In-groups, out-groups, empathy, altruism, parochialism and disparity – but not necessarily hate

However, it can come across like that on the disadvantaged side of exclusive solidarity:

The Neuroscience of Hate: Rebecca Saxe from Petrie-Flom Center on Vimeo.

I find this talk very enlightening, also with regard to my own situation as a migrant in the UK. I will have to do some thinking about how I can apply this knowledge.

What Rebecca Saxe calls parochialism, I call exclusive solidarity (as opposed to inclusive solidarity). Rebecca Saxe’s talk also explains that scarcity – imagined or real, as opposed to having an abundance mindset – causes it. Parochialism. When you’re afraid that there won’t be enough for all, you will only want to look after your own.

In connection with this topic, this book by Kathleen Taylor, another neuroscientist, is very enlightening as well:

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Stigmas

In my latest course, I also talk about stigmas, including the fact that I unsuspectingly became burdened with at least five stigmas after I moved from Amsterdam to England. It’s shocked and hampered me greatly, and it also taught me a lot.

My most embarrassing moments in this respect?

Finding myself wanting to emphasize that I am not eastern European “or something like that”.

Because even worse than being seen as a migrant was being seen as a migrant from eastern Europe “or something like that”, when I was living in Southampton.

“I am not one of them. I am one of you, I am one of us.”

I still cringe when I think back to it.

Nobody is immune to the destructive self-perpetuating power of a stigma.

 

The UK and women – setting it straight

Most Brits despise women – and I am correcting that view, the idea that women deserve nothing but contempt. (I can dream!)

The past few days, I have been going around telling women that they should be proud of themselves, that they’re human beings, not punching bags or trash, as most have been told most of their lives.

I have also reminded a few men of the fact that Britain is officially the world’s most (openly) hostile place for women and asked a few to teach their sons not to beat up on women. (Figuratively and/or literally.)

Some observations follow.

      • A very impressive young woman along Kingston Road took out her earbuds to listen, told me that she works in the military, locally. Her male colleagues treat her like she’s a 5-year-old. Her digital skills are likely a thousand times better than theirs – in view of what she does – but they have dicks and, hey, that is all that matters, in Britain. She also said that nobody here talks with anybody. That was the first thing she said, actually. (True! People here mainly communicate through violence, deception and threats.)

She told me to “keep fighting”. She does not let any of it get to her, she said. She meant it, I could see that and she impressed the hell out of me. Hats off to her! But she fully agreed that Britain is horrible in this respect, that women are seen as less than men and as having to be subservient to men. Her I wanted to hug and give a protective yet also very impressive superwoman cloak that she can wear all her life. (It does not need to be visible, such a cloak.)

She made my day, but I also felt very sad for the abuse she has to take while at work. I should add that when I addressed her, I was mainly still fuming over the relentless and immensely destructive abuse I have experienced myself, as a female professional and business owner in Britain.

        • One guy along Fratton Road who came out of a model shop and had two sons with him actually LISTENED to me – thank you; you too made my day, but I failed to convey it because I was still too angry – and replied “it’s the Middle East” and I said “no, it’s not the Middle East”. “Britain is worse than the Middle East, worse than African countries, worse than Afghanistan. Brits like beating up on women and for them to stop beating up on women, they first have to admit that Britain is worse than the Middle East.”
        • The next guy, who was walking along Arundel Street and possibly on his way to Asda, dismissed me after wanting to look at my tits. I had deliberately zipped up my coat and when he could not see my tits, I became non-existent to him. Typical Brit? Unfortunately, he will go on to teach the little toddler he had with him that women are no more than tits. His friends will tell the kid that women are mere cunts. Or baby-making machines.

        After that, though, after seeing the positive responses I was getting from women, my anger started to dissipate.

        • I walked up to a young couple who were about to cross into Cambridge Road, totally ignored the guy, and the woman smiled and said “thank you!”. It probably came as a great shock to the guy that his dick made him invisible for a change. (Note that I did not walk up to couples if I thought it might make the man angry and take it out on the woman. When one woman responded positively and the guy next to her then chimed in too, I said “No, not you. She!” But his response had indicated that he was not going to take it out on the woman, by the way, otherwise I would have kept my mouth shut. What I did is the reverse of the existing situation in which women are routinely marginalized. Did it make me feel a bit sorry for some of the men? Yes, of course! I mostly addressed women on their own or in groups, without men, to avoid that clash.)
        • I told lots of women to smile, be proud etc, but I didn’t want to confirm the view of women as mere decorations, as smiling puppets. I could see, though, that telling women “you’re a beautiful human being” seemed to work much better than to tell them “you’re a wonderful human being”. One woman said I had made her day. Some women looked at me with a very puzzled look on their faces. Perplexed. I am sure that some of them had never before been told that they are human beings, or to be proud of themselves.

        From now on, I want to walk into shops increasingly often and ask for the boss when I see only guys because of course, the boss is a female. I will ask the woman for advice, address women instead of men, whenever I have a choice.

        (Fucking hell. I thought I was done with this kind of shit in the 1980s! And it wasn’t this bad back then in the Netherlands. This is more like the Netherlands in the 1950s and 1960s.)

        I am going to set the record straight a tiny little bit by reversing the situation/attitude on the days that I am not overcome with fear, anger or anything else negative myself. Here in Britain, a woman’s life is usually a life of fear, one way or another.

