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#391550 The Truth About Verbal Abuse

Posted by Joel Patterson on 05 December 2014 - 11:42 PM

Disclaimer: All credit goes to original authors. I have merely collected and shared data. Very little of this includes my writing.



            The Truth About Verbal Abuse


                       From Joel Patterson


Definition

“So much more than name calling. Verbal abuse is the defining of another person’s inner world. It’s like a slam into their consciousness that tells them what they are, what they think, what they feel or what their motives are. It can include threats used to control another human being, to erase their perceptions, and to tell them that they are less than what they are, to define them as objects. It can be defining someone as non-existent in withholding, giving no response, as if they’re not there.  

- Partricia Evans Author of THE VERBALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP




Categories of Verbal Abuse
  

“ Name-calling, belittling, swearing, insulting. ("You are stupid." "You're a rotten kid.")

 

Indirect criticism, such as disparaging your child to your spouse, also hurts. Just because you're not berating your child directly doesn't mean he doesn't hear it and feel the sting.
 

Rejecting or threatening with abandonment. ("I wish you'd never been born." "I should put you up for adoption.") This kind of verbal abuse creates a sense that your child isn't wanted in the family.
 

Threatening bodily harm. Studies have linked verbal aggression and physical aggression: A Harvard study found, for example, that "parents who yell frequently are the ones most likely to hit frequently, and vice versa." Even if you don't act on violent threats, they may make your child fear and distrust you.

Scapegoating or blaming. ("You're the reason this family is such a mess." "If I didn't have to take care of you, I could have a better life." "If you weren't so clumsy, your sister wouldn't have gotten hurt.") Your child will think he's a bad person who deserves to be unhappy.

 

Using sarcasm. Making a mocking remark, such as "Now that was smart" when he spills juice on the rug, might seem like a way to avoid direct criticism, but your child is perceptive enough to understand that you're demeaning him.
 

Berating your spouse. A study at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, determined that children who see their parents verbally abusing each other are more likely to be depressed or anxious, and to experience more interpersonal problems of their own. Interestingly, the study also found that verbal aggression between parents was more traumatic to children than physical violence between parents.” [1]



Prevalence of Verbal Abuse

“One national study from the University of New Hampshire found that 63 percent of American parents reported one or more instances of verbal aggression, such as swearing at and insulting their child. [2]

A 2003 survey of nearly 1,000 American parents found that almost 75 percent reported shouting, yelling or screaming at their children during the previous year. On average, they reported doing so at least once a month. But the authors of the study of “psychological aggression” by parents, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, assumed it happened more often because yelling is “so ordinary and so taken for granted” it does not stand out in one’s memory. “[3]



Impact

A new study led by Ming-Te Wang, assistant professor of psychology in education in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education and of psychology in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences suggests that “use of harsh verbal discipline—defined as shouting, cursing, or using insults—may be just as detrimental to the long-term well-being of adolescents.”(as physical discipline)

Rather than minimizing problematic behavior in adolescents, the use of harsh verbal discipline—defined as shouting, cursing, or using insults— may in fact aggravate it. The researchers found that adolescents who had experienced harsh verbal discipline suffered from increased levels of depressive symptoms, and were more likely to demonstrate behavioral problems such as vandalism or antisocial and aggressive behavior.

 

Adolescents who had experienced harsh verbal discipline suffered from increased levels of depressive symptoms, and were more likely to demonstrate behavioral problems such as vandalism or antisocial and aggressive behavior.” [4]






As Damaging as Physical Discipline?

Wang and Kenny found that the negative effects of verbal discipline within the two-year period of their study were comparable to the effects shown over the same period of time in other studies that focused on physical discipline.

 

“From that we can infer that these results will last the same way that the effects of physical discipline do because the immediate-to-two-year effects of verbal discipline were about the same as for physical discipline,” Wang said. Based on the literature studying the effects of physical discipline, Wang and Kenny anticipate similar long-term results for adolescents subjected to harsh verbal discipline.”[4]



The Importance Of Consistent Parenting

Significantly, the researchers also found that “parental warmth”—i.e., the degree of love, emotional support, and affection between parents and adolescents—did not lessen the effects of the verbal discipline. The sense that parents are yelling at the child “out of love,” or “for their own good,” Wang said, does not mitigate the damage inflicted. Neither does the strength of the parent-child bond.

 

Even lapsing only occasionally into the use of harsh verbal discipline, said Wang, can still be harmful. “Even if you are supportive of your child, if you fly off the handle it’s still bad,” he said. [4]



Key Facts on How Abuse Effects Brain Development

Dr. Martin Teicher’s work extends beyond studies regarding the effects that verbal abuse has on brain development. One of the most fascinating findings that Dr. Teicher’s large body of work shows is that, not only is the brain molded by experiences that occur throughout the lifespan, but “there are particular stages of development when experience exerts either a maximal (sensitive period) or essential (critical period) effect”

Thus, if stress exposure targets different brain regions based on ages of exposure, then exposure at different ages may lead to different clinical outcomes. Childhood exposure sensitizes the individual to later emergence of depression during adolescence.

(This is important to understand when considering the results of studies which document the impact of verbal abuse.)

img1_zps204f8f92.jpg[10]




The hippocampus is part of a system that commands many bodily functions: the limbic system, which is located in the brain's medial temporal lobe. The hippocampus is responsible for long-term or "declarative" memory.





img2_zpsf59a0974.jpg






The corpus callosum consists of about 200 millon axons that interconnect the two hemispheres. The primary function of the corpus callosum is to integrate motor, sensory, and cognitive performances between the cerebral cortex on one side of the brain to the same region on the other side.[11]



img3_zpsc1166e7e.jpg


The Prefrontal Lobes are important for

Attention
Execution Function
Working Memory
Motivation
Behavior Inhibition






Delayed Impact

In addition, it appears as though the effects of child abuse are delayed. On average, there is a 9 year gap between exposure to childhood sexual abuse and emergence of depression.

img4_zps011098a6.jpg


Subjects who developed major depression had the onset occur between 10–20 years of age (mean survival 15.0 years; 95% CI: 13.6–16.4 years). The average time from onset of CSA(childhood sexual abuse) to onset of major depression, in those who developed depression, was 9.2 ± 3.6 years. Mean survival time from onset of CSA to onset of depression for the entire sample was 11.47 years (95% CI: 9.80–13.13 years). Mean survival from offset of CSA (first episode if there were multiple perpetrators) was 9.55 years (95% CI: 7.45–11.65 years). “ [12]

img5_zps496ba2b0.jpg


The Brain on Verbal Abuse


“Verbal assault can alter the way a developing brain is wired," says Martin Teicher, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

 

Brain scans reveal decreased activity in parts of the brain concerned with emotion and attention. Patients with a history of sexual abuse or intense verbal badgering showed less blood flow in a part of the brain known as the cerebellar vermis. The vermis aids healthy people to maintain an emotional balance, but in those with a history of childhood abuse, that stabilizing function may become impaired.

He and his colleagues have already found evidence of anxiety, depression, and brain differences in a study of 554 college students exposed to loud yelling, screaming, and belittling remarks directed at them. The latter include remarks like "You're stupid," "You'll never amount to anything," and "Why can't you be more like your cousin?" From this study, Teicher concludes that "exposure to verbal aggression may have effects as powerful as physical or nonfamilial sexual abuse."

 

Harsh punishment, unwanted sexual advances, belittling, and neglect are thought to release a cascade of such stress hormones, which produces an enduring effect on the signals that brain cells send and receive from each other. As a result the brain becomes molded to overrespond to stress. [5]

In 2009, Martin Teicher and collegues published an article entitled ”Preliminary evidence for white matter tract abnormalities in young adults exposed to parental verbal abuse.”, which documents their research on how verbal abuse impacts the brain.  Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) was used to ascertain whether PVA was associated with abnormalities in brain white matter (WM) tract integrity.










