First, here's the comeback from Anonymous:

Just because you say it, doesn’t make it necessarily so.

To issue blanket dismissals of your Park Slope breeder neighbors as pseudo-adults with inflated egos who become overindulgent parents of children who can’t hope to grow up to become self-actualized is, in fact, a judgment.

Your assertion that judgments are not based on reality is false. Reality can certainly be a component of judgment, as are the limited availability of information and whatever expectations the person formulating the opinion may have.

To call a narcissist a narcissist may or may not be a judgment. It depends on having sufficient information to make the claim. To refer to all your Park Slope breeder neighbors as narcissists is a judgment. Plain and simple.

I’m sure you come across some of these people in your practice, and maybe that gives you sufficient data points to make an “assessment” about those people. But to lump all of us together based on that interaction and some people’s (poor) decision to haul their kids to bars assumes you understand the motives of all of those people. You don’t, and your generalizations about them come from judgments. That’s fine, everyone judges other people, even despite their best efforts to refrain from it. Just don’t pretend that’s not what it is.

And don’t pretend you’re trashing these parents to save the children from suffering. If that were your sole objective, you wouldn’t do it this way. It pisses you off that people do this dumb shit, and you’ve taken to griping about it on your blog. Maybe your “concern” originated from a better place, but it’s just bitching.

On the inset of your webpage, you say that we’re “meant to live with full inner permission to follow our natural inner guidance and our inborn pleasure instinct to seek out gratification…, and that such a way of living always benefits those around us and those that we love.” It seems to be that when you observe the conflict between one’s innate pleasure instinct (mmm, beer) and living to benefit those one loves (dragging your kids to a bar), you take to slamming the offenders (Narcissists! Pseudo-adults! Hedge fund managers!). What a beautiful message. You claim to be merely calling for personal responsibility (which sounds like a positive message), but you’re doing it by shaming parents into doing better (hardly positive). How can you say name-calling isn’t trying to shame people into changing? That’s exactly what it is. It’s designed to make people feel bad about the way they behave.

Where is your empathy?

Next up, here's LOFF56:

Oh Jeeze, I must be bored and in need of a good semantic argument...

PL: Assessments on the other hand are descriptions based on information objectively observed. To call a narcissist a narcissist isn't a judgment, therefore; it is an assessment, and actually an essential ingredient to any healing process. There is no healing without facing the truth about oneself.

As a point of fact, an objective observation as you define it here doesn't exist. As you probably know an observer will always have an effect on the observed. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal for one, but also it's understood that observers in the wild no matter how invisible they try to make themselves will have some sort of effect on the animals they are observing. The same goes for people. Whether you call it a Judgment or an Assessment really is a matter of degree. Given that, anon. has a good point. Your assessment, as objective as you're trying to be, still means you're imparting an effect on those parents that you're assessing. And imparting anything on anybody even on a microscopic level is in fact to some degree narcissistic. Whether intentional or not.

And by the way, to "insist upon self-responsibility" is hardly "assessing" the situation. Of everything, this is the most obvious evidence of you imparting your will on the situation. Since when is "insisting" a tool of neutral observation?

I'm not suggesting that self-responsibility is not something we should all desire in our fellow humans, but even if it's for good, "insisting" that anybody do anything puts us on a different plane than those people, and that IS narcissistic. There may be an argument in here somewhere that says that some narcism (like this kind) is actually good... but for semantics sake, it's still narcism.

And now I'm gonna' end my narcissistic judgment of you and go about the rest of my day. :-D

Here's PL:

Wow! The semantics and relativistic arguments are flying boys! (I'm assuming that "Anonymous" is male, for some intuitive reason.)

Look, we've been down this road before on this blog. While time and space are indeed relative, and in the bigger picture, there are only a few Universal "Laws," and yes, we do create our own individual reality, as the quantum physicists have demonstrated,... while all this is true, nonetheless, and simultaneously, in the agreed-upon collective reality, where we all need oxygen to breathe, for instance, and where there is gravity, and narcissism, there are in fact Truths that are "Self-evident." What constitutes narcissism, for instance, is not relative at the human personality level. There is an agreed upon clinical definition of what it means, what its symptoms are and what effects it has. To root your arguments on the relativity of it all, is to be arguing for argument's sake, don't you think?

The second road we've been down before on this blog is the one regarding my bedside manner as a therapist. I do not operate as a proverbial "blank screen," that is for sure. In this day and age, that type of detached mental process is way too compartmentalized, cumbersome, time consuming and in terms of genuine self-actualization, insufficient to the task. I am not "shaming" my patients or readers by firmly pointing out their destructive and self-destructive behavior or thought patterns, and "insisting" that they attempt to do the work they came to see me for, anymore than I'm being judgmental or shaming if I tell my little child that throwing pasta across the table or stealing a friend's toy is not acceptable behavior.

And suffice it to say, it clearly isn't a need of mine, or of any adult I know, or of any child of mine, or of any child that I know, to eat dinner at Provini or bend an elbow at Union Hall.

Gimme a break, fellas!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not "shaming" my patients or readers by firmly pointing out their destructive and self-destructive behavior or thought patterns, and "insisting" that they attempt to do the work they came to see me for, anymore than I'm being judgmental or shaming if I tell my little child that throwing pasta across the table or stealing a friend's toy is not acceptable behavior.

You're missing the point. The parents of Park Slope that you're "assessing" are neither patients that have sought you out for your help nor your children which you are charged with raising. Unless you're assuming that they are all reading your blog and using your wisdom for their own self-actualization, any "assessment" of them are not for their direct benefit. I understand your bedside manner thing, I get that, it makes sense, I'm not questioning that, but that's not what's at issue. The real question is why are you using that bedside manner for people that are clearly not willing to listen? To tweak a popular phrase, once you catch a fly you can give it as much vinegar as you like, but the fact still remains that in order to catch said fly you ought to be using honey.

Here's the bottom line, I still think you're being judgmental. But that's your prerogative. It's your blog. I just don't understand why you're so resistant to owning up to the "J" word. "Avenue Q" the Tony winning musical of 2004 has famously said in one of its songs, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." It's meant to diffuse the tension associated with our small discretions by showing us that we all share at least some degree of imperfection, even in regards to things that are otherwise extremely unsavory. Another interpretation of this is that if you claim that you're 100% not a racist you're dooming yourself to live up to impossible standards and inevitably doomed to fail. So, I say "Everyone's a Little Bit Judgmental". And, "Everyone's a Little Bit Narcissistic." Right?


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