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:

Continue reading

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.

 

This :-)

‘I was homeless. Now I’m one of the most senior female firefighters in the UK’

With a PhD in psychology.

Because the fire service saw her potential.

(That is an inspiring lack of “class views”.)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0766thh

We need lots more of this.

What can YOU do to support women more and spread the news that women are not “defective human beings”?

Portsmouth Police breaking the law again

They don’t have the time and resources to solve crimes against individuals, unless those individuals have been killed, but they do still have the time and resources to send two or three cars to follow me and hunt me through the city to play PacMan.

They love playing PacMan with migrants and with women.

They first did this to me in 2009. February it was.

Of course, when you call them out on it, they always say that they don’t have the time and resources for that kind of crap.

So on my way back, I walked up to the central police station in Portsmouth, and addressed its CCTV camera:

You. Need. To. Observe. The. Law.

The law!

 

That’s the kind of police we have in Britain – barbaric, lawless and abusive – for which we pay through our council tax. They’re straight out of a film of police brutality and incompetence of the wild-west US in the past.

Two or three police cars were following me all over town again yesterday evening, slowing down when they passed me, backing up and returning when I took a left or right, etc.

It’s happened  too many times before.

And this kind of crap takes up most of their time. Hunting down citizens who dare report crimes and who dare stand up against the utterly lawless British police. They don’t seem to do anything else but this.

I have on occasion stood by on purpose myself to serve as possible witness in police brutality cases when I saw them hunt other people. But they are too clever to attack people in plain public view, I am sure.

We pay for this harassment through our council tax. We pay for it ourselves!

Portsmouth has the highest CCTV density of the UK, so yes, police can hunt anyone through the city, in retaliation or just for fun.

I also got a creep on a bicycle after me, along Albert Road, to tell me that women deserve to go hungry, should not be allowed to own any property of any kind, should not be allowed to work and should not be allowed to earn a living, or even be healthy and happy and that they should generally keep their mouths shut.

I told him it was the 21st century, that the middle ages were a long time ago and I crossed the road. The kid was not even half my age. He should apologize to all the women he owes his existence to, starting with his mother, but he won’t see it that way, clearly. In his eyes, women are lower than cattle. Usable and disposable. Not worth shit.

In case you wonder what the hell I am still doing in this shitty hell hole, well, I’ve tried to escape four times already. I also sometimes foolishly think that I can help make things better here, simply through my presence.

Also, I had formally raised the issue about the problems with local police again this week. Some retaliation was to be expected.

This photo below shows you what my door looks like when I am not in, these days. Three locks on the inside, warning note on the outside and a barricade in front of it, to stop, eh, anonymous elements, from shimmying the locks and carrying out crap in my flat – which has been going on since 2011, with the approval of Portsmouth Police.

Updated on 12 July 2019
At the moment, I am not using the vacuum cleaner to block my door, but the basket and two older printers. There was a time when I believed there was a local person with a brain-related impairment behind it, but it’s more complicated than that.

 

 

Be gentle with yourself

Life is about growing and learning and never stopping.

And about looking after yourself. Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself for what you don’t like about yourself or for what you could have done better.

For myself, I could have done some things better last Tuesday, when I was talking to a group of 14/15-year-olds, but as I can’t change that, there is no point on dwelling on it.

I was struck by how each of the youngsters representing their groups during debates (public speaking while being recorded on video!) had something else to give. Each had a different quality that was uniquely theirs and which they contributed to the whole.

Some were very passionate, others uniquely authentic, truly believing in what they said. Some sought to connect with individual members in the audience and turn what they were saying more into a dialogue than a speech. Some were looking inward for strength, others outward, and all of them had guts.

Some had some more practising to do than others, but they all at least had a little seed in them from which a beautiful plant can grow in the future if it has not already started yet.

They also all had made posters. I told them “Less is more” which I need to remind myself of all the time too, when I am writing.

A poster is a visual tool. One image says more than a thousand words, and five well-chosen words can convey more than a thousand all jammed together. Step into someone else’s shoes, a stranger’s and walk into the room, looking at your own poster.

