Grandstanding? »« The men who actually deserve them

A culture that constantly devalues women

There’s also a good article in The Bell Jar on Elliott Rodger and his hatred of women and misogyny in general.

He was an active member of the “PUAhate, an online forum (which has been down since the shootings) dedicated to “revealing the scams, deception and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to mislead men and profit from them.” And just to clarify, they’re not revealing these scams because of how vile and misogynistic they are, but rather because these men have tried these techniques and still failed to trick women into sleeping with them. These are men who both feel entitled to have sex with women and also blame all women everywhere for not fucking them. See, they want to have sex with a woman because that’s what they deservejust for being dudes, but they also hate women for withholding what they view as rightfully theirs. And I mean, boy do they ever hate women. The PUAhate forum has, according to an article on The Hairpin, threads with titles like “Are ugly women completely useless to society?” and “Have any hot women ever committed suicide?”

Most men like that don’t kill women. I bet most of them don’t treat women very well though.

Last night, shortly before going on his killing spree, Rodger posted a video on YouTube to serve as his manifesto. In it, he declares that he’s a 22 year old virgin, and then goes on to say:

‘College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it,’ he says in the video, which runs to almost seven minutes.

‘I’m going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoilt, stuck-up, blonde slut that I see inside there. All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would’ve all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them,’

‘I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male …’

Once at a book group, years ago, we asked about the roots of misogyny, and a guy there gave exactly that explanation. He gave it as one who experienced it that way, too, which was slightly unnerving.

This is what the Men’s Rights Movement teaches its members. Especially vulnerable, lonely young men who have a hard time relating to women. It teaches them that women, and especially feminist women, are to blame for their unhappiness. It teaches them that women lie, that they cheat, trick and manipulate. It teaches them that men as a social class are dominant over women and that they are entitled to women’s bodies. It teaches them that women who won’t give them what they want deserve some kind of punishment.

We need to talk about this. The media, especially, needs to address this. We live in a culture that constantly devalues women in a million little different ways, and that culture has evolved to include a vast online community of men who take that devaluation to its natural conclusion: brutal, violent hatred of women. And I don’t mean that all these men have been physically violent towards women, but rather that they use violent, degrading, dehumanizing language when discussing women. Whose bodies, just as a reminder, they feel completely entitled to.

It’s not a good arrangement.

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    um…not to be politically incorrect, but is anyone else sort of starting to feel like a Jew in late 1930s Poland? That something really bad is coming?

  2. says

    And remember, women are supposed to give men a clear “no” when they aren’t interested, because men deserve honestly, but be nice, because they are the one’s putting their pride at risk, and oh, like the “nice” guys not the jerks because nice guys will murder you for rejecting them. It’s interesting how women are at fault no matter what they do.

  3. Claire Ramsey says

    For a good number of residents of Santa Barbara/Isla Vista, that bad thing already arrived.

  4. MadHatter says

    That bad thing happens every day on a smaller scale, but for much the same reason. The question to me is whether the media will talk about it that way. Right now I’m guessing not.

  5. Omar Puhleez says

    From the (anonymous?) original in The Belle Jar:

    “Almost everything I’ve read about him has referred to him [Rodger] as a ‘madman’ or ‘mentally ill.’

    “No. We have no evidence yet that he suffered from any kind of mental illness or was under any sort of treatment. Immediately claiming that with no proof to back that fact up leads to the further stigmatization of the mentally ill, and contributes to the (incorrect) assumption that mental illness equals violence, and vice versa.
    .

    [So are we being encouraged to conclude that Rodger was just engaged in normal routine male behaviour?]
    .

    “We don’t know whether Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. What we do know is that he was a Men’s Rights Activist, or MRA….
    .

    [The categories subsumed within the rubric of ‘mental illness’ can be whatever people choose them to be, and historically have changed with psychiatric fashion. But there was clearly something seriously amiss with this man: his behaviour was NOT typical and NOT common. That is why he is in the news.]
    .

    “We need to talk about this. The media, especially, needs to address this. We live in a culture that constantly devalues women in a million little different ways, and that culture has evolved to include a vast online community of men who take that devaluation to its natural conclusion: brutal, violent hatred of women. And I don’t mean that all these men have been physically violent towards women, but rather that they use violent, degrading, dehumanizing language when discussing women. Whose bodies, just as a reminder, they feel completely entitled to.”
    .

