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23 February 2012

Updates for the curious: the ongoing drama that is only going to intensify[More:] Oh, where to start.
Well, I did everything I could to enable my roommate to take her own agency to start therapy, but she did not know where to start. Not unusual. Pretty much what I deal with on a regular basis. So I did the legwork and got to vet a variety of organizations for future reference (oh, a story unto itself) and found her a competent, capable professional available to her schedule and particular needs.
So she has started therapy, but it has only just begun.
Cut to the chase: I know her quite well at this point, her fear of confrontation, her delight at passive aggressiveness, and yet it seems she thinks she can get away with it with me, even though I have made my views quite clear. I've been taking up quite a bit of slack to "alleviate the burden" but I am not aware of what is conscious or unconscious on her part, despite all she has told me and what I know about her.
I fall into this role a lot, which is part of why I wanted to make it my job instead of my personal life, to be able to leave this stuff at work. How accountable can you make someone for their actions without either enabling them or challenging them beyond their capacity?
How much should one account for someone else's fragility?
Opinions are just opinions. Free them at will.
My opinion: Find a new roommate. You don't need this.
posted by Kangaroo 23 February | 17:51
Isn't that just cutting and running to a new set of problems?
I asked her about it and I do believe she is rather oblivious, or at least not consciously aware of her actions. Which is pretty standard, considering.
The question is, is some part of her aware of her actions? And is that part of her taking more control?

Yeah, it's odd, but not... how do I put this. It could be much worse and I'm oddly prepared for it.

And I genuinely like her.

I dunno. People are messy. All of them, once you get to know them well enough. Eventually, all the baggage comes out, rather quickly with me. She actually is working on it, which is a lot better than most.
posted by ethylene 23 February | 18:02
Is it me? People just end up telling me about their boob jobs and broken homes pretty much off the bat. And you can tell right away who wants to change and who wants validation for their poor choices. And change isn't easy, but willingness sure helps.
posted by ethylene 23 February | 18:06
Some people are messier than others. Then some are too messy. Those are the ones you put in the trash.
posted by Splunge 23 February | 21:10
Personally I try to have a in my mind a clearly defined context for my interactions with people.
So if I'm interacting with a roommate I'd try to have something like the following contextual parameters in the back of my mind: 1. we need to get along 2. we don't need to be friends
To me that means that 1. I would show interest in how they're doing. If that means the hypothetical roommate telling me about her boob job; fine. But my level of involvement is limited. I listen. I sympathise. I don't 'try to convince', 'solve', 'do the legwork' etc. 2. I accept the hypothetical roommate as he/she is as long as he/she is sufficiently civil as well. I may have an idea about what her hangups are. What her pitfalls are. Patterned behaviour she's not aware of. But I keep those opinions to myself; I'm not her psychotherapist. And I'm sure there's stuff I'm not aware of as well. Live and let live.

It's an approach that keeps drama contained to the unavoidable.

To put it differently: if people want 'validation for their poor choices' I'm willing to offer some perfunctory validation as a part of somewhat detached pleasantness. And my supposed opinion that they're 'poor choices' I keep to myself.

It's my life experience that to some degree most of us are 'a kind of person': we have penchants and weaknesses. We try to deal with our own foibles. But to a large degree they're not voluntary nor changable.
posted by jouke 23 February | 21:45
Isn't that just cutting and running to a new set of problems?

Erm...well, what happens next is totally up to you.

I'm with Kangaroo; you don't need this. You've done enough, maybe more than enough. Look for a new living situation and let her get on with her life.

I'm not sure whether "accountable" here means "accountable" for stuff like the housework or accountable to get better and show gratitude toward you and improve her life, etc. I think you can safely insist on your basic standards for the house and hold her accountable to those, assuming she agreed to them at some point. If that's too much for her to handle while she's so fragile then maybe the solution is she needs a new living situation. As far as her personal life and getting better, though, that's gotta be up to her.

People with problems do that confiding thing willy-nilly. It can indeed seem like "they always choose me to confide in!" when in fact they may confide to almost everyone - or at least, they test the waters, select a few people to try out based on outward characteristics, and if you don't seem to blow them off right away, they go further and tell you more and more until you are fairly well enmeshed in their lives. They are good at locating people who will give them this kind of time, and at sorting those people out from others who will more quickly set up boundaries of the kind jouke mentions. So it can seem that "everyone just treats me like this, I attract these people," when actually they are testing just about everybody they meet, and you may just be the person giving them the signals that it's OK to continue.