It made me remember when I made my first poster. About the world’s first measurements of REE profiles in Antarctic seawater.

I was 30 or 31 at the time, preparing to go to a conference in Germany. I worked through the night, printing off the various images etc that I needed at the university, went home, ate my delicious cold cheeseburger with relish (figuratively speaking), slept for an hour, showered, then went to the train station.

Upon arrival in Germany, we were greeted with champagne! I had to be very careful to limit that to one glass only, and drink that very carefully! I was too tired to handle more than one glass as I’d had to stand most of the way to Germany, in a packed train. Heck, I had trouble handling that one glass. I remember hunting for some German rye bread that they were serving with it, to give the champagne some support.

I guess it was a little bit like that for these youngsters too. An adventure, not knowing what exactly to expect, taking it all in stride.

The brain has a natural negativity bias. Don’t let that get to you.

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.

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.

The irony

Many years ago, I was one the very few people who used e-mail. Some of my friends were extremely resistant to the idea of e-mail.

Years later, it was those initially so reluctant people who could not stop using e-mail. No matter how many times I begged them to call me instead of e-mail me, I could no longer get them to call me.

Oh, the irony.

That is how you learn who your friends are and who aren’t.

If you turn yourself into a bunch of words on my screen, you could be anybody – or nobody.

Humans are more than just a bunch of words on a screen.

Talking to each other is so much more efficient. You can instantly catch and clear up any misunderstandings that may not even become evident until much later when all you choose to be is a bunch of words on a screen. And you can smile together. A trouble shared is a trouble halved – or so they say – but a shared smile definitely becomes amplified.

 

A story about a concentration camp or two

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

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.

Why I sometimes call British culture “paranoid” or “narcissistic”

If someone writes to you “with the greatest respect”, isn’t it paranoid or an indication of extremely low self-esteem, hence possibly narcissistic, to believe that it means “I think you’re an idiot”?

That’s not “sarcasm”, folks.  That’s bonkers. Nuts.

YouGov survey: 
British sarcasm 'lost on Americans':

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46846467

So when a local shop owner suddenly started repeating “Don’t worry about it” a few years ago, I had no idea that it meant “Piss off!”, and I still have no idea why he suddenly wanted me to piss off either. I must have said something that he thought was intended as the exact opposite of what I said and meant?

Interesting is that before I moved from Amsterdam to the USA, I received some warnings/advice about Americans that turned out not to apply at all – for instance about the dinner invitations as mentioned in the BBC article – but I did later discover that some of it applies with regard to southern England.

For people in countries that don’t have English as their main language, the fact that British English is so vastly different from other forms of English can be really confusing.

There is also a thing in British English that we foreigners sometimes call hinting, and that people from other countries don’t get either.

I am not so sure that what the BBC writes about the British use of sarcasm applies to Scotland, by the way.

I do remember one occasion when I did catch the sarcasm. A year or so ago, I walked into a store to ask something and addressed someone whose last words to me before I left the store again were “and we’ll sort you out”.

What she meant was that they would teach me a lesson.

I suspect that I know what it was about and if I am right about that, then she considered the items she was selling “old junk”, felt that I had been comparing her to old junk by something I said (perhaps indicating that she was not very happy with what she was doing, even though I think she was an owner, not an employee).

This is typically British. Anywhere else, you’d be considered paranoid or otherwise not well in the head to have thoughts like these. Here, however, you are considered not well in the head – slow on the uptake – if you don’t get this stuff.

See how upside down the world can be and how tricky cultural differences are?

 

Breaking through the confusion about “narcissists”

In this very clear video, Sam Vaknin explains the distinction between the media’s and many people’s every-day use of the word “narcissist” – often meaning no more than “I don’t like that person” and/or “I am envious of that person” – and the personality disorder and elaborates on the variations of the disorder. (A related word that seems to be often intended to convey disdain is “co-dependent”.)