(Facts for understanding the images)
*Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measures the direction of movement of water molecules within and along axons, which comprise the bundles of nerve fibers in the brain's white matter.

*Fractional anisotropy(FA) is the uniformity of water flow throughout the brain. areas with low FA are indicative of axonal injury, and areas with abnormally high FA, as compared to healthy brains.

img6_zps1a79eac1.jpg


The arcuate fasciculus is a white-matter fiber tract that links lateral temporal cortex with frontal cortex via a dorsal projection that arches around the Sylvain fissure.


Detailed tractography of left arcuate fasciculus fibers in a representative subject color coded by fiber direction. Yellow region marks segment of the pathway delineated by Tract-Based Spatial Statistics as having significantly lower Fractional anisotropy in subjects with Parental verbal abuse versus controls.”[14]

img7_zps5e07353a.jpg


The cingulum is a collection of white matter fibers projecting from the cingulate gyrus to the entorhinal cortex in the brain, allowing for communication between components of the limbic system.

Detailed tractography of left cingulum bundle fibers in a representative subject color coded by fiber direction. Yellow region marks segment of the pathway delineated by TBSS as having significantly lower Fractional anisotropy in subjects with Parental Verbal Abuse versus controls.”[14]


img8_zps6ea84297.jpg


The Fornix is a C-shaped bundle of fibers, also known as axons, which carry signals from the hippocampus to other parts of the brain.



Detailed tractography of left fornix fibers in a representative subject color coded by fiber direction. Yellow region marks segment of the pathway delineated by TBSS as having significantly lower FA in subjects with PVA versus controls.[14]


Overall, results from this study support a hypothesis that the brain is chiseled in precise ways by exposure to adverse early experience. Analysis of neural connectivity patterns provides preliminary but intriguing evidence that the arcuate fasciculus, cingulum bundle and fornix may be vulnerable to the effects of early stress. Diminished fiber integrity, aberrant crossing patterns, alterations in axonal diameter, or extent of myelination along portions of these pathways may underlie some of the psychiatric and neurocognitive consequences of childhood abuse. “[14]




img9_zps372d0964.jpg


 

“These findings and the present results suggest that the development of auditory association cortex involved in language processing may be affected by exposure to early stress and/or emotionally abusive language.”- Martin Teicher[9]








As Damaging As Sexual Abuse?


“Because exposure to verbal aggression has received relatively little attention as a specific form of abuse compared to physical and sexual abuse, Martin Teicher and three colleagues of Harvard University— Jacqueline Samson, Ann Polcari, and Cynthia McGreenery — set out to do a study comparing the impact of childhood verbal abuse in both the presence and absence of physical and sexual abuse and exposure to family violence.


They recruited 554 young people, aged 18 to 22 years, who responded to advertisements. About half were women and most were white. They all filled out questionnaires about unhappy childhoods and verbal abuse.


Verbal abuse, the researchers found, had as great an effect as physical or nondomestic sexual mistreatment. Verbal aggression alone turns out to be a particularly strong risk factor for depression, anger-hostility, and dissociation disorders. The latter involve cutting off a particular mental function from the rest of the mind. In one type of dissociation, the person can’t recall part of his or her personal history. Other types involve hallucinations, feeling unreal or unstable, unconsciously converting painful emotions into physical symptoms, and multiple personalities.

“Our findings raise the possibility that exposure to verbal aggression may affect the development of certain vulnerable brain regions in susceptible individuals,” Teicher’s group warns. “Alternatively, such exposure in childhood may put into force a powerful negative model for interpersonal relationships.” Possible consequences could include insecure attachments to others, negative feelings about oneself in relation to others, poor social functioning, and lowered self-esteem and coping strategies. Worse, says, Teicher, “such possibilities are not mutually exclusive.”

Teicher shows that, indeed, exposure to verbal abuse does affect certain areas of the brain. These areas are associated with changes in verbal IQ and symptoms of depression, dissociation, and anxiety.


The effects of verbal abuse were worse than witnessing serious domestic violence and as serious as sexual abuse outside the home, but not as bad as sexual abuse by a family member. Of 54 people in the study who witnessed domestic violence, 35 saw their mothers being threatened or assaulted. Twenty-three witnessed brothers and sisters being physically mistreated. Thirteen of these attacks involved severe beatings.” [6]


 

img10_zps7325f400.jpg
[7]



The Limbic System Checklist-33 was created to evaluate the frequency with which subjects experience symptoms often encountered as phenomena of ictal temporal lobe epilepsy, as described by Spiers et al. These items consist of paroxysmal somatic disturbances, brief hallucinatory events, visual phenomena, automatism, and dissociative experiences.” [7]


“The Dissociative Experience Scale consists of 28 questions that assess the frequency of various dissociative experiences. Scores on each item range from 0 to 100, and they are averaged to provide an index score. Total scores under 20 capture most healthy subjects and patient groups with no appreciable dissociative symptoms.”[7]

img11_zps85fba83d.jpg

[7]







Peer Verbal Abuse

In 2010 Dr. Martin H. Teicher and colleagues  sought to ascertain what the effects of exposure to peer verbal abuse are in young adulthood. They asked “whether childhood exposure to peer verbal abuse in the absence of physical bullying was associated with elevations in psychiatric symptoms, similar to the effects they observed with childhood exposure to parental verbal abuse.” Dr.Teicher and colleagues also “examined diffusion tensor imaging scans from a group of healthy volunteers to ascertain whether the integrity of white matter tracts might be affected by exposure to peer verbal abuse, as they had recently observed in individuals exposed to parental verbal abuse.


Detailed ratings of symptoms and exposure to emotional abuse and trauma were collected and analyzed from our multistudy community database of 1,662 young adults (636 male and 1,026 female) 18–25 years of age who responded to an advertisement entitled “Memories of Childhood.” All participants gave informed consent prior to participation. We focused on a group of 848 participants (363 male and 485 female, with a mean age of 21.8 years [SD=2.1]) who had no exposure to domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, parental physical abuse, or peer physical bullying and a subset of 707 participants (298 male and 409 female, with a mean age of 21.9 years [SD=2.1]) who in addition had no exposure to either maternal or paternal verbal abuse; exposure to verbal abuse was defined as a maternal or paternal score ≥40 on the Verbal Abuse Questionnaire.”[8]



The results are shocking...

Questionnaire scores.

img12_zpsc5859f8b.jpg


Peer vs Parental Abuse

img13_zps1d5e575b.jpg

Incidence and Timing of Exposure to Peer Verbal Abuse


Exposure peaked during the middle school years (grades 6–8, typically ages 11–14). Children exposed to peer verbal abuse during elementary school often had this exposure persist into middle school. However, 9.8% of participants in the community sample were exposed to significant levels of peer verbal abuse during middle school but not elementary school.”[8]




Neuroimaging Sample

img14_zps1c84ff4b.jpg



. Regions in the Corpus Callosum (CC) and Posterior Corona Radiata (PCR) in Which Correlations Were Observed Between Degree of Exposure to Peer Verbal Abuse and Mean Diffusivity (MD), Radial Diffusivity (RD), and Fractional Anisotropy (FA)a

a Regions were identified with diffusion tensor imaging and the tract-based spatial statistics tool in FSL. Blue coloring indicates a positive correlation with diffusion measurements. Red coloring indicates an inverse correlation with measures of fractional anisotropy. The sample consists of 63 participants who had no exposure to childhood sexual abuse, witnessing of domestic violence, parental or peer physical abuse, or parental verbal abuse and were free of axis I and II disorders.