        I want to do something about Britain’s viciousness and its downright medieval attitude toward women, but the issues are much broader than that. I think that empowering women will do the most good in this respect, but also, my heart bleeds for all the women here who truly believe that they are worth so much less than men. They’ve been hearing that crap all their lives, over and over and over again.

        A few days ago, I wrote that they send death threats and rape threats to educated women here. They do. But they do something else too, and that is even more revealing. If, as a woman, you stand up for your rights, Brits are quick to say things like “she was probably sexually abused as a child” (which I was not). After all, a “real woman” happily allows herself to be used as punching bag and mentally stamped into the ground without even the slightest frown? (Fuck that! Pun intended.)

        • Unfortunately, a few hours after my most recent demonstrative walk around the town, I spotted a baby in a car in the blazing sun, to my utter horror. At first, I literally could not believe it so I walked around the car to see if I was imagining things. Nope. When I looked into the car, I spotted a toddler as well, next to the baby. The toddler was lower in the car, and that is why I had missed him, when I looked at the car from the other side. I had no idea whose car it was, but I had just seen a woman walk toward a house, so I knocked on that door. No response. I stood next to the car, making myself deliberately highly visible, raising attention for the situation, not knowing what else to do as I didn’t have my phone with me.

        Then I spotted another mother with two tiny kids across the street and asked her if she could phone, perhaps. She was not too eager.

        I decided to knock on the door again, then the door did open, and I asked her if the kids were hers. Yes, she said. I told her that that was irresponsible, that those kids were about to die. (Temperature in a car in the blazing sun goes up very rapidly, even with the windows at a crack. You can’t even do this to a dog without going to prison.) I got a shitload of insults from the mother of the kids. “Go away you cow” was the only thing I could make out; the rest was just a soup of vowels to me, as usual. When I later went back with my mobile to take a photo of the number plate (just in case) – as I stupidly had not had a phone with me – I got more yelling, this time from another woman. But at least the doors were wide open now and, hopefully, the kids were out of the car. That’s all I wanted. That those kids were safe.

        (This is in favour of the idea that maybe in the future, parents will require a licence before they are allowed to have kids.)

        But knowing how Britain works in practice – knowing that both of these women are victims of a system that abuses them – I probably have more understanding for them than they realize.Anyway, I think I put the fear of god into the mother in question, and that that made her shower me with insults. Good. She should never pull such an irresponsible stunt again, then, endangering the lives of her children. And she should cut back on the booze. She was probably 25 or so and her skin looked older than mine. And I am close to 60. I looked much healthier than she did. But this is what the British system does to lots of men and women. It makes them escape into alcohol because there is nothing else, and no hope.

My hacker(s) and I

It appears that we may slowly be (16 March:) still are not developing an understanding.

As the constant freezing of my PC and his unexpected butting in was very disruptive, a week ago or so, I suggested setting a schedule or some general rules. Not rigid rules, more like a guideline.

He seems to like it, but when I am late in the morning, he lets me know that he is very angry by messing up my screen incredibly (controlling the monitor) and rebooting the PC non-stop for about 15 minutes. He can also tell my PC’s fan to gear up. He hacks hardware too, yes.

This morning, he arrived at 8:30, causing my PC to freeze, requiring me to flip the UK-style socket’s power switch, and he appeared to leave my PC at around 9:50. At around 11:15, he seemed to be back, but it is more likely that he’s been logged into my system since 8:30. He can be present without me noticing it, and sometimes believes that he’s tricked me into believing that he’s gone, lol. After 10+ years of this, I have more or less gotten used to it, though on some days, it becomes too much and I yell at the computer and/or at one of the other people involved in this circus.

(He doesn’t want me to post the little video I made. Keeps deleting it.)

My PC sometimes also freezes for other reasons, however, and I am aware of that. The site of The Independent almost always makes my PC freeze.

The more I think about it, after having skimmed a few papers on the topic, the more convinced I am becoming that yes, he has a form of Asperger’s. (16 March: But how would I know? NPD apparently can look exactly the same, and I doubt that Asperger’s goes with taunting.) (19 March: No, apparently, it’s got nothing to do with autism.)

People with Asperger’s too have a problem with theory of mind. This can make them appear to be devoid of empathy, hence make them appear to have NPD and/or psycho/sociopathy. It is hard for him to assess how some of his actions and behaviours affect other people. He seems to see those as independent of himself, the way one would look at a computer problem when a computer is malfunctioning.

He does not think of the “cups of coffee” he throws “into other people’s keyboards”, so to speak. He has a tendency to take over my entire life (also in terms of getting into my head, of course, just like it is hard not to think of water when you just fell into a pond).

As some of you know, the story is a lot more complicated than this, but figuring out individual components is certainly helpful.

I am the one who has to live with this, after all, so I have to do the best I can to make my life as liveable as possible regardless of whatever the hacker’s doing, or any of his associates.

It’s taught me that we don’t all speak the same language. Some of us use music as language, others visual art, and his language is, well, coding, I guess. Or the general way he interacts with software and hardware.

I think I can often tell whether he is in my PC or not by things like how quickly some or all web pages load and refresh (the ones he wants access to, either to control what I get to see or do or to add messages from him), and whether they load once, or two times.

In 2011, I took a photo of the hacker, by the way. I know who he is, what he looks like, roughly where he lives and what is name appears to be.