Sam Vaknin is blessed by his high intelligence, which often allows him to rise above his disorder to a large degree, but when you listen to what he says, in any of his videos, it remains important to discern when his disorder is doing the talking.

It can be quite confusing. Even listening to many of these videos, depending on your own situation (whether you have people with NPD in your life or not), you may start to wonder at some point about your own mental health… maybe because it makes you aware of how vulnerable we all are as humans.

It is always important to monitor your own behaviour in the company of people with NPD, to ensure that you stay grounded and don’t get swept away or pulled under by the effect someone else’s disorder has on you. Most people should be able to do that because they have the ego functions that people with NPD lack… except, when they become aware of the fact that they should have been doing this, they’ve often already been pulled under.

(Comparison that may help: When you are being targeted by a constant barrage of tennis balls from a row of tennis ball cannons, the only thing you are still aware of is the tennis balls and all your activity may become focused on dodging the tennis balls, getting hit, getting hurt and getting angry. The rest of the world drops away. That means that you are no longer grounded. There could be a bus shelter to the left, in which you would be safely shielded from the tennis balls, or you might be able to walk over to the cannons and pull the plug, but you are no longer able to notice that when you are not grounded.)

But Vaknin’s right: there is a lot of complete bullshit out there about the disorder and all it seems to accomplish is that it freaks people out and attracts a lot of angry people. People who feel angry would probably benefit more from going for a run or playing squash – or tennis.

By the way, psychopathy (a step further) appears to be promoted by war situations, by babies being exposed to the effects of war in the womb and when growing up. Brain chemistry. The brain becoming immune to some degree, and parts of the brain not developing. This could indicate that bombing countries in retaliation for terrorist attacks could lead to more terrorist attacks in the future. Something to think about.

The western world pays a lot of attention to attacks taking place on its own soil, for instance at train stations, but considerably much less to events such as Americans accidentally bombing a children’s hospital in, say, Pakistan.

A very complicated topic. What it all seems to boil down to is that the world is in need of more compassion and more empathy (I probably often mix the two up) – and less aggression.

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.

Ha ha ha – hacking is NOT illegal in the UK

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/81172bfa-58e9-4b12-893c-7e80a731a852

British police does NOT investigate hacking.

The idea that they do is a myth.

People are told to report cyber crime to the national monitor of cyber crime, Action Fraud, but most people don’t realize that this means that the cyber crime is not actually investigated. The name of the agency sounds so nicely “active” that people fall for it and think that this agency actively investigates cyber crime, but it only keeps statistics and only if there is an economic component.

At some point, I even received a (spoofed) e-mail from Hampshire Constabulary stating that hacking, criminal harassment, business sabotage and shimmying the locks to someone else’s apartment are not crimes. I didn’t bother taking that to the police. It would have been a complete waste of my time.

For the record, what police officers sometimes do appear to do, is tick boxes in their computer programs that make it look like something has been investigated when it hasn’t. (I have proof of that, or at least of police stating to third parties that they investigated something while they didn’t, apparently for no other reason than to discredit someone and suggest that the person was psychotic or paranoid – and I have something that backs up the latter as well. It is the kind of unexpected jaw-dropping information you can uncover when you exercise your FOI rights.)

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/about-us/what-we-do/national-cyber-crime-unit

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.

I (initially) can’t stop laughing

(Please note that there appear to be two main types with narcissistic personality disorder, grandiose or overt on the one hand and covert narcissism on the other. This post probably mainly concerns the former.)

So, I stumbled upon someone on YouTube who says that he is a sadistic narcissist, that he enjoys deliberately hurting people – which is not admirable – and in spite of that, and in spite of knowing that he feels utterly miserable inside, I can’t stop chuckling because he is an amazing master spinner.

He does it so well that it’s very entertaining and his humour is entertaining too. He says that he is a dinosaur and that he was a therapist for a dinosaur once. Then comments “committed suicide”. And you have to laugh, but, yep, he is definitely a sadistic narcissist.