And going further into this might be the same thing. We teach people how to treat us by our responses to them. Your roommate has accepted everything you've done and seems to be interested in testing how much more you'll do. Only you can make that determination.
posted by Miko 23 February | 22:15
I'm not her therapist, but I am her friend, or trying to be. I mean, I could leave now and I don't things would be worse for wear. I think we'd still be friends and I'd still know her.
It's a damn sight more interesting than your run of the mill alcoholic or unsafe libertine.
I really haven't done more for her I don't do for strangers a lot of the time: find them psychiatric/psychological help, help someone clean their house or run errands, recommend resources or diversions-- basically case work under the auspices of spiritual counseling, minus the actual spiritual counseling.

Besides the obliviousness about the actual mess, she's a fine roommate. Just because she is falls under diagnostic criteria, it's not like she's no longer a human being. She's quite functional. Really, she's just working through the same things anyone her age is, just with slightly different coping strategies. And now that she has a therapist, I can be more concrete about outlining boundaries.
She's working out her personal issues in her relationships. It's what people do, especially young people.
It's not my job to "solve" her, but it's not in any way out of my way to help her.

Just because I talk about it doesn't mean I'm "all wrapped up in it." I really can't be, because, honestly, the person who needs help right now is that four year old girl, and the only way that is going to happen is when everything comes crashing down.
But there is nothing I can do about that, and I can't make myself nuts about it. Even if I could, it's just one more little girl.
You can't save the world. I'm not trying to save anyone or anything. I made a few phone calls, looked some stuff up. I needed the information anyway.
The only thing I ever do is make things a little easier, if anything at all.

I just got my reverendship changed to this address. I've been doing this since 1999. I didn't know about what was going on with her until after I moved in, but even if I did, she's an entire person, not just a victim or a diagnosis or whatever. If she wasn't a whole, functional person, I wouldn't have moved in.

Because I'm talking about this one aspect of her, I pretty much keep everything else separate, so I may mention her doing something else but you wouldn't know her as this one thing. It does happen to be a lot to deal with, but it doesn't define her.
posted by ethylene 23 February | 22:24
I really haven't done more for her I don't do for strangers a lot of the time: find them psychiatric/psychological help, help someone clean their house or run errands, recommend resources or diversions-- basically case work under the auspices of spiritual counseling...

You do a lot for strangers!

the person who needs help right now is that four year old girl,

What is this now?
posted by Miko 23 February | 22:25
Yes, Miko, it's not that kind of share thing I'm talking about. It's odd and takes a bit to get into, but I'm not talking about the person who wants to tell everyone about their tragic tale of woe. I think it just has a lot to do with the fact I'm not from here and so I interact with people very differently than they are use to.
And we are talking about tangible, roommate stuff.
I think I tend to err on the side of fragility, but I'm pretty direct and up front about things.
It's not really like I expect people to figure anything out. It's already half sorted.
It is interesting to see what people will say, though.

People are fascinating.
posted by ethylene 23 February | 22:35
The system is broken. The abuser still gets unsupervised visitation with the child, who is always worse for it. No one is pressing charges. Something to do with Michigan.
This could be for a variety of reasons but the only thing I can think of that would do something is if my roommate pressed charges. For that to happen, a lot of work needs to be done and a couple families are going to be ripped apart. None of this is simple.
posted by ethylene 23 February | 22:40
As far as spiritual counseling and case work, it's not much different than finding a web designer for a client, or some agency for whoever. I just know people and put them together. I mean, I suppose I could be charging to marry people, but if I'm not putting people or projects together, then mostly I'm just listening to people and sharing information.
What's the point of having done a bunch of work if you can't share it?
And if I don't want to do it, I don't do it. I cut my losses all the time.
But I meet all sorts of people, and people can be interesting. You learn all sorts of things you can only find out from talking to lots of very different people.
posted by ethylene 23 February | 22:50
If this were an anonymous askme I would have said you are being an enabler. But since it's not, and you said it yourself, I'm not sure what else there is to say.

You can like this person without living with her.
posted by cjorgensen 23 February | 23:44
I was freaked out for a good long bit thinking the child was still living with the abuser, until she cleared that up for me. I don't pry, but when she talks about stuff, I ask questions.
Fear of confrontation and passive aggressiveness are the local custom, so if that threw you, well, there are lots of places to avoid. That's probably the second big reason people tell me things: anything I'm going to say, I will say to your face. The first is just being willing to listen.

The people who need the most help usually don't know there is any to be had and have no idea where to start. I'm just like a tiny bridge gap. Use to be you went to the priest/shaman for everything; now, they delegate.

I know why she is doing what she's doing. I just don't know if she knows. Again, not that much different than anybody else.
And it all comes out in the wash.
I'm really just talking about enabling her lack of cleaning. That's going to be a simple negotiation.
Therapy is work, and she's gotta do the work. If helping someone who has an abiding hatred of phones is enabling, I'm a total enabler. Listening to people with phone anxiety is pretty painful. I suppose all the PA/TA/secretarial/organizational/research stuff is enabling as well. People should know how to do this stuff well, but I let them marshal their resources for the necessary.