I also know that he is not doing all of this on his own. There is someone else involved, with a different condition, who sometimes does terrible things, partly to support and perpetuate his own hero role, obscuring what is really going on – like someone who pushes you into the canal so that he can pretend he is rescuing you and who quickly pushes you back when nobody’s looking, and should someone notice, then he’ll use it as proof of how clumsy you are – and partly to try and drive me crazy, to frustrate me and hurt me. At least, that is how it often comes across on the receiving end. Not always.

Someone – mostly the hacker, usually on behalf of the other person, I suspect, or my immediate downstairs neighbour on behalf of them – has also been going into my flat when I am out, for years, until I managed to stop it – AS, 16 April 2019: temporarily, as it turned out later – by installing an extra lock. Sometimes he took something, or he returned something he took earlier. At other times, he moved something, left a note, destroyed something, or hurt an animal. He – or his brother – has also killed animals. His theme is decapitated pigeons, though I also suspect him of having killed all the stray cats here where I live in the past year or so.

The first time I knew for sure that someone had been in my flat was on Good Friday, I think it was in 2015 (I can check), when something had been moved, something relatively heavy. Up to that point, I only sometimes had had a strange feeling, but it had never occurred to me that someone could actually be shimmying the locks and going into my flat.

Neither of them can help doing this. I understand that.

This is part of the story of how I got into bioethics and inclusivity.

I’ve learned a lot from it.

Portsmouth women

Are you a woman in Portsmouth (England) and a target of sadistic stalking?

“Eh, of what ?”

If you follow this link: https://www.le.ac.uk/press/ebulletin/archive/speaker_sheridan.html, you can find out more about the phenomenon “sadistic stalking” (forensic psychologist Lorraine Sheridan’s British work). At the bottom of this web page, you can find the main points.

It concerns a highly manipulative pattern of positive and negative behaviours (which can lead to trauma-bonding, better known as the Stockholm syndrome) and the gradual but steady loss of the victim’s control over almost all areas of her life. It is usually carried out by someone the stalker barely knows or may not even know at all.

Victims of sadistic stalking are generally slowly but very deliberately isolated by their stalkers, their lives often torn to shreds in the course of years.

What does this mean in real life?

That you’re not alone! There are up to 45 women in Portsmouth right now – maybe more – who are in the same kind of nightmare as you are!

According to National Stalking Advocacy Service Paladin (see this page: https://paladinservice.co.uk/key-facts-and-figures/ ), “data from the Crime Survey of England and Wales shows up to 700, 000 women are stalked each year (2009-12)”. That could include 90,300 victims of sadistic stalking, then, if 12.9% of those cases concern sadistic stalking, as in Sheridan’s study.

The size of the combined populations of England (53.01 million in 2011) and Wales (approximately 3,063,456 in 2011) was 56,063,456. 700,000 stalked women represent a little over 1% of that total population, but that population also contains minors and men. So let’s say that about 0.5% of women is stalked.

(This excludes stalking that is 100% cyberstalking.)

There is almost no help for these women. The digital age has made it much more expensive and complicated for police to investigate stalking. As sadistic stalking tends to involve one or more unknown stalkers (and is often very subtle and skilled as well as engineered to make the victim sound crazy), police officers particularly cannot afford to allocate resources to investigating such cases.

If I assume that stalking is evenly distributed geographically, which it won’t be as some stalkers are more likely to operate in surroundings that make stalking easier, then I arrive at the following estimate for Portsmouth, where I live.

Portsmouth’s population in 2010 was 207,100. The working age population was 145,000. If I take 50% of that as the number of women, I end up with up to about 360 stalked women in Portsmouth alone. If 12.9% of those cases concern sadistic stalking, as in Sheridan’s study, then about 45 women in Portsmouth were targeted by sadistic stalkers in 2010/2011.

Sadistic stalking can go on for decades, and nobody can help you put a stop to it. There is a lot of fancy talk out there, but in reality, when you are being stalked like this, you are largely on your own.

You may even run into the bullshit opinion that there are no stalked women, only psychotic and hysteric women and attention-seeking women.

It’s not true that only young and attractive women get stalked. You can get stalked because you remind a man of his mother of because you are having a bad hair day.

So in real life, you may find yourself being forced to live a nightmare, on your own, your health likely to decline under the prolonged stress. You can develop things such as skin infections (fungal or bacterial).

You may even suffer a heart attack as you may often be confronted with acts of cruelty. This can be shocking.

I am no longer often angry with stalkers because I’ve come to realize that they can’t help what they are doing. It’s complicated. We provide medical care to people with kidney problems, but not to people with brain differences that can for example be caused by severe childhood abuse. Apparently, such differences in the brain can result in stalking behaviours like these.

But here is the thing.

If 45 or so women in Portsmouth alone are being targeted by sadistic stalkers, we should be able to make a fist – or rather, a circle of connected hands – and support each other. That way, we could instantly put a stop to one of the key objectives of sadistic stalking – isolating the victim.

You may have been hiding the fact that you are being stalked because when you talk about it, you usually sound like a complete lunatic yet when people believe you, they become scared.

Friends and acquaintances disappear and those who don’t disappear by themselves will be pushed away by the stalkers. They may call friends, relatives and acquaintances, pretend to be someone else and give them a reason to stay away from you.

You may feel guilty about being stalked, even though you know that you did nothing to deserve it.

You may feel like you should have been able to prevent it, somehow, even though on a rational level, you know that there is nothing you could have done differently that would have made a difference.