I’ve run into it before. I can’t help it, ya have to laugh. With my apologies to the hurt souls eternally buried inside all narcissists out there for the instances when they are not actually trying to be funny.

(They cannot be healed or fixed. Do not ever for a second think that you can heal someone with narcissistic personality disorder. The only thing you can do – also for the narcissist – is to be your best possible you and remain true to who you are, no matter what. Lead YOUR life.)

This interviewee did not CHOOSE to be this way; his brain is wired this way and he did not create his brain. Remember that.

These days (now that I know about the disorder), I therefore usually try to choose not to be angry at people with narcissistic personality disorder (who sometimes trip over cultural differences and the fact that I am who I am, instead of who they think I am or would like me to be).

I do not apply that same leniency toward so-called flying monkeys. These are mentally well people who do have a choice and who are tricked into or paid to mess with the life of someone they know or the life of a complete stranger. They make the deliberate choice to do that, unquestioningly. (No, dear sadistic narcissists out there, unh uhn. I saw that one coming from a mile away.)

(I’d been wondering why I had been getting all these ads for “Harry’s razors” lately, and vaguely remembered that there was a previous time here in England when I was getting lots of razor ads. Then it clicked. “Harry” was the name of my brother in law and he committed suicide. He was clinically depressed. I won’t say more than that, can’t give too much away to the sadistic narcissists out there. Is this funny? No, of course not, but unlike people with narcissistic personality disorder, I can choose to respond in a healthy way and see it for what it is. It is an immature way of saying something like “this is how bad I hurt inside”, wanting to make you feel the same way, possibly so that you understand how they feel without them realizing that. It is like a kid throwing the plate against the wall because he does not want to eat the veggies, and THIS MUCH is how he hates the veggies.)

Another example. Not being allowed to do any online marketing for any of my business activities – by hijacking my internet access – and then sending me a link about “permission-based marketing”. Translation: “Are you hurting already?”

Anyway, in another video, this interviewee says that narcissists are “frequently targeted by stalkers and erotomaniacs” who are “inevitably rebuffed” by the narcissists.

(That’s called “being delusional”.) ( 5 January 2018: This represents fear, the fear of being unmasked as incomplete or flawed human beings, in the eyes of people with NPD.)

(In an earlier video, apparently now deleted, he said that narcissists are often stalkers.)

He says he was diagnosed as “gifted” at age 9 when it was actually initially thought that he might be retarded, he says, with an IQ of 180. His IQ was reassessed again at age 25 and age 35, he says, and that it is interesting that his IQ went up, whereas it normally decreases with age. He continues to say that it was 185 when he was 25 and 190 when he was 35. “Oh, sorry, the other way around.”

He says he went to university at age 9, was at medical school at age 12. (See footnote.)

His first PhD was in philosophy, he says, and he also has a PhD in physics. His Wikipedia page says that he obtained that in 1982, at a university that did not start until the year 2005, according to Wikipedia. But I don’t know who added those data to Wikipedia. And the page says that that for-profit organization published his thesis, which is not necessarily the same as having done the research there. Oh, but wait, his LinkedIn profile says that he did his PhD in philosophy there. In the 1980s. And I found another website that says that that organization was indeed founded in 2005.

See the tragedy of this condition? See why people who have it are so angry at the world? They have to try to hurt others to be able to feel better about themselves…

Some handle their condition very well, manage to adapt. Many also find a way to contribute to society. Not all of them.

Lots of people, including psychologists, paint people with this condition in a very dark light that does little more than freak “normal” people out. One person with a practical, realistic and very healthy approach is psychotherapist Les Carter, by contrast.

This interviewee who describes himself as a sadistic narcissist, with genuine NPD, says that women tell him that he sometimes gives off the vibe of a machine and sometimes the vibe of a child. He then adds that he thinks that he stopped developing at age 9. That strikes me as insightful, but perhaps he was told this. And he says that for him, everything is geared toward “impressing the living hell out of his interlocutor”.

Elsewhere, he says that empathy is a bad strategy, that it costs too much, that it requires an investment, an investment that may not give you a return. But that is coming from someone who has no idea what empathy is, other than, in his eyes, something he can exploit in others.