Maybe I will go into it or just post a paper I wrote on it, but I doubt anyone really cares. It's just a random story on the internet.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 00:13
I'm not talking about the person who wants to tell everyone about their tragic tale of woe.

I'm not talking about that person either. Any kind of person can get enmeshed with you, even very quiet and reserved people. I'm talking about what happens when you indicate your willingness to go to level 2 with people, getting involved in their lives to an unusual degree without prior intimacy. You are actually ( or should be) in control over whether you let that happen; it doesn't just happen.

The system is broken. The abuser still gets unsupervised visitation with the child, who is always worse for it

I still don't understand what is going on here and perhaps I missed or forgot a previous post. But is this someone in your own family? Or someone in your roommate's family? I'm not clear how this involves you. It sounds like it's in the system. If there's information you know of that you should report, then please report it and let the consequences unfold. But if you're talking about something happening to someone else that you aren't connected with and haven't witnessed, I'm not sure why this particular girl is bothering your more than the thousands of others also being abused right now. Is there anything you can do about it? Is this something you have to make decisions about? I just have a hard time connecting the dots here. if it doesn't directly involve you there's not a tremendous amount you can do, unfortunately.

I would also say you may be enabling a lack of self-care and responsibility, but the more major thing is that you seem pretty enmeshed in someone else's problems. It sounds like you're fine with that, except that since you post these kinds of things with some regularity, I wonder if perhaps your being in therapy would be a good idea too. In the end, even if everyone read your paper it's not as though there's anything you need to convince people of here. You seem troubled by these events in other people's lives even when they're not your close friends and family, and a little troubled, perhaps, about your inability to resist getting involved or extracting yourself from their lives. If this is feeling like a problem, perhaps helping yourself first is a good idea.

If it's not, then hey. Post away.
posted by Miko 24 February | 09:31
I know where you are coming from, but in general I do not talk about basically what I suppose one could call client issues because, well, confidentiality, etc.
I have a therapist, I consult with lots of professionals, I'm not worried about me. I just write about it here to write. And she's not a client, she's my roommate.
I'd have to write a whole lot to give a lot of background about me and her and etc. for people to really get a picture of what is going on.

I mean, if I had wrote "I think my roommate doesn't think she has to take out the garbage any more because I will take out the garbage" it'd be a different story.
I come from a long line of missionaries and revolutionaries, etc. so it's not quite normal. I deal with a lot of what people would think of as extreme populations and so what is unusual to a lot of people is not unusual to me. I'm in control of my level of involvement and if it was interfering with what I had to deal with for myself, well, I wouldn't let it.
The paper I was talking about is about the history and treatment for dissociative disorders. Had I not done all that work, I probably would not be so aware of what is going on, but it probably wouldn't make much of a difference, except I know a lot of what to expect.
Like that other guy I was talking about, if i wasn't currently doing research on a particular topic, I probably would not be aware of what is going on. It just happens that I am aware of things, so I am able to pick it out. It seems kind of unusual that every time I am studying something, I end up finding out someone is actually dealing, but that pretty much because I am aware of it more than anything else.

I mean, if anyone is worried about me in all this, I can try to assure people I'm fine, but you don't have to believe me.
I'll answer questions that don't interfere with confidentiality or something, but people are going to think whatever they want to think and I'm not really going to put much effort into changing that unless I feel like it.

I understand most people are "That person has problems! Run away! Protect yourself!" but I'm not in a situation where that is an issue. I can't do anything for other people if I'm not okay, and I'm okay. So if I meet with a girl who's dad is dealing with brain cancer, it's because I have the time to do so, and since I'm familiar with it and have done a lot of that work because my friend had brain cancer, I'm happy to make it easier for her, because, well, I can.

Pretty soon, I'm not going to have the time and energy to do all the extra stuff and ministerial duties, because I'll have to focus on my own stuff. I'm kind of clearing the decks for that and I'm a clear communicator. People can try to put their stuff on me but it's not going to get them anywhere.

Soon enough, I'm going to be bound by law and guidelines and what have you.
I'm not a saint or martyr, I just have experience with stuff most people don't. I do what I can, which really is not that much, but it's really the slightest things that make a difference to people.

I dunno. I'm just writing.
I don't have the financial means to make a lot of difference, so I do other things that I can do.
I think I'm fortunate enough that I end up finding out that some little thing made a difference, but that's not really the point.

