeed, the features of the “psychopath” and “sociopath” are similar to the current descriptions of the antisocial style. It is characterized by a persistent and pervasive disregard for the needs and rights of others.

Antisocial personality traits can often be seen already in early childhood, for example, in the form of aggression toward people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, theft, or the serious violation of rules. In adulthood, antisocial personalities usually continue to engage in behaviors that harm others, and they tend to be indifferent to how their behavior affects other people.

In contrast with other personality styles, most of the features of the antisocial personality are behaviors that can be observed, rather than thoughts or feelings that the therapist must attempt to analyze. Behaviors such as being indifferent to the interests of others, failure to obey the law, harassment, theft, or fraud.

Antisocial individuals are usually deceitful and manipulative and will lie or charm others to obtain money, power, or sex. Lying is a common trait among people with antisocial personality, and antisocial personalities can typically tell lies with ease.

While many antisocials can be devious and charming, and good at manipulating others, the antisocial temperament is at root impulsive. Antisocial personalities can only hold back their true intentions for so long before they have to discharge their pent-up frustration, or chase a new gratification, such as sex, alcohol, gambling, fraud, and so on.

Many antisocials have trouble holding a job, and even antisocials who at first glance appear successful will typically have a resume characterized by lots of different jobs held in quick succession.

The antisocial temperament is irritable and aggressive. Many engage in physical fights and may end up in prison. However, if the antisocial is a high-IQ individual, one will typically see these same tendencies unfold in the domain of interpersonal manipulation instead. The antisocial is still irritable and aggressive, but they use these dark sensations as a catalyst to manipulate and defraud others, rather than fight them with their fists.

Some antisocials also display a marked disregard for their own safety, along with that of others, and may engage in drug abuse, unsafe sex, or reckless driving.

Despite the harm they cause, most antisocials do not feel remorse and guilt. In fact, many are constitutionally incapable of such emotions. They may understand that others regard their actions as deplorable and adjust their demeanor to give the impression that they regret what they have done. But inwardly, they almost never do.

Antisocial individuals are cynical, callous, arrogant, and cocky. Some antisocials are also extremely intelligent and charming. Their combination of charm, recklessness, and indifference to others can create an extremely manipulative and potentially dangerous person and, for reasons that are not fully understood, this charming but dangerous personality can often be extremely attractive to certain women. Whether they be blue-collar brawlers or white-collar fraudsters, many antisocials have scores of female fans and admirers, who often know full well that the antisocial is mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

The antisocial personality is noticeably more common in males than in females, with studies reporting the ratio to be somewhere between one-to-three and one-to-five.

In the history of psychology, most therapists have traditionally regarded antisocial personalities as untreatable. However, not everyone agrees, and some therapists believe they can help antisocial personalities to consider a broader range of actions and consequences before rushing to discharge their frustration. At any rate, almost everyone agrees that the antisocial style is one of the most difficult personalities to treat.

Narcissistic Personalities

Monday, October 17th, 2016

The key theme for narcissistic personalities is “self-aggrandizement.” People with a histrionic personality style want attention from others. People with a narcissistic personality need not only the attention of others, but their admiration as well. However, even though narcissists are extremely concerned with how others view them, they tend to be remarkably self-centered and to do very poorly when it comes to empathizing with the needs, thoughts, and concerns for others.

Narcissists have heightened levels of grandiosity and vanity. In essence, they believe that they are unique and deserve special treatment. Individuals with a narcissistic personality rarely see problems with their own behavior. In many cases, their family and loved ones find them self-absorbed and shameless, but narcissists don’t see themselves this way at all. Entitlement is a key feature of the narcissistic personality, and narcissists can get very angry if they do not get the special treatment that they think that they deserve. Narcissists typically think that they’re above the rules and will often take it personally if someone insists that they’re not. They tend to have beliefs like “if others don’t recognize my special status, I must put them in their place,” or “if I am to maintain my superior status, I must demand others’ subservience.”

In this way, narcissistic personalities almost think of themselves as princes or princesses. They believe that they have a special status that places them above ordinary people. They see themselves as prestigious and as elevated above the average person, while they see others as their vassals and potential admirers. They seek recognition from others to maintain their grandiose self-image and preserve their superior status. A core belief of theirs is: “Since I am special, I deserve special privileges and prerogatives.” On the other hand, when narcissists experience a significant defeat, they are prone to a catastrophic drop in self-esteem. Often, it is very stressful and uncomfortable for the narcissist to have to remain in a situation where they are not admired, and many may give way to aggression, fits of rage, or despair if forced to do so. Their main affect is anger when other people do not accord them the admiration or respect which they believe they are entitled to, or otherwise thwart them or fail to buy into their grandiose façade in some way.

Narcissistic personalities who end up in the role of manager or leader are often unpopular with their subordinates. In positions of power, narcissists are prone to exploiting their employees towards furthering their own wishes and career. Narcissistic bosses often take credit for the work of their subordinates, play favorites, or appear empathetic with the needs and wishes of their employees.

Though narcissists have an easy time manifesting an air of contentment about them, their friendships with others are usually superficial, and deep down many narcissists are actually lonely. Usually, a narcissist will have a hard time forming a friendship or romantic relationship if the other person is not likely to enhance their self-esteem or help them in some way.

The narcissist’s self-centeredness means that they lack an appreciation for other people’s points of view. It is difficult for them to understand that other people might have their own thoughts and feelings and that the narcissist’s well-being is not the most important thing to everyone else.



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