Narcissists often do try to be the best they can be because of course, they eventually figure that they seem to have some kind of problem, but this being the best they can be is in the context of who they are, not of who the rest of us are. They cannot change themselves, just like a table lamp cannot decide to be a coffee maker. They are often highly practical people, in my experience. (They are also rarely what or who most people seem to believe they are, in my experience. That said, successful narcissists may have someone who helps them fix the mismatch between reality and what they want reality to be?)

He says that, relative to “normal” humans, people with narcissistic personality disorder are as different as “aliens”, “a form or AI” or “long-necked giraffes”.

Well, to “normal” humans like me out there I say that when caught between a rock and a hard place remember that life is too short to let it ruin your day. It is what it is. We can accept that. People with narcissistic personality disorders can’t. They are caught in views that they cannot release because those views own them, not the other way around.

What I haven’t seen anyone mention yet is that narcissists can also team up in small groups to target people. One may start targeting the person, while pretending to be one of the others, to undermine the target’s credibility. The target may not know of the existence of the other two… so it is impossible for the target to suspect those one or two others. I don’t know if this is always a mix of one grandiose narcissist with one or more covert narcissists, but it seems likely.

For more, see also this video below. I haven’t watched it yet, but I read the description under the video and so should you.

 

Footnote 3 January 2019:
Research by an English documentary maker back in 2009 confirmed that he was a child prodigy, was at university by age 11, and does have a high IQ. He was taken under the wing of a rich businessman at a young age. He got into business and then landed in jail for securities fraud, at age 24.

See more here (highly insightful!): https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/i-psychopath/.

Here is another one that sounds interesting:

What narcissistic personality disorders may be like

Like the wrong audio cables are plugged in, and you can’t change them. Creates a lot of noise!

The past ten years have taught me a lot about personality disorders. I still know very little.

Differences in the hard-wiring of the human brain can result in personality disorders, but paradoxically, people with personality disorders are often blamed for them.

While watching a lot of videos on YouTube and thinking about diversity, I am starting to wonder if the line between humans and other species may be even thinner than I already thought.

What do I mean by that? Consider the following, for example.

Francine “Penny” Patterson developed a deep friendship with a gorilla named Koko in the course of decades. It was never the plan. The plan had been a four-year research project for her PhD.

The year was 1972. Gorillas were considered dangerous and wild and Patterson initially was considered crazy by many.

When younger gorilla Michael was added to the household, he ran over to Ronald Cohn, hugged him and then “sank his teeth into” Cohn’s shoulder.

Humans are not supposed to do that, but some sort of do anyway, in their own way.

I have been the subject of a little-understood phenomenon for over ten years. In the eyes of who’s behind it (apparently involving at least one person with a narcissistic personality disorder), I am probably like an animal they keep in a cage in order to find out how it ticks, the way some university researchers keep pigs in their lab to study stress responses in pigs. They try to push my buttons as much as possible.

It’s complicated.

Penny Patterson and Ronald Cohn kept Koko in captivity, and that was accepted. If two gorillas had kept Penny or Ronald in captivity, the response would have been very different.

If you watch this video, you should also take a look at this:

Lauren McCluskey: We need specialized teams with psychologists, psychiatrists, IT specialists and investigators

I have said it many times before.

Police officers are not equipped to deal with cases of stalking and so on, at all. They do not have the knowledge to assess them (and are sadly too often led by their personal bias toward the victims).

It happened in the cases of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren and Bijan Ebrahimi in the UK.

And it happened in the case of Lauren McCluskey in the US as now transpires.

It has happened in many other situations.

Having specialized teams that are not part of the police but of new to be set up organizations and that respond instantly would also often benefit many people who could normally go on to murder someone because they would get the intervention and treatment they need IN TIME.