You may be experiencing disbelief. “This can’t possibly be happening. So it must be me. Am I merely imaging things? Am I going crazy?” This may be more common at the start of being stalked, when you notice things that make no sense, things that – so you think – can’t really be true. Such as people taking photos of you, (some of) your postal mail disappearing or the feeling that someone has been in your home, or just a vague indescribable feeling of uneasiness that you can have when someone has been in your home but you don’t realize it.

And if you are a foreigner, you may not even be sure if what is happening could be “British humour” or not. British humour is often slightly sadistic, too, after all. Designed to trigger “Schadenfreude”. Are anonymous people around playing pranks on you, perhaps? You may also find yourself tripped up by British slang that you didn’t recognize as such.

You are bound to feel alone and powerless and you may often walk around with a frown on your face, looking and feeling angry or scared or frustrated or bewildered. You may have become a bit zombie-like – because that is what prolonged powerlessness can do, for various reasons. Some people may think that you’re really odd, for instance, people at supermarket tills.

But you are not alone.

Earlier today, before I started writing this page, I passed a woman on my way to the Aldi and I wondered “Is she one of them?” I looked at her, deliberately, and she looked back and smiled. She was about my age.

A few years ago, the Portsmouth News reported the suicide of a 54-year-old women in Southsea. I was 55 at the time. I am still wondering if she too was a victim of sadistic stalking. Stalkers may target several people simultaneously. Perhaps it helps obscure what they are doing, makes them look less fixated on one person.

So let’s find each other and start supporting each other. All 45 of us or whatever the number for Portsmouth is in reality, and many of the others too, for instance those who have delusional fixation stalkers or stalkers who are a mix of these two stalking types, and others as well.

The other two stalking behaviours in Sheridan’s taxonomy (ex-partner stalking/harassment and infatuation harassment) appear to be a bit different, often less secretive, and more clearly to see for others.

With some stalkers, telling them off in a stern tone works, but it can encourage other stalkers.

By the way, the advice to have no contact with a stalker has become meaningless in the digital age. There is no way of knowing that “Carl Patterson” who you don’t know is really, say, “Pete Jefferson” who you do know and if you suspect it, you will sound paranoid as this example is so obvious. If the example is less obvious, you will still sound paranoid.

Apart from that, you will be trying to make your life work in spite of being stalked and you can’t do that without trying to find out who and what you are dealing with, and finding out whether it might be possible to negotiate.

Let’s connect. We could meet every Saturday at 11:00 or 14:00 in the HIVE at the public library in Guildhall Square. I don’t know yet if I will get around to starting this myself in Portsmouth, but if I do, I will post details on this page later.

Women and men in other locations can do this too, of course. Track each other down and start supporting each other.

I am aware of the risk that meeting like this might also attract stalkers or, say, people with narcissistic personality disorder who feel better about themselves when they hear about other people’s misery, but I think those of us who are being stalked and certainly those who have been stalked for many years have learned enough about stalking behaviours to recognize any wolves in our midst. And we could set up a safety net for ourselves, too. Plus, there can be safety in being visible to the public.

Stalkers don’t necessarily mean harm, but it’s impossible to know what is going through the mind of anyone who is stalking you. That creates a big chunk of the problem, of the life-stealing in stalking in general.

Once we join hands, however, we can say “We’ve got this.” and feel strong and in control again, instead of “possibly crazy”, powerless and vulnerable.

I mean, heck, isn’t this an obvious solution?!

That said, please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this web page. I cannot protect anyone from anything, nor guarantee anything, and cannot be held liable for the results of any decisions you make or don’t make or steps you take or don’t take.

I wish everyone well, and I wish nobody any harm of any kind.

Some general advice follows, however.

  1. The first thing to do if you have any type of stalker? Secure your home. Change locks, add extra locks, make shimmying the locks take up so much time that it becomes very unattractive.
  2. Second thing to do? Stop posting anything online. Do not share any wishes, hopes and frustrations etc online. No photos of your home etc either. No remarks about friends or relatives.
    • Impossible if you are your own boss. A solution is to hire someone to handle social media for you. Keep that away from your own computers and e-mail addresses. Outsource it. Do not postpone this if you can afford it. It may safeguard your income. Once you’ve lost your income, it’s too late.
    • Another complication is not being able to ignore e-mails etc from strangers if you are your own boss. Here too, outsourcing may help and it is worth the expense. Use one general e-mail address for enquiries and outsource the handling of e-mails to that address.
    • Do the same thing for phone calls. Engage a company that can answer your phone for you. Use one number for general inquiries, and then redirect your calls to that secretarial service.
  3. The third thing to do is to make it hard for your stalker to isolate you. As soon as you know or suspect that you are being stalked, tell friends, colleagues, relatives and acquaintances about it, calmly. (Don’t explain in detail what is going on. Merely say that you have an anonymous stalker. That’s right, even if you have a suspicion of who it might be or know who it is.) Tell them not to pay any attention to anyone contacting them and for example claiming to be a good friend who wants to help you with something behind your back. That way, they don’t end up gaslighting you too, without knowing it, which would be likely to make you distance yourself from them. Tell them to call you – they know your voice – if they receive strange e-mails from you and tell them not to give up if they find it hard to reach you by phone or e-mail. Dead/disconnected line, weird message on phone line, no response to e-mails. Also, if you don’t do this now, the isolation you’ll eventually experience can make you want to share things online, or even vent online, which makes you more vulnerable and gives the stalker more of what he or she wants. If you do slip up, delete it as soon as you can.)