Like I said, I'm just writing. If I'm not writing here, I'm writing somewhere else. I write.
I'm probably not being very clear, but this isn't a research paper where I have to cite things or a formal letter for some end.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 11:53
You're allowed to just write, ethylene! We're here to listen.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 24 February | 12:16
At the risk of getting shouted down (be gentle, I'm fragile these days), I'd also like to suggest that maybe you're having some issues yourself, eth? Of course, we're only going by what you've written here, since that's all we have (nobody really knows somebody from a website, granted), but, forgive me, you sound a little manic to me (your thoughts seem unfocused, obsessive/circular, and racing to me). I don't know if that's ever been an issue for you in the past or not, but if it has, if you perhaps take or have taken medication for bipolar disorder, for instance, you may want to consult with your therapist/doctor. I'm not a psychiatrist/psychologist, mind you, so my suggestion is just to get checked out if you have had issues with mania in the past. Sorry if the suggestion is upsetting. I only mention it out of concern, truly.
posted by Pips 24 February | 12:28
You can think what you like, and I can tell you I'm fine but you're going to think what you want. Manic gets toss around so much these days, it's just adds to the problem of people throwing around psychiatric terms willy nilly without knowing what they mean.

When I write here, I'm usually not thinking too much about being focused or precise unless there is a reason. And I don't know how you can interpret text as racing, unless you are reading it really fast. I do type really fast.

A lot of what you get out of what you read online is inference.
Since I happen to be working on this, too, this thread is really informational.

Ah, multitasking. Just like the CIA.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 12:47
Passive aggressivity has two participants: the PA person and the person who deals with it. If you start filling your time with things that have to be fit around the other person's behavior, no matter how well-meaning you might be, you're playing their game and they automatically win.

You might be trying to help them; you might be trying to stay away from them and their crazy, whatever. Doesn't matter. They win and you have less time to take care of yourself.
posted by Madamina 24 February | 14:05
Yes, the issue is at present that I brought it up to her.
It's not really about winning, I'm just not playing the game.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 14:27
Yeah, about what I expected. Just trying to be helpful. If it doesn't ring true to you, just ignore it, of course. Your response sounded evasive, angry, and defensive, though. It only reinforced my concern. (CIA?)

Perhaps you're just doing some kind of free-association writing.

In any case, I've said my peace and I'll shut up now.
posted by Pips 24 February | 15:21
Yeah, I threw in the CIA thing pretty purposefully. (Although, Freedom of Information Act. Confirmation at last!)

You can say I sound however, but how much of that is you and how much of that is me?

I think you are coming from a good place but I also don't think you know anything about psychology, so, yeah. Concern noted, but don't lose sleep over it. Take care of yourself.

That's the big take away message here, and most ask me threads, besides [redacted].
posted by ethylene 24 February | 15:29
I would say stuff, but you already said you are fragile.
Timing and appropriateness.
And yet I really want to say something about [redacted].

Yeah, so I'm writing this literature review about people's perceptions of "public" disclosures, which I believe is motivated by my professor's inability to manage her Facebook wall.
My god, the bias of research.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 15:36
Feel free to chime in about that. What do you think of "public" disclosure? like someone sharing what they had for lunch or personal details? That they just took a dump on Twitter? That they announced their break up via Facebook?
That Minnie driver found out she was single from watching Oprah? (Ok, that last one is pretty different, I think, but, yeah.)
posted by ethylene 24 February | 15:41
Well, for what it's worth, I do have a Bachelor's degree, with high honors, in psychology from the University of Michigan, where I took classes in Cognitive Psychology, Advanced Psychopathology, and Clinical Psychology, to name a few, with various clinical internships, including the local V.A. hospital. So I wouldn't exactly say I know "nothing" about psychology. Though you're correct, I'm not a licensed therapist, and I wasn't and am still not telling you to rely on my observations alone. I mention it, out of my own wounded pride, yes, but also perhaps to add some modicum of credibility to my observations, with the goal that, if you need help, you might get help. Just as you might suggest for one of your clients if you saw what you considered to be worrisome signs. Again, I'm merely suggesting that you check in with the therapist you mentioned previously. Perhaps show him or her this thread.

We can fool ourselves easiest of all, I think you'd agree. It's not about your roommate, or me; I'm suggesting it's about you. Perhaps bipolar disorder's not the problem, but if this thread genuinely represents your train of thought, and it's not a case of trolling/baiting, in which case don't I have pie on my face, there's something very wrong, and I do think you should seek additional help before it potentially really spins out of control. The concern, as you noted, even if it proves to be without cause, is genuine.

(Your restraint regarding my "fragility" is admirable, by the way -- I know I'm touching on highly sensitive stuff -- and appreciated.)

I promise I'm shutting up now. All the best to you.
posted by Pips 24 February | 17:08
I do not talk about basically what I suppose one could call client issues because, well, confidentiality,etc. I just write about it here to write. And she's not a client, she's my roommate.