Discussion Section from Martin Teicher’s Peer Abuse Study

Exposure to peer verbal abuse was associated with increased drug use and elevated psychiatric symptom ratings.

Substantial exposure was associated with a greater than twofold increase in clinically significant ratings of depression, a threefold to fourfold increase in anxiety and “limbic irritability,” and 10-fold increase in dissociation.

This level of peer verbal abuse was reported by 9.2% of participants who had no exposure to childhood sexual abuse, witnessing of domestic violence, or parental physical or verbal abuse and by 17.9% of the entire community sample. Hence, exposure to substantial levels of peer verbal abuse is a relatively common occurrence.

Moreover, the effects of childhood exposure to peer verbal abuse on risk of psychopathology in early adulthood mirror results we previously reported for parental verbal abuse (5). Thus, verbal aggression from peers is an important and potent childhood stressor.

Middle school was the peak period of exposure to peer verbal abuse, with 9.8% of our community sample newly exposed.

This finding fits with previous observations that peer physical aggression declines over the period from ages 8 to 18 while peer verbal abuse increases from ages 8 to 11, plateaus, and then declines from ages 15 to 18).”

 


Timing

More importantly, the timing of exposure appears to shape its impact. Path analysis suggests that exposure during the middle school years (ages 11–14) was the most consequential and was associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, dissociation, “limbic irritability,” and degree of drug use.

Overall, there were no significant associations between these symptoms and degree of exposure during elementary or high school when degree of middle school exposure was excluded. However, exposure at early and later ages amplified the association between symptom ratings and middle school exposure, more than doubling the amount of variance explained.


This suggests that exposure during elementary and high school may sensitize or reinforce the effects of exposure during middle school.

These findings are consistent with previous reports indicating that exposure to peer verbal abuse in secondary school is more serious than peer verbal abuse during primary school .

This may be because children in primary school predominantly engage in dyadic relationships, which can attenuate the perceived impact of bullying outside the dyad.

Another perspective is also possible. We recently published data indicating that there are sensitive periods when brain regions are most susceptible to the effects of childhood sexual abuse . The hippocampus was most vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse occurring at ages 3–5 years and 11–13 years. It is possible that the hippo-campus is also susceptible to other forms of abuse occurring during these years. Anxiety, depression, dissociation, and temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms have all been associated with aspects of hippocampal function . Hippocampal volume was not assessed in this study.

Diffusion tensor imaging, however, revealed an association between degree of exposure to peer verbal abuse and measures of mean diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and fractional anisotropy in the splenium of the corpus callosum and the overlying corona radiata. The corpus callosum is a massive fiber tract interconnecting the left and right hemispheres. The corona radiata contains both descending and ascending axons that carry nearly all of the neural traffic to and from the cerebral cortex. Many of these axons pass through the corpus callosum. Studies suggest that alterations in radial diffusivity but not axial diffusivity, as observed, result from effects on myelin rather than axon numbers .

Corpus callosum alterations appear to be the most consistent finding in maltreated children, and it is perhaps remarkable that they emerged in a sample of comparison subjects with no axis I or II disorders.

The sensitive period for the splenium (the most caudal portion of the corpus callosum) likely occurs during the middle school years, given the rostral-caudal progression of corpus callosum myelination and our finding that the rostral body of the corpus callosum had a sensitive period between ages 9 and 10 .

It is interesting to speculate on how white matter alterations in the splenium might be related to elevated risk for depression, dissociation, or substance abuse. Fibers passing through the splenium interconnect the right and left occipital and inferior temporal cortices. Together these regions comprise the ventral visual processing stream, which has reciprocal connections with the hippocampus.

The visual cortex is a plastic structure that is extensively modified by early experience. We previously reported that exposure to childhood sexual abuse was associated with a 12%–18% reduction in gray matter volume in the right and left primary and secondary visual cortex. We have also found similar alterations in witnessing domestic violence (unpublished data). While the visual cortex plays a critical role in sensory perception, it may have additional functions.

A reproducible finding in major depression is a substantial reduction in occipital cortex g-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is restored following treatment with antidepressants or ECT. Exposure to early stress may target GABA-ergic interneurons or fiber pathways of the visual cortex and increase risk for the development of mood disorders. We and others have also speculated that alterations in the corpus callosum may set the stage for dissociative phenomena by diminishing intrahemispheric integration.

It is also possible that lack of integration between right and left hemispheric processing of visual cues may lead to greater cue-induced craving in substance users and enhanced risk for abuse and dependence.

This study is unique for a number of reasons. First, it assessed and controlled for exposure to other forms of mal-treatment, such as childhood sexual abuse and parental verbal abuse. Second, it focused entirely on peer verbal abuse as a specific form of childhood trauma distinct from peer abuse involving physical assaults. Third, effects of exposure during different developmental stages were assessed based on our finding of “sensitive periods” when brain regions are particularly susceptible to abuse.”[8]




Further Reading


http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/children-s-health-10/child-development-news-124/yelling-at-children-verbal-abuse-648565.html [1]


http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/VB35C1.pdf [2]


http://bostonparentspaper.com/article/why-yelling-at-your-kids-never-works.htm l[3]

http://www.news.pitt.edu/news/yelling-doesn-t-help-may-harm-adolescents-pitt-led-study-finds [4]

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/05.22/01-brain.html [5]


http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2007/04/verbal-beatings-hurt-as-much-as-sexual-abuse/ [6]


http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/ajp.2006.163.6.993 [7]

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.10010030 [8]


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20483374 [9]


http://www.thebalancedmind.org/sites/default/files/Teicher.pdf [10]
http://cnsvp.stanford.edu/atlas/corpus_callosum.html [11]


http://drteicher.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/delayed-onset-of-depression/ [12]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18692174 [13]

http://www.ncbi.nlm....PMC2652864/[14]



Post Script


I sincerely hope that this has been of value to this community. If so, please share. 
Thank you so much for taking the time to read.

As always, take care.

-Joel Patterson

 


  • 27


#378534 Child abuse intervention. This time at my job.

Posted by Joel Patterson on 16 August 2014 - 12:47 AM

One of the jobs that I currently have is in sales. I'm a vendor who sets up a demo on Monday's and Fridays in Costco and I promote a vitamin like nutrient called CoQ10. The job's base pay better than any of my previous jobs, I get to practice my sales skills, which is an incredibly valuable and transferable skill.  Today I was willing to give it all up though. I was willing to cause an incredible amount of dissatisfaction in a customer and risk her complaining to Costco management or contacting my Company's corporate. Because some things are just more important. I had 15 minutes left of my shift. I look to my left and I see a woman just pounding on her son's buttocks. The sound was quite loud, she was using the kind of force you would use to bang on a door out of frustration when you've locked yourself out of your house, hoping someone will wake up to open the door. It was the most violent assault on a child I had seen in years. This was followed by, "I'll give you something to cry about!" Without hesitation i walked over to this woman and told her with firmness, "Ma'm I understand being a parent is difficult, but you do not hit children. That is assault." "How about you not tell me how to parent?" She barked "That's not parenting, that's abuse", I retorted.  She then went on to ask me if I had kids, I told her no, and then I looked at the boy in the cart and ignored her.  I asked if he was okay. With hindsight, I realize this was a silly question to ask given that he was just beat, but I wanted to sympathize with him and let him know that I cared about him.  She repeated herself, "OH SERIOUSLY? Do you have kids" "No,but I would never hit a child any more than I would hit a woman." "We'll, good for you. Thanks for telling me how to parent!", She walked away.  I might wear slacks, a polo, and a name badge, but I'm more than a salesmen, I'm a philosopher and it's my duty to help people. And I wanted to use this post to encourage you all to do the same.   


  • 25


#407917 Don't Feed the Trolls!