 

PS
(19 March 2019)
If you are looking for legal recourse, you have three options, namely public prosecution, private prosecution or civil proceedings.

You can forget about public prosecution. You need to cooperation of police and CPS for that and you are never going to get that unless you’ve been physically attacked (and/or killed) and by then, it’s too late. Your chances of successful private prosecution are slim as well, as you need permission for that and it’s rarely granted. Civil recovery is your best option. The point? Spare yourself the effort of doing what is usually recommended and the ensuing immense frustration. British police are not going to help you, and a 2017 report by two British watchdogs agrees. Police had failed all the victims in all the cases that the report had looked at.

Please see the disclaimer. I wrote the above on the basis of my personal experiences in Britain. I am not a lawyer.

More later. I am writing a paper on the topic.

Calling people with NPD

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a problematic neurological condition. It shows up on brain scans.

You are not deliberately creating it, you have it, and you are not deliberately refusing to cure yourself. I know that.

In your anonymous comments, please leave notes about how society might be able to help you be your best selves and hurt less inside.

Your comments will not be published instantly. That is the standard setting on this site.

(I will likely remove comments from people who do not have NPD, and who need to vent.)

I genuinely want to hear from all of you, that is, read your comments, added from your computer, tablet, or phone, not just from the people who believe that they own me or used to own me in the past).

Have any of you tried medications to do with oxytocin, or Prozac, or something else? Did that work for you? Do you have any other conditions that are related to this?

Have you pretended to be, for example, merely deeply depressed (which you probably often are), in order to receive any support? How did that work out?

Because for you, talking openly about what you need is usually a no no, so you need to do it anonymously.

Because the world is mostly obsessed with the negative aspects of your condition (understandably).

And because to my knowledge, shrinks don’t really know what to do with you, how to support you, either.

Because all of this makes me curious about what we might be able to do that might really make a difference.

Because if you hurt less inside, that will make the world a better place for all of us. Because a lot of what you do says “THIS MUCH is how I hurt inside, but I can’t let myself feel that, so I am making you feel it instead”.

By the way, it is my understanding that reading “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry can help. Because it can help you learn how adults are supposed to behave, I think. But also because it may comfort you.

 

 

 
It is my personal impression that if you have NPD, having friends in your life with a strong zen attitude and a thorough awareness of the condition, and perhaps also particularly someone who can serve as your business manager, depending on your situation, can make a big difference.

If you want to know what Britain is like under the shiny layer of gloss

In many other countries, Britain’s shiny layer of gloss or deceptive image of the “prim, proper and demure” or soft and gentle is accepted as WYSIWYG. But Britain is not WYSISYG. The great Brexit entertainment show surely has made many people abroad cotton on by now. This is Britain as usual, well, most of the time.

Want another example?

People who do not have the British nationality can be grabbed anywhere and at any time, to be locked up indefinitely, for no good reason at all, often making them lose their jobs and homes, even those who’ve been here for fifty years or longer, and sometimes leaving them without documentation/passports (if the Home Office keeps it).

People – Brits – are locked up because they protested peacefully, against fracking or against deportation. And for many years it has already been the case that if Britons show up at a demonstration anywhere, their mere presence can get them into a police file and often tracked and hassled wherever they go in Britain after that. (There’ve been court cases related to the latter. That’s how I know.)

Here is a film about that part of Britain.

You can see what a farce this is because if they really had been considered terrorists, they would have been held on remand, not been left free to roam the country.

They wouldn’t have been allowed to leave the court after the verdict either.

This is about nipping protest in the bud, just like the food bank organizations and the BBC have gotten whistled back to heel so often.

For me, it is heart-warming and so encouraging to see that people like the Stansted 15 exist in Britain.

You see how gutted they are after the verdict. That, that alone, was the aim of this farce. To whip the souls of British citizens back into obedience to the state.

Creepy.

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Asperger’s in practice

I have no experience with autistic people – as far as I know – and have been trying to develop some understanding, very slowly. I just ran into a top artist with Asperger’s and this documentary seems to show a lot of how it works in practice.

People thought she had brain damage. People thought “she couldn’t do much”. People kept telling her that.

The funny thing is that the Asperger’s makes her a “better” or talented artist. It is why she makes audiences cry. That and her musical professionalism.

(I did not know much about her, no, had never watched anything before, other than one short video clip once. I watched another one this evening in which someone talked about her emotional connection to the songs.)

Human diversity occurs along a very broad spectrum, with lots of overlap and variation, and there is still so much we don’t know about that. And all the minuses seem to come with their own pluses, one way or another.

A story about a concentration camp or two

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Britain has a bunch of them too. And people can be in them indefinitely. Kinda like at Guantánamo Bay. An American concentration camp on an island in the Caribbean.

Shit.

The Netherlands used to have them too. (No longer, I think.) When I was still living in Amsterdam, a fire tore through one of them.

Criminalization of brain-based health conditions

Here we see how a young woman’s mental health crisis got her into handcuffs and in front of a judge for having inconvenienced the public.

Police criminalized this woman. That’s how stigmas work.

Now compare that situation with that of, say, a pregnant woman whose waters break in the middle of a supermarket? Or hey, who cramps while driving a car on the way to the hospital, skids, spins and ends up blocking traffic?

If police did not discriminate, the latter woman should be handcuffed and dragged in front of a judge as well.

