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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


“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.  


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]


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.)


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.


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]


The Prefrontal Lobes are important for

Execution Function
Working Memory
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.


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]


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.


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]


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]


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]



“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]



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]



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.


Peer vs Parental Abuse


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


. 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).”



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]


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

#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.





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.

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.

  • 25

#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

#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:






Thanks for reading. 


Now here's the latest infographic just released today:


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#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. 

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#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

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#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.




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

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

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



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.



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#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

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#396862 Help: I like this girl...

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


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#387416 New Freedomain Radio iOS App! :)

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


[...] Who developed it?



It's me :-)

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#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!



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#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.

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#400842 Is Anarchism a disease?

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

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#398816 What (if any) is the objective evidence that call-in shows are the best way S...

Posted by jpahmad on 15 March 2015 - 08:42 PM

I've got a great idea.  Give Stefan more money. 

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#390956 Creating a Second YouTube Channel

Posted by MMD on 29 November 2014 - 08:45 PM

Hey everybody - I've been thinking about this for awhile, but am curious what you all think.


Right now we simply have TOO MUCH content for one channel. I don't really like the idea of just flooding the channel with videos from the call in show - and burying substantial research projects like the Truth About presentations. Since splitting up the call in show calls into separate videos as folks have requested -  we have 6-10 videos per week just from the call in shows. Many of them have gone unpublished and I've taken to publishing timely calls or what I view to be the "best of" type material.


When you figure in the other videos we do on a weekly basis - plus regular features like the mailbags shows, article rebuttals and such - I really think it's time to make a second channel.


The main channel will likely be as it is now and the second channel will likely be daily posting of a call in show segment.


What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions?


I have a few new show features I'd like to experiment with soon, but this issue of too much content for one channel certainly impacts that quite a bit.

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#377359 How can FDR be improved? Ideas!

Posted by Kevin Beal on 06 August 2014 - 12:12 AM

Some of these are accessible enough that you could do them yourself. What do you think about that? :)


It's hard to know the value of something without implementing it in some way. In software development, for example, like at Google, they encourage lots of prototyping, so people can try out their ideas. They do their 20% time partly for this reason, and they teach methods of quickly prototyping. Since most ideas do not work out as well as people predict, they typically look to projects that people have already demonstrated some value with and roll with that. Gmail and Adsense are products that started out as 20% time projects.


AFAIK, the FDR staff is pretty busy between all the call-in shows, editing, researching, debates, speaking events, writing, setting up interviews, preparing for guest hosting for Peter Schiff and tons of other details I don't know about. If you want to get their attention, the way to do it is to work hard at what you think will bring value. For example, I had developed multiple prototypes of the podcast browser on FDRPodcasts.com before Mike saw the value in it and got the idea to have me design one for the domain he had. And I probably wouldn't have convinced JamesP to develop the back end for that project if I hadn't already shown what I could do.


And I believe Lians had already demonstrated that he could do quality research before he started getting paid to do it. And Mike, among other things, created the fdrpodcasts YouTube channel.


The point being: ideas are cool, but implementation is gold, and who knows, you could even potentially get paid for doing it ;)


P.S. There are plans to put timestamps on podcasts in the podcast browser.

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#430813 Why You're Not Going to Therapy