I dunno, I think you might want to be a bit more circumspect here. It's not all that hard to gather information about people through everything available online including stuff you have posted. I wouldn't want her to stumble across this stuff. It's OK to write but I'm feeling it's all too easy to follow links you've given here over time and come pretty close to an ID on this person.

You can say I sound however, but how much of that is you and how much of that is me?

Some of it's just plain comparitive, and I kind of agree with Pips, your words seem to tumble over one another sometimes. Also, I wouldn't assume that people here know "nothing about psychology" by a long shot. No way, nohow. I think you're still an undergraduate (?) so in fact, there are several people posting and reading here who will have more training than you do in some related areas.

I'm glad you have a therapist and feel things are fine. I'm uncomfortable reading more of these third-party analyses, though.
posted by Miko 24 February | 18:58
Most trained therapists function mostly on heuristics, and I'm sure you are aware an undergraduate degree is at best an overview of topics.
It's not like you are basing things on this thread, just like I'm not basing things on this thread, but a collection of various impressions over time that have a very limited scope. You're not really touching on anything that sensitive, but I'm pretty sure anything I say will not be taken very well as to what I see as recurrent themes.

People actually think pop psychology is psychology to the point here it now biases research, and all this crap about how if people have anything to do with certain people then they must be working out their own issues. I must be helping child abuse victims because I was abused, blah blah blah.

The whole concept of objectivity is somehow alien and out the window because I must be a sucker for a sob story. Hoo boy.

Helping people is not that hard, but you can't really do it if you are too involved. I don't even know why I'm trying to explain this, except it was open when I opened my laptop.

After she finally showed up, I took off. I'm so not in the mood for a Paris themed benefit, even though I'd like to see that Woody Allen movie some time. Some chanteuse and schmoozing over mediocre catering does not sound like fun tonight.
It's all snuggling with the Bees time and an expensive fill up on the way back.

Even if we just avoided each other from now on, it'd be a decent roommate relationship, and it wouldn't be hard to do. I'm not too worried about it, but I'd rather she not be living in imaginary fear because I called her on her shit. On the other hand, maybe it will make her cleaner.

Here's a game: look back and try to find out where I downed a couple stiff drinks and when I sobered up.

You don't have to keep saying you're shutting up, Pips. Write if you wanna write. Maybe it's a helpful diversion, but there is currently about 70% misdiagnosis among seasoned professionals, and you think someone in the midst of a full blown manic episode would be diagnosable in text? Depending on where you live, a fast talking Northeasterner is considered to have pressured speech and a woman who doesn't "know her place" is considered a danger to herself.

And now it is time for snuggles.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 19:01
Yes, Miko, I suppose someone could. And yet I'm surprised anyone is taking any of this seriously, if at all. Random internet speculation of random internet strangers for the most part.

Really, one could come up with far more comprehensive profiles off this site that what people use to analyze historical figures. And so it is. Little snapshot of lives at the beginning of a millennium. Whatever we think we know about each other, it's only parts of a picture.

Ooh, cake.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 19:11
And yet I'm surprised anyone is taking any of this seriously, if at all. Random internet speculation of random internet strangers for the most part.

I'm taking it seriously, for one. And you're the one providing the material for speculation. It doesn't feel respectful to your roommate or responsible to me. You've linked to your Flickr here and mentioned your institution. Remember, it's not just us your fellow quirky MeChas here - these pages are wide open to the entire internet and fully searchable.
posted by Miko 24 February | 19:16
True, but someone would have to care and she is pretty clamped down as far as the net goes. I always think mentioning such things leads to people idly doing them more than people idly doing them on their own. But there it is.

Soon, our information will be linked and accessible. Danger, danger.
All sorts of things could happen, good or ill.

People's experiences with psychology rarely extend very far, even people with decades of experience. It's just massive and broad, and to know anything is just to grasp how much you don't know. People may know their own experiences very well but it doesn't mean it has external validity. Most experts are only experts because their range is so narrow.

I'm not claiming to know anything or judging anyone or expecting anyone to put any store by anything I say. It is interesting to see how people think, though.

This guy was telling me how everything is the really truth, as if people can't act or lie. That's only notable because of the context it came out in, the accusation of a phenomenal deception he was making that he then went on about being impossible.

I'm already chafing at the bounds of propriety because of a possible book deal and other stuff. Soon, all sorts of stuff will be clamped down and disappear in as much as they can disappear. Maybe in a month, maybe in a year or two. Still not sure what I'm going to go through with.

It's all a tremendous balancing act. Yin, yang, give, take.

I must have not posted the line about how I am a horrible person.
Chips, falling.

posted by ethylene 24 February | 20:09
Pips, if it makes you feel any better, I saw my therapist last Friday and she doesn't really see the point in scheduling any appointments any time soon. I don't know if that means anything but there it is. But then, you don't have to believe me.