Would police do that?

And what would police do with a woman who ends up in a diabetic crisis while travelling on public transport?

Or with anyone daring to have a heart attack in public?

 

Overweight air hostesses

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/pakistan-international-airlines-cabin-crew-weight-memo-intl/index.html

Ah, this rings bells too. In 1979 and in 1980 and 1981 or thereabouts, I applied to a few airlines. My mother had always told me I might want to become an air hostess because you get to speak a few languages and get to see a bit of the world that way.

I applied three times and I got three interviews. I think it was December 1980 when I was in a deadhead seat on a flight to Frankfurt. Yes, it must have been December, indeed, because I remember that there was a Christmas market at the airport. There was snow too. It was after my season at Amsterdam’s Tourist Office.

Upon arrival, we were all told to step onto a scale. I normally weighed myself in my underwear. My home scale said my weight was 58 when I sent in my application forms. I was now asked to step onto the scale wearing a blouse, a winter sweater, a lined tweed jacket, a scarf and a heavy lined plaid and pleated winter skirt. Their scale said my weight was 60 or 61. I remember that one guy’s weight was 5 kilos more than his application form had said.

While all of us candidates were in a room at a table, being addressed, the door opened and I was removed from the room. They told me that the weight I had listed on the form had not matched what their scale had said and that I was out of the process.

They treated me like a criminal.

I swore that I would never fly with that airline again from that day (but I relied on them to take me home again).

The guy with the 5 kilo discrepancy got to stay.

In retrospect, it was a good experience because I am pretty sure that I would not have enjoyed being an air hostess at all. Well, for a while, but not for long. Too many aspects about it, certainly in those days, that I would not have liked at all. But I didn’t know that then.

I am five foot seven, by the way.

Peace

It helps tremendously if you can VISUALIZE brain-related conditions for which other people tend to assign blame and make remarks such as that one should be able to grow out of it, admit it and seek help for it, and what have you.

It appears that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) simply lack part of the brain in which empathy is created (though it is not the only part of the brain that is related to empathy, apparently). If you can’t feel empathy for others, you cannot feel empathy for yourself either.

That explains the usual Catch-22 aspects of the condition.

This could also mean that/why people with NPD rely on notably empaths to “create” empathy for them. Symbiosis.

(People with NPD, by the way, lack emotional empathy, not cognitive empathy, apparently, according to a 2010 paper from the same research group.)

So, yes, the brains of people with NPD are wired differently. They did not ask for this, so stop blaming them. Look for what is good in them, and embrace that instead.

They’re like, hey, albinos. Or hey, people who go grey prematurely. Not their fault.

They’re like giraffes that people insist are, say, antelopes.

Or, like I wrote before, table lamps of which we demand that they change themselves into coffee makers.

Let go of it… All the frustration etc. It’s futile.

They are right. They are special. It’s part of the neurodiversity we have on the planet. (The brain is a miraculous thing!)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23777939

Now I am done waffling about narcissists in a rather chaotic manner. Continue reading

Happy New Year

This makes a very good New Year’s resolution. Go find the beauty in people. It may be easy to see the ugly in people, but seeing the ugly in people makes nobody happy.

Everyone has beauty.

Once you start seeing that, you’ll likely also start to feel a lot better, about people and about life in general.

Zen says that it is the label we attach to things – whether something is good or bad – that causes a lot of hurt for us, because if something is considered bad, we cannot feel good about it and so it hurts us. Is this an easy thing to do, to let go of such labels, of such judgements? Hell no, but it can help you a lot at times.

And if you can’t do it, simply focus on something else.

Here is a personal experience that I would like to share with young people because it may be useful to them. When I was younger, I used to watch in amazement how slow some slightly older people were, and I mistook it for mental slowness. Now that I am older too, I have learned that it merely has to do with eye sight. it is hard to, say, quickly grab a certain coin from your purse at the supermarket checkout if you can barely discern the coins.

(I am near-sighted, and I had to peek from under my glasses to be able to see the coins when I started getting older because with my glasses on or contacts in, my near sight was no longer as good as it once was and I could hardly take my glasses off or remove my contacts at the supermarket… It really annoyed me, but hey, that’s life. I want to try double-focus contacts one day.)

Once you realize little things like this, life becomes more enjoyable.

Older adults are undoubtedly often perceived as much slower than they actually are. They are often already labelled as slow before they’ve even done a thing, and will often be quickly moved out of the way, literally or figuratively speaking, just in case they turn out to be slow.

How do I know that? Another prejudice, in practice. Women are generally perceived as talking constantly. But when you record and analyse how men and women talk, then it turns out to be men who do the yack-yacking, not women.

If a python can carry toads on its back in a flood, and a cat can have its kittens in the same dog house in which a dog is having her pups (see earlier post), then labels about dangerous pythons and cats and dogs not getting along start to disappear:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/must_see/46720030/australian-cane-toads-hitch-ride-on-python-s-back

Reality is more nuanced than good and bad, black and white, either/or.

THIS I want to share!

There are many resources out there, including by clinical psychologists, who make you feel that you are a complete idiot if your natural tendency is to take the gentle approach of decency and goodness if there is someone in your life who has a narcissistic personality disorder.

Let’s face it, most of us know nothing about personality disorders, so if you find yourself the target of “sadistic stalking” which happened to me or whatever it is that happened to you that made you look into narcissistic personality disorder and then recognize it (it’s how I realized that I have a friend on the other side of the world who has this disorder), you will find that there is no one to advise you and the only thing you have – besides your own inner compass – is what you find on the web. And a lot of that information is, well, crap, practically speaking.