They too are criminalized and unnecessarily victimized if they are in ill mental health. Instead of saying that they believe they need help but being ignored by police or simply being ignored by police – period – or even being egged on by police after concerns are reported, they would get the help that just might stop them from committing murders, murders like those of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren, Bijan Ebrahimi and Lauren McCluskey.

Police officers often see themselves as superior experts in just about anything but in reality, their level of knowledge is often no different from that of the average homeless meth addict or industrious takeaway owner.

On the other hand, police officers now also waste a lot of time chasing up silly “he said she said” disputes and playing thought police. Silly “he said she said” quarrels and normal breakup situations could quickly be weeded out as representing little danger if there were dedicated teams of specialists to assess these situations.

The need for specialized IT staff on these teams is also made clear by the McCluskey case; see the screen shot below from the case review. (This looks like sadistic stalking to me, by the way. The taunting nature of it, the mix of openly seeming supportive with regard to what he was actually doing too, albeit in the dark, except that sadistic stalking usually occurs on much longer time scales, as far as I know, but it is a complex phenomenon that is almost impossible to escape from if it happens to you.)

The way the situation currently is, contacting police is the worst you can do if you are being stalked and harassed. Why? Because it will enrage your stalker and as police usually do nothing or next to nothing, it will greatly amplify the stalker’s power. At best, it makes no difference.

In addition to this proposed overhaul of police, we also need changes in the medical profession. Police officers and medical professionals are currently among the biggest propagators of mental health stigmas, stopping people who need it from getting treatment.

There appears to be a huge gap between the knowledge about physical health (with mostly physical effects) and the knowledge about brain-related or “mental” health. The fact that there is even a stigma on pain – as pain is not visible and often not directly measurable – indicates that there is a tendency to place stigmas on any health issues that are not visible or hard to show in a visual form. (Even having a brain scan that shows differences can help a lot.) People are being blamed for brain-related health conditions as it is often assumed that all humans have total control over them. The mere fact that personalities can change after a stroke or other type of brain injury already shows that we don’t.

(Hence, I also believe that it is wrong to criminalize people with brain-related health conditions, which is not the same as declaring them “insane”. We need different approaches to mental health and much better care. Genuine professional care. Support.)

 

PS
Years ago, I screamed or cried at police over the phone “What the hell does this guy want from me? Ask him what he wants from me so that I can give him an answer so that he can move on and leave me in peace.” Police thought it was hilarious, but frowned at me. Delusional old cow.

Five videos for people in the Netherlands

For a long time, the Netherlands has been a highly egalitarian country, but inequality is very slowly starting to increase there, even though most people in the Netherlands still live – in a comparison to make you understand – with caviare and champagne for breakfast and gold taps and door handles throughout the home.

For the past fourteen years, I have been living in a country that has a huge degree of inequality, which is much worse than in all the other EU countries. Yes, all of them. I want you to know what that looks like, at the bottom. So that you can help stop the Netherlands from going into that direction too.

There is a HUGE amount of homelessness here in the UK, for mostly financial reasons.

Yes, the simple lack of sufficient income for people to support their basic needs.

You see that in countries like the US and Australia too. It includes many female older adults and also people like Manda in one of the videos below, who sustained a brain injury with associated nerve damage. (The Hanes corporation decided to help her.) Most of these people never thought in their wildest dreams that they might ever end up homeless. Among the poorest retired women are former nurses and researchers but also many former stay-at-home mothers.

One of the things it sometimes leads to in Britain is a great deal of envy or discomfort when people in poverty see someone who does not appear to be miserable or who appears to be able to support himself or herself financially. It makes them feel like something has been taken away from them, and they often focus those feelings and their energy on the person who is not miserable. As a result, that person may then be pushed into poverty as well. There are no efforts, certainly not by the British government (to the contrary), to pull people out of poverty here.

In Britain, I have learned what it is like to live without hot water, heat and electricity, to sit in your bed all day long, and walk over to a place where they provide a hot meal for you (and where they may treat you as if you are a potentially dangerous wild animal for no other reason than that you are poor). In Britain, I have seen what it is like to live in deep poverty, to stop looking toward the future because you know that you will never get out of that poverty, and become so accustomed to it that you completely forget what a life is like without poverty.