    Well, that may be the anonymous author’s reality, but I must confess that I have little experience of anything like it as an observer, and none whatever as a participant. However, an event like this provides a scene around which all sorts of online vultures can gather. That much I agree with.

  6. RossR says

    I don’t think there is really a widespread assumption that mental illness equals violence, but mental illness is certainly always put forward as an excuse or even justification for this type of crazy violence: no normal person would do this, therefore he was not normal. This does not denigrate mental patients with different problems, except to those who think only in generalities. Perhaps that should also be seen as a mental disorder.

  7. says

    I agree with RossR.

    The term mental illness is so broad that it can easily hold pathological mental states that predispose towards violence. It’s a really ill-defined word. As a person with a neurological disorder I’m far more offended by people trying to make excuses for that dead fool by pointing to his aspergers which does not predispose towards violence.

  8. Edward Gemmer says

    I’m not sure the approach advocated on that link is a particularly good one. Certainly, many young men get quite frustrated at dating and sexuality in general. Adding a deep layer of guilt on top of that doesn’t seem to be a good strategy. The PUA stuff is often ugly and nonsensical, but they do have at least one good idea – that being successful with women is about you, not the women. However, wanting to be successful with women is not something that should be demonized – as you are basically demonizing pretty basic sexuality.

  9. says

    > However, wanting to be successful with women is not something that should be demonized – as you are basically demonizing pretty basic sexuality.

    What I demonize, and I think others here do, as well, is the idea that if a man does X he has earned sex. I am demonizing the mentality that women are “targets.” PUA make the “game” about the guy because they don’t see women as fully human, autonomous beings. So when a woman doesn’t behave as expected, it’s like a faulty DVD player or a blender that won’t turn on. It makes the individual angry because the thing didn’t act they was the manual said.

  10. Shatterface says

    Omar Puhleez:

    “Almost everything I’ve read about him has referred to him [Rodger] as a ‘madman’ or ‘mentally ill.’

    “No. We have no evidence yet that he suffered from any kind of mental illness or was under any sort of treatment. Immediately claiming that with no proof to back that fact up leads to the further stigmatization of the mentally ill, and contributes to the (incorrect) assumption that mental illness equals violence, and vice versa.

    [So are we being encouraged to conclude that Rodger was just engaged in normal routine male behaviour?]

    That doesn’t follow at all. Many people indulge in all kinds of violent, hateful behaviour: that doesn’t mean they are either ‘mentally ill’ or that their behaviour is ‘normal’. They aren’t the only choices on the table.

    “We don’t know whether Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. What we do know is that he was a Men’s Rights Activist, or MRA….

    [The categories subsumed within the rubric of ‘mental illness’ can be whatever people choose them to be, and historically have changed with psychiatric fashion. But there was clearly something seriously amiss with this man: his behaviour was NOT typical and NOT common. That is why he is in the news.]

    NOT typical and NOT common don’t mean ‘mentally ill': artistic and creative genius aren’t common.

    There are billions of people on Earth who’s personality traits, including a propensity for violence, are widely distributed: the existence of violent outliers doesn’t imply a radical discontinuity between violent and non-violent behaviour that justifies the term ”mentally ill” any more than the existence of absolute pacifists.

    If evidence comes to light that he was psychotic then we can start talking about mental illness.

    “We need to talk about this. The media, especially, needs to address this. We live in a culture that constantly devalues women in a million little different ways, and that culture has evolved to include a vast online community of men who take that devaluation to its natural conclusion: brutal, violent hatred of women. And I don’t mean that all these men have been physically violent towards women, but rather that they use violent, degrading, dehumanizing language when discussing women. Whose bodies, just as a reminder, they feel completely entitled to.”

    Well, that may be the anonymous author’s reality, but I must confess that I have little experience of anything like it as an observer, and none whatever as a participant. However, an event like this provides a scene around which all sorts of online vultures can gather. That much I agree with

    The choice is either addressing sociological problems politically or drugging or locking up those designated ”mentally ill” and hoping the problem goes away.