NOBODY chooses to have a personality disorder and if there is one mental health condition that I think the people who have it would do almost anything for NOT to have it, it’s narcissistic personality disorder, because it is my impression that life hurts almost all the time when you have that.

As mentioned, I have a long-time friend who has this disorder and after I began to understand that, and started reading up, I made mistakes. I became afraid of these people. Being afraid is silly. This mistake makes me feel very stupid, in hindsight, but hindsight is always 20/20.

So, don’t repeat my mistake if there is someone in your life who has narcissistic personality disorder.

(By the way, in Britain, people with this condition appear to be revered – and very very common. Why is that? This is something I will want to dive into, eventually. I suspect that Theresa May is a covert narcissist, for example, the way in which she lies, the complete lack of empathy and the way she acts all personally injured at times. Or is it just a public persona that she adopts, because it is revered in Britain?)

Continue reading

Also quintessentially British is this?

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

A few years ago, I read a story about a man who was constantly being hassled by British police wherever he went. Turns out that he had once attended some kind of relatively innocent demonstration and that got him into a police data base that got his car or his face flagged wherever he went.

19 December 2018
Here is more: https://rightsinfo.org/mass-surveillance-in-londons-west-end/ (Mass Surveillance In London’s West End As Unmarked Police Vans Scan 18,000 People Per Minute)

Quintessentially British?

This, too: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/kicked-punched-knocked-unconscious-tipped-out-of-wheelchairs-campaigners-describe-repeated-police-targeting-of-disabled-anti-fracking-protesters/

It’s happened before, a few years ago, when people in wheelchairs and pensioners (off the top of my head) protested against their ability to travel being severely cut short. Police hit back hard.

Here is a link:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10922230/Video-shows-pensioner-protesting-against-cuts-to-free-travel-being-restrained-by-police.html

In both situations, people were knocked unconscious by police.

Another opinion

The key to our humanity isn’t genetic, it’s microbial

File 20181211 76977 1euccsw.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The microbes that live in our gut are essential to good health.
Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics/SHutterstock.com

Ian Myles, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

What if the key to perfecting the human species were actually … yogurt?

Continue reading

(My) human rights in Britain

The British (as a nation) tend to see themselves as the human rights champions of the world, and “foreign fucktards” as those who violate human rights.

That’s otherization, explains Kathleen Taylor in her book “Cruelty – Human evil and the human brain”. If only “foreign fucktards” commit human rights violations, it follows that you, therefore, don’t.

That it is okay to violate the human rights of “fucktards” (foreign or otherwise) is the other aspect of otherization. Think of the fact that any foreigner can be arrested and detained indefinitely in places like Yarl’s Wood, for example, or the British government deliberately pushing poor people and poor disabled and chronically ill people into even deeper poverty, even causing their deaths.

I took a look at my own human rights situation in Britain. (Okay, make that “Portsmouth” as I did have quite a few more human rights in daily practice when I was still living in Southampton.) This is what my life has more or less looked like for the past ten years.

Continue reading

Rights that protect against socioeconomic disadvantage are long overdue – the UK is already paying the price

File 20181207 128202 1wfuf2g.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Swingeing changes are overdue.
Peter Gudella/Shutterstock

Peter Roderick, Newcastle University and Allyson Pollock, Newcastle University

In 2018, two anniversaries and a crucial decision loom large in the UK. We saw in the 70th anniversary of the NHS in July, while December 10 marks the 70th birthday of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. On December 11, the UK parliament will also vote on the prime minister’s EU withdrawal deal. The coming together of health, human rights and Brexit, raises questions of huge practical and constitutional significance.

The recent UK visit of Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, highlighted the effects of government policies on austerity and universal credit. Life expectancy rises have stalled, infant and neonatal mortality rates have risen, and 4.5m children are living in poverty.




Read more:
Reality of poverty in Newcastle, England: UN examines effect of austerity


Human rights are constitutionally important in constraining what politicians and public bodies can do, and they can necessitate action. Government must not, for example, interfere with enjoyment of rights and must even prevent third parties, such as private companies, from doing so. In the UK’s system of parliamentary supremacy, human rights can always be taken away. But incorporating human rights into UK law – as the Human Rights Act (HRA) does with the rights to life, a fair trial, and the prohibition of torture, from the European Convention on Human Rights – makes this politically more difficult and controversial.

The HRA itself is not affected by Brexit because the law stems from the Council of Europe, a separate organisation to the EU.

However, Brexit will directly affect other rights. The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes many rights relevant to health and the social determinants of health, and the special emphasis in EU law on the rights of persons with disabilities, will no longer apply. Brexit would also allow parliament to downgrade, for example, the 24 EU-derived employment rights identified by the UK Court of Appeal.

Social rights

Legal recognition of children’s rights has certainly increased but, like general economic and social rights – such as the rights to health, to an adequate standard of living, including food and housing, to social security and to just and favourable working conditions – they have never been guaranteed in UK law as human rights. This is despite the UK having accepted UN treaties recognising these rights in 1976 and 1991, respectively.

Many of these rights were also accepted by the UK as long ago as 1962 in the Council of Europe’s European Social Charter. However, Colm O’Cinneide, former vice-president of the charter’s monitoring body, recently wrote that there were “substantial defects in how the fundamental social rights set out in the charter are implemented within [UK] national law and policy”, with “serious failings … which in some circumstances have persisted for decades”.