I keep running into psych majors. Everyone was a psych major. It's ridiculously popular. And horrifying. Ohmigod, the stories I could tell.
Now that could be another awesome book deal, even if you just sold it to other former psych majors. Massive audience.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 20:24
Well, glad to hear it, ethylene. Glad to hear it. No need to get alarmed, then, I take it, should I read any future "free-ethstylings."

(I love your artwork, by the way -- I saw it in the photo Friday thread. When I saw it, I remembered seeing some of it before, but I'd forgotten it was yours. Great stuff. Also, Jon says hi -- he just passed through to get a beer.)
posted by Pips 24 February | 20:52
No one would be vague on purpose.
That's impossaroo.

Say hi to Jon. What kind of beer?
My textbooks are already out of date, so if you went to school age appropriately, I'm guessing things have changed some. Soft sciences are so soft.

I just saw A Dangerous Method and it was HYSTERICAL. Ah, Croneberg.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 21:08
People may know their own experiences very well but it doesn't mean it has external validity.

Same being true for you, of course.
posted by Miko 24 February | 22:04
That's not already assumed in the statement?
posted by ethylene 24 February | 22:23
That's not already assumed in the statement?

I have trouble reading it as assumed when it occurs in the context of your asserting that you know more than most people about psychology, without even having full information about your audience.
posted by Miko 24 February | 22:29
Hop Manna -- a "He'Brew," believe it or not. According to the label, it's "The Chosen Beer." Oy vey.
posted by Pips 24 February | 23:25
Is it good? I've seen it in the store.

You are assuming that I'm asserting I know more than most people about psychology. I don't think most people know much of anything about psychology. It's a sprawling mass of contradictions that gets rewritten all the time. It's biased and subjective and people use it for very different purposes in very different ways, not even talking about the fraud and bullshit.
So far, I've found out the only way to know a reasonable amount about anything is to do a freakish amount of research on one thing, and still you end up with an overview at best, because old stuff is disproven and new stuff is not yet fully accepted. Then people who even know what you are taking about are basically picking and choosing what they believe, mostly based on what angle they have personally claimed or are invested in.
It's a fucking freakshow.
posted by ethylene 24 February | 23:47
I disagree. It is not a "freakshow" - you're describing the reality in any scholarly field. I think that, in fact, there are people with a solid comprehensive view of this and many other topics in general psychology who are aware of current research and are able to acknowledge both the promise and weaknesses of any theory.

There are flaws and cultural biases in all of the ways we construct knowledge, psychology not least; and yet it is not a complete chaos, not truly a "sprawling mass of contradictions that gets rewritten all the time." It gets refined all the time; sometimes one theory prevails, sometimes another, but the discipline does have a traceable history, well-established controversies and competitions between vying models, and does not move all that fast in terms of new research or changed practical approaches. There are people whose backgrounds entitle them to speak with authority about the history and reliability and current state of psychology. You are not currently one of these people, as you admit, but such people do exist.

I think you are coming from a good place but I also don't think you know anything about psychology, so, yeah.

This was where you implied a superior knowledge of psychology, and one which, as it turns out, wasn't justified. Be careful about this kind of grandiosity.

You say here that you have written a couple of papers, and we know that you are a student. This is what students do. Indeed, you do need to go in depth into single topics to gain mastery, but over time, you'll find that your knowledge accumulates breadth, as well as depth in a few discrete areas. You are indeed a long way from a 10,000-foot view of the field and it will take a long time and much more study to develop that.

In any case, it doesn't take a PhD (even though some people around here may have them) to recognize many classic expressions of disorders. The lay experience of being a subject of treatment and/or being the close family member or partner of someone in treatment can create a far greater familiarity with not only the manifestations of, but in fact the literature and historiography of, specific disorders. I wouldn't say that when it comes to pathology, most people don't know anything much. With illness rates as high as they are, most people know far too much, if anything.
posted by Miko 25 February | 00:06
People are still debating whether dissociation even exists, like they use to question whether child abuse really existed. "Oh, it's too horrible! They must be making it up!" says Freud, and for fifty years almost everyone just ignores it.

I may have said this already, but part of the reason I was sorting through therapists and organizations was because it came to my attention that locally they think it is perfectly acceptable therapy to tell abuse victims to turn to God and pray, because that will solve their problems.