  11. Shatterface says

    RossR:

    I don’t think there is really a widespread assumption that mental illness equals violence,

    As someone who has followed the reporting of mass shootings over the years I disagree totally. The amount of coverage mental illness gets in the press is proportional to the reporting of mass shootings. I don’t recall a single shooting where the mental health of the shooter has not been questioned.

    but mental illness is certainly always put forward as an excuse or even justification for this type of crazy violence: no normal person would do this, therefore he was not normal. This does not denigrate mental patients with different problems, except to those who think only in generalities. Perhaps that should also be seen as a mental disorder.

    It’s not being used as an excuse or a justification: it’s being used to demonise people who are mentally ill. And if the only mentally ill people who are in the news are shooters – rather than artists game theorists – then the cumulative effect is a link in the public mind between mental illness and violence.

  12. Shatterface says

    Brony:

    The term mental illness is so broad that it can easily hold pathological mental states that predispose towards violence. It’s a really ill-defined word. As a person with a neurological disorder I’m far more offended by people trying to make excuses for that dead fool by pointing to his aspergers which does not predispose towards violence

    I don’t think people who are pointing to his Aspergers are using it as an ”excuse” any more than those who set up the Facebook page Cure Asperger’s, Prevent Murder by Psychokillers following Adam Lanza’s shooting spree had the interests of aspies at heart.

    When a headline includes the ethnicity of a criminal the press isn’t using that ethnicity as an excuse, they are making insinuations about other people with that ethnicity: same goes when they refer to Asperger’s or some other neurotype.

  13. michaelraymer says

    I really agree with the number two post here (Marine). It’s bizarre how delusional a guy like this must be, to insist and demand that women should flock to him because he’s a self-proclaimed “nice” guy. And because he’s a “nice” guy and they aren’t flocking to him (as is apparently every woman’s duty), he’s going to go on a murderous rampage. You know, like “nice” guys do. It’s also really tragic because there were so many warning signs in this case that it seems preventable. All this misogynistic ranting on his various social media outlets, and even his parents calling the police with their concerns. Yet he was still able to secure enough firepower to do the damage he did. And that online trail of hatred also points out how, despite what some vocal dissenters claim, women can’t just ignore the hate they get online. You don’t know which jerk on twitter spewing hate is “just trolling” or is the next Elliott Rodger. And you can’t possibly know that until it’s too late.

  14. Shatterface says

    This is the number one story here in the UK.

    The shootings at the Jewish museum in Brussels which claimed 4 lives barely rated a mention.

  15. smhll says

    … no normal person would do this, therefore he was not normal.

    I think people embrace and cling to this false construction because the alternative is so terrifying. (The idea that murderous violence is normal in America, and perhaps widespread.)

  16. says

    @Edward Gemmer

    “…but they do have at least one good idea – that being successful with women is about you, not the women.”
    That is actually part of the whole problem here. All social interaction is about an exchange. It is just as much about the other person(s) as it is about you. Look at that guys manifesto again. He considered the other person as a thing to be used, a tool to satisfy his sexual needs, he thinks he is owed something. The other persons agency and personal autonomy is not a factor at all. If I had to compile a list of the socially toxic components of PUA philosophy this would be item #1.

    @Shatterface 15

    I should have been more specific. I have seen some people on Facebook make that connection via links to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

  17. Blanche Quizno says

    A coupla observations. Surely we’ve all heard that joke that a girl is a “slut” if she sleeps with everyone, but she’s a “whore” if she sleeps with everyone EXCEPT YOU. I’ll leave you to meditate upon that O_O

    RE: mental illness. There was a broad discussion of the mental illness defense, if memory serves, with the Jeffrey Dahmer (kidnapper/rapist/murderer/cannibal) trial. And there are two objections with a knee jerk “mentally ill” conclusion. First of all, it says that, if the details are sufficiently shocking, = mental illness. Because we like to think that no sane person would dream of “going there.” But just as violent criminals have started using bleach to clean up a crime scene (something that was virtually unheard of until, like, CSI and other shows that educated people about forensics), it doesn’t take a real genius to see that, if you are a violent criminal who wants the option of getting off on a mental insanity plea, all you’d have to do is add some really bizarre details – kill that woman, then stuff a bunch of beets into her mouth. I don’t know. Use your imagination.