In England, a public sector duty to reduce inequalities that result from socioeconomic disadvantage – enacted in the final days of the Gordon Brown Labour government – has still not been brought into effect. Theresa May, when minister for women and equalities, described it in 2010 as “ridiculous”.

Scotland has a slightly better story to tell. The duty was brought into effect there from April 2018. The human right to social security was at least recognised as a principle in June 2018, and recommendations of the Scottish first minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights, due on December 10, are expected to suggest how social rights could be put into domestic law in the country.

The dismantling of the postwar welfare state, and outsourcing of health, social care, water and other public services to private companies has been an incremental process over several decades.

NHS: much valued by the public.
John Gomez/Shutterstock

Policies such as the private finance initiative have brought into sharp focus the transfer of wealth, degrading work conditions and the creation of a two-tier workforce. If economic and social rights had been put into UK law as human rights, then eroding the legal basis for ensuring the social determinants of health would have been much more difficult.

Entrenching these rights would be no panacea – and ultimately parliamentary supremacy would remain in place – but they would be both a check on how politicians and public bodies exercise their power, and would compel politicians to act. As Alston said, legislative recognition of social rights should be “a central part” of reimagining what the UK represents and how it protects its people post-Brexit. Seventy years is too long to have waited to deliver on the promises of the Universal Declaration. In a divided, alienated, backward-looking “austerity” Britain, the time has come to make good on social rights.The Conversation

Peter Roderick, Principal Research Associate, Newcastle University and Allyson Pollock, Professor of Public Health, Newcastle University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The whiter than white ivory towers

The BBC sent FOI requests to all 24 universities in the Russell Group of highly selective, research-based universities, and 22 responded.

At these universities, the data showed average salaries of:

£52,000 for white academics
£38,000 for black academics
£37,000 for academics from an Arab background

From: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-46473269

Surrogacy

For a while, I’d been wanting to watch the documentary “Big Fertility“, by the Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC), which was released on 17 September 2018. I was mainly curious.

I finally got around to it today. I watched the puzzling trailer this morning – It’s all about the money – and it intrigued me so much that I rented the video from Vimeo.

This documentary features Kelly Martinez, her husband and the director of the CBC as well as Kelly’s doctor during her last surrogacy.

Kelly has earlier addressed the United Nations, as is mentioned in the documentary. This took place on 15 March 2017.

She also went to Spain. I found an article in Spanish newspaper El Pais of 24 February 2017 that mentions her and discusses the problem of gestational surrogacy. It’s not allowed in Spain, but that does not stop people who have lots of money.

My conclusions:
  • The issue of surrogacy needs to be resolved globally, and as soon as possible, as many others have been saying for a long time. Some surrogacies go fine, but many don’t – and the victims are often the babies, for example when they can’t travel from the countries in which they were born or when people who bought a pregnancy change their mind.
  • As Dr Diehl (Kelly’s doctor) explains in the documentary, physicians are currently left in limbo. They are faced with making decisions for which there is (often) no legal framework yet (depending on state/country), which can expose them to lawsuits. An example he gives is the situation that a surrogate does not want vaccinations, while the person who bought the pregnancy does.
  • If it were up to me, surrogacy would be banned altogether. Babies are not products. (Nobody knows what happened to the two boys Kelly produced during her third and final surrogacy.)
  • Thankfully, with the soon expected advent of artificial uteruses – incubation pods for embryos (yes, we will have something like this; there is no doubt in my mind about this and they’ve already been used successfully for sheep – the problem will disappear, at least as far as the surrogates are concerned and to some degree also as far as the babies are concerned.
  • I am reminded of Michael Sandel’s words about the effects of various practices on inclusive solidarity. What’s technologically possible is not by definition mandatory. It is not at all a matter of choosing between nature or science and technology, as some suggest.

I believe that truly altruistic cases or surrogacy will not be stopped by bans but it would curb the predominantly negative instances and effects of gestational surrogacy. In my own family, there is a case of one family giving one or their babies to another couple that could not conceive. It concerned two siblings and their spouses and happened many decades ago.

She’s GOOD!

She raps a poem she wrote to an Iranian-American student repeatedly tasered by police at a UCLA library when he did not want to show his ID when challenged, repeatedly tasered and then told to stand up again. (It was recorded on video.)

And she’s surprisingly good. It’s powerful.

This is 11 years old yet highly current.

When irrational fears on the side of police officers cause deaths, people sometimes get angry…

This concerns my home town of St. Petersburg in the US. I’d just left…

Tyron Lewis was an unarmed teenager. Of course he was black. Hence automatically considered dangerous. And shot. Killed.

I watched the news about it on TV from Amsterdam but for most people around me, it was just another Rodney King story that happened on the other side of the world. It did not concern them.

Particularly for young people (?), the internet – still in its infancy back then, with most people not even using e-mail – enabling like-minded strangers from all over the world to connect has changed this.

(Or has it?)

I knew from my own experiences in St. Petersburg that there were officers in St. Pete who were scared. For their own lives. Expecting the worst. (I once had to ask for police assistance when I came home and found my front door locked from the inside. Seemed a bit peculiar, best to take no risks and let the professionals deal with it. To my astonishment, the officers were much more scared and nervous than I was.)

This video has great sound. One of the reasons why I am posting it.