and I get triggered by the blogosphere, spent Saturday writing this post, where I accused bigtime liberal bloggers of doing cognitive butchery, then all day yesterday scarfing Tylenol, trying to get my head back on. I can recognize PTSD shit, but I have the schizophrenia too, and one feature of that is thought disorder, has nothing to do with anything but schizophrenia, so how do you do, pleased to meet me.
Delusions and conspiracies and bizarre intellectual theories that make a kind of crazy sense, like reverse racism or psychoanalysis, I convinced myself that today’s liberal is basically a cognitive therapist, but I didn’t publish the post so a part of me knew I was off the deep end, so it wasn’t psychosis per se, which means a complete break with reality, but close enough, “thought disorder”, okay, not as bad as it used to be and doesn’t last as long, hoooray, kind of like a spell or a learning disability, not like imagination run riot, because it’s unpleasant and I can’t turn it off.
The thing is I don’t know, maybe I’m a seer, maybe today’s liberals are all cognitive therapists at heart and I found out. Bring the news. Here it is, in edited version:
Stop doing cognitive therapy, jerks.
I’m reading hundreds of posts about the San Jose gangrape.
The 17 year old drunk unconscious girl who was rescued by 3 people who broke down the door, scooped vomit out of her mouth and who’s first words when she came to were “I’m sorry.” And,
“one of the guys who was in the room said ‘This is her fault. She got drunk and she did this to herself.'” (link)
The outcry has been swift and emphatic, she did not. That’s right. And the outpouring of support has helped her stand up and fight for prosecution.
But there is still the matter of what to do about an assault victim who blames herself. As a kid, same thing happened to me, over and over, I blamed myself til I was in my thirties. People who’ve almost died tend to blame themselves, if they’re hit by a car, onlookers understand that. But trauma caused by human violence is atrocity, perpetration couldn’t be clearer, so someone blaming themselves invites wonder and speculation.
I’m not going to link to the blog threads, it’s not about the blogs or the comments, which are well-meaning and versed in the sociological explanations — internalization of patriarchal blame, misogynistic cultural forces that mold a woman into someone who apologizes for being raped by 8 men.
That’s no excuse for the psychological butchering blithely engaged in by people who don’t even know there is a name for what they’re doing, because it’s become so prevalent it has no name but common sense.
At some point we are going to have to acknowledge the cultural influence of psychological trends. The dominant psychological ethos of an era changes its people, the impact is indirect, and insidious. The worst are those who say they have no interest in psychology and nothing to do with it, maggots, infecting the discourse. You don’t have to be in grad school or seeing a therapist to be someone who engages in cognitive therapy, today, any more than you had to visit Esalen to be a hippie in the sixties. But Esalon and hippies were twin products of the psychological fad of their time, or rather its bastardization, the lite, watered-down unrecognizable version of the psychological theory which then as now drives popular culture and legislative policy.
Thirty years ago my alternative high school conducted “algebra rap sessions” instead of “algebra classes”, students sat in a circle on the floor, the principal wore a silver coke spoon on a chain around his neck. It was a public high school, subjected to bureaucratic oversight, deemed unremarkable that a principal wears drug paraphernalia as a fashion accessory. Today’s policymakers wouldn’t allow that any more than they allow for tax-funded alternative high schools.
That was a different time, well, no, it’s not times that change but norms, what changes norms happens out of sight, by academics, experts, opinion-makers and lobbyists who disseminate beliefs into the true and obvious unremarkable common-sense consensual reality that goes without saying. Thirty years ago the psychological character norm was open, agreeable, expressive, curious, generous, experimental and accommodating.
“I do my thing, you do yours.”
Warts and all that’s humanistic psychology, no longer fashionable, roundly discredited for fueling the “if it feels good do it” narcissistic ethos, the 1970s me-generation, belief in human potential let the cat out of the cage. Pendulum swings, now we are stoics, no irrational thought is to be left unmolested.
We threw away the fundamental tenet of humanism — that people are whole, that they’re comprehensible, that they’re trying to heal, that they make meaning, even/especially at their most perplexing. This is gone. I lived through that time, felt the paradigm shift. It felt bad. You can lay the excesses, misconstruings and exploitations of humanism at the feet of the humanists, but not here, I’ll throw them over when I see something better than whole, healing comprehensible people even at their most perplexing.
So, my cognitive-behaviorist bretheren, help me, I’ve been gangraped.
Actual blogospheric comments:
What is wrong with women?
I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected.
Why would this girl feel she had to apologize for being raped? Maybe we should all — men and women — start working to correct the people who behave and think this way.
if women are apologizing for being raped, we need to acknowledge and deal with that part of the problem
Hands off, hands off, assholes, hello, she’s been raped! Lets start by acknowledging she has enough problems as it is, so what you plan to put on her plate had better be defensible from every possible critical attack you can imagine. Or we can just acknowledge the victim as a whole person. Who is not the sum of a feeling or the content coming out of her mouth. When the content is fucked up (“I’m sorry they raped me”) look for something else, look for what you don’t know. Respect self-blame as an effort to right the world. Go easy on her mind. How much you think a mind can take?
So I blame myself. You want to help? Don’t intrude on someone who’s sovereignty has been demolished. This is what I need to get back. Help preserve my locus of control. To contradict a person is to say they are wrong. Tell a victim she’s wrong to think she is wrong makes her wrong. You can’t tell someone something they already know. You think you know something she doesn’t?
I caused that means I’m in charge here . You think she really believes that, after being gangraped?
“Of course people mutilate and modify, but these are fallen powers, and to change something you do not understand is the true nature of evil.”
To correct is to assume she will stop saying the wrong thing when logic convinces otherwise, because there’s no valid reason for hanging onto the irrational.
There are layers of knowing, “deep down” things you don’t want to look at. Force is never justified and it’s counterproductive. People have a right to go at their time and pace. If this is about supporting her, why the deadline? Why fix it right now if not to quell your own distress?
“I’m sorry they raped me” is not an expression of logic, but experience. Dismissed, nullified and invalidated experience, because it doesn’t fit with yours. Some things are new.
People say awful things they don’t believe, to be rid of it, get it out of them, to hear how it sounds, and then arrive at the conclusion that it makes no sense. Awful words hang in the air, without contradiction. Argue back, now your words hang in the air. There goes the moment. “You don’t deserve this.” What, the bad guy is to blame, thanks, I did not know that. And whatever culpability I still harbor will never see the light of day, thanks for shaming!
It took a long time for me to admit I had no control over what my childhood rapists did to me, a lot of preliminary steps had to happen first, and I lost something on the way, a sense of being in control of what happens to me. I built an intricate system of elaborations from an early age, and my feminist therapist listened to me take the blame week after week without interference. The day a tear slid down her cheek, I blew up at her for being weak. I was about strength. She tended to me, waited for openings, what more can you do but facilitate, make progress easier? Preserve agency, or say hi to “do anything to me girl”.
I don’t think those who advocate psychological correction of self-indicting victims would actually do it, I think they would get scared of the pending power struggle and instantly abandon her. But in a perfect hyper-rational world o’ cognition she’d line up straight and all would be gratified by the powers of reason. If only nothing ever happened that required something different.
Ya’ll need to be more crazy. And take a cutter to lunch.