Posted by Kevin Beal on 11 July 2015 - 03:22 AM

Don't Feed the Trolls!
An appeal to your love for truth and your fellow (wo)man - by Kevin Beal

 

What are Trolls?
 
By "troll", I mean a person who speaks with the intention that you believe they are interested in the truth and personal integrity in order to advance an agenda which is anti-rational. Someone who benefits from your commitment to the truth while making up the rules of a debate as they go along (i.e. a philosophy counterfeiter).

You care about the value of money, which is why counterfeiting is so profitable. Counterfeiters want you to believe that they are providing value when they are actually robbing you blind. Similarly, trolls want you to believe that they are providing value in the form of rational debate, but this is not the case.
 
"How can we know such a thing?" you may ask. It's not necessary to be able to read minds; you can tell from their behavior. You can know these people by paying them back in the coin they pay you in.
 
If you use their own arguments and apply it to them, and they reject it, don't want to have anything to do with it, then you know that they are arguing in bad faith, just as you know when a counterfeiter doesn't want to get the same bills back (s)he paid you in, they know that the bills are fake (or at least suspect it without telling you first).
 
Stef has a great series about this (easily one of my favorites):

Here are some possible motives that I think all have merit, because I have been guilty of each one, in the past:

  • Maybe they are narcissistically using you to reinforce their own rationalizations.
  • Maybe they have regressed to a time in the past where someone they knew bullied them and some part of them believes they are defending themselves in the present moment.
  • Maybe they have a powerful dislike for you and want to ruin your day, and have it in their mind that dishonesty is justified because you really are that bad a person.
  • Maybe they are taking out some displaced anger on you; anger that is more appropriately targeted at someone who was/is in an unshakable denial from their past.
  • [insert your own experience of a troll here]

 

Combating Denial
 
In any case, it is some false self aspect of their personality acting out. They are in a little bubble reality, unaware of the world outside their distorted version of reality. And when people criticize that distortion, it is itself seen as denial, if not hostility. Their denial has been upgraded to the status of projection.
 
To take a silly example, if you told me that I'm not a human at all, but actually a very human looking feline and you were trying to convince me of it by coming up with elaborate arguments, then I would not in any way believe that you were arguing in good faith, that you actually believed this or were open to looking objectively at the question. Something, anyway, is seriously wrong with the interaction, and it's not me that is the source of it.
 
You are not going to convince a troll that they are wrong.
 
But it's worse than that, because now they have developed sophisticated rationalizations in response to your arguments, fantastically false premises that make them more effective trolls in the future. It may even be that the better your arguments, the worse they get. The sharks now have developed the taste for humans.

 
War of Attrition
 
You are at a disadvantage. Trolls are really only ever talking to themselves because (at least in the moment) they are not really seeing anyone else. And their unwavering conviction in believing irrational things is the degree of the self doubt they themselves feel. It's something they live with and need to manage regularly. They have a lot of experience managing it. And if you treat it like your appeal to reason is going to slap some sense into them, then I really don't think you get just what you're dealing with.
 
If you are about the truth, then you are going to crack far sooner then they will. You have 3000 years of philosophy weighing down on you and they have incredibly strong rationalization muscles. Good luck! ;)

 

And they don't want their workout to end, so they have a fantastic way to get their hooks into you: they will misrepresent you or the things you value. That is, they will appeal to your commitment to the truth. Not because they care about the truth, but because they know that you do.

 

 

Reasons to Engage

 

I've heard a lot of reasons that people have as to why they engage trolls, even after being aware that the person is a troll. The more I observe them, however, the more convinced I am that there is never any good reason. (Although there is a very funny example of Stef trolling a troll in the video series I linked above).

 

Reason #1 - "They are misrepresenting me and I need to set the record straight"

 

I don't think I've ever seen this one work out for anybody. It seems to always escalate, from what I've seen. And that presents a problem, logically for the person offering this reason to engage: if your claim is to achieve X and you repeatedly achieve the opposite of X and continue anyway, then either you are insane or you are only claiming to care about X.

 

Reason #2 - "I need to alert other people by exposing the troll by engaging them"

 

This is similar to reason #1. But I don't think that gives other people very much credit. Do you think that other people cannot see what you can see? Maybe not, but I think you should get some evidence that other people don't see it first. The degree to which you don't care about evidence that other people have been duped is very interesting, I think.

 

Reason #3 - "Trolls are good sparring practice"

 

How is this not like saying that playing chess with someone who breaks all the rules makes you better when it comes to the real deal? It will certainly make you better at having pointless "debates" with trolls in the future, but I'm not convinced that this is a good skill to have. Why not have debates with people who actually care about the truth, where things can actually be productive?!

 

There are more reasons than just these 3, but these are the most common ones I've heard.

 

 

Punishment

 

There are infinitely better things to do with one's time than engage in something futile and endlessly frustrating, so why then? I think it's because we want to punish them.

 

It reminds me of dysfunctional romantic relationships where they claim it's over, but the more they want to punish their partner, the more you get the sense that it's not over. Or when you go on a date with someone fresh out of a breakup and they want to talk about how terrible their ex was. You immediately get that something there is unresolved. When you are truly done with a relationship, you are just simply done, and that's all there is. You have no desire to enact punishment.

 

When we engage trolls, I don't think we are really seeing the person on the other end of the internet. Maybe we are displacing our anger, just the same as the troll. And maybe are at risk for our own rationalizations.

 

I notice that for myself, I have a loud part of me that would love to just say "to hell with admitting fault! Not if I'm dealing with a troll!"

 

As soon as you start justifying your own lack of integrity, I don't think there is any meaningful difference at that point. And there is a lot of energy pulling a lot of people in that direction. If you were raised in a family that had bullies and trolls, then I think it's something you need to be especially careful of.

 
Admitting Fault
 
One of the most important realizations I got out of FDR was that you can accept all of the premises of a bad argument and it will still fall. It's actually a great way to show just how bad an argument is by playing along with it. 6oodfella does this very well, especially in this hilarious video. Accepting your opponent's premises can actually make your case much more compelling.

 

This same principle applies with admitting fault. Instead of resisting admitting fault, or putting in qualifiers like "but it doesn't matter" or "but you are even worse" is only shooting yourself in the foot. Apologize without reservation. At least, when you have done something which is lacking integrity. By doing so, you don't prove they are right. You are only accepting a premise, or rather, that you are capable of being wrong. If they continue to give you shit for that, then they are revealed as jerks and you come off sympathetic. What's more, that is having integrity which is the whole point in the first place!

 

You do not lose anything by having integrity. Just because the other person doesn't have any is no excuse for anything.

 
Conclusion
 
That is not to say that you can't engage trolls. Just be aware that there are consequences. It's not harmless. And I think we all kinda get this instinctively; I just want to remind you of what you already know to be true.

 

I'm not proving anything. It's not that you should accept the conclusions I've put forward so much as you should take it seriously. It matters who you interact with and how you do it.


  • 24


#369975 Another child abuse intervention at the mall.

Posted by Joel Patterson on 13 June 2014 - 07:02 PM

today, i wanted to share a brief child abuse intervention at the mall.
 
A child was crying heavily behind me and i heard the parent say repeatedly "stop crying"
 in a sharp aggresive tone of voice.
  I then slowed down and let her catch up with me. With the child still crying, while she was walking next to me and i asked her gently, "is everything okay?"
 Immediately her tone changed and she said lightheartedly, "oh she's just fussin over not getting something"
 I then asked, "have you tried simply asking why she's upset?"
In response, she gave me a similar narrative except this time stuttering.  I've never had a parent not argue with me or attempt to put me in my place. So, when she seemed scared It surprised me.  
 I then said the child although she wasn't look at me, still crying "hey it's okay to be upset"  
Then her mom got on her level , mimicked me, and said "hey it's okay", picked her up and hugged her and then she took her to the candy shop
  I then walked away and cried because i thought what had happened to the girl was really sad

  • 24


#417114 Here's how truth & reason can reach more people - Animations with data

Posted by fishything on 02 November 2015 - 02:57 AM

Hi there, this is my first topic on FDR. What I'm about to say has been a year in the making.