Posted by kathryn on 23 April 2016 - 02:34 PM

Wrote an article for Self Knowledge Daily. Check it out! :)
Why You’re Not Going to Therapy
Common Excuses
Many people claim they want to start therapy, but time passes and they never take the first steps. They have a barrage of excuses for why they can’t start therapy right now, but the barriers are usually self-imposed and not based in the reality of personal responsibility.
These are the most common excuses I’ve heard about not going to therapy:
“I know I need to go to therapy, but I’m just not doing it.”
No one needs to do anything in life but basic bodily functions like breathing and eventually dying. Therapy is certainly not a basic survival need. Using “need” language for things that aren’t real needs creates an urgency and exaggeration. At worst it’s force, just using stronger language to make yourself do it.
Attempts to force yourself to do things don’t work in the long term because no one likes to be ordered around. You rebel by delaying. Like when your mom used to tell you that you needed to take the garbage out right now. Did you just hop to it with a smile on your face? Hell no. You hemmed and hawed to keep your dignity. That’s the kind of microcosm that’s happening in your mind when you try to force yourself to do something. One part of you becomes your mother, the other part become the rebellious child.
You don’t need to go to therapy; you will continue to live if you don’t go to therapy. Therapy is not about surviving; it’s about thriving. If you want to improve the quality of your life there are good arguments for how therapy can help you, but ultimately it is your choice.
If a part of you does want to go to therapy and another part is resistant, try some negotiation strategies with yourself. See if you can find a solution that would make both parts happy. (If you have trouble with that, a good place to work on getting better at self-negotiation is therapy, btw.)
“I had a bad experience with therapy in the past.”
Finding a good therapist can often feel like dating. You shop around, find someone you’re drawn to in some way, but you can’t really know if it’s going to work out until you take them out and chat with them a while. You have to make the investment of a first date. Sometimes that first date doesn’t go well. Or, even worse, the first date goes great, you get attached, and then things don’t go well. And I understand, when you get close to someone and they hurt you, it can be difficult to get back out there.
But, just like dating, there are more efficient ways of figuring out if you are compatible, aside from picking someone with a friendly smile. You can avoid getting hurt if you look for the right clues and ask right the questions in your first phone consultation.
Not all therapists are great, but it’s not just a crap shoot. You can evaluate people and know quickly if they are going to be helpful, if you do some initial work up front.
“I just don’t have the money for that right now.”
The reality is we all make choices when it comes to money. You are choosing to spend your money elsewhere. And that’s ok, but just be honest about it. You could afford therapy, but you’re choosing not to.
It’s true that some therapists are very expensive, but I had a friend who was able to see a therapist for $5 a session. Many therapists have a sliding scale for folks with lower incomes. There are plenty of options out there. You just might have to get a bit creative.
You may think looking for a cheaper therapist will limit your choices, but therapy is self-directed. Your therapeutic experience comes down to what you make of it. The person might not have a fancy office, but if he or she is empathetic and curious about you, you can work with that and make real progress.
“Won’t drudging up the past, just make it worse?”
In the short term, it will feel painful to bring up past trauma, but the avoidance of pain only prolongs it. You are most likely already feeling the pain of your past, but in a low, creeping dose that you get every day, in the anxiety that paralyzes you, in the self-attacks you inflict on yourself when you make a mistake, and in the depression that had you unproductive and useless.
What questions like this really mean is: I’m afraid of feeling my pain. And I get that, emotional pain sucks, but when you numb one emotion you numb them all. So by dulling your sadness or fear, you are also dulling your joy and happiness. The avoidance is not benign.
“I’m scared.”
I haven’t actually heard anyone else use this one, except for myself to myself, but I think this is what all the other excuses come down to.
It is scary. It’s terrifying to deal with the shadow parts of yourself and face childhood trauma. And because it’s so scary to delve into history, that’s why you shouldn’t have to do it alone, and that’s why a therapist can help you so much. He or she can help you face the demons one at a time. Having someone there to hold your hand, help you sort through things piece by piece, keeps you grounded.
Fear alone isn’t cowardly, but there is cowardice in lying to yourself and denying your feelings. Feel the fear, and then find a therapist who can help you deal with it.

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#388405 Damn U Stef

Posted by gobidas on 06 November 2014 - 02:43 AM

Hello I am a Former bussinessman now Marine and I am stationed in camp pendleton after spending two years in okinawa. I came across the FDR youtube channel after a friend posted a link to his truth about gun violence video. I thought his presentation was so consisce, factual, and well done I had to watch more. So I am in the middle of my enlistment I buy into UPB and peacful parenting, also the A word and now... lets just say I dont have many friends at work anymore. I have made a lot of other marines think and actually use thier brain muscles in our day to day debates and I feel like I am making an impact. I am up for reenlistment soon I have a very specialized skill set and I love my job. I also really miss the free market, but feel I need to start to network before I get back into it. So if anybody has any ideas or want to critique any of my ideas for new ventures I would appeciate the conversation.

When I say Damn u stef in the opener its more like damn u stef I took the red pill

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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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