    The other danger, which smhll alluded to in 18 is our tendency to describe the scary person in terms that “other” him – he’s a “monster”, a ‘beast”, a “demon”, etc. Not really human. It is unfortunate that “mentally ill” has taken its place in this lexicon. I think people do that because the Reagan social reforms closed down so many mental institutions that now a great many mentally ill people are homeless and ill-kempt, carrying on (sometimes loud) conversations with the air. They’re easy to spot, in other words, the way we imagine monsters and beasts and demons would be. And if they’re easy to spot, we’d spot them, right? See how this goes? If we’d recognize them from a distance, we could never be their victims. So, to expand upon smhll’s observation above, it’s a way of assuring ourselves that WE are safe from these “others.”

    But this Elliot kid was a normal enough looking guy, even handsome! His problem lay on the inside, where the casual observer couldn’t possibly see it.

    Back when I was in college the first time, there was this view that a girl who will make out casually with a guy or two will make out with ANY guy. It’s really strange. Once a girl gets “a reputation” for having made out with a coupla guys in a group (like athletes), some of the guys in that group then leap to the conclusion that she’s available to ANY of them, and the ones that then try to make good on this implied “offer” tend to get upset when rebuffed. I was cute and had just come out of a repressive, abusive home situation, and I liked football players. Imagine my shock when, years later, I heard from my best friend in high school that this one guy I barely knew in high school (600 in my graduating class) had a friend who had mentioned me and said, “So c’mon – let’s go get blow jobs!” That really shocked me. I barely knew the one; I didn’t know the other at all; yet because he’d “heard something”, the other guy had formed the conclusion that I was just waiting to suck on strangers’ dicks. To his credit, the guy I barely knew (a friend’s friend I’d met two or three years before over a summer) said, “No way do I want some strange girl sucking on my dick!” But the *idea* that there were girls just waiting for opportunities to “service” guys was in the air – this was the late 1970s.

    I would hear rumors about a “nymphomaniac” at a frat party the previous weekend – it wasn’t until years later I realized this was describing gang rape, probably of an intoxicated young coed. I thought that the reason the beer and booze flowed so freely at frat parties was because the frat boys liked to drink. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes ago that it occurred to me that free-flowing alcohol would make it easier to get their female guests intoxicated… Yet there was the idea, again “in the air”, that there were girls who wanted nothing more than to immediately cut to the chase and have sex with as many guys as possible. Have we overcome that? Or is it still there, just less talked about?

    Finally, re: Aspergers, I’m not sure about this, so please correct. When my daughter was 12, she started playing with the community college concert band. When she was 13, a new band manager took over (nice guy) and his son (18? 19?) was often there. He struck me as a bit off, bookish, geeky. The first time I talked with him, he pointed to a young woman in my daughter’s section and said to me, “She’s got a really nice body. I’d like to date her.” And then he went on a bit about how he’d been watching her and how attractive he found her. She DID have a smokin’ body, to be sure. But I was an older woman, over 50; I was probably older than his mother. And he’s saying these things *to me*, the first words he’s ever spoken to me! It was like I was an audience for his thoughts rather than in a conversation with him. I assumed he must be Asperger’s or something, and watched closely for a few weeks, but he never turned his gaze toward my young (and beautiful) daughter, and that other girl was old enough to take care of herself. I got no impression of menace from the young man; he just seemed a bit inappropriate. And she looked really strong, too :)

  18. says

    @Blanche Quizno 21
    I have heard that stereotype before. Basically it’s assumption fed and propagated by cultural memes that a girl that likes sex is willing to entertain any sexual proposition from any guy. Lots of guys want to have sex and too many view it as “I want my turn” instead of “let me see if I have anything to offer someone as a potential partner so I can have sex if I am a decent partner”. The problem of course being that if you put the sex as a priority you will not be able to do the social give and take as a partner very well, if at all. It’s not strange when you see it as it an unconscious strategizing with like minded people that run off of instincts and self-centeredness with a good bit of love of using power and a lack of empathy. Because blow-jobs are something you get like you go to the corner store and pick up a 6-pack, or something. However we create people that approach sex as “gimmie! gimmie! gimmie!”, we need to stop that shit in no uncertain terms. Anything that transforms rape into a “nymphomaniac factory” is not in any sense healthy to people in general. The way it must rot society around it…