 

For more than 12 months I've been creating infographics revealing data on meaningful subjects (Taxes, War, Spanking, Immigration, etc) mainly researched, written and designed by myself, with some support here and there. The work is published under the name Fishything, ill let you guess why. You can click the thumbnails of the work below to see the full (very long) versions in detail.

 

where-does-your-tax-go-infographic2.png war-on-terror-creates-terror-infographic effects-of-spanking-infographic2.png truth-migrant-crises-eu2.png

 

I'm reaching out to Stef, Michael, Stoyan and FDR viewers for several reasons: 

 

• What is your feedback/criticism?

• I would be interested in teaming up with FDR and/or others to produce infographic animations.

 

 

Here's why I think FDR would benefit greatly from short infographic animations  

 

5 minute animations using illustration and data accompanied with a voice over (such as Stef) would be a highly engaging way to communicate truths and principles from FDR quickly and concisely. This would be a great way to bring people up to speed with the conversation. Also many videos which do this well can go viral because they work independently and have wider appeal. This is unlike many of Stefs videos which require prior understanding of what Stef is about or thing's he's said before.

 

This infographic (propaganda) animation on Syrian migrants has 8 million views: https://www.youtube....h?v=RvOnXh3NN9w

Also FDR's most successful video is the 'The story of your enslavement'. I wonder if a big part of the success is because Stef's voice is accompanied with visuals in a short video?

 

FDR staff and users, what are your thoughts? Would animations boost FDR's success? Any FDR animators interested?

 

 

Why do I want to team up rather than go it alone?

 

Currently each infographic has taken me between 40-70 hours of time to research and build. A lot longer than i had hoped. Doing this on top of a full time job means it takes around one month to produce one graphic.

 

If I could find a reliable partner to do the research this would take away half the working time. If I could work with an animator the product would be even more engaging. I have experience directing several animations in the past and would be able to assist the storyboard process.

 

Ultimately my passionate in life is to share truth, reason and evidence in a way which will communicate effectively to the most number of people. If you or anyone you know would be interested in working together then please let me know.

 

 

Please follow all the work here:

 

http://fishything.com

https://twitter.com/fishythingy

https://facebook.com/fishything

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

Now here's the latest infographic just released today:

 
migrants-small.jpg


  • 21


#418968 I Owe You An Apology

Posted by Matt D on 24 November 2015 - 03:42 AM

Dear FDR Listener,

 

I owe you an apology. About five months ago, I got involved with a woman who tried desperately to pull me away from philosophy. She would say, "Is there anything you don't agree with Stef on? I want to make sure you're not being brainwashed." She was interested in polyamory, and I couldn't say no. I couldn't, I wouldn't, I didn't see her for what she was... a different species. We would fight, break up, get back together, and I believed she would change. I told myself that once she got a taste of a monogamous relationship she would change, that she wouldn't have the desire for polyamory. But that wasn't the case. Two days ago I ended the relationship after a difficult final conversation.

 

Once the initial hormones wore off, she was longing for someone else. I know it's little to do with me and a lot to do with her upbringing, with a vacant hole that her father left. I asked her, "will I ever be enough for you?" She replied honestly, "I don't think you will." And somehow I was supposed to be okay with that.

 

So for those of you who listened to my call with Stef and who tried to warn me about the dicknapping, I'm sorry I didn't listen to you. The worst part is she almost succeeded. She almost pulled me away from all the friends I made through this community. I thought to myself, maybe she's right; maybe I need to stop listening to podcasts. It's affecting my brain somehow and the way I interact with other people. I didn't realize that I was losing myself. My career suffered because of it -- I picked up everything and moved cities to be near her. I can only thank god she never got pregnant. 

 

On this Thanksgiving I have a lot to be thankful for. Most of all, I'm thankful for this community, for the people who hear the battlecry and pick up their swords to face down evil in the world. And I'm thankful for Stef for not giving up. After ten years, I'm sure there were numerous times he wanted to throw in the towel and go back to doing what was comfortable. His courage is an inspiration, and makes me want to become a better person. I so grateful for all those in my life... which isn't a lot, but it's more than I've ever had. I feel stronger than ever because of it.

 

So again, I'm sorry for not listening. I could blame it on biology but I won't make it that easy on myself. I want to have kids more than just about anything, but I can't let that blind me to the sustenance of my soul. I can't let lust shape and define my future. There are no compromises when it comes to values in relationships. Either you're on the same team, or you're not. Something tells me that in the years to come, we will need people who are on our team.

 

Until that day comes, keep spreading the message of philosophy. Look closely at those around you. Just because someone's an anarchist doesn't automatically make them a good person. Just because someone claims to recognize the value of peaceful parenting doesn't mean that person is compatible. We want shortcuts when it comes to relationships, but the evidence reveals itself very quickly if you know what to look for. The hormones will get in the way, which is why you've got to have friends who have your back. Don't let it get to a second date without getting the opinion of someone who will tell it to you straight.

 

It's a hard lesson to learn, but it helps if I can serve as an example to others of what not to do. Thank you and take care.

 

Video:

 

Note: The call-in show I reference is "FDR 3082: The Gl0ryh0le 0f S0cietal C0llapse - September 23rd, 2015"

 
 
For more on what I learned from this short-lived relationship:
What I Learned From My Last Relationship
 

  • 18


#393187 Child Abuse Intervention at Wal-Mart

Posted by Joel Patterson on 27 December 2014 - 12:27 AM

I just walked away from one of the most difficult child abuse interventions, yet. 

As I was walking into wall mart, I see a black woman hit her what looked to be a 3 year old son on the arm and snapped at him to "come here."


I walked over to the lady and said to her, "I understand parenting is difficult, but you shouldn't hit children."

Things escalated incredibly quickly. 

First she asked if I had any kids. 

I said yes(which wasn't true) and then she told me to worry about them. 

I told her, "I knew you were going to say that."

She then started an incredibly racist sentence about how she don''t care how "ya'll white people raise your kids". "These are my kids."

"I know you don't  care. You shouldn't hit children." I said in return. It was I this point my anxiety was so strong 
I felt my brain shutting down, I had tunnel vision. I could barely get words out of my mouth.

She then went on to say that if I don't leave she'd 'put me down' right then and there because she was from detroit. 

The wal-mart greeter than walked over, smiling ,a young black male, and shook his hands and head indicating that I drop it. 

I then walked away, but did say to the child that nobody should hit him. I feel really angry and really depressed, powerless, and helpless about the whole thing now and I'm not sure why. 

I also feel an intense amount of disgust and hatred for people like her. 


  • 18


#388512 Feedback Requested: Accomplishing Goals, Getting Motivated

Posted by MMD on 07 November 2014 - 02:12 AM

Howdy all,

 

One of the most common questions in my inbox has to do with motivation and accomplishing goals. I'm pretty passionate about the topic and decided to record a podcast on the subject and throw it up here to see what people think.

 

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

 

Accomplishing Goals, Getting Motivated


  • 17


#413380 [Podcast] FDR3082 The Gl0ryh0le 0f S0cietal C0llapse - Call In Show - Septemb...

Posted by Matt D on 27 September 2015 - 09:06 PM

Hi,

 

I'm the guy from the second call.

 

I want to give you all an update, which is that Kristina and I have broken up. I won't get in to many details, except to say that the call opened up a lot more problems that should have been evident to me from the very beginning. 