The other side of the spectrum, the crazy consumerism, the drive for higher and higher GDPs, and the accumulation of personal possessions as the only measure of one’s self-worth, the push for ever-increasing industrial production without any concern for the costs of that and the senseless of it all seems to be also pushing a lot of people into deep poverty.

The key word in many developments and environments is balance. Leading simpler lives is generally more fun than pursuing a consumerist lifestyle, but deep poverty is is just as bad as crazy consumerism. And they seem to go hand in hand.

I’ve heard someone who was spending about 6000 a month describe himself as poor. That’s crazy.

Poor, in the western world, is 6000 a year, or 8000 a year, or 2000 a year.

Poor is having no or limited access to medical care, in the western world.

Poor, in the western world, is having so little income that you have to choose between having a roof over your head and having food in your stomach or having food in your stomach and having food in your children’s stomachs.

One of the videos below features Charlotte, a young British woman who lives on one day a meal and who does not want a sandwich for lunch because eating the sandwich would make her feel hungry the next day. When you have to live on very little food, your metabolism changes, and you will want to keep your body functioning in that mode because it helps you cope. (People who want to stuff people who’ve been living on very little food for a long time, say a year or half a year or one and a half year, and get angry when they don’t want to gorge themselves are simply totally clueless. On the other hand, when your food intake fluctuates, then you will likely want to stuff yourself and may not be able to stop eating when you do get food and may eat 4 plates full of pasta and/or 6 bagels in one go.)

You may also develop nutritional deficiencies.

The medical profession is mostly completely blind to all of this. If you complain about muscle weakness to your doctor, he or she will likely suggest that you join a gym club. Because that is what he or she would do in your place. But these doctors aren’t you. They aren’t poor and haven’t got the foggiest idea what it is like to be really poor.

So instead of buying yet another fancy this or that for your garden or patio and an Alexa or iPhone, you could go to your local Aldi or Lidl, look at how other people are shopping and spend the money you would have spent on your new garden ornament on on that new iPhone on people who would, in a sense, have been paying for your iPhone, Alexa or garden ornament.

Inequality seems to be the result of you not wanting to pay 600 for your new phone but only 400, so that you can spend 200 on your garden ornament. It seems to mean that there are people who get paid very little so that you can get what you want (but don’t need). It seems to mean that there are people who live in environments that have been polluted by the side effects of your consumerism. (It is not healthy to live close to a garbage dump, for example.)

Money and income are not limited resources like oil and gas, but consumerist spending is linked to the depletion of limited resources, and somehow, that results in greater inequality.

Research by universities and the IMF has shown that greater equality makes everyone better off, including those at the top socio-economic levels.

What life is like for a woman in Britain

Some years ago, I wrote a poem about the tearful state of women’s emancipation in Britain.

As you may know, the United Nations inspection a few years ago found Britain possibly the world’s most openly misogynistic country, with sexism worse than in some African countries and countries like Afghanistan. Yes, there is a lot of open hostility and sexism toward women here, with for example “fuckability” and number and frequency of heterosexual sexual service encounters seen as the only indicators of a woman’s worth, with women being taunted as useless, fragile and afraid, and with rape not really seen as a crime and women seen as deserving to be scorned, abused and dismissed. It’s considered so normal that most people in Britain saw nothing wrong with it (which is also why they didn’t recognize themselves in the UN report).

But things are very slowly getting better.

(Not just for women and not just in Britain. It is one of the topics I address in my new course. Did you know that Italy allowed women to go to university much earlier than Britain, that Italy has almost no gender pay gap and that Italy now also allows women “period leave”?)

Shortly after I arrived in Britain at the end of 2004, an accountant I spoke with surprised me greatly by telling me that Chamber of Commerce meetings were “safe for women to attend”. It sounded like something out of a western, to me. I think that worrying about one’s personal safety during business network meetings is no longer a concern for women in Britain these days.
Continue reading

7 Quotes from the Book “Women Who Run with the Wolves”

1. Be yourself

To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.”