WHAT THE MOTHERFUCKING HELL? I mean, seriously, what the fuck? I swear I'm going to stumble into a heterosexualizing center any day now.
posted by ethylene 25 February | 00:06
I'm not against heterosexualizing. I rather enjoy it actually.
posted by jouke 25 February | 00:10
In fact, it doesn't matter. The thing is, get sleep, breathe, eat well, take care of yourself. The sort of obsessive feel of "writing writing writing," a focus on others' private situations, and rambling, elliptical wildfire comments can be legitimate cause for concern. I believe you when you say all is fine and you have the practitioners you need. I hope the sense of drama stays at a normal level and that you can be helpful to people you know without being terribly entangled or sharing too much of others' personal internal worlds. Keep things in balance as best you can.
posted by Miko 25 February | 00:24
A degree in psychology doesn't count for much and doesn't inform your views as much as decades of experience. I wasn't referring to her education, how could I? Pip has consistent views on how she approaches topics and that is what I know about her, and that is all I know about her, and they are not based in what is currently accepted clinical psychology as, how the hell do I put this. Well, there is no way to put it and I'm not going to get into it right now.
Psychology is I/O, social, cognitive, clinical, transpersonal, neuroscience, etc. and even in a single area, a professor who should have pretty comprehensive knowledge will simply bow out if it is not their specific thing. You get an overview of a lot but you only focus on whatever you focus on or whatever your interests are.
People only know what they need to know, for whatever reason they need to know it.
Most people know aspects of psychology because they have had to, either because they wanted to or not. Same with medicine, same with anything. But people assume they know about psychology and soft sciences way more than they assume they know about history or blah, just because it permeates the culture in a way where the words are familiar but the meaning is not. Like knowing a drug name but not what it does. Like saying fetish or obsession because it is part of common parlance instead of terminology. This isn't just a popular problem, it's more and more a research problem.

And yes, yes I do.
In my experience, if abused children ever believed in a Christian god, he didn't save them. If people want to talk about God, I talk about God, which ever flavor works for them, but generally, when people think God has forsaken them, this is not what they need to hear.
posted by ethylene 25 February | 00:30
My god with the advice and the assumptions. Back to theory of mind. Do you ever step outside yourself and look at how you comport yourself? I'd like to hear your answer to the theory of mind question.
posted by ethylene 25 February | 00:38
I see what you mean about the subjectivity and changing scope of psychology, eth. I'm still looking for my floating uterus myself. In terms of my own knowledge of psychology, I'm secure in it, but it seems to help you to discount it. So be it. I thought we were past that anyway...

In any case, Jon seemed to rather enjoy the beer. He's had generally good reviews for the He'Brew brews, I know. He's snorin' away in the other room at the moment or I'd confirm the review.
posted by Pips 25 February | 00:39
It's text. Throw in a little passion and some big words and it's "drama." So filled with emotion and expression that one couldn't possibly be able to control it. My god, there's a typo, there couldn't be any conscious effort going on there. The act of typing in itself is not effort. Why it just pours out of people. The not giving a shit? Well, who knows what's going on there.

Some people know. And that's my fucking audience.

Thank you and goodnight!
posted by ethylene 25 February | 00:48
I certainly agree that terms get confused and people develop misconceptions about specific subject matter fields that overlap significantly with daily life. However, that's not always what's going on when you hear laypeople use those terms. They may be more literate than you think. As far as we can tell, Pips has more education in this field than you do, and yet you are minimizing this as "consistent views...not based in...currently accepted clinical psychology." Meanwhile, your views are not only quite confusingly presented, enough so as to be inconsistent, but also, apparently, not based in currently accepted clinical psychology. Because you don't seem to have this basis yet.

Also, I understand how working in a scholarly field works, but thanks for the explanation of that, too. (I think you are giving an excellent example of what it is to make baseless assumptions about others' knowledge and life experience.) Despite specialization, it remains possible to organize a field intellectually and develop a systemic view across its many project areas.

If people want to talk about God, I talk about God, which ever flavor works for them

Though your contempt still comes through, which could be a problem in professional practice . Not all conceptions of god have to do with a god who is known and reachable or able to "save" someone; I think your understanding there of the range of possible conceptions of god's nature is somewhat shallow. Like you, I wouldn't recommend someone seek solely prayer-based treatment for past abuse. On the other hand, prayer as a component of therapy, when it emerges from the patient's own context and benefits from a belief that it can be helpful, can be effective where other techniques may not.
posted by Miko 25 February | 00:52
Throw in a little passion and some big words and it's "drama."

It's the seventh word in your post. It was also in the title of your last post on the subject.
posted by Miko 25 February | 00:53
God, Pips, I'm sure it may inform you but you've never talked about things in terms of psychology as much as... personal psychology.
It's not a judgment. I accept you for who you are, in as much as I know you.
We all have issues and I just don't think this is the time and place to talk about them.
I don't mean to be insensitive, but I don't think I can give you more than the basic human respect and friendship one can achieve at this distance.
I mean, my plate, kinda full, but you can email. I'm open to email.
But I gotta sleep.