 

Thank you to those friends who sent me their words of support and, of course, thanks to Stef for giving me the tough love I needed to hear.

 

Matt


  • 16


#385602 Child Abuse Intervention at Barnes And Noble

Posted by Joel Patterson on 11 October 2014 - 05:44 AM

It happened in Barnes and Noble. I had just stopped at the Personal Growth section, as I'm one to do. I was looking to find a book entitled "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" or something like that. Beside me, sat a woman on the floor in the "indian style" position. Next to her, also on the floor, was a young boy who looked to be the age of 7. My goal was to find something to help me process unpleasant memories of my mother that had been triggered just the day before. Before I even got a good gander at the books, I see the lady quite forcefully swat the boy's backside, which created that oh so familiar and dreadful popping sound distinctive of slapping human skin. I didn't catch how it escalated to that point, but it didn't matter. It was fucking hostile.  Without hesitation I looked down on her and scolded her, with anger and conviction, "Ma'm, that is really inappropriate! You don't hit kids" She said something to the liking of, "I'm sorry you feel that way " "No!", I pointed at the books, "no where will you find in these books that hitting kids is appropriate" I mean, she was in  a personal growth section for goodness sake. She then thanked me sarcastically for letting her know about my perception, which I'm beginning to see as a common bullshit defense from these child abusers. Luckily, since I had encountered this before during my last intervention, I was ready to reply with what I wished I would have said last time. "You're welcome", I said.  I started to walk away, but stopped once I remembered something very important.  I turned around, walked to the boy's side, kneeled down to his level, looked him in the eyes and said, ""Hey, Man. nobody should hit you, okay?" "Okay", he whispered while simultaneously nodding his head in agreement.  Now that I attended to my injured comrade, I was ready to depart.  Don't ignore the call of duty, people. We're philosophers and this is our responsibilitiy. I know it can be difficult, but trust me. Please trust me. it's worth it. As Emma Watson said, "If not us, then who? If not now, than when?" I hope that helps.  Take care,  Joel


  • 16


#396862 Help: I like this girl...

Posted by TheBen on 16 February 2015 - 12:39 AM

RY0D1.jpg


  • 15


#387416 New Freedomain Radio iOS App! :)

Posted by Florian Kugler on 28 October 2014 - 05:45 PM

 

[...] Who developed it?

 

 

It's me :-)


  • 15


#386545 Offering Therapy Services through Skype

Posted by courtneycm on 19 October 2014 - 07:00 PM

Hi everyone,

 

I was introduced to FDR in 2009, and since then have taken a radical journey in self-knowledge. I'm very pleased that this path has taken me towards wanting to help others heal, and I have opened an online therapy practice to help me do that!

 

I am currently enrolled in a Master's in Counseling program but more for the credibility and legality of practicing in the US. Most of my education has come from thousands of hours of journaling, extensive reading of books on rationality, self-knowledge, and psychotherapy, breaking from my family of origin, and exploring the world by living and working in other countries. I have been a client of therapy in the Internal Family Systems model since 2011 and have found (and continue to find) immense value in having the support of a therapeutic environment to help me process. 

 

My approach is greatly influenced by the idea of parts and I am very comfortable with using Internal Family Systems approach. That said, I am also influenced by other approaches, mainly existential and experientially based therapies, so sessions wouldn't necessarily be strictly IFS. 

 

I offer flexible scheduling and rates. Much more information can be found on my website, The Uncharted Self, if you have more questions.

 

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Courtney


  • 15


#383654 Obviously we are not all Godless here

Posted by dsayers on 24 September 2014 - 03:16 AM

@corbyco: Hi there. What is it you hope to gain from this forum? You mention a lack of integrity but provide no frame of reference. You mention a lack of respect with regards to Christianity as if respect is automatic and not earned. Later on, you mention corrupt "scientists" as if that invalidates the objective scientific method. These things seem like an effort to marginalize scrutiny, otherwise known as bias confirmation. You cannot find the truth without scrutiny. This is important because I sometimes see people describing their ideas being scrutinized as personal attacks which simply isn't the case.

 

Since you mentioned lack of integrity as cause for concern, I wanted to point out that "incredible experiences that I can only label as spiritual" lacks integrity. What incredible experiences? What does spiritual mean? Perhaps this is my bias, but I read this as, "I cannot explain it, therefore the explanation must be supernatural." THIS would be a corruption of the scientific method. As is believing something just because some dead guy said it. Like Einstein was a pretty smart dude. All the same, if he ever stated that 2+2=5, he'd be wrong. Just as if he stated 2+2=4, it's true because it's true, not because he said it.

 

Out of curiosity, if you were raised atheist, how did you come to describe yourself as a Christian? I know you said your read the Bible beginning to end, but one would expect this to discourage faith, not invoke it.

 

@Shane: You forgot the, "Oh and if you don't obey, I'm going to torture you with fire for all eternity," part. Guessing the right answer isn't the same as arriving at the correct answer by way of sound methodology. Not stealing from, assaulting, raping, and murdering other people is moral because it's logically consistent. Not because somebody specific is credited with saying it.


  • 15


#365939 A Letter to Myself

Posted by psquared on 10 May 2014 - 12:54 PM

Dear Sweet Polly,

 

Your family of origin is wrong, wrong, wrong about you.  You have some people in your life who greatly admire your courage, integrity and perseverance.  Especially in the face of the intensely unhealthy and sadistic past you survived!  Let me tell you that again, Polly.  You survived!  Daddy can't scowl at you any more, rage around and terrify you.  You have me now, Polly.  Me.  I have finally started to learn how to listen to you and just how much you suffered.  Mommy and Daddy are not able to hurt you anymore. 

 

Michael doesn't know what love is.  You showed him a trueness and courage that he is too afraid to see.  It exposes him and the sick and twisted dance of his family of origin.  Polly, my sweet, kind, genuine, loving little girl, his stories and injustices do not diminish the amazing progress you have made.  In spite of a culture which pronouced you permanently flawed and broken to the point of needing daily psych meds, you had the courage to question the true and painful origin of your depression.  You had the courage to shed the cloak of a multi-generational pattern of avoidance, betrayal, narcissism, and rage.  You decided you wanted to know, to truly know, what the truth of your history was.  Were you always skillful as you tumbled, tripped, soared and plunged through the graveyard of your family's history?  No, but you have an unbelievable hunger to continue learning.  You really do get only one life to live. 

 

You know the saying, "Don't cast your pearls before swine"?  Polly, Polly, Polly, Michael is a swine.  He is duplicitous and cunning.  He does not know how to own himself.  You have spent so many years trying to make him see your shining light.  I know, I know that it hurts to look at that length of time passing.  A decade-plus is going to take us a long time to heal but we can do it.  Please guard your beauty, the beauty of your soul, the amazing intensity of your capacity for love. 