    My own view on the mental illness stereotype is a real problem so I understand the sensitivity to even a general acknowledgement that some mental illnesses can predispose to violence. My own tourette’s syndrome does that, but if you have a decent environment you end up with parents and culture that can help you with that. So without very specific evidence of a rational diagnosis, connected to specific evidence from the misogynistic trash that can be interpreted as having their logic altered by the condition that condition causes, anything speculating that this was caused by mental illness has a very high evidence list to hit. The misogyny angle is far better a ground for rational speculation at this point. So I’m regretting speaking my mind on mental illness earlier because honestly the problem is far worse than the need for that level conversational accuracy. I’m probably just used to thinking about brains and anger.

    Oooooo! Demons and brains! I have some familiarity with that bit and excuses society uses too (I secretly love it when someone I am arguing with tries to talk about demon in a social context). It’s all just “stop talking about that thing I don’t want you too!” wrapped up in a desperate need to believe that someone could not possibly need to talk about something like people who hate women.

    This guy was a screwed up human being. And I have not reason to think that what he is does not represent an example of standard issue human being given the sorts of things our history contains. Really horrible people are created and that scares too many people.

    Although aspergers is connected to social awkwardness, I can think of no evidence that this sort of awkwardness is something that does not respond to things like how one is raised or how one can learn about what people do and don’t like as one ages. But that does not necessarily mean that this person had it though because that collection of behaviors would overlap with people that just don’t think that is rude because of culture. My own situation also involves problems with social cognition, but these things are usually a matter of having some issues seeing ourselves from the other persons point of view so the lessons taking a bit longer to sink in because it’s more of an intellectual thing. You can act up on occasion but that does not mean anyone gets to avoid being sorry and trying to do better and make amends.

  19. Edward Gemmer says

    That is actually part of the whole problem here. All social interaction is about an exchange. It is just as much about the other person(s) as it is about you. Look at that guys manifesto again. He considered the other person as a thing to be used, a tool to satisfy his sexual needs, he thinks he is owed something. The other persons agency and personal autonomy is not a factor at all. If I had to compile a list of the socially toxic components of PUA philosophy this would be item #1.

    Have to disagree, at least a little. Sure, all social interaction is about exchange. However, in my experience and observation, people are terrible at dating often because they worry too much about what other people do. A million questions as to whether she likes me, how should I look, how should I act, etc. lead to people to be very shy and weird around those they like. I would imagine men and women experience this, though since men are typically expected to be the one initiating contact, it’s really a buzzkill for successful romantic relationships.

    Moving past this and being able to act halfway normal around people you are attracted to is something you just have to learn, but the learning process can sure be frustrating. I would agree, the PUA community seems to move way past this, and treat all women as some sort of target ala Duck Hunt.

  20. says

    Just to be clear Edward, I’m not generalizing from this description of the killer to every single person. But we can’t ignore the fact that sex, and gender all come with social baggage that collectively make things bad for ourselves and others. But those behaviors, tendencies, and more that hurt both men and women (and gays and transexuals to add a layer that is meaningful) will be shaped differently for each group and specific example. Some of them will even be present in more of one group than another.

    I believe that some of these groups can be said to have a bigger problem things like personal autonomy and personal agency. Yeah it sucks that the social messages all say that stuff that bothers you when people are quite able to like a larger number of things than we pretend, and it sucks that there are a lot of factors that try to make men be the one that has to be the initiator. But that does lead to there being more men that act like predators instead of partners or friends. I understand your discomfort, but figuring this stuff out in the long run will require analyzing sex, gender, and where the really severe problems tend to float more often even if we are not talking about majorities of each group. Bad people do influence people around them and that is a good place to try to find answers.

