comment by buybuydandavis ·
2013-07-04T17:28:29.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I was thinking about Harry's situation-- he's grieving and under very high stakes time pressure, so there are external sources of stress as well as what he's imposing on himself.
I ended up deleting my comments about Harry in this regard. What happens when "heroic responsibility meets failure", when someone accustomed to doing the impossible finally fails when it counts, and holds himself "heroically responsible"? The whipping begins, and right on cue, we get chapters 91 and 92. In a real person, I think the beating will be savage and the person will likely break himself. But fictional Harry with a Superhuman Dark Side doesn't seem to break, he just gets harder. Someone with a mysterious dark side doesn't make for the most generalizable model of human psychology. We'll see what EY does with this.
A person who's abused may internalize the situation and come to believe that feeling better isn't safe, because feeling happy, relaxed, confidant, etc. is precisely what draws more abuse.
Very interesting point about abuse as a tool for status enforcement. (As an aside, i'd point out what a bizzarro category error it is to be playing a status game against yourself).
Yes. being happy is showing status, which attracts bullies who want to take you down a peg. The abuse gets reinforced by working to reduce status and making the person fearful and miserable, but it is likely prompted by exhibiting a higher status state that can be taken down a peg or two.
And that's a real consideration in the presence of an abuser, which likely becomes an ingrained habit of protection that persists after the abuser is gone. But it's possible to form new habits.
The solution isn't just believing that internal abuse is wrong, it's alieving that living well is safe.
For some people, very likely true. I doubt that all people whipping themselves started off being whipped by others, but I can see how abuse from others would make self abuse more likely in the way you described.
Another potential benefit to whipping yourself is hosting a pity party, which can work with a lot of people, and even has some mileage for a party of one.
More generally, any benefit to the whipping promotes more whipping. I had a different benefit going, which I called self sadism. What if instead of associating with the you that is being whipped, what happens if you associated with the you that is doing the whipping? Self sadism. A grim, cruel, sarcastic pleasure in seeing disappointments and setbacks come to fruition. I decided that was an unhelpful attitude in the long run.
From A Beautiful Mind:
I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites; like my appetite for patterns; perhaps my appetite to imagine and to dream.
I've gotten used to ignoring them and I think, as a result, they've kind of given up on me. I think that's what it's like with all our dreams and our nightmares, Martin, we've got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive.
That was my first diet of the mind - stop indulging in self sadism.
When I realized I was hearing the voice again on the other side of the whip, I eventually found a new tactic. As I said before, alienating that voice as SWIM and is not my friend is step one. Then I would tell him to shut up. La la la, I can't hear you, la la la. Often followed with some teenage vulgarity.
Wasn't I recently mentioning the power of habit with you? A habit of doing something different. I didn't even realize I had this example. I think Tony Robbins would call it a pattern interrupt. I think's it's a pretty good one and works on multiple levels. I had a pretty bad patch where I started responding to whipping this eay, and the bad patch is no more, and hasn't been around in a while. Really, I'm in a better patch than I've ever been in, because I looked at what I was doing, and found the ways I was making life harder than it had to be.
"this attacking part of myself is revolting and infuriating and shouldn't exist"
I've commented before on "it isn't fair" being a bit of semantic free nonsense. "It shouldn't exist" is another. How could a thing have a moral obligation not to exist? It does exist. But it doesn't have to be a crippling problem. Do something different when you bump into him. Do something else besides listen. Almost anything would do. "Don't listen" isn't helpful advice. Life isn't a series of "not doings". "Do something else" is helpful advice. That's something you can do.
I also hang onto the idea that beating up on myself for symptoms of depression doesn't make sense.
Yep, nothing quite like being depressed about being depressed. The power of positive feedback. Again, a mental focus issue. Seemingly intractable problems occur when our response to them makes them worse.
Much like Harry's inner Slytherin, I figured out what I was doing wrong with my mental focus in a number of ways. Listening to the whipping voice was a bad idea. If I had a "friend" like that, you'd tell me to get rid of him. That's good advice whether he's in or out of my head.
Another problem is trying to be "safe", in anticipating everything that might go wrong. Sounds like a good idea, to avoid the problems. It's good to avoid problems. But that turns life into an endless slog through problems. By the availability heuristic, if all you think about are problems, that's all that exists in the world. Further, it is just horrible decision theory to spend life working on the worst case scenarios, as you're not spending that time on much more likely better scenarios, making them even better.
Life is not so hard. The world is not so hazardous (certainly not for me with decent health and earning potential living in the US). If it seems that hard, it's because I'm doing something wrong. I don't have to figure out the right thing to do, I just have to figure out what prompts the mistake, and do something else in response to that prompt.