 

Just think of all the times you have become panicked and scared at work.  You have cried, ranted, and said some pretty irrational things.  What did Brett do?  He sat with you through it all. He has never attacked you nor denigrated you.  He has never attacked your character.  He knows what ad hominems are and he will not resort to those.  He has appeared to get anxious and wanting to fix your pain but he could sort of talk about that and in any case, he has never crossed the line of turning his anxiety upon you in a cruel way.  He reassured you and showered you with appreciation, admiration, and praise.  This, Polly, this is what you deserve from the people you let into your life.  You never ever deserved the incredible cruelty inflicted upon you by adults who knew better.  You were trapped, Polly, trapped as surely as an inmate in a cage.  That is not the truth now.  It really isn't.  You are not trapped.  Michael is a trap.  He is a chameleon and changes colors to suit the situation.  He desperately needs to be liked by everyone even if it means betraying you.  This is unhealthy for you.  As it is, I am going to have to sit and talk with you everyday but you can't go back to this dance.  It is a crazy, crazy dance Polly.  It is making you hardened and suspicious of love.  You don't want that.  You can't control the stories he is spinning to make himself out to be the victim of your imprisonment.  Does it matter if non-thinking people believe him?  The people who know you will never believe those lies.  The shame and embarrassment around the dissolution of this terrible web of deceit is not yours.  Send it back to his mother and father, his stepfather, his brother, your parents and their parents and your siblings.  This shame is not yours.  Do not carry it for them.  It was a fantasy that you were stuck in for a long, long time.  Michael has hurt you deeply.  He rejected you and was cruel to you.  You were a great receptacle for all the feelings he refused to feel.  Remember your frustration?  It was completely correct.  He wanted you to feel for him.  All that grief, sadness, and rage, all the tears that he was too afraid to let fall for the little, innocent boy he was so long ago.  Seeing you grieve the loss of your childhood was too much for him to bear. 

 

You deserve to fully recognize the vastness of who you really are.  You deserve to feel safe and content.  You deserve to listen to all your parts with openness, kindness, compassion, and curiosity.  I am here.  I am willing to do whatever it takes.  I will hold your hand, stroke your hair and be present for you while we sort through the wreckage of a collapsed fantasy.  I will show you that I will not let you fall into this trap again.  You can count on me now.  When you want to die because you are certain there is no way out?  I am here; I will do anything to show you life.  Your path is glorious and brave and we can do this. 

 

Why are mistakes embarrassing?  They don't have to be!  You learned that from your parents.  They needed you to believe that so you wouldn't be able to see their complete and utter lack of desire to improve, understand and grow.  Think of all the books you have read about people who have made life easier for mankind.  They made mistakes.  It sounds trite, I know, but they kept going and changed course so as not to make the same mistake.  Let us not dwell on the mean things that Michael has said, the cruelty of Daddy's words, the abandonment of Mommy.  I am here now.  We have resources now.  You have so much joy and creativity within you.  I know that you don't know how it will be expressed.  That's okay.  It does not mean that you are stupid or inept.  Keep feeling your way forward Polly.  You have amazing instincts when you listen.  Let's listen more; let's follow the guidance of empiricism, reason, logic, philosophy.  You're allowed to have standards and criteria for truth.  You're allowed to have a definition of love which is not mangled by fear. 

 

You realize that Michael claiming you have no laughter is an absurd cruelty, don't you?  Polly, it's not much different than Daddy threatening to hit you again for crying from the first time he hit you and then criticizing you for having no sense of humor.  Michael only saw you through the distorted and warped lens of his evil and corrupt, abusive parents.  You could not win.  It was an impossible situation.  He sought at almost every turn to paralyze your capacity to reason.  He chose not to learn how to listen to and defend his own inner boy.  He chose the path of anti-life.  Remember Stef's podcast, 'Playing Cards with the Dead'?  You were playing house with the dead.  Emerge back to life Polly.  No one was there for you for many, many years.  I know that you are still baffled sometimes by the enormity of the injustice inflicted upon you.  I will listen with an open heart to those stories about your kittens, Tinkerbell, and Bingo.  As long as you need to tell them, I will listen.  But you have choices now.  And you have people who will not lie to you, who will stand toe to toe with you and gently but surely ask you to see who you really are.  They will question you in a way that helps you know yourself better.  You can trust me now.  I will not betray you again.  I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to work on these things.  It's okay, Polly, even if we only make half a step a day, I will be here.  WE are what make us whole, no one else.  There is no magic cure held by anyone outside of us. 

 

Remember that your feelings are transient.  Michael will never fix your loneliness.  He will never seek true connection wrapped in the clumsy and cruel layers of his false self.  Remember that you cannot inflict philosophy on anyone.  Think of all the times in your life that you tried.  It's incredibly frustrating.  You can't turn a non-thinking person into a thinking person with the force of your words.  You knew this as a teenager when you wrote this poem:

 

My pen is a

weapon

And I will kill this paper

With my words.

 

I know that you have created a million different arguments over the years to make people see you.  It won't work Polly.  But what I want you to hear is that I see you now.  You don't have to argue your case to me.  I'm on your side, always.  I promise.  I might not do it perfectly but I promise to hone my ability to hear you.  If we have to write 10,000 pages to understand your terror, we will.  If it takes all night, I'm here.  The worst has already happened and we're going to keep surviving until we're thriving.  That sounds dumb?  Why? 

 

You don't have to hide yourself any longer.  Mere existence is not all there is.  You know that big, expansive feeling you get in your body when you see an amazing vista?  When the mountains sing to you?  When the sound sparkles in the sun and the clouds sweep the sky?  When you feel the joy of being alive?  You get to experience that more often.  You were born for that, Polly, not the hideous, wretched cruelty of your childhood.  Embrace yourself and all that you stand for.


  • 15


#370113 My first intervention in a public abuse of children

Posted by Timur on 15 June 2014 - 02:02 PM

Hi all, I really wanted to share some details of this event that took place earlier today. I'm feeling really proud about this and had to share it.
 
I had just parked at my workplace and was walking through the car-park when I witnessed a man verbally abusing his children. His two sons were backed against the large 4-wheel-drive with the shopping trolley between them and a man who was probably their father. He was very tall and the children were very small, the older of them maybe 6 or 7 and he was probably over 6 foot. He was bent at the waist which invoked in me the image of a cave wall towering over the children. They were looking downward and holding their hands behind their backs looking quite afraid.
 
I walked past them but about 20 meters away until they were obscured by a corner but after a few steps I turned back and walked toward them. I stood some distance and shouted out "excuse me". The man seemed to shrink in stature. He said timidly "huh?". He obviously knew what this was about and his demeanour betrayed an "I-I-I didn't do nuthin'."
 
I continued with "I'm a fully grown man about 20 meters away from you and you're terrifying me." Pointing at my chest while my weight was on my front foot. Then pointing at the children but looking at him I said "I can't imagine what you're doing to those children." He didn't say anything but rather looked back down at his shopping, not at me and not at the children.
 
He clearly knew he was doing something wrong. I hope the children were helped by this in some way, maybe they'll better understand that it is their father who is the wrong-doer and not they.
 
I walked away with wobbly legs but feeling taller, and thinking to myself this is what life is about.
 
I feel empowered and more confident than ever that I will not accept abuse inflicted upon myself or other innocents ever again.
 
Thanks for reading.

  • 14


#368422 Depression as relief from anxiety

Posted by Kevin Beal on 30 May 2014 - 06:59 AM

I have a theory of depression that I've been working with that I want to share with you. Yes, you reading this right now. This is for you :)

 

By depression, I do not mean sorrow or despair or dread. I mean that numbing of emotional connection, a desire for isolation esp. accompanied by apathy, lethargy and cynicism.

 

 

Some Background

 

I was chronically depressed from a young age until a couple years ago. I grew up in a very isolated and awkward, emotionally fragile household. I got bullied at school and often at home by my older sister. I was also often anxious, though rarely to the point of a panic attack.

 

I was never taught a lot of basic skills and habits as a child and my anxiety carried into my adulthood as I awkwardly bumped my way through necessary social and adult life.

 

I thought that I was pretty much doomed to a terrible life until I saw that Stef seemed genuinely happy. That was really strange and exciting for me, and I took his advice and got into therapy.

 

 

Strange Pattern

 

In therapy, I would often bring my anxieties and depression into the sessions with me (as you would expect), and I started to notice something that was very confusing for me.

 

I call it "emotional amnesia", where I would completely forget about things I was previously excited about, or I would feel depressed in the present about something and my therapist would point out that the other day, that thing brought me joy and excitement. I was surprised that I had forgotten or that it had shifted by that much, but still I was depressed about it. It was kind of strange to me, but I didn't pay it much attention because it didn't seem to change anything that I remember feeling differently before.