  21. Blanche Quizno says

    Brony, thanks for your observations. My son has Tourrette’s, too – he does well at controlling his symptoms, but the cognitive issues/thought patterns are definitely interesting…

  22. Blanche Quizno says

    ‘Lots of guys want to have sex and too many view it as “I want my turn”’

    This. And if they feel they have been denied their turn, they feel predictably enraged – how *DARE* women change the rules so that they are denied “their turn”?? They feel THEY are just as deserving, even more so, as those men the women choose for themselves! Thus, the women are obligated to choose them as well. And if not, there will be hell to pay.

    The idea that women are basically as passive as ATMs and all men need to know is the code to punch in – wow.

  23. Shatterface says

    … no normal person would do this, therefore he was not normal.

    I think people embrace and cling to this false construction because the alternative is so terrifying. (The idea that murderous violence is normal in America, and perhaps widespread.)

    This is a conflation of two different ‘normals’.

    The ‘normal’ in the quote you start with means ‘normal’ in the psychological sense: i.e. not mentally ill.

    The second ‘normal’ is sociological and refers to events.: is an event ‘normal’ in the sense that it is common, representative and acceptable practice, or is it outside the norms of society?

    It is perfectly possible for psychologically ‘normal’ people (meaning people who are not mentally ill) to perform actions which are not ‘normal’ in the sociological sense – just as it is entirely possible for someone who is not ‘normal’ in the psychological sense to do something entirely ‘normal’ in the sociological sense.

    The fact that someone who commits a violent act might be ‘normal’ in the psychological sense does not make that act ‘normal’

  24. Edward Gemmer says

    As far as mental illness, I kind of breezed through his life story and was amazed at how lucid he sounded. If one were to write about his life from a third party perspective, it might sound a lot like what he wrote.

  25. Shatterface says

    Finally, re: Aspergers, I’m not sure about this, so please correct. When my daughter was 12, she started playing with the community college concert band. When she was 13, a new band manager took over (nice guy) and his son (18? 19?) was often there. He struck me as a bit off, bookish, geeky. The first time I talked with him, he pointed to a young woman in my daughter’s section and said to me, “She’s got a really nice body. I’d like to date her.” And then he went on a bit about how he’d been watching her and how attractive he found her. She DID have a smokin’ body, to be sure. But I was an older woman, over 50; I was probably older than his mother. And he’s saying these things *to me*, the first words he’s ever spoken to me! It was like I was an audience for his thoughts rather than in a conversation with him. I assumed he must be Asperger’s or something, and watched closely for a few weeks, but he never turned his gaze toward my young (and beautiful) daughter, and that other girl was old enough to take care of herself. I got no impression of menace from the young man; he just seemed a bit inappropriate. And she looked really strong, too

    You can’t really diagnose people from a conversation – I was assessed by a team of specialists over a period of 18 weeks – but inappropriate oversharing is a common aspie trait, as is undersharing or not sharing information at all. Offline, or even on Facebook (where I’ve never posted a picture of myself and where I never discuss my job or my family) I share as little information about myself as possible: not because I’m shy but because I’m not interested in doing so. I can’t imagine other people being any more interested in my private life than I am in their’s: I’d much rather talk about books or films or science or politics. Other aspies, on the other hand, might bang on and on about who they fancy to total strangers completely oblivious to the impression they are giving.

  26. Shatterface says

    As far as mental illness, I kind of breezed through his life story and was amazed at how lucid he sounded. If one were to write about his life from a third party perspective, it might sound a lot like what he wrote.

    That’s the kind of thing they teach you in therapy; to examine your emotions and to imagine yourself as others see you. If he does have Asperger’s he might well have alexithymia, an inability to read his own emotions or intentions; therapy would have given him the vocabulary to explore those emotions. It would be interesting to know if his YouTube videos began as part of a video diary he was encouraged to keep.

  27. says

    @Blanche Quizno 26
    They are interesting! I honestly find this stuff fascinating because who would not want to know how the heck minds put together the systems that create rage and every other intense emotion. Who would not want to see what is known about how the brain makes urges and other powerful things that can be good or bad. But we can get control and we do by the statistics, yet the themes haunt people because of instincts. Many of us think it’s worth it in the long run. It comes with a surprising amount of insight into dealing with intense emotion over a lifetime.