Miko, I've also mentioned why I dislike the word. Yes, I need emoticons and irony tags. No, I will probably never use them.
posted by ethylene 25 February | 01:00
I don't think Pips was asking for your advice! Whatever gives you that idea? As far as I can see, she's simply asserting that she knows what she's talking about. And if anything, expressing some concern for you.

Yes, I need emoticons and irony tags.

No, perhaps just to write more clearly and maybe avoid the urge to indulge in some of these topics.

We all have issues and I just don't think this is the time and place to talk about them.

Totally fine, and let's extend the same courtesy to your RL acquaintances.
posted by Miko 25 February | 01:06
You're trying to rip apart an argument that was not constructed as an argument and inferring things to justify your argument.
Just because we don't have the same views on God and spirituality, it doesn't mean you can judge who has a relationship with God and spirituality based on stray remarks that were not meant to express the fullness and measure of anything.

Not everyone is in constant construction of a thesis on their beliefs when they write random blather on the internet. I generally come here when I don't feel like being precise and on duty. Unless there has been another colossal rule change, I figured that was fine.

I'm being inappropriate. Consciously inappropriate. Is that really a surprise?

Pips can talk for herself, you can tak for yourself and I can talk for myself. You interpreted that as advice, I meant she could email me if she just wanted to talk some more but I was going to sleep.

I know people have bequeathed you this role as arbitor of some kind of moral standard but I never thought you realistically accepted it without some tongue in cheek. Far too generously.
posted by ethylene 25 February | 01:15
I need to type faster. That's the second time I've hit preview and had to rewrite my response. And just when I thought things had taken a friendlier turn. We should have quit with He'Brew.

No worries, Miko. I got that she was trying to goad me. It's really not about you or me. We should just let it go at this point. If it hollers, let it go.

Sleep is a very good suggestion, though. Night all.
posted by Pips 25 February | 01:50
I long ago lost the thread but I have to say He'Brew sounds like a delightful brew for discrete Jewish homosexuals.
posted by arse_hat 25 February | 02:08
I may as well stick this here because I can't believe you are actually let someone else get the last word, but you've stepped into some of my online conversations with what I meant, and it's like, okay, kinda, I guess, not really what I would have said but I'll roll with it, because you just wanted to finish the argument with your say. Usually it's in enough of the same vein that I'm like, sure why not. I don't usually care that much.
But, my god, it's just crazy rooster on fire or something.

And a piece of paper is just a piece of paper. And a book is a book. I think it genuinely use to mean more decades ago, but it amounts to time served more than accrued knowledge. Maybe connections, maybe environment, but there are lots of people I have far more respect for that don't have letters after their name, but have done the freaking work and know what they are talking about and use their knowledge. And can teach. Or speak. I have more respect for Pips as a teacher than my current psychology professor. But you want me to dissect Pips to prove a point to you about why I would not seek her psychological counsel?

Miko, there are some things I would appreciate your input on, and then there are vast areas where I would not. That goes for about everybody. I have dear friends who's book recommendations are never asked for, people who's recipes I do not want, and certain perspectives on topics I avoid.

Yes, I am taking a risk talking about possibly real people with possibly real issues in vague terms with obfusticating details with a certain kind of terminology. Because should they exist, they might find out. This has nothing to do with gauging reactions or this medium, it's an uncontrollable torrent of information. Run for your lives! I must be a troll! I have no idea what I'm doing! Rat's ass seemingly ungiven!

Pips, I wasn't trying to goad you, but it's beyond me to indulge you. In person, I hug. Online, not a hugger. You're going through a tough time, you've been going through a tough time. I don't think brackets cut it.

It's past two, I'm tired, but the bunchiness of New England can bite me.
posted by ethylene 25 February | 02:22
Psychology ≠ therapy, details don't trump context, and anyone considering academia should pull it off a pedestal and give the thing serious criticism from all angles. But how dare I voice my opinion in less than grave tones, daring to challenge functionalist view points and questioning stereotypical modes of authority. How irresponsible to write anything less than a long considered cogent argument defending a definite stance so people can easily line up on the predefined dias of opposition when I could be posting pictures of my cat.

It's like abandoning the theory of mind thread because other people are having more fun with it completely apart from its intended topic.

The whole making assumptions because you figure other people are making assumptions, assuming things according to how you do things, thinking what you think is "right" and everyone else is somehow messed up, you understand thing like "this" and it doesn't fall into the category of "this"-- you're consistent, I'll say that for you, and I hope you are somewhat aware of your own motivations, but when you slide into the whole "proper" way to do things because you've abandoned your perch--

And the seriousness, the completely humorless agenda. It must be this. You must be enmeshed. You are writing back. It must be obsessive. I think this. It must be this.

Let's not talk about the wide variety of why people bother to comment, Miko. Why do you?
posted by ethylene 25 February | 10:45
Amalia Pica's Venn Diagram || So I want to have a web site.