2. Be strong

To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own luminosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”

3. Getting away allows us to discover ourselves

“While exile is not a thing to desire for the fun of it, there is an unexpected gain from it; the gifts of exile are many. It takes out weakness by the pounding. It removes whininess, enables acute insight, heightens intuition, grants the power of keen observation and perspective that the ‘insider’ can never achieve.”

4. What happens when you don’t love yourself

“Our secret hunger for being loved is not beautiful. Our disuse and misuse of love is not beautiful. Our lack of loyalty and devotion is unloving, our state of separation from the soul is ugly, based on psychological warts, inadequacies, and childhood fancies.” 

5. Authentic love

“Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back.”

6. Hit rock bottom

“The best land to plant and grow something new again is rock bottom. In that sense, hitting rock bottom, although extremely painful, is also the ground to sow new life on.”

7. Authentic growth

“If we live as we breathe, taking and releasing, we cannot make mistakes.”

Poverty, women and age

Today, I watched a few videos on YouTube about women in poverty, many of whom are homeless or illegally living in a caravan, particularly if they are pensioners. They may get a small pension, but it’s not enough to live on AND rent a place.

They live in the US, Australia, or New Zealand. (I already know quite a bit about the situation in the UK, where one third of the people live in poverty.) They are 48, 57 or 69 years old.

From reading newspapers, I get the impression that poverty is very slowly starting to creep up in the Netherlands too now. That is where I am from, a country where most people still have incomes with lifestyles that now come across as obscene to me, but that I used to see as normal.

There is not necessarily anything wrong with it – apart from the resource consumption that can be linked to it – but I call it obscene because of the giant contrast with the lives I see around me.

To give a comparison that they may be able to understand, their lives are like having gold taps and gold handles throughout the house and expensive champagne with smoked salmon and caviare at breakfast every day.

What strikes me particularly about the stories of the women in the videos is that they never expected to live in poverty and are totally gobsmacked by the fact that they are.

But here is the thing. It’s not them. They didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. It’s mostly the result of sheer coincidence.

Several of them mentioned the 2008 financial crisis. (Thank you, banks.) Others mentioned a divorce, hence suddenly being without a home.

They grew up in a time when life was still good. For most of them, it was a reasonable expectation that they would not be poor a few decades later.

It’s made me remember that in 2006 or thereabouts, various articles more or less predicted this rise in poverty, this sharpening division in the haves and have-nots. There was a lot of talk about corn, and the price of it. The articles said that we were heading for a time of food insecurity and a lot of poverty. It worried me. It sounded alarming. It made me look into emigrating to countries with much lower living expenses and the kind of climate in which I thrive.

If you thrive, physically, you can do more work. If you live in pleasant surroundings and don’t struggle with paying the bills, you maintain better health, too. All of these factors help.

I seem to recall that those articles also said that knowledge workers would increasingly get into difficulties, but that the opportunities for creatives would likely become much better. Back then, I had no idea what that meant in practice. (Maybe the people who wrote those articles did not know either.) It is starting to dawn on me now.

Once you’re in real poverty, it’s almost impossible to get out of, it seems, unless you have an extraordinary stroke of luck, for most people.

There have to be ways to solve this, stop this from progressing. Yo, creatives, can you come up with some bright ideas?

The focus of the world is shifting. The articles predicted that too. It’s true. The United States no longer run the world.

Some of the women in the YouTube videos solved their homelessness by taking up house-sitting, although that also sometimes meant that they were no longer eligible for social housing. One of the women has MS, the relapsing-remitting version, and no health insurance.

Something else struck me, too. These women were too nice about it all, too accepting, taking their worries and bouts of depression in stride.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches.”

True, but rolling with the punches means that the punches barely touch you and don’t hurt you. When the punches hurt and you never asked for them, never started the fight yourself, you’re entitled to a bit of anger. There are power and energy in certain kinds of anger – but women are still not supposed to get angry.