  28. says

    But back to the actual story. I won’t talk about TS anymore here because I don’t want to detract from the subject.

  29. Blanche Quizno says

    One more tiny step down the TS rabbit hole and then I, too, will return to the light and fresh air that is this topic O_O

    I have noticed that my TS son gets sucked down in a whirlpool of negativity, and it’s very difficult for him to get himself out of it. His dad especially needs to be reminded that he processes differently. If those around him can remain calm and rational, it definitely helps; his tennis coach has commented that one of his foci has been helping my son to not be so negative about not doing as well as he hoped. It’s clearly a pattern with the potential for escalating to something destructive. He needs a calm and ordered environment.

    In looking at the outside world, there are so many options for the reinforcement of negative and even self-destructive ideas, thought patterns, and actions. Rodgers’ diatribe against women sounds to me like someone who got sucked down in that whirlpool of negativity, who wasn’t able to get himself out and who didn’t have the social support that would have helped him do so. I’m just guessing, of course. So was it because he was alone with his thoughts too much, or because he fed those thoughts by seeking out destructive sources? That’s pretty much a rhetorical question, obviously.

  30. says

    If Ophelia or anyone else feels that this conversation is effectively taking away from our ongoing problem with people changing the subject for the needs of reason-less social conflict (as Blanche is not attempting to do) please let me know. I don’t mind talking to someone who just wants or needs to know something about TS from an adult with it.

    >”I have noticed that my TS son gets sucked down in a whirlpool of negativity, and it’s very difficult for him to get himself out of it.”
    The reason is that from the inside TS is largely about really intense conscious and unconscious emotional impulses. It takes longer and often targeted methods of disabling habits of thought, because the extra intense emotions and subtly altered emotional logic has a concentration in the parts of the brain that are concerned with habits and learning. The emotional compulsions (negatively ruminating here, they are emotinal correlates to the tics that are physical habits associated with powerful urges to do something physically) are at least partially driven by a habit system with weakened inhibitory neurons that act as a locking mechanism on responses to what we perceive. The complexity of the differences lead some people with TS to urges to obsess about the dynamics of a social situation, and some others additionally feel urges associated with saying to doing a thing that is inappropriate in that situation. (“Bomb” in an airport, racial slurs, insults about weight…I’m lucky I’m not in this category).

    But the “higher” inhibitory systems (closer to conscious memory) do work fine*, so if someone were convey to your son healthier ways of looking at the situations in language that is personally meaningful to him that would be effective support (an alternative intellectual-emotional connection). It’s just a more intellectual path to switching the emotions associated with our mental and perceptual objects similar to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The TS related offshoot is CIBT, Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics**). What makes the process more difficult such that a person with TS has more trouble eliminating disorganized thought patterns, is that the emotional signals that produce the emotional response that suggest old behaviors turn on easily and strong.

    >”His dad especially needs to be reminded that he processes differently. If those around him can remain calm and rational, it definitely helps; his tennis coach has commented that one of his foci has been helping my son to not be so negative about not doing as well as he hoped.”

    It can be difficult for someone to empathize with mental illness that literally skews internal signals that drive complex behaviors. So do not think too negatively about your husband. Just try to find different ways of getting the situation to come across to him. There will be a way that is more meaningful to him somewhere. He probably wants to understand, but some folks have problems figuring out what to do unless they get a better ideal about why the need to do it.

    His coach’s approach is good. It’s likely something that works with regular folks and the way TS presents can bee seen as more extreme versions of how normal folks respond so a tighter focus on healthier ways of seeing things is good. More repetition than for normal folks will likely be required as well as ways of delivering the message to be a personally meaningful to your son as possible.

    >”It’s clearly a pattern with the potential for escalating to something destructive. He needs a calm and ordered environment.”
    Just keep in mind, building different responses to an emotional process is a structured process. This is the same process that other people use when changing how they feel about things, it’s just that CBT related methods are targeted routines designed to get at deeper emotional connections that are not rooted in rational self-judgements, and need more work to overwrite due to their intensity and pervasiveness.