 

It was almost as if all my memories of my past and my hopes for the future were covered in a dark cloud. I hated everything and it was difficult to work with because I had little motivation to work through it. That was not the only reason, or the core reason I should say, as I later found out.

 

 

The Theory

 

I don't actually know that this is original to me. I probably picked it up from a bunch of different places. But what I've come to realize is that depression is an avoidance of anxiety and overwhelm. Which is why depression and anxiety are never far apart.

 

Anxiety is terrible for the body. All that cortisol in your system can really fuck things up. And that's why depression is numbing. It's feeling disconnected from yourself, from your feelings because it's just so exhausting to feel so consistently anxious for long periods. And that's why it comes with lethargy.

 

And aside from depression accompanying a lack of motivation and disappointment or dread about the future, it's also really hard to work through, because to work through it is to feel that anxiety and overwhelm again. And even if you aren't conscious of it, your body and unconscious know how bad anxiety is on the body (and the psyche for that matter).

 

Caged animals start out really anxious, being at the whim of someone as they have to suddenly cope with a small space, not understanding what's going on. And then after a while that anxiety turns into depression. The anxiety is too much that they would rather adopt a strategy that could make them much easier prey, even welcoming death.

 

 

Dealing With Depression is Important

 

Depression is not any kind of cure for anxiety, obviously. It doesn't make anxiety go away, except insofar as the circumstances triggering your anxiety go away if you isolate yourself.

 

If you are constantly bed ridden with some illness that won't go away because you keep getting exposed to the source of that illness, you are going to miss out on a lot of opportunities, not least of which: connecting with other people.

 

 

What Changes?

 

I think the most important thing that changes once you realize how depression works is that you know that you are disconnected and you can figure out why.

 

The depression blocks two important things: the good and the bad. By feeling less anxiety and stress, it comes at the cost of forgetting the things for which you can genuinely feel grateful for.

 

The solution that I've found extremely helpful is a combination of two things:

 

First, that I consider what anxious situation I am primarily avoiding so that I can do something, anything to address it. I trust that I'm not just some crazy anxious mess of a person and that my anxiety is there to inform me. And in that anxiety I've found that it can tell me a whole lot about the situation I'm in, and even how to address it.

 

Second, by remembering how far I've come, what opportunities are now available to me in my life now that I have philosophy and self knowledge. By realizing just how fortunate and lucky I am to be living in such a time as this, that I was not born in Saudi Arabia, that I'm not a dung beetle rather than a human! And it's true that it's amazing and wonderful and if you don't see it yet, you may well later.

 

I think that both are equally important things.

 

If you don't get that anxiety triggering thing out of your life, it's probably not going to go away on it's own, and if it does, it's probably not soon enough.

 

 

Motivation

 

Motivation is tricky.

 

So many people want to tell themselves lies in order to motivate themselves. That's like the entire business model for people like Deepak Chopra. It's a thriving industry selling these people lies so that they can continue to live their own dissociated "lives".

 

The temptation that I have, and has not worked out for me, is to say to myself "if I can only accomplish X, I will finally be happy", but what happens is that I accomplish X and if I feel happy about it, it's fleeting, at best. Because what's left to sustain it? It's always the next thing, and that next thing just isn't going to do it for me either. How could it?

 

I am completely unconvinced that this strategy works anymore and instead I'm convinced that (assuming I'm not some evil guy) there is enough goodness and fortune in my life (if only the potential at this point) to create and sustain some level of gratitude. I am so incredibly fucking grateful that I found philosophy, oh my god!

 

The reason I think that's important is that, in addition to being true, the stakes don't feel as high. I can make mistakes without feeling like it will mean I know nothing, or that I'm hopelessly incompetent, or that I'm a phony, or whatever other self loathing kinds of judgments about myself that I could make.

 

Thank all powerful atheismo that I am not a farmer from the 16th century, knee deep in manure, waking up before the sun comes up to do tedious manual labor for 12 hours every single day. Or being a slave, or living during the inquisition, or losing my whole family to smallpox.

 

Compared to that, my own anxieties don't seem like such a big deal.

 

Dealing with depression is dealing with anxiety, which is dealing with the circumstances in your life.

 

 

Anyway, that's what I think. What do you think? Am I totally off? Am I missing something important? Is this helpful?


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#420752 FDR sketch animation [video]

Posted by Matt D on 15 December 2015 - 09:00 PM

I created this sketch animation to promote Freedomain Radio. The narration by Stef is from the end of the call-in show titled "FDR 3148: Being Clubbed By An Inert Brain". I apologize in advance for the grainy video quality. If this video is well-received I hope to do more projects of this sort in higher definition.

 

If you can help out by sharing the video online, I would very much appreciate that.

 


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#400842 Is Anarchism a disease?

Posted by DCLugi on 14 April 2015 - 11:45 PM


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#370875 Reputation System

Posted by JamesP on 22 June 2014 - 09:09 PM

There seems to be occasional confusion and consternation regarding the reputation system on the boards. Here is an overview.

 

One of the things that Stef has talked about on the show is the importance of a good reputation. A good reputation takes a long time to build up, while it can take just one serious mistake to cause that to collapse.

 

When we moved the board to the current software, I decided to enable the reputation system for both positive and negative votes. All donators have the ability to rate posts up or down, to the tune of 5 votes each day.

 

The main motivation behind the reputation system is to take some of the pressure of managing the community off of the admins. As of the time of this writing, we only have 2 active admins, and no moderation staff. Considering that we have a board community of several thousand users, with a hundred or more users active most of the time, that is quite impressive.

 

The community is also made up of some high quality people and is thus quite good at self-policing. The reputation system helps quite a bit with this, as a negative reputation number indicates that it might not be worth engaging with that person.

 

If a user's reputation gets low enough, their posts will be auto-hidden. These posts are easily made visible, but it is a considerable time-saver for many users, who can tell whether a thread is really worth their time.

 

As the reputation system has a mechanism for negative consequences, there are complaints about it. However, there has not been an instance where a negative reputation was not deserved.

 

Another thing I have noticed about these complaints is that they are almost exactly the same complaints that we had prior to this system.

 

Prior to this system, we could either hide posts (which users could not then choose to see), or ban a user outright.

 

We were told that we were unfairly censoring people, that there needed to be more transparency, that we were removing people who did nothing but disagree...

 

Not all people who dislike this system are experiencing direct negative impacts, but the complaints, oh, the complaints... they are the same.

 

They come up with all kinds of theories as to why they are being downvoted. They blame the system, they blame the admins, they believe that they are being targeted by somebody with a vendetta... they say that the system needs to be discarded, that it needs to be changed, it MUST be changed "if you are for freedom"...

 

Sigh.

 

I cannot recall anyone who has made these complaints ever taking a step back and asking themselves if this is a consequence of their actions.

 

I have never seen anyone ask for my reasons or opinions on why this system is in place--at least, not without throwing in some accusations around integrity.

 

All I have seen is a retreading of the same old complaints.

 

It is also worth mentioning that the reputation system makes it much more transparent why a user might be disinvited from the boards. You can easily go back to see the content of their posts, with the added information of just how negatively rated a particular post might have been.

 

All of this tells me that these complaints really have nothing to do with us. After all, they are choosing to make the posts which win them negative votes. Then, they choose to escalate and double down on those behaviors, which after some time wins their posts being hidden.

 

If you find that you are sliding into negative reputation territory, I invite you to take a few steps back from the forum and ask yourself what is going on. This is an opportunity for growth, and one that you may not encounter again.

 

Philosophy is the love of knowledge, and the most essential knowledge is self-knowledge.


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