    1. The person must become more internally aware of their internal emotional environment. Psychologists refer to acknowledging and accepting ones emotions in a nonjudgmental manner (aids like journals, conversations, art can help but methods the person with TS would personally respond to are key). This essentially builds up his internal “emotional heads up display” (the Insular Cortex) into more complex set of internal lights and dials without attaching those new indicators to any particular emotion.

    2. The person needs to be introduced to the general form that cognitive distortions can take.
    http://www.tourettesyndrome.ca/showthread.php?6625-50-Common-Cognitive-Distortions&highlight=50+distorted
    This is harder with younger folks because they have less intellectual development for introspection based approaches. So the more successful form of this is a respected authority figure using simple and personally stated empathetic descriptions of why that way of thinking makes no sense.

    3. Somewhat concurrently with 2 alternative, more healthy ways of seeing the problem are introduced and reinforced though examples and repetition.

    Repeat as necessary. The emotional impulses associated with ones past habits often don’t go away. Rather people with TS build up a complex internal sensitivity to their internal emotional range over time (related to what gets called the “Ariana effect”, the internal emotional environment is a volatile and noisy place***). The more they practice this, the easier it gets to shape ones tics, and urges into more healthy directions. If the intensity does not diminish, the alternative reaction programs can be strengthened. In my case I channel angry and rageful emotions of perceived dishonest debate and illogical arguments into very careful analytical analyses of why someone is not giving me what people need to accept an argument so that, conflicts can get to rational conclusions supported by a logical argument faster. I learned long ago to suppress that little part of my brain that tries to get me to avoid assessing and offering arguments based on in-group bias (TS is associated with a problem inhibiting one’s self reference. I always take this into account intellectually).

    Your son can be just fine with the right support. I hope I am proof of this.

    >In looking at the outside world, there are so many options for the reinforcement of negative and even self-destructive ideas, thought patterns, and actions. Rodgers’ diatribe against women sounds to me like someone who got sucked down in that whirlpool of negativity, who wasn’t able to get himself out and who didn’t have the social support that would have helped him do so. I’m just guessing, of course. So was it because he was alone with his thoughts too much, or because he fed those thoughts by seeking out destructive sources? That’s pretty much a rhetorical question, obviously.

    And that is why TS and every other mental illness is fascinating. It’s not all rhetorical at this level. There are actual connections, but we don’t have strong answers that let anyone casually apply the label of mental illness and try to use people like me and your son to create excuses for the behavior of others that they find inconvenient to them for various reasons.

    The issues that people with mental illness go through have elements that are reminiscent of what “regular people” do go through but in altered form that makes casual public use of these conditions inconvenient to people with the conditions (signal intensity, direction, logic changes, or presence/absence). The systems are general and universally human, the nature of the normal and mentally ill differences are critical context. Your son’s life and the shooter’s life are different lives with lots of factors that they are still trying to figure out how to responsibly connect to people universally. But there is still reason to make some judgements about what factors might be relevant and what ones might not be relevant as long as people can relate information to specific patterns.

    People hyper-stimulate on their own emotional reactions without considering other angles all the time. People allow themselves to to build up habitual responses to perceived intense emotion all the time. What matters is the tools that one has available personally and socially, to decide what the best reactions to those emotions are. The Killer appears to have had less tools than many and that deserves some pity and analysis (finding tools to remove misogyny is a reasonable goal, how his life created misogyny is critical to understanding). But until someone shows us that he was missing tools on a level that suggests that his chosen social environment, and chosen reactions to social problems, are effected by something worth noting we can assume that he was lacking in ways that were under his personal control.

    And we can also see that such a fate would by unlikely for your son because he has parents determined to help him find tools to gain control of himself.

    *It has been reported that tics completely disappear when a person with TS is immersed in concentration in something they enjoy. Even complicated tasks. There are people with TS in sports and music. Conversely tics seem present most often when some sort of social conflict is present. I tic when arguing online even though I am good at being analytical about the arguments I am in, but the more calm I am the less I tic. It is therapy and interest for me.
    **Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics
    http://www.tourettesyndrome.ca/showthread.php?6338-CIBT-A-Promising-Behavioral-Treatment-for-Tourette-Syndrome
    ***”Towards objectively quantifying sensory hypersensitivity: a pilot study of the “Ariana effect”.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23940834

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>